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Monday, November 30, 2009

Books I'm Currently Writing (November 2009 Edition)

OK, if you skimmed over the title of this blog post, so back and re-read it. I'll wait.

That's right, this time I'm referring to books that I'm writing.

I can't really say that I'm currently writing my novel, as it's been stalled for several months now. That's not because I have writer's block, as I know where the story has to go next. It's not that I've lost interest in the book's contents, as I haven't. If anything, that book is on-hold because I realized that I need to get just a little bit better at writing before I can really pull it off. Which isn't a terrible thing to discover, as long as you expect to improve (as I do).

On the other hand, what I can say that I'm working on right now - almost literally - is a new book idea. It came to me over the summer and probably won't surprise you when you hear what it is. In fact, I'd say that "lack of surprise" is a pretty good way to describe how most everyone has responded to the news of its existence, as I've shared it around. I finally decided today that the time was right to blog about it, and so here we are.

The new book is called No Kid of Ours is Failing at Math, from which you may be able to deduce its general theme. It's a non-fiction addition to my body of work, very much along the lines of the two Real-Life Adventures of AgileMan books, but probably less controversial (although you never know)! It's intended to be an entertaining mind-dump of what I've learned as a Math tutor, specifically geared toward parents. I suspect that I'll end up sub-titling it something like "How Parents Can Help Kids with Math".

I sat down for an afternoon in September and came up with an outline for No Kid of Ours, after mulling over the idea of writing it for more than a month. Just as I did before beginning the original AgileMan tome, I wanted to know if I really had enough material to make it worthwhile. After a couple hours of note-taking, it seemed fairly clear to me that I did, and so, not long after that brainstorming session, I began writing it.

As of today, I have most of seven chapters written, albeit in very rough form. I've shared some of it with Vicki as I've been producing it, and gotten positive feedback each time. Needless to say, that reaction has helped increase my confidence in the concept and in my own ability to pull off its execution. Based on the outline and how things have been going so far, I expect that the finished product will weigh in at somewhere between twelve and sixteen chapters, and probably boast a page count of around 120 to 150. (Word count is looking like it'll run 40,000 to 50,000, if I had to make a guess.) In other words, it's not going to be a massive book, by any stretch... but I definitely hope that it'll turn out to be a useful and readable one!

In news that should make AgileBoy weep with joy, I've even been thinking that perhaps No Kid of Ours is a book that I should figure out how to market. With the AgileMan collection, I've done almost no promotion, and have the sales figures to prove it. I was always a little ambivalent about pushing those books too hard, though, as the subject matter was both touchy (considering that it shed some unfavourable light on my previous work place) and of limited interest (how many people really care about Agile, or even software development for that matter?). With a book about helping kids understand and succeed at Math, on the other hand, I've probably stumbled upon a subject that could have a significant target audience. Whether it's good enough to really tap into that particular demographic still remains to be seen, but at least there's more potential this time around. So we'll see.

Anyway, yet another cat is now out of its bag (see my "pig in a poke" post if you want to learn where that expression came from). Wish me luck! And feel free to place your advance orders for No Kid of Ours is Failing at Math anytime now! (Or you could wait until I'm at least finished writing it!)

Signs Of The Apocalypse (November 2009 Edition)

I mean, really... chess boxing??

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Math Tutoring Update

Just as I thought that I'd finally settled into a consistent routine with 4 students and 7.5 hours of tutoring per week, I had a new student come along. As of last Friday, I've moved back up to 5 (all Math this time, though) and somewhere around 9 hours each week (possibly more, depending upon how things go with the newest arrival).

This gives me a nice cross-section, as I now have students in Grades 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11 (just need a high school sophomore to fill out the run!). I've been getting increasingly familiar with the Math curricula across those grades, and it's been interesting to see which topics are causing the most trouble. Only one of the five students knew his or her times tables when we started, although each of the others is well on the way to having them down pat by now. Fraction arithmetic shows up as a weakness pretty consistently, as do things like handling negative numbers (for those who've encountered them already) and dealing with variables. Those are the holes that are most glaring because the lack of understanding poses the biggest threat going forward; but even more benign skills such as Metric conversion, understanding how to calculate percentages and converting between fractions and decimals appear to be suffering. Of course, I'm only seeing students who need tutoring help. But I can't help but suspect that it's more widespread than just that.

Anyway, there's no shortage of work for me, it appears... which is a classic example of "good news, bad news" if ever I saw one.

Friday, November 27, 2009

'Doc' Jensen Casts His Gaze Onto Lost Season Six

I've missed reading Jeff Jensen's amazingly-textured recaps and contemplations of each new episode of Lost almost as much as I've missed the show itself over the past six months... OK, maybe not quite that much! But it was still great to be able to read this.

The Roger Ebert Story

No, not a film chronicling the life and times of the famous Chicago Sun-Times movie reviewer, but rather a long-awaited post by him, giving some details about what happened to his old TV show. It's definitely worth a read. The saddest part of it, for me, was undoubtedly reading:

"Saying goodbye to [wife] Chaz in the hospital room were be the last words I would ever speak."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Things I Thought I'd Never See

Things like this, which includes the self-explanatory shock-inducing phrase "Alan Moore has launched a web site". That, alone, is enough to make one suspect off-season April Foolery, and yet apparently it's true. Who knew Alan had added the mastery of HTML to his other sorcerous powers...? (I kid!)

A List That It's Nice Not To Be On

Canada fortunately doesn't show up on the 10 fattest countries list, whereas the United States of Obesity weighs in at # 3. I've been pointing out that trend to Vicki each time we've been to the States over the past several years. I suppose it's nice - in a sad sort of way - to see that I wasn't imagining those pink elephants after all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Got Your Christmas Shopping Done Yet?

Yes, it's that time of the year again... specifically, the "one month until Christmas" date that I use as my "you better be done your shopping by now" deadline. This year I'm pretty much complete, although I still need to find one item at the right price. Since I'm looking for it online, though, I'm not worried about running into the mob scene at the mall when I try to get it.

Speaking of mob scenes, the U.S. Thanksgiving Week should be starting right about... (checks watch, sees that it's almost noon)... NOW. I imagine that American offices, at least in the Eastern time zone, are already beginning to shut down. We have the Black Friday Trampling news coverage to look forward to when the "door crasher" sales open up in about 44 hours' time. This is always a strange time for us Canadians, as it's just business as usual for us while our neighbours to the south get a little crazy on turkey and dressing.

And, of course, if you haven't started hearing Christmas music yet, you don't have long to wait now.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Welcome To The 21st Century, Part 2

If you haven't already seen inventor Pranav Mistry's TED demo of his SixthSense technology, then you're in for a real treat. I still can't conceive of just how some of the things he demonstrates actually work (the dynamic adjustment of the pie chart seems pretty sophisticated, if it can really handle any kind of graph or measurement object as easily as it did the pie chart) but it's incredibly exciting technology.

Anyone who managed to slog through the last short story that I posted here ("Imaginary Stories") may recall that it had something slightly similar. In that tale I predicted a portable computing device that was about the size of a marble and which you could dynamically create a screen for by simply outlining a rectangular shape anywhere with your fingertips. You'd then interact with your virtual screen by using your hands to touch/move around/navigate whatever was on the "screen" (all of which would be mapped by the device and interpreted instantly).

What Mr Mistry has been developing will probably end up making my idea look like something from the 20th century. And that's almost breath-taking when you think about it!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Books I'm Currently Reading (November 2009 Edition)

It's been about four months since I last revealed what books I've temporarily released from their shelf space, which must mean that I'm overdue for a new list. I still have The Batcave Companion on the go from the last group, but also am now in the middle of:

The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 by Paul Krugman - While not quite as engaging a read as his later work, The Conscience of a Liberal, this is an interesting explanation of what happened to the economies of Japan, Brazil and others that should have served as a warning for what lurked within the financial world going into the second half of 2008. I think Krugman was one of the economists who saw the current crisis coming, though... for all the good it ultimately did anyone.

An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore - I bought this because I'm such a fan of the film, but to be honest there's not a whole lot of difference between the two. Still, it's a good reference source to have handy that doesn't require loading a DVD into a player to use!

Succeeding with Agile by Mike Cohn - I received my personalized, signed copy from Mr Cohn himself last week, and have been enjoying it since then. I'd read (and provided feedback) on most of the chapters in it previously, but it's still a fun read and should prove to be an invaluable resource for any organization that decides to "go Agile" from here on out. Too bad it wasn't around for us three years ago! Not surprisingly, I've noted several things in this book that we did wrong in our Agile adoption in 2006 - 2008, and each is something that eventually bit us in the ass.

Calculus with Analytic Geometry by Howard E. Campbell and Paul F. Dierker - It turns out that I've forgotten nearly everything I ever knew about Calculus! That was the bad news; the good news came when I remembered that I kept all of my university text books after I'd finished with them, and shortly thereafter found this book in the basement. I may not get all the way through it, but at least it's providing a good refresher on what all this nonsense is actually about (slope of a tangent line to a curve! Who knew?) And that's good to know, just in case I end up with a Grade 12 student at some point and need to understand it.

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham - This is my 4th Wyndham novel this year, as I whipped through The Chrysalids, The Kraken Wakes and Day of the Triffids before opening this one. I realized fairly quickly that I've never read Midwich before, and that it's quite different than any movie version I've seen (in whole or in part). I like it for Wyndham's attention to detail and the matter-of-fact way his villagers take on the burden of being "cuckold", but its pace wouldn't exactly set anyone's heart a-flutter. My favourite of the Wyndham books so far is still Kraken, which I could imagine reading again (for the 3rd time) in just a few short years.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Future Shop And The Video Game Trade-In Policy

Future Shop made a bit of a splash recently when they announced a new trade-in policy for video games. Basically, you can bring in 3 (or more) used video games for the PS/3, XBox 360 or Wii and receive in-store credit toward the purchase of new games. When I heard about this, I went looking through my small collection of PS/3 and 360 games to see if there were any that I was sure I'd never want to play again. I found 2, maybe 3 (Warhawk, Haze and maybe Splinter Cell: Double Agent, which I got with my first 360 and haven't even played once yet) but decided against trading them in right now. At most, the 3 of them would get me one new game so I wasn't sure it would be worth it at the moment.

But today I went looking at the Future Shop site, to see if maybe they're selling the used games that are coming in, and perhaps I could pick something up nice and cheap. Except that I don't see any for sale! Now, maybe I just didn't look hard enough, but if not... what are they doing with all of the used games that people are trading in? Are they... possibly... repackaging them and selling them as new?! I'm not saying that they are! But if they are, wouldn't that be somewhat unethical? After all, I'm pretty sure that I'm not allowed to re-sell my own games as if they were new (I'm not even sure if I'm allowed to re-sell them, period). Even places that sell used video games advertise them as such, and discount the price accordingly.

So just what exactly are Future Shop doing with all those used games? Does anyone know? (And I hope I'm not on to something here!)

[Update: I did some more digging, and their FAQ on the topic at least states that they do sell used games, that they guarantee them for 30 days, and that they sell them for discounted prices. I've yet to find one of them among the titles I've been looking for, but I'm happy to take them at their word unless some evidence indicates otherwise.]

Science Vs Anti-Science, Part 1

Climate Change Deniers the world over scored a huge "victory" this week when hackers gained illegal access to the servers at the Climatic Research Unit within the University of East Anglia, in the UK. Specifically, the criminals stole thousands of e-mails off the CRU servers and posted them online, some of which contained embarrassing exchanges between climate scientists. You can read the response by RealClimate, perhaps the foremost blog site for climate matters, here.

There's something vaguely familiar about the pattern that always seems to emerge between those who support science and those who oppose it. Whether it's Evolution vs Intelligent Design, Climate Change vs its skeptics, or even something as ridiculous as History vs Holocaust Deniers, it usually boils down to examining data on the one side, and smear tactics on the other. Hacking into someone's e-mail server and publishing what you find there? Smear tactics. They can't attack the science so they try to embarrass the people who use it.

The funny thing about that, though, is that what was released - illegally - somehow fell well short of supporting the various conspiracy theories that the Deniers have sworn existed for years now. A few poorly-worded exchanges out of the thousands stolen suggest some tailoring of the data in this report or that one, but that's about it. As the owner of the RealClimate site puts, "... if cherry-picked out-of-context phrases from stolen personal emails is the only response to the weight of the scientific evidence for the human influence on climate change, then there probably isn’t much to it."

If either side in this particular "debate" should be forgiven for taking an "ends justify the means" approach, it has to be the Climate Change advocates. After all, whether they're right or wrong (and clearly I think they're right), they believe that they're fighting for the survival of the human race! The other side believes that it's battling to protect the financial interests of various industries, to maintain the status quo and to ensure that we don't suffer economic hardship as a result of moving away from cheap, accessible energy sources. So if it were the Climate Change camp that were hacking into the computer systems of their opponents, it would still be every bit as illegal... but maybe just a little bit less reprehensible? As it is, though, it's just another case of those who don't have any data on their side resorting to dirty tricks to win the day.

And interestingly, there seems to be more jubilation over the little bits of "dirt" that the hackers uncovered than there is recrimination toward the criminal act itself, among those who say that Climate Change is a myth or conspiracy. That seems to me to be telling, all on its own.

Excited About The New Aliens Vs Predator Game? Me Too!

After watching Alien and Aliens fairly recently, I got nostalgic about my old Aliens Vs Predator game that ushered me into the online gaming world, back in late 1999 or early 2000. I can still remember some of the levels in it, despite it being about 8 years since I last played it. I decided to see if my current PC would run it, but then discovered that the game has gone missing. I still have the box and guide booklet for it, but no disc! Since I had it in at work at some point in order to lend it out to someone, I'm assuming that it never came back to me. Oh well... c'est la vie!

Tonight I went looking for information about the new AvP game that's supposed to be coming out next year. I knew that there was one, but not much about it. Now I wanted to know more.

By far the most rewarding find in that search was this terrific interview with some folks from Rebellion, the makers of the 1999 PC game that I'd so loved. They're actually the people producing the new version, which this time is heading out to PC and console owners! The interview brought back a lot more great memories, as well as filling me with hope that the new version - release date unannounced but rumoured to be 1st or 2nd quarter 2010 - will deliver like the old one did. To this day, the original AvP is the scariest game I've ever played, with several of the F.E.A.R. titles coming a distant second. If this followup feature from Rebellion ends up living up to the description that its creators provided in that interview, I will be one happy camper when that bad boy ships next year. It's more likely that I'll be disappointed, but for now: I'm living in the Hopeful Zone!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Inevitable History Of Intelligent Life

Watching the 3-part Nova mini-series, "Becoming Human", I was struck by a pattern that I imagine must repeat itself every time some form of intelligent life springs up on a planet somewhere. I think it must always go roughly like this:
  1. Very primitive life forms have been evolving for millions of years, with one (or more) eventually gaining some advantage that allows it to begin down the path to intelligence (larger or more sophisticated brain, opposable thumbs, geographic imperative, lucky mutation at the cellular level)
  2. Early versions of this species diversify (naturally) until one version is able to dominate (Homo Sapiens versus Neanderthals and others)
  3. Dominant version obliterates all other versions, probably unwittingly (since intelligence is still very nascent at this point)
  4. Primitive spoken language begins to appear and be utilized by at least some members of species (this may come back at 2. or 3.)
  5. Language diversifies (naturally) due to geographic separations and the lack of any means (or perceived need) to keep it consistent; there are no written or distributed forms of language just yet
  6. Language begins enabling storytelling, which encourages the development and elaboration of imagination
  7. Creation stories begin to appear and diversify (naturally) as an example of where imagination leads one
  8. Cults form around various creation stories and groups attempt to promote their own creation story version over everyone else's
  9. Battles rage between groups separated by geography, language barriers, cultural norms or even creation story beliefs
  10. Technology continues to improve at each step, thanks to adaptive nature of intelligent life and its use of language - now including written versions - to retain ideas and learning across generations
  11. The scientific method (hypothesize, experiment, observe, measure, adapt conclusions) slowly begins to win favour over all other approaches because of its repeatable, demonstrable nature and the tangible benefits its use provide; creation story cults try to stop its progress at every turn as it's seen as a threat to their unprovable beliefs
  12. Science eventually progresses to the point of being able to study the past (through artifacts), at which point the creation story question becomes at least partially solvable
  13. Members of the intelligent species have had at least thousands of generations to develop large and elaborate beliefs about their highly-favoured position in the universe, and therefore the "news" that they started off as lower lifeforms hits them particularly hard; angry denial follows on many fronts
  14. Species eventually comes to grip with reality of situation and moves forward from there
It's just too bad that we're all living in Stage 13 and probably won't live nearly long enough to ever see Stage 14.

Welcome To The 21st Century, Part 1

Here's a lesson we can all learn from: If you're collecting disability benefits for an extended period of time due to "major depression", then you probably shouldn't be posting happy pictures of yourself partying, on the Internet.

First of all, we all know how insurance companies spend massive amounts of money looking for ways to deny claims (hello, U.S. Health Insurance industry!). Second, how do you expect people to believe that you're suffering from depression so severe that you can't work, if you're providing them with photographic evidence that you're going to parties and strolling on a beach? It's kind of hard to find anyone to root for in this story!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Endlessly Inventive Human Being

The part of me that's disgusted by this story about several companies' success at manipulating global oil prices is at odds with the part of me that reads things like this and thinks, "Holy crap, we're truly amazing in our capacity to find new ways to screw each other over! How do we do it?"

And how do the perpetrators of such carefree rape of their fellow humans live with themselves? Quite comfortably, I'm guessing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Kind Of Physics Class!

Reading this article about James Kakalios, the author of The Physics of Superheroes and physics professor at the University of Minnesota, I couldn't help but think back to my own brush with the mysterious world of physics. I took it as my major - for one year - at the University of Waterloo, before transferring to Computer Science. It was the driest, most depressing experience of my scholastic career... but just imagine if the profs there had used comic book references to liven things up! I might be a world-famous physicist today. (Or not.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Good Argument

The following video, entitled "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See" was created a few years ago by Oregon high school teacher Greg Craven and posted on YouTube, where it's been viewed a couple million times since then. It's also been updated and resulted in a book being written on the same subject, from what I can tell.

I love the argument that Craven makes, as it's something I've thought about many times myself, and even blogged about before. One aspect of the debate that he doesn't touch on, but that seems relevant to me, is the idea that conservation is a positive, compassionate way of life that should be attractive on its own merits. If we think of renewable resources (such as solar or wind power) compared to those which are non-renewable or which have dangerous by-products (such as oil, natural gas, coal, or even nuclear power, to some degree) in terms of whether their use is something that could be sustained for centuries or even millennia, then the folly of the latter group becomes pretty clear. It would be like setting up your family in a house that has some bottled water and a bunch of canned food in it but never doing anything to establish any new sources of sustenance, such as finding fresh water, starting a garden, or even just determining if there's a market nearby that you can get to. Sure, for awhile you'd do just fine by using up what the house came with, but simple common sense would tell you that you and your family can't survive in that way for all that long. It's amazing just how far we, as a species, have roamed from the old farming philosophy that everyone once understood: you need to live and operate in a way that's self-replenishing or else you won't be around for very long.

And of course, the "huge cost" of environmentalism is always trotted out as a reason not to change but it's actually just a transitional cost that's incurred in order to get us onto a sustainable path. Short term pain for long term gain... which is always a good return on investment.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Craving More Dr Horrible?

Thanks to Tammy, I've started to watch this, which is a fan-made prequel to Joss Whedon's bizarrely-appealing Dr Horrible phenomenon. I'm only partway through, but so far I'm liking it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Worried That The World Will End On Dec 21, 2012?

If so, then:

a) you're being silly
b) you're placing way too much faith in the Mayan Calendar
c) you're the perfect audience member for this year's Independence Day, entitled 2012

Oh, never mind... I'll let Nova's Neil deGrasse Tyson explain it! And if that wasn't enough for you, here he is again!

Happy Friday the 13th!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

You Knew This Was Coming, Didn't You?

Dollhouse, R.I.P.

At least I managed to avoid investing myself too much in this one, unlike with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (last season's trophy kill for the executives at Fox).

Hey, wait a second: Firefly, Sarah Connor and now Dollhouse... what do they all have in common? Oh, that's right:

Poor Summer Glau... she's become the Fox Sci-Fi Harbinger of Death!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We Are All Connected

Thanks to a friend, I received a link to this video, which I thoroughly enjoyed. You can read more about it here, if you're interested. As you'll see if you go to that link, "the Symphony of Science is a musical project by John Boswell designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form." And that's a pretty cool goal, if you ask me!

Interesting bit of Babylon 5 trivia: I'm pretty sure Delenn, in one of the episodes, speaks of humans and Minbari all being "star stuff" and that we are all the Universe's way of trying to understand itself. Until now, I hadn't realized that she was simply quoting Carl Sagan on the topic!

Breaking News: Fire Hot!

From The Onion: Fire Hot!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Totally Unreal

I have a rather unique situation at the moment: both my XBox 360 and my PS/3 are loaded up with the same game: Unreal Tournament 3!!

I've owned the 360 version for a couple of months, and have been playing it a lot whenever I haven't been doing Halo 3: ODST on the Microsoft console. Today, though, I received a PS/3 version of the game thanks to Tammy, who apparently really wants to play it online with me! She has a PS/3 (but no 360) and I think UT3 may just be her current favourite time-killer right now. And I have to admit: for all-out mayhem, it's hard to beat!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Marriage Made In Heaven

Thanks go out to Boneman for bringing my attention to this delightful Onion article, entitled "Barack Obama Names Alan Moore Official White House Biographer"! If only...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

For The First Time In The 21st Century...

... the Yankees win the World Series! (That's right, fools... their 2000 win over the Mets was way, way back in the 20th century, since the calendar didn't start with Year 0!)

It wasn't a particularly exciting Game 6 tonight, but seeing Godzilla rack up 6 RBIs was kind of special. Especially if this ends up being his last game as a Yankee.

Final score: NYY 7, Phi 3

Hopefully this doesn't mean that I now have to start paying attention to hockey again. After a 7-1 start to the season, the Rangers have managed to give most of that back and are barely above 0.500 once again. Uhh... go team?

Congrats to the Yankees for making the most of their super-inflated payroll this year.

A Milestone And An Anniversary, All Wrapped Up With A Bow

For those who've lost count (and shame on them, I say!) this is the 2500th post on this blog. That's right: 2500! That's two and a half thousand brain farts released over the course of roughly 37 months, put out there (err, here) for the world to enjoy! If you're one of the plucky few who've read each and every one of those entries, lo these past several years, then right about now you should really be asking yourself: "What the Hell was I thinking?!"

Imagine if someone stumbled across this blog today and decided to read its entire contents in reverse order! They'd be at it for a while, of course (I've lost track of the word count, but it's probably somewhere between half a million and a million) and they'd also be immersed in a crash course on just what I find interesting... whether anyone else does or not!

Today also marks the 1st anniversary of perhaps my happiest day of last year: November 4th. That was the day that both Resistance 2 and President-Elect Barack Obama arrived to provide some much-needed relief to the long-suffering masses. It was a magical day in my life, and I can't help but get a little bounce back in my step today, just thinking about it.

When I started this blog back in Oct of 2006, I would never have believed that I'd still be at it 2500 posts later. And yet here we are. Will it last for another 2500? I wouldn't even begin to make a call on that one right now. But I'm pretty sure that, if it does go another 2500, it'll take us a lot longer than 37 months to get there! I feel tired, just thinking about that much more writing.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Slight Reallignment Of The Tutoring Regimen

At my peak, I had six different tutoring students, filling up all late-afternoons and evenings from Monday to Thursday. Two of the six were coming to me for help in non-Math-related areas (spelling and reading comprehension), which never really sat quite right with me considering that I got into this to do Math tutoring.

As of today, however, I'm down to just four students... all for Math! It looks like those four students will account for 7.5 to 8.5 hours per week (one student is currently at 1 hr but may soon bump up to 2), which is a nice, reasonable number of hours to set aside for this part-time job. I'll have one student each in Grades 6, 7, 8 and 11, which provides me with an attractive variety of topics to tackle. As it stands right now, I may also have Tuesdays clear, as that happened to be the weekday upon which the non-Math students had landed in the past. Since Vicki and I have been doing Yoga and sometimes Cycling classes on Tuesdays, that works out very well indeed.

Two months into the school year, I may have finally stabilized my tutoring schedule... of course, I've thought that before and been wrong every time!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Phillies Survive (Barely) To Play Another Day

After taking an 8-2 lead late in the game, you'd think it would've been a snoozer from that point on in Game 5 tonight. Unfortunately for the team from Philadelphia and its fans, the Yankees just kept inching back, closer and closer, and had the tying run come to the plate in the top of the 9th before finally losing, 8-6. It should be interesting to see who the Phillies send out to the mound over the course of Game 6, as their bullpen has been pretty shaky of late. At least Brad Lidge wasn't brought in tonight, as the series would probably be over by now if he had been!

One of the highlights of the night saw Chase Utley tie a World Series record for most home runs right before Ryan Howard tied another one for most strikeouts. A few minutes later the camera crew caught a great shot of a beaming Utley sitting beside a despondent Howard in the Phillies dugout, with the former reaching over and patting the latter on his butt by way of consolation. "A tale of two swings" was the way the commentators described that scene.

Game 6 comes our way on Wednesday night from the new Yankee Stadium, weather permitting. I can hardy wait!

Yankees Gain Stranglehold On Series

You had to feel a little sorry for the Phillies last night, as they battled back from being down 2-0 and 4-2 to eventually tie the game at 4-4 going into the 9th... only to have their "closer" Brad Lidge come in and give up 3 runs to sink his team (final score: 7-4 Yankees). Nothing quiets a home crowd quite like that abrupt a transition from boisterous enthusiasm to dejected futility.

Now up 3-1 in the series, and with the final 2 games in (the new) Yankee Stadium if they need them, New York may in fact finish the Phillies off tonight in the City of Brotherly Love. The winning pitchers from Games 1 (Cliff Lee) and 2 (AJ Burnett) are set to go head-to-head in Game 5, which should make for an interesting tilt. I'm inclined to think that the Phillies will force a Game 6, just out of pride if nothing else (what defending champion would ever want to see the trophy handed out to the other team in their own backyard?)... but we'll see. Last night's Game 4 was the best installment of the series so far, so it'll take some doing to top that.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Mad Genius, In Happier Days

Rich Johnston at BleedingCool has posted several video interviews with Alan Moore from 1985 (collected via YouTube) and oh my! what a difference a couple decades can make! This is Alan back in the days when he was excited to be working at DC Comics, enthusiastic about the potential of the mainstream comic industry, and full of energy just bursting out of his pores. Oh, to have a time machine and be able to go back and bring that Alan forward in order to unleash him on the comic books of today! Who knows what we'd get, to rival the likes of Marvelman, Watchmen and V For Vendetta! Instead we have the bitter, disillusioned old man who barely cranks out one issue of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen per year now.

2009 World Series: Tough To Get A Handle On

Three games in, I can't really get a feel for this year's World Series yet. The Phillies looked so dominating in Game 1 (which they won 6-1); and then, after losing a close Game 2 (3-1), they came out guns a-blazing once the series moved to their home field last night. They jumped to a 3-0 lead in the 1st and looked poised to add more... except that they didn't, and then the Yankees scored the next 6 runs, and eventually posted a fairly convincing 8-5 win.

So now the series sits at 2-1 in favour of the Yankees. Each team has had the home field advantage snatched away from them (the Yankees, after Game 1, and the Phillies, after losing their first of three at home, last night). Each team has had at least one impressive pitching performance (Cliff Lee in Game 1 for Philadelphia, AJ Burnett in Game 2 for New York). So what's really going to decide this series? Will it be a battle of sluggers, waged by the teams with the two highest home run totals for 2009? Or is the team that can field the best pitcher in the critical game going to take the trophy?

At this point, I can't see any clear favourite. Obviously tonight's game is pivotal, as the difference between a Yankees team up 3-1 or a series tied 2-2 is all the difference in the world.