It may seem odd to entitle a blog's final entry "First Impressions". But after all, that is the format most blogs take. Like geological strata, the most recent items are on top, and one must dig deeper to find the older layers. I invite you to do that here.
So, what shall I say about myself? My name is Toby Click. As of July 2012, I am a 39-year-old living in Denver, Colorado with Tim, my partner of nine years. Also we have the cats Zinger and Moose, about ten salt- and fresh-water fish, and a colony of Sea-Monkeys, all of which live much more healthily than the plants I attempt to grow.
Tim and I moved here in 2008-2009 from Georgia. There, I worked as a planetarium curator—a career I enjoyed much more than my present one in tech support. My interests include: all sciences (especially astronomy, geology, and paleontology), nature, the outdoors, travel, photography, geocaching, beer, electronic dance music, national and global politics, and movies—especially science fiction and fantasy. My furniture is IKEA, my shoes are Skechers, and my vacations tend to involve National Parks. We don't have cable, opting instead to watch Hulu and Netflix.
Though I would technically fit the definition of "atheist", I don't particularly care for the word itself, since it defines me by what I am not. There are many more interesting things to know about me, than what I don't do, or don't believe. I do my best to respect differing opinions in religion, politics, and elsewhere, as I recognize it's a big planet, and not everyone is going to agree with me.
What offends me? Littering, wilful ignorance, and the wasting of food, especially meat.
I have no children, and it seems unlikely that I ever will. Human behavior is driven by incentives, and for Tim and me, the incentive to be parents just doesn't exist.
Regarding my account name: a "theropod" is a type of meat-eating dinosaur, which includes Allosaurus, Velociraptor, and Tyrannosaurus Rex. I chose that handle just because I liked the sound of the word; it's not even my "favorite" type of dinosaur (Triceratops is).
Why am I discontinuing this blog, after maintaining it for eight years and 1,771 entries? Aside from the obvious (no one uses LiveJournal anymore), I need time to refocus myself, realign. Need to figure out: if I'm going to broadcast to the world, what am I going to say? I may continue using this space to write private entries—I do find it useful to maintain a timeline for personal reference.
There is a separate photoblog that I intend to keep updating for the foreseeable future, at http://toby5280.blogspot.com/ . There is a daily entry with a picture, for each day since I moved to Colorado.
To those who have read my LiveJournal during the past eight years, thank you. I'll see you... out there.
Our last day at Yellowstone National Park, we drove along its northern boundary, passing through Lamar Valley and out the Northeast Entrance. It seemed we had all sorts of weather at some point during the day, with sun, rain, snow, wind, and lightning at a particularly intimidating moment.
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On our first day in Yellowstone National Park, we had watched eruptions at Old Faithful, toured more geysers and springs than we could count, and were stopped in the road more than once by lumbering bison. This second day would take us to a different part of the park, which included the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
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When we started planning this trip some months ago, I had rather neglected the fact that an annular eclipse would happen on Sunday, May 20. Having seen my fair share of partial solar eclipses over the years, they tend to register as only minor blips to me (I am far more interested in the total eclipse that will sweep North America in 2017). If I'd thought about this annular far enough in advance, we might have swapped our 2011 and 2012 itineraries to be better positioned for the full annularity. But it was OK. As usual, I had a plan.
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* Yes, it irritates me intensely when people refer to Leonardo as "da Vinci".
I'd like to begin by talking about the Civil Unions bill currently working its way through the Colorado Legislature. Last year, an identical piece of legislation cleared the Senate but died in committee in the GOP-controlled House. But this Thursday, the bill cleared that same Judiciary Committee, with a lone Republican joining all Democrats. On Friday, it also cleared the Finance Committee by a similar margin. It has one more committee to pass through before the full House may vote on it, and there seem to be enough votes now for it to advance all the way to the desk of the Governor, who has pledged to sign it.
As long as all of this happens before the close of the legislative session on Wednesday, it looks like Colorado will be the next state to offer civil unions to same-sex couples! What does this mean for Tim and me? We have been together now for nine years—and very much in love the whole time. If this legal option becomes available to us, I think we will take it shortly thereafter, although I would still not consider us "married". It'd be a stronger status than "shacked up", but not "married". I believe in claiming whatever small victories we can.
What would we do for a civil union ceremony? If this does become law, we could make it official as soon as October 1. I would expect to handle it in a very low-key fashion, mostly focused on the paperwork and fees. Although we would celebrate over the weekend, and anyone interested would be welcome to join in, we would put off any true "wedding celebration" until full marriage equality is achieved nationwide (which will happen). I personally would rather have the wedding back East, so more of our families and friends could participate. No gifts necessary—wedding gifts are for young couples just starting out, and we're quite a ways past that. Anyway, it's a lot to think about.
Don't Think, the Chemical Brothers concert film that played in theaters back in February. It comes with a CD of the music, which I loaded into my iPod and took the train downtown to meet Tim for dinner and a movie. Before going to the theater, we stopped at Rocket Fizz, a quirky, colorful candy store in LoDo. There must have been 50 varieties of salt water taffy, though we only tried a handful each.
The Avengers in all its epic 3-D badass glory. It's a hell of an undertaking—all these established movie characters and storylines tie together into something that's not quite a sequel to its predecessors, but still takes a little from everyone, and builds into something greater than the sum of its parts. If only DC could get its act together and make a similar Justice League movie, or even just a Superman/Batman outing. Anyway, to see filmmaking done in this way... it's not hard to feel like we are witnessing the golden age of something.
Saturday, Tim had schoolwork (almost done for the semester!), so I geocached in the afternoon. As it was Cinco de Mayo, I wanted to do a Mexican dinner out somewhere. So we went to Hamburger Mary's and had nachos, quesadillas, and Dos Equis.
The sunset had been full of weird clouds, and the wind was blowing quite strongly by the time we arrived. Dinner was fine, but as we were leaving, there was pouring rain and hail. But through it all, as we drove home, we briefly glimpsed the full "supermoon" through the clouds.
At home, I set up the camera and tried to photograph the supermoon better than the above shot taken from my cell phone while on the road, and also hoped to shoot the vivid lightning. The moon didn't put in another appearance, but I did some shots of the lit-up clouds, and the hail that'd accumulated while we were gone.
Anyway, there were lots of things to photograph, so I did.
First of all, Jonny McGovern's new video is out! "#totdf" (aka "Texting On The Dance Floor")
Then, my friend Elya showed me this item about Star Wars condoms. Hmm... Light Side, Dark Side...
And lastly, Stephen Fry tweets this editorial about gay Star Wars video game characters.
Chocolate Chip Sea Star. Here we see him getting prepped for his new home, through the method of drip acclimation. They're very sensitive to sudden changes in salinity, pH, and so forth, so I put him in this bucket and slowly added drops at a time from the main aquarium. After about two hours of this, he was ready to drop into the tank. Once there, he climbed up inside the Buddha, and didn't want to leave. But I coaxed him out with a bit of frozen shrimp (originally meant for me). I held it near his tube feet, which he used to grab the morsel and wiggle it towards his mouth.
I keep calling him "him", although—as with much marine life—gender has little/no meaning. This species can reproduce asexually, maybe even grow a whole 'nother specimen from a cut-off arm. I have no plans of testing that, though.
In other "star"-related news, I got my ticket for the Starfest convention next weekend. Guests will include Star Trek actor Jonathan Frakes, and David Prowse, who played Darth Vader.
We went to a Colorado Mammoth game on March 10...
One Friday after work, a bunch of us went to the nearby Avery Tap Room, and I sampled some of their wares.
Don't worry, the camera makes all these glasses look bigger than they are.
On the 17th, Denver had its 50th St. Patrick's Day Parade...
Thursday afternoon, I was on the way home from work, and Tim texted me, letting me know he'd gotten free passes to see an advance 3-D screening of John Carter. I thought: what better candy to sneak into the theater than... Mars Bars? So I stopped in at a secret store where they are still available.
While I had read the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom series years ago, Tim was going into the movie completely fresh. But we both found the movie enjoyable. It blends storylines from more than one of the books, and some new plot elements are added, reflecting a hundred years' evolution in audience sensibilities since the 1912 publication of A Princess of Mars. It has action and humor, and works as a stand-alone, though if you haven't read the books yet you may want to after watching the film. It comes out March 9.
at opposition (which happens about every two years). On Saturday night, the University of Denver's Chamberlin Observatory hosted an open house event. I've seen this historic telescope on several other occasions, but on this night I was lucky enough to glimpse the moon and Mars. Also, I got a few interior shots, with the camera on 15-second exposures.
I noticed it first this morning, when I headed off to work around 5 am and it was already 44°F. That's too warm for a February morning.
When I reached the parking lot at work, the wind was so intense I just about couldn't walk against it. Now, I spend the work day in a windowless cube farm, so I more-or-less forgot about the weather until I left, and in the stairwell, I could hear it rattling the building apart.
Later I would learn the winds had been in excess of 90 miles per hour. Electrical poles near the IBM complex were snapped apart. A grass fire had started (the smoke of which you can see in the 4th and 5th pictures below). And trucks were blown off the road.
Story  
There are certainly flaws to the movie, but most of my personal objections are different from those voiced so strongly in the public forum. I actually don't mind Jar Jar Binks at all. Know what I do despise? That two-headed sportscaster in the podracing scene. Yeah, I'd like to see him suffer. The opening crawl sequence is boring, going on about taxation of trade routes. There's a scene in the palace, where 8 or 10 people with grappling guns line up perfectly on a window ledge, and slide up to the next floor with unnatural precision, looking like dolls on strings. While the final lightsaber battle sequence is spectacular, there's no reason for those red glowing force fields to be there (except as a plot device). Makes me think of that scene in Galaxy Quest, where a character faces a corridor of chomping machinery and complains, "What is the point of this!?!? Why would this room even exist on a ship!?!?"
But yeah, I just go with the flow of it. In dealing with the prequels, I think it's important to remember: don't take 'em all that seriously. These are essentially movies for the kids. But if we're honest with ourselves, we realize: the originals are too.
On Friday night, some folks from the Rocky Mountain Fan Force were out in costume at the theater lobby. We scored two pairs of souvenir 3-D glasses in Darth Maul red, and a one-sheet that I'll probably frame at some point.
On Saturday I went out to another theater with my good camera and got more photos of costumed characters.
File photo—not the actual pizza we ate with Dan, but just as tasty.
There was some pretty intense snow the following day. I'll share pictures of that next time.
DON'T THINK: The Chemical Brothers Spill Onto The Big Screen
For nearly two decades, The Chemical Brothers have created electronic music designed for listening as much as dancing. So perhaps this makes them especially suited to being the subject of a concert film.
Don't Think is a full-length movie, directed by Adam Smith (who made a complete set of videos for all the songs on the British duo's 2010 album Further). Chronicling a performance at Japan's Fuji Rock Festival 2011, it was shown in movie theaters across the nation in a special event on the evening of February 1.
If you have not seen Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons perform live, this is arguably the next best thing. No less than twenty cameras were positioned on the stage, above the stage, in the audience, near the concession stands, all with the goal of capturing the experience from every viewpoint.
The duo performs against an enormous dazzling video backdrop, which displays imagery such as toy robots, 3-D zooms through cathedrals, wild animals, silhouetted lovers, and a giant evil clown commanding the audience to "get yourself high." Throughout, we see the reactions of the audience: some are amused, exhilarated, bewildered, disturbed. At one point, pictures of crickets are projected onto the ground, and curious fans chase after them like a cat following a laser pointer.
Songs include most of their better-known hits: "Block Rockin' Beats", "Star Guitar", "Out of Control", and the title's inspiration, "Don't Think", a bonus track from Further that figured prominently in another movie, Black Swan. A generous portion of screentime is devoted to the sprawling epic "Escape Velocity".
The mix does not simply blend each song's finish into the beginning of the next, but there is layering of elements, sometimes from three or more tracks at once. There's a lot more going on than a couple of guys onstage pressing a spacebar on a laptop. Although there's a particular moment, when a single finger presses a single key labeled "HBHG", which sends the audience into raptures with the droning intro of "Hey Boy Hey Girl". In a post-movie commentary, the director points out how he included this moment to show how the pressing of a single button can ignite such an emotional response among thousands of people at once. And Tom & Ed have many, many buttons at their disposal.
Although no announcements have yet been made, it stands to reason that Don't Think will soon be available for home video and/or audio. When and if it shows up, give it a listen. And maybe dance, too.
It's been quite an adventure since then—and sometimes I've had to do some things I didn't like, to make ends meet. But this Tuesday, I began what looks like a promising career at IBM.
These first few weeks will be all about training, and I have a whole lot to learn. I joined a larger group of trainees who already have a headstart on me, and it feels a little bit like that dream where you walk into the classroom with a test in progress, you have no pencil or paper, and don't even know what the textbook looks like. But I'm a quick learner, and am excited to see where this road leads.
Wednesday was my first true "Hump Day" in a long while. Even in the 00's, when I was gainfully employed at the museum in Georgia, I frequently had to go in on weekends, sometimes unexpectedly. So for the past decade, whether I've been working or not, the concept of "midweek"—like the "weekend"—has been sort of meaningless. But on Friday afternoon, I joined some of my new co-workers at an actual Happy Hour at the Avery Tap Room, sampling such tasty beers as the Hog Heaven barleywine-style ale, Mai-Rye Bock, and the Trogdor.
And what am I doing this Saturday morning? Nothing at all!
All the background checks are complete. I start at 7 am tomorrow.
Yesterday, I bought tickets for the upcoming Chemical Brothers concert film, Don't Think. We went to their last Denver show in 2010, but I'm looking forward to seeing this cinematic take on the experience, collected from footage at a show last year in Japan. I dunno, tickets may still be available. It's one of those "Fathom Events"—at movie theaters all over the country, but only for one night (February 1). After that, it's probably headed to DVD.
And then today, we scored hard-to-get tickets for The Book of Mormon. Created by the guys who brought you South Park, this Broadway hit swept the Tonys last year. In August, Denver will be the first city it tours outside of New York. Damn I feel so fucking urbane.
This past week, we received word that eclectic grocer Trader Joe's may soon open up shop in Boulder. Will it navigate the state's odd liquor laws to sell Two-Buck Chuck? Will this store be the first of several in the area, including some in Denver itself? We don't know yet. Here are the facts: the company filed paperwork with the Colorado Secretary of State, declaring an intent to be open for business next April 1. I assume this is not an April Fool's thing.
Remember a couple of weeks ago when I told you about my fish that was deathly ill? Well, he got better! He had been drifting around in the tank, looking very unhealthy. After that first night, he seemed to regain balance in the water, but one of his eyes was bulging out, looking very gross. Yet, he continued to plug along. A week later I was at the pet store, and happened to notice a multi-purpose medicine that treated—among other things—a condition called "popeye". After five days of shaking this powder into the aquarium that turned the water green, his condition has subsided, and I think he's going to be okay.
One of my fish seems to be ailing, the firefish I bought a few weeks ago. Not sure it'll make it through the night. I'm kind of bummed about that.
We watched The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest on streaming today. And the first snow of 2012 came blowing in. Then this evening, we did phở with our friend Dave, and afterwards we went to see The Adventures of Tintin in 3-D. Upon coming home, there were some nice views of the snow-covered trees and sky.
- Current Music:Washed Out, "Feel It All Around"
But then, I have to remember: the American people just might be stupid enough to elect them anyway. And we're already waaaaaay too close to having a President Gingrich, President Santorum, President Perry, or President Bachmann, even if only theoretically.
Here is the wallpaper I've put on it. Isn't this great?
Other goodies: Tim ordered himself a tablet, and we got some stuff from IKEA...
Wednesday evening, we went to Pepsi Center with our friends Heather and Zane, and attended our first-ever NBA game. The Denver Nuggets were playing against the Utah Jazz.
The Nuggets won, 117-100. Because they scored over 110 points in the game, the following afternoon we went to Taco Bell and claimed our four tacos for $1.
This Friday, we up & bought a KIVIK sofa from IKEA, very much like this one:
For New Year's Eve, we went downtown to watch fireworks at midnight for the third time in a row.
New Year's Resolutions? Aside from reading more literature, I intend to floss more. And take vitamins.
I passed by this sculpture in Aurora, CO during a bitterly cold snowstorm in February.
A time exposure one winter night on a quiet stretch of Sixth Avenue.
Another time exposure, along a decidedly busier Interstate 25 from the Highland Bridge.
A costumed polar dipper jumps into the reservoir in Nederland during the "Frozen Dead Guy Days" festival on March 5, 2011.
View of the constellation Orion during a nighttime snowshoeing session near Frisco, CO in late winter.
Irish rock band U2 performs at Invesco Field on May 21, 2011.
Panorama from Rainbow Point at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, during our summer vacation in June.
View from the North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. This side of the canyon receives far less traffic than its southern counterpart, and is only open in the warmest months.
A twenty-minute hike from the road leads to this breathtaking view of Horseshoe Bend in Arizona.
The view inside Antelope Canyon, Arizona. Located on Navajo tribal land, this area can only be accessed when accompanied with a native guide.
Waterfall outside Telluride, CO. Located near the Four Corners area, the town is known for its skiing.
Fireworks over Coors Field in Denver, July 2, 2011.
Elk herd resting on a hillside in Rocky Mountain National Park, in Colorado.
I passed by this baby rabbit while walking on the Triceratops Trail near Golden, CO.
Time-exposure of flowing water in Clear Creek. I had rafted this same section earlier in the day.
A near-full moon rises over Idaho Springs in September.
Leaves changing color in the mountains near Rollinsville, CO.
Sunset as seen from the corner of Colfax Avenue and Lincoln Street, near the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.
A replica of "Sue", the famous specimen of Tyrannosaurus Rex, on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
The D&F Clock Tower rises over the holiday lights of the Sixteenth Street Mall.
|was the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house,|
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc'd in their heads,
And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap-
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a minature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name:
"Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen,
"On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem;
"To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
"Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys - and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress'd all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish'd with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look'd like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes - how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh'd, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh'd when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill'd all the stockings; then turn'd with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Nemateleotris magnifica, and I brought it home Sunday to join my others. At the same time, I also bought a beautiful Pictichromis diadema, but it suffered too much stress on the way home and going into the new aquarium, so it died the next morning.
Now the weird thing about the fire fish: for a period of about 20 hours, it disappeared COMPLETELY. As in, IT WAS NO LONGER IN THE TANK. I jiggled around the decorations to flush him out of hiding, and he was utterly absent. From what I've read, they're a spastic sort of breed, and are known to jump out of aquariums. I thought this must have happened, and one of the cats ate him. But then this morning, he was back, seeming as happy as it's possible for a fish to be.
Work has eaten me up for the past couple of weeks (the current job, not the new one yet), but I wanted to take a moment to let everyone know I'm still here and doing well. We've decorated for Christmas (as much as we plan to), and tonight there's a lot of snow coming down. Maybe a time to relax is coming soon.
Check out this tree topper my aunt sent!
Anne Rice, author
Harrison Schmidt, Apollo 17 astronaut and U.S. Senator
Tim Russ, Star Trek actor
David Levy, Astronomer
Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, comet co-discoverers
Howard Dean, politician
Zahi Hawass, Egyptologist
Phil Plait, astronomer/blogger
Judy Tenuta, comedienne
Peter Mayhew, actor
All nice, of course. Except Zahi Hawass.
When we bought an updated model this year, we gave it the same voice, put it in the newer of our two cars, and christened it "New Lee" (say it fast). The original one was moved to the older car, and renamed "Original Lee".
In my work van, I have yet another unit, and have programmed it the same as the others. My name for it: "Professional Lee".