Friday, November 30, 2007

E85, forest fires, sharp objects, and yetis...

I was meandering through the internet, and came across the US DOE fuel economy website. There you can get a list of fuel economy by class, or you can select the "Cars that don't need gasoline" link and get a list of economies for flex-fuel vehicles. For instance, select the Ethanol-Gasoline vehicles type and you'll find something interesting - the E85 vehicles get significantly worse economy than their gasoline counterparts. Their air pollution scores seem about the same in all cases (although the gasoline vehicles have a slightly higher "carbon footprint"). In fact, the only really cool thing about the E85 vehicles I've found comes from this article about a 1998 Ford Taurus flex-fuel vehicle - the E85 powered version was quicker (acceleration) than the gasoline powered version, which is the only stat that really concerns me. Of course, in a car like a Taurus, who cares, anyway? :) Back to the emissions thing... yes, lower CO2 from the E85 version, about 11% less, but about 31% more CO, and 33% more NOx. And the study reported at this site says that annual deaths will increase from the use of E85 instead of gasoline (cool, eh?).

Oh, and remember those forest fires in California? They're horrible "greenhouse gas" producers. They produced more CO2 in a week than Vermont does in a year. And guess what? We've probably had forest fires for about as long as we've had forests. Oh, and that CO2? It really takes a back-seat to good ol' H2O as far as its contribution to greenhouse gas effects. (Oh, and without the greenhouse gases the earth would be uninhabitable.)

And what about the ice-age scare in the 70s? Take a look at this picture from National Geographic. Or consider the image over to your right, showing dust, CO2, and temperature over the last 400 thousand years (now, where they got the thermometer readings over all that time I'm not quite sure...). Seems like it's quite cyclical to me. And consider the point made on this page: extrapolating data from short trends is not a good idea, and we really don't have any "long trends" as far as global climate change is concerned. We're constantly improving our measurement devices; how can we use modern methods to compare with old methods?

Anyway, enough of that for now. How about something a little more... um, pointed. Dean, if you're reading, you should skip the rest of this paragraph. Ok, if you're still with me, check out this article on MSNBC... weird... kid sticks an antler in his brain, and really doesn't do any damage! Seems like that would have been a great [brain dead] post, but (fortunately for him) it didn't turn out that way. I don't think I'd like to stick an antler in my brain, even if it would get better. Of course, I don't think I'd like to stick an antler into any part of my body...

So, what do you think the abominable snowman thinks of all this "global warming" thing? At least he's hiding out at Mount Everest around Nepal, and shouldn't have to worry much about the temperature change from all our horrible Hummers causing him any discomfort. Then again, methane and CO2, which are greenhouse gases, are produced by people (such as through breathing and flatulence). So maybe all those reporters could be causing increases in the greenhouse gases up on Everest and, being that much higher in the atmosphere, must have a quicker effect on the global warming thing. Hey, here's a thought: since some people think that people are the leading cause of global warming, maybe those people should get rid of themselves in order to save the earth for those of us who don't care (or at least who don't think that we're really making that much of a difference in the climate). Just make sure you're ready before you take that step... :) -- note: that last bit is satirical humor, similar in nature to Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" - you can view the text in HTML at the previous link or download it in eBook form from Project Gutenberg - please do NOT take me seriously about that item! :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jokes of the week...

Ok, this is for "the office ladies" (you know who you are!) since I never got to tell my jokes tonight (did I mention I'm writing a book?). But you'll have to read a little further before we unveil the jokes. Why is it that we often tend to speak in the plural when we're talking about ourselves, even though we're really only one person?

I wanted to put a video here that I thought was funny. It's a recent Nationwide Insurance commercial, but it seems it hasn't made it to the Internet yet (yeah, I could play it from one computer and record it to another, then clip the video to the dimensions of the commercial (i.e., exclude the rest of my computer display from the video), convert it to a network-friendly format, upload it to youtube and then link it in, but that's a lot of work and I don't feel like doing it right now; when the video makes it out, I'll post another link). You can go to the NBC Chuck streaming video and see it, though - select episode 110 (Chuck vs. the Nemesis), and chapter 1, and you should be able to watch the video (I mean the Nationwide ad that comes before the Chuck episode starts). It's pretty neat. [edit: the Chuck episode is no longer sponsored by the Nationwide ad - it's "Superbad" or something instead; sorry about that; I'll leave the link here anyway in case you want to watch Chuck; once I find a suitable copy of the Nationwide ad, I'll post it - I found one copy, but the guy who put it on Youtube added his own audio, and it has a bad word in it, so I'll wait on a clean version.]

Ok, joke of the week time. What's a podiatrist's favorite meal? Why, fillet of sole, of course! Did you hear about Mattel's latest redneck girl toy? Camo Hunter Barbie (she's the dream date of three-toothed Ken).

Ah, well, hope you enjoyed that. Think I'm going to call it a night. Might be morning when you read this, of course; the magic of written words - you never can tell when they'll be read.


Don't read this blog post, read the one before this one (on down the page). It's the real post of the day (well, yesterday). This one's just, well, [brain dead]. I stumbled upon this, and found the introductory video amusing. Thought I'd share! Enjoy... [note: I'm not endorsing this product, just the introductory video - I have no real opinion on the product at this time, will have to check it out later when I'm not quite so brain dead from lack of sleep]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Raffle me this... and other unrelated things

I told my family e-mail group earlier today that I'd put an interesting raffle on my blog today... well, here it is: the National Corvette Museum raffles. You can enter one of four raffles, for as little as $10 or with a one-in-500 chance of winning (those cost a little more per ticket, of course). Good luck; unfortunately, the wikiHow article on "How to Win Sweepstakes" may or may not provide any assistance here, as this is an online raffle, but it did recently help a cousin of mine win a sapphire and diamond necklace for his significant other during a cruise-ship raffle drawing. Then again, this article on wikiHow will show you how to make money without playing the lottery.

On the other side of the world, a robot is becoming more and more lifelike. It can walk, talk, help you out of bed, pick up bread and make you some toast, and who knows what else. Probably wipe out your bank account if it's not along the lines of a small national GDP (see this site to find out the GDP, or other financial data, of various countries around the world), since the cost of the robot is in the several-million range. The leader of the project does hope to have a commercially viable version ready by 2015, but at a cost of $200,000 you should take a look at that "how to make money without playing the lottery" link above (unless your bank account already looks like that of a small nation; mine doesn't). But maybe your insurance will cover the cost of the robot for you or your parents or something, since it supposedly will be able to help the elderly and/or the disabled.

Speaking of the disabled, they may soon have new ways to interact with people. Before I'd read this article, I knew absolutely nothing about Second Life; in fact, I'd never even heard of it. Now, I still know very little about it, but I have at least heard of it. Strangely, it appears to be a community where you can actually, potentially, trade the online dollars for real US currency. Then again, I could be way off, but supposedly (among other things) there are auctions (powered by eBay) for purchasing land, some in US$, some in the online "Linden$" currency. A little odd, I think. Actually, it reminds me a bit of the book Kilobyte (which I enjoyed) by Piers Anthony, one of my favorite Sci-Fi authors (although the Xanth series got quite a bit weak for a while; the "new trilogy" seems to have improved closer to the level of the first books in the series, though).

In sad news, Sean Taylor did not recover from his gunshot injury, dying this (Tuesday) morning in the hospital (he'd never regained consciousness). Miami police are treating the case as a homicide. Just a reminder that we never know how long we have, so make sure you're ready when you go.

And with that, I'll bid you adieu...

Monday, November 26, 2007


My daughter just said, "My foot's not on the stove!" (She claims she said, "My food's not on the stove," but I know better.) I don't know why she'd put her foot on the stove, unless she was trying to cook fillet of sole (heh-heh). Not sure I'd want that meal in this case, though.

By the way, for all those times you're sitting on my blog and think, "Wow, what an awesome, valid point he just made, something that I'd never have thought of myself, glad I came along here and read this thing and expanded my mind in such a way that I'll never be the same; I should do some more research on this evidently most important topic," [which I'm sure happens on quite a regular basis...] and then you think, "But I don't want to have to go all the way to my address bar, type '' and press enter, wait for the Google search page to load, then type the query," you can simply scroll down, enter your search term on the Google search on the right, and search right from within this page! Cool, time-saving feature, eh? And if you've forgotten some great truth or idea I've mentioned in a past blog but remember some keyword, but that doesn't happen to be a keyword in the label cloud on the right, you can enter your search term in the Google search box, select the "" radio button (it actually says "" but there isn't enough room for all that fancy text to display, at least not on my 1016 pixel-wide screen - I have a toolbar on the right, so I don't get the full 1024 pixels of my laptop display), and POOF! You're searching my blog (well, you have to press the "Search" button first, but you get the idea). I haven't tried this myself, though.

Anyway, just wanted to save you some time, and get my third post of the day (since I didn't post yesterday).

Ok, I admit it...

I'm a Redskins fan. Have been for a long time. (I'm absolutely not, in any way, a fan of Dan Snyder, their owner... but I'm still a 'skins fan.) I admit it. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment or something, but I'm still a fan. Oh, my second favorite NFL team? The Falcons. Baseball? The KC Royals (I once had a pair of George Brett cleats when I played little league ball). College football? Alabama and FSU (my brother's an alumni of the latter). Never really got into basketball, so I don't really have any favorite teams there.

Yes, I've heard the news about Sean Taylor. Praying for his recovery (and not just because I want him to play for the skins again). I'm also praying for Tori and ask that you do the same (even if your not on our church e-mail list, and don't know specifically what the current issues are, God knows, and you can still pray for her healing).

And, yes, my family (back in the day) were Sony Beta owners, not that silly VHS thing; we had Intellivision (with the voice module! "B-17 bomber") when everyone else, it seemed, had Atari; we were Sega Genesis (even had the cool LCD 3-d glasses which alternated your field of vision between left and right eyes, and alternated the picture on the screen at the same rate, so that your perception was slightly differing field of vision and thus a 3-d effect without resorting to color-variations - you had "full color" (for a 16-bit console) 3-d!) while most were Nintendo; our first computer? a PCjr. Guess I come by my "like the underdog" thing naturally.

Our Inconsiderate Government

Last Wednesday I received a juror summons from the US District Court, North Alabama District. The letter said I had to fill out the form online or get it in the mail within 5 days. Um, 5 days? That's kind of quick, don't you think? Especially when delivering the item around a holiday that oft translates into a four-day weekend. What if I'd been on vacation? Or out of town on business? Or if my mail got mis-delivered (happens all the time in my neighborhood - we'll get someone else's mail, or they'll get ours, and often it's longer than 5 days before it's redelivered to the correct address)?

On top of this (I did get the form filled out online within the allotted time period), the court to which I've been summoned to serve as a juror is 55 miles away from my house (55.2, according to Google Maps). And it's (up to) a two-week period of service. And I'm supposed to check the court website after 5 pm on the Friday before I'm supposed to report on Monday to see whether I actually have to report. And this is all the two weeks before the week of Christmas. Um, what if I'd already made plans to be out of town (fortunately I haven't, although there are other things that might be impacted since I'll be so far away on a daily basis)? And I won't even know until after regular business hours on the Friday before I'm supposed to report? And I only got the notice a couple of weeks before the reporting date, too? Rather inconsiderate, I think. Couldn't they have provided notice a little earlier, so I could plan for this? My business requires our travel plans to be made with more advance notice than this, so I could have had a business trip planned (fortunately I don't).

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind serving jury duty; after all, that's one of the privileges and duties we as Americans are afforded (and for which we're responsible). But they could at least be a little more considerate towards those they ask to serve as jurors (I understand issues about wanting to ensure no "contaminated juries" and so forth).

Ah, well... what can I do? Guess I'll find out less than 72 hours beforehand whether or not I'm actually supposed to be there.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Interesting things (?)

I saw an ad for this on TV this morning, claiming it was great for teaching your kids about money. I find it funny, though, that on the Toys 'R' Us page it had this line:

Works just like a real A™

- note that the "TM" of "ATM" was converted into a trade-mark symbol. Kind of funny. Anyway, I don't think I'll be getting this for my kids.

I also saw a wikiHow on "Caring for a Christmas Cactus" - I didn't even know there was such a thing. Then again, my botanical skills go about as far as distinguishing between trees and grass - more detail than that, and you'll have to ask elsewhere. Back in biology class I generally only pretended to take notes while in actuality I'd be writing senseless, funny stuff that I would show to my deskmate, causing him often to burst into laughter and get in trouble while I'd sit quietly, laughing on the inside. I didn't learn a lot in biology (but I did pass; by the way, mom & dad, if you're reading this, um, I'm kidding, yeah, kidding!).

Well, I hope you're all gearing up for Iron Bowl. The Wikipedia site says that Sports Illustrated listed the rivalry as #2 (behind the Boston Red Sox/New York Yankees) in all sports, and ESPNU listed it as the #1 college football rivalry in the nation. This year, and from this point forward (unless and until they change it again), the Iron Bowl has moved to the weekend after Thanksgiving (instead of the weekend before). Well enough, since my wife's family doesn't really celebrate Thanksgiving anyway - instead, they gather for the Iron Bowl party (where we'll be heading in a couple of hours). Of course, that typically means only 1/2 the family is thankful... :) Hope your Thanksgiving was full of thanks, and that your team wins the Iron Bowl (as long as your team is Alabama).

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wanna be like Dick Tracy?

Take a look at this; now you have many ways to be Dick Tracy (beyond the simpler FRS/GMRS radio-watches, such as this). For instance, look at this guy's wrist (obviously the picture is for show only; if you can read funny characters, take a look at this page - I couldn't figure out which language to put in Google's or AltaVista's translators to get the page in English, since it appears to be a Taiwanese web site (".tw") and they don't have a Taiwanese option, and I couldn't find an "English" link on the page, but it does have a lot more pictures of the various wrist communicators). Pretty cool, actually, but I did notice that, while this site claims their M500 model is "water resistant" they disallow warranty claims if the device has been exposed to moisture or dampness (on the warranty terms page).

But wouldn't it be cool to have something like this? Most are blue-tooth capable, so you can pair your watch with your blue-tooth headset. However, as the Engadget article said, "why would you want Bluetooth when you can talk at your wrist?"

Seriously, though, what's the motivation for a wrist-phone? Convenience, I'd think. You wouldn't have to worry about putting your phone in your pocket or purse, or forgetting it (assuming you, like I, feel naked without your watch). More importantly, you wouldn't have to dig it out of your pocket or purse when it rings. Now for those of us who like to send text messages, the interface might be a bit lacking (of course, assuming compatibility, you could use something like this cool keyboard to do your texting; that device may require its own post in the near future; Google's product search shows a few more conventional blue-tooth keyboards you could use, again assuming compatibility). These devices also seem to include music player capabilities, in case that's important to you.

Gotta go now (don't want to be too wordy, and we've just put on a movie). Later, all! [LAPSE...]

Coke vs Coke Zero

Go here and get your fill of the Coke vs. Coke Zero commercials - I really love those. My wife hates them. My favorite is the one where the lawyer asks for their proposed end-game, and the coke-guy (an actor) says something like, "... their director is in the fetal position, crying, under the copier." Did I mention my wife hates those?

I also recently saw a video by PETA about why not to eat fish (note: some slightly graphic images in there; if you can't handle "fish violence" then don't watch; further note: I do not claim responsibility for any information provided by PETA). Wouldn't want you to be [brain dead] from eating canned tuna, so I'm offering this info, but with this caveat: find out what's true regarding all this. Here are some links for you to start your research:

I eat tuna. I like tuna. I haven't died from mercury poisoning by eating tuna. I haven't been alarmed by the "tuna warnings" (then again, I'm not a pregnant or nursing mother or a small child, but I probably still wouldn't be overly concerned, albeit cautious, perhaps).

Make up your own mind; if it makes you feel "safer" to not eat tuna, then by all means, don't eat tuna. Seems a lot of what makes us well or un-well is really in our minds. If you're concerned about eating tuna (or other fish), then you're likely going to be suffering, somewhat, from some stress or worry in your mind, which isn't healthy for you, either. Thus, it would be better to avoid the seafood (despite its yumminess) in order to preserve the health of mind.

Another way to be healthy? Think healthy! For instance, when I feel a cold coming on, I like to drink Mountain Dew. Why? Mountain Dew has a small percentage of orange juice concentrate in it, which naturally contains some Vitamin C. All that extra Vitamin C I get from drinking the Mountain Dew helps me get over my cold more quickly. Believe it or not, it works! Why? I don't know. Probably because I think it's going to work. Or maybe I just feel better because I expect to feel better. (Do you ever read those little information papers included in your prescription, and sometimes over-the-counter, medicines? Ever notice how many people are "cured" of various illnesses or symptoms by the placebos - sugar pills - during the clinical trials for the medicine(s) in question? With all the available side effects, why not try the placebo, first? This is known as the "placebo effect" - and it's pretty neat!) So, next time you think you're getting a headache (or you already have one), think that it's going away (or less intense than it is). Or drink Mountain Dew (after all, caffeine is often administered in migraine medicine, such as BC Powder - for more information or tips on headache relief, see their headache site). Side note: the best "cure" for a hangover headache is prevention - if you don't drink (alcoholic beverages), you won't have a hangover headache!

Final note: I just overheard the program my two youngest are watching, which seems to be advocating vegetarianism and the benefits of Tofu towards those young, impressionable minds of our nation's children! Think I'll take them out for a hamburger tonight... ;)

Jellyfish, jellyfish everywhere...

Interesting article about jellyfish destroying Northern Ireland's salmon farm. Wonder how long it will be before someone claims this is due to man's interference in the world's environment (i.e., man-made global warming)?

Hey, I've got a great idea...

Let's take a ship, fill it with passengers, and go cruise around icy-cold waters filled with icebergs, just for fun. Think anything could go wrong? How about hitting something and your ship sinking? Never saw that coming, did you? :) Seriously, though, I think that would be a cool trip (no pun intended, but you make take it as such if you like).

So, do you like Drew (Carey, on The Price Is Right)? I haven't yet had the opportunity to see him in action, but am watching him now. While not Bob Barker, he's probably about as good a replacement as they could find. I also noticed they changed the mic - it's wireless now. I don't remember if they did that (go to a wireless mic) before changing hosts... it's been a while since I had the opportunity to watch the show. I do know that I much preferred the previous announcer (the voice you hear but don't usually see), although it's been a while since they made that change. They're in the showcase showdown now, and I see that Drew is going to have to get some experience to know where the big wheel is going to end up. I guess since it had been on since September 4, 1972, that Bob had quite a bit of experience in this area. Wow; the show's nearly as old as I am!

My, how TV has changed since then. Nowadays it's all "reality" TV and prime-time dramas. How many different versions of CSI exist these days? I've already admitted my favorites, and some other thoughts on recent shows, in my "What's on?" post. And now I'm [brain dead] watching Family Feud, so I'm outta here...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I like green bean casserole (and I'm full of it)

Ok, I admit it: I like green bean casserole. And black-eyed peas. And turkey, I like turkey. And mashed potatoes (especially real ones). And deviled eggs. And pumpkin pie (especially with whipped cream on top).

And I'm full of it. All of it. Full, full, full! What a great dinner my wife made today- for that, I'm thankful. Yes, thankful for the dinner; yes, thankful for being full; most of all, yes, thankful for my wife. And thankful for not having to go to work today (or tomorrow, for that matter). A nice relaxing day or two to do nothing but sit, eat, watch TV, and write a bunch of nothing on my blog.

I don't like stuffing/dressing. Or cranberry sauce. But you really don't need that stuff when you have all the other stuff I mentioned (ok, we did have that available as an option, but I didn't eat any).

So, have you seen the "Toyotathon Phenomenon" commercials? I wonder how many people will actually try something like that now that they've seen it demonstrated on TV. I hope the insurance companies are ready to counter all the claims for self-inflicted vehicle totaling that occurs as a direct response to this advertising campaign from Toyota. Does that seem silly? Probably as silly as these product warnings and these (the second list is probably funnier than the first; note: I claim no responsibility for the content on those pages, or pages linked to those, since they are not under my control and may change from the time I post this). What is wrong with people that we have to have these kinds of warnings? Probably that "lack of common sense in modern humans" I mentioned in a previous post.

Ah, well, hope you enjoyed all that... I think the turkey's kicking in... eyes... slowly... falling... shut...

More turkey-day thoughts - how hot is the sun?

My youngest son came in from helping mom prepare the turkey and asked, "How hot is the sun?" So I, having temporarily forgotten the exact answer to this question, entered "how hot is the sun?" into my Google search. The first site in the results list is this one, which answers the question very plainly, "The sun is very hot." As the truth in advertising said, "Duh!"

Ok, it goes on to give more specifics, indicating the core temperature of the sun is something like 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (that's for those of us in "unsophisticated" countries that haven't made the switch to Celsius or Centigrade temperatures... I always forget whether it's Celsius or Centigrade, so I guess it's good I'm still using Fahrenheit!). Doesn't list the surface temp (around 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, probably something like 8,000 in the sunspots), or the fact that the corona (the sun's atmosphere) actually gradually gets hotter than the sun's surface temperature, reaching again into the millions of degrees Fahrenheit (do the Google search for "how hot is the sun?" and you'll find various references for this info). Anyway, the first site further goes on to say, "Using a magnifying glass, we can see the very hot heat and the light of the sun. Please do not do that because it can hurt your eyes," and "This makes the light very bright and the heat is so hot it could start a fire." Again I say, "Duh!"

Have you ever noticed how often we state the obvious answers to questions, or how often we overlook the obvious answers to questions? Sometimes, though, the obvious answers are what we need, not the overly complicated ones. On my friend Dean's blog (which is very much worth reading!) he posted an article, "But What Do You REALLY Mean?", which I think illustrates this. All too often we try to overanalyze, outthink, and just plain get silly about things that, in actuality, are rather simple if you'll just stop and take a look and think about it. Common sense seems to be a commodity that's in short supply among modern people. (Please don't be offended if you think I'm talking to or about you - I probably am, but I fall into this category myself at times, hence the title of the blog: [LAPSE... brain dead])

We seem to find it easier to simply let someone else think for us instead of making our own decisions and coming to our own conclusions.

On a completely different note, I noticed that Guitar Center is having a "20% of any one item" sale for two hours tomorrow (8am to 10am, in-store or phone-orders only). A good time to get a great deal on a Christmas gift for the musician in your family. If any of my three readers (I think my readership is that high now!) can't think of a good way to take advantage of this but really doesn't want to pass up such a great deal, let me know and I'll offer you up a wish list of potential gift items you can buy for me. :)

Happy Turkey-day to you all! (Seriously, happy Thanksgiving!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Truth in advertising

On the way to work this morning, I heard a radio ad for some powersports place (advertising Yamaha ATVs and similar). You know how, at the end of radio vehicle ads, they have that "audio fine print" - you know, the run-together-super-fast-lowered-volume-auctioneer-type jumbled reading that you can't understand? This one had that, but at the end, it said something like:

"...Riding ATVs can be dangerous. Duh!"

I like it. Truth in advertising.

Strange things we utter as parents

I just found myself uttering something to the effect of, "Stop, stop; you two don't pull your younger brother apart!" as they were having a tug of war using the youngest as the rope. Aren't children wonderful? Where would the world be in a few generations without them? :)

Turkey Day Thoughts

Ok, it's not yet turkey day, but here are some thoughts you can read and review on turkey day.

Have you taken the Global Warming Quiz? It's on the Global Warming Heartland website. Just a place I found that has some alternative ideas about global warming. Also check out this paper by John Christy, a Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center, NSSTC at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Why do I keep stressing all this about Global Warming? Because I want you to think for yourself! Don't [LAPSE...] and let someone else do your thinking for you - then you might as well be [brain dead]. Global Warming isn't something that we necessarily need to do anything about right now, or ever. In Christy's paper, you'll see that the models aren't accurately predicting local temps. You'll also see that while the surface temps are increasing, the atmospheric temps aren't following suit. And, in fact, CO2 levels are lower now than they were in the past. The Global Warming Quiz include more good info.

The key point in all of this is to dig out the information you need to make your own decisions. And not just about Global Warming - about everything. Sure, you may not be the expert in the field you want to know about, and you'll need to consult the experts opinions. But don't just take at face value whatever the "current popular theory" is - question it. Find the facts. Examine the evidence. Decipher the data. Consider the corroboration. Behold the bearings. Appreciate the aspects. (How's that for some about-faced alphabetic alliteration? Ok, ok, overkill...) You get the idea - form your own opinion, don't let someone else hand it to you.

Now, finally, a video with a theme song for my blog:

There you go... fits right along with my original song "Life's Unfair" (found along with a couple of others at The Music of None Yet) - you can even play it right here:

Hope you enjoyed that. Sorry if you didn't. The lyrics are available at The Music of None Yet.

Right now I'm half-watching a show our TiVo recorded: "The Punisher" - a 1990 film that's, um, kind of silly. [EDIT - it's actually kind of retarded... I suppose it's "live action comic-booky" in a 1990s kind of way...] I'm glad I didn't pay to rent this movie. By the way, as far as rentals... check out your local library's audio/visual department. While their selection is likely limited to one copy of each movie in stock, and sometimes they are damaged (if you have a cheap DVD player like I do, some of them just don't play), they're free! A much better price than your local rental store.

Ok, enough thoughts for now... maybe I'll put some more out there actually on turkey day, but if not, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cells and Heroes and Choirs, oh my!

I saw this article today and found it kind of interesting. Use a virus, inject some genes into your skin cells, and get stem cells instead. Kind of cool, except that currently they're really rather cancerous in the making (the Japanese version, in fact, uses a cancer gene as one of the four genes that trigger the cell reversion to "generic" state). Once they have the generic cells, they can then mold them using other genes to create the type of tissue they want. Another potential method of Alzheimer's research (see the article for more details). In fact, the Japanese researchers even made new mice from the skin cells of existing mice.

This, I think, is where things get scary:
  • What if someone got some of your skin cells, turned them into generic cells, and then created a new you (or more than one, perhaps an army of you). Then again, this might lead to a cool life - if there were five of you, you would only have to work one day per week but get paid for a week's worth of work (of course, then you'd probably end up fighting with yourself to decide who has to work Monday; maybe a bad plan after all).
  • What if this "method" was turned into a weapon? They could turn your skin cells into generic cells - what would you look like then?
  • Currently, of the mice the Japanese created, 20% of them developed cancer; obviously this doesn't lend itself to the creation of replacement body parts (hearts, etc.) if the likelihood of cancer in the new part is 20% (they are continuing research, of course).
Regardless, this is at least better than harvesting stem cells from actual human embryos, don'tcha think?

Ok, I was thinking about Heroes... I think my favorite two characters are Hiro Nakamura and Noah Bennett. They both are very single-mindedly set on doing what's right. Hiro wants to save the world; Noah wants to save his little girl. Either will do just about anything to accomplish his goal. Between the two, I think Noah is probably my favorite. He's just a normal guy (like me), although pretty intelligent (again, like me, although some would argue this point, I'm sure), and does what he has to do to accomplish his goal of keeping his little girl safe (if it came to it, I would do the same thing for my little girl, or for my boys, or for my wife). Even before I knew he was a "good guy" I liked him, though. (Warning: don't read the next sentence if you haven't watched the latest episode; instead, go here and watch it from NBC first.) I'm glad they didn't let him die in the last episode (despite the glasses thing coming true). Peter is too, well, clumsy, in a non-physical way (if you know what I mean). Mohinder, while "nice," is too wishy-washy to me. I like Sylar's (former) ability, but he uses it selfishly. Claire is to naive and self-centered, too. Matt has a cool ability, but he ends up focusing on the unimportant to the exclusion of all else. Nathan likes his brother, but is too short-sighted to be any good. Yes, my favorite Hero is the one who has no abilities, but who will do anything to protect his family and, in particular, his little girl. (Ok, the Hatian has some cool powers, and he's genuinely a good guy, and loyal, too; maybe he's a close second to Noah.)

Finally, choirs: tonight was the first rehearsal of our church's short-term youth choir in preparation for a Christmas musical drama. We have 2 more choir-only rehearsals before we get together with the drama team the week before presenting the drama. Crazy? Maybe. But I've been longing to work with a youth choir again and this is (hopefully) the start of a semi-periodic youth choir group or ensemble. We had a youth choir for a couple of years - at first I was the rehearsal pianist (but not a very good one) and then took over the whole choir, even arranging some pieces for it (which we unfortunately never did as the choir fell apart due to scheduling difficulties). I love music (witness my original compositions); I hope that we can continue (and grow) the youth choir after the new year.

Ok, here's a bonus: thoughts on modern physics. Has anyone else noticed that modern physics has stopped attempting to figure out what everything is? Instead they simply try to explain how things - note that they don't really say what those things are - react in specific situations. Given a certain situation, offering specific stimuli, they try to predict (give probabilities) of certain reactions or outcomes. I liken it to trying to "explain" a TV by saying what happens when you press certain buttons on a remote control. Given a "thing" (the TV and remote) and certain "inputs" (pressing specific buttons on the remote) produces a certain "reaction" (changing channels or volume, for instance). But, despite knowing what happens in certain situations (e.g., whether the remote is pointed at the TV, or whether there is a mirror to direct the remote's outputs towards the TV's receptor) with specific inputs (pressing certain buttons on the remote), you really don't know what a TV is, or what makes up a TV.

That's what modern physics (quantum mechanics, etc.) does - they provide probabilities of certain responses to certain inputs in certain situations. They really don't tell you what those things are that respond to the inputs. What's really cool is that, given a certain input, there usually are infinite possibilities of how things happen. For example, consider photon scattering with an electron. [woohoo! my wife just walked in and gave me a roll of sprees and a roll of sweet-tarts! there's a 100% probability, if my wife hands me a roll of sweet-tarts and a roll of sprees and I'm not nauseated, that I'm going to respond with exclamations of joy!] In a book by Richard Feynman (QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter), (at least I think that was the one), he discusses the various ways that an electron might scatter (absorb and then re-emit) a photon. One of those ways is that the electron emits the new photon, then travels back in time, then absorbs the original photon. The electron traveling backwards in time is also known as an anti-electron, or anti-matter. That is, from a forward-looking time perspective, the electron and photon are headed towards each other, the photon suddenly, spontaneously changes into an electron and an anti-electron, the anti-electron collides with the original electron (the "new" electron heads off its own way), and the anti-electron/electron collision result in the new photon being released, heading off another direction. The picture in the book is the best (check it out at your local library, or purchase a copy, like at the link above - believe it or not, Feynman does a pretty good job of explaining Quantum Electrodynamics - QED - in a way that the layman can understand; while I've had 3 semesters of college-level physics, I'm definitely not a modern physicist), but the illustrations here are nearly understandable. Not exactly the same, but fun to look at nonetheless.

Anyway, I'm nearly done with the roll of sweet-tarts... I eat them way too fast. Hope you've enjoyed this mini-physics lesson.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I am now advertising for Sierra Mist. But how can I not? Take a look at this commercial... I found it rather amusing.

I think one of my favorite commercials ever is the Allstate one where you only see the guy's hands with a rice krispy treat and a stapler, and the ceramic frog with shaky eyes, and he says, "Woo-hoo! I'm happy!" several times. No one ever seems to remember that one. The first time I saw it I ended up watching it something like 10 times back-to-back - thanks to TiVo for that! Unfortunately I can't seem to find that one online anywhere... if I could, I would have put it here as well. (Don't worry - if I find it in the future, I'll put it on here first thing!)

My Coke Rewards

So, I go to My Coke Rewards to try to enter my codes, right? And it won't let me log in. Taking forever to load (of course, I really detest the general layout of the site in general - very poorly designed), constantly saying "error: we can't process your request right now" (and the first time it even locked up the browser window).

Finally I log my codes through my cell phone. Then try again to see if they've added any new rewards (did I recently mention their lack of any rewards I want?). Still can't log in. Try again and suddenly get a page saying, "We're sorry, the My Coke Rewards site is undergoing scheduled maintenance right now." Scheduled? Give me a break! Their site broke, they finally realized it, and had to redo something. It was "scheduled" about as long as it took to get someone in their IT department to start working on it.

I wonder how many other places have "scheduled" maintenance that's really reactionary maintenance (AKA unscheduled maintenance)? And they mislabel it. Seems to be it would be better to simply admit that something untoward happened, rather than saying, "we're either inconsiderate or stupid and have scheduled maintenance of our MAJOR CONSUMER WEBSITE at prime consumer viewing hours instead of in the middle of the night." Seems to me admitting a system failure is better than admitting stupidity or inconsideracy. I think that being inconsiderate is something that should be outlawed, but then again, not everyone considers the same things inconsiderate that I do.

Maybe we should all just love one another (like it says in various places in the Bible, such as Romans 12:10) - then inconsiderateness would simply vanish as a by-product. Ah, the life lessons we learn from broken web sites...
Interesting article here on ways to save fuel. In particular, I thought idea number 2, "shopping with a friend," was a neat one. Of course, I don't do much shopping myself, and I don't have any friends (kidding, there). But it does seem like a great way to try to minimize fuel costs if done on a regular basis by neighbors. Perhaps we should have new "neighborhood shoppers" instead of "neighborhood watch" in order to promote this sort of fuel saving on a regular basis.

Given my recent post about Global Warming, you may wonder why I bother posting this. Especially the link to The Daily Green website. Note that I have no particular objection to reducing emissions, or to improving fuel efficiency. I just don't think that Global Warming is really an issue. But the main reason for this post is the concept of saving fuel - not for the saving of the environment, but to help be "green" in another sense - saving money. Fuel is expensive these days, and getting more so, seemingly by the minute. So why not try to save your money by using some of these fuel saving tips?

So let's go beyond just "saving your money to buy Christmas presents" (and, if you want to buy me something for helping you save all that money, there's a "contact me" link over to your left where you can get in touch with me!). Take a look at this page on the Daily Green, which talks about the recent cyclone (Sidr) to hit Bangladesh (see my previous post Cool picture, sad story) and you'll see they warn of "rising sea levels" as one of the great dangers of Global Warming. (Note: they do have many points besides this in the article, and I did not read through the comments, so I can't vouch for any of the content besides the main article.) But, even if we assume that Global Warming is a real thing, this article suggests that rises in the temperature may actually cause drops in worldwide sea levels. The supposed sea level rise from Global Warming effects would be offset by the sea level drops (due to melting of under-ocean, sea-floor ice).
sea levels
If you take a look at the picture to the right (clicking it will take you to the Wikipedia version), you'll see that sea levels have fluctuated throughout history. Our earth is an amazingly created environment, and is designed to take care of itself. Sure, there are cycles - warm, cold; high-seas, low-seas; but everything, I think, balances itself (my opinion, not offering any "highly supportive evidence" at this point). If you want some data to review for yourself, take a look at the US EPA's Probability of Sea Level Rise report. While I haven't read this report, chapter 8 says it tries to explain why "sea level projections have declined over the last few decades" - doesn't sound like Global Warming is causing sea levels to rise to me.

Over on the CO2 Science site, there are several articles about sea levels. For instance, Sea Levels (Difficulties Predicting Change) and Sea Level Global Measurements. Honestly, I wonder how we're able to accurately define historical sea levels (before modern measuring equipment), and how older measurements compare with today's measurements (for instance, we certainly don't have thousands of years' worth of satellite altimeter sea-level measurements).

Anyway, that's enough for this post; enjoy the money-saving tips at the beginning of this article. As always, please do your own research - don't [LAPSE...] and be [brain dead] about the subject (and wait for someone else to tell you what you think). And please don't make the EPA take away all our fuel - I rather enjoy going places, and sometimes I go in my 1967 Mustang GT (thanks, Uncle Brad!) which is always fun (if not necessarily "environmentally friendly").

Amazing People

I was thinking that God did a pretty good job when He designed people (from a physical perspective). For instance, your little finger is just the right size for cleaning out ears and nostrils. Your teeth make pretty good fingernail (and, for the limber, toenail) clippers (that's how I usually clip my finger- but not toe- nails).

Of course, it's sometimes difficult to get that "one particular spot" that itches on your back, but for that He made other people (such as your mom, or your grandmom, or your wife).

Anyway, people need people. It's sometimes tough to be a loner. Not that we don't all enjoy our alone time at times, but oftentimes when we have an experience that we want to remember it's much nicer to have someone who has experienced it with you, who can remember it with you, someone with whom you can reminisce. I often find that my overall level of happiness decreases whenever the wife and kids are gone somewhere and I'm by myself for a few days. Of course there's no one to compete with for control of the TV, or to ask me to quit playing video games, but then again when something cool happens in the video game, or a commercial (or bit of a TV show) makes me laugh, I can't say, "Hey, did you see that? That was cool!"

Speaking of cool, take a look at the "Interesting Quotes" block on the left (assuming you're reading this at my online blog instead of through a feed or e-mail). Then refresh the page and watch it again. Pretty cool, eh? Now if only I had someone to share the experience... (just kidding, I already showed it off to my wife, who isn't out of town right now).

The Thanksgiving holiday is almost upon us... a great time to reminisce with friends and family. I'd encourage you to take some time this long weekend (long for me, since I get Thursday and Friday off work; I'm sorry if you don't!) to be thankful (God is good) and to spend moments recreating with friends and family, perhaps reflecting on your experiences in your life to this point, and creating new memories that will last, well, a lifetime (and beyond! after all, if you're with friends and family, there will still be someone around remembering once you've left this life - and make sure you're ready for that!).

And refresh the page and enjoy a new interesting quote!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cool picture, sad story

What's big and bigger, grey and grey/blue/black/clear, has wheels, is part mechanical and part biological, and doesn't move very fast?

An elephant pushing a stranded bus! - click link for the story and the cool picture

Elephants are cool. They're probably my favorite animal (besides, of course, my children, who sometimes act rather animal-like :). One Christmas my family gave me a gift of "adopting" the two elephants in the Nashville zoo. That was cool! An interesting and unique gift idea (no, I didn't guess that one!). Sometimes I wish I had an elephant. If I did, I'd probably ride it to work one day. Hey, inspiration (the following is to the tune of "Mary had a little lamb"):

Tony had an elephant, elephant, elephant! Tony had an elephant its skin was grey as rainclouds.
He rode it into work one day, work one day, work one day! He rode it into work one day and left it at the door.
It wandered through the research park, research park, research park! It wandered through the research park and caused a big to do.
Cars, they swerved and wrecked all 'round, wrecked all 'round, wrecked all 'round! Cars, they swerved and wrecked all 'round to avoid the elephant.
Tony saw it on the news, on the news, on the news! Tony saw it on the news and said, "Hey, that's my pet!"
He ran to find his elephant, elephant, elephant! He ran to find his elephant because he loved it so.
His elephant was eating trees, eating trees, eating trees! His elephant was eating trees, which made the research park owners mad.
Tony took his elephant, elephant, elephant! Tony took his elephant, and then they headed home.

Boy, that was longer than I expected! But about as senseless. Of course, if I had an elephant, I wouldn't have any place to keep it, or enough food for it - they eat 300-600 pounds of food daily as adults (according to Wikipedia's elephant entry), partially due to the fact that they only digest about 40% of what they eat (the other 60% leaves them without being digested).

Anyway, back to Bangladesh. Sad story, that; the cyclone (storms known as hurricanes in the Atlantic, or maybe it's just in the US/Western Hemisphere, I can't recall) was very bad to Bangladesh. Killed a lot of people (just saw one headline that put the death toll over 1600), damaged the economy, destroyed homes, etc. Of course, this was a natural disaster. What about this story on Reuters about a man-made dam in China, damming the Yangtze River, which is now having geological implications to the surrounding communities, damaging homes, and threatening villages? Now there's a real impact man is having on the world, although fairly localized.

Global warming? According to this article on the NASA website, "not all the large changes seen in Arctic climate in recent years are a result of long-term trends associated with global warming." Personally I don't think that global warming is all that real of a phenomenon... State of Fear by Michael Crichton (available at, among other places) is an interesting read. Weather Underground has a review of the book here - and note that this is a critical report, so I'm offering you to make your own decision. They do have links to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (as well as direct links to some of their work and findings), probably a good place to start your own research if you're interested in the topic of Gobal Warming. Here's another good place to look: Weather Channel Founder: Global Warming ‘Greatest Scam in History’ - just thought I'd throw that out there. And, a final note: be objective, not emotional, when studying the topic of global warming - look for facts, not tales of woe. For additional research, check out the CO2 Science site. (That link goes to a page within the site that describes the reason for their work and research; you can navigate from there all around the site.)

I'll offer my own suggestion for helping to abate global warming: run the AC full blast with all your doors open. :)

Technorati post

If you read this, you'll know I've added my blog to Technorati. Feel free to go there and list this as one of your favorite blogs!

Technorati Profile

Friday, November 16, 2007

Christmas already?

I just got back from a Christmas party. Yep, Christmas in mid-November. It was a party for our church choir (and the drama team that's putting on our Christmas production). This was the most convenient time for it, all things considered. At least the recent cold weather helped the mood of the evening... that, and the lights that are already starting to show up on various houses and trees all around us. Is it really nearly Christmas? Yep, I guess so... Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas follows close behind.

Now I'm watching "Raising Arizona" - one of my all-time favorite movies (Wikipedia entry is here). Nicolas Cage is one of my favorite actors. (Not role models, just actors.) Interestingly, according to the bio on the IMDb site, he has a child named Kal-el Coppola Cage (which I'm sure my friend Dean, a superman fan - no, a superman superfan!, will find interesting; you'll probably find Dean's blog more interesting than this one, by the way!). "Raising Arizona" is a slightly different mode than his (Nicolas', not Dean's) more recent "comedic-action" genre. It's rated PG-13, so (obviously) parental guidance is suggested, but I think it's worth renting (or borrowing from a library if you can - that way you can get it for free!); we own a copy. Once upon a time, when I had a prolonged dental procedure to be done, I watched "Raising Arizona" in the dental chair (they have these cool LCD monitor glasses with integrated headphones that allow you to recline in your own mini-theatre while the dentist is working in your mouth). Bet you're all glad you've read this post now, eh? By the way, if you want some really family-friendly fun videos, check out Veggie Tales - they're really cool. Even for adults. And at the Big Idea web site, they have some neat games, too - check out Moby Blaster and Doom Funnel Chasers, two of my favorites. And no undesirable or questionable ads or content to confront your kiddies when they play, either!

Topic switch. In case you don't use GMail, you might want to give it a try. It has some really cool features, like "unlimited aliases" - check out some neat ways you can use GMail aliases here. Personally I find myself using my GMail account more frequently than my "regular" ISP e-mail account. It even has built-in chat capabilities, and you don't have to download anything (you can chat from within your web browser once you log into your e-mail). And it's easy to get to e-mail on my cell phone, too.

Enough for now... I have some more work to do on my layout, but it's getting closer to being ready for prime-time. Then again, it's already out there, so do you feel like you're getting ripped off by this blog? The constant teasing of "on the edge of rolling out a wonderful surprise layout" and then some senseless blabbering... one of these days this senseless blabbering will regain the full glory of the old BBS [LAPSE] forum. Until then, you'll have to put up with this. (Well, you could not put up with it, but I'd like you to continue reading; you can even get the feeds through the links over to your right - even in your e-mail if you want!)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Folding for better health

This post is going to be a little deeper than those to this point. Key word here is "little," of course. This is somewhat related to National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.

(Please don't be upset at the following questions - I don't mean to be insensitive.) How many of you want to get cancer? Or Alzheimer's disease? Or Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, Huntington's, Parkinson's disease, or other cancer-related syndromes? That's what I thought - not something you want to get. But what happens if you do? (First, make sure you're ready - in fact, you should do that now, regardless - after all, you never know when you're going to make your way from this world to the next, so be ready! Here is one place you can find out how to get where you want to be when you find yourself at the end of this life, or, if you have a while - 80 minutes or so, here's a movie version summarizing "the whole story.") Anyway, once you've made sure you're ready, here's a way you can help right now:

This is a distributed computing application. What's that mean? It means it uses your computer when you're not. Which, actually, is most of the time - if you have Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Windows Vista, for instance, you can pull up the task manager (right-click on an empty area on the taskbar - that bar at the bottom that has the "start" button on it - and select "Task Manager" from the pop-up menu) and see that typically your computer is not using very much of its CPU most of the time. The Folding@Home software puts your computer to work when it's otherwise idle. It will download some data from the Folding at Home servers (which are housed at Stanford University - the project is sponsored by Stanford and run by one of the professors there), work on the data using the CPU that you're not using - and it will do this in a way that only uses the idle time and not interfere with your normal computing tasks - you won't even realize it's running, and send the results of its calculations back to the Folding@Home servers.

What are they doing with all the data? They're simulating the folding of proteins (hence the "Folding@Home" moniker). They have good descriptions about this on the website, but, in a nutshell, proteins must "fold" themselves into a particular shape before they're able to accomplish their tasks. Occasionally these proteins don't fold correctly, and this appears to be where things like Alzheimer's disease, some cancers, and the host of diseases previously mentioned start. The calculations required to simulate the protein folding is enormous - so horrendously big, in fact, that even supercomputers aren't very effective at accomplishing the simulations. However, with the distributed computing model, they're able to break up the simulations into bite-size pieces and hand these pieces out to millions of computers. Over the lifetime of the project more than 2.5 Million CPUs have contributed; currently there are a little over 260,000 active (that is, have returned work units within the last 50 days) CPUs working on the project.

How can you help? Download the software and run it on your computer. As a bonus, they have set up the system to keep track of how many units your computer has completed, and you can track your standings in the system. In addition, when you first run the software, you can configure it to add your statistics to the [LAPSE... brain dead] team. We're team number 258 - that's right down the middle of your numeric keypad. Why join the LBD team instead of starting your own? Well, for one, we're an "early" team - there aren't many teams with only 3 digits in their team number. For two, we're fairly well ranked right now - out of the 87,000+ teams, we're ranked in the top 1000. Not bad, eh? But we're slipping in the ranking... we need your help! Join us, let your computer do some work for a good cause, and help me feel better about "my" Folding @ Home team.

Ok, maybe this entire post is slightly selfish - I'm trying to get you to help me push my folding team higher up in the rankings. Not really. I'm very sensitive to Alzheimer's disease, which is why I chose this project instead of one of the other, purely cancer-related distributed computing projects. You see, my grandfather, R. A. Moore, Sr., was struck with Alzheimer's disease. Now he is no longer suffering - he had long ago set things right (see the links in the 2nd paragraph, above), and (for many years) now he is completely free of all his suffering. But I saw what the disease can do to a person while he is still here, and thus I want to do what I can to help. If you want more info about Alzheimer's, check out the Alzheimer's Association web site (where you can donate your money to Alzheimer's research).

According to the Alzheimer's Association, "by 2050, 11 to 16 million people will likely have Alzheimer’s." The folding project is making strides towards helping eradicate these diseases - see their web site for details of their current results and papers. The more data they collect the better their research will be. Your spare computing cycles (that is, all that "idle time" your computer generally wastes) can help.

This post is made in loving memory of R. A. Moore, Sr. I can't wait till we're reunited in Heaven! Until then, my computers will be running the Folding at Home software (Team 258! Team 258!) to help find a cure for Alzheimer's.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blog status

Well, I'm closer to unveiling the new look of the blog (well, there will probably still be some color tweaks here and there for a while until I'm fully satisfied with the look), but the "big surprise" is nearly ready. Well, let's put it this way: it's 90% ready in Firefox, but doesn't work in IE. Until I have both versions ready, I'll hold off on unveiling on either platform.

You'll just have to keep waiting; it will be ready soon, I promise! For now, I need to grab a (nearly) midnight snack (have to keep the acid reflux going strong!) - too bad we don't have any beef jerky around here! - and get some sleep (last night's late turn-in is catching up to me).

By the way - I got the "label cloud" from phydeaux3's blog - thanks very much! Go there and click on the "New Blogger Tag Cloud/........" link for detailed instructions (so easy a caveman... you know).

What I just heard

My lovely wife just uttered the phrase: "It's not nearly as dangerous as a roach!" She was referring to a stink-bug found in our living room. In case you can't tell, my wife is a roach-freak. When there's a roach around, she freaks. I've never seen a pregnant woman move so fast as when she discovered a roach in the kitchen once upon a time (that was a number of years ago; she's no longer pregnant, but still has "the moves" when roaches are around; actually, she still has the moves even when roaches aren't around, it just gets a lot faster when they are).

On a completely unrelated topic, I did the unthinkable - I clicked on my own Google Ad (I really hope they forgive me for that). But how could I not? Check this out: alligator jerky! I think I'm going to have to order some of that just to see. I've never eaten alligator before (I did have a turtle burger in the Cayman Islands once, but we couldn't differentiate between the turtle burger and the regular burger at the time - my wife didn't care for either, although I thought both were good).

About to head up to the church for Wednesday evening services (I work in the AWANA T&T program). I'll have to continue working on my Blog "look" when I return.


Boy, am I frustrated! I'm trying to implement a cool looking template, but things keep not working. Breaking, even (having trouble w/ the template I downloaded to use as the basis for my custom look; it doesn't "play nice" with some of the Blogspot widgets). This is taking MUCH longer than I think it should.

Of course, when I'm done, I should be an expert (or a frustrated, barely-got-it-to-work novice, I suppose) at Blogger template customization. Anyway, if you're lucky, you might see my template changing frequently until I get it done, as I try over and over to try to get this thing working. You might even catch changes in the look from one page load/refresh to the next!

Ok, enough venting for now... back to my frustrating work...

New format?

Ok, I've changed my blog's template a little. I could add a poll to see what you think, but I'll invite comments instead. I'm working on a little surprise, but so far I've been unsuccessful in getting it to work, and since it's nearly 2AM and I have to get to work myself in a little while, I suppose I should try to get some sleep.

Anyway, let me know if you like or don't like this new look, what you think of the color scheme, etc. Hopefully over the next few days I can roll out the changes I want to implement in my blog and awe you all.

But, for now, g'night!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What's on?

When it comes to TV, I can't say that I watch a lot of it. What I do watch is usually not live, either - it's TiVoed. That being said, here are the things I watch on a regular basis:

  • Survivor - started watching this back when Rupert was first on the show, when they dumped the "survivors" the day before they expected it. Rupert's stealing of the other team's sneakers was classic, one of the "great moments in Survivor" - in fact, Rupert is my all-time favorite survivor (he was also one of only two non-winners invited to the "Survivor All-Stars"). This season's survivor, despite the exceptionally physical challenges, isn't living up to the past few seasons, however.
  • Chuck - this is an entertaining new show, if somewhat out-of-reality. Maybe that's what makes it entertaining. Parental discretion is advised, but it's usually not too bad.
  • Heroes - last season (the first season) was much better, although it was not as "kid-friendly" as this season (we did not allow our younger children to watch last season's episodes; we are, with discretion, allowing them to watch it this season). This season's storyline isn't as good, and the "powers" are going beyond what I think they should have allowed into the story (my opinion, of course). That being said, it's still entertaining. Parental discretion definitely advised.
Things I watch sometimes:

  • Deal or No Deal - this can be quite funny at times.
  • Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader - again, quite amusing.
  • Various re-run sitcoms (but not Friends; don't really care for it that much)
  • Football - college - go Alabama!, NFL - go Redskins!, although I rarely get to see a whole game; secondary "favorites" are FSU (brother is an alumni) and the Atlanta Falcons (silly Michael Vick); the one time the Falcons made it to the superbowl I was stuck in the airport in Atlanta and managed to watch portions of the game on the airport TVs - that was a rough trip - over 12 hours to get from the Huntsville airport to the airport in Michigan or Ohio or wherever it was I was going, and it was still a two-hour drive from the airport the the hotel after arrival.
  • Various PBS shows, like Nova and Stargazer (or sometimes Arthur or Fetch with Ruff Ruffman - mainly when the kids are watching those)
Shows I miss:

  • Brother's Keeper
  • Yes, Dear!
Shows my wife watches regularly that I occasionally watch with her:

  • ER - this is probably her favorite - it's "save until I delete" on the season pass on our TiVo
  • NCIS
Shows I don't care for:

  • Bionic Woman - ok, this one's really stupid. Poor storyline, poorly written, poor acting. Watched the first episode, and the more I thought about it over the following week, the more I realized I had no desire to see the remainder of the season. A real let-down after all the build-up around the show.
So, there you go - a run-down of my TV watching habits. As mentioned in a previous post, we don't have cable (or satellite or DirecTV), so we're limited to the broadcast shows. However, our TiVo is confused about one of our local stations - channel 15 is listed as channel 14. Meaning it won't pick up the shows from channel 15 (thinks they're on 14, and "doesn't know" what's on 15). I've complained to TiVo several times about this, but they still haven't fixed it (according to them, in an e-mail, channel 15 is listed as channel 15; I think perhaps it has something to do w/ the HD version, since while most HD channels seem to be X.1 (e.g., channel 19's HD channel is 19.1), channel 15's HD channel is 14.1).

Of course, not watching TV so much allows more time for things like my "music career" and this infernal blogging. Bet you wish I watched more TV, eh?

So, what's on at your house?

Life's Unfair

For those who have seen it, I'm not talking about my song over on the None Yet music page. I'm referring to My Coke Rewards. I've been saving points for a long time now. I have 2283 at the moment, to be exact. I've spent a few here or there (like getting my wife a Diet Coke umbrella when her existing umbrella was full of holes). But I've been noticing the number of rewards have been slowly dwindling for a while. At any rate, I've been saving for the "year of movies from Blockbuster" - one free rental a week for 52 consecutive weeks (they have to be used in consecutive weeks at the same store at which the initial rental occurs, and if you miss a week, you lose that week's rental).

So, now that I'm 17 points away (with another 10 points on the unopened 12-pack of coke in the refrigerator), I go take a look at the rewards site, and wham! - they don't have that reward anymore. It was there two days ago. Unfair!

This was like when I was in school. Back in the 4th grade, I was looking forward to getting a locker when I moved up to the 5th grade. But when I moved up to the 5th grade, the lockers were for 6th through 8th grades only. Still looking forward to when I'll get a locker in 6th grade. But when I move up to 6th grade, the lockers were for 7th and 8th grades only. When I finally moved up to 7th grade, they reverted back to having lockers for 5th through 8th grades. I was gypped for two grades!

And, now, the same thing is happening with the My Coke Rewards website. AAAAAHHHGG! Unfair. Ah, well, guess I need to quit blogging and go figure out what other coke rewards I want... feel free to make suggestions.

Monday, November 12, 2007

MMMmmm... beef jerky!

I admit it: I'm a beef jerky addict. I'll eat it until my jaws and cheeks hurt from the chewing, and then I'll eat some more. That, and Sprees (red are my favorite, followed closely by purple; on Saturday I got a pack that had three reds in a row - it was awesome!). I could live on beef jerky, sprees, and Coke Zero. And maybe crab legs, the only food I'll really "work" for. Ribs? too much work for too little reward, in my opinion; that, and messy (ok, crab legs are messy, too, but I'm willing to get messy then). I probably would not have made a good caveman - I prefer eating with a fork and spoon, thank you very much. Things on the bone - ribs, chicken, etc. - not my deal (in fact, I have, on occasion, asked my wife to remove the chicken meat from the bone on a chicken leg...). Pork chops are OK, since I can pull the meat away from the bone nice & easily with a fork (or cut it away with a knife). Actually, I like pork chops, with some nice potato salad and baked beans.

Anyway, back to beef jerky... I just finished a large package of Oh Boy, Oberto! Sesame Ginger beef jerky... yum! (Got in trouble for eating the whole package - I think my wife wanted some; but that's the problem with beef jerky - once opened, the contents are eaten until gone, non-stop.) Had some buffalo jerky a couple of weekends ago, that was good, too. Anyway, here's a question: if your cow had muscle spasms, would it make good beef jerky? :) I'm working on a book of all-original jokes, like that one. I'll keep you updated on the book's progress periodically, and perhaps throw in a teaser or two.

Ah well, about to watch a little TV... TiVo has to be one of the greatest inventions ever. Oddly, we have TiVo, but only an over-the-air antenna. Guess we're going to be one of the families that has to upgrade to an HD receiver when they start handing out the coupons in 2008. If you don't know about that, and don't already have cable or satellite, go here for more info - your analog TV won't work without a set-top converter after February 17, 2009. Of course, if you have cable or satellite, you probably don't have to worry about this (unless you also have an analog TV elsewhere in your house that gets over-the-air antenna broadcasts; you'll need a converter for those).

Enough for now... the TV show has started (yes, it's TiVoed, and I can watch it anytime, but the wife is in charge of the remote right now, and it might be rude to ask her to keep it paused while I'm writing all this gibberish).

MMMmmm... beef jerky..... now I just need some Sprees...

Nothing to say? Don't let that stop you!

Ok, that's not quite right (after all, we're going to be accountable for every careless word we speak - and we should be careful about saying things we don't mean - it can cause consequences we hadn't envisioned, which should be plainly obvious since we're talking about words we hadn't carefully considered before uttering them), but it's not going to stop me this morning. I'm posting a new blog entry, after all, aren't I?

Ok, I guess I do have something to say. Notice the "November blog archive" on the left side of the page (well, it's on the left for now, but I may be rearranging this page sooner or later). It says there are six entries, but when you look, there are only five. [edit - now it's 7 and there are only 6 - should have thought of that before I posted, eh? and if I post again, it will be 8 when there are only 7, etc.; you get the idea - it's one more than the actual number of posts] That's kind of weird, don't you think? Shouldn't the number of entries be listed correctly - after all, blogger (the website that tracks the entries) is, well, the website that's tracking the entries. You'd think it would be able to count, being a computer and all (since computers just run on numbers, and only two of them: 1 and 0; ok, maybe the floating point units get a little more involved, but it's been a while since I studied those, and they're still probably binary in nature down in the hardware).

I think I know where it got confused, though - well, I have two theories, actually. First, when I posted my first blog, it was posted before I set the time to Central Time (it was still on Pacific Time), and I adjusted the "displayed" post time to be the current local (Central) time. Then I changed the blog settings to Central Time, and the post rolled over midnight since it carried the two hour manual time adjustment with it. Perhaps this caused the Blogger to think that the post occurred twice, since it had originally received the post "yesterday in Mountain Time" and then adjusted the post to "Today in Central Time" (even though it was really tomorrow at the time, but now it's several days ago). The second theory is that the blog I posted from my phone (from Tennessee), and later edited online, was counted twice.

Either way, it's wrong. Kind of funny, don't you think?

Well, now I have to head to work... yes, I'm running a bit late today. But aren't you glad I took the time to write all of this nothing for you to read before I went?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My first out-of-state blog.

Just last night I created my blog, today I'm posting from another state! On my son's birthday trip to the Gibson store. One thing I'd recommend if you have kids: do stuff with them. It really makes a difference. Out of letters, will elaborate l8r.

Ok, continuation (I'm back in town now, by the way). "Out of letters" - the MMS message format only allows a certain number of characters in the message (well, from my phone at least), so that's why I was "out of letters," and I couldn't remember the e-mail posting address for my blog, so I had to live with the MMS limitation.

As I was saying, I have taken to having a "trip with dad" on the kids' birthdays (sometime near, anyway). Since often Dad is the one who's not making enough time for the kids (and that's something I'm trying to work on, really!) it gives a chance for the child to have some one-on-one time with Dad, that child getting my full and undivided attention for a day (or more if the trip is overnight or longer, which so far has only occurred once). A couple of weeks ago my daughter and I went to see Phantom of the Opera in a nearby city. Both trips (then and today) were wonderfully fun. But, more than fun, it's a great time to build the relationship between father and child, a relationship that all too often these days is left undeveloped (or underdeveloped). Oh, and yes, I also do the same thing with my wife on her birthday! (Does that mean I get a day all on my own on my own birthday?)

Today we used my handheld GPS receiver (a Magellan eXplorist 500 LE) for our "maps" to the Gibson Store at Opry Mills, from there to the Guitar Center in Nashville, and from there back home. I let my son navigate. That made him the navigator. Now, navigators and alligators must be related (they both end in "gator"). But what if your alligator was also navigating? Would it then be a navalligator? Would you end up in a swamp in Florida? Would you be eaten along the way? These are questions that you can ponder during your next road trip.

Today we came home with no alligators. We came home with an Ibanez instead.

Man forgets car at gas station | Reuters

Man forgets car at gas station | Oddly Enough | Reuters

How exactly does one forget one's vehicle after paying for the fuel? Sure, I can see forgetting a grocery bag or two. I can see forgetting to pick up a movie you've just rented if you get into a nice conversation with the rental clerk. But your car? You drive into a gas station, fill up the car, go pay for your gas, and then walk home?

Perhaps the people around were better off with him walking than driving...

Welcome to my Blog

You probably don't want to be here. There won't be much going on for a while, I'm sure. However, this is my blog, and you're welcome to read it. At least one thing you won't find here, I hope, is bad grammar. That's one thing I can't stand! We're slowly, across America, destroying the English language. For instance, "tell my friend or I" - um, you wouldn't say, "tell I," now would you? That's an easy one to figure out. If you would use "us" then use "me" - if you'd use "we" then use "I." Simple. And don't end a sentence in a preposition. For instance, instead of, "turn the lights off," say, "turn off the lights."

Anyway, this is my blog, and my very first post, to boot. So, welcome to my blog! (Ok, English professors, feel free to critique my grammar any time you want!)

For anyone looking for a bit more depth and inspiration, please see my friend Dean's blog.

By the way, the URL for my blog ("lapsebraindead") comes from an ages-old bulletin board system (anyone remember those? connected to them with modems, 300 or 1200 baud?) that a friend of mine had while I was in college for a year in Massachusetts (Worcester Polytechnic Institute). He allowed me to moderate one of the areas on that bulletin board, which became known as "Lapse... brain dead" due to my always ending my posts with...
[LAPSE... brain dead]

Friday, November 9, 2007

Blogging from my phone!

Feel free to ignore this post. It's mainly a test of the mobile blogging capabilities of my blog. Pretty cool, eh? Amazing what we can do nowadays! Ok, enough of this for now..

Time travel?

Just making this post to see if I can travel back through time (I'll explain in a comment if it works)...