Thursday, February 29, 2024

Five Thursdays

This is the fifth Thursday in February. February only has five Thursdays because this is a leap year and it's the 29th of February.  I started wondering how much that happens. And I think, it happens every four years to a different weekday. So I investigated.

In 2020, February had five Saturdays, and the last one was the leap day.

In 2016, February had five Mondays (groan) and the last one was the leap day!

In 2012, February had five Wednesdays, and the last one was the leap day.

So apparently this is how leap days work: they are always the fifth day of their weekday.

I'm in my 60s and I never noticed that before. That's amazing.

What about the world did you not notice until late in your life? Let me know in the comments below.

And why do leap years have to be election years? Another day of campaigning. That we don't need.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Errors in the Lord of the Rings Movies

I love the Lord of the Rings movies. They are among my favorite movies. I watch them every few months, it seems. I have the extended versions on 4K Blu-ray so the picture looks amazing.

Even if I come across them while channel flipping, I'll stop and watch them.

I'm more of a science fiction guy, but I still love the Lord of the Rings.

But as I keep watching them, I have noticed some... errors. Not deviations from the novels (lots of those), but errors in the movies themselves.

For example, big cities such as Minas Tirith will be full of people (and horses), but there's no farmland around the city to provide food for them. Same with Edoras, the capital of Rohan. I'm not sure if Tolkien talked about farmland around those cities (it's been a while since I've read the books). The Shire seems to be, in the movies, the only place growing food.

There are other errors. For example, in The Two Towers, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum are on a ridge overlooking the Black Gate of Mordor. But in Return of the King, when Aragon leads an army to the gate, the ridge has disappeared. Also, in that battle in front of the Black Gate, Aragon and others ride there on horses. But when the battle starts, the horses disappear. 

Speaking of horses. When they reach the Mines of Moria (Khazad-dûm), they let the horse Bill go because he can't go through the mines. But that horse has never been with them before since leaving Rivendell. In the novel, Bill is with them after they leave Bree.

In The Two Towers, a Uruk-hai climbs up on a big boulder to start the battle. But later when Gandalf leads the Rohirrim against the Uruk-hai, the boulder is gone.

Have you noticed any other errors in the movies? Let me know in the comments below. There are probably a lot more (see here, here, and here).

The above photo is being used under Section 107 of the Copyright Act: fair usage.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Character Names

Someone posted in a writers' group on Facebook "How do you select the names of your characters?" 

That's a tough one. Coming up with character names is one of the most annoying parts of writing for me. My seven book series Chumba of the Intelligence Corps/Treasures of Space/Death to the Emperor the main character's moniker is "Titus Chumba."  I have no idea where I came up with that. But in Treasures of Space and Death to the Emperor, he uses a lot of pseudonyms since he's hiding from the Core Empire. The main one is "Rick Bailey." How did I come up with all those names? I have no idea nor memory of doing it. When it comes to main characters, I tend to make up a name I like.

But then there are the secondary characters. For those, I will often use a random name generator. I like the Behind the Name one because of all the options. Or sometimes I just want a quick one, so I'll use this one.

In Rock Killer, the main character's name was Alexander Chun. I decided I wanted a Korean-American name (I'd just graduated from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA, where I studied Korean when I started writing it). But other names, I just made up (I wrote most of this book before I discovered the internet in 1994).

How do you come up with character names? Let me know in the comments below.


Thursday, February 8, 2024

Husky Heartbreak

The week of January 8th was a heartbreaking one for fans of the University of Washington Huskies football program. Such as myself.

You know I love my Huskies. Even when they went 0-12 in 2008. 

Then, this season after an amazing year where we went 12-0 in the regular season, won the Pac-12 championship game (against Oregon!), and won the Sugar Bowl to go 14-0, we lost badly in the CFP championship game to Michigan. We were so hoping to bring back a football championship to the Pac-12 in its last year of existence as a Power 5 conference. (The fate of the Pac-12 is still in the air as all but two schools left it). 

After losing the CFP championship game, our coach, Kalen DeBoer, announced he was going to Alabama, who had just had their coach retire. That was almost too much to bear. I was literally depressed for at least a week. And a lot of players announced they were going into the NFL draft or were going to the transfer portal.

We went from the highs of winning the Sugar Bowl on January 1st to the lows of January 9th.

In addition, Pete Carroll announced he's retiring as head coach of the Seahawks. That didn't upset me a lot (I'm sort of a fair-weather Seahawks fan), but it did add to the devastation for the community.

The Huskies have named a new head coach in Arizona's Jedd Fisch. He was, in my opinion, a good pick. Not a great pick, but a good one. He did turn around an ailing Arizona team.  He'll have a big job at Washington as most, if not all, of the good players have left. 

I was so looking forward to next year when we might do better than this year (that is, win the championship) with DeBoer as our coach. But now I'm just hoping we have a winning season and beat Oregon and Washington State. I'm hoping,

Thursday, February 1, 2024

February is the Worst

In my opinion, February is the worst month of the year. There's almost nothing to look forward to and the weather is usually awful. Some people say January is bad. But to me, it's February that's the worst.

Sure there's Valentines Day, or as two of my sons call it, "Single Awareness Day." Or "Mandatory Romance Day."

There's George Washington's Birthday, which if you work in some businesses or government, you might get off. But most don't. And there's no Christmas or New Years to look forward to. Just bleak, cold days.

Bleak because February is usually the coldest month. I'm not sure why because the solstice is in late December. You'd think as daylight hours increase, it would get warmer. However, in February, the snow is deeper and the wind is more cutting than any other month.

It's like August is the hottest month, usually, but the solstice is in June. Maybe the Earth retains heat and it takes until February to dissipate it all. 

I don't know.

Do you know why February is so bad? And how do you feel about February? Let me know in the comments below.