The year in review

Tomorrow I’ll post my top 10 lists, but here I’ll discuss general (blog/geek) stuff. The blog has now finished five years in existenence, and I like it. It frequently functions as offline memory (what did we do for Valentine’s Day in 2004?) and way to post interesting web things (although my shared Google items took over some of that this year).

Forcing myself to read at least one book and watch one movie a week was an interesting resolution, successfully completed. I may still have piles of unread books, but I read 80 this year, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. The only problem was getting way behind on periodicals at points, but I plan to be caught up on those by the end of our upcoming vacation. I’d like to keep up the pace, but don’t want to keep the one a week thing going – maybe an average of four a month. I won’t be directly blogging them anymore, I’ve started using two sites, and, both of which I think I can make blog posts from. The latter’s not as nice, but it also covers DVDs and CDs, while just look at the former:

Kerry's books

X-Men Visionaries: Neal Adams
liked it
Maybe it’s the fact that I used to have some of these issues (both the originals and the reprints in Giant-Size X-Men 2), but I liked Neal Adams much more here. Part of it was the inking of Tom Palmer, but I thought the stories were more…

Below the Threshold
it was ok
A kidnapping mystery – did the aliens do it, or was it the mob? Props for a very different take, although the ending feels chopped off.

The Oregon Invasion
liked it
A refreshing change after the last one, with a new takes on religion and interspecies relationships.

Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman
liked it
An interesting mixture of biography, bibliography and review, not to mention several pieces of Neil’s collected here for the first time. Some of it is slow going, but there are priceless insights, I assume helped along by Bissette who’s …

To Conquer the Throne
When I put this back on the shelf, I had to go back and look at the other two V books he wrote, to reassure myself that they were not of the same level of writing as this one. This was the worst kind of fan fiction, puerile wish fulfillm…

While I didn’t come to a halt buying new things in 2008 (like Popless for music), I was pretty restrained, so much so I had to order about 10 CDs to do my annual mix in December. I sold off vast amounts of DVDs, partly to get some cash, but also to prepare for my eventual conversion to glorious Blu-Ray. I didn’t buy many books, new or used, as I had too many unread. I was a little surprised to sell off as many books as I did once I read them – many more were one time reads than I thought at first. I did keep up on comics, but whittled down some titles as the year progressed.

It was a fantastic year in video I shot, as I finally found the software that did exactly what I wanted, and I got a number of videos converted to DVD and uploaded. I wanted to get some recent ones out of the way, but this year I’m starting from the beginnning (2000) and working forwards.

Not much else to report, although I did join Facebook as a result of my high school reunion (already on MySpace and LinkedIn):
Kerry Frey's Facebook profile

Three day, three concert weekend

Saturday I needed to go to Old Town Alexandria to buy a ticket for Monday’s show. Jill knew what I was thinking and came along, as we went to Eamonn’s for lunch. Not the best fish and chips ever, but still pretty tasty (and the spicy mayo helped). We window shopped a little, then headed to the Metro. I’d read that the XM Kids Roadshow was going to be on the Mall with a concert. We got there in time to see a full set from
Lisa Loeb, mostly kids songs but she included her big hit, with Robbie Schaefer as the MC. We missed Meredith Brooks, but I’m guessing she didn’t do her big hit. After a big lunch, we weren’t that hungry. Jill made a chicken tender salad for dinner we enjoyed on the deck, then we read for a while – I had a backlog of papers and comics.

Lisa Loeb

Sunday our pal Stuart’s band was playing at Jimmy’s, and we walked over to hear them. The event was the Memorial Day Party in the Alley, and there were a lot more bikers than we expected to see in Herndon – apparently Jimmy and staff had participated in Rolling Thunder earlier in the day. The band was good, more originals than I expected with a classic rock feel. I made burgers and dogs for dinner, then we headed out to check out a little indy film, pretty good.

P.U.R.E. Band

Monday was mostly relaxing (reading, watching TV), then I was going to see Dream Theater at Constitution Hall. I’d planned to leave at 8, but a desire to nap was all powerful and I didn’t wake up until quarter ’til. Jill offered to make a quick Asian dinner since I was groggy, and I took her up on it. Pretty good for frozen, then I headed out. I took the Metro in, then walked to the venue. There were 3 other bands playing, but none I wanted to see, so I had tried to time it for the headliner. Of course I was off, but thankfully in the opposite direction, as Opeth was still on stage. I like metal, but the growly vocals do nothing for me, and I sat downstairs until they were done. Dream Theater was outstanding, but they deserve their own post. More about them tomorrow.


Did you know that the last Easter this early was 1913, and we last had one earlier (on the 22nd) in 1818? This site has a range of close Easters, as well as a calculator to find others and a compressed file you can download of years 326-4099. The latest in the year we’ll have Easter soon will be in 2011 on the 24th of April, then it’ll be on the 25th in 2038.

When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied

This article spells out eight ways that you can still make money now. An intriguing take on the future of online commerce, especially as it relates to music and movies.

[T]hese new eight generatives demand an understanding of how abundance breeds a sharing mindset, how generosity is a business model, how vital it has become to cultivate and nurture qualities that can’t be replicated with a click of the mouse.

In short, the money in this networked economy does not follow the path of the copies. Rather it follows the path of attention, and attention has its own circuits.

Some interesting exercise news

First, people that exercise more have cells that look younger than those that rarely exercise, according to a new study:

Telomeres cap the ends of chromosomes, the structures that carry genes. Every time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter. When the telomeres get too short, the cell can no longer divide. Scientists believe that aging occurs as more and more cells reach the end of their telomeres and die — muscles weaken, skin wrinkles, eyesight and hearing fade, organs fail, and thinking clouds.
Spector and his colleagues analyzed the telomeres from white blood cells collected from 2,401 twins participating in a long-term health study, examining whether there was a relationship between the subjects’ telomere length and how much exercise they got in their spare time over a 10-year period.

“We’re using telomere length as a marker of our rate of biological aging,” Spector said.

The length of the twins’ telomeres was directly related to their activity levels, the researchers found. People who did a moderate amount of exercise — about 100 minutes a week of activity such as tennis, swimming or running — had telomeres that on average looked like those of someone about five or six years younger than those who did the least — about 16 minutes a week. Those who did the most — doing about three hours a week of moderate to vigorous activity– had telomeres that appeared to be about nine years younger than those who did the least.

And in a related note, it’s hard to get started exercising for a reason:

The substance that allows your muscles to contract is called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Your body has several ways to synthesize it using such materials as creatine, lactic acid, glycogen and a bunch of enzymes, all present in the body. A couple of those methods can be tapped quickly to support an increase in activity — when you pop up the stairs from the company lunchroom, for example, or run a sprint.

However, those initial energy sources can keep pace for only the first few minutes. After that, the body turns to its real energy powerhouse: aerobic glycolysis, a process in which glucose (the basic sugar that the body uses for fuel) is broken down with the aid of oxygen to produce ATP. It’s a very productive system, by some estimates yielding 30 or more molecules of ATP for each molecule of glucose. That’s why it can sustain all those crazy bouts on the elliptical, not to mention a marathon run.

But it takes time to stoke up. In the interim, we suffer.

“[The process] is physiological, but it becomes a psychological issue,” said Walt Thompson, a professor of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University in Atlanta. “The first half-mile [of a run] is like, ‘I am going to quit.’ . . . But I know exactly where I am going to feel better.”

Carla Sottovia, an exercise physiologist and assistant fitness director at the Cooper Fitness Center in Texas, said those first few minutes of exercise amount to a state of oxygen deprivation, with the body struggling to keep up with the suddenly increased demand, then finally reaching a steady, sustainable state.

It’s a feeling that can be particularly discouraging for beginners, mistaken as a sign of being out of shape (only partially true) instead of understood as a manageable transition into exercise.

47000 Words

I’ve been a long time fan of the Washington City Paper, but that was as much due to their syndicated columns and comics as their local material. I don’t make it near the city (and thus their distribution range) as much as I used to, and the issue I just picked up seems listless, confimed online they’ve dropped most comics, and crucially cut Robert Ullman’s illos.

That’s disappointing, but I’ve realized they’ve been replaced by Lots of local coverage (Yes, some VA too), and the right attitude in my feed reader. They usually have a photo of the day, and recently ran a “DCist Exposed” contest to choose pictures for an exhibit. But this is the digital age, and you can all 47 picks here, for a considerably different look at the area.

This is my favorite: