Monday, December 31, 2007

Sunday, December 30, 2007

No profit from this I-told-you-so moment

It's many years late, and the longer it took, the worse things look. The housing-bubble has finally burst. Homes are just too expensive to be affordable to the average person trying to live a fruitful life. I remember having several different conversations with those in the real estate field a few years ago mentioning that this was a bubble and it was going to burst. I got the same know-it-all answer from each of them. "No [with a know-it-all-smile], after the demand has been satisfied, the housing market will stabilize and level off (or plateau or flatten). There will not be a decline." One person was so sold on this ridiculous and unhistorical notion that they rebuked me for not knowing anything about the market. Of course, I just laughed at that, illicitting a confused but still smug facial expression from that person.

In an inflation driven market based on free-market principles , the demand for supplies is never really flat. It cannot be. If there is a sustained reduction in demand, that is a sign of uncertainty and/or lack of necessity. If the demand flattens out, it is really already in decline. A stable market is one that has sustained modest growth. Well, the housing market never flattened. Prices had risen so high that the only direction to go for most areas is down. Exsurbs and isolated cities here in California have seen massive declines. Centers of activity have stabilized and are so far holding their own. These areas, however, are in the minority, and who knows how long that will last.

There's going to have to be a bail-out of the mess. I find it interesting just how Republican leadership is willing to bail-out industries in the past with wades of cash (e.g., Savings and Loan), yet now that the average American is going to be adversely effected directly, Republicans are too timid to respond to help. President Bush Jr.'s action so far is so limited in scope that it is only going to help an extremely small portion of those affected. And where are the Democrats? They are too timid to confront the Republican Party for its timidity.

This brings me to the point where I have to criticize a perception of our economy. Corporations are treated as though they are the most important element in our country, at times to the exclusion of the citizens' rights and welfare. A Corporation is an imaginary entity that only exists because a bunch of people agree the common fantasy. A Corporation doesn't really exist. If all of the employees and ownership walked away, it would cease to function and have no purpose. I question why a Corporation is viewed as more important than the individual humans that are apart of it, or even the citizenry at at large. Far too often, the Corporations are given massive privileges and leeway that are denied to actual voting citizens of our country. Human beings are treated as second class citizens when pitted against a Corporation. This is unconscionable and unconstitutional. Giving Corporations an elevated status is a flawed mindset that many neo-cons seem to believe in as though a religion of its own. Unfortunately, the mindset is quietly supported by many politicians, regardless of affiliation.

We have to stop putting imaginary entities ahead of our citizens. In fact, we have to stop victimization of our citizens by these Corporations. Victimization of the type that has lead to the current housing crisis at hand. It was also the cause of the Western U.S. power grid crisis during the Enron Embarassment.

So, I (and many others) ended up being right about this housing crisis. Unfortunately, I personally have no way of benefiting from it directly. As far as I know, there's no way to short-sell property with options as housing prices drop. I'm so invested in my current property, I can't really afford to buy into new property when the house prices hit bottom.

I'm not expert about anything I've mentioned here. Just one person that's seen all this before. I expected the housing crisis to hit much sooner and not so intensely. My mistake was not understanding how the sub-prime situation was allowing the housing bubble to grow much bigger than it would've had sub-primes been regulated much better. Hopefully the weakened economy will have enough support to keep it chugging along, even if at a slower right. I'm just kinda wish I had a way to get more benefit during this period.

Xmas things and stuff

Allie and I met Ronie and Fernado for breakfast this morning. It was good just to sit down and chat it up for awhile. We didn't get a change to do anything with them a bit closer to Christmas. They've been the host of several get-togethers over the past couple of years. We wanted to do something nice for them, so we put together a gift basket. We also insisted on paying for the meal, which lead to a somewhat comical attempt for them to pay half. It kinda felt like Allie's family when everyone fights over who gets to pay. I get a kick out of that, though I don't really understand it.

Christmas itself was fun. We spent time with Allie's family and with an Aunt of mine and then more time with Allie's family. I'm a little bummed that my friend Miriam had to cancel her get together today due to illnesses. Hopefully I'll get a chance to meet up with her soon, after she heals herself up. At least we got a chance to chat for awhile.

We did get a change to talk to my friend Dave this week. He's up in the Seattle area. Ya'no, I've had so many friends move out of the area. It's like, am I scaring everyone away? :) Or am I the grim ripper of California inhabitants; if I come into your life, you will be moving far away at some point? Well, that wouldn't be so true of Ronie and Miriam, and Allie too, but heck, it applied to Jenn, Jennifer, my parents, Dave and Little Miriam, my Ex, my Ex's mother, and her brother and new wife, and...that list is already too long and it doesn't include many I've lost contact with. (I miss you.) Its funny, I don't keep in touch with anyone I knew before 1997, but now its getting hard to keep in touch with many I've got to know since. I've been pretty up beat about this, but now that I'm writing it, it's a bummer.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Medical Myths and the Myths about those myths - Part 6 (woman decides the sex of her baby)

An old myth is that the woman decides the sex of her baby when she gets pregnant. Even today, some cultures still have this belief. So, what's the myth about this myth? When I was a child, I learned that it is the father that determines the sex of the baby. Of course, this is as big of a myth as believing the mother has control over this event.

The fact of the matter is that barring actual (and expensive) medical intervention, and for all practical purposes, the selection of a baby's sex is completely random. Neither the mother nor the father can make the selection through conscientious efforts.[1] There are many different and often bizarre myths surrounding conception, as an article at covers.[2]

Many different actions can be tried with to improve the chance of getting pregnant, but sex selection is still not directly in the hands of either parent. Granted, Y (male) sperm have been deemed weaker and can be more affected by a woman's pH balance more so than X (female) sperm, but more boys are born than girls on a world wide basis. Nature has already figured all this out for us, and if decision making has happened, it is a result of our species' evolution, and not preferences we conjure up in our own minds.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Creationist say what? Nothing?

Arguements for Christian creationist beliefs can often be summed up with one word, "nothing". The linked site is a classic example for creatisionist to attempt to prove evolution is somehow in doubt by scientists. It pretty much just takes a bunch of quotes out of context and pins them together to form what appears to be one cohesive argument against the validity of the Theory of Evolution. The main problem with this, of course, is that these are not valid references. They are quotes taken out of context from a diverse, unrelated, outdated and very often unauthoritative sources.

Many times, they quote from reputable publications, but don't make it clear that these quotes are of quotes by the source to argue against creationism. In other words, it is creationists quoting creationists. They try to make the creationist seem as though they are scientists that is lamenting evolution.

Another trick is they quote scientists of unrelated fields. I am amazed how often an oft-handed comment by Einstein or Steven Hawkins is quoted as proof that scientists question the Theory of Evolution.

They also grab quotes from newsletters or other unvetted periodicals and present them as though they were creditably published.

So, in the end, they are just quoting a bunch of random comments in a way the becomes original research of their own, finding a conclusion that in no way is reasonable if the whole of their sources are read.

Medical Myths and the Myths about those myths - Part 5 (reading in the dark is bad)

Another myth I have found to be false is the idea that reading in the dark, or otherwise straining your eyes can adversely affect your vision. According to a recent report, researchers have found no evidence that reading in dim light causes permanent eye damage. It can cause eye strain and temporarily decrease vision, but that subsides after rest.[1] Personally, I've never worried too much about what reading in the dark can do to my vision because it never made sense to me as to why it would have a permenant affect.

In fact, my own experience suggests that it is important to execise my eyes. Both my parents and my sister require glasses, having less than ideal vision. I've always tried to keep my eyes exercised. Until a few years ago, I never noticed any issues with my eye sight. Recently, I started noticing some imperfection in my sight, so I went into the eye doctor. Come to find out, vision in one of my eyes is 20/15, and it's 20/20 in the other. Apparently, my vision used to be in the 20/12 to 20/16 range. I was getting fussy about having lowly 20/20 vision. At times in the past, I doubted what I was doing. Now though, I at least have some sense of control regarding the health of my eyes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Medical Myths and the Myths about those myths - Part 4 (hair and nails grow after death)

A myth I didn’t hear about until sometime in the past ten years is that fingernails and hair grow after death. However, I never believed this myth because I heard it in the context of history and how people believed vampires in the past. They used to dig up graves of recently dead people to look for signs of undeath. They apparently often found such signs in the form of what appeared to be hair and nail growth on a corpse. Please note that I personally am not 100% convinced this is the source of the myth because this directly contradicts a similar vampire evidence story (myth?) about people in the Dark Age believing bloated bodies of the recently dead was a sign of a vampire. Not to mention the fact that one of the beliefs about vampires is that if fed with blood, they return to the physical form from the point they become a vampire (meaning their hair can't grow). [How's that for talking on myths about myths? :-)]

The fact is, as I’ve heard from many difference sources by now, the body’s skin dries out sometime after a person dies. As it does so, it shrinks. The nails and hair remain in place, so it can appear as though they grow because they protrude farther out from the skin. That said, I would still guess it is possible the nails and hair do grow a tiny bit right after death, though they certainly do not continue to grow once all body functions stop.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Movie: I am Legend

I haven't been excited for a film in awhile. I was mildly excited to see I am Legend. I know the story from its previous incarnations and was looking forward to a big budget version that would do it justice. Though I enjoyed much of the film, I found that is lacked a strong story.

The movie is based on a book by the same name. Also, several low budget or independent movies have been made based on this book. This version deviated from the book and the other versions in some ways that seemed necessary, but in other ways, made this movie weaker than other versions. I will say I feel that if the movie would've followed the book, the movie would've been boring. Granted, the book does make excellent social commentary. With that said, it is not one of the better books written in the realm of fiction. I am of the sort that thinks if a movie can be made better than the work upon which it is based, then it should be. In this case, I will say that the movie was well paced. Choices in differences in the plot from the book through much of the movie were good.

However, not enough effort was given to the ending. Where the movie deviates from the book the most (the ending) is perhaps where it should've stuck to the original story more. The whole reason for the title "I am Legend" is that main character becomes as scary to the new vampire civilization in the new world as vampires are scary to us in our world now; deep social commentary. Instead, with this movie, there's a simple ending that doesn't do the rest of the movie any justice and ended up making this movie seem like a prequel to 28 Days Later (which, in my opinion, is a better film). At the end, I was like, "It's over already? That sucks." The voice-over by the heroine at the ended made an attempt to explain the movie title with the movie ended, though this was a very weak attempt at that.

One other point, the CGI was very weak and dated. It felt cartoony.

Movie: The Namesake

There was enough interest generated in The Namesake movie during its release, Allie and I felt it was worth renting it now. The movie is about an Indian family living their lives out in America. I was disappointed by this movie. Cinematography was annoyingly inconsistent. Some scenes gave too much space above or below the actors. Others where just simply centered on the scene itself, without much regard to where the actors actually were in the scene. Acting was good sometimes, but shoddy at other times.

Some of the scenes lost importance because the acting wasn't up to par. This one scene where the father is trying to have a conversation about life with his son didn't work at all because Kal Penn was trying so hard to be the teenage with angst that it actually distracted from the moment instead of making the moment what it was meant to be (and needed to be) for the film. I would say it was a case of overacting, but I think a better word for it is wrong-acting. Also, other scenes suffered from a lack of acting effort.

Editing was not well conceived or executed. The flashbacks of Gogol's character (Ken Penn) came off as just cheesy. Some scenes were awkwardly cut in order to hold off on that portion of the story until later in the movie. This, unfortunately, made the movie seem like it dragged on, with random spatterings of story telling. Overall, the story felt disjointed, without much reason for why it was edited this way.

The story itself meandered from point to point. There was no real main character, though it was supposed to be Gogol. Most of the movie seemed aimless. Character motivation was poorly executed. Again, Gogol's character kinda just took action that didn't really have a solid explanation. It made the character seem extremely superficial, even as he faced up to his heritage (which I am sure was an unintentional impression by the film maker). Well, either way the story wasn't well written.

The movie appeared to be a jumbled mess. I can't understand what many of the critics saw in this movie. It was a lackluster attempt to show something didn't really end up being all the important to the story (why the main character was named Gogol). This movie seemed to be an independent film for which the big studios wisely did not waste their money. I'm sure I would've cared about this movie more were I of Indian background, but even then I would have to admit it was not an example of good film making.

Medical Myths and the Myths about those myths - Part 3 (cutting hair makes is grow back thicker)

"Myth: Shaved hair grows back faster, coarser and darker."

My own experience on this is that it is partially true. It’s not a complete myth. Studies have shown that shaving doesn’t affect hair in that way. Nor do I think the act of trimming hair causes it to grow back thicker and coarser. I do think that how the skin surrounding the hair is treated does have significant impact. I did my own quasi-scientific study on myself when I was an adolescent. In an attempt to grow more hair body hair (being an adolescent trying to speed up the maturity process), I rubbed the skin on my chest aggressively over a period of a few months or so. In the oft chance to see if what I was doing would work, I rubbed one side of my chest more often then the other side. Having seen no immediate hair growth, I stopped this practice. It was about a year later I noticed the results. As hair did start to grow in, it only grew in where I had rubbed my skin months before. Yes, the hair on my chest grew in with the pattern I used to rub my skin. Even today, the thickest portion of my chest hair still vaguely matches the initial pattern I establish during my adolescence.

Another example of the effect of skin treatment is more recent. Although I’m not rapidly balding, I’ve always had a high and somewhat asymmetric hair line at the corners on my forehead. A few years ago, I learned that DHT levels in the skin and body can influence hair growth. It can cause hair to grow in some parts of the body. It can also cause a receding hairline on a man’s forehead too. I started a passive search for products that could affect DHT levels in the skin. In that search, I discovered Nioxin. The brand makes a claim that its shampoo can wash away DHT from the scalp. I tried it. I didn’t see any immediate results. Eventually, I decided to just to use it up. After about six months or so, I kinda started noticing what appeared to be new tiny baby hairs at the edge of my hairline. I decided to try Nioxin out for another few months. I bought more and kept using it. Over the next year, I noticed the hair growing back even more. Now, we aren’t talking about thick new grass on the field. I did perceive the start of a recovery of what I have lost over the past decade.

After awhile, I mentioned to Allie that I noticed a difference. She didn’t believe me. Then one day, she’s looking at me while we are snuggling and all of a sudden she was all like, “Is this all new?” with an amazed look on her face as she ran her fingers along my hairline. At first, I thought she was just she was trying to stroke my ego, so I challenged the comment. But I know her. She’s not the girly type that does that sort of thing. She was being genuine. Since then, my hairline has evened out a bit, and continues to recover at a slow pace.

So, from my own person experiences I can say cutting hair doesn’t change it, but how you treat the skin surrounding the hair does definitely impact it, though it takes a long time.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Medical Myths and the Myths about those myths - Part 2 (Eight glasses of water)

As a child, I remember learning that humans need to drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Nowadays, I consider this complete lunacy. In the past year, I saw one “expert” on TV have the balls to say that everyone walks around in constant state of dehydration because we don’t take in enough water. Huh? I don't know about that guy, but in American, there's not too many water-zombies waking around seeking out sources of water to quench their thirsts. I’ve even heard several “experts” declare that we should drink water way beyond the quenching of the thirsty feeling. Again, HUH? I actually did try to drink 8 glass of water for a period of time. Two things happened. First, my body often screamed at me to STOP! Second, there was no difference my health while I was doing this than before doing this or since I stopped.

So, in a poor effort to debunk this myth, it can be argued that the statement should be instead of water, we should be drinking eight glasses of fluid. Again, this is semantics since by fluid, one means water mixed other substances. Technically, mercury is a fluid, but I’d never want anything to drink that. This does mean we don’t need to actually drink all that fluid. We can get our required water in the foods we eat and other types of drinks, such as tea or orange juice. However, I still contend the requirement for eight glasses of fluid or just water is still a bit ridiculous. I’ve never seen a factually supported statement anywhere that says eight glass of anything is required for our health. I consider both the eight glass of water myth to be just crazy. I also consider the attempts to debunk the myth to be its own myth.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Medical Myths and the Myths about those myths - Part 1 (10% of your brain)

There’s a lot of interesting medical myths in pop cultural. However, from my perspective, the myths about these myths can be even more interesting. It was reported that the British Medical Journal [1] recently covered the topic of popular culture medical myths. There are many scientific attempts to debunk them. However, I find these explanations for things are themselves myths of sorts. So, here starts a new series of postings where I skim the surface of the myths and the myths about these myths.

As a child, I remember learning that humans only use 10 percent of our brains. This was stated as fact to me by my parents and from many other sources. I now know this is false, in a manner of speaking. I often find the explanation for why it is false to be a little dubious. Often the sited evidence as to why it is false is based on MRI or PET scans that show no dormant areas within our brains. Why is this suspect to me? Well, even though the myth states we only use 10% of our brains, it doesn’t say anything about dormitivity.

Sure, we do use most of our brains over the course of our many experiences in our live. However, at no moment is our entire brain ever fully engaged. In fact, many areas of the brain do have reduced activity. We still have access to these areas when we need them, but when we don’t need them they are not functioning to full capacity. For example, a recent study suggests the reason people think time slows down during extremely frightening experiences is because an area of the brain called the amygdale becomes more active at that time, laying down more memories during those kinds of events in our lives.[2] The presumption from comparing this information with the debunking comments is that we don’t use all of our brain capacity all the time and that their explanation for debunking the 10 percent brain myth is not complete.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Herostratic fame of Mass Murders

I’m not expert on suicide. My life has been touched by it only vaguely (though I do have one direct encounter with a person who later committed suicide). I do know suicide happens all the time.  People seek this path for various reasons. Given this is a touchy subject; I will focus my comments on the fame seekers, particularly those who commit mass killings and then take their own life.

As morbid as it is, there are people who seek posthumous fame. Sometimes this happens by copycats in certain social circles (such as schools) after the suicide of one person gets a lot of attention. Other times there is an act to get back at society for some perceived wrong. These people seek herostratic fame (fame by doing something horror).

The first great example recorded in history was committed by Herostratus the Ephesian in B.C. 356 when he burned down the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. His name is from where the term herostratic fame comes. When tortured, he confessed he did the deed to immortalize himself. The Ephesians then passed a decree condemning his name to oblivion in order to discourage further such fame seeking attempts. We only know of Herostratus because an ancient historian did mention his name.

Of course in modern times, we have what are called mass murders. These are individuals or groups that typically kill a lot of people in a suicidal attack. There is usually some sort of fame being sought by such people in one fashion or another. In the case of the recent attack by a shooter in Omaha, the killer wrote a suicide letter that specifically expressed his expectation to be famous after committing his heinous deed.

With this incident, mass media is finally questioning the action of publishing the names of these mass murders. A recent AP article sited a media analyst who stated that the media enabled the mass murderer to get his fame posthumously. Additionally, recent articles also have talked about the fact that the new generation growing up right now places much more importance on fame than any previous generation in America.

I personally think it is time for the media to show restraint. It is important to report horrendous events. However, I don’t know the killer. Knowing his name doesn’t change what the killer did, nor does it help me to come to terms with the event. So, why give that person the attention they crave? Why encourage further acts by other persons who are borderline. Right now, someone contemplating a similar act is emboldened by the reporting by the press about the Omaha killer.

Don’t give immortality to individuals who think it can be achieved by committing horrible deeds. One more advantage is that denying immortality to such individuals actual shows respect for the victims and their families. Giving fame to the killer is a bit like dancing on the grave of their victims.

Now, there a disadvantages to keep the name from the public. We live in the Information Age. Speculation would run rampant if names were withheld from the general public. Also, this wouldn’t discourage killers who are more interested in the act of killing rather than fame from it. So, I’m not suggesting mass murders should be completely nameless in the public forum. I suggest that the mass media itself should not name them. I think it is foolish to try to completely expunge a person’s name from the record. If someone wishes, they could look at public records for the name. If a blogger wishes, they can publish the name themself. Either way, only someone who is interested need find the information. There is no sense in feeding the information to everyone, to which knowing the name is pointless. I think this would help discourage people from seeking herostratic fame by the committing of suicidal mass murders or other gruesome deeds.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fruitcake for Xmas

According to a recent Reuters report, a Christian biologist is suing Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for firing him because he believes against evolution (claiming civil liberties violation). This Christian "biologist" is now working for Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. This strikes me as a bit convenient. This guy gets a job at a respected institute and then reveals he believes against scientific fact after he's hired, and is now working at a religious institution? Hmm, sounds like a set up to me. I wouldn't be surprized if he applied at all the major places hoping to catch a big fish to bring this issue up (knowing that Liberty University or something similar would be available for him to fall back on). He prolly was already conspiring with his religious buddies before he even went to college to get his degree in biology.
Sorry to disappoint, a person who believes against scientific fact does not get protection under the Constitution and modern Civil Liberties as a protected class when it comes to a job that needs acknowledgement of scientific fact in order to perform required tasks, nor is someone that conspires against reality. A person can be fired for what they choose to say Not to mention the fact that believing against scientific fact precluded him from being able to perform his job at a scientific institution!
In good conscience, I don't know how he could call himself a biologist. I would go so far as to note that his biologist degree doesn't have validity if he decries the basis upon which it was based. If he really does believe against scientific fact, he should return his degree to the institution which issued it to him and obtain a new degree in Religious Studies or something.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Poem Train

Finding a website where one can get honest feedback about their poetry works is very hard. So many websites either want to sell you something or are just a bunch of ads. Many moons ago, I discovered a website called Poem Kingdom. The site offered a forum for anyone to submit their works to show off, get basic review by peers, or serious critical review by other poets. That site is now long gone, but a newer site now stands in its place. This new site is even harder to find. It is built around the same basic principle though. That site is Poem Train. Anyone interested in reading poetry or in having their poetry read should at least take a look at this site to see what it has to offer. It is free. There's even a contest, though that's not really the point of the website. Because of all the spam sites out there, it is hard to find, hence the reason I am talking about it here. Enjoy!

Speaking of outter space, here's some space cadets!

I like the guy that claims, "[It's] for show for the kids." LOL Right. :)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Random thought

A great invention would be microwave emission energy conveyance from geosynchronous orbit satellites which is save to ground based inhabitants. This would change everything. No more powerlines needed. Just launch a huge power plant into space and have it beam energy directly where it is wanted.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Red light

Allie was driving to her parents place today. I was in the car too. At
this one intersection, the light changed green for us, so she went. She
started off a bit slower than normal. As we crossed the center of the
intersection, I noticed a car travelling a full speed in the perpendicular
direction on our right. My instinct was to just exclaim "Shit shit shit"
and feel around for the best way to prepare for the impending collision.
Thankfully, Allie picked up on my queues. At the last second she was able
to slow down enough to honk and let the guy zoom by us. She wanted to turn
around and go after the guy, but I was like, "There's nufin we can do; no
point since we didn't actually hit 'em. We can't report him cuz the cops
can't do anything since there was no accident. Just got to let it go as
just one of those things."
She didn't like that, but we continued on. The idiot who ran the light did
slow down to look back without stopping. I don't think he even realized he
was at fault.
Sent with SnapperMail

Late to The Sims 2 party

I'm a bit late to The Sims 2 party. I bought the game aeons ago, but didn't start playing till last month. It is social engineering at its most basic form. When I used to play the original The Sims, there was an eye opener moment when it hit me, "Hey! It really does kina work like that in real life!" Of course, later comes the thought, "What if some controller is running my life the way I'm running the lives of these Sims?" lol One good thing, the game keeps reminding me that I need to work out in some way to keep in shape. Ironic that the game keeps you from working out while reminding you that you should. :0

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Shocking statistics, the horror! Doctors handwriting are not killing 7000 people annually [updated 2016]

Handwriting, © Matthew Lorono 2016
In a article this year [2007], TIME Magazine reported that "doctors' sloppy handwriting kills more than 7,000 people annually."  That sounds shocking.  It is sad that 7000 people die unnecessarily each year for any reason.  The problem with this statistic is that it is not accurately stated.  Worse yet, this inaccuracy is based on a nine year old report.  Here's the clincher, the TIME Magazine article was promoting a particular device which claimed to be the solution to the supposed issue of doctors' sloppy handwriting.
What is an accurate statement? Metro News reported that according to the Institute of Medicine (article)(backup link), there was a 1998 study that found 7000 deaths occurred each year from all medication-related errors from all sources.
"Moreover, while errors may be more easily detected in hospitals, they afflict every health care setting: day-surgery and outpatient clinics, retail pharmacies, nursing homes, as well as home care. Deaths from medication errors that take place both in and out of hospitals – more than 7,000 annually – exceed those from workplace injuries."[001] 
It appears that the IOM report actually didn't discuss handwriting as serious issue at all.  Of more concern was the problem of inaccurate prescriptions and incorrect doses by caregivers (hospitals, nursing homes, etc).  FDA stated the following in their report Strategies to Reduce Medication Errors: Working to Improve Medication Safety:
"In response to the IOM's report, all parts of the U.S. health system put error reduction strategies into high gear by re-evaluating and strengthening checks and balances to prevent errors."[002] (backup)
So, the US health system had already started to take the appropriate actions to address the real problems.  All the while, the real problems are completely ignored by the TIME article.  The issue of inaccurate reporting on this topic is especially egregious in light of the recent news regarding Dennis Quaid's twins (backup link) who were accidentally seriously overdosed with a medication at their hospital.

I've found inaccuracies, such as those found in the TIME article, so common that I seek out the source material before accepting claims of news articles that purportedly reference scientific studies.  Overall, I look at the mass media with an open yet critical eye.

Since this article was originally written in 2007, we've seen the end of handwritten prescriptions.  It's not even necessary to have any slip of paper at all.  Everything is handled in cyberspace (or on the cloud, as it is often termed these days).  Some places are enacting laws that require electronic prescriptions.[003] (backup) Personally, I've not carried a prescription as slip of paper in years.  Even in 2007, the idea of a device to resolve the issue of doctor handwriting seemed shortsighted, and hindsight seems to have confirmed those doubts.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 8

Allie really wanted to go to the pools today. She was afraid I was too burned to venture out. I just told her I'd cover up and have a lot of sun lotion on. We got to the pool area and got some extra towels. When I was relaxing in the patio chairs, I just had the towel over me. I did feel comfortable with going on short inner tube underwater slide a few times, and spend some time in the pool. Allie spent a lot of time in the pool. It very relaxing time. Not too much else happened this day. We did have dinner for too much money at one of the higher end buffets again. Mostly, I just wanted a chill day because the next day was going to be the long trip back home.

Overall, Atlantis turned out to not be worth the money. It was fun and all. It's just not as valuable as it costs. Plus, spending 8 days there is just too long. 4 days would've been better. But from California, travelling a whole day to go somewhere and a whole day back, 4 days isn't long enough. Given that, it's not worth going to Atlantis if coming all the way from California.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Information Age and Fine Art

One thing about the new Information Age that we live in is that all the collections of art and information from all times previous is now literally at our fingertips. One such example is the fact that accurate replicas of ancient (and more recent too) art is available on eBay. One eBay store in particular is Artmasterworks that produces replicas that even capture the paint stroke of the original works on canvas for prices that are easily half that of simple replica prints just a few years ago. I haven't ordered any myself yet, but there's a couple I have my eye on.

I started seeing this type of replica in the art stores a few years ago. I'm not sure how long they've been available, but the fact that are available does amaze me a bit.

Ordinary, Not So (stream of consciousness)

Looking at the past, the whole first quarter of my life seems to be as though I was not the person I was supposed to be. It invariably was essential for me to live that portion of my life to become who I am today. Though, it seems I should’ve been able to develop much faster to be me sooner. I know what was holding me back. I know why. It was really something holding me back too. My experiences where indeed limited by my willingness to venture out of the safe cave. When I finally did, it was one wild ride, as though I was being taking along a course to catch me up with where I was supposed to be. I'm living an ordinary life with not so ordinary events that got me here.

Now that I’m well into the second quarter of my life, I am comfortable with who and where I am. Maybe I am too comfortable. I like who I am. I know a lot of people wouldn’t though. I tend to ignore the little things, not taking others seriously when they trip up over them. Little mistakes amount to nothing in my mind, yet for some reason some others hold them over my head. On the other hand, I’m more concerned by the big picture, where others don’t seem to notice or care. I feel limited by my lack of resources to affect the big picture to improve things for everyone. Now that I’ve come this far, it seems I know I have so much farther to go, but can’t seem to find the path. Am I trying? It’s hard when the day-to-day distracts. How does one start something big when the space of time left between the little things is barely enough to recover from having to take care of the little things? Hell, what would I set out to do if I had the resources? I know enough to know I don’t know enough. I do know I’m not into fighting for causes. Too often, those are too focused on too little.

I want to make the world just a little better than how it was when I entered it. Some sort of legacy. Maybe for the time being this is why I write this blog with its articles about so many different topics, from astrophysics to specific details of my own life, from the politically incorrect to religious foolishness, from dreams had to hopes yet to be realized. And yet, there is so much I don’t write about. My words in this site are the tip of the iceberg. There are memories of loss that I dare not pen down. There are experiences that most would not understand that I don’t bother to explain. And there’s mundane details of my daily life that wouldn’t be worth talking about, even on my most bored of days. (I also don’t write about details of my work.)

I’m not asking “is this all there is?”, but I am wondering how I can make more of what I have. It’s almost as though the great adventure is behind me so many years go. I am a better person now, but does that buy me a more difficult task, or a period of reprieve? I don’t ask about the meaning of life. Knowing that doesn’t make life any more meaningful. (What is the meaning of life? To live.) There’s the feeling that perhaps there’s an unfulfilled promise or perhaps some task left undone. Or perhaps I’m impatient. I do have what I want at this point. What is there for me to complain about? Perhaps the choices before me from this point on preclude each other once I take the steps towards one? I want all aspirations to be fulfilled, but feel only one can be pursued at a time.

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 7

Did I mention I got a major sunburn on our speed boat adventure the other day? It was across my back, my shoulders, belly, and around my legs. It wasn't any deep burns, but it was intense. There was minor blistering that would appears in spots and heal up in a short time as the burns went through the healing process. Par for the course for my white ass. The only issue on this day was that as part of the healing process, a lot of my burns went through the itchy phase all at the same time. I feel like I had it mostly under control. I know not to scratch the itches with fingernails, but I still had to scratch by gently rubbing with fingers. I had to take a couple of cool showers to help too. Between all this, Allie and I did do some exploring around resort again. Some portion of the day was also occupied by applying aloe cream to the burns. In fact, this was also part of the fun from the previous day too.
Here's the amazing part. I wanted to get burned to some degree. I kinda like getting the freckles, especially across the back of my shoulders. It's kinda like a cheetah pattern. ::Growl:: hehehe
Allie, with her darker skin, went through the itchy stage of her burns on the previous day sooner, and I took care of her. So on this day, she took care of me.

Our plan for the evening was to rent a hotel movie that was recently in the theaters, and have a room service dinner. Well, room service fell through and blow the plan for the evening away. I was not happy. We ended up going to one of the rest'rants in the Marina (which is part of the resort). Having the evening plans blown, I later complained to the front desk. We ended up getting the Marina meal comp'd.
Did I mention that Atlantis kinda turned out to be a disappointment? It's a good place, but not nearly worth the money. I'm perfectly willing to pay for high end items and experiences, but when I do so, I will want to get my money's worth. I don't really feel Atlantis lives up to the hype or is worth the costs. The grounds of the resort are great, but do not come up to the level that even comes close to making the expense seem earned.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 6

The rain fell for much of the Saturday. We lounged around, and explored the resort. For the evening, we planned to go to the high end rest'rant in the Great Hall of Waters. The rest'rant was very nice. Surprisingly, the food was great. We've been a bit disappointed by Caribbean cuisine so far. Of course, this was likely the most expensive rest'rant on the island. We still had the issue of not really being able to tell who was assigned to wait our table. We settled in on making sure we got the attention of one particular assistance waiter. It's called the Great Hall of Waters because one side is the aquarium from The Dig. It is huge and beautiful. The night flew by quickly, so after dinner, we headed back up the room and called it a day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SolidWorks Blog (more self-promotion)

Well, I've been busy recently building a new blog. It's not a personal site. It is a professional blog that is a collaboration between myself and currently two others. The topics will cover anything that is even remotely related to the 3D CAD application SolidWorks. We are getting ready for launch, sometime after Thanksgiving. The site is here: SolidWorks Legion. This has been in the works for awhile now, too long in fact. Now that I have a body of material to discuss before the big SolidWorks World 2008 conference in January, which I will be attending for the first time. All this to advance my contacts and career.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 5

This is the day I had planned for awhile. We had a speed boat ride to a private island in The Exumas. The Exumas are a large group of tiny islands about an hours ride south of New Providence. The ride to the islands where fun. We made a quick 30 minute stop at a very small island with a rare and protected species of iguana. The staff gave us grapes and had everyone feed the iguanas by putting the grapes on sticks and holding them out. Those critters were everywhere. Supposedly the island had over a thousand iguana, but I my estimate is that no more than a hundred were on the tiny beach with us. It funny, in the U.S., a protected species means you steer clear, neither help nor hinder. I guess in the Bahamas, it means you keep the species alive by giving the critters a daily meal that in no way could be mistaken as part of their natural diet. :)

We then hopped back on the speed boat for a quick and thrilling ride to the main island where we'd be staying for the day. I had the impression that the island would be a bit bigger. Part of the trip was to provide snorkelling opportunities, but this turned out to be a 1/4 mile guided water tour that required everyone to walk back up to the beach to get back to the main area. I settled for some close to the beach snorkelling instead. The main problem is that the they operators tried to cram too much adventure into one location. See, they organized a stingray feeding (more feeding of wild animals. OK, stingrays aren't terribly dangerous. But they capped off the fun with a shark feeding. So, that was a thrill to watch too, but here's the rub. They where feeding the sharks on the same beach where we were relaxing and swimming. Hmmm. Well, Allie wasn't much up for snorkelling under those conditions. I spent some time in the water, but spent most of my time on the beach relaxing in the sun. I'll say it was great to be somewhere away from the crowds. It was not a relaxing as I had hoped for though.

The ride back was met with more aggressive driving of the speed boat by the staff. They took 1 hour to get to the private island, but shoot for 45 minutes on the return. The ride was wet and bumpy. It was fun for a little bit, but then got old quick. The speed boat adventure trip was fun, but didn't live up to expectations, as I was finding true for the Bahamas in general.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 4

Thursday was the day I had planned to go to the main part of Nassau. The plan was to spend the afternoon and perhaps evening there. We took a small ferry across the channel from Paradise Island to Downtown Nassau. There was a tour guide of sorts on the ferry who talked about the Bahamas and Nassau and some of the mansions that were visible from the boat on Paradise Island throughout the ferry's 15 minute ride. Sarcasm may not be noted except by those who've taken the same ferry before, so I'll say directly that but I'm being sarcastic.
Once in Nassau's downtown we headed for a Starbucks to get some iced tea because it was hot. The Starbucks is right next to the ferry docking area. (I'd dare not actually call the point a dock. It is simply a spot where it looks like a good place for the boats to stop.) After Starbucks, we headed to Bay Street. Bay Street is the main tourist shopping spot in Nassau. As such, it was crammed with traffic, had very poor air quality, and felt as safe as a bad side of town in any large American city. After about an hour of this and some very minimal shopping, we decided to just head back to Atlantis.
On the ferry ride back, there was another supposed tour guide. The tour guides were entertaining. They worked for tips only. They were also completely unnecessary. Once back at Atlantis, we tried to spend the rest of the day at the pools, but the outdoor services all closed at 6pm (just as we got out there), so we decided finish exploring the Resort grounds, including having a rather expensive buffet dinner.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 3

We headed to the pools. Actually, the main goal was to get on the river ride. I forget what it is called. It starts out high up in this tower. You get in your innertube and go down this long tubular water slide. Once you are through the slide, you can meander in your innertube along the river ride's many courses. Some points are kinda rapid, and other are chill. If you want, you don't have to get out of your innertube to start over at the top of the tower. There's a conveyor that takes you right back up for another drop. I would have pictures of Allie and mine adventure on this ride, sep we haven't taken the waterproof deposable camera in to have the water shots developed.

In the evening, we explored the Marina and had dinner at one of its rest'rants that supposedly offered local flavors. I know we didn't have much in the way of authentic local food, but what we did have didn't inspire. I believe I can safely say neither Allie or myself are going to go crazy over Bahamian cooking.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

"The Bible Way to Heaven"

The North Valley Baptist Church just recently left a little card stuffed into my front door. I must say at this point, all these religious people forcing their personally delivered junk mail through the door crack is annoying, and bad for my door frame's paint. If you feel you must leave something, just do what everyone else does and leave the item at my door step.

OK, so this card has a message. On one side, there's a directive to "Join us this Sunday!" for "Helpful Bible Teaching", "Christian Friendships", and "Exciting Gospel Singing". There's a picture of a life preserver with a sailboat in the background. The life preserver says "Lifeline Bible Class". There's also a lovely photo of what I guess to be the pastor and his family. Another photo below that shows what I guess to be the congregation that meets in "Room 214" at church. The only critical comments I'm going to say about this side of the card is that it is specifically geared to someone who is already Christian, yet most of the people in my neighborhood are more likely Buddhist, Hindu, other or nothing at all. The church isn't doing a good job at targeted marketing. It's the back side of the card that really drives this point home though.

On the back, there's 4 points that I guess are meant to cause someone to pray. At the end of the last point is a sample prayer. So, here's the review:

Point 1: "Recognize your condition". It quotes Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Then it makes an assumptive insult, "No one is good enough to go to Heaven on his own merit. No matter how much good we do, we still fall short." To someone that doesn't recognize Christian mythology (namely Buddhists, Hindus and other), this first point is both pointless and insulting. First, it assumes everyone has detailed knowledge of the Christian Heaven. It then says "Hey, you suck!" to anyone that wants to get into this Heaven. But, it assumes that anyone would want that. Without knowing much about it, I'm sure most readers of this card could care less. The card itself offers no reason to care, and in fact would put off some people from wanting anything to do with the Christian Heaven.

Point 2: "Realize the penalty for sin". It quotes Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death..." It then makes a barely comprehensible statement, "Just as there are wages for good, there is punishment for wrong." Who gets paid for being good? Is this some one's job? If so, I want in on the deal! Wow, can you imagine getting a nice big, fat paycheck each week just for helping old ladies to cross the street? Of course, this is a nonsensical statement to try to draw some sort of contrast out of the bible quote. It continues, "The penalty for our sin is eternal death in a place called Hell." That's funny. Whoever wrote this card previously assumed a universal familiarity with the Christian Heaven, but now presumes a complete universal ignorance of the Christian Hell! It does all this by skewing the words of Romans 6:23 way beyond their intended meaning too! Romans Chapter 6 is speaking of one's life and death in a spiritual metaphoric sense (that is, you are called alive if you believe in Jesus, and you are called death if you don't). It's not talking about a literal life or death condition. If one finishes reading verse 23 one will find, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." This is obviously a metaphor since almost all Christian religions believe that one must die (in one way or another) in order to get to Heaven, so one's life cannot be literally eternal. It's funny how they didn't quote that part of the verse at this point, instead opting for dot dot dot (...) to leave the reader with the wrong impression.

Point 3: "Believe Christ died for you". It again quotes the book of Romans at 5:8 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Commendeth again? hehehe Again, they aren't doing a good job of knowing their audience. Most people in this neighborhood are not impressed by the gratuitous use of older English since they know English as a second language. Now about their comment, "Christ's great love for us was shown when He died on the cross to pay our sin debt." Huh? OK, here's the deal, when a Christian capitalizes a pronoun like "He", it means they think they are talking about God. So, Christ is God? God died? Why would God need to kill Himself (or allow Himself to be killed), effectively committing suicide? Wouldn't He just use his power to make things right without killing anyone? Why is suicide the solution to having a "sin debt" paid. Should I handle my credit card debt this way? What is sin anyway? This isn't explained by the card at all. It makes it seem like everyone sins and that sinning is bad. However, there is no qualification for what sin is. Even less explained is "sin debt".

Point 4: "Trust Christ alone as your Savior" It quotes the rest of Romans 6:23 (notice how it does this out of order to try to make the bible seem like it is saying something which is really isn't) "...But the gift of god is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." It then immediately quotes Romans 10:13 (again, out of order) "For whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." The comment on the card is, "Everlasting life is a gift purchased by the blood of Jesus and offered freely to those who call upon Him by faith." I'm not so sure I'd put my faith in anyone that thinks suicide is a solution for anything. Besides that, everlasting life is not desired by the Buddhist or the Hindu who are more focused on living each life in succession to be free from this world once and for all (including both its associated "heaven" and "hell" attributes).

I guess the writer of the card thought they moved the holy spirit (a Christian reference that isn't important if you aren't/weren't a Christian) into the person reading the card because they had the audacity to put a prayer at the end. "Let us help you word a prayer (Realize it's not mere words that save, but your faith in Jesus Christ)". Here's my prayer "Dear Lord!" That sentence has so much arrogance and assumption piled in it, it's hard to pin down a single point to criticize effectively. I'll just say that the card is too poorly written to do what its writer thinks it is supposed to do. The prayer only compounds this, so I'm not going to bother quoting it.

This card is a classic example of what most Christians think. 1. Everyone wants what they want. 2. Their path is the only way to get what they think everyone wants. 3. Other belief systems have so little merit, people caught up in those systems are looking for a way out of them. 4. Simply talking about their faith (no matter how poorly or incoherently) is enough to convince others that their particular version of Christianity is the right (and only) way to live. 5. The bible has all the answers to describe this life path even though they don't research (instead of just reading) it themselves.

So sad. The truth is that this card only remotely has a chance at catching a positive response from someone who already identifies themself as Christian. This is a sort of cannibalism among the Christian faiths. They don't know how to talk to non-Christians in order to attract them to join because they are so caught up in their image of this world and have so little understanding of others within it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Some of our Photos from Atlantis

Photobucket Album

This photo album spans the eight days we spent at the Atlantis Resort. I'll have more day by day journal entries in my blog about our honeymoon over the next two weeks.

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 2 (Part 3)

As night approached, Allie and I arrived at Fathoms. Allie kept calling it Phantoms. Fathoms is one of the high end rest'rants at the Atlantis Resort. After a short wait, we where seated. We were approached by one waiter. I ordered a sparkling water of a particular brand. I didn't realize that I had mispronounced it in a way that sounded like pinot grigio. The waiter asked if I wanted two glasses or a bottle. I was like, "A bottle." This excited him. As he walked away, his question confused me because the misunderstanding wasn't obvious to me yet.  
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We where approached by two other waiters. All three waiters said the same thing when they came over, "I'm sorry that you've waited so long. May I get you a drink?" Well, we didn't really ever wait long at that point yet. :)
Anyway, Allie hear me misspeak, and we where both a bit puzzled, so it soon it me that he thought we ordered wine, instead of sparkling water. Fortunately, we got that fixed. Though it is ironic that I did end up ordering a glass of the pinot for myself with the meal.
Fathoms has a nice atmosphere. Two of the main walls are windows to The Dig Aquarium. They've got the most massive Sting Rays I've ever seen in the Aquarium.
The main courses where great, but the appetizer was surprisingly not so good. Lobster, crab, mussel and other critters where prepared local style. It really wasn't to our taste.
At the end, I was almost, but not quite hit with sticker shock with a nearly $300 bill. About 1/3 of these was the apetizer that we didn't enjoy much. Otherwise, the rest was worth it. We tried to take pictures of us within the dining area, but it was too dark. We ended up taking the above pic in the bar.

We had a nice, restful night in our new room.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

EWWWWWW! (Now I know who does this!)

He just ate ear wax!!! Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww Eww ...EEWWWWWWWWW!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 2 (Part 2)

Our walk to the Dolphin Cay was our first chance to see the main areas of the hotel. On the way from the Coral Towers to the Dolphin Cay, there's a small couture shopping plaza, a sizable casino floor (but still small by Vegas standards), Great Hall of Waters which serves as the reception for the Royal Towers, convention room area, an outdoor walk next to some of the many decorative ponds, and a glimpse of the inner tube water ride. At that end of resort grounds, where aren't many food options. We had to walk around the pool areas to the beach side in order to find a food stand for a quick lunch. Simple hot dogs and fries would hold us over till the evening.

Back at the Dolphin Cay, we checked in and walked into the private area. The Cay is man made, of course. I'm not even really sure if cay if the right word for it. Either way, there's a large salt water pool where many dolphins reside. These dolphins where rescued in the ocean after being sweep out to sea by Hurricane Katrina a couple years ago. They were originally part of a water park in the New Orleans area, which was destroyed.
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The experience was fun. We got to get up close and personal with the dolphins. The trainers did use some of the usual tricks to make it seem as though the dolphins where interacting with the people more than what is really possible. It was all just trained tricks, of course, like the rest of the interaction. Sometimes the dolphins would go off and do tricks, and a couple times they did a trick or two without being asked. I like the spontaneous behavior prolly more than the instructed tricks just cuz it was the dolphins being themselves. We got to briefly handle the creatures, and feed them. Allie and I enjoyed our time there. We got a few photos to take back with us too. The photos where taken by the Dolphin Cay staff, and the cost to purchase printouts was a bit extreme, but supposedly a large portion of the proceeds go to wild dolphin and nature conservation, so I guess it was worth it.

Many Worlds Theory; Parallel Universes

This excerpt of the opening paragraph of a recent The Guardian article about the possibility of parallel universes attempts to reopen the debate about parallel universes within the public arena:

In 1954, a young Princeton University doctoral candidate named Hugh Everett III came up with a radical idea: That there exist parallel universes, exactly like our universe. These universes are all related to ours; indeed, they branch off from ours, and our universe is branched off of others. Within these parallel universes, our wars have had different outcomes than the ones we know. Species that are extinct in our universe have evolved and adapted in others. In other universes, we humans may have become extinct.

A parallel Universe is supposedly a Universe like our own. It would develop along a parallel path to our Universe and would therefore be very similar to our Universe. People in our Universe (you, me and almost everyone else) would likely have a counterpart doppelganger in this other Universe.

Modern scientific theories suggest that other Universes do exist. However, only hypothesis and notions exist that suggest these Universes are parallel (similar) to our own. One notion about parallel Universes is that every decision and every possibility for every action in the Universe immediately creates branches of similar Universes. For example, if I flip a coin and it comes up heads, an alternate Universe instantly branches off where my coin comes up tales. This means that all possibilities of an action do actually occur in their own Universe. This notion is fuel for Science Fiction, but I cannot see how such a system could exist.

For a Universe to be similar to our own, it would require some common branch point with our Universe. In other words, our Universe and a parallel Universe would split off from one another. So, here's the problem with parallel Universes magically branching off from one another: Where is all the energy coming from to produce all these infinite parallel Universes? If such a system did occur, there would have to be some infinite energy source to drive it, and some magical mechanism in place to funnel that energy into each Universe. When Universes like our own are created, they consist of a certain amount of energy. For a Universe to split, energy would need to be split between the new split Universes. Of course, one could then argue that perhaps parallel Universes are really just versions of the same Universe, but existing in different states. The problem here is that an infinite amount of energy would still be needed to drive the structure of that system as well since it would still have to create an infinite number of possibilities.

Given current theories and arguments, I don't doubt that other Universes could exist. However, I sincerely doubt that parallel Universes constantly branch off from one another.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 2 (part 1)

After being a bit disappointed by the room they gave us late the previous night, I got up fairly early and went down to the front desk. They had put us into a smoking room, when I requested non-smoking. We had a great view of the Atlantis Royal Towers, but the our room just sucked. It was small with furnishings that appeared to be crammed in without any forth-thought. The TV cabinet and wet bar fridge where jammed next to each other, barely fitting between the bathroom door and the sliding door to the small balcony. One of the room's lamps was placed high on top of the TV cabinet and was butt up against a large framed painting, completely blocking it. Next to the bed, crammed between the balcony window was a chair. It was obvious that no placement consideration was done before the furniture was purchased. Based on the smoking issue alone, we got moved to another room in another tower. When we got to that room only to find we had a wonderful view of a big wall (the side of the tower we just got moved from). So, we went back down to request a room with a view that I literally paid for. Finally, we got a room with the proper view. The funny thing is, the rooms in this tower where twice the size of the rooms in the other tower with more furniture and amenities, yet the price for both rooms was the same (too much). This new room was more satisfying at least. After we settled into our new room, we slept some more, then got up in time for lunch and our Dolphin Cay experience.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Atlantis Honeymoon Day 1

Allie and I had our Bahamian vacation at the Atlantis resort pretty much planned out even before we had our wedding plans ironed out. I've been looking forward to visiting Atlantis for a long time now.

I had the flight planned through Delta. Wow, that was a mistake. After spending over 5 hours on board the flight from San Jose, CA to Atlanta, GA, would have nearly a 5 hour lay over. We planned on this, so no big deal. It was planned this way because the flights to the Bahamas from Atlanta where so limited. So, when we go it to Atlanta's airport, we didn't even think twice about just going to get lunch in the terminal. After lunch, I noticed something that started to worry me. The afternoon flight to the Bahamas which was scheduled to leave at 2:50pm had not yet even arrived at 4:00pm. The flight should've been taking off just as our inbound flight was arriving. So that fact that it was over an hour late was a bad sign. I played with the idea of trying to get on to that flight via standby, but I thought better of it just in case there was a mix-up with our checked-in luggage. We waited for our flight. Waited. Waited. It was scheduled four about 7:30. Of course, 7:30pm came and went. Our flight's gate was moved. This was bad. Our flight finally got in but was held at the gate behind another plane that was stuck for another hour. We finally boarded around 9:00pm.

The next leg of the flight wasn't as long. We arrived on New Providence around 11:00pm and checked in to the hotel at almost 12:00am. The room was very disappointing. It was also a smoking room. However, we were too tired that night to deal with it, so we settled in and slept. We would change the room in the morning. The they put us in the first night left me with a some concern.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Allie and I just returned from our honeymoon at Atlantis. More on this soon. For now, I'm enjoying the vacation from the vacation. :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Chronicles of Iran

Alright, I'm being a bit of a video whore today. Here's some brillant digital shorts from SNL. This stuff is like instant classic material.


Marvel Vs. DC

I'm not much of a comic guy. I do enjoy the occasional movie based on comic characters though. There's been some pretty funny videos about the DC and Marvel comic book charactors and their big screen adventures, using action figures and really cheesy voice overs. Highly recommended stuff: Here.

There's over twenty videos there. Here's the one that started it all seven months ago, as a parody of the Mac Vs. PC commercials.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Two stories, a bit funny and odd

It's not often that two news stories catch my attention, and never that this causes to write a third blog entry in one day.

First is the report that a society representing blind persons was conducting a protest today against hybrid cars because they are so quiet. Unfortunately, I can say that I think this is one of the most ridiculous protests I've seen in a long time. This is one group that is kinda missing the point. We all hafta adapt to the ever changing world. Things change. Paradigms of the past become out moded. This protest strikes me as a bit underthoughtout. Instead of protesting the quietness of a new car (which is preferred since it reduces noise pollution, among other reasons), they need to start working with cities about better city management of crosswalks and driveway entrances onto public streets. Also, discuss this matter with technology groups to get people to start investing in portable motion or metal detectors, or some other proximately alert system. Protesting the advancement of technology? Can anyone say "Amish"? It would be much worse to implement some arcane artificial function that would create stigma against the blind.

Another story that seemed a bit odd was recent industry comments regarding the Northwest Passage which will likely be opening up during summers within the next 20 years. It is the much fabled passage through the Northwest Territories of Canada that would shorten trips between Europe and Asia by several thousand miles. The route is currently frozen over most of the time. I'm commenting on an article that was highly critical of the idea of using the Northwest Passage once it opens up yearly during the summer months. The article made several points about its danger and unpredictability. The conclusion of this "news" article was that any use of the NW Passage would be unlikely. To this I say, what complete nonsense! The nature of industry is to take risk in the effort to make money! The more risk, the more money to be made. The challenge of the NW Passage isn't going to scare everyone away. It's going to be a magnet for profiteers looking for a new way to make big money in the shipping industry. Some of these dissers quoted in the article would likely be the first in line to take advantage of the NW Passage if it were to open up today.

flight home

On the flight home from Orange County last Friday, I was looking out the window and realized I was looking at contrails from above and close up. In the afternoon flight, there where three layers of partly cloudy skies. My flight was flying at about 56k feet, just skimming above the top layer of clouds. It was an interesting site that made me think of what it must've been like for WWII pilots duking in and out of similar cloud layers over the Pacific. That's when I started noticing the contrails of other flights that had been through the same airspace earlier in the day. It was the first time I've seen contrails close up and from above. The closest trail was prolly no more than a mile away. It strikes me just how common place flight is nowadays, and how extraordinary it really is. I know the basic principles behind flight, but it is just odd. I just assume that one day, air travel (or all travel for that matter) will not be aerodynamically dependent. For this short period in human history, we have this planes that relay of wings and massive rear thrust propulsion to work. I don't know that history has an simile that can compare to this thought. The white puffy clouds, blue sky above, partially visible ground below, and the contrails just kinda mesmerized me for awhile with such thoughts.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How many wars does it take?

U.S. cannot afford another war? Huh? Iran’s foreign minister recently commented on the U.S. ability to wage war against their country, stating that we couldn’t afford another war. There’s several problems with that statement. First, the U.S. isn’t waging any large wars right now.
I blame President Bush Jr. for fostering the incorrect notion that we are at war in Iraq. There, our forces are an occupational force as part of a much larger effort to restructure Iraq in a way that makes its existence favorable to U.S. policies. The Iraqi War itself is long over. It was over when the government controlled by the Bathe Party collapsed and Iraqi forces scattered, soon after the invasion. We’ve only been in Iraq four years. Compare that with Japan after WWII. That was a relatively peaceful occupation that lasted seven years. The occupation in Iraq is not peaceful. How much more is expected as a result? Yes, the occupation is a drain on U.S. resources. But honestly, this occupation is being funded with our economic surplus. Our economy is so efficient and vast that we can maintain a full scale occupation without adversely impacting our economy. We never had to switch our economy over from a peacetime focus to a wartime focus. We are currently in a peacetime economy. We can’t afford to wage “another” war? If the Iranian leadership truly believes this, they are kidding themselves in the worst possible way. If necessary, the U.S. could switch over to a wartime economy to wipe Iran off of the map (without the use of nukes). With that said, I don’t feel it is in the U.S. best interests to do so. In general, I am against the idea of war. I also think that anytime someone thinks it is necessary to kill another person, then that person needs to re-exam their thought processes. (Self-defense is one thing, but war is about control over resources, not normally self-defense.) So here, I’m just pointing out the obvious flaw in recent Iranian official comments.
Ok, we are also in another on-going conflict. It is arguable that the limited U.S. operations in Afghanistan constitute a war, but those operations are barely a blip on the radar. Those operations in no way limit our ability to wage a full fledge war.

Birthday surprize

I was out of town on a business trip for Allie's birthday. Well, to make it up to her, I planned a little surprize for her. She's been talking about music she likes recently. Several artist and sound tracks come to mind. I got the bright idea to just add to her music collection based on what she's shown interest. Additionally, I got her a little something nice too. I then wrapped and hid the items in rather an obvious spot that I know she wouldn't look at for no reason.

With the trap set, I called her up on the evening of her birthday from Irvine. I directed to the location of the gifts. I can say she was really surprized and enjoyed my thoughtfulness. It gave her something to brag to her mom and friends about for the remainder of the week (though I'm sure she wouldn't characterize it as bragging). It was a lot of fun to pull this on her.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Hyatt review and stuff

This past week I was in Irvine, CA at the Hyatt Regency for an educational seminar about plastics, hosted by the Society of Plastics Engineers. I was down there with Elvis. We had a couple of the classes together. One of the many things we agreed upon is that the Hyatt Regency in Irvine does hella nickel-and-diming. They charge over $200 a night for each room (though I paid less). There’s no free breakfast. I didn’t really expect any since higher end places don’t usually offer it. However, they charge at least twice the going rating for any restaurant food. Two tiny little milk pints cost $4.00. They charged for internet. Seriously, who charges for internet anymore, posh places or otherwise? The wet bar snacks where 5 times as expensive as market, plus 20% local tax and gratuity, which pushed their cost to 10 times the value club prices (which is where they likely get these items). Elvis tried to use the business center only to find out there was a huge time-based fee for that. The room service didn’t even leave new soap each day when the old soap was removed. About the only thing that was free was the daily local paper which didn’t cover national news on the front page.

The rooms themselves were very clean and tidy. The bathroom was a little dated in layout. The whole hotel (rooms and open areas) all had this floral scent that was just annoying. I couldn’t get away from it. It was supposed to make everything smell fresh, I think. But it just made me feel like I was supposed to be having a hay fever attack. Fellow seminar attendees also complained about service when they had issues with their rooms.

I’ll be looking at other hotels in the area for any other seminars held at a Hyatt in the future.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"We've been practicing for about a year"

Allie and are have been married for over a month now. I surprised her on our one month anniversary. She wasn't expecting anything, so the roses and card wowed her. I think she even felt just a little guilty for not getting me anything. ::evil grin:: I also have a small surprise in store for her birthday that will likely get another wow from her.

I'm glad we moved in together last year. The stress of living together for the first time coupled with the marriage would've been a lot of deal with at once. This allowed us to take it a little easier for the wedding, though it was still pretty stressful.

Married life isn't treating us any different than before because of this, though. I mean, we've been practicing for about a year now. It's just good to have the ceremony behind us. A few people have asked about then we will start popping kids out, but for the most part we just hear "How is married life treating you?"

Friday, September 21, 2007

Squeezing Rubber Chickens

Ok, seriously, who would by these for their pets? (recommend listening with the volumn turned up for best experience)

Monday, September 17, 2007

US Company Blackwater kicked out of Iraq

Blackwater contractor kicked out of Iraq after killing 8 civilians .. 72% of Iraqis want the US out.. With no success.. So now they are kicking out the contractors.


I know I'm going to forget something. I just wish I could know what I'm going to forget before I forget it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Making triangles with Six toothpicks

"Use six toothpicks to make four identical triangles."

This is a problem that was given to my pre-algebra math class in Jr. High School. The problem was straight out of an old math book.  It was presented to us by a substitute teacher whose strategy was to offer free time at the end of class if we accomplishing certain tasks. The math book listed only one solution to this problem. It stated that the only way to form these triangles was to build them into a tetrahedron (a 3D object). In other words, this old text book presented this problem in order to get kids to think in terms beyond the 2D dimensional realm of a flat piece of paper. 

No one in the class figured out the 3D solution. When the teacher presented the 3D solution, he declared that this was the only solution possible. Several people in the class protested by saying that other solutions had to exist. So, he gave us a double or nothing wager. If someone could figure out a 2D solution to the problem by the next day, he would double the amount of free time he offered.

I worked the problem for a couple of hours that night, not because I wanted the free time, but because it really bugged me. I drew many sketches of possible methods, but none produced four identical triangles while the toothpick ends touched. Then it hit me. Nothing in the problem stated that the toothpicks couldn’t overlap. (Nor did the problem suggest that the triangles had to be equilateral.) I drew up my solution: two toothpicks formed an X, and then the other four toothpicks formed a square around that X with overlapping tips. Easy. I read over the problem several times to make sure my solution was in compliance.

The next day, I left my sketched solution on the teacher’s desk and sat down. A minute or two after class started, the teacher discovered my solution on his desk. He was surprised. He showed our class the solution on the chalkboard. Everyone was happy. Our class won our free time. I didn’t really care. I got my rush the night before by solving the problem.

The next day, a deskmate of mine in another class mentioned the incident. She had the same substitute teacher at a different time in the day, who challenged her class with the same problem. So, the teacher presented my solution to her class as well, using my name. She told me that people in her class were upset with her because she sat next to me in another class and didn’t get the solution from me.

Now note, if you look for this problem these days, there are many different versions online. The problem is stated much more specifically, so as to limit the possible answers. These days, this same problem is worded something like this,
“Using six toothpicks, make four identical equilateral triangles and nothing else. (In other words you can’t make six equilateral triangles, or four triangles and a diamond, etc.)”. (backup link)
Of course, being this specific, the only answer is a tetrahedron. Another similar problem I found allows for several 2D solutions (backup link), but of course it also requires equilateral triangles. However, the solutions are similar to my solution to the old problem. 

Now, I’m not saying I was the first person to figure out this solution.  However, I did figure it out on my own in one night; in the days before the Internet. Looking over the Internet these days, I can’t even find this problem improperly stated. Maybe the writers of that old math book just didn’t do their research, tried to dumb down the problem too much, or just didn’t catch the wording error? I can’t imagine that this problem was improperly stated for hundreds of years before it found its way onto my desk.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bourne to miss

Dang it. I had plans with Miriam after work on Friday to go to see the Bourne movie that's still in the theaters. Well, she wanted to go get something to eat at a Mexican rest'rant she really likes near her place. The drinks there where stronger than expected. Neither of us were sober, so driving anywhere was out of the question. Dang it! Well, it was still fun. She wanted to look for toys for her new hamster, so we walked to the per supplies store next store.
Then it got crazy. We found these rubber chickens (dressed in beach wear) that made this awful noise wailing when squeezed. It was hilarious. We made a symphony of wailing rubber chickens. We got a photo video and audio recording of it on her phone, but can't figure out how to get it onto the computer yet. When we do, I'll post here.
After that, we called some friends that could pick us up and take us to the movie. Ronnie and Fern ended up coming, but headed to the wrong city at first. Anyways, by the time they got there, it was too late to go to even the evening showing, so we decided just to head back to her place. Allie came by and brought the Knocked-up DVD to watch. It was kinda funny. It ended around 12am, and we all pretty much headed home right after.
I want to see Bourne in the theater. Oh well.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Great void in the universe

So, here's the deal. Science has disputed the age of the universe for a long time now. The current consensus is that it's about 12 Billion years so or, +/- a billion years (depending upon methodology). This comes from the previous observations that when looking into deep space, the farthest objects are about 12 billion light years away, in every direction.
When I was much younger, this interpretation of observations of the Universe got me thinking. How do we know the Universe is only as old as the number of light years away we can see? The only way to equate seeing the farthest objects with the age of the Universe is if we can also see one or both of the following: the center of the Universe; the edge of the Universe. Here's the problem. No one has claimed to observe either. Without this frame of reference, there is no way to determine the Universe's size. Without knowing how big the Universe is, we can't really know its age, unless by some magical fluke, we are at the center of the Universe. OK, so a general idea of the age of the Universe can be determined by the objects we observe at it's visible edge (Quasars), but we don't know if this visible edge is really the actual extent of the Universe. At most, we only know that galaxies of some sort began forming at that point in time, 12 billion years ago.
What does this hafta do with the vast void recently discovered in the Universe? The void is estimated as 1 billion light years across. That's 24th the size of the known Universe. That's like looking at a two foot long rulers and spacing them 1 inch apart by length. What would cause this big of a hole in the Universe? Could it be the middle of the Universe. Is it the void left as matter accelerates outward? Or is it the actual edge of the Universe? The notions being put forth by astrophysicist right now is some sort of dark energy explanation. But why does it have to be so exotic? OK, so I don't think it's the edge of the Universe because I believe astronomers do see deep objects past this void. So, hey, why couldn't it be the center of the Universe left void from matter expanding outward? One way to test this is to examine redshifts of the objects between us and this void to see if there are subtly less than objects in every other direction, using Hubble's Law. If the void is the center of the Universe, the age of the Universe could be judged with extreme accuracy because we'd no longer have to relay on objects 12 billion light years away. We'd only need to observe our distance from the center, then calculate the mass based on the shape of the Universe and the fact that the Universe looks the same in every direction.
This is all just an idea. I don't know much more than the press story. Heck, for all I know, this void could be where god lives. lol Just some fun to call up my old thoughts about the Universe.