Friday, April 26, 2013

TBBT:132.621. The Closure Alternative


Best opening opening ever in this show. I also was a fan of Heroes, when it ended. If only Smallville would had taken the hint, stupid show...

Anyhow I like how Amy is so hands on right away. Putting her knowledge to work to better Sheldon's life.

One of the many things I share with my beloved Sheldon is a need to know how things end. My idea of hell is an infinite library with every single book ever written in it...with the last page missing. Greek torture for all eternity for me. It was kind hard to watch the treatment. Specially the dominoes, all that job wasted! I feel your pain, Sheldon.

Our poor Amy's needs keep unmet one episode more, poor girl. Sheldon has no idea. The treatment might had been something she learned for herself given her circumstances.  Also did Sheldon had a sort of orgasm caused indirectly by Amy? I'm counting it as getting to third base if you don't mind. SHAMY... SORT OF...DID IT... IN A WAY! YAY SHAMERS!

Lenny is progressing even more. Penny acknowledged how good her life is  at this point. She just needs to accept her natural mellow personality and I think is part of the reason she managed to become friends with our guys and fall for Leonard. She doesn't get impatience or desperate she is  'go with the flow'. That is not a bad trait, never change Penny.

Penny also did some introspection in the episode and confronted some fantasies she had as a little girl. Like the movies she wants to act in as an adult, she needs to let go of the pictures and embrace the more amazing reality. I hope my predictions are right and we finally get the proposal from Penny. I actually though she was going to do it for a moment, but that is season cliffhanger material. Wait and see.

Although Leonard, Buffy? Really? Joss-creates-characters-for-people-to-love-and-then-kills-them-when-they-are-at-their-happiest-Whedon, is not a good universe to introduce any human being with the idea of getting her hooked on. I hope next time he sticks to something less prone to heartbreak, like the Tudors...

Oh Bernadette you little megalomaniac...
Our Howard is still himself even if he is married now. The show wouldn't be the same if he wasn't a bit creepy once in a while. I think Bernadette and him connect in part because they are both a bit weird with social conventions. I can only imagine what kind of kids they will spawn.

I would feel less comfortable about Raj reading Lucy's blog, if it was not for the fact that Lucy published her personal life for all the net to see. Hard to claim privacy invasion when she decided to make it all public.
Raj is so cute when he doesn't get things. I like that he is worried about looking manly even though is not what he is.
The conversation between of Raj and Howard kind of showcased that.  They are all nervous weirdos but, Lucy acknowledges her own quirkiness so he doesn't need to pretend to be a man he is not and she accepts his peculiarities too. They can bond over their own special way to see the world. This two are growing on me a lot. Wishing them a good run.
Although, doggie kisses? Ewww not a dog person here, no matter how cute.
The show was good enough. Not, memorable but good. Can't wait for the cliffhanger.

4 Bazingas out of 5

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Babymoon Geek Style. Flagstaff, Arizona.


This is the most famous hole in the ground I had seen!

Even though the term babymoon implies sadness, over our time as only the two of us disappearing. At least until the kids leave the house to create their own lives. We personally consider it a celebration of things to come. We couldn't wait for Orion to be in our arms as he was in our minds. This just the last time he gets to travel for free!

Flagstaff, Arizona was chosen as our destination because its a strategic vacationing point for visiting geeky places in the zone. We planned to use it as stepping stone to visit the Grand Canyon, the Meteor Crater and the Percival Lowell's Observatory and some peaks, volcanoes, elevations and Native American settlements. All in one week or less!

We decided to make the trip on train instead of a plane. Neither hubby or I ever traveled by train. I know is crazy but I'm still not over fear of flying so I jumped at the chance of moving in safe land as a secondary benefit from traveling by train.
That turns into a bed. Here I though I was savvy.
We didn't wanted to leave our car in the parking lot of the bus station for a week. So I was in charge of getting us from home, to Union Station in Los Angeles using the bus. Hubby has been driving since High School, but since I can't drive the way I move around when he is not available, is taking public transportation like I used to do in Dominican Republic.

The bus trip was pretty straightforward and easy and cheaper than gas. Of course it took twice the time, this is the reason most people end up getting a car and I will be driving soon enough as well. We had time to take a light lunch before the Amtrak train arrived, since we made it a few hours before time, calculating for the unavoidable vacation 'problems'. Hoping missing our train wouldn't be one of them. Sadly they are never what you expected them to be. We only had three inconveniences in this trip, so we consider ourselves lucky.

The trip in the Amtrak train was delightful. For the price of your tickets , they serve you a delicious warm dinner, like in old movies in a common dinning wagon. I love small talk with strangers, we meet a nice lady with whom we talked about cats and living in the center of the country where she was going to.

The sleeping arrangements were comfortable enough I usually cling to my husband all night long and we usually can share a fairly small space since we are both lightweights. But, with seven months pregnant bump I settled for the down bed and had the chance to enjoy an spectacular view of the desert at night and later on an electrical storm. Worth it in the end.

We arrived around 12 hours later we arrived to Flagstaff, got our reservations. The room was comfortable and functional except for problem #1.
No vacation trip should be without a leaky toilet.

They offered us another room,but once the bathroom was fixed we decided to stay. Being close to the lobby with coffee, tea 24/7 and in the first floor it meant less walking time for the heavily pregnant lady aka me. Never mind how much walking and hiking for several miles I did  in the days to come...

We went to the Meteor Crater first. Its full name is Barringer Crater, named after the first scientist that suggested it was created by a meteor and not a volcanic explosion. Back in the day, many scientists were convinced it was a volcanic crater and considered the alien origin unlikely. The zone is full of volcanoes it surely made sense back then. But later with time and tests Daniel Barringer was proven right.

The museum explains everything about the history of the crater and has exhibits showing other meteor impacts around the world. It also features one of the biggest pieces of the meteor they found, is not even chained. Our tour guide joked that anyone that could carry the rock was welcomed to take it home.
You think Cthulhu will eat us first?
We are posing here with our meteor rings. Hubby has a meteor iron band and I have a Moldavite* stone in my wedding ring. I call this my 'gifts from the stars' photo.  In hindsight sounds like the beginning of a horror sci-fi movie: "The stars are right. When two unsuspecting tourists bring together three fallen pieces of the sky, they awaken an ancient evil." Maybe a B-Movie.
Tip for Orion, this why you always buy the insurance when you rent a car. A.L.W.A.Y.S. In our way back we had problem #2.
I should had kept it as a souvenir... or spare parts
Our next stop: the Grand Canyon.  We don't have canyons in Dominican Republic so I didn't have any idea of how it will look in person. Of course you can guess how many movies, TV series, cartoon and comics show some bits of this masterpiece of Mother Nature. Nothing in comparison with the real deal though.

Most people visiting the Arizona Grand Canyon National Park starts on Mather Point which has the big museum, the cafe and the exhibits and later go East to the other points. But since the guide we had warned us about parking issues, we decided to go backwards in the tour in case we couldn't find a parking spot. It was a great idea.

Honey? I think your country is broken...

From the first barely visited point, to Desert View impressive watchtower, we ended on the most visited area. The warming up to the other views just made us more awed with the beauty of Mather Point. I definitely recommend the backwards approach for any visitors. It also makes for a quicker return home.

We almost though we will spent our vacation in the hotel reading and watching movies due to Problem #3 Tornado warning. But thankfully we only had to take one day to rest and continued with our trip as planned.
I'm the only one that though The Roadrunner was a jerk?
The Lowell Observatory was the next stop. The Clark Refractory Telescope* and the Astrograph are two of the most important attractions, the whole complex is devoted to astronomy and has at least two telescopes in active use and the other as educational tools. The tour guide walked us over a scale solar system represented by plaques in the terrain. We got a solid idea of how far away our brothers and sister planets are and why . The museum has all sorts of testing gear to demonstrate the planetary science. They also host star parties in a regular basis with instructors detailing several astronomical facts, of course the classic tale of how Pluto was discovered and a brief explanation about its 'demotion'. The gift shop has quite humorous T-shirts about the whole issue with Pluto not being a planet anymore.
This was probably the highlight of the trip for me. Also save the Clark!

We got lucky in this visit. The day of our visit was the first night during our stay, clear enough to get the telescopes out and see Saturn and other constellations and planets. And they had an special event  celebrating the week of the anniversary of the moon landings. Flagstaff played a crucial role for the Apollo Program*. The town hosted a team of scientists that taking advantage of the nearby volcanoes and the meteor crater went to run experiments and studies. The astronauts of the Apollo program went there, to learn geology so they could pick the most geologically telling rocks from the moon and bring them back to Earth.


Neil Armstrong hand print and the original practice Rover they used at Cinder Lake

The coordinators of the space program took a nearby cinder lake and several pictures of Mare Tranquillitatis, the place the Lunar Module was planned to land and using explosive charges they created a reproduction of the terrain.  The future astronauts practiced geology and how to drive around the craters in The Rover.
The geological society even has Neil Armstrong's hand print and the practice vehicle in exhibition.

Later, we did a Google search and found out the cinder lake still had some of the craters made back in the 60's and it was just a few miles out of town. You can probably guess what we did next day July 20...

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: The first woman to walk in a reproduction of the moon!

The same day we visited some impressive volcanic craters. We decided to take it easy the rest of our trip and visited local attractions, the other Planes of Fame Museum and Native American settlements and we even spent the last hours waiting for our train to arrive playing Settlers of Catan in a nice little store called The Geekery.
That hairdo seems familiar somehow Mmmm...


Orion this was a memorable trip. Maybe we can go back when you can enjoy it all with your own eyes.

*The Clark is in need of repairs. Go to indiegogo to help maintain this scientific instrument for the generations to come.
* Moldavite is not a meteor rock. But it formed when a meteor hit Earth 15 million years ago. I like to joke that since is green and 'fell from the sky' is actually Kryptonite. Superman you better keep your distance.
*Another point against the moon landing hoax believers.  Ocam's razor says that they if NASA spent years, resources and recruited places like this, with clear evidence of research, practice, studies and even a reproduction of the landing site. The more simple explanation is that we went to the moon.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Geek Mom of the Month. Ellen Ochoa



This month I will be honoring an amazing mother, scientist, Latina and astronaut: Ellen Ochoa.

She is the first Hispanic female cosmonaut and sadly so far the only one. She has around 1,000 hours accumulated in space and she also has researched extensively optics systems to detect defects in a repeating pattern, owning three patents to date. She is currently the Director of the Johnson Space Center.

She was born on May 10, 1958 in Los Angeles and we almost lost her to her other passion music, since she planned to make it her professional career. Luckily for us the geek muse song was stronger than the flute's and after receiving her Bachelor's degree on Physics she pursued a Master's degree and a PHD in electrical engineering from Stanford University.

She didn't forget her classical musical training taking her flute with her to orbit. She is one of the few musicians in the world to have, the rare privilege of playing in zero gravity with the notes floating around her like an space siren.

It was another female astronaut Sally Ride with her amazing accomplishments that inspired her to continue her love for science by pursuing a career in Aerospace. She was accepted into NASA's astronaut training program in 1990 and in April of 1993, she  traveled into space for the first time, in the Discovery Space Shuttle.

In her missions she operated the Station's robotic arm several times. To maneuver space-walkers around the Station, to deploy and capture the Spartan satellite, which studied the solar corona. She also used the RMS to retrieve the CRISTA-SPAS atmospheric research satellite. Among other duties and studies.

Dr. Ochoa has received seven awards from NASA to date, in addition to the Women in Aerospace Outstanding Achievement Award, the Hispanic Engineer Albert Baez Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution to Humanity, and the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award. In 1999, she was selected by then President Clinton to serve on the Presidential Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History.

Playing the flute in space!


She also has two schools named after her: Ellen Ochoa Middle School in Pasco, Washington, and the Ellen Ochoa Learning Center in Cudahy, California. And is Member of the Optical Society of America (OSA), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi honor societies.

She is married to Coe Fulmer Miles, with whom she has two sons. Ochoa and her husband would encourage them to become astronauts, if they choose. "Being an astronaut is a wonderful career," Ochoa said. "I feel very privileged. But what I really hope for young people is that they find a career they're passionate about, something that's challenging and worthwhile."

I dream that in the near future, we will work as a species to reach the moon again and among the privileged ones we will have the first woman to set foot 'La luna'.  I'm sure that whoever she might be. It will be the road started by pioneer women as Dr Ochoa that will make it possible. She is a  wonderful example for all women and future mothers of the world that love science into pursuing their rightful place among the stars.

Friday, April 12, 2013

TBBT:131.620.The Tenure Turbulence.



I liked this episode although the jokes about Sheldon being blind to politically correctness regarding to race are a bit old at this point. Once a season should be great but now it looks like even the genius Sheldon Cooper cannot make a simple connection or/and at least ask Amy before he interacts with people of races he is not familiar with.

I have to give credit to Amy for incorporating her social skills to their relationship dynamic and to Sheldon to be 'humble' enough to accept her input in an area he should know at this point he lacks. The fact that Sheldon praises her and trusts her is a big step in the right direction for this two and I think she is already used to being the initiator in physical matters. I'm guessing that even if their relationship becomes sexual at some point. Sheldon will ask her to sign a "coitus contract"to regulate their sex life. Hijinks will ensue with discussing clauses and activities if it comes true. I think is also an interesting issue to explore of having the guy being the less interested on sex in the relationship, not many fictional couples have this dynamic.

Penny and Leonard seem to be on a good place she is supportive of his dreams in the best way she can master. Although I do wonder if the fact she thinks her beauty is her only asset to Leonard's career plays up on her insecurities about the relationship. Trophy wife is only fun when you plan to be a trophy wife from the get go, no when you seriously want to have a meaningful marriage. I don't think the season will end without addressing their relationship status at least once more I'm hoping for an engagement.

Howard was a bit mean this episode. I guess since he couldn't apply. The second best was to watch the train-wreck. Let loose a couple of train tracks, grab a chair, the popcorn and let the show begin. He must be bored, jealous or both. Although, knowing how vicious Bernadette can be when she is competing I can see how him just being an spectator was best for all involved.

Is funny I don't remember Raj being a spoiled brat. He is usually humble about coming from money. Maybe part of his issues with women, are because he never gained confidence from actually earning his own money and seat warmers. Also how much he can trash an apartment on his own? A cleaning lady more than twice a week sounds excessive for a single guy with a tiny dog. I was glad to see her again. I'm a cat person but even I find her adorable.

I have to say I'm kind of disappointed on the guys assessment of Kripke. What makes him a jerk? He is in their same footing: Nerdy scientist with some social issues relating to people and women. The only difference is that he doesn't belong to the same group and I will admit his sexual innuendo is very unsettling but is not like he does it to everyone all the time.

In this episode they did the same things Kripke did to gain the tenure position and it seems he at least talked to Janine a couple of times before the exercise scene started. A contrast with our group of nerds that only knew her because of the sexual harassment incident of some episodes ago.
Our guys, had showed prejudice before, when they were making fun of Penny's ex in earlier seasons. I do hope they understand that is not fun when is done to them so its not fun when done to others.

Overall decent episode, not as funny as usual.

3 1/2 Bazingas out of 5.
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