Comparative Donutology: Honey’s result

Following up my second lead about rumored donuts superior to those of Tim Hortons, today I tried Honey’s donuts.

Yuck. They only had three flavors, and both of the two I tried were among the worst donuts I’ve ever had. Unappealing in appearance, taste and texture. They’re still infintely better than Krispy Kreme, but that’s not saying much.

Conclusion: Tim Hortons is still the top of the donut food chain.

Movie review: Where the Wild Things Are

Yeah, I know – how can you make a movie about of a 20-page childrens’ book that has one sentence per page? Well, I’d call it faithful if it had everything the book had:

  1. Same visual style.
  2. A troublesome boy getting in trouble.
  3. Escape to the forest.
  4. Some monsters.
  5. The boy dominating the monsters.
  6. A meal.

And it does have all of that, plus of course a lot of embellishments to blow it out from five minutes to movie length. Add to that that it was co-directed by the author of the original book, and I’d have to say I can’t cry bastardization.

Overall, not bad. It’s very much not my kind of story – life-lesson and growing-up stories have never grabbed me – but for what it is it’s good. It was never clear to me what the moral of the story was (even in book form) but I think I get it now – at the end Max was supposed to have gained an appreciation of the importance of having a family, and how hard it can be to manage one. I’m still puzzled about how Carol and KW’s relationship was relevant to Max’s home life, but maybe it wasn’t supposed to be.

Movie review: Zombieland

Based on the trailer, I expected this to be a humorous, over-the-top zombie-slaughtering romp – sort of like Army of Darkness, but in a different setting and with more splatter.I’ve heard a lot of good things about it too.

Unfortunately, the trailer included pretty much all the good parts. There was one nice surprise not in the trailer, but it ended up being very predictable.

Waste of time and money. If you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen the movie, and it’s nowhere near as good as anything in the Evil Dead series.

Need more words for sand

A point of interest I forgot to mention during my Long Beach posts: you know how the Eskimos supposedly have fifty trillion words for snow? We could use some more words for sand too. I encountered lots of different characters of sand at the beach, including one that was very novel to me (last in the list below).


Also lots of interesting sand shapes and patterns formed by the interaction of wind, waves and different weights of sand. I put together a collage of some of them in the picture above. Looking at some of the shapes sand can form, it’s really easy to believe there was once water flowing on the surface of Mars.

I found:

  • Soft, dry sand, often wind-blown into rills or small dunes.
  • Soft, dry sand under a crust of damp, hard-packed sand.
  • Fine sand so water-saturated it flows like a slurry.
  • Damp sand so hard-packed by the waves that it won’t accept footprints.
  • Semi-quick sand that seems solid when you walk on it, but stand still for a few seconds and you start to sink in.
  • A one to two inch thick layer of packed sand above an inch-thick layer of slurry, and more hard sand under that. Walking on it feels like walking on a thick rubber mat. I discovered its nature accidentally by leaning on my walking stick, only to have it suddenly drop after slowly sinking for a few seconds. The slurry underneath can instantly switch between fluid “water with sand in it” and solid “sand with water in it” states in response to pressure. I’ve never encountered this before, and it was fascinating.

Travelblogue: experimental results

So I’ve just finished my first experiment with blogging a vacation. It was rewarding for me, but there are a bunch of things that could have gone better.

I didn’t deal correctly with the days I lacked network access. I should have been writing the text for those days locally on my machine for later posting; writing it a couple of days after the fact is not good because I tend to forget details and allow “future” events to shade my phrasing.

Making a post takes a lot longer than I expected; I could barely manage one per evening, and that meant there was no way I could catch up with my backlog until I got home. Writing the text is the easy part; even with proofing end editing that takes less than an hour. It’s assembling the other media (maps and photos in my case) that takes a lot of time. For the maps, my GPS logs had a lot of redundant data in them so I wanted to trim some of that out before posting to make the embedded maps in my posts more responsive. For the photos, many of my posts included stitched panoramas and I was also doing some HDR and timelapse movie experiments, and all that processing takes time. Even without that, locating the best photos to post out of hundreds per day takes time.

And there were plain old computer problems, too. Google Earth’s path editor sucks. I need a better tool for editing my GPS tracks. Autostitch frequently barfs when I try to create panoramas; I can’t really blame it given what it is, but I haven’t found a better tool yet. And since my laptop only has half a gig of memory, it’s common for Autostitch to spend hours chewing on one panorama, and flipping though my photos to find ones to post is also a slow process.

The software problems were exacerbated by the laptop touchpad; ignoring the secondary mouse button, there are four things you do with a mouse: move the cursor, click, double-click and drag. Since my muscular control is not perfectly precise, the touchpad generates random combinations of these four actions whenever I try to move the cursor or drag something. That makes mouse-based editing work really frustrating and also creates errors. I really want to find one of these or something similar to use instead, but they seem to be hard to find.

So, my takeaway lessons from this are:

  1. Avoid falling behind. Always write the text (and if possible, choose the pictures) the day of, even if there’s no network access to actually post them. Posting existing content after the fact is less of a sin than writing the content after the fact.
  2. Get a better laptop and a better pointing device. A lot of my workflow frustration would have been alleviated if I could have worked at my normal pace without introduced errors and long waits.
  3. Get better software. Life is too short to put up with software that sucks. In particular I need GPS manipulation software, panorama stitching software, HDR compositing software, image->movie conversion software, and fast slideshow or light table software.

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