Archive for May, 2012:
I’m not a hypochondriac. I don’t see the doctor twenty times a year, and I don’t have a list of imaginary ailments when I do go. But I do have a problem. I have a degree that was intended to be pre-med (I changed my mind) and several years of clinical experience. This means I have a lot of info and no degree . . . I know enough to be dangerous! Read more »
Are you going to an amusement park this summer? Going fishing, canoeing, white-water rafting? If you’re going near water and want to have your cell phone handy, there’s a crazy-easy way to waterproof it. Read more »
When you grow up in a family of science geeks, it’s really cool. I take my kids out in the back yard and blow stuff up, just like my dad and I did when I was a kid. We build model roller coasters and jack up the electronics around the house. Read more »
You should know there are two kinds of Scudieres: those who run and those who don’t. My Uncle Tom (yes, I really have an Uncle Tom) is part of the ‘running’ branch of the family. They all do half-marathons as family events. Uncle Tom is a tri-athlete. That puts my branch of the family firmly on the “I’m sorry, did you say ‘running’?” side.
We. Don’t. Run. This isn’t a lifestyle choice; it’s a complete lack of talent. My father has been known to jog, but that’s it, that’s the maximum speed for this side of the family. Sis and I have been passed by joggers – while we were on roller blades! We have come to accept that we are not fast people.
Sis is in training (yet again), this time for her second-degree blackbelt. (This will be her fifth black belt!) To accomplish this, she needs to run two miles in 16 min. Good luck, Sis! She has been getting advice from a friend who tells her to train in ‘fart-like bursts’. No, that’s not what he really said. That’s what I heard. See? My branch of the family can’t even TALK about running.
Sis says: “I’m training in mixed martial arts. I’m training to stand and fight. So why do I have to prove that I can run away really fast?” Good point, Sis. I have no answer except this: The man who says you have to run is a seventh-degree black belt. When he says run, you should run.
So she runs on the track or the treadmill several times a week. (I try to support her in this. I support her morally. It’s my best talent where running is concerned.) Then one day she says, “When do I hit that runner’s high that everyone talks about?”
It was a sad day. I had to tell her: “The runner’s high isn’t anything you want. For starters, if you are experiencing a runner’s high, that means you’re running, which is just sad in and of itself. Secondly, think about all the other highs you can experience . . . Cocaine, Whippets (Nitrous Oxide), Hypothermia . . . those are all highs produced by oxygen deprivation to the brain. How is a runner’s high anything different? You’ve been running so long and using up all your oxygen in your muscles so that there’s none left for your brain. Only thing is, you’re high, so you think it’s cool. Don’t go into the light, Sis.”
So this is what I think of all you runners out there telling me how awesome the runner’s high is and that I should do it: I think you’re all just a bunch of pushers. Yeah, there might not be drugs in your system and you might think the feeling of losing brain cells is ‘cool’, but it’s not. It’s just another high and I’ll stay on the ground and maintain my neural capacity, thank you.
I know you runners disagree. I’d like to point out that if you have experienced this ‘runner’s high’ you have already reduced your number of brain cells so I don’t really trust the logic of your arguments, but I’m sure you’ll say I’m wrong. So come tell me what you really think. Say it to my face. It’s not like I can run away from you . . .
Listen to AJ's Podcast SMART CHICKENS
Because Sometimes We All Just Want to Fly the Coop!
I once heard that McDonalds’ coke is better than anyone else’s because they super-cool it. Deciding I wanted to try this at home, I created a super-cooler for beer and canned drinks. It works on the principles of conduction and freezing point depression.
Water freezes at 32F or 0C unless you add a solute (anything dissolved into the liquid). The solute (in this case table salt) disrupts crystal formation, thus making it harder for the water to freeze. With a solution you’ll need a temperature of several degrees lower than 32degrees in order to form those ice crystals.
The other day, while driving down the freeway, I was attacked by lava rocks. Fist- and softball-sized stones bounced more than a story high on the blacktop then rained nearly straight down on those of us jammed together at 4:30 trying to stay ahead of rush hour.
It took me a moment to locate the source of the bouncing rocks since I was very busy trying not to get my windshield cracked. I finally saw the dumptruck racing up the fast lane a handful of cars in front of me. It had no cover on the back and rocks were flying out of it in random intervals.
Figuring the safest place was in front of the trail of projectiles, I raced past the truck. As I passed, I saw the sign on the back:
STAY BACK 200 FEET. NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OBJECTS FALLING OUT OF TRUCK.
What!!?? This truck was not just a hazard, but actually likely to kill someone. And they aren’t responsible? This is not to mention that you can’t possibly read the sign telling you to stay back 200 feet from anything less than 40 feet away. Since there’s clearly a sign with a warning on the back, you are enticed to get close and read what it tells you. Once you get close enough you can read that you just entered the danger zone and – though the truck company and driver are not responsible – you are about to die.
We hear a lot about the mind of the criminal, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not the criminal’s mind that you need to worry about. Because, honestly I (and probably a lot of you) have a mind just like criminal’s.
I mentioned this in the past, but the warping of AJ started young. As an advanced reader in the age just prior to Facebook and e-reading, I walked the halls of my elementary school with my nose in a book. Though I read “Where the Red Fern Grows” as directed by my third grade teacher, it wasn’t enough. I also read “Flowers in the Attic” and “The Amityville Horror” before turning seven. (Yes, this is what happens to you when you read those books that young.) I read political thrillers and Sidney Sheldon like there was no tomorrow. I knew all the librarians in town by first name.
And I learned. I educated myself to think like the people in the books – half of whom were criminals or serial killers. Or the wrongly convicted who became criminals to clear themselves of inaccurate charges. And I wanted to do what they did. I wanted to rob a bank, a museum, a jewelry store. I wanted to be able to break into a house or out of prison. And I thought about how to do it.
When writing Vengeance, I had to figure out how I would kill people if I were Lee. Or if I were Sin. I talked to gun experts and martial artists. And I broke into my own home repeatedly. I figured out a way to smuggle weapons onto a plane before realizing that the security process would change before the book even got published. Then I realized that I was pretty good at this and it wasn’t the criminal’s mind that I lacked. It was his morals.