Category Archives: ScienceWerks

Cookie Thoughts

Facebook, despite it’s many faults, is a wonderful catalogue of all the poor life choices your friends and family have made with pride.  Haircuts, political leanings, clothing options, meal choices, significant others, medical opinions, decisions to run a failing political campaign for 14 years – all of it proudly displayed by the perpetrators themselves.

That’s a helluva thing.

 

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Moocifer Is Nigh

I’ve had feelings, or sensations of dread whenever I’d be confronted with a fatty cut of meat for the last couple of months.  I felt in my core that a dark time was coming, heralded by a malevolent being who would rain down fire and ennui from his teats.  This creature would reek of barbecue and gristle, with outstretched arms and a disconcerting, tight-lipped smile that didn’t mask his grotesque desire to consume the world entire.  After months I thought I had uncovered who would be the herald of this evil time.

And then Ted Cruz suspended his presidential campaign and I went back to the drawing board.

More accurately, I celebrated with a bottle of sake and some raw oysters.  One less person to challenge the obvious Simpson/Hemstead candidacy.  But when I went to sleep I had a dream.  A dream of that same sensation of dread.  In that dream I saw in the smokey, barbecue teat-fire a face.  It was the face of this herald of doom, a long and oddly snouted face for a biped.

And he whispered to me.

“I love you.”

“We’ve only just met,” I said in return, in as demure a voice as I could muster when confronted by such a beast.

The beast mistook my tone for coquettishness, “Soon you will know me, my love.  Soon you will all know me.”

I was taken back, and even slightly off-put that the herald of doom was so quick to reveal his polyamory.  “Who are ‘you all’?”

Was I jealous?  Of the beast that had been tormenting me for months?  I didn’t have time to think through my emotional state, for the beast bear down on me with his wide-set and oddly vapid feeling eyes that glowed red like the forge of Hephaestus.

He narrowed those eyes at me and said, “Every beating heart will soon beat for me.”

I was taken back.  One, that’s just scary.  Two, it’s a helluva great pickup line for a swingers convention.

I stammered my response, “Wh-who are you?”

The beast chewed at something emptily in his mouth and then hissed his response.

No, not hissed.  Something else.  Something more guttural.

Mooed maybe?

“I am Moocifer, and I am nigh.”

 

I woke up already sitting up in bed, called the ScienceWerks and described the creature I saw.

He is beefy and eternal.

Virtual Reality

Today marks the launch of the HTC Vive, an exciting step forward in consumer-level, room sized V.R. simulation.

Personally I’m beginning a journey into content creation for V.R. and it’s the Vive that has most grabbed my attention. Each of the platforms has its plusses and minuses, but the Vive has been transcendent in a way that the others haven’t thus far for me.  I’ve spent hours painting in the cleverly simple, but infinitely playable Tilt Brush, shot down aliens while skittering across a room, and stood on the edge of virtual cliffs as my very real stomach tightened.  The content is already so interesting as these technologies begin their consumer infancy, I’m very excited to see what comes next, and very excited to be a part of the advance.

Having spent a few days exploring the environments available under the visors of HTC Vive, Oculus, the Samsung Gear VR, and Google Cardboard, this is about the only way I can sum up my experience in this exciting new world.

We have such sights to show you.

We have such sights to show you.

Conversations From the Western White House

The first lady and I were sitting in bed talking about virtual reality last night and the following conversation happened:

First Lady: We need virtual reality company names that sound more immersive.  Like the opposite of virtual reality so that it feels more real and amazing.

Me: Okay.  what’s the opposite of virtual reality though?

FL:  Tangible… Fantasies.

Me:  That sounds like an escort service for cosplayers.

FL:  Either way.  This is also a viable business venture.

Coming soon from Vote Simpson/Hemstead ScienceWerks: Tangible Fantasies.*

*No word yet on whether costumed escorts will be available at this time.

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Not our most popular model.

10 Days of 10 Years Later – Day 04 Some NSFW Content

“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.” – Possibly Joan of Arc (according once again to Brainyquote.com)

Okay let me start out by saying it’s really frustrating that in the “information age” it is so hard to find corroborating proof for an attributed online quote.  We’re doing something seriously wrong as a society.

Day 4.  When I started this endeavor I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fill 10 days.  Now I feel I’ve only scratched the surface and I’m starting to run out of time.  I hope I do us justice, Dad.  My plan of waiting until the very last possible second to write a loving 10 part essay is backfiring.  It’s so difficult to release these as first drafts, without even a cursory spelling pass.  But it’s the road I’ve built for myself, so here we go.  EDITORIAL NOTE: I’ve had two glasses of wine at this point, and I was a solid whiskey in when writing last night’s entry, they’re gonna be a little more stream of consciousness.

Cheers

Cheers, Dad

This was a picture I took of Dad on a weekend he came up to visit me at my old apartment.   He’s wearing scrubs because he was going through treatment for his third bout of cancer and had a pretty frustrating rash over his torso.  He’s got stage 2 Parkinson’s disease at this point, as well as C.O.P.D. and a touch of emphysema.  As soon as we took this photo he put a cannula back in in his nose that fed him oxygen from a tank he dragged behind him 24 hours a day.  He’s not drinking wine, he’s drinking cranberry juice.  And he’s not even drinking that, but we’ll get to that later.

I had mentioned I wanted to expand upon the idea of friendship in part 3.  I’m pushing that until later because something came to me today while I was running errands that I feel should pre-empt that discussion.  Why is this so important to do for me?  Everyone loses their parents at some point.  I’ve got friends who have lost both.  Why is this so special or greater than anyone else’s?

It’s not.  Loss is loss.  It’s tragic and it hurts and it scars the fragile tissue of our emotions. Personally, I felt compelled to blog about my relationship with Dad for one reason alone; when I was 18 I made a promise to help him through his first cancer.  That promise didn’t end until the day he died, a couple of years after he was diagnosed with his third cancer when I was Adam32.  The whole of my twenties, and by extension the whole of the early formative years of my adulthood, were consumed with my father and his health.

I think I should say a few things about those years, because they will affect two essays; the upcoming essay on friendships and the essay about Adam32.

The years of Dad’s various advancing illnesses, surgeries, and recoveries are, in retrospect, the most brilliant and hated years of my life. I walked a line between untethered, carefree child and dispassionate on-call caregiver.  I’ve never laughed as hard, or cried as furiously.  I’ve never felt so powerful, and so worthless.  There’s so much of those years I lived as fully as I could, and wasted more than seems possible.  I met some of my greatest friends during this time, and we’ll get into them in the next essay.  I wouldn’t change any of those years, but I desperately wish I had the ability to go back there and live them very differently than I did.

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With more linen pants and Clark Gable mustaches, apparently.

I am who I am by the forceful will of an abrupt chasm born of those vicissitudes.

If given the chance to change those years, I honestly don’t know how I would answer.  The whole experience reminds me of a line from Wargames.  At the end of the film, as Joshua has played himself in tic-tac-toe an uncountable number of times, he’s learned that nuclear war can’t be won.  The friendly, vaguely british voice of the Joshua echoed throughout Crystal Palace and said, “A strange game.  The only winning move is not to play.”  Maybe this experiment is my version of being forced to play tic-tac-toe against myself until I learn it is un-winnable to try.  I wonder if I will learn that by the end of this the only way to find a solution to this is to never look for one.

You know what?  It’s not until this moment I’ve thought of the line that follows the quote above.  It’s Joshua’s last line in the movie, “How about a nice game of chess?”  Joshua offers it as an alternative to the un-winnable game of Global Thermonuclear War.  Until his Parkinson’s became too strong a tell, Dad and I used to love to play chess.

I wish I had a chance to play chess with you again, Dad. *

*You don’t really have to watch past the first two lines of dialogue if you clicked the link.  I have no idea how to set a custom out point on youtube hyperlinks.

I don’t have much more in me right now, this essay has been a bit more emotionally taxing than I had anticipated.  But I wanted to leave you with a wider picture of the years Dad and I spent in this chaotic dance.  Let’s go back to that day Dad came up to stay with me and we took the picture presented at the head of this essay.  Do you remember that I said he wasn’t really drinking the cranberry juice?

That picture happened because I told my father I didn’t have enough pictures of him, and I wanted some.  He didn’t like having his photo taken since he got Parkinson’s disease.  Then he saw something propped up in the corner of the apartment.  He said, “I’ll take a picture with THAT!”

I don’t know if he thought I would give up, or if he wanted to see what would happen next. I like to hope he was serious, and he was challenging me.  But whatever the reason, I immediately said, “Okay,” and then sat him in a chair, propped this thing in front of him, and hustled around the apartment to gather all the things I would want to make this picture awesome.  This included a wine glass full of cranberry juice.

Once everything was set, we pulled the cannula out of Dad’s nose and I ran behind the camera to snap a photo of my father that he dared, I conceived, and we fired off without a moment’s hesitation or a word of discussion.  Because I get my sense of humor from my father, and I’ll never stop being grateful for that fact.

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Living with an Academy Award caliber makeup effects artist had it’s advantages.

Okay, friendship tomorrow.   My friends, dad’s friends, how I feel we related to them.  If you’re still here, thank you.   If you are enjoying or getting something out of this, please let me know, I’m becoming self-conscious a hair.

Bon Appetite, Dad.

JIM UPDATE – 24 Hours With the Toughest Honkey I Know

 

**I found this in a draft folder from 3 years ago after visiting Jim in the hospital following his stroke.  It never got finished due to my schedule when I returned.  I felt it should be posted as a celebration of how spectacularly Jim has fought back from his affliction.  So with only the ado of love and admiration…**

I was fortunate enough to spend the weekend with Jim in his therapy facility.  I was on the ground in Washington for only 24 hours, but I felt like I experienced a month of life and I managed to do so much more than just visit my dear friend and running mate in the hospital.

Washington

I babysat the kids for a few hours, and got to see how much his two year old had grown since I last saw her at a month old.  I got to see Jim’s mother, who has held the job of keeping the kids happy and normal while mommy and daddy are away at the hospital; and with an 11 year old, a 5 year old and a 2 year old that is no simple task.  I can assure you she has done it beautifully, and done it at the sacrifice of being by her son’s side as much as she would like.  None of us who wish Jim well should ever overlook the contributions of those people who are so tirelessly supporting the family.

Two other such people are Casey’s sister and father.  They flew in, from Minnesota and California respectively, to help Casey get prepared for Christmas, and just to check in on the family. They took Casey out to do some basic shopping for the family and managed to get 10 large boxes of Christmas decorations put up in just over two hours.  They also made a cracking pulled pork, I can’t stress that enough.

I was fortunate enough to stay the night in Jim’s room with he and his wife.  She sleeps on an inflatable mattress next to his hospital bed, the place she’s been since he was first hospitalized, and does so with plucky aplomb.  She’s adopted the new normal their lives have found with the same forward-looking tenacity of the 13 year old girl I met so many years ago while working together at Camp Frasier in Irvine nearly two decades ago.  She’s always had an enviable ability to slog forward through any situation, with the finish line always in sight.  I’d call her a strong woman, but she’d beat me senseless for doing so, so I’ll simply call her what I feel she is: a pretty cool chick.

It was about 2 pm when I arrived underneath a thick cover of ash grey clouds that threatened at every moment to open up into a light autumn drizzle, and kept the early afternoon lit with the diffuse light of early evening.  The artist in me loved the lighting scheme, just a little melancholy and possibly forbidding, but the prospect of the sun’s resolve to punch through the darkness.  As Washington residents, I’m sure it was simply another day for Jim and Casey, but for this Southern Californian it was far more poetic.

Jim’s Room

Jim’s room is spacious for a single, like a dorm room with one bed and desk set removed.  The room is populated with get well cards and Muppets naturally, with the occasional Star Wars action figure donated by his 5 year old son to keep an eye on daddy.  There’s a small fridge and a private bathroom, a recliner and a picture window with a nice view that looks over the facility’s courtyard.

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Jim’s eyes were alive and smiling, even though he has some temporary facial paralysis on his left side from the stroke.  He was sitting in a wheel chair, his left arm resting on an attached tray, across the midline of his body.  His children had painted his nails on his affected hand a wonderful shade of Kermit green when he first went in to the hospital, a visual cue to help him remember to engage that side of his body.  It had been a couple of weeks and that nail varnish was chipped from wear while Jim idly stroked, poked and prodded his affected hand with his right hand.  It had become habit it seemed, partly to keep the nerves in his affected side stimulated, and partly I feel due to the same impulse we all have to casually poke at a limb that’s fallen asleep.

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I watched Casey do a bed transfer with Jim while I sipped my coffee feeling a bit useless and noted to myself that for a wee speck of a thing she’s staggeringly powerful.  We talked about how he’s been, what his therapists are doing with him, and lamented the food.  It was mostly just jibber jabber, three old friends catching up while one of them reclined in bed, unconsciously poking at an uncooperative hand.  Then a quick couple of hours later, I was called out to watch the kids back at the house so Casey and her family could have some time together and do some shopping for Christmas, and of course give Jim’s mother some very rare uninterrupted face time with her son.

The Guy Time

When I returned from my quick jaunt babysitting and shooed Jim’s mother away to the house for some pulled pork and beets, I got my first alone time with my best friend.  We talked about the future a lot.  The financial uncertainty, and the options they have, and decisions there are to make.  We talked about how amazing the family has been.  We talked about Casey getting laid off in the middle of this exercise through the American medical system.  And then I asked a question I had been dreading to ask, because I didn’t know how he would answer; “What is the hardest thing about… this?”

It’s a loaded question with so many rightfully selfish answers that would be reasonable, understandable, but hard to spin.  Walking, sitting up, picking up something with two hands are just a few examples of possible answers.  I was ready for one of them.  I wasn’t ready for the answer I got, but in retrospect it was the only one I should have expected from someone like Jim.

“My kids.  I miss my kids.”

Jim, as most of you must know, has been the primary caregiver – stay at home dad if you will – for his three children since Chloe was born 11 years ago.  He’s spent the last decade wiping noses and bottoms and catching frogs and coloring; while getting a culinary degree, working in wine shops, and learning the intricacies of wine making.  He suddenly found himself only seeing his three children in short visits here and there.  Without his children, Jim was finding himself without three of his best friends.

A group of well-wishers had donated a new iPod to Jim while he was still in intensive care to replace his old and broken iPod, and not only did it give him his music library for the boring times, it gave him a window to his children through Skype.  He lights up around his kids, even on a screen, but it was palpable how much he wanted to be around them in person.  I don’t know why I didn’t expect that answer from him; possibly because I don’t have children of my own

It doesn’t easily sleep three who aren’t – special friends – but it is possible.

To be continued later tonight when I get home.

***Nothing further was written***

My Ultimate Form

Here’s a thing about me:

I pee a lot when I’m stressed.
I pee a lot when I drink coffee.
I drink a lot of coffee when I’m stressed.

One very bad day, these traits will reach a singularity, my conscious mind will go in stasis, and I’ll become an entity that only exists as an uncontrollable and constant urea vector.

That should be a fun day.

Gender Stereotypes

What are they?  Are they dangerous?  Are they simply the brain’s way of collapsing data into quick to process nuggets for the fight/flight reflex?  Can they be overcome once the stereotype nugget has passed through the fight/flight barrier and made contact with the higher brain function?   Let’s do an experiment, shall we?

The Science Werks, in an effort to understand how stereotypes affect the brain and where exactly a stereotype becomes detrimental to human progress, have worked up this test:

Look at the images of an excessively hairy man with a pink mohawk, and then answer the questions below, keeping tally of your answers.

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QUESTIONS:

1: Do you find the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk’s poses to be gender appropriate?

           1 – Strongly Agree                                                             10 – Strongly Disagree

2: Do you find the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk’s poses to be offensive?

1 – Strongly Agree                                                             10 – Strongly Disagree

3: Do you feel the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk has no business posing like a 1940’s pinup girl?

1 – Strongly Agree                                                             10 – Strongly Disagree

4: Look at the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk.  After allowing initial gender stereotypes to pass into the logic centers of the brain, do you find the photos appealing on any level (alluring, comedic, zany), or offensive?

1 – Appealing                                                                    10- Offensive

5: Look at the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk.  Look at his legs.  Do you find his legs appealing or offensive?

1 – Appealing                                                                    10 – Offensive

6: Look at yourself.  Do you feel the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk is judging you the way you judged him?

1 – Yes                                                                               10 – No

7: Look at yourself again.  Have you accepted the excessively hairy man with a pink mohawk doing 40’s pinup poses into your heart?

1 – Yes                                                                               10 – No

8: Look at the excessively hairy man with the pink mohawk doing 40’s pinup poses, and gauge your opinion to the following statement:   “That dude is hella rad and cute as a button.”

1 – Strongly Agree                                                             10 – Strongly Disagree

Okay, add up your points and consult the chart below.

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Well crap.  Okay.  How about instead we throw away the other questions and just focus on your answer to number 8?

If you scored a 1-3, congratulations, you can look past little brain nuggets and experience a life not ruled by stereotypes and you have impeccable taste.

If you scored a 4-6, you are grappling with some internal issues, but likely will come out for the better for it and ultimately help shepherd others.  We have faith in you.

If you scored a 7-10, you can just go eat a Costco-sized bucket of unwashed wieners.

What have we learned here?  Well, I don’t know that we really learned anything, but I do know that I’m hella cute as a button.

Why Simpson/Hemstead Never Gets Elected: 06/13/14

Here is where I’ll muse over the 13 year failure that has been the Simpson/Hemstead campaign, starting on Friday the 13th, 2014.

I tried entering “boomoy” into my phone, and the predictive text changed it to “vomit.”

Even after I had it learn the word “boomoy.”

"My smartphone might be trying to smarten me."

“My smartphone might be trying to smarten me.”

Big Damned Hero

Less than 18 months ago, Hemstead was suffering the after-effects of a massive stroke.  He couldn’t walk, he couldn’t move his left side, had trouble keeping up with the pace of conversation, and was unable to sit upright without assistance.

This photo was taken last week when he came to California to survey the Western White house, as well as the Western Brown house, the pink one, and also there was a very nice mauve one that tickled his fancy.

He’s leaner.  He’s not meaner. He’s walking.  He’s laughing.  He’s proof that anything can be overcome.

Simpson/Hemstead owes a debt of thanks to his friends, family, the team of doctors and therapists who have had to endure pun after pun during therapy sessions.  None of this would have been possible without you all.

Nor without the absolutely tireless determination of his lovely wife.  Truly a special woman.  She’s not only tolerated him this long, she’s tolerated me.  She’s rolled with the punches and countered back hard.  I’m proud to call her my friend.

Thank you all for your continued support.  The fight isn’t over, and there’s still more heroics to be accomplished, but I know with wonderful supporters like you, Hemstead will prevail for he is the hero of the Simpson/Hemstead campaign:

Cap’n ‘Merica

What precisely is he holding his shield up with?

What precisely is he holding his shield up with?

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