Bobby's Blog

Saying Goodbye to Leonard Nimoy

March 06, 2015

"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP"
~Leonard Nimoy



That was Leonard Nimoy's last tweet. He died last Friday, surrounded by family and friends.



"LLAP", of course, stands for "Live long and prosper," his character's famous line from Star Trek.



Losing Mr. Spock was a crushing blow to trekkies all over the world. Millions flooded social media sites with tributes and memorials. Friends -- famous and unknown -- expressed their sadness and their undying love for the 83 year-old actor, writer, director and poet. I was one of those millions. But I don't remember exactly what I said. What I do remember is what he said. I'll always remember his last words to us, his fans.



In honor of Leonard Nimoy, let's all recognize a "perfect moment" this week. But don't try to hang onto it. Just remember it. Always.



Live long. And prosper,
Bobby


Leonard Nimoy
March 26, 1931 - February 27, 2015

Robots Take Over the World! (Not Really - Just Your Atari Gaming System)

February 27, 2015

People who worry about Things like Artificial Intelligence (AI) robots worry that one day the machines will realize they don't need people to survive and annihilate us all. But the people over at DeepMind have a bigger problem with their AI robot as our friends at engadget pointed out: "It probably never occurred to anyone that, as soon as they discovered beer, Netflix and video games, that computers would ditch plans for world domination, drop out and get a job at the local gas station."

Seems the folks at DeepMind wanted to see if the AI could learn to play video games without being taught. So they set it up with 2,600 Atari titles and let it go. They didn't give it any instructions on how to play, but every time it did something right, it was rewarded with the electronic equivalent of a doggy treat. And you know what happened? It got really good at those games. So good, they want to teach it more complicated games like Pac-Man and StarCraft.

Every gamer knows those Things are totally addicting. If AI gets hooked on video games, we'll never have to worry about it conquering the world. But it might crush you -- and your friends -- at Halo.

See you next week,
Bobby

Random Things on the Internet

February 20, 2015

As an avid reader (lurker) of the popular "random Things" web site, Reddit, I often stumble upon Things that are more shocking than the NSFW (not suitable for work) subcategory (subreddit). Things that are so shocking, I have to share them with you.

In January a certain "Captain Mercedes," announced that he had tracked every single bowel movement he had in 2014. But wait, there's more: He compiled a data file cataloguing each and every one of those movements using the "Bristol stool scale" (seven categories of shape and consistency). But wait, there's a bonus! He posted the poop file for other Reddit users so they might "design hypotheses" of the data to help the poor captain better understand the mysteries of his secretions.

You can't make Things like this up. Follow the adventures of Captain Mercedes and his output yourself. Fair warning: it might not be suitable for work.

See you next week,
Bobby

Solar UFOs

February 13, 2015

NASA's Helioviewer, an online "solar data browser" allows people to check out what's happening on our sun any time of the day or night. Now prominent UFO watchers like Scott Waring says he discovered a UFO “Tall Ship” the size of the moon on or around the sun using NASA's own public tools. And this isn't the first time.

Last December, Waring said he had discovered a similar “moon size UFO” exiting a dark spot on the sun’s surface — again through the Helioviewer. And again on Christmas Eve, the intrepid watcher was poring over Helioviewer images and saw what he believed to be a UFO “Mothership” blasting out of the sun’s surface.

But if not impossible, it seems improbable. The sun's surface is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to incinerate any known object instantly. But maybe we're not talking about a known object. Maybe this is someThing beyond our grasp and technology. As one commenter on the UFO Sightings Daily blog says, “We have to remember that we are talking about a race that is thousands, perhaps even millions of years ahead of us...”

Maybe. I bookmarked the Helioviewer so I could watch for myself. I'll let you know if I see anyThing.

See you next week,
Bobby

Batwoman and Catman?

February 06, 2015

Does Joss Whedon want to be the next director to set the internet abuzz with gender-busting heroes? The creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" told Buzzfeed he'd like to make a “turn of the century female "Batman".”

But then he added, “Not Batman actually. But, you know, something cool.” Why not Bat(wo)man? What could be cooler than that? It makes you wonder. Who would Batwoman's sidekick be? And what would happen to Alfred? And what about her arch enemies? Would she have to face Catman?

The mind boggles with the possibilities. One Thing is certain: in Joss Whedon's hands, Gotham and the DC Comics Universe would never be the same!

See you next week,
Bobby

Who Ya Gonna Call?

January 30, 2015

The unofficial cast of the new "Ghostbusters" movie got an official approval from former 'Buster Dan Aykroyd yesterday. While the agents and studio haggled over the details, director Paul Feig tweeted a collage of Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, setting the internet all abuzz.

Most people love the idea of an all-female ghostbusting team, including franchise veteran Aykroyd. As he told The Hollywood Reporter: “The Aykroyd family is delighted by this inheritance of the Ghostbusters torch by these most magnificent women in comedy. My great grandfather, Dr. Sam Aykroyd, the original Ghostbuster, was a man who empowered women in his day, and this is a beautiful development in the legacy of our family business.”

Like I said, most people love the idea. There are some -- mostly male -- dissenters whining all over Twitter about Feig destroying their childhood memories. Pretty silly if you ask me. The cast is perfectly in line with tradition: a collection of hilarious comedians, heavily stacked with Saturday Night Live alumni. Reminds me exactly of the original. The Ghostbusters reboot is scheduled to drop July 22, 2016. I can't wait.

See you next week,
Bobby

Deflate-gate: Patriots Caught Again!

January 23, 2015

Have you been following Deflate-gate? Just in case you haven't, here's a brief synopsis: the New England Patriots were caught red-handed with 11 under-inflated footballs following their 45-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts on Monday. It was a decisive win and it secured them a spot in the Super Bowl. Now some football fans are crying "foul!"

Here's the Thing: an under inflated football is easier to throw and easier to catch. Especially in cold weather. And here's another Thing: this isn't the first time those dastardly Patriots have been caught cheating. They were caught videotaping the New York Jets' defensive signals back in 2007 and they've been caught with microphones in their shoulder pads to capture on-field calls. Now many sports fans are left wondering just how many games the Patriots actually won.

"NASCAR rules have always applied in the NFL -- if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'." says sports writer John McMullen. "And the Patriots? Well, they are always trying."

Indeed.

And maybe that's just the nature of the game. Everyone cheats. But if that is the case, the Patriots should try to get better at it. Because they're always getting caught.

So what do you think? Was it cheating or were the Patriots just tryin'?

Keep your eye on the ball(s). I'll see you next week,
Bobby

No, Really, The Dog Ate My Homework!

January 16, 2015

Does your dog eat the strangest Things? Mine, too. I have to watch where I put everyThing because, in the world according to Bosco, if a Thing is left within reach of his jaws it A) automatically belongs to him and B) must be edible.

Roscoe, a dog who lives out in Magnolia, Texas, doesn't just share a similar name with my canine vacuum, he apparently shares the same philosophy. His human, Reagan Hardin constructed a painstakingly elaborate diorama of a Middle Ages farm for school and -- silly human -- left it within Roscoe's reach. So, the night before her project was due, Roscoe ate it. The whole Thing. Right down to the wire frame that held the diorama together.

Veterinarian Carl Southern, who extracted the plastic chicken head, horse body, sheep, pig and finally the wire, warned, "Don't put anything past your dog. We all say 'my dog would never eat that,' and that's the main thing he'll eat." I think that's one Thing Bosco and Roscoe would agree on.

Keep an eye on your dog and I'll see you next week,
Bobby

Star Talk

January 09, 2015

Just when you think science couldn't possibly be more fun, the folks over at the National Geographic Channel decided to give star physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson his own television show. Named after his wildly popular podcast, Star Talk will follow much of the same format, apparently including a one-minute slot for Bill Nye the Science Guy to share his rant-of-the-day.

Already the foremost "physics for the rest of us" commentator on dozens of science documentaries and series, the scientist has plenty of experience in front of a camera. And as the host of the revived Cosmos, the show created by Tyson's hero Carl Sagan back in the 80s, he's used to a grueling production schedule so the move is "kind of low-risk," he says.

I already follow Tyson's always controversial and frequently hilarious Twitter feed and I listen to the podcast whenever I can. Like the podcast, the new show will cover scientific and pop culture topics with special guests and experts weighing in from time to time. Bill Nye seems to be the only "regular" named so far, which is unsurprising since he's a favorite on the podcast, beating his drum on all Things scientific, silly and superstitious. Tyson's low-risk move to television promises to be high-value entertainment and information for an even wider audience and I, for one, can't wait to see and hear Star Talk.

See you next week,
Bobby

A Better Brain in the New Year

January 02, 2015

New Year's resolutions aren't really my Thing. I'm not good at keeping them, especially if they involve exercise or dieting or learning new skills like musical instruments or languages. I'm not disciplined enough to stick with Things I know I should do, but don't really want to. That's why I'm trying a new approach this year: my resolution is to improve my brain power.

It's my kind of resolution because it doesn't require agonizing morning jogs against my will, giving up my favorite foods in favor of greens and bean curds (seriously, ewww!) or hours of grudging practice just because I spent too much money on a guitar. And boosting my brain power is someThing I really want to do. I tried Lumosity for a while and I really like their games, but I'm not crazy about being tied to a glowing screen for my cranial calisthenics, so I found some real-world, 3-D Things to help out.

Working puzzles are a great way to exercise your gray matter. The classic 15 Puzzle, which I had as a kid, still confounds my mind and gives a great brain workout. Plus, it's portable so I can play it while I have a few minutes in a waiting room instead of picking up my phone and scrolling through Facebook. Jigsaw puzzles help with visual acuity, pattern recognition and problem-solving. For a little extra pressure, choose a jigsaw of Albert Einstein.

My favorite new puzzle is the Collide-O-Cube. Not only do you have to figure out geometric relationships, you have to figure out which way the magnets in each piece fit together. It's at least as confounding as its precursor, the Rubik's cube, if not more so.

So if you feel like giving up all those unrealistic New Year's resolutions this year, that's not a bad Thing. Just pick someThing small that you can stick with and make that happen. You can do it!

See you next week,
Bobby