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Archive for June, 2013

Summer Movie Night 03: Despicable Me (2010)

June 28th, 2013 Comments off

It’s Summer Vacation and time to catch up on some of the shows and movies we have been meaning to see. Life during the school year can be quite busy with both a college professor and a high school student in the house, so it is nice to settle in for an hour or more over dinner and enjoy a movie all together as a family.

Despicable me

We had a busy day today, so we wanted to kick back and relax a bit tonight. It was the first full day when we were ALL on vacation (although I did go and do a quick client call today). I had been wanting to see Despicable Me for a while, as my son had enjoyed it a lot when he saw it with his Nonna. Unfortunately, since he sees most movies with her, my wife and I miss seeing a lot of movies — hence only seeing this one 3 years after its release. (LAUGH)

I enjoyed the movie greatly. The animation was first rate and quite amazing. I lost myself in the story since the animation was so well done, cartoon-like, yes, but very realistic as well. It never intruded. The story is also top notch. There are some quite chuckles, a few outright belly laughs, but also quite touching. It held together well and came to a very satisfying end. Check it out if you haven’t seen it. 


“A mysterious criminal mastermind has stolen one of the pyramids in Egypt, sparking a fit of jealous envy in evil genius Gru (Steve Carell), who hasn’t managed to make headlines since he and his minions swiped the Times Square JumboTron years back. Ever since Gru was a little boy, he dreamed of going to the moon. Now, if Gru can just build a rocket and get his hands on a powerful shrink-ray, he can cement his reputation as the greatest thief who ever lived by stealing the Earth’s satellite right out of the sky.:” – Fandango

Where to Watch Despicable Me:

Categories: Entertaiment, Summer Movie Night Tags:

TV Worth Watching: Shock and Awe – The Story of Electricity

June 22nd, 2013 Comments off

TV Worth Watching is a new series highlighting my favorite television viewing. I am a big fan of UK television, so you are sure to see many UK shows and movies featured here. — Douglas

TV Worth Watching: Shock and Awe – The Story of Electricity

Another amazing BBC science documentary. I consider shows like this My Own Personal Master’s Degree. I am very self-directed in my education and shows like this can help expand my knowledge greatly. I also love science, so I tend to “geek out” on shows like this when I find them. I most love the combination of history and science that these documentary’s provide. I think it is a great way to explore a subject deeply, but in ways that the average person can understand.

This 3-part series covers the history of our discovery and taming of electricity and how it has deeply and dramatically effected human life.

Shock awe

Watch “Shock and Awe – The story of Electricity – Episode 1” on YouTube

From the BBC 4 Web Site…

Professor Jim Al-Khalili tells the electrifying story of our quest to master nature’s most mysterious force – electricity. Until fairly recently, electricity was seen as a magical power, but it is now the lifeblood of the modern world and underpins every aspect of our technological advancements.

Without electricity, we would be lost. This series tells of dazzling leaps of imagination and extraordinary experiments – a story of maverick geniuses who used electricity to light our cities, to communicate across the seas and through the air, to create modern industry and to give us the digital revolution.

Episode one tells the story of the very first ‘natural philosophers’ who started to unlock the mysteries of electricity. They studied its curious link to life, built strange and powerful instruments to create it and even tamed lightning itself. It was these men who truly laid the foundations of the modern world. Electricity was without doubt a fantastical wonder. This is the story about what happened when the first real concerted effort was made to understand electricity; how we learned to create and store it, before finally creating something that enabled us to make it at will – the battery.” — BBC

More information on Shock and Awe – The Story of Electricity :

My Own Personal Master’s Degree Playlist

Previously on TV Worth Watching…


Summer Movie Night 02: The Adventures of TinTin (2011)

June 21st, 2013 Comments off

It’s Summer Vacation and time to catch up on some of the shows and movies we have been meaning to see. Life during the school year can be quite busy with both a college professor and a high school student in the house, so it is nice to settle in for an hour or more over dinner and enjoy a movie all together as a family.


Tonight’s movie was TinTin, directed by Stephen Spielberg,  produced with Peter Jackson and written by current Doctor Who producer, Steven Moffat. I was interested in the movie for a variety of reasons. There is the style of animation, which I can only describe as comic realism, the writer, director and producer involved and the fact that it looked like a fun romp. It was indeed that, although the ending was a bit unsatisfying, setting up for a possible sequel more than truly ending the film.

TinTin, and his creator, Hergé are much more well known in Europe, where they are a cultural phenomenon in most countries. There is an excellent documentary called “TinTin and I” that explores the history and impact of TinTin, too, if you can locate it to watch.

Where to Watch TinTin:

More on TinTin, the original comics:

“The Adventures of Tintin (French: Les Aventures de Tintin) is a series of comic albums created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi (1907–1983), who wrote under the pen name of Hergé. The series is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century, with translations published in more than 50 languages and sales of more than 200 million copies as of 2003.[1]

The series first appeared in French on 10 January 1929 in Le Petit Vingtième, a children’s supplement to the Belgian newspaper Le XXe Siècle. The success of the series saw the serialised strips published in Belgium’s leading newspaper Le Soir and spun into a successful Tintin magazine. In 1950, Hergé created Studios Hergé, which produced the canonical series of twenty-four Tintin albums. The Adventures of Tintin have been adapted for radio, television, theatre, and film.

The series is set during a largely realistic 20th century. Its hero is Tintin, a young Belgian reporter. He is aided by his faithful fox terrier dog Snowy (Milou in the original French editions). Later, popular additions to the cast included the brash and cynical Captain Haddock, the highly intelligent but hearing-impaired Professor Calculus (French: Professeur Tournesol), and other supporting characters such as the incompetent detectives Thomson and Thompson (French: Dupont et Dupond). —

More information on TinTin:


Categories: DVD, Entertaiment, Movie, Summer Movie Night Tags:

Summer Solstice 2013 has arrived!

June 20th, 2013 Comments off

I almost let it slip by without notice, but the Summer Solstice occurs tomorrow morning, June 21 at 5:04 UTC. The solstice is just one of those ways of marking the passing seasons and the passing years. In the past, there was much importance ascribed to the day and celebrations were commonplace. A couple of years ago, we were even lucky enough to be at Stonehenge in Salisbury, UK on the solstice. We didn’t great the sunrise with the other thousands of people, but visited later in the day with far fewer, and far less rowdy, people. (SMILE)


Here is a “long picture” video from our visit.

So what is the Summer Solstice? You can start your exploration with this Wikipedia article.

Summer Solstice

“The summer solstice occurs when the tilt of a planet’s semi-axis, in either the northern or the southern hemisphere, is most inclined toward the star (sun) that it orbits. Earth’s maximum axial tilt toward the sun is 23° 26′. This happens twice each year, at which times the sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the north or the south pole.

The summer solstice occurs during a hemisphere’s summer. This is northern solstice in the northern hemisphere and the southern solstice in the southern hemisphere. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs some time between December 20 and December 23 each year in the southern hemisphere[2] and between June 20 and June 22 in the northern hemisphere[3] in reference to UTC.[4]

Though the summer solstice is an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like midsummer to refer to the day on which it occurs. The summer solstice occurs on the day that has the longest period of daylight – except in the polar regions, where daylight is continuous, from a few days to six months around the summer solstice.

Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied among cultures, but most recognize the event in some way with holidays, festivals, and rituals around that time with themes of religion or fertility.[5]
Solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).”

I often touch on the Summer Solstice in my writing. Here are a few links from my other blogs.


Summer Movie Night: Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage Of The Dawn Treader

June 19th, 2013 Comments off

It’s Summer Vacation and time to catch up on some of the shows and movies we have been meaning to see. Life during the school year can be quite busy with both a college professor and a high school student in the house, so it is nice to settle in for an hour or more over dinner and enjoy a movie all together as a family.

Narnia dawn treader


Tonight’s showing is Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage Of The Dawn Treader . We are big fans of the Narnia books and have enjoyed all the movies, so this was an easy choice to make. Now that we have a large HDTV and a combination BluRay DVD player and SmartTV device, it is incredibly easy to rent movies from and a variety of other sources. This convenience make it easy to chose a movie on the spur of the moment, something that helps insure we actually set aside some time for entertainment in our busy days.

“The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven high fantasy novels by C. S. Lewis. It is considered a classic of children’s literature and is the author’s best-known work, having sold over 100 million copies in 47 languages.[1][2] Written by Lewis between 1949 and 1954, illustrated by Pauline Baynes and originally published in London between October 1950 and March 1956, The Chronicles of Narnia has been adapted several times, complete or in part, for radio, television, the stage, and film.

Set in the fictional realm of Narnia, a fantasy world of magic, mythical beasts, and talking animals, the series narrates the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of that world. Except in The Horse and His Boy, the protagonists are all children from the real world, magically transported to Narnia, where they are called upon by the lion Aslan to protect Narnia from evil and restore the throne to its rightful line. The books span the entire history of Narnia, from its creation in The Magician’s Nephew to its eventual destruction in The Last Battle.

More information on Narnia:


New glasses for me!

June 17th, 2013 Comments off

It has been a while since I bought new eyeglasses, but I finally got some new ones today. It is so odd how much your “look” changes (as well as your outlook) when you wear glasses. It is probably the only fashion accessory I use on any occasion and one that is, in my case, required.

New glasses

I have worn glasses since I was 10 years old, so this is probably my 15 pair, but the new look never fails to throw me when I look in the mirror. After a week or so, I am sure I won’t even notice, but right now it feels odd.

Categories: Friends and Family Tags:

Product: My New Coffee Pot (and tea, too!) – Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus

June 16th, 2013 Comments off

We have had a combination coffee pot and steam espresso maker for quite a while now. In fact, it has been brought back into everyday use 3 times now, when other pots failed to last very long. Today, though, I came across a coffee maker that better meets our current needs and even takes up a bit less space on the countertop.

I came across the Cusinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus while out on a stroll Saturday evening. We were just walking to walk and chose a busy retail area so we could do a little window-shopping and people watching along the way. I headed into a home store and just decided to take a look at the coffee makers on offer. I had decided I wanted to get a new unit a while ago, but hadn’t really been looking much and was in no great hurry, as our current pot was still working ok.

There are so many coffee makers on the market today with all sorts of features, including the very popular 1-cup “pod” machines. I prefer to choose my own coffee wherever I wish (and also to avoid the relatively large waste generated by a 1-cup machine) so I was looking for something more traditional.

As it happens, my wife switched from coffee to tea drinking a little more than a year ago. She has been using a stovetop kettle to heat her water and I had been looking to buy an electric kettle for here, just to speed things up a bit and make her mornings a little easier. Oddly enough, this coffee maker also comes with a hot water on demand feature which I think will be perfect for her tea making both in the morning and in the evenings. We both tend to like a cup of decaf after dinner. The hot water area holds enough water for about 8 cups of tea, with 2 cups being immediately available when the Hot Water feature is turned on. I am guessing we will warm it up in the morning, turn it off after the morning routine finishes and then fire it back up in the evening, We don’t have a need to keep the hot water active all the time, although for a family get-together or party it would be nice to have available.

The coffee side of the appliance is fairly typical, although this will be the first unit I have ever owned with a timer start feature, which could come in handy without ever-changing schedules. 

It will be interesting to see how this unit works out, but as an avid coffee drinker I wanted to share this small bit of our everyday life in hopes it might give you an idea of where to start if you are looking for a new coffeemaker.

Cusinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus

Categories: Cooking, Drinks, Food, Home, Products, Technology Tags:

TV Worth Watching: Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England

June 15th, 2013 Comments off

TV Worth Watching is a new series highlighting my favorite television viewing. I am a big fan of UK television, so you are sure to see many UK shows and movies featured here. — Douglas

TV Worth Watching: Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England 

What would you need to know if you were time traveling back to Elizabethan England? What would you need to learn to move among the poor, the rich and the up-and-comers in 16 Century Society. Learn it all in this excellent documentary series with Ian Mortimer, writer of the books of the same name.

I love series like this. They are given the time to fully explore a period of history or a section of science or the arts without ignoring huge swathes of history or important information. I am alway keeping watch for new, similar documentaries from the BBC. They rarely fail to entertain as well as inform.


Watch “Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England Episode 1” directly on YouTube

“Ian Mortimer transports viewers back to Elizabethan England and reveals, in vivid detail, a living, breathing Tudor world. Viewers learn how ordinary Tudor housewives turned plants into medicine, how the middle classes kept themselves clean using linen cloths, how the poor made pottage, how cooks of the rich devised recipes for new ingredients, and how Tudors learned to read and write.” — BBC


From the author of one of the biggest-selling history books of recent years, the follow-up to The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England. The past is a foreign country — this is your guide.

We think of Queen Elizabeth I as ‘Gloriana’: the most powerful English woman in history. We think of her reign (1558-1603) as a golden age of maritime heroes, like Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Francis Drake, and of great writers, such as Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. But what was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time?

In this book Ian Mortimer answers the key questions that a prospective traveller to late sixteenth-century England would ask. Applying the groundbreaking approach he pioneered in his bestselling Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England, the Elizabethan world unfolds around the reader.” –

More information on Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England :

Previously on TV Worth Watching…

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June 12th, 2013 Comments off
Categories: Announcement, Careers, News Tags:

Places LA: A Visit to the Museum of the American West, Griffith Park

June 12th, 2013 Comments off

Starting our Summer Break from school, we met up with another family at the Museum of the American West, part of the Autry Center in Griffith Park. The Museum is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and unfortunately, large sections of the museum are closed for renovation. That said, there is still quite a bit to see. I created this montage video and also took a number of photos during our trip.

The Museum of the American West is open FREE the first Tuesday of every month.

View my photos from the visit in this Flickr set

A Visit to the Museum of the American West - 02