Wednesday, December 30, 2009

49er's Stadium: What does Cedar Fair really want?

Perhaps there is some legitimate concern for proper bureaucratic process over at Cedar Fair, owners of California's Great American theme park. Why else would they file a lawsuit against the City of Santa Clara complaining about how paperwork was recently handled in the process to approve the new 49ers stadium? (Santa Clara County Superior Court Case number 109CV158836.) Well, maybe they seek to take advantage of the delicate phase in the planning of the new stadium?

Given the lack of enthusiasm for the new stadium previously expressed by Cedar Fair, I'm guessing this is more of a ploy to legally extort conditions and concessions from the City of Santa Clara. Cedar Fair may feel it needs more money from the city simply because the new stadium site is a direct neighbor to the theme park. Here's the funny part. Even though Cedar Fair does own Great American, the City of Santa Clara actually owns the land upon which Great America rests. The City of Santa Clara is the landlord to Cedar Fair. Santa Clara has already bent over backwards to make Cedar Fair feel at home. Cedar Fair now seems to be abusing their position as our guest and interfering in our business. Is there a San Francisco connection, as SF City Hall tries to buy yet even more time in their uber-pathetic effort to keep the 49er's in San Francisco? They've already had over 1.5 decades to do something.

Frankly, there could also be a Sac connection, since some big names in our state and even the Federal government are against the 49er's moving to another city in the Bay Area. Again, there is another funny part to this. If the 49er's do not find a new home in the Bay Area, they have suggested that the will leave the area completely. So, all this effort to pin the 49er's down in San Francisco could backfire by slingshotting our team to another state altogether! How embarrassing would that be?

And now a new wrinkle. Cedar Fair was just bought by a private firm that has yet to comment on their position. My hope is that they do not interfere with local economic endeavors, and instead help boost the local economy by supporting the new 49ers stadium.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blossom Hill Road drive

Blossom Hill Road is a fairly long street that cuts through several areas of southern Santa Clara Valley. Usually, people see only one short stretch of the street, but I'm guessing most have rarely seen its entire length at one time nor in parts. Besides that, when seen in parts, it's not a particular interesting street. Most of it is fairly straight. However, when driving its entire length at one time, it is actually very interesting. It ends at Freeway 101, crosses Freeway 85, cuts through south San Jose and Almaden, goes up the green and slightly overgrown Blossom Hill (from which its name comes) and starts up just north of Downtown Los Gatos. Quite a strange mix of sights.

View Larger Map

Friday, December 25, 2009

Possibilities Regarding Zeta Reticuli

A recent book that has come to my attention on the topic of aliens and Zeta Reticuli is FROM ZETA RETICULI TO EARTH. TIME, SPACE, AND THE UFO TECHNOLOGY : Scientific Frontiers of Alien Space Crafts. It's a long name for a book that is so far well reviewed by its readers. According to the publisher, it takes an objective view regarding topics ranging from time travel and UFO phenomena. It should be interesting to see what the author Maximillien De Lafayette has to say about this subject.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday Two: City bruizin'

Tuesday Two

GocycleThe eco-friendly Gocycle is a hybrid electric bike that weighs a mere 16.2 kg due to its special composite material. This folding bike is designed for city living. It converts from human power (peddle power!) to electric with the push of a button. Will it save the world from eventual doom? Only time will tell.

A drop of waterI know whenever I here the word "Nanotube", my ears perk up. Imagine how excited I am to see a recent article about vibrated nanotubes used to filter water so well that anything larger than a water molecule is removed! Imagine how fresh and tasty such pure water would be. Wait...technically, humans cannot taste water, right?


So far, Epoch-Fail awards have gone to particular unsuccessful ventures. Today, I'm handing an Epoch-Fail award to something that does seem to be successful. Why? Because I dislike the trend. This week's Epoch-Fail award goes to every city council that is banning plastic bags from the grocery stores! Aren't we destroying enough trees? Need we bring back the stone age paper bag and pretend it is from a renewable resource; when the reality is that the resource is not being renewed? Sure, plastic clog our bogs, and choke our rivers, but hey, they are more reusable than paper bags! And what of reusable canvas bags? Heh. Guess what. You have to buy them. They get very unsanitary very quickly. Wanna guess how many patrons are not washing them regularly? There are reasons behind our strict food handling guidelines, and canvas bags now represent a very weak link in food safety.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Some tranny trouble with my G8 GT

Under warranty, I've now had one major issue and one minor issue handled. The minor issue was a scratch on the underside of the front bump cover that was likely put there during one of its test that doesn't really count.

The major issue is with the transmission. Over time, my G8 GT developed a clunking when I would shift from reverse directly into drive. It was inconsistent. It was more pronounced when the car was cold started. Every once in awhile, the car would actually jerk forward so much that I had to get into the habit of pressing very tightly onto my brakes before moving into drive.

When I first reported the issue to my dealership at 6000 miles, the service dept said that there was no bulletin on the issue even though I did get the service manager to reproduce the issue. I didn't make a stink at that time, though I prolly should've. The problem got worse from there. It got so bad, I couldn't let anyone else drive it.

So, at about 8000 miles I had enough. I took it in. The dealership was claiming that they could not reproduce the problem to the degree I stated. In addition, they claimed that a bulletin from GM (just issued a month before) said that clunking transmission was "normal operation". To me, this was not just operation, but safety (since the behavior of the car was actually dangerous). I insisted that the issue be addressed. I had to include the involvement of the general GM customer service department. After I insisted they keep the car and keep trying, the dealership was finally were able to reproduce the issue and finally realized that something needed to be done.

A lot of time was supposedly wasted because the GM technical service didn't have the staff assigned to handle any issues in the NorCal region (something to do with the restructuring that was going on at the time). Finally, an engineer was assigned to the case and determined the issue was mechanical. The dealership followed Detroit's instructions, replacing a bunch of parts deep inside the tranny.

All said, the dealership had my car for two weeks. The issue was much less obvious afterward. There is still some tendency for the tranny to engage a bit aggressively when going from reverse to drive, but at this point, that seems to fit the "normal operation" mentioned in the GM bulletin. At least I don't have to be concerned with it jerking forward.

Now that the car is over its 10K mark, everything seems to have broken in.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Your Nature

Oh mighty California
My abode, my great adventure
Your heights and lowlands
Wonderous poppy fields
Endless bounty
Grand shoreline joggle
Mysterious moving desert rocks
Canopy carpeted mountains;
Become my surprize and discovery

Myself exploring your vastness
Beauty, peaks, crashing calm waves
Enjoying the mastery of possibilities
Sky filled canyons
Sun kissed waters
Ample journey roads
Your glory, your grace
Gratifying my wonderlust;
California, my world

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What is clairvoyance?

Clairvoyance is the ability to experience sensation or thought that is derived from input other than ourselves or the physical realm in which we dwell. Generically, these sensations are called extra-sensory perceptions (ESP). Experiencing clairvoyant signals is usually related to some internal realization or via some sort of approximation or channelling through our physical senses. Names have been given to the types of these sensations.
  • Clairsentience (feeling or touching) is the acquisition of psychic knowledge primarily by means of feeling or touching. It can relate to the feeling of the vibrations of lifeforms. Different degrees of clairsentience range from the perception of diseases of other people to the thoughts or emotions of other people.
  • Psychometry or token-object reading (knowledge gained through touch) is the acquisition of psychic knowledge about an individual by making physical contact with an objects that has been in contact with that person.
  • Clairaudience (hearing or listening) is the reception of psychic knowledge by paranormal auditory means, such as a voice or music with no physical source. The ESP auditory sensation may come from within one's mind, inner ear or perceived as being external.
  • Clairalience (smelling) is the paranormal experience of a odor, scent or other smell with no physical source.
  • Claircognizance (knowing) the intrinsic acquisition of psychic knowledge. This is the ability to paranormally know something without knowing how or why.
  • Clairgustance (tasting) is the ability to paranormally taste or perceive the essence of a substance without it coming into contact with one's mouth.
Reference: Glossary of Psi (backup link)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Toebzilla is a good dog, yes he is (even with a nickname like Toebzilla)

Toebzilla is just over 10 months old now. He's still learning the rules of the house, slowly but surely. However, he has learned his basic commands.





Monday, December 07, 2009

My Cool Apps for Android Smartphones

Android has thousands of apps. Many are worthy of mention. This is a list of ten that I thought are cool, though not necessary. Most are simple and to the point with full functionality:

Tips Calculator by KajaBo Mobile is a simple tip calculator based on the bill before tax. Most tip calculator apps do not determine the tip based on the pre-tax bill, even though this is customary. This app even calculates how much each person owes for multi-party bills.

GPS Speedometer by Char Software, Inc. is a cool little app that keeps track of one’s near current speed (in the car), average speed, and a few other data points.

Quick Settings by Sergey Shafarenka allows the user easy access to basic Android smartphone settings on one screen.

Google Sky Map by Google Inc. displays are real time image of the night sky constellations based on whatever direction the smartphone is pointed.

Thinking Space by Charlie Chilton helps in developing and recording thoughts and ideas. This is helpful for abstract problem solving or getting through writer’s block.

Ringdroid by Ringdroid Team let’s you splice up your MP3 and iTunes music to create custom ringtones.

Barcode Scanner by ZXing Team will read any barcode. If the product is found in the database, it will show information and reviews.

AttachEmail by gasoline allows the user to attach files to emails being sent from the Android smartphone.

GDocs by WildArt will access your gmail GDocs account and the documents you have stored there.

Superpages by Idearc Media LLC is the link what some may call real yellow pages online these days.

Snow in the SF Bay Area?

It snowed over night in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is not competely uncommon. The hills around Silicon Valley often see snow during winter. However, this is just about as low as I've ever seen the "snow cap". In fact, it did even snow in Livermore, CA (which is not exactly at a higher elevation).

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Oh Nakkid Girl

Oh nakkid girl, in the shower
The suds cover your body
The water running down every curve
Juicy, sexy, hot, mmmhmm
Nakkid girl in the shower
I want to touch your wet skin
Caress your nipples and ...
just a minute...
...she's inviting me in!

(circa 2002)

Friday, December 04, 2009


In this special edition, I hereby give the Epoch-Fail award to AT&T for their recent nonsensical lawsuit to stop Verizon from advertizing a truthful comparison between their respective 3G network coverage areas. Needless to say, this lawsuit did nothing but highlight the pathetic nature of AT&T's 3G coverage.

According to Paul Thurrott,
AT&T, of course, is the exclusive US carrier for the Apple iPhone, and—as any iPhone user will tell you—AT&T's 3G network is tiny, ill-equipped to handle the iPhone's voluminous data traffic, and often completely unavailable.
There has been several news stories in the Silicon Valley area (home of Apple and Google) which have highlighted AT&T's much complained about network, including non-3G problems, such as frequent dropped calls (issues that may have been carried over from the Cingular days). Among 3G complaints, speed (slowness) is one of the major issues. AT&T has said they are in the process of upgrading their network right now. However, why would a company put forward such a poor product at the heart of one of the world's technological centers?

It almost goes without saying that the lawsuit was thrown out of court (already!). Can't sue the truth away from the public eye!

Paul Thurrott concludes,

[AT&T's] 3G network is widely considered the be the shoddiest of the major wireless networks in the United States, a fact that was coincidentally confirmed this past month in the latest issue of Consumer Reports, which rated AT&T's overall cell phone network as the worst of the major carriers.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tuesday Two: Zit zapping

Tuesday Two

Zeno Zit ZapperUse NASA technology to zap your zits away with the new Zeno family of devices.(available discounted on The iPod look-alike contains a heating element that is resistant to human oils and acids. With clinical trials showing 90% success rates, this may end teenage embarrassment one zit zapping at a time. No word on if there are plans to make a version that plays MP3s. Brains are usThere is an artificial intelligence that involves integrated planning. This allows an operator (human or fellow robot) to establish a telepresence that may be able to control remote units (for example, another robot) at great distances (another planet) to provide feedback (suggestions) about the instructions it is receiving. Who's controlling who?


The Northeast Passage opens (backup link) because our planet is slowly getting hotter. But trade routes won't come easy if shippers want to travel across the Arctic Ocean. The planet hasn't thawed enough to sail north of Russia without the need for ice-breaker class ships along with a fleet of support ships to break up the ice that's still there. Pesky environment keeps getting in the way of progress!

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Ten Most Useful Android Apps (and one Outlook Plugin)

The Samsung Moment is a good Sprint smartphone that runs on the 1.5 version of the new Android OS. One great function is that it offers direct syncing with the user’s Google accounts. However, for some reason, Sprint didn’t include enough applications on the Moment. It is fully functional off-the-shelf, but it just seems to be missing stuff that experienced smartphone users would want. Fortunately, the Android Market has more than enough apps to quickly add most (if not all) functionality that one might expect from an advanced smartphone.

This is my Ten Most Useful Android Apps for Samsung Moment (and really any other Android smartphones) in no particular order:

  • Android Backup Tool by Marigold backs-up a multitude of data from the smartphone to the SD Card, including Contacts, SMS, browser links, settings, etc.
  • Star Contact by StarObject provides advanced Contacts search functionally that is missing from almost all smartphones (even Palm).
  • Easy Dialer Premium by UIP ($) does cost a small nominal fee, but it is worth the chump change! It provides a well designed speed dial interface that really should be the standard for any Android smartphone. There is a free version with small and unintrusive ads called Easy Dialer. Another free alternative is Speed Dial by CRinUS. There is no interface to speak of in Speed Dial. It simple allows the user to put speed dials directly on the home page as links.
  • Where by where is highly rated and updated frequently. It provides up-to-date information and reviews about restaurants, movies, local news, weather, friends, etc.
  • Dolphin Browser by MGeek is a great Android internet browser that has powerful and time saving capabilities.
  • OI File Manager by OpenIntents is a good and simple file management utility for the SD Card. It allows for the renaming and copying of files.
  • Wikidroid for Wikipedia by Sirius Applications Ltd is a rapid and simple alternative to just loading the Wikipedia website directly. It loads articles very quickly without all the extras that weight down Wikipedia in an internet browser.
  • ASTRO File Manager by Metago is another powerful file manager. It has different functionality than OI File Manager, so I really recommend installing both until one app starts including the functions of the other.
  • AirPlaneSwitch by C-LIS Crazy Lab. is a simple application that allows the user to switch their phone over to Airplane mode without having to navigate into the smartphone’s settings.
  • TwitterTweet Twitter Client by MEDIAFILL LLC is an underrated app that allows the user to efficiently and simply sync their Twitter account and feeds to their phone.

Sync Android with Outlook

Right now, a PC application that syncs the Moment with Windows Outlook is not included. There is a fairly good Outlook plugin which will sync your contacts, calendar and notes with your Google account. The plugin works great as it allows your smartphone to be updated without ever attaching it to a computer! The plugin is called gSyncit for Microsoft Outlook by David Levinson. It is available at It costs $14.99 and does have unusually strict licensing for installations, so I will be keeping an eye out for free or more customer friendly licensing. For now, this plugin provides a much needed service, so I do recommend the investment if you have any Android smartphone.

Trace case UFO evidence

Trace case is a classification of studied encounters were a UFO or other anomalous phenomena has generated some sort of physical effect, called trace evidence. Study of the trace evidence may involve photographs, measurements, actual samples of residue that is subjected to laboratory analysis. The trace evidence is said to be UFO fingerprints, which may reveal information as to the type of object that generated the effect. Some cases include police reports and sketches, such as the Cato Landing. Though any type of UFO may leave trace evidence, common cases involve particular types of objects or devices.

White Globe

Many trace cases are often of evidence left by very small objects that are less than one meter in size, such as reports of white globes. Incidents involving white globes are often at very close range. Such devices have been involved in a wide variety of encounters. One such incident resulted in residue being left by a rotating orb that scraped by a car while it was being driven down a road. Upon being studied, the residue was found to be a mixture of unidentified metallic substance and organic matter.

Flying Saucer

Landing locations of flying saucers often leave evidence of three landing legs. When witnessed, these objects are seen to make ground contact. Sometimes humanoids are witnessed at landing locations.

Egg-shaped, Cylinder, Oval

Observations have been made of ojects that are often described as egg-shaped, cylindrical, or oval. These are reported to have a metallic appearance, being 5 to 6 meters in length. When these objects make ground contact, they often leave evidence of 4 landing legs. Dimunitive humanoids are often reported nearby the landing site.

Domed Device

Domed devices are objects that are often estimated to be about 2 meters to 4 meters in diameter. They rarely make ground contact; instead the hover a few feet above the ground. Evidence left by these objects is often swirl formations found in vegatation under where the device hovered.

Some info sourced from: Center for Physical Trace Research (now a dead link; try this similar site:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Milky Way Bigger than first thought

According to new information, the Milky Way Galaxy is about 15% wide and 50% more massive that previously thought. This means that our Milky Way is actually similar in size to the Andromeda Galaxy. These findings suggest that our own galaxy and Andromeda will collide much sooner (within the next 3 billion years) than previous estimated. The recent article from AP discusses these latest findings.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Back from Wyoming

Sunday was long. I spent much of it waiting at the airport for a flight that kept getting delayed. Not delayed by 30 minutes, but by hours and hours. Why was I in Wyoming waiting for a flight? Allie and I visited my folks. It was great seeing my parents for the first time in awhile.

As for Wyoming, I'm sure its citizens enjoy that state. I, on the other hand, will be very selective as to when I visit it in the future.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Version 2

I do not feel my soulmate calling out to me anymore
I miss you.
I am over you
I will love you my entire life
I am alone
You are near, but not here
I am in the wrong place
I am not alone
What once seemed wrong, now seems idyllic
I am released
I love you
I have learned to not yearn
I regret this and take proud in it too
I once felt like the desert without you
I am now a wandering sailor on wild seas
This prose is about me
I became
I am becoming again
That is was I am suppose to do
I fear new love
I want to experience it
I want to be selfish
I am generous
Love is generous and selfish
I am love
I fear myself
Nervous at life’s mundane moments
Confident when sublime engulfs me
You engulf me
I feel you
Love becomes without finale
This prose is my search for you
I am contradiction
I became because you are in my life
I become again because you are not now here
You are near, guiding
She has not come yet
I am waiting to become with her
Yours always

(circa 2001)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Predictions of Evolution of Alien Life

Evolution of life on other worlds is seeming more likely as human knowledge of the Universe expands. David Zeigler has recently proposed eleven Evolution Predictions of what abilities or traits will evolve on other worlds, conditions allowing. The predictions are that some lifeforms will be the following:
  • Water dependent and carbon based.
  • Chemosynthetic (chemical based energy synthesis) or photosynthetic (light energy synthesis).
  • Heterotrophic and predators of heterotrophs (food chain of lifeforms).
  • Passively or actively mobile to seek out optimum conditions. As such, body plans will evolve something similar to what we would identify as a head, with arrays of sensory organs.
  • Sessile (non-mobile or anchored in place).
  • Powered flight (birds, some insects, bats, pterosaurs), or at least directed gliding (flying squirrel, flying fish).
  • Parasites, which on Earth account for over 65% of the total number of species.
  • Genes will be selfish, and natural selection will spawn adaption to the environment.
  • Will have senses, especially sight, sound, touch, heat detection, etc.
  • Motile, organisms will have natural attraction and repulsion to stimuli.
  • Large bodies of water will foster a wide variety of lifeforms, which may independently evolution similar adaptions.
The list seems a little incomplete and maybe not well organized. It is a good starting point in the discussion of what we can expect to find on other worlds. It can help us in knowing where to look, as well. Perhaps this list is formed from human prejudice. However, with only Earth as our example, this (at least for the time being) seems to be a fair set of predictions.

Source: Skeptic Vol. 14 No. 2, 2008 - Predicting Evolution

Related articles

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Two: SolidWorks World edition

Tuesday 2 header

There's been many inventions and innovations that have been profiled at the various SolidWorks World conferences. This week's Tuesday Two covers to wind power winners that are getting notice.

Tuesday Two

Mageen airborne Wind PowerMagenn has an innovative balloon wind power generator which goes by the name Mageen Air Rotor System (MARS). It floats far above the ground to take advantage of wind that is more reliable than ground based turbines. Here's an ancillary article in Design World on material used to make MARS.

Microwind TechnologiesJeff Ray gives us an update on MicroWind Technologies which makes relatively small rooftop wind turbines called MicroWind Residential Turbine which will be able to produce 3 kW. They also have the MicroWind 300W which can be lamp post mounted.


The Smart car that just isn't all that smart. It is not much bigger than a go cart, while only netting 41 MPG highway (which is worse than many real cars already on the market). Too much is sacrificed in both functionality and safety for no real gain; and don't get me started about the price for the "well equipped" version! For that, it recently ranked as the worse car of the 2000's by, not to mention it wins this week's Epoch-Fail award!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Largest building ever built *discovered* in Egypt

If ancient descriptions are correct, and if the recent discovery is what some think it to be, the lost Labyrinth of Egypt may be at Hawara. This was a massive temple that was described by many ancient authors, such as Herodotus, to house 3000 rooms. The walls of each room were filled will paintings and hieroglyphs. Some have presumed this labyrinth housed the lost Hall of Records, dispite other theories that place it under the Great Sphinx of Giza. I'm not going to go on about this. Just check the links.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Blue Dark Ocean Depths
Strange Living Treasures Hidden
Where The Monsters Dwell

Thursday, November 05, 2009

13 and 13 coworker complaints and such

ThomasNet has had a blog. Apparently, it's been running in some fashion or other since 2000. Of course, back then maybe they didn't label it as a blog, but that's really what it was. There's a couple of articles that caught my attention recently.  (Original links no longer function, so please use the backup links.)
In these articles, David R. Butcher explores the best and worst traits in our coworkers (and ourselves) at work. His likes and dislikes may seem a bit arbitrary. He complains about the suck-ups in the first article, but lauds the jokers in his second. He makes the obvious observations regarding the positive coworker; yet in a sense of irony, he complains about the complainers. It's a fairly entertaining read.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Yet another Earth-world Found!

As technology and techniques in the hunt for terrestrial planets improves, we are finding that terrestrial planets seem to exist in a wide variety of star system types. In a presentation to the American Astronomical Society in St. Louis, MI on June 2, a team of astronomers stated that they used the Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics II telescope (New Zealand) to find a planet around a brown dwarf star. The planet is estimated as being about three times the mass of Earth.

The particular world discovered by the scientific team orbits a start about 300 light-years from our Solar System. It's orbit is likely as large as that of Venus around our Sun. According to current estimates, it most likely is made up ice and rock.

As more worlds are found, it seems to me that human understanding must accept that there is a very high likelihood that life exists beyond of Earth. There may come a day in our life times when such existence of life becomes completely undeniable.

Source: Astronomy Sept 2008 - Another super-Earth discovered

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Oh my Bevie

Oh my Bevie
Find your way back to me
I've missed you
Bring back the happiness
Our care for each other
Oh my Bevie
Find your way back to me
Dear sweetie
You never leave my thoughts
My lost one
I'm here for you always
Oh my Bevie
Find your way back to me
Tender Love
Strange, so strong, yet fragile
Bring back
Love uncommon on Earth
Oh my Bevie,
Through this life, yes I am
Living on
I do live my own life
Oh my Bevie
Find your way back to me
have of a life of their own
Longing here
for them renewed again
Oh my Bevie
Find your way back to me
Share times
We have lost to this gap
Healing now
Life goes on in tragedy
Oh my Bevie
Find your way back to me
Love Always

(circa 2001)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Communication with Alien Civilizations

SETI, whose job it is to find proof of alien civilizations, has yet to find any alien civilizations. The methods employed by SETI has so far focused on trying to receive messages via the EM spectrum for alien communication.

So far, SETI has been looking for messages from other alien civilizations in the form of "Anybody out there?" However, it may soon be looking for any signs of other alien civilizations by attempting "to eavesdrop on stray signs of intelligence leaked accidentally into space by other civilizations", says Steve Nadis in his Astronomy article titled Eavesdropping on E.T.: Could Changing Channels Tune Into Alien Civilizations?.

There is a quiet zone in the EM spectrum between 1 and 10 GHz. Fewer objects in the universe naturally transmit in that frequency range. If other alien civilizations know this, they may choose to intentionally transmit signals at that level. However, it may be easier to look for signals that alien civilizations naturally put out. The problem is that there is so much background noise at other frequencies, both from the Universe and Earth itself (our own civilization). Some scientists hope that a new radio-telescope coming on line in Australia called Murchison Wide-Field Array (MWA) will allow them to find anomalies that may be leaked transmissions of other alien civilizations. Though MWA is really meant to study the end of the Universe's Dark Ages (when stars began to form), it will also be able to find transient signals that may be signs that something else is out there.

Earth has been broadcasting its presence since the 1920's. Maybe another civilization has been doing the same for much longer? We will soon see.

Reference: Astronomy May 2008, Eavesdropping on E.T.: Could Changing Channels Tune Into Alien Civilizations?, by Steve Nadis

Related articles

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Two: Sponging up energy

Tuesday 2 header

Tuesday Two

Funny without directly rechargingGet nearly perpetual power with these little energy cells that can recharge by harvesting ambient energy, such as kinetic, electromagnetic, heat, radio frequency, and light. This may change everything from hand held devices to desktop computers.

PhraselatorIn real life Star Trek technology news, there's a phrase (not phaser) translator called the Phraselator which will translate statements into one of several languages. It's one-way translation today, but with two of these, you just might be able to carry on a short conversation about the weather with just about anyone on the planet.


To prepare you for your American Idol debut, the Perpetual Kid website (purveyer of many potential Epoch-Fail canidadates) has the Shower Mic Sponge.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hiller Aviation Museum

Flying bears!I recently had a chance to visit the Hiller Aviation Museum. It's an interesting place. The museum is housed within a former industrial building.

In the main entrance hall, the visitor can view a sizable restoration shop with its menagerie of old equipment and tools. The shop is bigger than some machine shops. There are also many scaled airplane models dangling from the ceiling. Let's not forget the rather sizable souvenir shop. Yes, I bought the t-shirt. :)

The main viewing room is the entire right side of the building. It houses many full scale and scaled air machines, with some original airplanes mixed with replicas. Where there's space to fill, you'll find an airplane or parts thereof.

AvitorOne of the more interesting facts promoted at this museum is that there where successful attempts at powered flight long before the Wright Brothers. The Herman Avitor Jr. (or just Avitor) was powered by a 1-hp steam engine that drove twin propellers. It was was the first successfully flown heavier-than-air aircraft to employ a three-axis control system. It was built in San Francisco, CA. In 1869 it took flight near the modern day SF Int'l Airport. Sometime after its first flight, the contraption was destroyed when it caught fire.

Pepsi SkywriterAnother interesting exhibit was the Pepsi Skywriter, used by Pepsi to promote their product for a few decades starting in the late 1920's. I'm not sure if this is a replica, but it is interesting to see the old Pepsi logo and figure how long ago companies where using inventive new marketing techniques to promote their products.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

For You

Flowers I present by love
for my baby, whom I adore

Run to me, my love, kiss me
and feel my heart beat for you

Lean your head on my shoulder
I am your support for life

Guide your heart to my harbor
I shall protect you from storms

Open your places hiding deep
and I will handle with care

Your dreams have haven in me
Our dreams we share as you sleep

These flowers represent all
of my expressions of love

For You

Copyright ©1999, 2001 & 2003 Matthew Lorono All rights reserved

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Possible types of Alien Lifeforms (Part 5: Blue Plants?)

It has been sited by physicists that while photosynthesis on Earth generally involves green plants, a variety of plants of alternative colors may also utilize photosynthesis. The other colors might be preferred in places that receive a different mix of solar radiation than that received on Earth.

Plants on Earth are green because they contain chlorophyll. The chlorophyll is green because it absorbs mainly blue and red light in order to produce food for the plant via photosynthesis, while reflecting the green light frequency.

Scientists at NASA point out that if the stars for other planets were in a different state than our sun and if the light frequency that reached the planets' surface was different, then the plants would have also evolved a different type of photosynthetic pigment (other than chlorophyll). This pigment would be dedicated towards the different light frequencies received by the planet. This would cause plants to appear a different color from green, such as red and yellow.

According to recent studies, no photosynthetic plants would be blue-colored. This is because blue light provides some of the highest photosynthetic yields in the light spectrum. It is important for blue light to be absorbed rather than reflected. This is based on the physical quality of different frequencies of light produced by known types of stars.

One terrestrial example of energy conversion based on something other than ordinary light involves radiotrophic fungi that convert high energy gamma rays into useful energy using the melanin. (In most organisms melanin is used to protect the organism against ultraviolet and solar radiation.) Even still, ordinarily fungi derive their energy from decomposing other biomass, rather than by converting radiation into energy for itself.

It could even be possible for photosynthesis to occur using infrared light. In such an environment, plants may actually appear black.

It is fascinating to image the variations of life that are possible, even if life is based on the same fundamentals as our own.

Reference: Wikipedia article; Wikinews article; NASA - NASA Predicts Non-Green Plants on Other Planets; Dadachova, E; Bryan RA, Huang X, Moadel T, Schweitzer AD, et al. (2007). "Ionizing Radiation Changes the Electronic Properties of Melanin and Enhances the Growth of Melanized Fungi". PLoS ONE 2 (5): e457. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000457; Candace Lombardi "NASA: Plants on other planets not green". CNET, April 11, 2007; Julie Steenhuysen "New hue: Plants on other planets may be yellow, red". Reuters, April 11, 2007; Ker Than "Colorful Worlds: Plants on Other Planets Might Not Be Green"., April 11, 2007; “The Color of Plants on Other Worlds” by Nancy K. Kiang, Scientific American April 2008


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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Possible types of Alien Lifeforms (Part 4: Silicon Life)

A popular Sci-Fi topic is alternative forms of life. A common idea is that life could be based on silicon instead of carbon.

The idea is based on the fact that silicon has valence number of four. This means that silicon atoms can be arranged in rings and in long chains that may be useful to create structures upon which biological molecules could be built. However, there are many drawbacks that must be overcome for life to efficiently use silicon as its basis.

Silicon based lifeforms would not have organic molecules used within Terran life. DNA would not be the basis for such life. However, the silicon based molecules may not be stable without an added level of complexity because silicon has a larger atomic radius and mass than carbon. It also has more difficulty forming stable molecules, particularly where water is present.

Even still, it is a possibility. For some reason, many Sci-Fi depictions show silicon based life as being rocklike in appearance. I'm not sure where this idea comes from. It's a bit like assuming carbon based lifeforms look like a lump of coal. I have a feeling that if we do discover silicon based lifeforms, they may resemble us more than many expect.

Reference: Wikipedia article and “Are Aliens Among Us?” by Paul Davies, Scientific American December 2007

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Autumn-Gem film

I took Allie to something she's not done before, a screening of an independent film, at SCU. The film is called Autumn Gem and is done in the same style as many Biography or History Channel shows. The topic of the film was a late 19th Century Chinese heroine by the name of Qiu Jin. You can see me and Allie in the upper left corner of the room in the panoramic photo. From the looks of my face, I was apparently in the middle of chewing my gum (which is something I don't really do all that often, so this may actually be the first photo of me doing that).

From the movie's website:

Qiu Jin was a seminal leader in both the revolutionary movement and the struggle
for women’s emancipation.
Allie has never heard of Qiu Jin before that evening, as is the case for most Americans (even Chinese Americans who were born in Asia). For me, the film was an interesting exploration into Qiu Jin's role in the Chinese revolution at the turn of the 20th Century. Here's the promotional image from the previous showing.

The makers and supporters of the film hope to sell it to the History Channel or preferably to PBS. Though the film's scope is admirable, in my opinion it needs a bit more editing, production work and clean up before its ready for those venues. It was interesting to watch, but ran a bit long for the quantity of information presented. Even still, if someone is interested in the topic, or even just interested in supporting independent film makers, please check out the upcoming screening dates. They will be all over the country in a 24 day/16 city tour.