The Love of My Life

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Published in: on October 31, 2012 at 7:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Last Resort

Sweet F*cking Jesus! What a TERRIFIC show!! I hope it survives – today’s viewing audience is so fickle and tasteless…

Last Resort is about the crew of the USS Colorado, *the* most powerful military machine ever constructed. It has 4 Mark-48 torpedo tubes, 28 Tomahawks, and 18 Trident nuclear ballistic missiles.
 
When the Colorado receives an order to fire 4 Trident missiles at Pakistan through a secondary communications channel (which presupposes that Washington DC has been wiped out), Captain Marcus Chaplin (played by Andre Braugher) balks at the command. He questions the order and tries to confirm the command through the normal channel with Washington (Chaplin can find no television news story about Washington being wiped out).
 
When Washington insists that Chaplin carries out the fire order without any further explanation, Chaplin refuses. Washington relieves him of his command and makes his XO Sam Kendal (played by Scott Speedman) the new captain. However, Kendal also questions the fire order. Thereafter, Washington orders an attack sub to fire a cruise missile at the Colorado.
 
The Colorado just barely survives the attack and proceeds to take over a NATO early warning station on the island of St. Marina. When the Colorado discovers a pair of B-1 bombers headed toward them, Chaplin fires a Trident missile at Washington. Washington thinks Chaplin is bluffing.
 
At any rate, Washington proceeds to launch a first strike at Pakistan, killing millions of people. (WTF. How can this be justified???)
 
At the end of the show, Chaplin announces to the world that he’s declaring a 200-mile No Man’s Land around St. Marina. The Colorado has 17 more Trident missiles. If the U.S. administration, or any other government, attempts to attack them, he will unleash fiery hell.
 
This is a damn f*cking great show!!! If you missed, shame on you…
 
 
Robert Patrick plays the Chief of the Boat on board the Colorado. Bruce Davison plays Admiral Shepard, whose daughter is third in command on the Colorado.
Published in: on September 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Movie Review: People Like Us

When I went to see this film, I didn’t know what to expect. I sure didn’t expect this…

People Like Us is a beautiful story of family and difficult, sometimes devastating, life choices.

Chris Pine (Star TrekUnstoppable) plays Sam, whose father (a famous record producer) has just died from cancer. They’ve been estranged for many years. He does not want to return home for the funeral, but his girlfriend Hannah (played by Olivia Wilde) is very persistent.

Sam receives a mysterious request in his father’s will to take care of a sister he didn’t know he had. Sam has to give her $150,000 (secretly socked away in a shaving kit!), even though he himself desperately needs the money. He is torn.

When Sam tracks down his sister Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), he is unable to reveal who he is. He obsessively tries to learn more about this single mother’s life. In the process, Sam strikes up a relationship with Frankie’s 11-year-old son Josh (played wonderfully by Michael Hall D’Addario).

Sam eventually meets Frankie and befriends her, while holding back the information about the inheritance. As their relationship grows, I could see the emotional train wreck coming a mile away…Frankie was beginning to fall in love with Sam!

Meanwhile, Sam keeps all this from his mother Lillian (Michelle Pfeiffer). But he learns that Lillian knew about Frankie all along…

The film is predictable, but it works well because of strong performances from Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, and especially Michelle Pfeiffer. Early in the film, Frankie makes an almost totally inconsequential remark (which I picked up on) that hints at the ultimate ending of the film. Beautiful! I was left with a big lump in my throat.

People Like Us has received mixed reviews (56% at Rotten Tomatoes). However, I really enjoyed the film and thought it was beautifully made. For that, I give it a rating of…

9/10.

Maybe I’m just an old sap…

Published in: on June 30, 2012 at 7:57 am  Leave a Comment  

You didn’t have to cut me off

This song captures the essence of my last relationship:

[Gotye:]
Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it’s an ache I still remember

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad it was over

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

Now you’re just somebody that I used to know
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

[Kimbra:]
Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I’d done
But I don’t wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know

[Gotye:]
But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

[x2]
Somebody
(I used to know)
Somebody
(Now you’re just somebody that I used to know)

(I used to know)
(That I used to know)
(I used to know)
Somebody

Published in: on June 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chess, Mathematics and Music

http://gambit.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/02/mathematicians-musicians-and-chess-masters/

I’ve long been told that the brain that is good at mathematics is also well-suited to chess and music. My first flash of brilliance as a young man was in math when, starting in Grade 10, I began to display strong mathematical ability. (In Grade 12, I was a geometer par excellence. I scored perfection in my geometry tests.) I entered math contests and I even won the regional slide rule competition.

Around the same time, my chess ability also flowered. My high school team won the regional chess championship (I played top board). Years later, I would play the tournament circuit, becoming a Class B player. Occasionally, I could even defeat a chess Expert!

In both cases, I was 2LAZY2 pursue the highest levels of performance. I could’ve become a chess master had I really worked at it. I could’ve been a much stronger mathematician, too. But as is typical of Richard Eng, I coasted along on my natural abilities.

In later years, I tried my hand at music. I took up the keyboard, but I was 2LAZY2 make any progress. Frankly, I didn’t have the self-discipline nor the passion to keep at it. Practicing is not fun. (FYI, chess and math don’t really require “practice” in the traditional sense.)

I always regretted not achieving in music. I felt this was the missing third leg in my mental stool.

So now I take a second swing at music. Leaving behind the piano, I’m entering a whole new world of the guitar. New challenges. New opportunities.

But at age 58, I don’t have a great deal of time, not like when I was tackling chess and mathematics. By the time I get good — *if* I get good — I may be too old to perform.

2012 represents the confluence of several courses. First, I’ve lost all interest in computer programming. If I never write another line of C or Java or Smalltalk, it’ll be too soon. Software has been my life up to now — a long career and a continual hobby. No more; time to move on…to music.

Second, I’m losing interest in television. I’m just not enjoying TV as much as I used to. This year, I passed on a whole passel of new TV series, and even in the series that I do follow I tend to NOT feel antsy if I miss an episode. Sacrilege!

Third, my pulmonary embolism has changed me. I’m not sure how but I feel different. It’s as if I’m looking at the world through fresh eyes. My ego is gone. I am more empathetic. I appreciate each day more. I could be wrong but I think I’m just a bit more selfless.

Fourth, I’m tired of surfing the Internet and blogging. I’m running out of things to say. To a large extent, this is due to my diminishing ego. So I have very little to add to Facebook. My blog posts are few and far between. My rants are slowing down. My clock is running down. (I need a rewind.)

In effect, starting now my life is becoming a clean slate. Nothing stands in my way. I have few ambitions and whatever ambition I do have is modest. But life doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. It doesn’t have to be history making.

It just has to be taking the next step, however small, fearlessly. Repeat.

Published in: on May 16, 2012 at 9:57 am  Leave a Comment  

I’m really worried about living

I had a pulmonary embolism earlier this week. When I left the hospital, I heard this song which made me sob uncontrollably.

Many years ago he looked out through a glassless window.
All that he could see was Babylon.
Beautiful green fields and dreams.
He learned to measure the stars.
But there was a worry in his heart.

He said, How could it come to this?
I’m really worried about living.
How could it come to this?
Yeah, I really want to know about this.

Then there came a time
It moved out ‘cross the Mediterranean.
Came to Western isles and the Greek young men.
With their silver beards they laughed
At the unknown of the universe.
They could just sit and guess God’s name.

But they said, How could it come to this?
I’m really worried about living.
How could it come to this?
Yeah, I really want to know about this.

Then there came a time of kings, empires and revolutions.
Blood just looks the same when you open the vein.
Sometimes it was faith, power or reason as the cornerstone.
But the furrowed brow has never left his face.

He said, How could it come to this?
I’m really worried about living.
How could it come to this?
Yeah, I really want to know about this.

How could it come to this?
We’ve been living in a landslide!
How could it come to this?
Yeah, we really want to know about this.

Then there came a time, man packed up,
Moved off from the planet.
He went to the moon.
Now he’s out in space,
Hey, fixing all the problems.
He comes face to face with God.

He said, How could it come to this?
I’m really worried ’bout my creation.
How could it come to this?
Yeah, I really want to know about this.
It isn’t like today?
Is it like today?
Is it like today?

Published in: on May 12, 2012 at 11:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Recycling ImageView Bitmaps

I encountered memory issues when displaying large jpegs (in series) in a slideshow-like activity. I learned that you need to recycle the bitmaps with a call to recycle():

ImageView img;
Bitmap bitmap = ((BitmapDrawable) img.getDrawable()).getBitmap();
bitmap.recycle();
img.setImageResource(imgID[currentImg]);

Note that ‘imgID’ is an array of resource IDs.

Published in: on January 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Orientation Changes

When you change the orientation of your Android phone from, say, portrait to landscape, it can cause problems. I avoided these problems by inserting the following into the activity tag:

android:configChanges="orientation|keyboardHidden"

Note that “keyboardHidden” is required; it is intimately tied to orientation.

Also, add this to the Java class:

    @Override
    public void onConfigurationChanged(Configuration newConfig) {
    	super.onConfigurationChanged(newConfig);
    }
Published in: on January 18, 2012 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ensure Only One Activity Is Created

I found that when my application is pushed into the background (via, say, pressing the Home button) and then resumed, a new activity is created. In order to ensure that the original activity is preserved, add this to the activity tag in the Android manifest:

android:launchMode="singleTask"

A key benefit of the above is that if applied to the root activity of your app, you can jump to the “home” screen by starting the root activity. All the other activities above it are popped off the stack and destroyed.

Published in: on January 18, 2012 at 5:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Java Compiler Tip

Check the project’s properties and verify that Java Compiler -> Compiler compliance level is set to 1.6. I got burned on this once.

Published in: on January 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm  Leave a Comment