Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zen Habits

I already spoke a bit about the Zen Habits book that I backed through Kickstarter when I wrote about "Habits" on H-day. It's the first tool that has ever actually helped me keep to my habits. As I discussed before, my first habit was to do daily pull-ups, with the goal of doing acrobatic tricks on my outdoor chin-up bar at some point, the way I used to when I was younger.

Well, I haven't reached the goal yet, but I'm getting closer. Now that it's warm outside, I can actually use the full outdoor bar instead of my doorway bar to do the chin-ups. And look at that view! Now, that's a true zen habit!

And a few tweets about #ZenHabits:

'Elementary' 3x21 'Under My Skin' Gif-Tweet-Cap: New BFFs!

"Under My Skin" was one of the most disturbing episodes of Elementary in a while. It was a very good episode, but parts of it were a little too much like CSI for my taste. The following gifs are also available on this Tumblr post. The podcast I co-host is not yet available for this week, but you can subscribe on iTunes for the latest episodes.

The episode begins with Alfredo gaining his 5-year AA chip. Yay! But Sherlock is mainly focused on another man: someone who is obviously not part of the group, as he is carrying a flask of alcohol and thinks that Step 5 is the same as the slogan for the coffee he happens to be drinking.
Meanwhile, a horrible murder takes place in which two paramedics are shot and their ambulance is stolen along with the sick woman they were carrying.
The killer picked up the casings, but misses one: and Sherlock retrieves it from a grating. This casing leads them to a douchebag named Wallace Turk, who refuses to say a word on where the missing woman was taken. Sherlock decides to bypass Turk's uncooperative attitude and figure it out himself by inspecting the bottom of Turk's shoes. Turk has a mini freak-out a bit while Bell and Joan ignore him.
The shoe has dirt from a salt marsh, and Turk's phone leads them to the exact salt marsh they are seeking. Unfortunately, the woman has just been killed.

Sherlock realizes that Lloyd, the man who intruded on the AA meeting, may be following him. Of course, Sherlock follows him back, wanting to know why he's following him. Lloyd refuses to say, but Sherlock refuses to take no for an answer. He threatens to expose their fake "tragic love affair" in a very public fashion unless he obtains the answers he seeks.
It turns out that Lloyd is actually following Alfredo, and that Alfredo is in some sort of "big trouble."

The autopsy indicates that the victim was a drug mule, but her roommate says she had gone to Brazil for gastric bypass surgery. The food in the victim's fridge indicates that she truly believed she had the bypass, and didn't know she was turned into a drug mule.
The proof is that her Brazilian doctor has gone into hiding, is married to Turk's sister, and stole heroine from the hospital where he used to work. And now they know that he stole so much that they would have needed three drug mules, meaning there are two more victims.
In the meantime, Sherlock looks into Alfredo's trouble and confronts him with it: he's been breaking into cars using Castle security (his old employer) and moving them a few feet. He's doing it because they not only fired him, but accused the five-year-sober man of using drugs. How dare they! Alfredo just wants Sherlock to butt out, reminding him that he's his sponsor, not his friend.
Watson and Bell pay a visit to Dr. Ward, a dentist who has been allowing a drug cartel to do business at his facility. They use him to get a meeting with Janko, the Serbian drug lord, so they can use him for information on when the heroin begins to be pushed out for sale. Since they've already got their eyes out for it, they'll know if the Serbians buy it, and by feeding the info to the cops, they can push out the competition.
CLYDE MOMENT! Joan looks like a proud mama watching her cute little turtle-son.
When Janko is murdered, Dr Ward begins freaking out: he somehow gets his fingers cut off by a rival Chinese cartel, and tells them where the bodies of the other two drug mules are hidden, saying he heard the cartel talking through the air vents.
The bodies had been filled and sewn up with rocks before being dumped, but the filament used to see them leads straight back to Dr. Ward: it's commonly used in dentistry. He's got all sorts of excuses, but the best explanation for the whole gruesome affair comes from Sherlock: Dr. Ward is simply ridiculously bad at being a criminal.
Then they proceed to trick Ward into making a full confession by showing that a Chinese drug lord has given him up. His own lawyer warns him that it's a trick, and that the man is a cop, but that doesn't stop him. In the end, the fake Chinese drug lord is the cop who will process his arrest. All Dr. Ward can do is smile at Bell on his way out, as if he's saying "Nice trick" and "Wow, even I didn't realize exactly how much of an idiot I am."
Sherlock sends an urgent text to Alfredo for help with his addiction, but never shows up for the meeting. Later, Alfredo is confronted by a couple of cops who accuse him of stealing a bunch of cars and moving them to a garage. Of course, Alfredo has an alibi which is on camera, because that's exactly how Sherlock planned it.
Alfredo confronts Sherlock about his method of protecting him... and about moving all those cars himself... and about being involved in the matter at all after telling Sherlock to butt out.

Sherlock promptly fires Alfredo from being his sponsor so they can be friends. Alfredo seems delighted by the idea, apparently so he can mess with Sherlock right back, starting with jokingly asking whether he can ask out Joan. Hopefully this means more Alfredo!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

For Yoda, Y Is

Love Yoda, I do.
All I need to say, that is.

#Yoda tweets:

X is for XXVIII

The Roman numeral XXVIII is equal to 28. I chose 28 because it was my favorite body age. I say body age because I'm not talking about my how I felt emotionally or anything like that. I like knowing all the things I know now, and feeling more calm and comfortable in the world.

The reason I liked the way my body felt when it was 28 was because it was old enough to not be a little girl body, but young enough to do just about anything I wanted to do. My back wasn't going out every few months, and I could run and do some acrobatics without any problem.

I don't have any videos to represent my body's age at 28, so I simply made a video of my hands doing a "2," then an "8," while holding my phone between my knees. Silly, I know.

Here are a few tweets about #XXVIII:

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Whiteboard (Everything)

I'm loving all the new whiteboard and dry erase surfaces available. My favorite are the new whiteboard notebooks, where the "whiteboard" is actually a page that feels much like regular paper. The feel of the pen and the way it writes feels similar to a regular ballpoint pen, and has no odor. It's fabulous!

I can now take my weekly notes about the various shows about which I write and record podcasts, then erase them when I'm finished. Weekly shopping lists and daily "to do" lists can be written down then erased without having to type them into a phone.

There are also whiteboard stickers and papers that can be attached to almost anything. You can even apply whiteboard paint to any surface! The technology is much better now, because the ink can be easily erased with no ghosting, even if you leave the ink on the page for a long period of time. Awesome stuff!

Here are some tweets about #whiteboard paper, stickies, notebooks, and more:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

V is for Vector Graphics

I'm really excited about this one, mainly because I've never before created a gif such as the one below, and also have never even done this effect on an image before now. The gif below illustrates the difference between a regular raster images and vector images.

Raster images are made up of individual colored pixels. This is why you can't increase the size of a raster image without causing pixelation. A vector image, on the other hand, is made up of lines and shapes that are created using mathematical formulas. Vectors can be increased in size without decreasing in quality because the formulas always stay the same, and are simply displayed in different scales. They are characterized by smooth lines.

Of course, the easiest type of image to vectorize would be one with simple shapes, but you can turn almost anything into a vector by simplifying it. For the following image, I simplified it using a threshold adjustment in Photoshop, then imported the result into Illustrator and converted it into a vector with smooth lines. Oh, and it doesn't have to be in black and white, by the way. I then opened the first image back in Photoshop, duplicated the layer, created a frame animation, placed the vector image, then tweened from the first image to the second. And there you have a clear example of the difference, from raster to vector in one gif!

Here are a few other examples of #vector graphics:

U is for Universe

When we think about the universe, we usually think about its vast size, and the enormous objects within it. But, there is a whole other universe within the universe when we look in the opposite direction: at the universe of the very small.

In fact, people are bigger from the perspective of the smallest particle in the universe than the approximate size of the entire universe is to people. One of my favorite online toys, the interactive "Scale of the Universe," shows this idea very clearly.

The truly amusing thing about this is that displaying even a small shift in scale can seem trippy to us humans. Take the following gif, for example. I'm using a macro lens on my phone, then remove it to show what we are really looking at. Weird, huh?

Here are a few tweets about the #universe:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

T is for Technology and Tinkering and Tech Toys

This one is to be expected if you happened to read my last post for sci-fi and science. Of course, it follows that if I'm so addicted to science, that T day would be all about technology. I love playing around with tech toys, otherwise known as tinkering. So, I've created a gif combining technology with one of a tinkerer's favorite tech toys: an LED. This is one of the simplest setups, using a battery hooked right to an LED. I also added a little resistor in there to dim the LED just a bit. Fun!

Here are a few tweets about #technology, #tinkering and #techtoys:

S is for Sci-Fi

My favorite kind of entertainment is sci-fi. I love science fiction books, movies, and TV shows more than any other type of entertainment. In fact, I love science in general so much that my favorite non-fiction books are books about any type of science. I also enjoy TV shows about hard science, and I love researching science and technology issues, and buying tech toys and tools.

Unfortunately, as far as sci-fi goes, all my favorite shows in the US always get canceled before their time. Last year was a massacre. My current favorite show, Forever (sort of a sci-fi Sherlock Holmes about a guy who lives forever), is labeled as certain to be canceled! And no, Arrow (even though I do love that show) is not sci-fi. I NEED my hardcore sci-fi!!

So here is a gif of Almost Human, one of my favorite shows of all time, which was canceled last year. This is in honor of all the best shows on TV, from Firefly to Stargate Universe, which were canceled way too soon.

Here are a few tweets about #scifi:

Friday, April 24, 2015

'Grimm' 4x18 'Mishipeshu' Gif-Tweet-Cap: Creatures Creatures Everywhere!

The theme of the Grimm episode "Mishipeshu" is "let's make Nick think that all of the people he cares about are going to turn on him and try to kill him." The following gifs are also available on this Tumblr post.

The episode begins with a scene that sets the theme while creating a major fan freak out. Hank appears to turn into a creature!  I mean, what kind of jumping-the-shark nonsense is this? I highlight the fact that Hank is much stronger than Nick by showing Nick's suffering wince to Hank's kick-ass growl:
We soon see the same creature killing a janitor at a school. The first on the scene is lady-cop Deputy Farris, who joins Nick and Hank on their pursuit of the killer.
An 18-year-old kid named Simon wakes up with blood all over his mouth, but seems to be frightened and scared. He doesn't seem to know that he is becoming possessed by some sort of creature-spirit.
Meanwhile, Juliette goes completely off the rails  by pretending to pick up a guy in a bar, then turning Biest and throwing him across the room with her Hexen-witch powers. Everyone knows to make room for Queen Biestiette.
Juliette's antics lead her to jail, where Nick shows up to have a little talk with her. Once again, she toys with his heart, then whips out her rotting-corpse face to prove that he can't help but flinch.
Renard is also losing his mind a bit, knocking out a guy and taking his wallet for no reason. He doesn't even remember, and assumes it's some sort of accident that he wound up with a stranger's wallet!
We soon learn that the spirit is a Native American guardian spirit. Simon is on a quest to find his, but it kills another man. Wu finds a connection between them and a third guy, so Nick, Hank and Farris go to speak with him, but he is already being attacked! He has a gun though, and is able to escape without any injuries. When the creature doesn't react to Nick's Grimm-ness and Hank and Farris both see the creature, they realize it may not be so Wesen.
The gang get schooled by Hector, a Native American expert on the whole myth and culture of the Mishipeshu spirit, which involves lots of other cute teensy-weensy-sounding names. It's adorable. They then decide to go through some sort of ritual that causes Farris to feel barfy, and causes Hank to believe that he's Simon as a little boy. Little-boy-Hank/Simon then remembers his father being murdered by the very men who Simon's spirit animal has been murdering.
Russell Hornsby is one fantastic actor to be able to go from big strong cool-guy Hank to a believable 5 year old crying little boy. It's a totally embarrassing and silly scene to have to act, but man, he sure puts his heart into it! If the acting hadn't been top-notch, this episode would have been impossible to watch.
Child-possessed Hank runs off to find the people responsible for killing his papa, when he comes across the young adult version of the child inside him. The Mishipeshu then recognizes the scared little boy in Hank (plus, Simon is injured) and transfers from Simon to him.
This is where we get to the fast-forward we saw at the beginning, where Hank is choking out his friend. Hector blows some sort of powder in his face, causing Hank to snap out of it, but he's still haunted by the memories of the child, and wants to kill the last guy who killed Simon's dad.
It's OK, because the spirit moves on to Farris, and she kills the guy for them. Hopefully, nobody will ever know.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

R is for Red Stamens on the Desert Bird of Paradise

I love when spring comes because that's when one of my favorite desert flowers blooms: the Desert Bird of Paradise. Just look at those gorgeous yellow flowers! But the real knockout, as you can see in the gif below, are the red stamens reaching out at twice the length of the flowers themselves.

These flowers grow like weeds around here, but that makes me very happy. The one right outside the living room bay window attracts many cute little hummingbirds. Who needs TV when you have beautiful flowers and hummingbirds?

I know I'm a couple of days behind... too much work, plus my weekly gif-tweet-caps for Elementary and Grimm, plus the Baker Street Podcast. I'll try to complete two on Saturday and one on Sunday, although I may have to push the comments and visiting of other blogs until after the challenge.

Here are a few tweets about #red stamens: