My Tribute

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 at 12:53 AM | Filed under , , ,

Look what I made!

It is a scene of Linus, Lucy, Sally, Snoopy, and Woodstock gathering around a Christmas tree. Lucy wants to put the star on the tree, but Woodstock is already sitting on top. It looks like Linus wants to hand Woodstock a Christmas card.

The pages are laid out, not even taped together yet.

The poster is made of thirty sheets of paper, taped together to fit the size of my window, which is about 34″ × 59″. There is a reason why the picture looks off-center: the frame between the sashes blocks part of the picture. If I had centered the picture in the window, the tree and Woodstock would be blocked behind it. This would look bad.

The hard part was coloring. I could have printed the pages in color, but I decided to go with the coloring book style because I was worried that color ink would run if it touched condensation on the window. Crayons are small, and I had a lot to color, but I think it'll be safer this way.

With the lights on inside, the poster is illuminated for outdoor viewers. In the daytime, I hope the sunlight will pass through the poster so that the image can be seen from inside.

I got the picture design from a paper Christmas decoration I found in a Christmas decoration bin. I scanned the picture so that I could use it as my desktop wallpaper.

The original decoration, about a foot wide.

Here is the poster, seen from inside my room.

Gotcha, Charlie Brown!

Saturday, November 29, 2008 at 10:22 PM | Filed under , ,

I found the Charlie Brown popcorn tin! It was $4.88 at the Mukilteo Rite Aid. This is awesome!

The tin has two scenes. The first is Charlie hanging the red ornament on his scraggly tree. This is moments before his Christmas is temporarily ruined.

The other side has all the kids gathered happily around the tree. This picture is very faithful to the original scene—the tree is decorated the same, and the kids are all arranged the same way

I Want This

Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 8:22 PM | Filed under , ,

I saw this on the X-Entertainment Blog today. It's one a popcorn tin sectioned into three flavors. I like eating popcorn (especially the cheese-flavored popcorn—the caramel, not so much), and these popcorn tins are great to have around during the Christmas season. What's even better is that it has a scene from the Charlie Brown Christmas on it! I have to get one of these.

Voting in Alaska

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 3:39 PM

Last night, at 8 p.m. (PST), NBC declared Barack Obama as the next president. An hour later, Obama gave his victory speech. An hour after that, the polls closed in Alaska.

I wonder what it felt like to cast a ballot when the election for president had already been decided.

Couple on the Bus

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 2:01 PM

I'm taking the bus home right now. I'm sitting sideways on the bus—three seats are facing three seats on the other side. The girl sitting next to me has been talking to the guy across from her. I figured that it would be nice for me to ask the guy if he wanted to trade seats with me so that he could sit next to her, especially because it would be too loud to talk on the freeway, once we got on it. We were at the last stop before the freeway, and I was going to offer the guy to trade seats with me, but the girl never stopped talking and gossiping. I never did get to offering, and I think I have done this guy a favor because of it.

What Do You Say?

Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 10:46 PM | Filed under ,

I handed out candy at my dad's work today. Every year, on the Saturday before Halloween, the businesses in the Greenwood area around his store participate in a trick-or-treating thing, and my dad hires me to give out candy for his store.

Most kids are too young to know to say thank you. Most of them I'm sure don't even know what's going on. (That doesn't mean they have to stare at you after you give them candy, though.) I was surprised by how many kids were saying thank you today. Several of them really seemed to be excited to be trick-or-treating, and I think this was a great thing. There was one group of girls, slightly older than the rest, each dressed up to give her a pallid look, and they weren't smiling at all, and they hardly said thank you. Were they in this just for the candy? It didn't even look like they enjoyed being together.

The worst part is when you give a kid candy, he turns around, and the mom or dad says, "What do you say?" The expected answer, from the kid to me, is "Thank you," but it doesn't always come to that. Often, the kid will just stand there, staring awkwardly, until the parent thanks me. Actually, what's worse than that is when the kid does say thank you, but the parent says, as they're leaving, "DID YOU SAY THANK YOU?" It's too bad that the parents don't trust their children. Did they harass them like this at every store?

There was one little girl who came in the store right as the event was ending at three. I gave her a Rocky Road candy and wished her a happy Halloween. Then, her mom asked her, "What do you say?" Instead of giving thanks, though, the girl said, "I'm allergic to nuts." So I had to take the Rocky Road out of her hand (it has cashews!) and replaced it with a Laffy Taffy.

Make Up Your Mind!

Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 5:07 PM | Filed under

I'm using Microsoft Office Word 2007 to type something for my composition class:

Uh oh! It says there's an error. It says to change "seven" to "7." Okay.

Now what? It wants me to change it back to "seven." Word says to do this because I should spell out any number less than 10. So I make the change, and it says to change back to 7. (Augh! I could do this for hours!) I think the problem it's having is that it thinks that "seven died" is a part of the preceding list, and it's trying to make my list consistent somehow.

Silly Screen Saver

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 at 7:06 PM | Filed under ,

If you leave Comcast's DVR paused for too long, a screen saver pops up to protect the TV from burn-in.

Is this an oversight? It's an HD cable box, presumably designed for widescreen TVs—it's weird that the screen saver fills only the middle 4:3 area of the TV. Isn't the rest of the screen at risk of burn-in? I hope that Comcast will resolve this issue with their next update.

Update (Oct. 8): Comcast has e-mailed me and is taking steps to resolve this matter.
Update (Jan. 24, 2009): I suppose the issue is still being investigated.
Update (Dec. 15, 2009): The problem is still persisting, but I am confident that Comcast is hard at work with an upgrade to fix it.
Update (Aug. 29, 2010): I just noticed that the screen saver has been fixed! It stretches across the whole screen. And now instead of Comcast, it says xfinity, whatever that means…

Garbage Ghost Hanging

Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 7:39 PM | Filed under , , ,

This year's garbage ghost is up! We did the same thing last year, and we've done it before.


Jesse and I made the ghost yesterday. We used two garbage bags this year, taping them together to make a much larger ghost. We stuffed the head with plastic shopping bags, using just a little paper to cover the Safeway logo so that it wouldn't show through. Jesse drew the face on with a Sharpie. I am impressed by how generic he drew the face. I was afraid he might draw a stupid-looking half-scary face. The moaning ghost look is very appropriate. We stopped working on the ghost to rescue his cat, who was stuck meowing on his roof.

Hanging the ghost is very tricky. (I want to mention that the fishing line is attached to the top of the ghost's head—it is not tied around the neck.) Jesse plays a lot of sports, so he is a much better thrower than I. He tied the fishing line to a rock and threw it over the street light. Once we got it over, but before we pulled the ghost up, I messed things up. I stepped in a loop of the fishing line and got it tangled around my foot. I don't know what Jesse was thinking, but he cut the line around my leg, and this messed up this hanging.

I could tell that Jesse was getting tired, and when his mom asked if he wanted to go with her to pick up his sister, he went with her. Patrick and Jeanina had come outside to watch, but I realized that none of the three of us would have an easy time throwing a rock over the light in just the right place. I got out my Foxtail, tied the string to the tail, and flung it up and over the light. Unfortunately, I forgot to have someone hold onto the other end of the string (not attached to the ghost), and it got pulled up by the Foxtail's weight, so I had to do it again—I got it on the third try. I pulled the ghost up and anchored the string to the bushes underneath.

The ghost is really cool! With breezes, it spins slowly around, and its tail floats behind it.

It seems like the ghost is alive (or undead, at least), looking around the cul-de-sac. I hope this ghost stays up through Halloween.

Silly PowerPoint Slides

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at 1:05 PM | Filed under

I came across a PowerPoint presentation I made last summer when I was extremely bored. It's about cats and dogs, and which we should love more. It's supposed to be stupid. Here are two slides from it.

The Ol' Stuples Gag

at 11:28 AM | Filed under

I got the latest issue of Mad a few days ago. You might remember the news that last month, someone working at Circuit City overreacted about Mad's "Sucker City" spoof. I personally thought that it was very funny, so that's why I was delighted to see Mad do another spoof. This time, the victim was Staples.

Stuples!! I told my dad about this, and he thought it was a little funny, but he was too busy to look at it, so I left it open and set it on the bar. A few hours later, he returned and started looking through it. He had forgotten that it was a spoof! He told my mom how crazy this staple gun was.

He was actually considering getting it, probably because of how awesome it looks. Then he noticed the required 5-day waiting period, and that's when he began doubting how authentic the ad was. Then he flipped the magazine closed and realized that it's Mad!

My favorite product in the fake ad was the Crayola box of crayons.

Spore Is Given One Star

Tuesday, September 9, 2008 at 9:57 AM | Filed under

It looks like there are several people who are disgruntled about the new Spore game, which came out on Sunday. A look at Amazon's customer ratings breakdown should point out that many people seem to be dissatisfied.

Wow, 93% of reviewers gave the game one star. The number of one-star reviews increases by the minute.

Nearly all of the one-star reviews I read mentioned Spore's digital rights management (DRM). The point of DRM is to obviate piracy of electronic software. It sometimes works, but it also sometimes hurts the honest software users.

For example, if someone downloads music from the iTunes Store, he can put it on his iPod, but not his Zune. If he downloads music from the Zune Marketplace, he can put it on his Zune, but not his iPod. This means that if he wants to have a Zune and an iPod (or if he is replacing one with the other), he'll have to pay twice for songs he wants to put on both devices. I think that's crazy. Nobody should have to pay twice for the same song.

In the case of Spore, this means that people can install the game only three times. They must activate their software online, and DRM software installs itself on their computers and apparently cannot be removed. Each of these brings some limitation to the installation and use of this game, and this is what has irritated these reviewers.

I can relate the most with the last of the reviews I posted above. When my family was beta testing Windows Vista, Microsoft would often take our computer and reinstall the latest version of Vista. Every time, we would have to reinstall all our programs. I would have to reinstall Adobe Photoshop. Eventually, Photoshop failed to install because I had reached the installation limit, which I didn't know of. I called Adobe, and they gave me a new activation code, but it's crazy that I had to go to such lengths.

I applaud that people are using Amazon's ratings system to tell others what they feel about this game. A lot of people say that if you don't like something, then don't buy it—I'm glad to see that people are leaving reviews warning others of potential DRM problems they could come across with Spore.

Zebra Keeps Its Stripes

Monday, September 8, 2008 at 5:52 PM

I was at Woodland Park Zoo today. It's a great big park, so a map is necessary to ensure that you see everything. Something I saw on the map was that animals are represented on the map by silhouettes. This isn't true of the zebra, however!

The zebra keeps its stripes! (This is also true of the tiger on the map.)

You can see more pictures in my Facebook album, whether or not you're a Facebook member. (If you're Facebook friends with me, you can comment on my pictures!)

Are zebras white with black stripes, black with white stripes, or is it all just an optical illusion?

Spaces Between Sentences

Sunday, September 7, 2008 at 12:16 AM | Filed under

I grew up typing two spaces between sentences. I guess it was my mom who had me doing this—she said it was the proper way to type. This was more true back in the old typewriter days, where every character was the same width (monospaced typefaces): I and W would take up the same amount of space. Using two spaces between sentences made it easier to tell when one ended and another began. Now that we have digital printing and proportionally spaced typefaces (where I is less wide than W), two spaces between a sentece look weird. I found some illustrations if you want to see this for yourself.

Typing two spaces between sentences was never really a problem until I took Journalism in eighth grade. Our teacher didn't have much of a style guide (in fact, he wasn't really even concerned that his students would misspell all kinds of words), but one of his rules was that we had to use one space between sentences. I found this surprisingly hard to abide by. It was a force of habit: after I pressed period, I would automatically press the space bar twice. After writing an article, I would have to go through the whole article and remove all the double spaces. (There was no universal replace tool.)

Another issue that would occasionally crop up would be whenever the end of a sentence reached the right margin of a page, or the right edge of a text box. If the software wasn't set up correctly, it would handle the first space just fine, but the second space would sneak to the beginning of the next line and indent the line by a space! Totally unacceptable.

I suppose there was no real need for me to switch to using only one space, but there was no reason for me to be using two.

Text messaging probably helped me make the conversion to being a one-spacist. My cell phone would automatically capitalize the first letter of a sentence only if I used one space before it. Using two spaces would result in having to press buttons three times (space-space-shift) instead of just once (space).

What probably helped me the most was when I started learning a new keyboard. Tired of the boring old qwerty keyboard, I decided to learn the more comfortable Colemak keyboard. Being forced to slow down while I learned the keyboard gave me the opportunity to also adjust to typing just one space between sentences.

Now it feels natural to type just one space between sentences. It feels silly to use two, now.

Turn Over, Hook Up

Saturday, September 6, 2008 at 1:29 PM | Filed under

My sister is preparing her things to take with her when she moves into her dorm later this month. She decided to leave behind her 7-inch Aluratek digital picture frame so that I could load it with pictures and display it here at home. I planned to insert a SD card full of pictures, but first, I wanted to remove all the silly pictures of her friends goofing off.

The frame has built-in memory which can be accessed by connecting to a computer with a USB cable. This is where she had copied her pictures. I connected the picture frame to the computer with the USB cable, but the picture frame wasn't showing up in my Computer folder. I also tried my laptop, but it wouldn't show up there, either.

I started searching through the picture frame's built-in menus to see if there was an option to delete everything, but I couldn't find anything like that. I turned it over to see if there was a reset button on the bottom, but there was nothing like that. When I set it back down, however, I noticed a message on the screen: "Disconnected with PC, please restart!"

That means it must have been connected at some point! I also noticed on my laptop that it said that it had found a new device, or something like that. I figured out what I had to do to access the picture frame.

I had to hold it upside-down. I held it in my left hand and used my right hand to delete all the files saved to the picture frame.

I Like My Aquarium!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 10:29 PM | Filed under , ,

What do you think of my new aquarium? My fish sure look realistic, don't they? Well, actually, the fish aren't real at all! They are video game characters!

Actually, I wouldn't really call it a game, but it runs on a game system. My Aquarium was released Monday morning as a download for Wii. It cost 500 Wii Points ($5), and I was a bit reluctant to buy it at first. After I watched a few videos online of it, I caved in and decided to get it.

There's a lot to do in terms of customization in this game, which is good news for me because I love tinkering with things. You can choose what every aspect of the tank looks like: what fish populate the tank, what decorations fill it (unfortunately, there are no underwater castles or plastic scuba divers), what the floor and background look like, and even what kind of lighting illuminates the tank. You can create up to six tanks. My first looks like a generic tank. The second has a riverbed theme.

The fish seem to swim around realistically. It probably wasn't very hard to make them swim convincingly because they just swim around. If you point the cursor at a fish and give the Wii Remote a little jerk, the fish will wiggle and squirm around. The fish start small and grow over time; if you don't feed your fish, they don't die, though. At first, the selection of fish you can have in the tank is limited, but it seems that more will be unlocked as time passes.

I'll probably get bored with My Aquarium before next week, but at least when we have company over, we can have a huge, vibrant, TV-sized fish tank.

Name-Calling Ads

Friday, August 22, 2008 at 1:34 PM | Filed under

When I've used Windows Live Messenger, I never expected for any of the text ads on the bottom of the window to insult me, but I guess I was wrong!

Calling me an ass is no way to get me to click you!

Okay, okay, what's actually happened is that the rest just got cut off. The rest of the ad reads, "Associates, Master's, Bachelor's."

In other news, an Elebits sequel is apparently coming to the DS.

Waterless Fountain

Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 2:48 PM

A year or two ago, Alderwood Mall turned off the water in their fountain pools. I'm surprised that people still throw coins in.

MSN Spoils the Olympics

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 7:46 PM | Filed under ,

I had little doubt that Michael Phelps would be able to score his record-setting tenth Olympic gold medal tonight. I was expecting to sit down tonight and see an exciting and dramatic race. Instead, I got this:

I saw this horrible spoiler at the top of (Internet Explorer's default home page). I live on the West Coast; footage recorded live is actually delayed three hours before being broadcasted here. So the 200m butterfly race has already happened, even though the Olympics footage hasn't even started on TV here. It makes me upset that I can't even open Internet Explorer without ruining my evening.

I was looking forward to watching the Olympics tonight. I've watched them every night so far. I even told my family that I wasn't going to go out with them to dinner tonight so that I could watch the games. But it's been spoiled for me. There would be no suspense in viewing the races tonight.

I'm going out to dinner now.

Crossword Failure

Monday, August 11, 2008 at 10:25 PM | Filed under

My dad, cousins, and I sucked at the crossword puzzle we attempted on Saturday.

Speakers' platforms: ROSTUM
Right-triangle ratios: TIEEM
Cacklers: CHKN
Unfreeze: DTHAW

Our biggest mistake was doing it in pen, but I don't even know what we were thinking on some of these. We kinda gave up after a while, though, and were goofing off before we quit entirely. Keep in mind that this was the Saturday puzzle, the hardest of the week.

I'm a Better Potential Father

Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 7:19 PM | Filed under

I was bothered by all the apps sending me notifications here on Facebook. But just a moment ago, I got a wonderful notification that totally changed my mind. It said that one of my friends compared me with one of her friends and thinks I am a better potential father. I'm so glad I got this! I don't know with whom she compared me, nor do I even know the name of the app that sent the presumably automated notification, but I now know that this is what they mean by "social networking."

I just feel sorry for the poor sap who got the notification that said that somebody "has just compared you with one of her friends and thinks you are a worse potential father."

Skip Voicemail Messages

Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 1:40 PM | Filed under ,

Last night, I tried to call my aunt Karen, and I got her voicemail. I didn't want to listen to her recorded voicemail greeting, so I pressed star to skip it. Instead of hearing the beep, however, I was instructed to enter a password. I had pressed the button used for Karen to log in to her voicemail account.

It turns out that the keys you press to skip the greeting depend on who the recipient's cell phone carrier is. Mine is Verizon, so when you call me, press star to skip the message and get right to the beep. It turns out that Karen's carrier is Cingular; I was supposed to press pound to immediately leave a message. T-Mobile also uses pound; for Sprint, press 1.

The annoying thing is that even if you could remember what button to press for each carrier, you probably won't know what carrier the recipient has. If you were to call me, reach my voicemail recording, and press pound instead of star, you would instead be prompted to enter a password. This is why one of the first things I say in my voicemail recording is, "You can press star to leave a message now." Not only does it assist people in knowing which button to press, but also teaches people that don't know already that it's possible to skip the message.

My advice is that you should include a line like mine near the beginning of your voicemail recording. You could save your callers from having to listen to some thirty seconds of redundant recordings.

Premium Mustard

Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 8:45 PM | Filed under

I'm out on the annual family camping trip. An idea I had this year, since our site has electrical hookup, was to string up lights to illuminate the tables at night. One string my aunt brought is a bunch of picnic items: watermelon, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, ketchup bottles, and mustard bottles. It's all very whimsical. It's the mustard bottles, however, that got my attention. Why does it say "Premium Mustard"? Why not just "Mustard"? Why did they deem it important to make such a distinction? My cousin and I had a good laugh about this when we were putting them up.

A Waste of Time

Thursday, July 24, 2008 at 12:02 AM | Filed under

It bothers me when people remove food from the microwave early without resetting the countdown timer. The microwave blinks the time remaining and the message "PRESS START" repeatedly as it waits idly. I'm the one who has to reset it, even if I wasn't the one using the microwave. Someone needs to manufacture self-resetting microwaves.

Use–Mention Distinction

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 1:25 PM | Filed under

Here's a riddle you have probably heard before:

Railroad crossing, watch out for cars.
Can you spell that without any R's?

The problem is that the riddle doesn't really work when it's written out. The problem is that there is no use–mention distinction. When in writing a word, you mean to refer to the word itself, instead of what the word means, you need to offset the word in quotation marks or italics.

The riddle at the top of this article could mean different things depending on where you put quotation marks.

"Railroad crossing, watch out for cars."
Can you spell that without any R's?

In this example, the riddle is presenting you with the words "Railroad crossing, watch out for cars." Because the "that" is not in quotation marks, it's assumed that it is referring to the first sentence, which means that the riddle is asking you to spell it without R's ("Aiload cossing, watch out fo cas") or completely redo the sentence ("Locomotives go by, be mindful of automobiles").

Railroad crossing, watch out for cars.
Can you spell "that" without any R's?

In this second example, "that" is in quotation marks, which means that you are literally asked to spell "that" without using any R's, which is very easy to do: "T‑H‑A‑T." See, this riddle really isn't very fun if it's written out.

I want to discuss one last thing. Instead of putting a word in quotation marks, you could italicize it, but I don't prefer to do this. Some people may think of it as emphasizing the word's meaning. In the last example, if you italicized "that," people might think you're emphasizing it (Spell that, sucker!).

Express Lane Grammar

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 12:49 AM | Filed under , ,

My mom, sister, and I went to Food Emporium to order a cake. Something I know I'm not the first to notice about the express checkout lines is that the signs are ungrammatical.

You aren't supposed to use the word "less" when you're talking about things that can be counted. Since the number of goods being purchased can be counted, the sign really ought to say "12 items or fewer." Actually, I think this akin to saying "eight minutes and a half"—I would prefer the sign to say "12 or fewer items."

We also went to Safeway. It seems like they try to avoid the entire "less"/"fewer" issue.

Unfortunately, this sign brings up another issue. The limit of groceries a customer can purchase is more generous, but when "15 item" is used to modify "limit", because it is more than one word, it becomes a compound modifier, and needs to be hyphenated. The sign really ought to read "15-item limit."

I suspect that sign makers who know these rules may still prefer to break them, arguing that the signs may somehow be more readable. I also suspect that most customers don't care or are far too excited about finding a 15-item-limit express lane to even notice.

Useless Camera

Saturday, July 5, 2008 at 8:58 PM

Safeway has a bunch of security cameras along the back of the store, pointing down each aisle. This particular camera is blocked by a towering cardboard display for Frito-Lay chips, probably completely obscuring the view. If you were wanting to misbehave at Safeway, now's your big chance.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 11:54 PM | Filed under , ,

I'm up in Bellingham, helping my aunts set up for the 2008 Red, White, and Blue Fourth of July Celebration Blast (that's what we've named our party this Friday). After it got dark and started getting stormy, we quit setting up tents and went inside to play Word Yahtzee, a game I found at Value Village a few years ago.

My aunts love to play word games like Scrabble and Upwords, so they each have a little electronic Scrabble dictionary which is also good for "cheating", so they couldn't resist pulling them out at the beginning of the game. We had to play Word Yahtzee in turns, and after a while, when it wasn't my turn, it got a little boring, so I picked up one of the electronic dictionaries and asked it to tell me all of the words of any length—in other words, to provide me with a list of every word. I went through "aa" (rough, cindery lava), "aal" (an East Indian shrub), "aalii" (a tropical tree), "aardvark", and "aardwolf". Then I came across "aarrghh"!

Understand that I was playing with the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary: apparently an authoritative dictionary of words that are acceptable for use while playing Scrabble. Who decided that "aarrghh" is an acceptable word? It's not in the online dictionaries of Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, or Oxford. Why does the Scrabble dictionary say that "aarrghh" is okay, but "whah" and "teehee" are not?

More, More, More About Comcast

Friday, June 27, 2008 at 4:55 PM | Filed under , ,

I got a cookie-cutter response this morning from Comcast about the horrible ads I wrote about at 3 a.m. this morning. (You see, in addition to talking live with someone, I also sent an e-mail complaint.)

The response said that Comcast is using the ads "to educate our customers about the value of Comcast Digital Cable service." I just checked what ads are on the screen now. Three of the banners tell me how to use features of the cable box (such as how to set reminders for shows) that I already know how to use. The fourth banner is an ad for pay-per-view wrestling. Wow, Comcast knows me well! Because I love wrestling, and I know absolutely nothing about how to use the cable box we've had for years!

I was surprised that I got another e-mail from a different Comcast employee this afternoon who apparently stumbled across my blog. (Either that, or Comcast is constantly scanning the Internet for criticism about them.) I guess it's a little naïve of me to think that nobody might read this blog, except that nobody ever leaves comments anymore. He thanked me for sharing my feedback and said that Comcast is "working on a new interactive guide" with the hope "to illuminate the issues that you are currently experiencing." To illuminate the issue? As in to lighten up the ads, as in to make them more visibly prominent? This must be a hint at more ads to come. Great.

Maybe he meant to say that they hope to eliminate the ads. But I doubt it. These ads are going to stick around. They're going to make the television look as tacky as MySpace.

But you know what? I still like Comcast. Know why? Because it's Comcastic.

Comcast Makes Me Sad

at 2:40 AM | Filed under , ,


I just noticed this an hour ago (and I won't be able to sleep until after I've ranted about it). Comcast has completely replaced the bottom of the on-screen guide—an entire row's worth of info!—with advertising space! AUGH! And they aren't even useful ads. These are ugly ads for junk like Close Encounters of the Third Kind or on-demand Beyonce in Concert which repeat every four pages.

It's hardly any secret to those who know me that I despise clutter and advertising.

For years, I've listened to tech pundits bashing and hating Comcast for various reasons, but I haven't sided with them until now. What's wrong, Comcast? Are we paying you so little that you have to resort to putting up ads so that you don't go bankrupt? Or are you afraid that Beyonce won't get enough hits without your helpful reminder for us to watch her concert? Did Beyonce pay you to clutter up my screen? Should I be mad at her too?

So now the guide contains only four useful rows of guide information instead of five, so that means more scrolling. Not only that, but the ads seem to take a short moment to load, so it'll probably take me even longer to traverse the guide in that respect as well. It'll be less comfortable, too, having to avoid looking at that entire bottom portion of the screen.

I even went online to Comcast tech support and chatted live with a polite customer service analyst named Carla.26902 to ask if there was a secret way to remove the ads which are contaminating my screen. She was very patient with me and I'm sorry I wasted her time. I hope she forwarded my complaints to someone who cares, high up in the Comcast chain of command.

I guess now I'll instead have to get used to using the mini-guide (which is only two rows high but has no advertising), at least until Comcast sticks ads into there as well. It will be only a matter of time until Comcast starts popping ads up in the middle of the screen during the climaxes of movies and TV shows.

I'll be lucky if this article makes it up onto my blog. Comcast also provides our internet connection.

Cheese Clump

Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 11:25 AM | Filed under

Oh my god.

I'm eating a bowl of Cheddar & Sour Cream Ruffles, and I encountered this at the bottom of the bowl. It appears to be a clump of the powder they coat the chips in.

Should I eat it? Would it be good? Would it be too much flavor for one man to handle? Could this kill me? How did it come into being? Is it a mistake, or does Frito-Lay occasionally include these as gifts?

I'm going to eat it.

There is a teensy potato chip inside. The flavor isn't nearly as strong as I imagined—I'm a bit disappointed. It tastes just like eating a handful of chips, only it nearly isn't as big. I wouldn't mind encountering more cheese clumps during the rest of my life, though.

Square Graham Crackers

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 2:44 PM | Filed under ,

S'mores are pretty good, aren't they? But you know what sucks when you're making them? You get the graham cracker, and then you try to break it in half, but it doesn't break perfectly along the perforation, so you're left with two uneven halves of the graham cracker. Misery.

But Nabisco has solved the problem of the ruined graham cracker halves. Squares! Essentially, they have released pre-halved graham crackers. No more wasted graham crackers!

I think Nabisco may have stumbled upon the most brilliant invention of the 21st Century.

Mean Look

at 1:58 PM | Filed under

The wild Haunter used Mean Look on my Rhydon, which means that I can't run away from this Pokémon battle, and I can't recall my Rhydon, either. The main reason I keep Rhydon around is because he knows a bunch of hidden moves, such as Strength. The hidden moves he knows are all of the Normal or Fighting type, none of which have any effect on Ghost-type Pokémon such as Haunter. The other move Rhydon knows, Earthquake, won't affect Haunter because she levitates above the ground.

I've looked through my bag, but I don't have any items, such as the Poké Doll or the Fluffy Tail, which will allow me to flee the battle regardless of the Mean Look. I could use Rhydon's moves (regardless of the fact that they'll do no damage) so that they'll eventually run out of PP. Then, he'll resort to struggling against the Haunter, which will finally do some damage. Haunter knows Spite, which reduces the PP of the move Rhydon last used, so that may help to speed up this process.

Or maybe I could wait for Haunter to finish off my Rhydon. The problem is that Rhydon's level is much higher than Haunter's, and this could take a while. Also, the Haunter is paralyzed, so half the time, it can't even move anyway.

Maybe I could catch Haunter. That would put an end to the battle. But its HP is maxed out, and I'm afraid that the Poké Balls won't work very well because of this. But I have a lot of them, so I think I'll give it a try. Nope, it didn't work.

Oooh, Haunter just used Curse. It halved its own HP and subjected Rhydon to the curse; each turn, Rhydon's HP is dropping by about third of its max HP. Now I'm just chucking Poké Balls until either Haunter is caught or Rhydon faints.

Click! The Poké Ball captured the Haunter! And just in time, because Rhydon's HP was so low that some alarm was going off. This was as bad as Wobbuffet versus Wobbuffet.

Digital Switchover Warnings

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 11:18 PM | Filed under , ,

In case you don't know, by February 17, 2009, TV broadcasts here in the US will be digital only, which, if I understand correctly, means that televisions with analog receivers won't work anymore without some kind of digital upgrade box or something. I'm not too concerned about it because we have digital cable already, but the television stations want to make sure that everyone is ready for the digital switchover:


Tonight, during both Wheel of Fortune on KOMO and Quantum Leap on ION, I got warnings about how some people's TVs will eventually stop working.

The irritating thing is that KOMO has been putting this irritating scrolling banner on the bottom of the screen during Wheel every day for the last month, if not longer! Today, it repeated during the entire third round! Okay, KOMO, I get it! A lot of people probably don't understand the digital switchover, and their TVs will suddenly quit receiving a signal, and KOMO wants to make sure that they are prepared, but come on! Enough is enough! I've had it with these stupid messages!

KOMO wants us all to be ready for the future, but it still isn't providing Wheel of Fortune in HD! Come on, KOMO! How can you be concerned about the future of TV when you don't even care that your present programming isn't the highest quality possible?

Oh, jeez, I just saw another one of these banners on KSTW/CW, right now! I'm watching Frasier in the background, and a little lower third popped up. Fortunately, their banner was so brief that I didn't even have time to take a picture of it (I couldn't get the SD card in my camera fast enough).

The digital switchover isn't for about 270 days, so I suppose we'll have to get used to seeing these messages every day until February 17, 2009.

By the way, I never post a puzzle without giving the solution. The solved puzzle above is A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE.

Volume II, Chapter 11

Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 7:02 PM | Filed under ,

I just finished reading a version of Jane Eyre, which is a good story, if not drawn out. I was reading an illustrated version published by Penguin, and it is divided into three volumes. It was when I was on Chapter 11 of Volume II that I noticed something odd:

If I didn't know any better, I might think that I was reading Chapter 11 of Volume 11. Or maybe Chapter II of Volume II! The problem is that the text figure 1 and the small caps I look the same in this typeface! I can't tell them apart!

Now, keep in mind that this isn't a rant against Roman numerals. In fact, I love Roman numerals! This is a rant against ambiguity. The Arabic numerals in Chapter 11 look the same as the Roman numerals in Volume II, and that is absolutely not acceptable.

Garfield Shifter

Saturday, May 10, 2008 at 9:38 AM | Filed under ,

I was fiddling around with my Garfield Randomizer recently, and turned it into something completely different: the Garfield Shifter!! It takes a random Garfield comic and either puts the first panel at the end of the strip, or puts the last panel at the beginning.

I'll admit that most of the time, the results aren't very impressive, but every once in a while, you'll get something that seems to defy causality...

...or something that changes the punchline...

...or probably something just plain bizarre...

The Shifter doesn't totally shuffle all three panels; it merely shifts them all. It never generates a strip that maintains the original order. You can tell which comic used to be the middle one because it doesn't have the black outline that the other two panels have.

I used to have the Garfield Shifter available online, but I'm sorry to say that it's no longer available.

Missing Obelisk

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 6:40 PM

I noticed something at the university recently.

The Broken Obelisk sculpture was removed on March 30, but I didn't notice until April 1, so naturally, I suspected that it was some odd April Fools Day prank.

But there is a little sign that says that the sculpture is undergoing some much needed repair. I suspect that it will look very different after the repairs are done, and it will simply be called Obelisk.