Disintegrating Water Balloons

Monday, December 28, 2009 at 12:12 PM | Filed under

Yesterday, I was at the Meridian Cost Cutter in Bellingham. I was a bit surprised to see that within the grocery store was a small dollar-store section. They had shelves of merchandise including cheap toys, housewares, pet stuff, and food—all for just one dollar! They also had a few shopping carts filled with junk. Inside them, my cousin found some water balloons in horrible shape.

The balloons were disintegrating! They were dried out, and parts of them were flaking apart! I suspect these balloons were cheaply made; do normal balloons ever get to this point? I wouldn't buy these to use as water balloons, not even for a dollar! They'd probably break apart instantly... or possibly melt into a colorful slime. Also, the label has "balloons" misspelled.

Snail Decoration

Friday, December 18, 2009 at 6:29 PM | Filed under

This decorative snail-on-a-pedestal was in the half-off clearance area at Wight's. I tried to convince Kevin to buy it and display it proudly on his mantle, but he wasn't very interested in the idea. I would like to spray paint it gold and award it as a trophy, perhaps to the slowest competitor in a footrace.

Nordstrom Ack

Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 4:28 PM | Filed under

We went to Best Buy down by Alderwood Mall to do some heavy-duty shopping. Across the street, I saw this Nordstrom Rack sign, with the R burnt out in the funniest way possible.

I took a picture with my cell phone, but I was too far away, so I crossed through the parking lot, waited for the signal and crossed Alderwood Mall Parkway (which seemed very dangerous because of all the Christmas shopping traffic), and walked into Nordstrom Rack's parking lot to get this picture.

I personally don't like Nordstrom Rack—I never find any good clothes in my size there—so Nordstrom Ack is kinda how I feel whenever I have to go there.

Ivar's Gets an A+ in Festivity

at 1:14 PM | Filed under , ,

I just enjoyed a lunch of fish and chips at the Ivar's restaurant here in Lynnwood. I was excited to see how much Christmas decoration they had put up around the restaurant. Twinkling Christmas lights bordered the roof and ran along the front counter. Big, shiny Christmas present boxes were arranged on the counter and between booths. Thick, red ribbons spiraled up the structural columns, reminiscent of candy canes. And, here in this picture, you can see the ribbons tied in a similar manner on the ceiling lamps, complete with big red bows.

I'm impressed not only that Ivar's has tremendous Christmas spirit, but I'm also impressed with the amount of work they went though to achieve this decoration. Those lamps are high. And there are at least a dozen of them these lights in the restaurant. The employees must have visited each lamp with a ladder. I applaud Ivar's for going to such lengths to make their restaurant warm, inviting, and festive for Christmas.

Peppermint Patty Joins the Christmas Tradition

Friday, December 11, 2009 at 7:21 PM | Filed under ,

A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of my favorite cartoon Christmas specials. I was excited to see a hardcover book version by Hallmark at Bartell Drugs today.

Inside, I saw something that amazed me. Peppermint Patty and Marcie have joined the fun! Peppermint Patty might be my favorite Peanuts character.

The Christmas special originally aired on December 9, 1965, but Peppermint Patty wasn't introduced until August 22, 1966. Since then, she has become an important Peanuts character, with important roles in the Thanksgiving and Easter specials. In Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown, she arguably has a more important role than even Lucy, as she appoints herself the leader of the girls' rafting team.

Some may complain that adding characters to a holiday classic will taint the story and its tradition. They might object especially to the decision to give Peppermint Patty spoken lines in the story. But I like Peppermint Patty, so shut up. I find the idea of Charlie Brown and his friends celebrating Christmas without Peppermint Patty and Marcie to be rather unrealistic in this day and age, given all the things they've been through together. It would be sad to leave them out.

This isn't the first time that Peppermint Patty's been put into this story, though. There's this picture which I know I've seen somewhere before. I can't place where I've seen it, though. There's also this puzzle, which I bought on sale last January.

Don't Sand Our Hill!

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 10:12 PM | Filed under ,

Who is responsible putting sand on the roads after it snows? I suppose that would be the Department of Transportation. The weather's been getting colder, and I've recently been hearing on the news about de-icers and sand being used on the roads.

Last winter, they dumped heaps of sand on the steep hill outside my cul-de-sac. For some reason, I suppose this makes it safer to drive on. It was pointless, though, because nobody in their right mind would want to drive on that hill anyway, especially when they could just go around the block instead.

It made for some very disgusting brown, gritty snow. After the snow was melted and gone, there was still the slippery sand on the hill for months. Cars or people walking on the hill would skid on the sand. After the snow was gone early this year, we called them to ask if they'd be cleaning the sand off the road, since it now seemed to make it more dangerous. But they said they'd be keeping the sand on the road in case it snowed again.

It wasn't until late spring or even summer when a street cleaner went up and down the hill and finally removed the stuff. I don't want them to sand the hill. I bet I couldn't stop them, though...

I'm Eager for New Jelly Belly Flavors

Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 10:45 AM | Filed under

At Fred Meyer last night, I walked by the bulk Jelly Belly dispensers. I was seriously considering getting a few dollars worth of Very Cherry beans, when I was distracted by the flavor menu pamphlet. (You can click the picture to see inside.)

Jelly Belly releases a new pamphlet every few years to keep consumers up to date with their ever-changing flavor lineup. I was excited to see the new flavors listed in the Official 50 Flavors section. I wrote about the new flavors back in July, but here's a summary of the changes:

In: Chili Mango, Pomegranate, Sunkist Lime, Mixed Berry Smoothie, Sour Cherry
Out: Grape Jelly, Jalapeño, Peanut Butter, Café Latte, Caramel Apple

Also, some of the citrus flavors have had "Sunkist" appended to their names. I don't think they taste any different.

I looked through the bulk flavors again to see if I could find any of the new flavors, but I didn't see any. In fact, I've occasionally been looking through candy aisles to see if the bags with the new flavors are in stores yet. I haven't seen any yet, though. When will the new flavors be in stores? This pamphlet indicates that it may be soon.

For months now, the new flavors have been available online at the Jelly Belly website. Shipping is a bit expensive, though, so I prefer to buy the candy in stores.

It's exciting that they have 73 distinct flavors in the menu, if you don't count the sugar-free flavors (they're just sugar-free duplicates). Well, it's 83 if you count the "weird & wild" Bean Boozled flavors, such as Pencil Shavings, Baby Wipes, Canned Dog Food, and Moldy Cheese. Hey, they changed the name of Vomit to Barf! I don't know why Jelly Belly decided that this is a good change, but I like it! (I like the name, not the flavor. I don't want a Bean Boozled box for Christmas.)

Insanely Illegible Credits

Saturday, November 28, 2009 at 12:38 AM | Filed under ,

Before I watched Monk last night, I caught the end credits at the end of Elf on USA Network.

They seemed to rush by pretty quickly. By my observations, any given line of text is on-screen for about 13 frames, which means you have 0.43 seconds to read it. One line is scrolled onto the screen per frame, so you must read 30 lines per second.

Also, the credits are shrunken down so much that they're practically unreadable. Does USA expect people to kneel down in front of their TVs, squinting and speed reading these credits? I bet that most people don't usually read the credits after movies, but even those who wanted to would be unable to under these conditions. Why does USA even bother showing them?

Diffracted Tree

Friday, November 27, 2009 at 1:12 AM | Filed under , ,

Christmas tree + diffraction grating + boredom

Facilitated Communication

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 1:59 PM | Filed under

Here's a news story that aired yesterday on MSNBC, about Rom Houben, who awoke from what doctors thought was a coma; however, he allegedly may have been conscious but paralyzed the entire time.

An important element of this story is that they are using what is called facilitated communication for Houben to correspond. Facilitated communication is a dubious practice. It was first used in the 1970s, designed to to help autistic children communicate. A facilitator would support a child’s hands over a computer keyboard, and the claim was that the facilitator was there just to keep the child's hands above the keyboard—the child would be the one typing the messages. Some of these messages contained terrible things, including reports of sexual abuses occurring in the home, and many of these children were separated from their families because of this.

However, some blinded tests were performed to see what was going on. In these tests, the facilitator and child wore headphones, and they were asked questions. Sometimes, they each got a different question, but the messages obtained through the facilitated communication were always answers to the question the facilitator was asked, and not answers to the child's question. This revealed that it was the facilitators who were subconsciously cueing the children to type specific messages.

The same kind of effect could be happening with this story. Maybe not—I can't possibly know for sure, but in the video, it's the facilitator who's looking at the screen; Houben doesn't even seem to be looking at it very often. Arguments revolving around this case might be used in arguments about a patient's right to live or die, so I hope they ask Houben these same questions again, but with a properly blinded facilitator the second time.

Mook, Douglas. "The Cautionary Tale of Clever Hans." Classic experiments in psychology. 2004: p.221-224. University of Washington Electronic Reserves.

Greetings from Germany!

Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 9:45 PM | Filed under

Earlier this month, I wrote about the German Garfield book I got at Value Village. This article is about the other eight books that were inseperably packaged with that book. The other books included in the bag were Angeln, Der tag der einheit, Viel Spaß beim Fotografieren, Viel Spaß beim Fliegen, Du läßt dich gehn!, and three books about Bremen, Germany.

Here's the fun part! Five of those books have writing in the inside covers. And they're all addressed to someone named Jonathan A. My cousin suspected that the books were from an exchange family that Jon stayed with, but they're mostly all written in English, and they seem to be from peers from various locations.

My guess is that a group of people traveled to Germany together. My Garfield book doesn't have any writing in it, but the Du läßt nicht gehn book has this line from Brenda, which I think is funny: "I'll always admire your 'logical thinking' skills, although you'll probably hate me for saying that. Good luck in Montana next year, but don't forget your little buddie in Wisconsin! I'll be seeing ya next summer!" So maybe some of these people were planning to travel again. I don't know. There isn't enough information.

The writing by Corné in the cover of Viel Spaß beim Fliegen says "It was realy [sic] great getting to know you!" So maybe some of these people were strangers. In the inside cover of Angeln, Shawn A. gives his address—it's Canadian—and he invites Jon to come fishing with him in Vancouver. Corné also wrote "I wish you a happy birthday and one heck of a long life!" so maybe these people conspired to all give Jonathan books as a birthday present.

One of the Bremen books has several signatures in the inside cover, and it's dated 01.08.92—that's August 1, 1992. So these books are old! Since then, I suppose Jon stopped reading these books, and decided to donate them to Value Village. I only got the package of books for the Garfield book—most of the rest are too hard for me—but it was fun to figure out what all these books had in common. Thanks for the Garfield book, Jonathan.

German Garfield Book Comparison

Monday, October 12, 2009 at 6:05 PM | Filed under

Yesterday, I found a German Garfield book at Value Village. Now, being a huge Garfield fan (I have all of the first 36 Garfield books) and a student of the German language, I was excited to come across this. The book was bagged with a half dozen other German books that I really wasn't interested in, but the employees refused to sell just the one book, since they were all bagged together.

Obviously, that's the English version on the left, and the German version on the right. They are both book 14, and they contain the same strips. But the covers are wildly different! The English book is titled Garfield Swallows His Pride and the German version is called Garfield läßt nicht locker which translates to "Garfield Doesn't Give Up." These are very different titles!

I was surprised that I was able to understand the first strip in the book, posted above. Perhaps it helps that I'm familiar with the English material, though. The strips are almost entirely literal translations of the English versions.

According to Wolfram Alpha, a typical translation to German is 10% longer than the original English source, which means more letters. Accordingly, you can tell that the font size in the German Garfield strips is smaller, to accommodate more letters in the same amount of space.

Like in the English version of Garfield (and nearly every other comic), the German version of Garfield capitalizes every letter. This is worth noting because the German letter ß (eszett, or sharp s) exists only as a lower-case letter. If you want to capitalize "ß", you turn it into "SS". So words like "weiß" and "Spaß" become "WEISS" and "SPASS", as in the strip above.

I also noticed that the German Garfield strips remove Jim Davis's name, the copyright info, and the date from the strips. The playground strip above seems to be an exception, though—it looks like they forgot to remove the date.

And now, the fun part: ONOMATOPOEIAS!!!

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, onomatopoeias (or sound words) are different in different languages. German for "scratch" is "kratzen", so I can see where "KRIIIETSCH!" comes from. It's odd, though, that I imagine a different sound in my head when I read both comics.

Garfield's trademark SPLUT! sound becomes the even more comical FLATSCH! Something else they changed in this panel is the lettering on Garfield's bowl. It says the same thing, but the letters are different. (This is a lot easier to see if you scanned the books and were flipping through the images.) It's not a big change, so I wonder why they bothered redoing it.

Anyway, now I have to collect all the German Garfield books too.

Dumb Family Feud Answers

Friday, October 9, 2009 at 8:05 AM | Filed under

Here are actual responses given by contestants on the game show Family Feud (or the British version Family Fortunes). I admit, it may be mean to call some of these answers "dumb", so if you'd like, you can call them "erroneous" or "funny" if you prefer.

Name something in a bird cageHamster
Something you'd find in an operating roomOperator
Something that comes with a summer stormSnow
Something you'd yell at if it stopped workingSpouse
Something worn only by childrenClothes
Something you might buy that could turn out to be phonyHorse
An animal with three letters in its nameFrog
An animal with three letters in its nameAlligator
Something you feel before you buy itExcited
The price of a dozen roses$1.75
An article of clothing that children always losePants
An animal whose eggs you'd never eat for breakfastHamster
Something you might accidentally leave on all nightShoes
One of the three bearsYogi
A holiday named after a personJanuary
A holiday named after a personEaster
One of Santa's reindeerNixon
One of Santa's reindeerAdolf
Something Russia is famous forRussians
Something that comes in pairsBananas
A time when people wake upMorning
A time when people go to bedNight
A state with good skiingFlorida
Something you buy in a larger size if you have a large familyJeans
Something you buy in a larger size if you have a large familyGames
A city in the state of GeorgiaAlabama
A pie that does not contain fruitLemon Meringue
Something that kills a lively partyGuns
A brand of gasolineRegular
A brand of gasolineEthyl
A job around the house that has to be done every fallSpring Cleaning
A man's name beginning with the letter KKentucky Fried Chicken
The month where a pregnant woman begins to showSeptember
A food that's red on the insideKiwi
Something people do clothed that others don'tRide a motorcycle
The heaviest item in your house600 pounds
The heaviest item in your houseHusband
Something you put in teaTea bag
A holiday where stores are always busyMonday
Something made of leather that a cowboy usesPurse
The first thing you take off after workUnderwear
A weather term that can also describe your wifeWet
A day of the year when you want to be with friendsDecember
A department in a supermarketLingerie
The most lovable breed of dogKitten
Something women borrow from each otherHusbands
An invention that has replaced stairsWheel
Something you often misplace in your carSteering wheel
A famous “Arnold”Arnold & Willis
A reason you might stay indoors on a beautiful dayIt's raining
Something associated with the show Who Wants To Be A MillionaireBob Barker
A yellow fruitOrange
A kind of attraction you see in almost every paradeMerry-go-round
Something you strokeA match
A tradition associated with ChristmasHanukkah
A holiday where men buy last minute gifts for their wifeThanksgiving
A food people give as a giftLasagna
A vegetable you marinateGrapes
The one thing that the people living near you have that you wantA beautiful wife
Something you buy and then have to be careful about how you carry it homeAn infant
Besides a house or a car, the most expensive item you ownCar
A food with an edible skinBanana
A piece of clothing wives buy for their husbandsHalter tops
A street name that is common to cities all over the USHollywood Boulevard
A kind of bearPapa Bear
A real person who made a living scaring peopleRed Skelton
Something a hostess does to let her guests know it's time to leaveGoes to bed
An animal with really good sightBat
A state beginning with the letter MMexico
Something an Indian chief might useSquaw
Something that floats in the bathtubWater
A word beginning with “Egg”Excellent
A city named after a presidentCarson City
A sport in which two people compete against each otherCheckers
An occupation in which you disguise your appearanceDoctor
Something that flies that doesn't have an engineDishes
Something that flies that doesn't have an engineA bicycle with wings
Something a blind person might useSword
A song with “moon” in the titleBlue Suede Moon
An occupation where you need a flashlightBurglar
A famous brother and sisterBonnie & Clyde
An item of clothing worn by the Three MusketeersA horse
Something you wear on the beachA lawnchair
Something redMy cardigan
A number you have to memorizeSeven
Something you do before going to bedSleep
Something of yours you hit when it's not working properlyYour spouse
Something you put on wallsRoofs
Something in the garden that's greenShed
Something in the garden that's greenScarecrow
Something you might be allergic toSkiing
A famous bridgeThe bridge over troubled waters
Something a cat doesGoes to the toilet
Something you do in the bathroomDecorate
Something associated with the policePigs
A sign of the zodiacApril
Something slipperyA conman
A kind of acheFillet 'O' Fish
A kind of achePancake
A jacket potato toppingJam
Something with a hole in itWindow
A food that comes in instant formAsparagus
A non-living object which has feetPlant
A domestic animalLeopard
A part of the body beginning with the letter NKnee
A part of the body beginning with the letter NName
A way of cooking fishCod
Something you open other than a doorBowels
A part of the body everyone has only one ofBig toe
Real or fictional, a famous WillyWilly the Pooh
Something you squeezePeanut butter
A bird with a long neckPenguin
A continentItaly
A sport you can never play on grassBaseball
An occupation starting with "J"Jackhammerer
A phrase some husbands dread hearing"Honey, I'm home"
A bad occupation if you don't like kidsMortician
A question you don't like to be asked"Are those real?"
A European country in which you'd expect to find castlesLondon
Something every doctor hasSpeculum
An animal with hornsBee
A medieval weaponHand grenade
Something made of woolA sheep
Something a bridegroom might wearA dress
Someone you wouldn't expect to see in a strip clubAnimals
An animal with a long tailRabbit
Something you put out for the birdsWorms
A way to prevent snoringPut a pillow over his face
A word used to describe a very hot dayA very hot day
Someone who works early hoursBurglar
Something made to be wheeled aroundA hammer
A reason for kneelingTo be beheaded
A nickname for a slim personSlimmy
A measurement of liquidPaint
Something that's nice to wear next to your skinPants
A famous DickCarrot
Something that Santa Claus does when he comes to your houseFeeds your pets
Something that comes in 7'sFingers
Something associated with LiverpoolThe Yellow Brick Road
A boy mentioned in a nursery rhymeLittle Red Riding Hood
Something associated with Queen VictoriaHer husbands
Something you hide in your socks when you go swimmingYour legs
A place you would keep a penA zoo
Something you beatAn apple
Something you make into a ballEggs
A game that uses a black ballDarts
A way parents reward chidrenTime out
A popular TV soapDove
Something you might find in a garageA grand piano
A fast animalHippo
A famous PeterPeter
Something you keep in the gardenA cat
Something that gives you goose bumpsMumps
A character from Little Red Riding HoodHansel and Gretel
Something that has a shellBatman
Something a policeman might say"Spread 'em"
Something that frightens DraculaThe King of the Vampires
A mode of transportation that you can walk inYour shoes
An animal with big earsA bear
Something you do on waterWallpaper
A musical instrument you can play in the bathDrum kit
Something associated with EgyptCigars
Something you pullA potato
An animal used as a form of transportationTurtle
A Thunderbirds characterDoctor Spock
Another TV game show with the word 'family' in the titleThe Generation Game
Something that makes you screamA squirrel
A food that can be eaten without chewingChips
The ideal everyday temperature98.6 degrees
A type of recordA floppy disk
A type of large catPersian
A job that a working dog doesA slave
Something you use a microchip onA fish-fryer
A game played in the darkCharades
A part of the body you have more than two ofArms
Something you find on a fire engineCoal
The first place detectives look for fingerprintsThe floor
Something you associate with the seaA coffin
A famous ArthurShakespeare
A weapon in the game of ClueDice
Something people take to the beachTurkey
A reason someone digs a hole in the roadGrave digger
Something a girl should know about a man before marrying himHis name
An item of clothing a woman might borrow from a manUnderpants
Something taken from a hotel as a souvenirThe lamps
Something you keep in a garden shedA gardener
Something you wear on the beachDeckchair
Fruit used in fruit saladCucumber
The last thing you take off before going to bedYour feet
Something that has to warm up before you use itYour wife
A noisy birdChipmunk
A car known by its initialsCorvette
Something you keep handy by the front doorSpittoon
A job that helicopters are used forTuna fishing
A famous robberCops
A famous resort area outside the continental United StatesTahoe
An American state where people speak with accentsMexico
Something a man has that he'd be upset if someone else used itHis jockstrap
Something London is famous forPasta
Something you wouldn't want the police to find in the trunk of your carPickles
A game you could play in the bathScuba diving
A food that makes a noise when you eat itReally loud hamburger
Something that your wife would do that would be shockingGreet you at the door naked
Something you throw away when you're moving awayPantry
A dangerous animal that some people keep as petsWolf
When you sneak out of work, the reason you give for leaving"I'm going to the beach!"
When you sneak out of work, the reason you give for leaving"Going to another job"
An animal that eats miceRat
Something you have that you wish worked betterSpouse
Something you wouldn't try even onceSex on a train
A famous male dancerBetty Grable
An occasion for which you stayed up all nightLost my virginity
Your favorite country western singerVan Whalen
Something that falls from the treesBird shit
Something a dentist says"Just a small prick"
An excuse that a girl uses not to invite you in after a dateHer husband's home
A name that rhymes with "Larry"Larry
Something you just won't buy unless it's on saleCake mix
Something you just won't buy unless it's on saleDrapes
Besides an animal, something with a tailTailpipe
Something that gets accidentally run over by a lawn mowerThe lawn mower's cord
An occupation where someone wears a robe at workA fireman
An occupation where someone wears a robe at workA graduate
A sport that people sometimes play by themselvesTic-tac-toe
A household pet you can leave by itself for a couple of daysMonkey
A part of the body people love to have massagedHips
An activity that makes people cryPlaying games
A vegetable that is grown in a patchStrawberry
Something some people fear that starts with the letter SSquirrels
A reaction someone might have if they got really scaredLaugh
An occasion when family photographs are takenPhotography
Something that comes after the word "double"U
Something you'd hate for the plane you're on to only have one ofPillows
Something your spouse does in the bedroom that rhymes with "mumble"Pumble
Something you should do in moderation or you'll be sorry laterSex
A famous group of singersThe Simpsons
A breed of dog that starts with the letter CCheetah
A vegetable that takes more than one bite to eatApple
Something every dream home must haveRV parking
A word that rhymes with "bubble"Fubble
A question, such as, "How old are you?" that you might answer with a lie18
A question, such as, "How old are you?" that you might answer with a lie50
A question, such as, "How old are you?" that you might answer with a lieI'm 39
Something you see along the side of the streetCarnage
Something that people stick a pin intoTheir eyes
The perfect dessert for a supermodelChocolate cake
The perfect dessert for a supermodelBrownies
A country that has exactly four letters in its nameChina
A city famous for its museumsEngland
A liquid that pours slowlyMilk
A fruit that is redKiwi
A way of toasting someoneOver fire
Something you keep in a kitchen canisterCans
A way which you can make bathing a sexy experience401(k) jelly
Something a man might hate about his chestFlat
A place where people are scolded for falling asleepOn the airplane
Something you might find in a manicure setA wig
A part of a telephoneThe bottom part
When kids finally move out of the house, something specific they often leave behindTheir parents
When kids finally move out of the house, something specific they often leave behindA blender
When kids finally move out of the house, something specific they often leave behindTheir boyfriend or their girlfriend
Something that guests get hit with a Jerry SpringerKeys
Something a teenage boy can do for hours at a timeMasturbate
In order to get a three-day weekend, a holiday usually celebrated on MondaysThanksgiving
In order to get a three-day weekend, a holiday usually celebrated on MondaysSomeone's birthday
A part of the body people dab perfume onOn the tongue
A liquid that people drink when they're sickVicks
Something you can't use without waterAn ice cream cone
A place where you might see a dead bodyIn your house
Something frogs do that people don'tTurn colors
Your wife's most unappealing habitPicking her feet
A night with the worst TV programsUPN
A word that rhymes with "Coke"Float
A word that rhymes with "Coke"Moke
Something that dries up when it gets oldWater
A mischievous animalBeaver
Something of yours you hope doesn't start making noisesCell phone
Something of yours you hope doesn't start making noisesBed
Real or fictional, a famous DennisBuddy Holly
An animal that starts with the letter RRectangle cow
Someone you have to lie to once in a while just to keep the peaceDog
A famous fictional islandRhode Island
A famous pigYour mother-in-law
A reason a man takes off his toupeeTo show off
Something that you hope your husband never losesHis pants
Something with clawsChristmas
Something you associate with GodzillaGorilla
A card game that's easy to cheat atCheckers
One of Oprah's favorite peopleRegis Kelly
Something nailed down in a hotel roomThe soap
A type of beanLesbian
The month with the best weatherJanuary
A slang term that means wifeBitch
The birthday men dread the mostTheir wife's
A sport that husbands and wives can play togetherKickball
A food that's good for your heartSteak
Something people learn from a how-to bookRead
Something you should not do in someone else's carGet arrested
An animal you would recognize by its earsA chicken

I'd like to thank Adam Buckley, Carrie, Laura, Ling, Lori, Paul, Sean Willett, and Zach for helping me compile this list!

I'm Not Falling for the New Fall Shows

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 12:02 PM | Filed under

I reached the peak number of hours I spent in front of the TV about a year and a half ago, when the TV networks came out with five great, funny, exciting shows: Samantha Who, Back to You, American Gladiators, Million Dollar Password, and best of all, Pushing Daisies.

These shows were all cancelled. Back to You and Pushing Daisies were both cancelled mid-season, and were not allowed more episodes to allow plot lines to reach a conclusion. This is not a satisfying way to tell a narrative.

Unfortunately, TV networks these days are in it all for the money, and this requires them to continually air new shows in the hopes that they'll be huge hits. If one show quits doing so well in the ratings, another potential hit takes its place. When the number of viewers die down, so does the show.

The networks consider their viewers only as a huge mob; they give little consideration as to how their various individuals feel. I tuned into each of the above shows every time they aired, but I alone wasn't enough to keep these shows going. What else can an individual do? After seeing all my new favorite TV shows cancelled, I don't think I can trust the TV networks anymore. I don't want to invest my attention and devotion in new shows that I might fall in love with. How can I trust that the networks won't cancel them?

Keychain Collection

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 11:48 PM

This is my current keychain collection. I have more than 200 keychains. You can click on the picture to zoom in. Let me know if you have a bunch of old keychains you want to give me! I want to have many more!

Mismatched Birthday Candles

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 6:59 PM | Filed under

I'm at Bartell Drugs, looking at birthday candles. Why oh why are the nines a different color than all the other numbers? What could have brought this about?

What It Is, Is Annoying

Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 7:40 PM | Filed under

I've noticed an annoying speech pattern lately. What it is, is people are using superfluously wordy noun phrases which usually result in the speaker saying "is" twice in a row. The previous sentence is an example of such a pattern. Here are a few more examples I found on the Net:

"...it is not a self help book. What it is is a sampling of what makes people happy and why." (Amazon review)

"Tell us exactly what happened this morning" — "What it was, was that the Beetle and the suspect in the car came and pulled in..." (KCAL 9 news report)

"The Cosmic Game comes across as fresh as a debut and surprisingly indifferent toward being the in thing. What it is is music for music's sake, all laid out with the utmost care..." (Music review)

I've seen it with and without the comma. These clumsy constructions likely come about because people lead themselves into their sentences before they know what they're going to say. It's redundant to include all those words. In most cases I see or hear, a simple noun would fill in rather easily as the sentence's subject. Usually, "What it is, is" can be simplified to "It is".

Confusion over Abbreviations Rule in Word Game

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 2:16 PM | Filed under ,

In the word game Quiddler, players are dealt a hand of cards, each with a letter or two, and the goal is to rearrange the cards so that they form words. On Saturday, I was playing the game with some relatives: Carla, Shelly, and Russell. In one round, Shelly played the word "ad." Russell challenged her play of the word, pointing out in the game instructions that abbreviations are not allowed, and that "ad" is an abbreviation of "advertisement."

We turned to the electronic Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (our family's agreed-upon dictionary—we use it for Boggle and other word games) and found it in there, of course. Russell, however, referred us to the entry in a large print dictionary for "ad," and pointed out that next to the word was an indication that the word is an abbreviation. He then referred us back to the point in the Quiddler rules that abbreviations are not allowed.

I understood his point, but my argument for allowing the word ran along the lines that while being short for "advertisement," "ad" has become a word itself through common usage. It seems that we all discussed this for no less than ten minutes, and Russell didn't seem to care that the word was present in the Scrabble dictionary because it's an abbreviation either way. It got to the point that Shelly withdrew the word herself and asked to just take the 7-point penalty. (The word wasn't even worth very many points!)

Call Failed Please !!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 1:26 PM | Filed under ,

Phone reception at Fort Ebey State Park on Whidbey Island got bad at times. This is the strange message my phone gave me when it failed to make an outgoing connection: "Call failed please !!! Try again". This made it only more frustrating that I couldn't get a signal.

Jelly Belly Changes Flavor Lineup

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 5:21 PM | Filed under ,

Jelly Belly regularly comes out with new flavors every now and then. Their newest flavor is Chili Mango! It is being added immediately into the Official 50 Flavors (no rookie stage!). I haven't had the chance to try it yet, but Jelly Belly describes it as "fresh mango with a sprinkling of spicy chili." Considering that Mango is one of my least favorite Jelly Belly flavors, as well as the fact that I don't really care for very spicy food, I don't expect myself to enjoy this bean very much. I'll reserve commentary until I've tried it myself, though. Jelly Belly has, however, posted a picture of the bean online. It looks to be a dirty orange color, which might be hard to tell it from some other orange beans, but it also seems to have some dark specks of color too.

Along with Chili Mango, Jelly Belly is adding four other established flavors to the Official 50 Flavors mix: Pomegranate, Sunkist Lime, Mixed Berry Smoothie, and Sour Cherry. Mixed Berry Smoothie, I recall, is very good, and very smooth, and happens to be my favorite of the Smoothie Blend mix. Sour Cherry is also pretty damn good, and it's my favorite of the Sours mix. When Pomegranate was first introduced as a rookie in 2007, I originally dismissed it as Jelly Belly jumping on the health-consciousness bandwagon, but when I tried it, I was pleased by its sweet flavor and slight tartness. (Açaí Berry, which is also based on one of the healthy fad fruits, won the recent flavor vote, and Jelly Belly will be making it a rookie flavor too before long. Sigh, I voted for Honey...) I'm unfamiliar with Sunkist Lime, since I haven't tried the Sunkist Citrus mix but I bet it has a strong, sweet flavor.

To make room in the Official 50 Flavors (Why stop at 50? Variety is the spice of life!), Jelly Belly is retiring five older flavors. Jalapeño is being hurled out, with the door slamming on its butt. Good riddance. Grape Jelly is also gone, which might sound like bad news for the grape crowd, but as long as Jelly Belly keeps making its Soda Pop Shoppe mix, Grape Crush will pass as an alternative. Peanut Butter is also being retired. This is fine by me. For some reason, it reminds me of the Bertie Bott's Ear Wax Bean. I wonder if the peanut-allergic community is celebrating this bean's retirement. Café Latte is gone too. It was hardly one of my favorite flavors, mainly because I'm not really a coffee person. For the coffee aficionados, Cappuccino is still in the mix. Lastly, Caramel Apple is gone, which isn't a huge hit, since Jelly Belly also already has Green Apple, Red Apple, Pineapple, Sour Apple, and Cold Stone Apple Pie. Uh, cross out Pineapple. But still, my Jelly Belly Carnival won't be the same with only Cotton Candy and Caramel Corn...

I am recalling some older flavors Jelly Belly experimented around with. Cinnamon Toast was the most delectable bean I'd ever had. It was sweet and sugary, and even tasted better than the real thing (trust me, I did a taste test—it wasn't a blinded test, though). C'mon, Jelly Belly, please bring this bean back!

Misinformation on Twitter

Monday, July 13, 2009 at 2:05 PM | Filed under ,

I signed into Twitter a few minutes ago to see what was new with all the people I'm following. One of my friends posted about an Amber Alert, giving a brief description of the suspect's vehicle and license plate number. Twitter's a great tool to quickly spread urgent information like this, especially because it takes little effort to help propagate the information. All you have to do is copy and paste!

But I've read online that some people will post false information in such an alert on Twitter, either to see how fast a fake report might spread, or for more deceitful means, such as linking to a website to sell junk or spread computer viruses. I decided to check my friend's tweet against the Amber Alert information posted on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) website. I found information on the site which seemed to match my friend's description, but the license plate was off in one place!

It's great that Twitter allows for fast distribution of information, and I applaud people for passing along information which may turn out to be very helpful in rescuing these children. However, this is a clear example of how social networking sites like Twitter can also assist in spreading misinformation. The license plate number became a Trending Topic on Twitter, which means that it was among the most-tweeted terms on Twitter. People need to make sure to double-check information against a credible source (the NCMEC site for example) before reposting it.

Eleven O'Clock Noon

Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 6:53 PM | Filed under , ,

This is from the cover of the menu at Sabor a Mèxico in Mukilteo. I'm a bit confused about when they open on the weekend. That's okay, I'll just stay home.


Saturday, June 6, 2009 at 7:20 PM | Filed under ,

Look what I made! (This is something Charlie Brown would yell.) I bought it at Hallmark. It used to say "LAUGH".


Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 2:00 PM | Filed under ,

I wish people would stop complaining about the heat! Does everybody really want to go back to this situation???

Marmaduke Mystery

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 4:22 PM | Filed under

This is from April 2 of this year. I found it odd and downloaded it to my computer. I've stumbled across it again, and I thought I might share what's possibly the strangest Marmaduke comic I've ever seen. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON???

Time Limits in Video Games

at 8:04 AM | Filed under ,

I've noticed that many newer video games don't seem to have time limits, but there's something about them that has been bugging me.

Think back to Super Mario Bros. The timer for each level would typically start with a few hundred "seconds," even though it always ticked down much faster than that. When the timer reached 100 or so, the music would speed up, causing a great deal of panic for the player. When the timer reached 0, Mario would die.

I understand that this just is a gameplay device to add some challenge to the game, but why does he die? By what mechanism is Mario killed when the time runs out?

TI-30XS Multiview Calculator

Saturday, May 23, 2009 at 10:32 AM | Filed under , , ,

I was at Walgreens yesterday, looking for a new portable FM radio. Instead, I bought a calculator.

The TI-30XS Multiview Calculator, normally about $22, was on sale at $15, and it looked cool, so I got it. It has a neat feature called MathPrint mode, where it displays mathematical expressions in a more natural way (like how you write math on paper) rather than relying on a bunch of parentheses and junk.

On the left above, you can see a particularly complicated and useless expression as it would have to be typed on the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition. It has a lot of parentheses, and it's kinda hard to see what's going on. On the right is how the expression looks on the TI-30XS Multiview Calculator, with the MathPrint mode on. It's obviously a lot easier to see what's going on. (MathPrint can be turned off so that expressions can be typed in the classic mode.)

The TI-30XS also automatically simplifies fractions and roots. The first picture in this post has two examples of it doing this. On a different calculator, the answers would instead be displayed as decimals. There's a button you can simply press on the TI-30XS to convert these fractions or roots to decimals and vice-versa. It seems to be called the answer toggle button, and the button looks like this ◄ ►. There are two ways to input division: as a stacked fraction, or simply using the ÷ sign. The stacked fraction will try to give another fraction as an answer; the ÷ sign will yield a decimal answer.


You can see in the picture above that the calculator is also pretty smart with trigonometry. The TI-30X IIS on the left above calculated the sine of π as an ugly decimal. The TI-30XS is smarter than that, though. It displays the answer in exact terms using a fraction and a root, as it should. By pressing the answer toggle button, this can quickly be converted to a decimal, too.

So the TI-30XS seems to be able to do everything the TI-30X IIS can do, but there are still a few gripes I have with it. The answer toggle button is right above Enter (=), which is where plus usually is on TI calculators—the +, -, ×, and ÷ buttons are all moved one button up on the calculator, which takes a little getting used to. I keep pressing the answer toggle button when I mean to press plus.

Another issue is that there doesn't seem to be a way to wrap fractions or roots around expressions you have typed already. For a simple example, say you've typed 4, but then you realize you need to take the square root of 4. On the TI-30X IIS or the TI-84, you could move the cursor back in front of the 4 and insert a square root symbol. If you try to do that on the TI-30XS, though, it'll put a square root radical to the left of the 4, but there'll be a blank inside the radical, waiting for you to type in a number to go under it. The 4 will be to the right of the root, implying multiplication. I suppose you could work around this by raising 4 to the 1/2 power, but that seems imperfect.

Overall, it's a snazzy little calculator with a bunch more features I didn't even mention. The colors are bold and modern looking, but one of my friends said it looks like a child's toy. It's pretty thin (even more so without the cover slide case) and fits comfortably in the hands, and the buttons repsond well. (I think the TI-30X IIS is a bit too narrow to hold comfortably, and if you try to press a button before releasing the previous button, it'll ignore the second button press.) I would recommend to anyone looking for a cool calculator.

30-Minute Parking

Friday, May 22, 2009 at 8:08 PM | Filed under

This is a sign I saw in the Mukilteo Walgreens parking lot. What I find interesting is that this Walgreens has a one-hour photo lab, but they apparently insist that you leave before your pictures are done. Walgreens seems to be really serious about the 30-minute limit: they have a half dozen or so of these signs posted in the parking lot. The parking lot was mostly empty, so I don't see what they're worrying about.

Ctrl + Backspace

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 11:58 AM | Filed under ,

Being able to type flawlessly, without error, is a great skill to have, but for most people, the only way to decrease the number of errors is to also decrease the speed of typing. Thank goodness for the backspace key. With a single press, you can delete the last letter you typed.

The problem with this is that maybe you made a typo early in a word, but you didn't notice it until after you finished typing the entire word—for example, "spgahetti". You could backspace all the way back to the P and then start typing again: "aghetti". But that requires 7 backspace presses. You could move your hand to the mouse and highlight the errors, but it takes time to follow through with that.

One easy option is that you could simply press Ctrl + Backspace* and delete the last word entirely. "But then I have to type the whole word all over again!" you whine. Well, it isn't so bad. First of all, I find it hard to gain typing steam having to start typing in the middle of a word. Typing "aghetti" doesn't seem as natural as typing "spaghetti". Second, perhaps forcing yourself to retype the word will give you practice typing it correctly, particularly if it's a word you find yourself misspelling all the time.

After a while, it doesn't feel weird typing Ctrl + Backspace (especially if you use the left Ctrl key), and with practice, this is a very efficient and natural way to correct your typos.

*I use a Windows machine; I don't recall how this works on Macs, and I don't care to look it up. Also, some programs are stupid and for whatever reason don't support this, instead doing nothing or typing a dumb box instead.

Calm Fountain

Friday, March 13, 2009 at 4:18 PM | Filed under

I got to the university faster than usual this morning, so I was half an hour early for my 8:30 class in the Electrical Engineering basement. I sat down in the classroom, but decided that instead, I should walk around outside. I walked up to Drumheller Fountain. I noticed that the water was insanely calm, and I could see some insanely undisturbed reflections.

Reflections in Drumheller, facing toward Red Square.

Bagley Hall and its reflection in Drumheller.

There were no ducks in the pond. If it weren't for the fascinating reflections, this fact would have disappointed me. Actually, the reason the pond was so calm was because the ducks weren't in it. (They must have been asleep still.) Also, it probably helps that the fountain wasn't running.

The EEB, Guggenheim, and smokestack.

I checked back after my classes four hours later to take a comparison shot. Ducks were frolicking in the pond now, making tiny-enough waves to completely ruin the awesome calmness.

Tiny waves in the fountain, later in the afternoon.

Does anyone know what the deal is with the floating crocodile heads? They look like the result of some people just having fun, but I thought they would have been gone by now.

Unit Price Perplexity

Monday, February 16, 2009 at 7:43 PM | Filed under , ,

I was at Safeway this evening, looking at the huge variety of toothpaste products, trying to choose which one to buy. I was looking at the price tags, and noticed something very irritating.

This Crest Whitening Plus Scope Toothpaste has a red sale tag, and it says that the box of toothpaste costs $2.99. It also displays the toothpaste's unit price: 37.4¢ per ounce.

This Colgate Total Advanced Whitening Toothpaste also has a red sale tag, and it is the same price, at $2.99. The unit price is displayed on this price tag too: $8.26 per pound.

Wait! Why does Safeway give the unit price for the Crest in cents per ounce, but gives it for Colgate in dollars per pound? These are not compatible!

It should be that I could look at the price tags for both the Crest and the Colgate and be able to compare them very easily. But I can't do that, because the units are incompatible! I would have to pull out my calculator and multiply the per-ounce price by 16 to compare them. (Incidentally, the Crest toothpaste contains 8 ounces of toothpaste, whereas the Colgate has 5.8 ounces, so you get more toothpaste per dollar with the Crest.)

AUGH! I shouldn't have to do this! I thought the point was to give customers the opportunity to quickly compare the price per amount of something without having to whip out the calculators!

This last example makes the whole situation even worse. This 6-ounce Colgate Max Fresh Toothpaste has a red tag price of $2.49. Unit price: $41.50 per 100. Per hundred of what? From what I can tell by shaking the box, there seems to be only one tube of toothpaste in it. If I bought 100 of these boxes, that would cost $249.00, not $41.50. I thought about this a moment and did some calculations to check: Safeway means that this toothpaste costs $41.50 per 100 ounces! Why??

Safeway, you're driving me crazy!


Monday, February 2, 2009 at 6:58 AM | Filed under

I think it was great that ABC took the risky decision of putting Pushing Daisies on in the first place. Taking risks is a great, but scary, thing for such a huge network to do. Most of the time, it seems that networks don't go for the risky shows because they know what their audience likes already. But when a network takes a chance and goes with a risky decision, it can pay off.

That said, I'm disappointed with how you, ABC, are handling the consequences of the risk you took when you chose to air Pushing Daisies. I really appreciate the risk you took: I really love the show. I'm sorry that Pushing Daisies didn't get the large number of viewers you were hoping for, but it's wrong for you to pull the plug on the show.

Your actions have consequences! Cutting the show short, mid-season, is a cowardly thing to do. You gave the show the go-ahead in the first place. In doing so, you created a contract not only between yourself and the studio making Pushing Daisies, but also innately with your audience—especially the show's greatest fans. You should be obligated to allow the season to run its course. Cutting the show short is disrespectful to the production companies and the audience who also went into this risk with you.

You need to give Pushing Daisies some more episodes, not as a chance for the show to pull in bigger numbers, but as an opportunity for the show to reach a conclusion. (Kristin Chenoweth, who plays Olive on the show, has reportedly said that the show, as is, will end with a cliffhanger and loose plot ends.) You allowed the show to be on TV in the first place. Shouldn't you give your viewers the chance to watch the full story to its narrative conclusion?

Stupid Decision

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 1:18 AM | Filed under

My understanding from what I've read is that one of the problems with Pushing Daisies is that it isn't the kind of show that a person can just sit down and zone out to. A viewer really has to be paying attention in order to understand and appreciate the show, especially when the characters talk fast. It's a show you really have to think about. And thinking, unfortunately, seems to be something which is lacking in the United States these days. This means that large numbers of people might watch Pushing Daisies, but they won't get it, so they won't tune in next time. The show's ratings were good to start with, but they started to drop.

The problem is that if these people aren't watching Pushing Daisies, then ABC isn't getting the ratings the advertisers want. In other words, Pushing Daisies is too smart for television. So ABC cancels it and replaces it with something that the masses can understand, like more reality shows, or perhaps another spin-off featuring characters from poorly-written car insurance ads. Television becomes a reflection of society: it airs what the masses want to see. This is bad because people want to see stupid stuff. I know that America's Funniest Home Videos shows a lot of stupid stuff, like old women falling down, or men getting hit in the groin.

I'm reminded of an episode of Dinosaurs, which aired on ABC. The lead character, Earl, becomes a network executive and since he's a pretty stupid dinosaur, he chooses to air only stupid programming, such as The Happy Colors Show (and maybe a show about cavemen... I don't remember). As a result, all the dinosaurs become stupid and they quit thinking. Earl decides that he should air smarter programming. He airs educational programming, and everybody learns new skills and puts them to good use. (Also, everyone stops watching TV...) I guess my point here is that society becomes a reflection of television, as well.

So it's a vicious cycle. Stupid programming leads to stupid viewers, which leads to more stupid programming. As I mentioned above, thinking seems to be a problem in this country, which means that stupid programming will likely prevail on television. But adding some smart programming, like Pushing Daisies, can certainly help to avert this problem, and it also lends ABC the credibility of maintaining intelligent programming. ABC needs to make the decision between airing smart programming or stupid programming.

It seems that ABC is going with the stupid decision.

Careless Mistake

Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 2:15 PM | Filed under

I'm taking Math 300, where we deal with all sorts of math reasoning, proofs, and logic. I got back one of my homework problems. The question was this:
A certain island is inhabited by two tribes of people. The members of one tribe always make true statements, and the members of the other tribe always make false ones. (And they are all skillful logicians.) The natives all know who is a truth-teller and who is a liar, but a visitor cannot tell the truth-tellers from the liars just by looking at them. . . . Suppose you meet three natives — A, B, and C — and the first two make the following statements:

A: B is a liar.
B: If A is a liar, then so is C.

Using only this information, figure out whether A, B, and C are truth-tellers or liars, and explain your reasoning.
And I made a rather careless mistake, right at the end:

Ack! I lost one point out of ten for this...