My Life

1/20/2010 12:11am

Well what can I say. A movie doesn’t get much better than this. The Book of Eli was right up there with District 9 and Star Trek.

I’m not much of a Denzel Washington fan, and I thought it would be odd to see him in this type of role, but it totally worked from the very first scene. If Mad Max and A Man Called Hawk had a baby, it would be this movie. :hehe:

Kudos to the photographer, who has discovered some sort of nuclear black and white technique that suited the mood and the storyline perfectly.

Also there was Gary Oldman doing his perfect impression of Alan Ford in Snatch, (sans British accent) plus Peter Popoff or some other evil televangelist who is more interested in controlling people and making money than anything else. He did such a good job as ‘the bad guy’, displaying maniacal evil in a realistic way, without going so over the top like in most movies.

Then the story line – SPOILER ALERT –

The story shows us an excellent contrast between Christians who walk by faith, and completely trust in God, versus people who want to use religion just to get into the minds of people that they can control. (Again, think of Robert Tilton or Peter Popoff). The twist at the end was excellent as well, but I didn’t get why Carnegie couldn’t just hire some other random blind person (of which apparently there were plenty) to read him the book.

It was definitely interesting to see true Christian values displayed in a standard Hollywood production; that definitely threw me for a loop. To non Christians the scene where Eli and Solara pray over a meal must seem like the strangest thing ever, but that is an everyday part of life for a Christian. At one point Carnegie (Gary Oldman) informed Solara that the word Amen comes at the end of the prayer, saying ‘it’s how you stop’. But in fact, prayer doesn’t really stop – you can talk to God all day long. There’s no formula; I think that’s a hand me down from Christianity based religions.

There were none of those ‘are you serious’ moments that usually let me down in typical blockbuster type movies, but there were a few minor things that I noticed – at one point as Eli is walking down the road, he comes across a burned out car with the skelotonized remains of the driver in the seat. The way he stops and turns to look at it is extremely cheesy. And Gary Oldman’s acting took a dip near the very end, there was just something about the way he played ‘feverish’ that didn’t sit well with me. But these are minor nitpicky things.

The score was also top notch. Atticus Ross captured the mood just right. Strange apocolyptic swells invaded the music from time to time, which I thought fit right in as far as building the mood, but my buddy who went with me thought they were out of place and odd.

In summary, it was an outstanding movie with good production, script and acting. Even putting aside the religious aspects of it, it was awesome. Check it out.

1/17/2010 9:52pm

I’m back on the east coast. The flight home was excellent, compared to the flight out. On my way to San Francisco I sat beside a mother and her annoying baby, who cried and fussed and stank and grabbed at my ipod and generally invaded my personal space, while the mother basically didn’t even try to stop him from doing any of this. In a word, that six hour flight was excruciating. But coming home, we had a tail wind, cutting us down to about five hours, I had a window seat, the center seat was empty, and the guy on the aisle seat kept to himself. Except when the meal cart came by, and my debit card couldn’t be read by their machine so he bought my lunch for me. Thanks a lot whoever you are!

So I arrived in Wilmington at about 9:30. The family was so glad to see me, the girls came running up to me as soon as I walked through the security gate into the terminal. Big big hugs! They hadn’t seen their daddy in two weeks, and they were ecstatic that I was finally home, and my wife shared the attitude to say the least. Daphy had a SunDrop waiting for me, what a relief that was! No SunDrop for two weeks, I don’t know how I ever survived it. We ate at Waffle House on the way home, and as crazy and loud as the girls were, it was still a good experience.

When we got home, I didn’t get to sleep till about 1:30 (10:30 California time) and I slept for sixteen hours. I don’t really know what happened there – I’m usually doing good to get six or seven hours. I don’t think I’ve ever slept that long before. And for some reason, I’m tired right now. I must have that African sleeping sickness or something.

I don’t know what I’ll be doing this week, I suspect that Granite will have something for me to do though. I have eight weeks until my trip to Limerick, PA. Until then I think I’ll be back working at the airport part time. It will be nice to settle back into my old routine. Hopefully I’ll have time to add some music to the site as well, I found some great tunes while in the hotel this past week. Check the main page in the next few weeks, and until then, adios.


Hmm… lets see how this works out. I’ve been thinking of someway to start a personal blog but have it connected with the orbit, but not interfere with the music aspect. In other words, what I’d like is a page that links from the front page, but that has posts just like the front page. I’ll have to investigate. In the meantime, I’ll just keep adding to this page the way I used to add to the orbit back in the early 2000’s when it was all HTML – each post will have a date stamp in front of it.

So… whats going on with me? I’m working for a company called Granite Services. We refuel and inspect nuclear reactors. Sounds fun eh? No, that doesn’t mean I will glow in the dark or grow an eye in the back of my head. There is actually less radiation in the reactor building than there is in the parking lot, your yard or on the beach on a sunny day. They really pay such close attention to the amount of radioactive release coming from the reactor that people are exposed to more radiation from the sun and cosmic rays than I will be in the reactor building.

So, for the time being I am a student at Cape Fear Community College. Granite granted me a scholarship to attend the schools Nuclear Maintenance Technician program. I’ve been doing this for a year now, and so far it’s been a blast. I’ve taken two physics classes ( I love physics and reading about Einstein and relativity, quantum physics and science in general – in fact, I think I have discovered a completely new an unkown subatomic particle; well maybe not subatomic, as this particle exists outside a photon with the same relationship as the earth has to the moon. More about this at a later date…), an automation class that involved industrial robotics and some programming, which I also love.

This semester (Spring 2010) is a co-op work semester. Meaning I am working at a few jobs to get experience and learn a bit about what it is really like. I’ve been in San Jose, California for the last two weeks, at a GE facility that contains a mockup of an actual nuclear reactor. We’ve been practicing on getting a camera down to the internals of the reactor, learning how to maneuver it around all the various components to get certain shots of welds and load bearing surfaces, etc. It’s a lot of inspection, and a little component removal / replacement. It’s fun. Some of the tools we use to remove and replace reactor components are essentially highly specialized robots. You may be wondering – cameras? Robots? All the work we do is under about ninety feet of water. So everything has to be done from above, by lowering tools into the water via ropes or poles. Crazy, huh?

San Jose is about an hour from San Francisco. On the way out here, I remembered I have a cousin that lives somewhere in California. I managed to contact him via Facebook, and it turned out he lives right in San Francisco. So I drove up on Saturday morning, intending to spend a few hours with him and catch up on the last ten years or so since I saw him last. It was an extremely pleasant visit, with good conversation during which I discovered that he and I are extremely similar when it comes to movies, books and sci-fi.

On Saturday we headed over to Golden Gate Park and hiked around for a bit, visiting the Sutro Baths and various tunnels, caves and trails in the park. Finally we arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge, and I took some very mediocre pictures of it. It was overcast and foggy that day, not good for photgraphy.

Next we drove over to Chinatown and explored for a few hours. Chinatown was awesome! The first thing I noticed was an old Chinese man sitting on the corner playing some sort of violin-like instrument. I took interest in this instrument because while the strings are bowed like a violin, they are not pressed all the way down by the fingers against a fingerboard, the fingers only hold pressure against the string. I asked the man if I could take his picture, and he was more than happy to allow me to. And of course he picked up his pace a bit when I started paying attention to him, even going so far as to play an American song (one which I can’t quite put my finger on the name of, but a very familiar one).

Chinatown consists mainly of junk shops / tourist traps, but there were a few places scattered here and there that featured artwork, the most noticeable being a sort of ivory sculpture that depicted a village scene from ancient Chinese times. These sculptures were so ornate and detailed, and of a such a large scale, that I estimate it must take from 0ne to five years to carve. Each one was about four to five feet long, about 2 feet high. Hillsides and farmhouses, people gathering outside in the fields and roads, traditional Chinese imagery through and through – in a word, spectacular.

The streets are decorated with paper lanterns and Chinese architecture, shop windows lined with dragons and faux terra cotta warriors, there are plenty of sights to take in while in Chinatown.

After a short visit to  Coit Tower, during which we took an elevator ride to the top and got a magnificent nighttime view of the city, we headed over to Fishermans wharf. Sad to say, the sea lions which used to populate the docks have now moved on. There were a few left but it was dark by this time and we could only hear them barking and baying. We continued on past shops and vendors, escape artists and saxophone players, and even a Zoltar machine, which I asked if I could be big. It didn’t work, but there is still hope for me yet I suppose. We stopped at a restaurant and each got a bowl of clam chowder. In San Francisco, clam chowder comes in a bread bowl. It was excellent. The best part is scraping the bread from inside, all covered with clam chowder. The perfect thing for runny noses.

I wound up crashing on Justin’s sofa Saturday night. Sunday, after a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and coffee we headed out to see redwoods. Our destination was Mt. Tamalpais State Park, but we meandered a bit on the way. We found an old lighthouse with an extremely scary suspension footbridge, which looked as though it was about three hundred years old. The cables were rusty and deteriorating, and there was a two person limit on the bridge. But it was an interesting visit, as we learned a little about the history of the Golden Gate – the entrance to the San Francisco Bay that went undiscovered for so long.

After the lighthouse we happened on an old military installation of some sort, just a few buildings in the side of the mountain that were boarded up and locked, but there was an excellent view of San Francisco and the Bridge from the top of this area. After poking around for a few minutes, we continued on to Mt. Tamalpais. We spent approximately one hour in the park, walking the trails and taking in the redwoods. Redwoods are huge. As in seven feet across huge. I was amazed at the size of the things – I could have built a comfortable dwelling in quite a few of them. I took pictures, but that poor light that day combined with the tree canopy obscuring the light kept me from getting any decent shots.

We finally arrived back at Justin’s house just after dark, and I took my leave. Thanks Justin for the visit – I hope we can do it again soon!

Now I’m in my second week here, but I haven’t done much else but sleep so far. Work starts at 5pm and goes untl 1am or so. I want to try and get out tomorrow to see the Rosicrucian Egyptian museum, the computer history museum or maybe the Intel museum, but here it is just after 4am and I’m still awake. I guess my main goal tomorrow is to mail the postcard I meant to mail Monday. So until then…

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