Grimm Layout

Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 10:23 PM | Filed under

I'm at my aunt's house in Bellingham; I'm staying here for almost a week for New Year's. Everyone here is either asleep or watching CSI reruns, so I decided to make myself a sandwich and read the comics in the newspaper. None of today's were particularly funny, but something about Mother Goose & Grimm caught my attention.

The main joke isn't really all that funny, nor is it very timely (the incident at the University of Florida was more than three months ago).

It seems in panel one that Grimmy has walked up to Ralph's front door to ask why he is holding the imprisoned fly high up in the air at arm's length. In panel two, Ralph is for some reason now to the left of Grimmy. And in panel three, he has returned to standing on his doorstep.

At first, I was a little confused about why the characters had swapped places. Then I thought that the author, whose name I can't make out from the illegible scribble he left, must have done this in order to get the dialogue to flow in the correct order without having to cross the speech bubbles. The picture we see in the second panel must have been drawn as seen from the other side of the characters. It's confusing to have the characters flipping back and forth like this, though. Personally, I would have left the characters in their original positions, and simply put the cat's speech bubble above the dog's; the reader would read the bubbles correctly this way. Switching their dialogue doesn't seem to upset the comic too much, either:

Also, why didn't Ralph rescue any of those other flies in the background? There's about twenty flies hovering around the bug zapper, seconds away from flying into instant death. He rescued only one.

Clichéd Error

Saturday, December 22, 2007 at 11:34 PM | Filed under ,

The family is going to my aunt's house in Bellingham for Christmas, so we opened most of our presents early this year. Something I got for my sister was a pair of Magnetic Poetry Kits. I got her the Clichés and Pick Up Lines sets, which I thought would be fun to mix up. Part of my gift was to separate the words from each other and place them on the fridge. That's when I noticed an error on one of the magnets:

"by it's cover"
Wrong! You wouldn't say, "Don't judge a book by it is cover." The only time you're allowed to use "it's" is in the "it is" contraction—this magnet should have had "its" instead. It's insane how I found such a clichéd spelling error in the Clichés set.

I think I can fix this, though. All I have to do is get scissors and cut up the magnet such that each word belongs to its own magnet. Then I can use a correct "its" magnet instead of the "it's" one. Oh, it looks like there aren't any "its" magnets in these sets. That's okay—I'll use an "it" magnet with an "s" magnet. This is starting to sound complicated.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007 at 5:16 PM | Filed under

The squirrel that's been visiting our porch the last few days must have told some friends about our food, because this afternoon, we had more squirrels visiting than ever! At one point, there were three squirrels on the porch. Garth was thrilled, as you will see in the video.

Since I last wrote about the squirrel that was here last Friday, we bought some squirrel snacks at Safeway and put them in a terra cotta pot. They've knocked the pot over three times, so there's a lot of corn, nuts, and seeds spilled all over the porch.

Time Zone Conundrum

at 11:06 AM | Filed under , ,

It's a little after 11 o'clock in the morning, and I'm here to post something slightly disturbing I just saw on the Game Show Network. (I've also noticed this on QVC.)

Password Plus is next, but note what time it's scheduled for: 2:00 PM. Obviously, they mean Eastern Time. They also mention that it airs at 1:00 Central Time. Notice, however, that Pacific Time is not mentioned at all. What gives?! Why aren't they listing the airtime for our time zone? Since when is Central Time given more priority than Pacific Time (and Mountain too, I guess)?

Gift Stacking

Sunday, December 16, 2007 at 1:58 AM | Filed under ,

I think I'm going crazy. I spent a lot of time obsessing about stacking up presents on the table behind the couch. It's difficult work—you can't put heavy presents on top of presents that are light and flimsy, and you can't put anything on top of a present that has a bow on top (lest you would crush a bow). And now I have spent fifteen minutes taking a picture, editing that picture, typing this description, uploading the picture, and posting it for you to read here. Also, it's two in the morning.

Desire for Fresh Squirrel Meat

Friday, December 14, 2007 at 1:23 PM | Filed under

A squirrel has been hanging out on the bird feeder in our back yard. The bird feeder is suspended from the eves of the house, so the squirrel has to jump to it from the porch railing, but it doesn't seem to have any trouble doing that. The squirrel is eating the suet we leave out for the birds.

Garth has been really excited to see the squirrel up close through the window. I imagine that he wants to eat it. He gets excited seeing birds, too.

Ah, the beauty of nature.

Repetitive Pledge Ads

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 2:10 PM | Filed under ,

My cousin must have thought that I would like the episode of Monk that aired on Friday. He sent me an e-mail with a link to the USA Network's website where I could watch the entire show online.

Overall, I enjoyed the episode (it was about everyone hating Monk for shooting Santa Claus), and the best part was that I was able to watch it for free! Except I had to sit through an occasional, uninterruptable advertisement. This would be fine, because it's something I should normally have to do while watching TV anyway, but the problem with watching it online was that I was presented the same commercial repeatedly. I saw the same ad for Pledge lemon-scented cleaning spray at least six times.

We have a problem when it comes to viewing content online. Advertisers lose out on lots of impressions when viewers go online to watch shows instead of watching them on TV, but the "beauty" of advertising online means that you can present certain ads to different groups of people—something that can't easily be done when you're broadcasting one feed to televisions everywhere. With the Internet, specific ads can be targeted to relevant people. The problem here is that this just isn't happening. I saw six ads for Lemon Pledge—don't tell me that I'm the kind of person who is most likely to buy Pledge. I don't see it happening. Why aren't they designing these sites to present relevant ads to me?

Actually, now that I think about it, I guess cleaning supplies might not be too far off topic if you're a fan of Monk. The character is afflicted by obsessive-compulsive disorder and a phobia of germs, among many others.

I'm not a huge fan of advertising, and I know that right now, it's basically the only big thing anyone in the entertainment business gets any money from, and therefore the only reason we don't have to subscribe and pay money to watch anything on TV. But when will be the day when I don't see the same ad twice?

Word Notes

Saturday, December 8, 2007 at 3:42 PM | Filed under

For some reason, I seem to know a lot about English language usage, and I notice all the time when someone misuses a word or something, so I thought I might use this blog to occasionally teach you how to use English correctly, and today, I have a small handful of words that you are probably using incorrectly.

I see this one misused all the time. To electrocute somebody means to kill them, using electricity. It's not merely a mild shock, or even a painful one—it's one that kills you. (It can also be an accidental one.) Just remember that "electrocute" has the "-cute" suffix, just like "execute" does. If you get shocked playing with the toaster and live to tell about it, you'd better not say you were electrocuted.

If you're on a ship, and it's rocking side to side, and you notice that you feel like you're going to vomit, you aren't nauseous. You are nauseated. To be nauseous means that you cause people to be sick. Something nauseous might cause someone to become nauseated. If you tell someone, "I'm nauseous," they may as well say, "That's right; you make me sick."

If you know that the thing floating around in the atmosphere is an alien spaceship, then don't call it a UFO. "UFO" stands for "unidentified flying object"; since you've already identified it as being a spaceship, it can't be a UFO.

Well, that's all I want to discuss for now. I'd better not catch you misusing these words in the future!

Flooded Garage

Monday, December 3, 2007 at 10:15 PM | Filed under

The weekend snow diversion was quickly washed away by the rainstorm we had today. It rained so much that the reading on my rain gauge is off the charts!

Our driveway slopes down toward the house, and a puddle of such magnitude has grown that water trickled in under the garage doors and left a little layer of water on the floor. I don't think anything of extreme important has been damaged, but boy oh boy, is the weather rainy!

Now the rain's started up again, and it's as heavy as ever! And the worst part: I just busted my umbrella!


Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 3:50 PM | Filed under , , ,

This isn't the first snow of the season (it snowed a little while earlier this week), but this is the first time the snow is sticking to the ground, so the neighbor kids asked me to come outside to help them make a snowman. Of course, any time I tried to do anything to the snowman, they told me to stop it because I would ruin the snowman. Of course, they themselves knocked the thing over three times while trying to build it. Jesse, Jeanina, and Patrick kept arguing over what to do about the snowman, and every time they began to disagree, one of them would hit the snowman and knock out a big chunk of it or tip the whole thing over.

An argument over whether to use tree needles as hair resulted in the snowman wearing a baseball cap. He has a baby carrot for a nose because nobody has any regular carrots, and he has rocks for eyes because Jeanina didn't feel like running inside to get buttons. I suggested we use tree branches for arms, but Jesse declared that to be a stupid idea, so he ran and got some thin wooden slats, which I personally think look hilariously out of place. He has a twig for a mouth, and instead of having a corncob pipe, he is... sucking on a straw? I'm not sure what the straw is there for.

On a separate note, I'm not sure that my rain gauge will work very well for measuring how much snowfall we get.

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 5:27 PM | Filed under ,

We got the Christmas tree up this weekend, and with it, a plethora of Christmas tree ornaments. I think I'll fill you in on some of the coolest ornaments hanging out on the tree this year.

This is Mr. S'moresman. It's like a snowman, except he is made out of marshmallows. Note also the chocolate and the graham cracker he is standing on. This is without a doubt the sweetest-looking of all the ornaments on the tree this year. I feel like drowning him in a hot cup of cocoa. I found it at the University Book Store, but I think I've seen it and others like it somewhere else.

I got this ornament last December at Cost Plus. (There's nothing I like there except for their Jelly Belly selection.) It expresses my love for Jelly Belly's jelly beans. I also got three other colors as Christmas presents. Each came with a package of jelly beans of the same color. I didn't see any Jelly Belly ornaments at Cost Plus this year, but they have Christmas jelly bean mix 10% cheaper than anywhere else I've seen them.

While I was taking pictures, Garth decided to walk over and start meowing. Garth likes it when we have the tree up. We don't have the tree skirt out of the garage yet, but he likes to lie down on it, under the tree, out of our reach. In this picture, I think he is trying to pick his nose with the tree.

Here's two ornaments that I like a lot. On the left, we've got the apple. Actually, this is one of about a dozen apples that populate the tree. I don't know why I like them, but I wouldn't have a Christmas tree without them.

On the right, we have Snoopy dressed up as a charity Santa. This was actually designed as a clip-on bag decoration or something, but I thought it would look good on the tree. It came in a set including other figures like Charlie, Lucy, Linus, and Franklin, as well as little props like Charlie's loserly Christmas tree. (Oddly, the set came with Schroeder's piano, but no Schroeder.)

Stephanie got this one last year, I believe. It's Santa, and he's covered in sparkly glitter! This one looks really good on the tree because he's sparkly and glittery.

Okay, that's all the ornaments I feel like typing about.

Toss-Up Catastrophe

Friday, November 23, 2007 at 8:01 PM | Filed under

Living Thing was the category of the third toss-up puzzle tonight on Wheel of Fortune. The yellow player buzzed in first when the puzzle looked like this:


He muttered a guess like "robin redbrunt". The audience groaned a little at his dull guess. Not too much later, the blue player buzzed in when the puzzle looked like this:


His guess was "robin redbreant". Pat laughed a little as he said no. The final letter, an S, popped up onto the board, and a short buzzer sounded that the round was over. The red player tried to signal in, but she was too slow. There wasn't enough time between Pat's "no" and the buzzer for her to signal in.

"Well," exclaimed Pat, "every now and then, we don't get it until... so I actually get to take the money home. It's a wonderful thing. No..., ah, so what we do is... we just move to whose turn it is to start the next round, just in order..."

I think this marks the first time that I've seen the contestants all miss the toss-up puzzle. Right after that, Pat spun $5,000 during the final spin, and the blue contestant got $36,000 in the speed-up round alone. But he missed the bonus puzzle. Oh well.


Thursday, November 22, 2007 at 10:31 PM | Filed under

A lot of idiots think that you get drowsy after the Thanksgiving meal because of the tryptophan in the turkey. (A lot of non-idiots think this too.) But you know what? The tryptophan is not really that effective in making you sleepy. You would have to eat hundreds of turkeys to get drowsy.

Here is a list of things that are more likely to contribute to your Thanksgiving nap:

  • You didn't get any sleep overnight because you were excited about Thanksgiving.
  • You couldn't sleep because you were worried about burning the turkey.
  • You didn't get enough sleep because you had to wake up early to watch the parade.
  • You exhausted yourself mashing the potatoes.
  • You exhausted yourself setting the table.
  • Someone mixed sleeping pills into the stuffing.
  • The fumes from the cranberry sauce sapped your energy.
  • You ate 100 turkeys and the tryptophan levels became significant.
  • You overworked yourself chewing all that food.
  • You drank too much wine during the meal.
  • You ate too much food and all your blood started being used to digest the food.
  • You crashed after the sugar high you got from the pumpkin pie.
  • You got bored listening to mindless chatter during the meal.
  • After the meal, you flopped yourself onto the couch and relaxed too much.

Running Jumps

Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 3:00 PM | Filed under ,

Donkey Kong Country 2 is one of my favorite video games. It was originally released for the Super Nintendo back in 1995, and improved on the original Donkey Kong Country game in almost every respect. It's about Diddy and Dixie Kong, a pair of love-monkeys. The controls for this game, like the last, were very simple. Press B to jump, and hold Y to run. It was very easy to do a running jump: While moving in one direction, hold the Y button with the tip of the thumb to run, and press the middle of the thumb into the B button to jump. It was very natural and comfortable to play this way, which is a good thing, because the running jump is perhaps the most frequent action you'll perform in this game.

DKC 2 was released on Wii's Virtual Console back in May; I'm surprised that I didn't buy it until yesterday, but I have a good reason for waiting. It's because I didn't have the right controller. On the Wii, Virtual Console games can be played with two controllers: the GameCube controller (which I happen to have plenty of) and the Classic Controller, a new controller Nintendo has developed, which has a very typical button layout (unlike the Wii Remote's).

Until yesterday, I did not have a Classic Controller, but that's okay, because I can use my GameCube controllers to play Virtual Console games, right? Not really.

Since Nintendo gives no option for remapping the controls for Virtual Console games, it would be very uncomfortable to do a running jump with the GameCube controller. The A button is situated between the B and Y buttons, which means that in trying to perform a running jump, you are more likely to press A and have Diddy jump on Dixie's shoulders (that's what the A button does).

It's unfortunate that Nintendo gives no option to remap the controls. I would assign jump to the A button and run to the Y button, but I can't. So I decided yesterday to buy a Classic Controller, which practically has the same layout as the Super Nintendo controller. Now I can do running jumps! The controller cost $20, but it doesn't feel like a rip-off. It will be useful for future games, like the upcoming Smash Bros. game. But for now, back to Donkey Kong.

Invalid Codes

Monday, November 12, 2007 at 12:19 AM | Filed under

I'm sorry I haven't written in over a week. I tend to be really on-and-off about writing blog posts, and besides, nothing of any real interest has happened over the last week. Like I said on the first of this month: this is "Boring November".

I just entered a bunch of codes into the Coke Rewards site. It used to be that under the bottle cap, you might win a reward like another free Coke product (or, more likely, "Please try again" or "Better luck next time"). Now bottle caps and other Coke products come with these codes that you can use to redeem things of moderate interest (like magazine subscriptions and movie ticket coupons). You don't get the instant satisfaction with these codes as you would if you were to get a "you win!" message, but I see no reason to throw away these codes without entering them. I was having a lot of trouble entering two of the codes a few minutes ago.

This one came with a Diet Coke 12-pack, and was worth 10 points. (By the way, I've already entered these codes, so don't bother trying to enter them in your own account.) I was having a lot of trouble with the second letter in the second row. I thought it was a Q. And it looks like a Q, because it seems like it has a stroke in the bottom right. It's not a Q. It's an O with a smudge.

This code gave me a little more grief. It was from a 12-pack of Dasani water (which we got free with Ratatouille, which is quite a fun movie--I really like Pixar's films). At first, I tried OJ4KKK6LWHRP. When that didn't work, I tried changing the O into a Q, due to my previous mistake. Then I tried changing the P into an R, because of the possibility that the diagonal stroke didn't get printed right. It wasn't until I looked closely at the code that I realized that the 6 should really be a 5. Is my eyesight going bad? I think I'm just sleepy. Good night.

Bingo Night

Saturday, November 3, 2007 at 10:55 AM | Filed under

Last night was Bingo Night at the high school. I didn't win anything last night, and I haven't won anything the last two times I went, so I don't know why I like going to Bingo Night. I went with my cousin, Kevin, and my mom. My sister was also there, but she went to sit with her friends.

Mom and Kevin each bought two bingo books ($6 each), but I bought only one, because I figured I wouldn't win anything anyway. Mom and Kevin also each bought 12 raffle tickets, which cost them each $10, but none of us won the bingo games or the raffles or anything.

A bingo book contained 15 pages (one per game), each with 3 game boards. We played standard games like "5-in-a-row bingo" and "four corners", but we also played weird games like "fill any 6 numbers", "fill a rectangle of 6", and "get a small diamond around the free space". It added a lot of variety, but the bingo caller had to keep reminding everyone of what game we were playing as she was calling numbers, and it got annoying halfway through the night.

The front of the room was set up with a bingo number mixing machine and a TV displaying the hole that the bingo balls come out of. So we could see the ball as it exited the machine, but the bingo caller said that it didn't count until she picked up the ball, lit the number on the big board, and read it aloud. Regardless, there was half of the time some moron who would call bingo, only to sluggishly remember the rules and acknowledge that it didn't count yet. Then the bingo caller would call the next number, and the winner would call bingo again, less enthusiastically this time. It was really very anticlimactic, especially when this happened on the final blackout game. It's a bit of a dull way to end the game.

Something else that kinda spoiled the evening was that some old bald guy sitting in the back of the room kept winning. He won at least three raffles and a bingo game. It seems unfair, but he had like 10 bingo cards and probably 100 tickets or something. But still, Mr. Greedy Bald Monster took the prizes and wasn't sharing the wealth. Oh well. I wasn't going in thinking I would win anything anyway.

So we altogether lost $50 during the night. It was a very dismal night, except that they were selling popcorn, so I ate two bags of popcorn while I was there. So it wasn't a total loss.

Boring November

Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 5:35 PM | Filed under , ,

Between the spooky frenzy of October and the festive frenzy of December lies the dull stretch of November.

I'm taking a break from taking down the decorations to briefly describe what happened last night, on HALLOWEEN.

We watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! It had aired the night before, but I kept it on the DVR to watch on Halloween proper. I like watching it, except for the parts where Snoopy pretends to be a World War I flying ace, because those parts are long, boring, and drawn out. You know, I think a lot of the film acts as filler. One filler moment is when Sally yells at Linus for wasting her Halloween night. She yells nonstop at him for 50 seconds, which is an eternity in TV land:
I was robbed! I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, when I could've been out for tricks or treats! Halloween is over, and I missed it! You blockhead! You kept me up all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and all that came was a beagle! I didn't get a chance to go out for tricks or treats! And it was all your fault! I'll sue! What a fool I was! I could've had candy, apples, and gum! And cookies, and money, and all sorts of things! But no! I had to listen to you! You blockhead. What a fool I was. Tricks or treats come only once a year. And I missed it by sitting in a pumpkin patch with a blockhead! YOU OWE ME RESTITUTION!
After that was You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown. Lucy and Charlie run as Linus' campaign managers as he runs for student body president, and he does really well until he jeopardizes his chances of winning the campaign by mentioning the Great Pumpkin during a speech.

I noticed something odd about how the voting was done in the show. Whoever's in charge of the election didn't seem to mind putting Charlie Brown, Schroder, and Violet--all Linus' friends--in charge of counting the ballots. Certainly, someone should have realized that they would probably cheat to get Linus to win.

Something else odd about the voting process is that the students write and submit their ballots while the votes are being counted and displayed as tally marks on a huge chalkboard. As someone puts the ballot in the box, Charlie pulls it out and shouts it to Schroder and Violet for them to make a big tally mark. Really, this is worse than exit polling. So Linus wins by one vote, but it was all for naught because the principal won't let Linus actually do anything anyway.

Well, I can't wait till the end of November, when A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving airs. It's undoubtedly my favorite Charlie Brown special.


Sunday, October 28, 2007 at 1:40 PM | Filed under , ,

A few weeks ago, my sister Stephanie asked me to make invitations to a Halloween party that she was planning. And she gave one of the invitations to me! The party was last night, and Stephanie called it a Halo-Wii-n party, because she was planning for us to play Halo 3 and Wii games. But first, we had to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Stephanie decided that we would watch it outside. In 35-to-40-degree weather. So it was cold. She decided that we would participate with the movie like people did in the '70s, so she handed out rice, newspapers, toast, etc., and told us what to do and roughly when to do it. I got cold and went in near the end of the movie.

Kevin had brought over his Xbox 360 the night before to ensure that we could hook up everything successfully. This allowed me a little time to practice playing Halo, but it wasn't enough to make me anywhere near good enough to beat some of Stephanie's friends. My battle strategy is to run up at people, shooting continuously at them until I get close enough to hit them with my gun. But they usually managed to kill me before I could reach them.

While some of us were playing Halo, Stephanie and the rest were sitting on the floor, decorating cookies. At Safeway, we had found ghost- and jack-o'-lantern-shaped chocolate cookies that came with frosting, sprinkles, and small candy. After I was done losing at Halo, I sat down to decorate one. I was uninspired and came up with a very dull pumpkin that had globs of frosting for eyes, a mouth, and a nose. Each of the four globs had different-colored sprinkles. It's not my best work, and since chocolate isn't really my favorite, I don't know if I'll ever eat this. It's probably hard, dry, and stale. (Actually, I just took a little bite. It reminds me of Cocoa Krispies.)

Stephanie's friend Madison started complaining that nobody was playing Wii, so I set up Mario Party 8 for everyone. They started getting mad at me for starting the board game mode because they secretly wanted to play only minigames. They played one game, Shake It Up, repeatedly, because they thought the inadvertently suggestive animation of how to shake the Wii Remote was funny.

Remember, everyone, that It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown airs this Tuesday at 8/7c on ABC. (I told you earlier this month that it would air tonight, but that was a lie.) Immediately following it is another special, You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown, which is about Linus running for class president. The title is a little odd, since Charlie Brown isn't running at all for president. It has only a little bit to do with the Great Pumpkin episode.

Storm Ball

Friday, October 19, 2007 at 11:17 PM | Filed under ,

Yesterday, we had a windstorm that was super-duper hyped up by the local media. It was really windy, but it was also really fun, too.

I first went outside after I heard the wind knock the recycle bin over and spill all the junk in the yard. Then I went outside with a little wooden propeller toy that I got last year at the Museum of Flight. It's a little propeller on a dowel that you spin really fast between your palms and release into the air. I was able to make it go a hundred feet or so. Jesse and Alyssa, my neighbors, tried a few times, but they couldn't really make it go up in the air.

Then, I got a beach ball four feet in diameter, and while I started blowing that up, my dad tried to fly a kite. It worked okay for a little while, but the wind was blowing it down too much. He stopped when he hit the neighbor's new car.

After I finished blowing up the ball, Dad and I tried to play catch with it. I would throw the ball one way, and the wind would pick it up and push it back to me. It was difficult not only because the wind was messing around with it, but also because it's hard to catch such a big ball. We also tried kicking it over the roof, but even with the wind's assistance, it was really difficult.

My neighbor Harold was returning from work, and thought it was funny to see us playing with the big ball in the windstorm. While he was talking to Dad, I got some bubbles out from the garage. As soon as I would pull the bubbly wand out of the giant bottle, countless bubbles would stream from the end of the wand and float quickly up and away. Dad and Harold seemed to use the bubbles to find how they should kick the ball. Dad held the ball in place, and Harold ran up and kicked it, and it flew up onto the roof. It lingered a little on our side of the roof, but then another gust of wind carried it all the way over to the other side.

I decided it would be fun to release a smaller beach ball into the wild to see how far it could go. Jesse and Alyssa were very excited about this project. I blew up the ball and wrote my e-mail address in permanent marker, along with a request to e-mail me about the ball if found after the storm. Jesse took the ball and threw it down the street.

This morning, I received an e-mail from someone who had found the ball. I was a litle disappointed that the intersection she had given me was only a block away from here, but the interesting thing was that it wound up a block uphill (and it's a steep hill). I only just recently replied to the e-mail, so I'll update here if I get any new information.

New Web Site

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at 7:57 PM | Filed under ,

I thought I would take some time to point out more Halloween decorations I've put up around the house.

This is a ghost I found at Value Village for the very affordable price of $5. The fabric ghosts hangs freely from the rusty-looking structure, and it blows in the wind, which is totally awesome. What's kinda sucky is that the ghost sometimes loops over the top and gets stuck, so I regularly have to unravel it.

Speaking of ghosts, I noticed a few days ago that the garbage bag ghost the neighbors and I put up has fallen down. It looks like the string ripped itself from the bag. This probably happened during a wind storm we had. I took the ghost and hid it in my yard so that hooligans don't run off with it.

This is something new I made this year. I got the idea online, and I have dubbed these cut-up garbage bags "Spooky Streamers". (I want to point out that I have a habit of using the word "spooky" as an adjective to describe things having to do with Halloween, such as Spooky Cat. I think I use "spooky" like this because the Halloween items in one of my favorite video games, Animal Crossing, were prefixed with "spooky".) The Spooky Streamers look really good when a fan blows on them, or when someone passes by them, because they swoosh around, and the light glimmers on them.

And what have we got here? Spooky Lights. Last year, we had three strings of Halloween lights: one in orange, one in green, and one in purple. We had them taped up in three different windows, which looked great from outside, but I decided to do something different this year. I pulled all the bulbs from the strings, and combined them into three strings each with all three colors in a pattern. It's very colorful, and for some reason, this color combination reminds me of candy. I've strung these strings around the living room. This is in lieu of a Spooky Chain, which is what I made last year. The Spooky Chain was a chain made by stapling orange and black construction paper links together.

Here, we have the leaf garlands. Garth is playing in them! He kept trying to eat the plastic coiled stems. These decorations are unique because they also stay out through November—they match the Thanksgiving decorations too. For the longest time, these decorations seemed to be lost in the garage, but I finally found them. They were in an unmarked paper grocery bag, shoved in with the sports equipment. I chanced upon them by accident this afternoon, which is really annoying, because I must have spent more than an hour determinedly searching for them earlier this month.

In celebration of the Halloween spirit, a spider has set up a new web site outside the window near the back porch. Not that I'm really afraid of spiders, but I don't think I would ever have gotten this close to a spider without a pane of glass between us.

I noticed today that my digital cable's Music Choice channel, Sounds of the Seasons, has finally begun playing Halloween music. Up until recently, they've been playing Oktoberfest music, which is a real letdown when what you really want is Halloween tunes. Last year, Music Choice made the decision of ending the Halloween music at the unfortunate time of 9:30 PM on Halloween (it was 12:30 AM the next day on the East Coast, where Music Choice is based). It was a little aggravating to suddenly hear the Jackson 5 sing Santa Claus is Coming to Town—it ruined the Halloween spirit. Seriously, do they expect people to crank up the Christmas music at 12:30 AM on November 1st? I hope Music Choice heeds the advice I gave them and holds off on the Christmas music for a few hours more.

Night Experiment

Saturday, October 13, 2007 at 12:12 PM | Filed under ,

In my Light and Color class, we learned about the rods and cones in the eyes. The cones are good for seeing colors, but they don't work well in the dark. The cones work much better in dark environments, but they can't distinguish colors. I decided it would be fun to test this.

Last night, my cousins Kevin and Daniel came over to participate. My mom and sister also wanted to participate. After it was dark outside (and there wasn't much moonlight because we just had a new moon), we turned off the lights. We had to wait a short while for the rods in our eyes to warm up, and Mom and Stephanie fell asleep before we got to the actual experiment. The original plan was to play a game of checkers, which I assumed would be difficult because we would be unable to tell the red and black checkers apart, but it so dark that I couldn't even tell the checkers apart from the checkerboard. So we settled with my backup plan: Uno.

The lighting was just right so that we could make out the numbers on the cards without too much trouble, but the difficulty lay in a frustrating inability to easily tell the cards' colors apart. Yellow appeared to be the lightest-colored card, but I couldn't be very confident what color any of the other cards might have been.

The picture is a comparison of a simulation of what the cards look like in night vision and normal vision.

Of the 49 cards we set down before Daniel won, about a third of them were illegal moves, many of which were played one after the other. Here is a table of the illegal plays.

Card on top of discard pile  Card played on discard pile
Green 2Blue Reverse
Blue 7Green 3
Green 3Red 1
Red 1Blue Skip
Green 6Blue Skip
Blue SkipGreen 9
Green 9Blue 1
Blue 7Green Skip
Green SkipBlue 5
Blue 3Yellow 6
Yellow 6Green 9
Red Draw 2Green 1
Blue 0Green 6
Green 6Blue 2
Blue 2Green Skip
Green SkipBlue Draw 2
Blue Draw 2Red 5

A simpler experiment to try in the future might be to just sort the cards by color into piles, rather than incorporate the experiment into a game, but the point was to have fun. Other activities we did not attempt included putting together a puzzle, solving a Rubik's Cube, and eating different-colored jelly beans.

I want nobody to forget: Drew Carey begins hosting The Price is Right on Monday.

Magenta Pencils

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 at 2:10 PM | Filed under

Want to see what I got in the mail today?

Two magenta colored pencils?? You're probably wondering why Crayola sent me these. It's an interesting story.

I decided that I needed some colored pencils to enhance the notes for my Light and Color class. We already have a huge bin of colored pencils downstairs, but I decided that a nice, crisp new box would be neater and easier to carry in my backpack. Mom was shopping at Target, and I realized that I could ask if she would buy me a box. Since magenta is such an important color (it's a subtractive primary, after all), I decided that I would look up on Crayola's website what the smallest box containing magenta is. I looked at the picture of the 12-pack, and it looked like it had a magenta in it, so I asked Mom to get that.

When she got home and presented the box of pencils to me, I was a little surprised to see no magenta in it! This wasn't really a huge calamity: I was able to find an okay magenta pencil in the bin downstairs, and I replaced the 12-pack's stupid redundant light brown pencil (why do you need light brown when you can just use brown and not push so hard?) with it, but I was a little disappointed that Crayola's website lied to me.

I mean, look at this picture. Wouldn't you assume that magenta (or at least, a similar enough color) is in there? See it? To the left of the orange, and to the right of the pink. Hey, wait, there's no pink in my box of pencils, either! My box contains red, red orange, orange, yellow, yellow green, green, sky blue, blue, violet, light brown, brown, and black. No pink, and no magenta!

Of course, I fired off a complaint letter to Crayola. I wish I had saved what I had written; it contained an explanation of the above story, as well as a suggestion that they correct the image on their website, and perhaps even post a list of what colors are in what boxes, so that it's obvious to people what they are buying.

Jo Ellen at Crayola e-mailed me a reply. She said she was while she isn't exactly sure where I was on the website (it was the products section, lady!), she was sorry to learn that I was misled. She also said, "As a complimentary gesture, I have placed in the mail to you two magenta colored pencils." So that's how I got these colored pencils. Anyone need a magenta pencil?

Microsoft Surface

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 2:34 PM | Filed under

Last night, my aunt sent me a link to a news story about Microsoft Surface, asking if I had heard of it before. I have heard of it before, but in case you don't know what it is, I suppose I ought to explain briefly. Microsoft Surface is like a table, and the surface is like a screen, and it's like a touch screen, so you can interact with the table by touching it. You can set a digital camera on top of the table, and it knows the camera is there because the table has cameras inside. It downloads the pictures from the digital camera, and displays them on the surface, and you can interact with the pictures by moving them around or resizing them by grabbing two points on the picture and stretching them apart. You can also set a cell phone on top of the surface, and drag one of the pictures to it to put the picture on the phone. That's just a few examples.

Microsoft says the Surface isn't really ready for home use yet, but they will be appearing some time next month in businesses, especially those in the hospitality business. I'm really interested in the restaurant applications. You can flip through menu choices, and see pictures, descriptions, price, and perhaps even ratings from other restaurant patrons. Then when you see what you want, you drag it to a spot in the center of the table labeled "order". Then after the meal, people set down their credit cards, and decide how they want to pay. If each person wants to pay only for the food they got, then they can drag the pictures of their food to their own credit cards to pay for them.

My cousin Kevin and I have had lengthy discussions about other uses the table could have in restaurants. I think there should be a button that appears near your glass (and the table knows it's a glass because of the camera inside). When your drink is running low, you can press the button, labelled "refill", and someone from the wait staff will know that you want a refill and promptly run over to pour more beverage into your glass. I think it's better than what we have now, where you have to wait for someone to notice your empty glass. Kevin said that the table itself should be able to see if the glass is getting empty. Then, he said a nozzle in the ceiling should automatically squirt the beverage into your glass. It can't miss the glass because the table knows exactly where it is. Same kinda thing happens when you're running out of garlic bread.

I personally can't wait until it's available and affordable enough for home use. Can you imagine if you had a Surface table as a coffee table, and it had a built-in remote control function? You would never lose your remote! (Unless you're stupid enough to lose a table...) You could change the channel by poking the virtual buttons on the table. What I think would be cooler is if it would display a program guide (a grid showing when shows come on, and on what channel) on the surface of the table. All you would have to do is touch the show you want to watch, and the table would tell the TV to turn it to that channel! If you happened to have a glass or a magazine on the table, it would kinda wrap the guide around it so that these things wouldn't obscure the guide. I dunno, I think this is getting a little silly.

Crazy Christmas Decorations

Saturday, October 6, 2007 at 11:56 PM | Filed under , ,

Can you believe that Lowe's already has Christmas stuff out? I guess it's not that surprising, but some of the decorations they had there were pretty odd.

What have we got here? A barking Christmas dog? He is singing Up on the House Top, except he is ruining the song by barking through half the lyrics, making the whole thing nonsensical. But still, it's practically adorable, especially with him flapping his ears with every little bark.

Oh, and what's this? A lovely Christmas tree that creepily extends and contracts its height and sings Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. This one freaks me out a little bit.

I didn't buy the dog or the tree. But there were a few decorations that called out to me, and I had no choice but to buy them. (Warning, the volume of this clip is a tad louder than the previous ones.)

It's Charlie Brown and Snoopy! Actually, this is one of two Snoopys that were available at Lowe's, but this one had a better-looking outfit. They also had Woodstock available, but why would anybody waste their money on Woodstock? Snoopy plays Jingle Bells, and Charlie plays Jolly Old St. Nicholas. I really like the riff in the background. It's similar to the one in Linus and Lucy. I think that during the off-season (any time but December), they'll be staying in my room instead of heading out to the garage.

His smile still lets through a hint of bleakness, but the fact that he's willing himself to smile warms my heart. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown airs on the 28th on ABC. Mark your calendars!

The Worst Witch

Friday, October 5, 2007 at 8:16 PM | Filed under

"Tim Curry" isn't really a name I throw around every day. He's had a rather eclectic career. I really liked his work as Wadsworth in Clue, and Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island. I'm sure that others liked his role as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the Sweet Transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania, in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you thought, however, that Dr. Frank-N-Furter was the strangest possible role to Tim Curry to act, then I think I must inform you of Mr. Curry's role in the 1986 made-for-TV movie The Worst Witch.

I'm not at all ashamed to admit that I'm not at all familiar with the plot of The Worst Witch. A quick look on the IMDB shows me something about a little girl at a witch academy. But really, I'm sure that the audience completely forgot about the plot anyway when they began watching this scene starring Tim Curry as the "Grand Wizard", singing Anything Can Happen on Halloween near the end of the film:

I came across the music video when I was looking up the lyrics (because the song itself is pretty corny too). At first, I was a little repelled, but then I continued watching to see how much worse it could get. I could continue to make fun of the video and its atrocious and incessant special effects, but I don't think I could do it as much justice as Matt Caracappa did in one of his articles on X-Entertainment.

Garbage Ghost and Candy Crime

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 5:47 PM | Filed under , , ,

I stepped outside today to check the mailbox. There were a bunch of neighbors outside, and one of them suggested that we make a ghost, like we've done in the past. Years ago, we would craft a ghost out of a white trash bag (it's waterproof) and hang it with fishing line from the street light in the cul-de-sac. A bunch of the neighbor kids wanted to help make it. I got some supplies out, and Jesse, Jeanina, Patrick, and I started to make a ghost. We made a ball of paper and stuffed it in the bag to make the head. I went inside to find some fishing line to hang the ghost up with, and when I came back outside, they had already finished the ghost, including tying the neck and drawing the face in permanent marker.

The hard part has always been getting the fishing line over the street light. I tied one end of the fishing line to the ghost, and Jesse tied the other end to a rock. Jesse had to throw several times to get the rock over the light. Every time he missed, the line got tangled up in the big, prickly bushes underneath the light, and every time, it was a hassle to untangle it. And we had to do that half a dozen times. When Jesse finally got the rock over, we pulled to get the ghost up, and Jesse and Jeanina tied the ghost to the basketball hoop underneath.

After we got the ghost up, I went inside. Not too long after that, they came to the porch, rang the bell, and said, "Trick or Treat!" when I opened the door. They had remembered a promise I made to them last year. They could come to the door in costume once a day during October and claim some candy. The candy is hardly ever anything very special, so I'm usually pretty lenient as to what counts as a costume.

Today, I gave them Baskin-Robbins hard candy flavored like mint chocolate chip ice cream. Then they came back a little later in different costumes to get more candy. I had to tell them that the candy is a once-a-day deal, but they got really aggressive about it. Jesse would keep his foot in the door so I couldn't close it, and they would try to push themselves past me to reach the candy dish located on the nearby table. I acquiesced, offering them a few jelly beans. A few jalapeño jelly beans! But they weren't satisfied with that. They kept pushing. Jesse reached in and stole a lollipop, and then Jeanina started crying because she didn't get as much candy as Jesse. So I had to give everyone a lollipop. Wish me better luck tomorrow.

Leftover Italian Food

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 10:29 PM | Filed under ,

Our fridge is chock full of leftover pizza, lasagna, and birthday cake. Stephanie had a birthday party Saturday night at Spiro's, which is a restaurant I had never heard of a month ago. It's an Italian food place. A week before the party, we went to the restaurant to try the food. Stephanie didn't want it to be just a "pizza party", so she thought she would try the lasagna. I was a little surprised when the server told us that the lasagna has broccoli in it; Mom told me I should try it, but I was having my first ever calzone. Awww, baby Brandon's first calzone.

Stephanie's party seemed to be fun for everybody. I really liked the Caesar salad, so I ate a lot of it. The garlic bread at Spiro's really is uninspired and not very garlicky. Mom and Stephanie ordered three pizzas and a big hundred-dollar tray of lasagna. I was right in hypothesizing that the pizza would be much more popular than the lasagna, so now we have several boxes of lasagna in our fridge. We also have pizza, but the only pizza we have leftover now is the Hawaiian pizza, which has pineapple in it, and I can't eat that. It's just too weird having the juicy fruit in the pizza. We also have lots of cake, but I don't think it's healthy to gorge on that.

Stephanie asked me to take pictures at the party, including a group shot. I set up the timer on my camera, and told it to take ten pictures. The guests at first were a little agitated, but then they started getting silly for the camera. After I got home, I used a new program created by Microsoft, Group Shot. It's pretty cool. It's designed to take care of situations when at least one person in every picture is blinking. You tell the program what portions of what picture to include in a composition. I created one good picture and one silly one. Can you tell which is which?

I could go through and reduce the red eyes, but I don't feel like it. Now that I think about it, maybe it would have been funny to have the camera do its red-eye-reducing flashes, but that would certainly have blinded everyone at the party.

I've done some other weird pictures with this Group Shot program:

Admittedly, I could easily have done this in Photoshop, but it was really easy with Group Shot.

Halloween Decorations

Friday, September 28, 2007 at 3:52 PM | Filed under ,

The Halloween decorations are up! Some of you may argue that it's too early to be putting up decorations for a holiday that is still at least a full month away, but I have my reasons. First, the autumnal equinox was on Sunday. From now until spring, we have more nighttime than daytime. This seems like a logical time to put up decorations for the spookiest, creepiest holiday. Secondly, since it's darker and crummier outside, it's very critical to get decorations up inside to compensate. It has to be fun inside; it sucks outside.

Here are four pictures of Halloween decorations. The first is a rubbery cat, and it looks pretty convincing. It doesn't look totally fake. We got it at a Halloween store a few years ago. It's one of the few decorations that doesn't go back in the garage after Halloween--it's usually kept downstairs. The second picture is a pair of squeaky rats, displayed ominously on top of the shelves. We have five of these rats (two are missing) and a baby rat. I have been able to find these rats at Value Village, in case you want some. The third picture depicts a bunch of gourds we got earlier this week. It looks like they don't like the cold weather or something. You should be able to click any of the photos for a closer look--maybe you can diagnose what's wrong with these gourds. We've only had them outside a few nights. I think we may need to keep future ones inside.

The fourth is a picture of my favorite Halloween decoration: Spooky Cat. I found Spooky Cat last year at Safeway, and had no option but to buy it after hearing it meow. It starts with a few innocent mews, then a threatening growl, then garbled, haphazard noises that sound like nothing I've ever heard from a cat. View the video to hear it yourself:

If you really like Halloween stuff, I strongly suggest you check out the Halloween Countdown at X-Entertainment. It can best be viewed through his blog pages. He started it on September 17, and tries to make an update every day, but he usually gets tired after a few weeks. He also has a link to his awesome Halloween jukebox available in the first Halloween post.

By the way, a few people told me they didn't know how to leave comments here. It's easy. At the end of every blog article is a line that starts with "Posted by Brandon Dilbeck". At the end of that line is a link to the comments. You can choose to log in with your Google or Blogger account if you have one. If you don't have one, don't worry. You don't have to sign up for anything. Click Other, and just type in your name. If you'd prefer to remain anonymous, you can choose that too, I guess.

If you'd like to keep up to date with my blog entries, at the bottom of the page is a line that says "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)". Clicking the link is the first step in subscribing to my blog. I talked about how to view feed subscriptions the other day.

Outage Outrage

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 at 1:52 PM | Filed under

Since May, construction workers have been working across the street from our cul-de-sac. For those of you unfamiliar with my cul-de-sac, it opens up into the side of a steep road. Across the street from the cul-de-sac used to be a small forest, but that's gone now. They cleared the forest and will put up some townhouses or something.

They've been a general nuisance since day one. First, they get rid of our lovely trees, and with that, our lovely sense of privacy. (Not that I promote deforestation or anything, but at the very least, we get a little more sun without the trees, so perhaps we'll have less snow lingering during the winter.) They also messed up the street, too! It was recently repaved and very nice, but they tore it up to put in plumbing and stuff! When they were repaving (sloppily, I might add--it doesn't look smooth anymore), they blocked off both the top and the bottom of the hill, making it impossible to get a car in or out of the cul-de-sac. Yesterday, for the better part of an hour, they blocked off the mouth of our cul-de-sac (see picture). But today, they've taken it a step too far. They've cut off our power!

I returned from my first day of school not too long ago, and Mom was here for her lunch break at the same time. We noticed that the power was out when Mom opened the fridge to pull out some leftovers. No fridge light! I also noticed that the Jellybell wasn't turning on. (Oh, Jellybell's my desktop computer's name.) I found this annoying, because I had some school stuff I wanted to do. On her way back to work, Mom stopped to ask the construction people if they were responsible for the power outage. She called me on my cell phone to inform me that they would have the power off for several hours! She also reported that they weren't really very polite about it, either.

Aren't they supposed to give notice before cutting off the power? Seeing how nobody was home at the time, I guess there was no one to give notice to. But still... I hope they finish soon. They've been working there since May, and they still don't have any buildings up! They have a few foundations, I guess, but come on! They spent what seemed like months just pushing the dirt around.

I'm typing this on Scooter (that's my laptop), leeching the Internet from some neighbor not too far away. I have only forty minutes of battery power left. After that, I will be unable to recharge it. Aaack!

Oh! The power just came on. And I was just about to click Publish, too! Oh, what a coincidence...

My Summer Discovery

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 at 3:47 PM | Filed under ,

A computer program I came across this summer has completely changed the way I use the Internet. It's Microsoft's Windows Live Mail, and it's currently in the beta phase. Even so, it seems to work remarkably well. Windows Live Mail is an e-mail client, and it's very clean looking; there are no ugly ads or anything. There is one specific feature, however, that has revolutionized how I view content on the Internet: web feed aggregation.

I'm a fan of many websites on the Internet, but it was always tedious to have to click on each of the items in my Links folder to check if the authors of those sites had updated with any new content. Web feeds fix this problem. Basically, they deliver new content to you whenever it's available, as long as you have an aggregator--a program that gathers web feeds together. Windows Live Mail is an aggregator, and a good one at that. Internet Explorer 7 also has a built-in aggregator, but I think it's rather limited.

The thing I like best about Windows Live Mail's is that it has an option to show you only your unread feeds, and it lists them kinda like e-mails. You can open a feed, read it, and then read through the rest of your unread feeds. It's nice to not have to dig through a big mixture of read and unread articles. Another thing I really really like is that you can choose to have Windows Live Mail display the article directly as a webpage (instead of a summary and a link to the article), and it does this right within the program. Right now, it won't display JavaScript or Flash; that's something I hope Microsoft makes available for the release version.

Be sure to check out this blog's feed if you're interested in web feeds.


Monday, August 13, 2007 at 1:26 PM | Filed under , ,

What do you think when I show you this picture of a pair of raggedy, non-corn-fed puppet chickens?

If you thought of Foster Farms, then you would be correct. But isn't there something a little odd here? You saw a picture of two disgusting, inferior chickens, and you thought of Foster Farms? I'm sure that this isn't the image that Foster Farms wants to portray, so it's a little unfortunate that I think of Foster Farms when I see this chicken duo.

Neighbor Cat

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 7:03 PM | Filed under

This black neighbor cat has repeatedly visited our back porch over the last week or so, and more recently, it's been sleeping on the porch swing. It's even pretty friendly and lets me sit next to it and pet it. This neighbor cat, which has big ears and I think is named Midnight, is making my own cat, Garth, paranoid. Garth is usually friendly around people he's familiar with, but he absolutely HATES to see strange cats near his house. He even hisses through the screen door. My cat really needs to learn some manners.

Oh, I just realized that I already wrote about this cat a month ago.

Car Blocking Mailboxes

Monday, July 16, 2007 at 12:33 PM | Filed under

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Notice that there's nothing along the lines of "nor someone's car parked in front of the mailboxes" in there, and that's the main reason why we haven't been getting mail recently.

Our neighbors have a very steep driveway, so their visiting company parks at the foot of the driveway, in front of the mailboxes. Lazy Mr. Mailman refuses to step out of his mail truck to deliver our mail, which is kinda sucky. He'll take the time the next day, however, to write "Couldn't deliver; car blocking mailboxes" on everyone's mail.

I've asked the USPS if there's something I can do, but I'm pretty sure they're only going to tell me that we're SOL. The police also say they can't do anything about the cars. I'm sure there's some law documented somewhere highlighting that you aren't supposed to park in front of mailboxes.

Ding Dong Ditch

Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 3:55 PM | Filed under , ,

A few of the little neighbor kids these past few days have really gotten into playing Ding Dong Ditch. They've been playing it and off all day today, so I thought it would be fun to set up a camera so I could watch a live feed of the porch remotely.

In the feed, I saw Jesse run under the porch. Then I saw Davey run up the stairs with toddler Patrick shortly in tow. After Davey rang the door bell, I took a still from the feed. Davey stumbled quickly down the stairs and hid under the porch, but Patrick just stood on the porch, not knowing to hide. I watched as he stood there for what was probably about 20 seconds. Then I saw them all dash away together in the background. A minute later, I stepped outsie and told them that they would have to do a better job than that, because I could see everything they did. I told them every event that I could remember from the video, pointing out that Patrick stood on the stairs far too long. Jesse asked me how I knew all that, so I presented them a printed copy of the still I took, which you see to the right. They were surprised and thrilled to notice the webcam in my window.

A little while later, I set a single wrapped popcicle on the porch and then quickly went inside to watch as they all three walked up on the porch and grabbed the popcicle. I later learned that Jesse alone ate it, because his tongue was orange. After that, they rang the door bell, asking me for gumballs, but we got rid of those a long time ago. Patrick was upset about not having a popcicle, and I explained facetiously that they were all three meant to split the orange-flavored one, but I shortly after that chucked two more popcicles into the yard. Davey ate one, and I scolded Jesse for starting to eat a second one instead of giving it to Patrick.

One Per Table

Friday, July 6, 2007 at 6:19 PM | Filed under , ,

A bunch of us are eating at Azteca. The waitress serving us was very strict in reminding us of the "one per table" clause of a coupon Mom wanted to use. However, she really didn't care to listen to my reasoning that our party is sitting at what is actually THREE tables, pushed together. Only when it comes to coupons does the definition of "table" change.

Noodle Disaster

Sunday, July 1, 2007 at 8:37 PM | Filed under ,

Tuna Noodle Gratin. It sounds really good, doesn't it? The picture on the box makes it look very appetizing, but when I went ahead and microwaved the meal, it ended up looking like slop. The box says that there is a "creamy sauce", but I would never have guessed from the picture that there would be so much of it! I wish there were more crunchy breadcrumbs, too, but they just kinda got buried under the sauce.

I know it's usually a given that the picture on the box will look better than the actual product, but come on, isn't this a bit of a stretch here? I'm not saying the food tasted bad—it was quite delicious, actually—but it just didn't look that good.

I'm still hungry. These things never fill me up.

Neighbor Cat

Wednesday, June 13, 2007 at 11:52 PM | Filed under

This afternoon, Dad pointed out to me that a black cat was lying down on our back porch (and this is upstairs), nestled comfortably in the barbeque grill cover on the ground. I quietly unlatched the sliding door and approached the cat, who at first seemed a bit apprehensive, but continued to lie down. I should point out that this cat has been on our porch before. Last time, it meowed nonstop, and even after I had given it some kibble, it remained in the yard and loudly meowed for quite a while.

I sat on the porch swing and the cat rubbed against my legs. It was shortly after I had started petting the cat that Dad brought Garth to the screen door, which was shut; neither of us had any intention of opening the screen door. Garth stared out the window as the neighbor cat approached him. They looked at each other for a moment, then Garth scrunched up his face and let out a loud hiss. The neighbor cat backed up a bit, and Garth scrunched his face and hissed again. The neighbor cat then fled the porch, running down the stairs.

My cat is a jerk.

Pikachu's Hat

Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 1:13 AM | Filed under

I am very excited for the new Super Smash Bros. Brawl game that is supposed to come out later this year. I've been checking out the latest updates about the game on the official website. In today's update, they provided some pictures of Pikachu, which happens to be the character I've been using since the original Smash Bros. game was released 8 years ago. I thought something was a little odd about the Pikachu in these pictures, though. I think I figured out what is wrong. Pikachu is naked.

I've always used Pikachu in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and I've always had him wearing the spiffy green hat. I guess it's because it looks whimsical. I think the hat is supposed to be a fedora (or maybe it's a homburg—I'm not really a hat expert, as I rarely wear them myself); Pikachu's other hat choices in Melee include a pointed blue party hat and a red cap that resembles Ash's old hat from the anime. My point here is that I suppose I'm not used to seeing Pikachu without a hat!

I'm pretty sure that I've read that Nintendo is going to include costume changes in the new game, so I'm hoping that it's a given that Pikachu will continue to have a variety of hats to choose from, especially the beloved green hat. Except for the occasional hat, costume changes so far through the Smash Bros. series have been limited to color changes. I wonder if Nintendo's planning on entire outfit changes. I'm sure there are some purists who would rather see Wario in his classic yellow-and-purple overall ensemble rather than the new biker outfit he'll be wearing (personally, I love his biker outfit); it would be neat to have the option to choose between the different clothes.

Dumb Foucault Pendulum

Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 11:23 AM | Filed under ,

Normally in the physics building, a pendulum swings all over the place due to the way the earth spins. It's called the Foucault Pendulum, after the French guy who invented and studied it. Only, today, the pendulum is not swinging at all. Either the pendulum has been deactivated, or else (gulp) the earth has stopped spinning altogether. This may be a consequence of how Pluto was stripped of its planetary status last summer. I'm afraid the earth may be rebelling against us, my friends...

Electronic Price Tags

Saturday, May 19, 2007 at 4:19 PM | Filed under

I'm at Kohl's right now in the shoe department and noticed something very intruiging: electronic price tags. This is weird. I've never seen digital price tags before! I guess they do this so they can update the prices of their shoes remotely at a computer or something. It seems a little wasteful when you consider how much power these all use up. I wonder if everything in the future will have electronic price tags. This surely is a sign of the times.