The Day of the Triffids – BBC Series Thoughts

The Day of the Triffids - BBC 2009

The Day of the Triffids was a science fiction classic by John Wyndam, first published in 1951. Like many of the books and movies of the 1950s and 1960s, it reflects cold war paranoia, and to no small extent, suspicion about new technology.

I’m a big fan of old movies, especially old horror and science fiction. They often tell us a lot about both our dreams and our fears. There was a move adaptation in the early ’60s which I haven’t seen.  According to reviews, it was mediocre at best.  But I recently had a chance to see the 2009 BBC version, and I was impressed.  A movie about tall, walking, carnivorous plants doesn’t sound that appealing, but I had read the book as a child, and the BBC adaptation had good reviews, so why not take a chance?  Glad I did, there turned out to be a lot more going on here that you would guess from the description.

Scariest Halloween Ever?

Jack-o-lantern-TNIt’s Halloween and time to be scared. Most years I pull out the classic DVD’s, John Carpenter’s Halloween with Jamie Lee Curtis being terrorized by Michael Myers. Or the scariest movie of all time, The Exorcist, by William Friedkin. Everyone has their own scariest movie, and The Exorcist did it for me, even after having read the book the previous year.

I’ve noticed that the really scary movies are about serial killers or supernatural forces. Whether the threat is supernatural or a deranged psychotic, once in awhile some horrific and alien creature can push that primal fear button.  In those stories, bargaining or appeals to logic or mercy just don’t work. When they are after you, they are relentless. Jaws was a classic example of that theme. It won’t help to plead with the shark, you’re just meat. (more…)

Buy It For Life

Stainless Steel Saute Pan

When is it cheaper to buy a more expensive product? That’s what the BIFL, or “Buy it For Life,” philosophy is all about. Sometimes buying a premium product is cheaper over a longer term than buying the “cheap” version of the same item.

Straw Bale Construction for Sustainable Building

SustainableA friend sent me a link on some Straw Bale construction being done in the UK. It’s a quite interesting idea. Building with straw has been around since Paleolithic times, so it’s not exactly a new idea. But now there is increasing research being done, and it’s beginning to look like straw bale construction has a place in both Green and Sustainable building.

But like any construction technique, there are good things, and a few issues to carefully consider.

On the plus side, it’s about as sustainable as you can get. Straw is an agricultural by-product, the dry stalks of cereal grains such as corn, wheat, barley, oats or rice. Besides being used as a building material, it’s used as animal feed and fuel. (more…)

High School Memories – House of the Rising Sun

Joan Baez - The early recordingsI first heard House of the Rising Sun at my high school talent show. I think it was 1963. I didn’t know the teenage girl who sang that night, but I remember the purity of her voice. Such a sad and mournful lyric, coming from that young girl, it was electrifying. To this day I still think about that moment whenever I hear the song.

It’s strange how a moment like that can stay with you for decades. Memories are not locked in stone. Your subconscious makes decisions about what you remember and how you remember it. Contrary to what we would like to believe, a memory is not like a video recording, the physical fact of a moment that remains unchanged forever. I can’t even guess what made that particular girl, her voice, and that song, have such an effect. But it stuck with me and I still wonder what happened to her. Did she have a career in music? (more…)

Don’t Let the Air Conditioning Bill Break the Bank


With this whole reinventing my lifestyle thing going on, I’m experimenting with all kinds of small changes. The theory is that it’s better to try ideas before making a lifetime commitment. Keeping cool and comfortable in a hot and humid climate, while keeping the air conditioning bill reasonable, can be a challenge.

The easy solution is to turn the thermostat down to 70 degrees. In my leaky and inefficient house, that would likely cost $200 a month. In this case, easy equals expensive. The more correct course of action would be a major insulation makeover. But I’m trying to downsize, so not much logic in a major investment in a house I won’t be living in. The immediate need is for an interim solution. Lessons learned will be applied to the next project. (more…)