Thursday, November 30, 2006

Choreday In Progress

Welp, I got all of the errands done including a new item that popped up. I had to take my printer for warranty repair back to the store. Arg. So much for printing out directions this morning. Just had to wing it.

Now, just relaxing for a bit and then think about what I can do around the house this evening before I working on repairing my Xxxx.


Ok, today's chores:
::sucking in a lung full of air::
Shave, shower, check directions to take my busted Xxxx to manufacturer, take my busted Xxxx to manufacturer thru late rush hour traffic, get back in time for my hair cut appointment, then off to lunch with my friend, the back home to call our microwave manufacturer to find out what's wrong with it, then housing cleaning and finally dinner.
::would let out the remaining air in my lungs, but just used it all on this list::

I guess I better get started. Oh, don't forget to check out my eBay auctions. lol

Check out my Auctions
Ok, ready, set, GOOO.....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More Shameless Promotion

Well, it's still a bit young, but I've launched a new content site for SolidWorks. If you don't know what SolidWorks is, don't go looking. hehe If you do know what it is, please check it out!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Shameless Promotion

Cheap cheap DVD's! hehe (Seriously, look!) Buy my stuff!

Check out my Auctions
Well, anyone with a couple of bucks can benefit from the fact that Allie and I have moved in together. Too many DVDs! :) Well, really it's just a few duplicates.
In other news, Thanksgiving turned out pretty laid back. We spent some time at my aunts, then the even with Allie's parents. Turkey turkey turkey. Friday was spent in recovery. hehe So, I know this is prolly what 99% of all American's experienced this week, so maybe this isn't "news" per se.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bond, James Bond

Well, the new movie was good. I liked it. It is definately one of the better 007 movies. However, it prolly coulda been split into different movies (maybe part 1 and 2?). It coulda ended several times. But still, a good movie.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Star birth linked to waves of life on Earth

I found this interesting article (backup link) that proposes a link between new star generation in our Milky Way galaxy with the waves of bacteria life in Earth's past. Quick quote:
"Dr Svensmark noticed that the biggest fluctuations in [bacterial lifeform] productivity coincided with high star formation rates and cool periods in Earth's climate. Conversely, during a billion years when star formation was slow, cosmic rays were less intense and Earth's climate was warmer, the biosphere was almost unchanging in its productivity."
This idea is interesting because it demonstrates just how linked we are, not just to the Earth, but the cosmos as a whole.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lettuce give tanks!

I was looking forward to this weekend. We had a good evening and dinner with some of Allie’s friends on Friday in Burlingame at Mediterranean Kebob’s and Gyros. The restaurant is small and you place your order at the counter, but the food is very good and full of flavor. Me and her friends geeked out a little bit in our conversations about common cultural references like the Simpsons, which annoying Allie a little bit, I’m sure. Hehe
Saturday, we relaxed a bit and then headed over to my friend’s place for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner because all of us will be spending Thanksgiving Day with our respective families. The evening was pretty relaxed with good company.
Sunday, we took her mom to Bloomingdale’s to use a discount on a dress she had already bought for Allie. It’s a dress meant for Allie’s company’s Christmas party in a couple of weeks. Nothing much else happened that day. I am getting a little annoyed that Fox constantly moves the time they show the Simpsons though.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Resident Jorge, A Haunting

Ronie and I had determined that we would look for a place in the San Jose area back in 1999. I had met her online a while before and figured we could roommate near our jobs. She found a third person, David C., and we looked around for a good deal. I found this one ground level apartment in a 6-plex, with a patio and large backyard for a good price. When I first entered it with the landlord, I got a creepy feeling from the hallway leading to the bedrooms. It was a feeling I’ve had before, but as usual, I ignored it. As before, I later found out I shouldn’t have. We all moved in not long after. I had the master bedroom.

After settling in, we had a good time. The house was always lively in some way. I found a girlfriend, Jaymie, a few months later, who then proceeded to conduct a stealth move-in that was made official very early 2000. With all four people living there, we began noticing little things, but no one talked about it.

I had collected a few McDonald’s toys, like hot wheels (left in their plastic bag wrappers, and left them out up on my computer desk’s hutch in my room. I would frequently find one particular toy car down on my desk top. I heard it drop a couple of the times to come into to find it there. Twice, I watched it drop while I was in my room looking in the same general direction. There’s no way it could’ve dropped on its own. I was in its wrap on a level surface upside down. Not of the other objects on that same surface moved, including another unwrapped car toy left on its wheels right next to it.

Ronie would often see a young male figure standing beyond her when she looked into her bathroom’s mirror. She even started talking to him (to shoo him out of the bathroom, usually).

Jaymie would get small finger sizes bruises around her thighs when she slept on the couch for a nap or some evenings.

Also, the living room would get inexplicably cold, even in hot summer days.

While I lived there, the incidents were somewhat frequent, but not overly intrusive. By 2001, David C. had moved out and Danny was living with us. I’m not sure what, if anything, he noticed himself, but I know he was aware of what Ronie was noticing.

Jaymie and I broke up in mid 2001, and I moved out. Ronie took the master bedroom and Jaymie moved into her old room. Jaymie started getting bruises every night, and Ronie started having more interaction with the ghost. I was still a frequent guess, and each of them started relating more frequent incidents. Based on Ronie’s description of this ghost, I called him Jorge.

Jorge was trying to interact with Ronie more readily. After on particularly unpleasant event and the situation was no longer possible to ignore, everyone in the house figured it was time to do something. Jaymie’s mom is fairly talented physic and medium. Upon learning about the events, she visited them with an open eye out for this ghost. She called him out and he appeared to her, though he did try to hide. Jaymie was there at the time as well, and was able to make out his shape when her mom forced Jorge into one spot. Jaymie’s mom talked to him and found out he was a young man that had worked in the orchards that filled the area near the turn of the 20th Century. I don’t know how he died, but it was around the age of 17. She also found out that he was afraid of me when I was living their. Though Jorge had been stuck on Earth in that area for almost 100 years, he was still the 17 year old that had lived in the area. He viewed me as a dominant older male and generally tried to stay out of my way when I was around, or so how the story was related to me. Heh, some ghost kid was afraid of me. I wasn’t much past being a young buck myself at the ripe old age of 25. lol Anyways, Jaymie and her mom directed Jorge’s spirit to the other side. He didn’t want to go, for whatever reason, but once he was gone, incidents involving Jaymie ended, and although Ronie still has some experiences, they where not on the level as before. Perhaps more on than one ghost was in the area, or he returned from the other side to visit her once in awhile. I remember that the creepy feeling that the hallway often had ceased, and the cold spots no longer occurred. BTW, his real name wasn’t Jorge, but that’s what I called him and that’s what I remember. :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wierd Al Strikes Back!

Wierd Al kicks butt!!!

And here's his old school classic!

Is Curehuman for you?

Are you human? Do you feel as though you may sometimes be human? Many people are suffers of being human on a daily basis. If you are one of those 6.5 billion sufferers, then look at Curehuman and talk to your doctor if Curehuman is right for you.

Side affects may include being human, related to humans or at the very least, a resident of planet Earth, and in extremely common cases death may occur. Sufferers of these side affects didn't realize the there is no drug that can cure the human condition and therefore spent way too much money on this pointless drug. Should any of the side affects occur, you will likely be dead or will eventual die. Never take or come into contact with Curehuman if you are pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, incapable of becoming pregnant, or alive.

Curehuman, the treatment for being human.

[Inspired by blog entry at: Hey Freak!]

Sunday Drive simpsons

Instead of finishing up work around the house, I asked Allie if she just wanted to go for a drive somewhere Sunday morning. The day was fairly sunny, so I thought it would be nice to get out. Almost before I finished the question, she mentioned that she wanted to go to the new mall up in San Francisco. I think I give a slight smile and an involuntary sigh. I had asked, and she had spoken. It was already on her mind, I suspect. hehe

We had breakfast at the near by McDonalds, then we headed up. We ended up getting a couple of shirts and a tie for me so that I can dress up nice for her company’s Christmas party.

We got home in plenty of time for her to further torture me with episodes of Parental Control. The show’s saving grace is that it does have hot people making fun of each other and the parents chiming in with zinger phrases that I’m sure they were coached on how to use.

But when all was said and done, I got to watch my Simpsons and catch the trailer for the new Simpsons movie. Rumor has it that it’s actually going to be in 2D! Can’t wait. ;)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Touching close to home

It is bizarre to people who’ve never been through it, but movies like The Lake House and books like The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger call to mind experiences I had with a past love.

My quick critique of The Lake House is that it could’ve been written a lot better and it desperately needed an actor with more range than Keanu Reeves. It also had a Hollywood ending tacked on that didn’t make sense with the rest of the movie. It would’ve been much more beautiful (though sad) had the ending stayed true to the rest of the story. However, the general story touched close to home for me.

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a deep story told in an experimental and clever style. The storytelling style and events in the book are even a bit reminiscent of what my past love and I experienced. I highly recommand this book, BTW.

I’m not going to go into how these stories remind me of those experiences because unless someone has gone through it firsthand, it really just seems completely implausible. I will say that those fictional stories do not literally represent what happened to us, but there is a lot of truth in them that applies to our experiences. As a side note, no matter how much one thinks they know about the future, it hasn’t happened until it happens, and tinkering with it can throw things into wildly different directions. Oh, and that closure is a luxury only afforded to fictional characters in movies and books.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Trouble with PETA

From PETA’s mission statement,
“PETA is dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals. PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment. PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in laboratories, in the clothing trade, and in the entertainment industry. We also work on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of beavers, birds and other "pests," and the abuse of backyard dogs. PETA works through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns.”
Although I do agree that humans must take responsibility for our treatment of animals, I disagree with PETA’s stand and many of their characterizations of how animals are treated by people. PETA has undertook good activities, but bringing to light some serious mistreatment, such as in the fur farms. But they’ve also overplayed their position on many occasions.

I remember listening on TV to one individual complaining about California cheese ads with the slogan, “Real cheese comes from happy cows. Happy cows come from California.” He was going on about how the ads are misleading and how bad cows are really treated on a daily basis. From his description, one would assume conditions resembled those of WWII concentration camps. His description may have worked on someone who spent their life in New York City and has never seen open land.  However, I grew up in a region that has a lot of farms here in California. I’ve seen just how cows are treated first hand. His description is misleading. Beyond that, the ads are obviously funny and not meant to be taken literally. I do understand they aren’t treated as one would treat people, but they aren’t people. They are a source of food.

This brings me to a second point: animals as food. I’ve seen pro-vegetarian literature written from both Eastern and Western perspectives. Unfounded statements generally fill pages with arguments against the eating of meat. The underlining goal is to convince the reader that humans are not meant to eat meat. This effort is complemented by some moral or ethical reasons. I just have to laugh when I see these arguments. One argument compares the human intestine to that of a wolf. Of course, the argument never makes a similar comparison to truly vegetarian animals, such as cows. That’s because the human digestive system doesn’t resemble that of either carnivores or herbivores.

In fact, our digestive system has specifically evolved to eat something that no other animal on the face of this planet ever has before. Our digestive system has evolved to take advantage of cooked meat! Even our close cousin, the Neanderthal didn’t make that evolutionary leap. 80% of their diet was raw meat, making it likely that their intestine actual did more closely resemble that of a wolf.

A third point is that all flora and fauna have the same origin. Plants, animals and fungi all have a common ancestor. From a truly unemotional perspective, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between munching on a head of lettuce and munching on strip of bacon. Actually, there may be a difference. The bacon is already dead when we eat it. The lettuce is still alive! Experiments from the 20th Century proved that plants experienced rudimentary reactions to things happening to them (such as leaves being trimmed).  The responses may be interpreted as emotional in nature, such as fear. More recently, it's been discovered that plants actually scream (Plants Really Do 'Scream' Out Loud; backup link).  Should we stop eating plants now too?

How far are we supposed to go to protect other live forms? Our bodies may be invaded by parasites, such as tape worm or malaria. These are also animals. Is it wrong for our bodies to defend themselves against these invaders?

Is it ok to kill bacteria? Our body kills millions (maybe billions or trillions) of bacteria throughout our lives. Are we to take a moral stand against that as well?

Bottom line, all life feeds off of other life to sustain itself. The only reason why members of groups like PETA try to protect certain types of life forms is because we as humans tend to identify with them. If a person makes a personal choice to not use other animals for any purpose (food, clothes or otherwise), that is their choice. However, they should not try to enforce their own beliefs on to others, especially when those beliefs are based on emotion instead of fact. PETA often reminds me of a religious cult whose god is the idea that animals are somehow more special than other life forms.

My own personal belief is that we should use animals to fulfill our needs. This should be balanced with some level of humane treatment to avoid unnecessary suffering. Additionally, I believe that humans are responsible for the proper care of animals we have domesticated for co-habitation (pets or labor animals), whether born as such or feral. But how far we go in these areas should not be determined by self-righteous organizations that do not have a clear foundation for their reasoning.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sci-Fi Tipping

I read a book one time that illustrated just how complex the math gets when figuring out a split dinner bill. In this book, calculating each person’s portions of a dinner bill was used as the drive for an interstellar space craft. Apparently, the math is so complicated that simply trying to figure it out is all it takes to move a ship thru space at ludicrous speeds. I forget which book exactly, but it is one of them in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.

I’m going into this because I got an email originally written by a former waitress that mentioned how to tip. Of course, being by a former waitress, it was complete nonsense. I replied with more correct rules for tipping. When I proofread my reply, it was so complex that it reminded me of that scene from Hitchhiker book. It goes something like this:

Statement: “4. For the love of GOD, leave a freakin’ decent tip. Look at your bill. The total bill including tax. Move the decimal point one place to the left and double that. There's your tip. Servers work very hard and get paid very little. Plus a lot of the cooler places pool tips which means what you leave goes in a big bucket and is divided between servers, bartenders, bussers, etc. You need to make up for the jerk wad who left $6 on his $50 bill.”

My reply: “Nope. This list must’ve been written by a waiter. Tip varies from place to place. $6 is a lot for a $50 bill in some areas (that’s well over 10%, which is common for many areas). In Silicon Valley, great or impressive service is 20%, and does NOT include the tax portion of the bill. Not-so-good to normal service is 15% of the dinner bill. Bad service is 5 to 10%, depending on just how bad. Service that is extensively rude or outright insulting is 0 to 5%, even if the meal is comp’d by the manager. However, the tip is based on service, not the food itself. Don’t punish the wait staff for the cook’s mistakes. Also, 15% of the wait staff’s tips often go to the bussers and greeters. Some people get lazy and multiply the sales tax by two to make that the tip, and this is fine too, but it depends on the area. The base CA rate is 6%, which means in some areas, doubling the tax is 12%. If the tip rate is 10% in that area, it’s fine, but if it’s 15%, that’s a bogus tip. Additionally, if the meal is comp’d or discounted, you tip based on what the full price would’ve been.”

Just as a side note, here was another person’s response: “Yes I remember working in the business and you get compensated for what you do. If you are stupid/forgetful/drunk (as most of us were in college) you get a crappy tip. Stop complaining and give good service, its your job. Oh yeah and when I was a cook, these bastards [on the wait staff] rarely split a sufficient amount of the tip. I just made the food right? It was they who carried it to a table 15 feet.”


Sufficiently confusing?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Evolution meets reality

The Theory of Evolution doesn’t exist as a counter to the bible or belief in gods.  It is founded upon geology, paleontology, archeology, biology, chemistry, etc.  It exists to provide common-sense, factual explanations of the evidence, as a result of using the principles upon which it stands, based on scientific discoveries made throughout the 17th to 21st Centuries.

In particular, discoveries in geology forced scientist to recognize that Earth is far older than stated by common interpretations of the bible.  These discoveries are summed up in a series of geological principles. Andrew MacRae of TalkOrigins states, “Most of these principles were formally proposed by Nicolaus Steno (Niels Steensen, Danish), in 1669, although some have an even older heritage that extends as far back as the authors of the Bible.  An early summary of them is found in Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, published in 1830-32, and does not differ greatly from a modern formulation.”

The principles are as follows:

  1. Principle of Superposition - in a vertical sequence of sedimentary or volcanic rocks, a higher rock unit is younger than a lower one. "Down" is older, "up" is younger.  This is more commonly called "Law of Superposition" nowadays.
  2. Principle of Original Horizontality - rock layers were originally deposited close to horizontal.
  3. Principle of Lateral Continuity - A rock unit continues laterally unless there is a structure or change to prevent its extension.
  4. Principle of Cross-cutting Relationships - a structure that cuts another is younger than the structure that is cut.
  5. Law of Included Fragments - a structure that is included in another is older than the including structure.
  6. The principle of "uniformitarianism" - processes operating in the past were constrained by the same "laws of physics" as operate today.  This particular principle is not longer viewed as a necessary factor of modern science, but was important for those who lived in a time when most people considered ancient myths as fact.

In science, a principle (or law) is a description of a phenomenon in a particular situation without considering the cause based on evidence.  Laws are commonly retested just as everything is in science.  If a scientist comes across evidence that seems to contradict a known principle or law, that scientist understands that the principle needs retesting to determine how their new data fits into the overall collection of observations.  For example, the principle of original horizontality basically says that sedimentary layers of rock in the ground must be laid horizontality.  However, many rock formations are made up of sedimentary layers that are nearly vertical.  Is the original horizontality wrong?  No.  The layers where originally laid horizontally. Shifts in the Earth’s crust caused the layers to be moved into a nearly vertical position long after they were laid.  This particular observation was a factor in allowing scientists to eventually discover Plate Tectonics.

What does this have to do with the Theory of Evolution?  Even before radioactive dating, these geological principles forced scientists to realize that the Earth must be at least millions of years old.  Further, fossils of life forms are present in various layers of rock.  The fossil record shows a progressive change in life forms on Earth over time.  There is no period in which every species (particularly plants and animal) exist at the same time.  This led curious minds to ask, what is the process for bringing about new species over time?  Creationism said that all creatures were created in the beginning, but the fossil record shows that species come into existence and died out over different and vast periods of time.

Enter Darwin’s exploration.  He studied modern examples of plants and animals, and understood the fossil record.  His research and publication led to the discoveries of evolution and natural selection.  Why does life change over time?  It evolves.  What is the main driving force of evolution?  It is natural selection.

Darwin didn’t actually create the Theory of Evolution.  A theory cannot be made by one person.  A theory is the working explanation for repeatable observations and predictions in nature that are supported by scientific evidence and verified multiple times by various groups of researchers via peer review processes.  To briefly paraphrase Karl Popper, scientific theories must have testability (ability to test the theory), falsifiability (test if the theory is false), or refutability (test if the theory is refutable).

Evidence collected and verified by this process throughout the 20th Century did nothing but continue to reinforce the Theory of Evolution.  The fossil record became more complete and understanding of genetics improved.  Richard Lenski states, “Using DNA sequences, biologists quantify the genetic similarities and differences among species, in order to determine which species are more closely related to one another and which are more distantly related.  In doing so, biologists use essentially the same evidence and logic used to determine paternity in lawsuits.  The pattern of genetic relatedness between all species indicates a branching tree that implies divergence from a common ancestor.”

In the 21st Century, new discoveries in biology are not only further proving evolution; they are actually using knowledge of evolution to make new discoveries, particularly in areas of battling diseases, as mentioned in the article “Antibiotics in Action” at Pharmaceutical Achievers.  In other words, the Theory of Evolution is practical science benefiting humankind directly.  This puts the Theory of Evolution in the same league as Universal Law of Gravitation, Music Theory, theories within Mathematics, and General Relativity.

So, why is this important?  The key difference between notions based on Creationism such as Intelligent Design and actual theories such as Evolution is in their value to science.  Intelligent Design is the end of knowledge. It cannot be tested. It leads to no further discoveries.  It does not improve our understanding of the world around us.  On the other hand, Theory of Evolution is the beginning of knowledge. It is a model of science being used in practical ways. It also leads to more discoveries with endless possibilities.  The value of Theory of Evolution is that is expands our knowledge.  Just as geology opened the door to discovering Evolution, Theory of Evolution is opening the doors to many other sciences involving biology, biotechnology, infectious diseases, genetics, environmentalism, farming, etc.  It leads to a better understanding of the world around us as a logical result of the many observations we make of that world.

Andrew MacRae
Karl Popper
Richard Lenski
Antibiotics in Action