Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Tuesday! July 22, 2014

Okay, so the world is again a crazy place to be.  The Middle East continues to be a violent area with wars between, well..., everyone.  The European Union faces more challenges in how to handle the situation in the Ukraine, because no one wants to start another war on Russian soil.  But it almost feels as though Putin is banking on people's unwillingness to war to push the situation as far as he can - and then push a little more.  As for the United States, between the TSA producing security theater to compensate (figuratively), the NSA spying on American citizens while trying to spin the invasion of privacy as a good thing, the government not taking care of our soldiers and veterans again, and GM recalling so many models of car I'm surprised whenever I see one on the road...the US is messed up.

So today, we're going to step back from the negativity and look as some funny and heartwarming news.

First, the funny.  Last week, some police in Kentucky arrested a 29-year-old man for shoplifting $35 worth of beer.  The intoxicated suspect went into the holding cell when he (allegedly) conned the police into making a phone call. Using his cell phone, the man contacted the local pizza delivery service and prank ordered food for the police officers, under his own arresting officer's name.  The pizza arrived, the police paid for the order (not realizing it was a prank), and then someone figured out what happened.

Oops. To put it mildly, they were not amused.

So the now-sober 29-year-old man faces more charges from his prank call; charges that are worse that what he was originally arrested for.  Maybe this guy can get a clue on how to prank from seniors at a Santa Barbara High School in California.  They hired a four person mariachi band to follow their principal around as a farewell gift (prank).  The principal took it in stride, enjoying the bank as they played for an hour and a half.

On to a bit of Internet helpfulness...

Eight days ago, a man asked reddit users for help.  You see, his wife gave birth to their daughter several weeks earlier, but the baby girl never left the NICU, dying before seeing the light of day.  The father only has pictures of his daughter with tubes and such.  He asked for help photoshopping or otherwise removing the tubes from the picture, so he and his wife would have one picture of her without medical trappings.

Here is the picture of the baby girl that the man posted:

Here are two of my favorite responses:

from funkybrewster on reddit

from ChangingYang on reddit

These two photos are a tiny sample of the dozens from people who took the time to help this man and his wife have one normal baby picture.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A New Mix from AudioTool

I found this online site called audiotool that lets anyone mix together tracks and use special effects to create new music. Here's my latest effort. I warn you, it's house music. Enjoy!

Wordless Wednesday: Artist Jkuo on deviantArt

If you like this, you can find more of his work at jkuo.deviantart.com

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book Review: "A Shade of Vampire" by Bella Forest

A Shade of Vampire (A Shade of Vampire, #1)A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"A Shade of Vampire" is the first in a series of books about a young woman, Sofia, kidnapped by vampires and stuck in the middle of a prophesy. I suggest you read the description here for a good synopsis of the book.

I, well, I've read reviews praising this book as a herald to the next vampire book dynasty. I've also read reviews panning the book as the worst piece of drivel ever written. I find both viewpoints a bit extreme.

The plot here is a bit convoluted, though if you read more books I assume that the various threads will become more clear. The author, Bella Forest, clearly has a bigger picture in mind as she writes, because the outline of a larger story arc looms over this book. Sometimes this works well, and sometimes it falls flat, leaving you wondering what's going on.

The characters are all over the place in terms of depth and scope. Some feel like stock good guys and bad guys, and some have a real depth to them. Ms. Forest has an aggressive publishing schedule; I wonder if she needs to slow down and maybe edit a little more.

In the end, I will read the next book, but I hope the writing evens out.

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Book Review: "Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab..." by Bog Pflugfelder

Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Electromagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build YourselfNick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Electromagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build Yourself by Bob Pflugfelder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab" is an interesting combination of story-telling and science experiment. The book begins with two siblings, Nick and Tesla, arriving at their uncle's house for the summer because their parents got called away on business. During the story, the kids make friends in the neighborhood, investigate an odd house with hostile occupants, and solve a local mystery. Nick and Tesla learn that not everything is as it seems.

The story itself is quite simple, and the characters are not quite three dimensional. Nick and Tesla argue a bit; their uncle is clueless; and their new friends instantly adopt them as leaders. You can feel the author stretching for more, but missing the mark by a hair.

But there are more books already written in the series, and I assume the characters have rounded out during the subsequent adventures.

In between chapters, the author explains how a regular kid can create some of Nick and Tesla's inventions. Here is where the book shines, because the project blueprints are complete and each project is quite fun, from the burglar alarm to the air rocket. I cannot praise these enough.

I recommend this book to kids from late elementary school to early middle school, young enough to appreciate the simplicity of the story and old enough to do the projects.

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