Hoop Dreams/Waste Land

Watched a couple of really good documentaries recently. Hoop Dreams is about two kids recruited to go to St. Joseph’s High School (recruiting for high school?) to play basketball. Waste Land is about garbage pickers (recyclable pickers, really) in Brazil and an artist who seeks to make portraits of them to sell for their benefit.

Hoop Dreams is basically a portrait of the two kids lives through high school. It’s… really matter of fact. Not dressed up at all. It shows the kind of lives they live, and that is enough for this movie.

Waste Land differs in that its about someone who wants to help, and the people he’s helping. There are really beautiful shots of the pickers at work. And watching the portrait’s come together is amazing.

Can’t find a good trailer for Hoop Dreams, so here’s part 1 on youtube:

And here’s the Waste Land Trailer:


California’s Higher Education Crisis

It’s not the UCs that feel the brunt of it. The CSU system has limited transfers from community colleges, and the community colleges have seen enrollment drop, despite the fact that in 2008, we had a huge recession and lots of people got laid off. They needed resources such as education/retraining (among other things).

Where does one go to find California budget analysis? All the wonky sites I go to focus on the Federal government.


The movie starts off pre deployment, and follows the soldiers during their 15 month deployment in the Korengal Valley. The movie is non-political, and shows what life on the front lines is like.

One thing that stood out was that during firefights we never see who the soldiers are shooting at. One of them explains that the enemy knows the terrain so well, that it seems like they are fighting ghosts.

The film ends by telling us that the US withdrew from the Korengal Valley. I’m guessing its not because our objectives there were achieved.

Learning to Drive Manual

The new car I bought was a stick shift, and I’ve been learning to drive it since I got it Monday night. I drove around the neighborhood with my dad at first, then without him, then driving around doing errands myself, and finally driving to Idaho. Also spent a bit googling “how to drive a manual car” and reading what came up.

I still stall occasionally, but I think I get it mostly now. Here are miscellaneous thoughts:

  • First thing I should have done is try to get the car moving on a flat surface with just the clutch. This way I could have found the engagement point without needing to worry about what to do with the gas too. Two websites I saw recommended this, and it helped me a lot.
  • I had to drive around the Hacienda parking lot to get to Best Buy, and this really helped me learn to balance the clutch and gas at slow speeds so I didn’t stall.
  • Have someone who knows how to drive clutch in the passenger’s seat. Ask questions and switch spots so you can watch them drive around for a bit.
  • Inclines suck. Now I want my next car to have hill assist.
  • It might also be a good idea to sit in neutral somewhere and get used to how the gas pedal feels. This way you don’t accidentally rev really high when you also still aren’t quite sure where the clutch needs to be, like I did. Or you’ll do it less than you otherwise would.

Car pics

Some pictures before I drove it over. I need to clean it and take better ones.




New (Old) Car

Finally have my own car now. 2000 Nissan Altima. Pics if I remember when there’s sun out. Also, it’s going to take a while to learn how to drive stick.

The Men Who Stare At Goats

It’s a comic war movie about a secret military unit of psychic soldiers. I liked George Clooney as the solider from the unit. If he’d overplayed his role it would have ruined the movie. Instead he’s sort of a straight man who’s seen the paranormal and had no choice but believing. Ewan McGregor doesn’t really stand out as the reporter, but it allows the move to make Jedi jokes.

I found it enjoyable but then I tend to like the absurd.