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Ask A Geek Anything, Volume 25

Good morning, and welcome to Ask a Geek Anything volume 25

Another week of the spot on the interwebs where we’ll answer anything that won’t get us slapped in Kansas City… (OK that’s a lie, we’ve answered several things that got us slapped, and GODS WILLING we’ll answer many more that get us slapped)

First up, is Fluffy Geek who asks- What diet is best for weight loss?

and our Physical fitness Goddess and no longer quite so fluffy Amanda Fuesting answers:   There’s no simple answer to this due to individual differences in metabolism, body chemistry, and nutritional needs. I am going to first suggest that if weight loss has been a serious problem for you that you consult your primary care provider for guidance, as that will be the person with the best idea of your individual needs. It also needs to be said that weight is not always an indicator for overall health. You don’t need to be skinny to be healthy, and body type plays into this a lot. What you need to focus on is a diet and lifestyle that promotes overall health.

That said, I can give you some very good general advice for overall healthy diet choices that will help you shed some of that extra fluff. First, avoid fad diets like the plague that they are. Don’t avoid all carbs. Don’t avoid all fats, or even all saturated fats. Don’t even cut out 100% of the treats that you allow yourself. If you attempt to deprive yourself of any one thing, you will want it badly, and binge on it later. Further, your body needs carbs, fats, and proteins right along with all of the nutrients that come with food. Trying to cut all of any of those things out will make you less healthy.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet that contains fewer calories than you burn in a day, and you will lose weight. Do you like steak? Excellent! Have a lean cut of steak, with a side of steamed vegetables, and don’t hate yourself for that roll with butter. Replace that cheesecake with a small bowl of fresh fruit that is sweet enough to fill the craving for desert. Do you like to snack? Replace your chips with a sliced apple and peanut butter (if you aren’t allergic to nuts of course), some lightly salted popcorn without butter, sugar snap peas, or other fresh vegetables (I eat sliced peppers like potato chips). There are thousands of recipes for light healthy snacks online, which brings me to my next bit of advice.

Learn to cook. You don’t need to be able to make a gourmet meal, but you need to be able to follow a recipe more complicated than warming canned soup in the microwave. This will save you a lot of money over eating out, provide you with an opportunity to try new ingredients in different ways, and give you access to a lot of healthy options that you just won’t get out of packaged food that is loaded down with sodium and calories (while being typically light on nutritional value). I understand busy work schedules (my shifts run 13.5 hours on average), so I really advise making dishes that you can put in fridge and warm up as needed. You can make ahead for the week on whatever day you have free, and be set for the whole week. It’s okay to cheat and order a pizza now and then, or grab a quick burger every so often. Just don’t make a habit of it. The more you get into the habit of cooking; the easier it will get, the better you will get at it, and the faster it will go. I will sometimes make a huge pot of basic homemade soup and warm it up for three or four days adding different seasonings every day to relieve the boredom and liven it up. I swear I know 150 ways to use hot sauce. Find what you like, expand on it, and find healthier ways to make it.
Next, drink eight full glasses of water every single day, and more is fine. (Please consult your doctor is you have cardiac or renal restrictions on fluids, of course.) A lot of people I know drink 2,000 calories in just soda every day. Make sweet drinks a treat that you have one of every couple of weeks. Drinking more water and fewer sweet drinks will instantly cut the calories you’re taking in, while making you better hydrated at the same time. It also allows you to feel “full” with less food if you have a glass or two of water with a meal. Because I am a coffee fanatic, I’ll also add that you should skip the overpriced sugerfest of coffeehouse drinks, and make coffee at home. Invest in a good thermos, so you can enjoy hot coffee all day. Try to avoid sweetening your coffee to the point that it’s more like caffeinated sugar. Black coffee has no calories at all, and several studies have indicated that there are some health benefits to drinking coffee. (Decaf gives the same benefits, so whatever the mechanism of action is has little to nothing to do with caffeine).

Whatever you’re eating or drinking, make sure to take in fewer calories than you burn if you want to drop weight. This will require some effort on your part to figure out just how many calories you burn, and exactly how many you need. Once again, these are questions that your primary care provider can help with, as the answers are unique to you. I will leave exercise out of this, as your question was restricted to diet (and also because I don’t know your specific health condition and what exercise you may not be able to physically do), but it is worth mentioning that even the light exercise of walking can be a tremendous help in your weight loss goals.

Excellent advice Amanda!  Next up, is Bored to tears in Boston, who asks: History bores me. Aren’t there any historians who can write in a way that I won’t fall asleep?

and Declan Finn answers, Hi, I’m  the resident history nerd (see, that freaking masters degree with worth SOMETHING). I think I can settle that with a collection of historians you might find of interest.

If you’re interested in World War Two cultural history, Rabbi David Dalin and Ronald Rychlak as two awesome and superior writers. Rychlak tells a history of World War Two like it’s a novel, and his footnotes are like short stories (Hitler, The War, and the Pope, 10th anniversary edition if you can swing it). Dalin has done both a history that was like a series of short stories (The Myth of Hitler’s Pope), and a biography of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem called Icon of Evil … for good reason.

Richard Overy … wow, this guy is awesome. He breaks down World War II in such a way that it’s understandable and even a little thrilling. If you ever thought that bombing the ever living crap out of Germany did nothing, you’ll be rethinking that after this book.

Michael Oren is another one who tells history like he’s telling stories. Of particular interest is his bookSix Days of War, where he interviewed everybody on both sides. Fun fact: The Israelis blew up the largest Mig fighter jet airforce – 300 planes – in about three hours, most of them while they were on the ground. Because that airforce belonged to Egypt. Cool, huh?

Martin Gilbert – may he rest in peace, Gilbert was the historian on Winston Churchill, and has done solid World War II material.

Simon Schama is a British “art” historian, but dear Lord can this man spin a yarn. While better known for his PBS specials, don’t hold those against him. He can turn a phrase better than most historians (even some on this list) and you can hear the sarcasm as you read. It’s awesome.

John Keegan’s The Face of War is an interesting study, if only because he recreates battlefields using all five senses – Waterloo smelled of gunpowder, and sounded like hail as the bullets hit the armor of the French cavalrymen … that sort of thing.

And then there is the great and terrible Victor Davis Hansen. Want a breakdown of Sparta? Want a perspective on the ripples of one battle? Want to know why Lew Wallace sucked on the battlefield? He’s done a little bit of everything except World War II. Start with Carnage and Culture. Just go from there.

See? History Isn’t that boring.

And if you’re interested in learning history through fiction (that IS NOT Dan Brown’s bullcrap), I recommend the Sigma novels of James Rollins, or even The Pius Trilogy by someone with a strange Irish name that no one has ever heard of.

Now I’m going to weigh in on this one as well, because while I don’t have the Masters degree that Declan does, I’ve been a History nerd since I was in high school (yes smartass they did have history back then, and NO it was not in hieroglyphs, nor was it a three page pamphlet. {fuckin kids, get off my lawn!}) Dan Hampton does a GREAT job of putting you in the cockpit of combat aircraft from the first world war, to Gulf II, in “Lords of the Sky”.  While there are some surprising holes (doesn’t’ mention anything about the Japanese perspective on combat, and in fact gives the entire Pacific theater a pass, which I blame on being an Air Force pilot, doesn’t mention Major Bong…) His book is way worth the ride.

Then there’s James D Hornfischer, author of “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors”, “Ship of Ghosts” and “Neptune’s Inferno” among others.  WOW.  The man’s work reads like a novel, (something by Clancy or Brown) except every word is true and it’s all painstakingly researched.  If you’re not careful you just might learn something.

There’s also most of the old Bantam War series, a group of historical documentaries published by Bantam at various times in the 60s and 70s, to include “the Phantom Major” (also published as “Who Dares Wins” the story of the founding of the SAS) “Stuka Pilot”,(about the most decorated aviator in Nazi Germany), and many others.  In short, if you’re not enjoying your history reading, you my friend are NOT reading the right books!

Well, we’re way over length for the week, so I’m going to sign off now with what has become our standard ending (and folks I mean it, we NEED Questions):   remember, you can e-mail us questions at askageekanythingowg@gmail.com or contact us through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/askageekanythingowg . We have all the old articles there and will update it every week with new ones, as well as take questions from posts. If you’re so inclined, we’d appreciate it if you could like and share the page, because we’re running really low on questions to answer!  If you don’t ask it, we can’t answer!Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you next week.

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Being different, Good and Bad

We’re geeks, that means a lot of things. It generally means higher than average intelligence, a more active imagination, and the ability to be obsessive about getting details right. Those are the good things. Well, for some values of good. There are some bad things too and I wanted to talk about them a little.

First things most outsiders see about geek culture has usually been simple appearance. Geeks and nerds look “funny”. A portion of this is because we don’t fit in with normal society, and it affects our style choices. Don’t interrupt me with your claims of having superb sartorial taste and excellent relations with the mundane world, a few of you do and this may not apply directly to you. My guess is that you are wrong though. I come pretty close to passing as a mundane and I can still only hold the cover to an extent.

Getting back to geek appearance after being so rudely interrupted. Most of you have clothing in your closet that no one not a geek would wear. We all envy you those items, but that is why we are geeks. I love some of my wife’s geeky T-Shirts but I am aware most ‘danes don’t “get” them. And the Browncoat clothing leaves them scratching their heads.

The really odd thing about geeks is the preponderance of body dysmorphic types among us. There is a reason for the term “Gamer large” for t-shirts in the xx range. At cons most people are either very large or very thin, or have other body oddities. I for example have Gimli’s body on Aragorn’s legs. Yep, most of us look a little off.

Why am I talking about our bodies and styles being odd? Well because it drives some other factors that affect our world views and the views the world has of us. It is also the reason we have so many flakes among us. Because we are the different, the Odd as Sarah Hoyt calls us, we have always been on the outside. So we accept outsiders from society, knowing how rejection feels.

The problem is that outsiders tend towards bitterness. They have a real hatred for the ‘danes, the normal members of society. We provide them with a sanctuary, a place to hide. They use our inclusiveness for their own agendas. And we, having been outsiders, too often protect them from the consequences of their attacks. This is why we have people like Arthur Chu and PedoPhil Sandifer among us. We protect the different. This should be a good thing, somehow it isn’t. We, as a tribe, need to realize that some people can be outsiders even among us.

All tribes have taboos. We don’t yet, we are in reality too new to the scene to have developed taboos, it is time we did.

Muppet Balloon

Yep, I feel like this guy most of the time in classes.

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Ask A Geek Anything, Volume 24

Good morning, and welcome to Ask a Geek Anything volume 24

Hey welcome to that spot on the interwebs where we answer anything that won’t get us pepper-sprayed and Tazed at a con (and a few things that will)

So, first up today is Ten thumbs Ted, who asks: Does Dragon software perform up to expectations? Are there things to keep in mind when installing it? and answering it is that tickler of the keyboards Declan Finn, who replies:

Yes and no. I guess it depends on what your expectations actually are.

Yes, in that I’ve heard that there are people – professional writers, even – that find it performs beautifully. David Weber, I believe, is one of them, and he writes his body weight in books every few years (and he is not a toothpick).

On the other hand, my personal experience boils down to “What the bloody blue hell is this mess!”

First, keep in mind, that it has to learn what you’re saying. It has to adapt to how you speak. When I got a copy, I spent a while reading from selected works of Scott Adams into the program and hoping it all came together.

Second, get a good microphone. Seriously, a good microphone. Preferably one where you can speak at conversational volume and be heard, and not one where you have to shout the house down.

Don’t expect this to be Star Trek dictation software, but if you have problems typing, this will help a lot.

No one else in the crew has any experience with Dragon, So I’m afraid that’s the best we can do for you Ted, if you try it, let us know how it worked for you…

Next up is Con Virgin of Virginia, who asks: I’ve never been to a con, as you might have guessed, but I’ve heard all sorts of things happen, I’ve read about rapes and assaults… Is it safe?

Well as I’ve done security on Cons, SCA events, and military bases and prisons as well as being a cop, I’ll take this one on.

OK Con. Based on your question, I’m going to guess you’re a girl.  Yes that’s sexist of me. Oh well.  It would have been great if I had gotten this question before the major cons of the year were over, but consider this a primer for next year instead.

As luck would have it, I’ve just gotten done about a week ago going through the annual SAPR training (that’s military for Sexual assault prevention and response training).  So lets start with an official statement and issue from the military and law enforcement, plus my response.

We’ve been told for years that “It’s never the victims fault!” and we’ve received massive push back from the bad old days (probably the 70s and before from what I remember) when if a woman screamed rape, the first thing asked, was “what did you do to ask for it?”

Now I am not saying it’s ever the victims fault, It’s not.  BUT while yes, no matter what, a woman is never “asking for it” unless she actually asks for it, here in AAGA we believe in taking responsibility for our selves and our actions.  There is a presupposition in that whole “it’s never the victims fault” thing, that is wrong, and stupid.  It assumes that “fault” is an all or nothing proposition. WRONG!!! 

UNDERSTAND THIS the Rapist, or assailant is ALWAYS at fault.  HOWEVER If you are an 18 year old hot body, who walks into a Frat Boy lounge in panties and a bra, and has guys drinking jello shots out of your cleavage (to take this to an extreme) well don’t be too surprised if one of those guys has trouble understanding that no means no.  Or another example, walking into a SEAL bar, or a bar with a shithouse load of Scooters with Colors (that means motorcycles with MC club leather) and acts like she’s looking to go home with someone,  well them boys are going to go with the 90% of communication that’s non verbal… I’m going to say you (the 18 yo hot body) have just a little bit of fault there, for failing the situational awareness test.  It’s like walking though the middle of the local Crips turf dripping Benjamins out of your pockets… Someone’s going to do something stupid.

Hey! the wheel has turned, and instead of women having to fear sexual assault from men, by and large, men are running scared of women, and accusations these days, and frankly it’s gotten a little scary for the men. There’s been several cases in the past few years of women screaming rape, ruining men’s lives, and it turning out to be a frame-up… Don’t mistake me, I’m not saying it’s something that happens a lot, but it does happen, and guys are aware of it. So, as long as you aren’t terminally stupid, you really have nothing to worry about… these are your people, They’re geeks too!  you’re safer here at the con than you are out in public, because by and large, these folks are a might smarter than the average bear, and honestly a little more socially awkward.

Now we’ve all read the horror stories about some gal that was manhandled at a con, or groped… Yes I suppose it happens.  In my not inconsiderable experience though, more often than not, (and I mean 999 out of 1K)no one can actually put a name to these claims, and the Gal that’s screaming Rape, can’t describe the individual, the place, or anything else… There are women out there sadly, that hate men so much that someone looking at them because they’ve got mustard spilled all over their top wants to call the looks they receive “sexual assault”…There are women out there that want to dress in absolutely nothing, and call it assault if you look at them at all…

OK now that we’ve covered the really ugly fears, and I hope put them to rest, I will answer the rest of the security questions… Theft? YES it happens, and second only to Drunk and Disorderly, and the corollary vandalism, it’s the number one problem for security at the con.  This pisses me right off!  Most of them aren’t “US” they’re professional thieves (small scale, but pros none the less) who show up and try to rob the merchant tables, and sometimes the con attendees.  What do you do about it? Again, situational awareness. LOCK your damn door when you go out, most rooms these days have safes, if you have something High dollar, put it in the safe! The class of thieves that hit cons aren’t James Fucking Conn, and you don’t have anything expensive enough to attract the attention of that class of criminal.  These guys are going to take what’s out and easy, and they’re gone.  Don’t show where your wallet is with constant checks of it, for Gods sake, you should be able to feel if your wallet is there or not without sweeping your hand over it every five minutes, and what are you doing carrying enough money or credit cards in that sucker to be that scared of pickpockets anyway?  Remember the safe?

Drunks, and Vandalism. Drink! Have a good time! Hey I don’t care if you get SNOT SLINGING, Puke in your boots, Alcohol poisoning drunk! (well actually if you get to the point of Alcohol poisoning, I care, only because I’m going to have to call an ambulance on your ass) but for GODS sake, Show some consideration for the rest of the con that isn’t you! If you get too loud, and too confrontational, there is going to be someone that calls either Con security, or Hotel security, or (we hope not but it happens) the cops.  If hotel security or the cops get involved, you’re fucked.  They’re going to have no sense of HA HA, and the Con isn’t going to have your back, I don’t care if you’re Issac Asimov, David Weber, GRRM, and John Ringo all rolled into one, once the cops are involved, the con is going to let you hang, and well they should… We’re back to that “personal responsibility” thing.   Vandalism, JUST DON’T. That way lies the con loosing the Venue forever, and while I’m not saying I will hurt you, well, if you’re too drunk to realize that taking your barbarian sword to the hall tree woodwork is a bad idea… you might just be drunk enough to fall down a set of stairs, and I’m not going to stop you, even if you fall down them repeatedly…

Recreational Pharmaceuticals.  Con security ain’t cops.  We don’t actually care if you’re stoned out of your gourd, (see above) But give us deniability please!  If you’re smoking it in a non smoking room it doesn’t matter if it’s legal in your state or not, it’s the whole smoking thing the hotel has an issue with.  If you’re taking something stronger than Grass, PLEASE don’t do it at the con.  Not because Con security cares, but because if you do something stupid while stoned, THAT we care about, and again, that sort of shit looses us venues.

OK, that’s all we have for this week, remember, you can e-mail us questions at askageekanythingowg@gmail.com or contact us through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/askageekanythingowg . We have all the old articles there and will update it every week with new ones, as well as take questions from posts. If you’re so inclined, we’d appreciate it if you could like and share the page, because we’re running really low on questions to answer!  If you don’t ask it, we can’t answer!Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you next week.

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Geek Time

I’ve been a lot of different types of geek over the years, S.C.A. SF Nerd,  The class History or Literature Maven, Gamer, a lot of others. One thing I have noted consistently across the board is a lack of timing. My D&D group has been together for over three decades, I don’t think any of us are sure exactly when start time is.

When I was a geek in Elementary and High School it didn’t really show because the schools ran to a schedule whether individuals did or not. My geek creds do run back that far, I was even the audio-visual nerd, running the filmstrip projectors and splicing the broken films.  

As a side note, for any younger readers, the term Nerd didn’t come into common usage until the 70’s. Geek was much older than that, but the current meaning didn’t come in until the latter part of the twentieth century. The original meaning of geek was a sideshow performer who did something fascinating but horrific to the average person, such as biting the heads off live chickens.

Which leads to another side note. A side show was a part of a carnival or circus that was separate from the main event. Some times it was a geek show, sometimes a freak show with the bearded lady or whatever. Most commonly a side show was “hootchy-kootchy” dancers. Hootchy-kootchy dancers basically got up on stage and strutted their stuff for a male audience wearing whatever the manager thought would push the local morals without getting the show arrested or run out of town by the law. They almost never included clothing that covered less than a bikini would. The Cher song Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves referenced a hootchy-kootch show without the name.

Digressions aside, the first time I was really exposed to geek time was in the S.C.A. I didn’t know it was geek time then.  I thought it was “Toni Time” one of our friends was notoriously late for everything. This of course put everything off schedule because we wound up waiting for Toni. As i grew older and expanded my experiences in geekdom i realized that it wasn’t “Toni Time” it was geek time. This does not mean that I think all geeks are always late, half of them are always early. Punctuality is apparently something geeks are not capable of grasping.

I see the same things at every con I attend and everything geek oriented and run that I am exposed to. I sometimes wonder if the reason for the success of the more professional geek things such as the various comic con incarnations isn’t that they aren’t run by geeks so much as business people. Lets face it, making the con run on time has to be one of the greatest gifts a con organizer could have.

So I live on geek time, so do most of you. One of my greatest gifts in my work life is flexible start time. My boss doesn’t sweat a few minutes late, he knows I’ll be there long enough at the end of the day to make up for it. I have noted that engineers are consistently late as well, not surprising as engineers are damned near geeks by definition.

All of this is a way of explaining why this post is late. After all, another geek characteristic is falling backl on the old truism: If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance baffle them with bullshit.  steampunk_victorian_nixie_clock_screenlet_icon_by_pendragon1966-d64yo1a

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The Mad Scientist’s Apprentice: Tips for Studying

In honor of my physics exam today, here are ten  helpful tips and tricks to study by. As I am a non-traditional student – read that as: Old and sludgy-brained – I have learned some things by experience that I have been able to pass on to classmates, and now to you.

  1. Don’t procrastinate: cramming does not actually help you retain material. Very few people in this world have an eidetic memory, where they can see something once and remember it.
  2. Frequent repetition: Looking at the material daily, even for a brief time, will make the memory stronger than once, right before the exam.
  3. Kinetic learning: work the problems. I use a big whiteboard on my office wall to make the process of working through equations feel real, and I can step back and try to visualize how they need to flow – or where I screwed up.
  4. Group Study: and I mean study, not making out or getting falling-down drunk. Especially if you are all working on the same problem, having someone to look at your paper and say ‘hey, you added the wrong columns, there’ is really helpful.
  5. Don’t memorize: yes, sometimes that is what you must do, and for those occasions, flashcards. But most of the time it is so much better to learn why something works that way, focusing on the foundation knowledge of what fuels the Krebs cycle, for instance. This allows you to work out problems rather than cold-memorizing static answers.
  6. Make it sticky: personally, I’m not fond of mnemonics. But I know they work for a lot of people. I prefer to attach my trivial data to more data, or to jokes. Laughter is a great way to make data sticky*.
  7. Get some rest: don’t stay up until 2 am, crash for three hours, and go to the exam hopped up on energy drinks and, um, protein bars (yes, yes, they are an essential part of college life, but…)
  8. Eat well: have a full breakfast, not a cup of yogurt. Protein, fats, all these goodies fuel your brain, and you’re going to be working out, just mental rather than physical. Ever wonder why you feel like you’ve been beaten with a stick when you walk out of an exam? It’s still a stressful event, prepare your body for it.
  9. Stop studying: right before the test, give yourself a break. Don’t cram up until the professor asks for clear desks. If it’s possible, get outside and get some fresh air. Listen to a song. Take deep breaths.
  10. Don’t Quit: all too often, I’ve lost a few points on a test by getting to the end, getting up, handing it in and walking out. Instead, I’ve learned to force myself to put my pencil down, take a deep breath, and go over the test again from beginning to end. Especially on a scantron form, missing one question early on can throw off the whole exam.
  11. Don’t second-guess yourself: if it looked right to begin with, go for it.

*Sticky Data is the stuff you remember. Keep in mind your brain is bombarded with data every single second. Just the skin alone sends input of hot/cold, there’s a draft, and then the stomach chimes in with ‘feed me’ and the professor is droning on and it’s a miracle you remember your own name, really. But if you can think of your brain as a sieve, it’s very efficient at sorting through the data you need, and the stuff you don’t need. You don’t need to know the room you are in is a comfortable temperature. But if it suddenly becomes very cold, you’ll notice. The trick to memory is making the data you need sticky, so it catches in that sieve long enough to access it later. One way to do this is by accessing that memory often, like how to spell sieve. I spell it often enough in this paragraph and maybe next time I need it, I’ll remember to spell it with the i before the e. Other ways to make data sticky are to set it to music, or to make it funny. Or both!

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Ask A Geek Anything, Volume 23

lionshart 042old salt

Good morning, and welcome to Ask a Geek Anything volume 23

The spot on the internet where, as old as we are, we won’t tell you to “get off our lawn”, nor will we sick the old security system above on you.  Periodically instead of having a couple of our staff answer a couple different questions, we pose one question to the entire staff… This is one of those times.

Dan Bridgwater asked us: Hey Geeks! I’ve loved Godzilla movies as long as I can remember and have vague memories of seeing my first Godzilla movie (Saturday night Creature Double Feature) at about age 5 or so. What is you oldest memory of SciFi/Fantasy on TV or the big screen?  And I’ve asked the entire staff to take a crack at answering it.

Our daring master of the printed word Declan Finn took first crack at it, with: My oldest memory of TV SF is the original Star Trek on in the late afternoon / early evening, ever weekday, with The Next Generation on at night (first-run episodes). And every holiday there seemed to be a Twilight Zone Marathon, with “It’s a Cook Book!” and “Time enough at last!” and other heart-rending final stingers. This, of course, did not include the cartoon Silver Hawks, on television. 

I remember the Twilight Zone episode he referenced, I believe it was called “To Serve Man”

The fine Amanda Fuesting weighed in with: My oldest memory of media sci-fi has to be re-runs of Star Trek. I was a much bigger reader than anything, and my parents weren’t geeks, so I didn’t get into media sci-fi until I was a teen.

The Beard that writes,Joseph Capdepon II sends:The oldest memory I have of anything SciFi/Fantasy related on television or the big screen would have to be Godzilla or The Thing from Another World, if you discount any episodes of Woody Woodpecker or the Looney Tunes. I can’t really be sure on which I saw first.

Now my fondest memory is of when I was in elementary school. I can’t remember exactly how old I was at the time, but I was sick and missed about a week of school.

I stayed with my Granny during that week during the day because my parents worked. I remember laying on her couch in the living room and watching the giant insect/monster movies of the 50’s that were anti-atomic weapon propaganda. Them! is the one that has stuck with me the most and is one that I still watch today. Beginning of the End is also one that I remember watching, where giant grasshoppers attack Chicago.

That memory sticks with me, because I can still remember the smell of my Granny’s house, and of the food she would cook me.

The Thing from Another World: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044121/?ref_=nv_sr_4

Godzilla: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047034/?ref_=nv_sr_4

Them!: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047573/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

Beginning of the End: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050177/

our irrepressible Connie Elliott comments: Watching Star Trek reruns while sitting in my dad’s lap.
 the Great Keith Glass sends: Oldest ? 1966. Conning my parents to let me stay up to see the first episode of “Star Trek”, aka the Incredible Salt Vampire, “because we were studying space in school, and the show is in space”.
Followed shortly thereafter by getting my first SF book, out of one of those Scholastic monthly sales flyers they used to hand out regularly in schools.  Cannot recall the title, but was about the kid of a family of asteroid miners, and a space critter that looked like a rock, but spun steely webs between asteroids….
Finally, my own earliest memory is probably watching Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, or 20,000 leagues under the sea… Though it may also have been Star Trek (OG)… In either case it was in the mid to late 60s, and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been the Twilight Zone Shows or any of the similar series that came out, as my parents and grandmother thought those were not exactly appropriate for a 5 year old  (and they were right).  I do know that the very earliest memory I have is from TV… I was sitting on the living room floor of my Grandmother’s house, watching this big old console (pretty sure it was black and white)  There was a guy up to his thighs in what I thought was grass (I later learned it was a rice patty) with a mike in his hand.  In the background you could hear small arms fire, and that most identifiable sound (for someone that grew up in that era) of a Huey HU-1 taking off, and he was saying “this is Charles Karault, from somewhere in Vietnam.”
My parents where not exactly rich, so Movies were just not a thing growing up, although I went on my own to see Starwars. (there was only one, and no one understood the bit about “episode 7” or what-ever it was. I lived far enough out in the sticks that the Geeks that knew what was going on with that weren’t anywhere to be found)  I remember Space 1999, and UFO, The Project Blue Book files, The Outer Limits, and the Bond films (YES the Bond films were Science Fiction… Come on, Moonraker?) and I’m sure there were others that I’m spacing right now.  Primarily though I was a reader: Norton, Asimov, Heinlein, Clark, Pournelle,  Niven, Anderson… These guys and more where my constant companions along with the old Tom Swifts etc…(hey I was young, give me a break, if it was cheep, and Science fiction, or if it was in the town library, it had my eye tracks on it)

OK, that’s all we have for this week, remember, you can e-mail us questions at askageekanythingowg@gmail.com or contact us through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/askageekanythingowg . We have all the old articles there and will update it every week with new ones, as well as take questions from posts. If you’re so inclined, we’d appreciate it if you could like and share the page, because we’re running really low on questions to answer!  If you don’t ask it, we can’t answer!Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you next week.

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Dining out

Dining out! That has always been a thing for people. To be able to go somewhere the wife doesn’t have to do the cooking. Or the husband, depending on the household. It is supposed to be a treat, these days too many people see it as the only way to eat. I know people whose stove is broken for months before they even notice it. That is a literal fact about one couple I know. The husband noticed it when he was trying to heat a thermostat on his car to make sure it was functioning. The stove wasn’t, his wife didn’t notice for another three months. They might be an extreme example, but I doubt it. So the question in my mind is, with everyone eating out, what happened to local restaurants?

I was rereading a novel from the 60s the other day and the hero, a private detective, was looking for one of his contacts. He finally ran him down at  the local place stuffing his face with corned beef and cabbage. Can you imagine finding a place that served corned beef and cabbage today? You won’t find that at Mickey Ds, or your favorite chain anything. You won’t find meatloaf either.

This is going to sound like another of those “I’m a grumpy old man, get off my lawn” posts, it really isn’t. It is a look at changing social mores and attitudes. You see, back in the days of the dinosaur, when I was a lad, every town had at least one local restaurant. These places varied in menu and quality. This was because they were all started for different reasons and run and staffed by locals, who would never have considered the benefits of homogenizing the menu to appeal to broader tastes. In fact, most of the people starting and running them had no idea what homogenizing meant. They got their starts because mom was the best cook in town, or at least her family thought so, and dad thought they might make a living at it.

Many of these places had an ethnic background, O’Malley’s had good Irish meals because Ma O’Malley was Irish, while Pasquale’s was Italian themed for similar reasons. Both places thought they were American places because they considered themselves Americans. The fact that they had ethnic foods was because everyone had ethnic foods, without ever realizing it. It made for amazing variety while all the places had some basic similarities. You got cakes and eggs with your morning coffee, and could get a burger for lunch.

Somewhere after the advent of McDonald’s the chains began chipping away at the local places. This was not entirely bad. While most chain restaurants are not particularly good, very few of them are particularly bad. Yes, yes, I know, you are going to point out that Mickey D’s which I just used as an example is a travesty on food yadda yadda. Any of the fast food chains are basically lowest common denominator providers. The food may not be good, but it is tolerable and cheap. The more well thought of chains are a bit more expensive, but just as bland.

Why did these changes occur? I think that might be a doctoral level dissertation, still some things are obvious. We move more in our society today and chains are reliable: comfort food if you will. It used to be that restaurants advertised “home cooking”, now there are product lines in grocery stores pushing themselves as real “restaurant style” products. a rather odd inversion to me.

The wife and I have discovered that we are foodies, a surprise to both of us.  We search for out-of-the-way restaurants with menus that are not the standard burger/steak/chicken sameness of modern restaurants. We sometimes review them over at Cedarwrites . The thing that I most noticed is that 90% of the places we really like are ethnic, and odd ethnic as well. Lebanese or Korean or Turkish places. I wondered why for a bit, since we cook at home and can cover a wide variety of cuisines between us. Then I realized it was because chain restaurants are boring. Applebees is like TGIF is like  Max and Ermas is like… We want something different and good. Right now we are looking at trying a Congolese restaurant we have heard of in Cincinnati. We are still looking for a good Greek or German restaurant in our area.

What we would really like is a return to the days when every town actually had restaurants that were truly local and unique. I want to stop at Pasquale’s for his Italianized version of meatloaf, sit at the local “liar’s table” (Liar’s table is the area where the locals who have time sit and gab, it used to be a social clearinghouse for every small town) and know that I can drive five miles to the next town and have O’Malley’s Irish Stew for dinner.