Old News: July 18 to September 2, 2005

6:58 p.m. [GMT-7:00]
2 Sep. 2005 (Fri); Post #613
Oh man, PvP in World of Warcraft is awesome. I spotted this huge group of horde on the bridge between Duskwood and the Redridge Mountains, so I alerted the local defense. Tons of alliance converged on the area and we ended up fighting them just south of Lakeshire. At one point it seemed like they had just disappeared, but it turned out they were hiding in the lake. Big battle. Very fun. I got 26 honorable kills!

Horde/Alliance battle near Lakeshire on Dark Iron. (1680x1050; 253 KB)

Cubic Tragedy is a short film that won the People's Choice Awards at SIGGRAPH 2005 (a computer animation festival). The 66 MB WMV is very high quality, 3m:30s long. Kind of funny and beautifully modeled/animated. Download links are near the bottom of the page.

Here's another short animation: Rosenpig. Two videos, uses music from Songs To Wear Pants To. Funny.

Okay, I gotta go disassemble someone's laptop so the HD can be used in an external enclosure. Ciao.

A more "real" version of Homer Simpson.

10:31 p.m. [GMT-7:00]
31 Aug. 2005 (Wed); Post #612
Beefy and I drove to Seattle Friday afternoon, came back Monday night. We were going to look at apartments, but this plan was complicated by Beefy's revelation that he had decided not to move to Seattle until the beginning of the winter quarter. We did actually check out one place, but it turned out their ad was in error (only 1 bedroom, for sale, not rent). Saw a bunch of movies (cuz there was nothing else to do in the evenings). When I returned, there was a letter from AIS waiting for me saying that I needed to attend a "New Student Clearance Day" on September 9th or 10th. I think I'm going to try to get either a single dorm room at the Cornelius Building or a studio apartment at the Elliot Bay Plaza.

Here are my mini-reviews of the three movies we saw:

The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Great movie. Really funny. Much better than Anchorman, IMO. Steve Carell is amazing. There's this thing at the very end that's so hilarious and unexpected, had me laughing for minutes. There's more blue material in the film than I had expected, but it's presented as inoffensively as possible. The whole thing was kind of like Punch Drunk Love-meets-Supertroopers, but funnier.

The Aristocrats. Very funny but, surprisingly, has some slow/dull segments. Best parts: Sarah Silverman and Billy the Mime. If you've heard the joke, you have a good idea of what to expect in the movie. Definitely not for everyone, but if you like South Park or Palahniuk's more disgusting books, you'll probably appreciate it. A couple comedians came off as really creepy and gross because of the way they told it, but they were a tiny minority.

The Brothers Grimm. Mediocre. Major gripes: Some long, dark scenes where you can hardly see anything at all, a significant amount of dialogue obscured by thick accents, and a generally "meh" story. But it has a few funny moments involving Wilhelm's (Matt Damon) cowardice and some amusing satire about the French. I'd recommend waiting to rent the DVD if it seems interesting to you.

Hit PAX on Saturday. It was pretty neat; I watched two panels and got to see Tycho in person. Couldn't find my Penny Arcade Year One book before we left though, so I didn't get anything signed. Lots of neat stuff to see. Here's a picture:

Penny Arcade Expo 2005 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.

Had sushi at Todai in Redmond on Sunday. It was pretty good and only $15 for all-you-can-eat. They have a whole buffet of great stuff. The squash tempura and gyoza were also quite tasty.

Been playing World of Warcraft a bit lately. My gnome mage is up to level 21 now. Also got an Emberstone Staff, which is a pretty cool rare item. Was going to buy some copper to do Engineering with (only 7 points till I can wear the Flying Tiger Goggles), but I upgraded my pants (+13 fire damage) and got a ring (+3 intellect, +3 spirit) instead. Also, I learned that the elites in the Deadmines instance never stop chasing you, much to the dismay of my party (arrived at Van Cleef's ship dragging about 6 creeps).

World of Warcraft character
Carolinus, level 21 gnome mage. Wearing the Disciples of Divx tabard.

Got the November issue of Analog. It has this story in it with a really brilliant setting (Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder). It's somewhat like Niven's smoke ring; basically a big, weightless gas bubble in space. But this one is filled with forested asteroids, artificial suns, and open-ended wheel- and cylinder-style habitats for centrifugal gravity. Most stuff is built out of wood or steel and runs on alcohol-combustion engines. Kind of steampunk. Haven't finished reading the whole issue yet.

I saw this show on MTV2 for the first time called "Video Mods." They redo music videos with machinima... like, I saw Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out done entirely with characters, objects, and sets from Star Wars Galaxies. It was really great. There was another good one with characters from Destroy All Humans, but I can't remember what the song was.

Some links:

R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet videos. (Click on the "VIDEO" link.) I heard some nice things about this series of short videos (about 20 minutes worth total) and decided to check it out. I was surprised that I actually liked the music (it's hardly the sort of genre I'm usually into), and the story is amusing, if a little ridiculous and cliched. Has some bad language, but it's blanked out.

Nextoons: The Nicktoons Film Festival 2005. Some nifty animated shorts. Only numbers 1, 2, and 6 are worth watching IMO. I especially liked #1 (La Revolution des Crabes).

Serenity LEGO-ized. The spaceship and crew from Firefly built out of legos.

10:33 p.m. [GMT-7:00]
23 Aug. 2005 (Tue); Post #611
I got accepted to AIS! The admissions director called me personally at noon today to let me know. Quite awesome.

Beefy and I are going to Seattle Friday morning to check out apartments and hit PAX. We were going to go Thursday, but I have to stay late to do payroll at the clinic. It's not very difficult, but because of our semi-funky pay period (26th of the previous month to the 25th of the current), I have to wait till everyone's logged out on the 25th to do the hours/bonus calculations.

Started playing World of Warcraft again. Blizzard's having all kinds of technical problems though, so I haven't been able to play as much as I'd like. First I couldn't access Account Management for two days and now I get "you have used up your prepaid time" errors when I try to login (despite the fact that Blizzard's site says my account's active and playable). Man. But anyway, I'm playing a Gnome mage ("Carolinus," after the green wizard from Flight of Dragons) on the Dark Iron server. Hit level 14 earlier today and joined the Disciples of Divx (Penny Arcade) guild after partying with some of their members for a few hours (Zukki, Drenor, Kierman, and a couple others).

World of Warcraft snapshot
Beefy and I at Frostmane Hold on Sunday.

Had my birthday on Sunday. It was nice. My grandma and grandpa Scott were in town too, so that was cool. I got some cash, a gift certificate to I Love Sushi, a new camera, a portable battery charger for my car, and a couple flashlights. That evening my parents took me to Anthony's for dinner. Great food; I had the ahi tuna, a tempura appetizer, peach ice cream, and this really terrific peach lemonade.

My new camera's really small. It's a Casio Exilim EX-Z50. Has a macroscopic focus that I love — it can take pictures of stuff less than an inch from the lens very clearly. The only problem I've had with it is that a some of my pictures come out with a lot of graininess/noise in them. Need to play with the settings to figure out how to correct that. Might have my ISO set too high. Mom and dad also got me a case for it and a 128 MB SD memory card.

New camera. Only 6.8 cubic inches!

We had our last official GURPS game on Saturday. It was fairly epic: some thrilling demon hunting, lots of revelations about Hunter esoterica, a showdown between the PCs that actually had a happy ending. We might continue the campaign with Justin Ventriloing in from Florida. Maybe even try to get Hanwool in on the action with VoIP (he's still in CA, need to give him a call).

Some nifty links:

Guido Daniele's Incredible Hand Paintings. You might've seen these before. Someone emailed me a couple of 'em a while ago, but some of the images on this page were still new to me. People's hands painted to look like various animals (elephant, leopard, eagle, etc.).

Justin Schwartz's Rattlesnake Pics. [Warning: graphic images of blood/tissue.] Pictures of the many surgeries this guy had to go through after getting bit on the hand by a rattlesnake in 2002. I don't know much about skin grafts, thought it was interesting.

Matthias Wandel's Marble Machines. Remember those marble maze kids' toys? This guy built a couple devices that are somewhat similar but much more advanced. The article about the creation and operation of Machine 2 is especially engaging.

Intense Superboy Emo-ness. Funnier once the music kicks in. (Shamelessly stolen from an AIM convo with Beefy.)

Civilization IV Preview
. Great interview with Firaxis' senior producer about the upcoming Civ game. The religion/conversion mechanics sound really fun. Screenshots make the maps look a little too confusing though. Looking forward to this game a lot.

Me and my grandparents on Sunday morning. (It was really bright out; the palsy makes me look like I'm in pain but I'm not.)

5:03 a.m. [GMT-7:00]
16 Aug. 2005 (Tue); Post #610
Still playing Urban Dead. The best thing about it is that the creators are constantly changing the rules and adding new features. Recently, they made it more exhausting for zombies to rise again after being "killed." Now it costs 10 action points to rise (you get 1 AP per half-hour). My main zombie character is up to level 7 now and I have a police officer character, Pfeigel, who managed to snag a shotgun and a ton of ammo. He's doing pretty well, but if the undead get organized and break down the barricades of my group's motel/hiding place, he's done for. The servers are fast again (had really slowed down for a while due to slashdotting by Metafilter).

I noticed a link to Google's personalized home page on blodgex. AFAICT, Google doesn't have a link to it anywhere on their "more" page. Must've been announced on the Google Blog or something. It's kinda cool; here's what my page looks like after a little customizing. And you can add RSS feeds from anywhere, though apparently that feature's a little buggy ATM.

I watched the Perseid meteor shower with my parents last week. Saw six meteors before everyone got tired and went to bed. Also noticed tons of fast-moving satellites, more than I would've expected to be able to see.

Some fun, simple Flash games I've played lately: Space Worms and N Game.

Read Top Ten: The Forty-Niners the other night. Really great stuff. I don't know why Dan disliked it. The unusual romantic subplot might've been too distracting, but there was something similar in the second book, which he liked. Anyway, really amazing art, lots of funny micro-cameos, really original characters. I especially liked the Joanna character ("The Maid"), a crusader (literally) who flies around in a magic Sovereign's Orb. I also liked how the racial metaphors (vampires and robots as minorities) made the stories feel more realistic without becoming offensive. There's a surprising amount of social commentary in the Top Ten series.

My Pyramid subscription runs out on the 18th. I've decided not to renew; their last two issues were real duds for me. And the three before those weren't very amazing either. Every couple months, they produce an issue with a couple articles that actually interest me... but I don't think that's worth $20/year. I'd rather get a subscription to, say, Asimov's Science Fiction.

Beefy lent me a couple DVDs he got through Netflix — the two halves of An Evening with Kevin Smith. I hadn't been looking forward to watching it all that much, but I finally popped the discs in last night and boy, was I wrong. It sounds kind of lame, right? A filmmaker does Q & A at various colleges around the country. Whoopdeedoo. But the stuff he talked about was really fascinating! Almost four hours long and I can't think of a single boring anecdote he told... the stories about the Prince documentary and how he met his wife were especially entertaining. Oh, and the bit about when he worked with Jon Peters. I'd recommend it to anyone who's at least familiar with his films and doesn't mind blue material and cursing. I'd kind of like to see his Stan Lee interviews now...

The PSP can run Windows 95 and Linux now. Pretty remarkable... can't wait till they get the GBA emulator running smoothly.

CraftyTV: free internet TV. Has a lot of episodes of various shows (Black Adder, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, etc.) which you can watch (streaming) for free. Like CartoonFridge, I don't think it'll last, so enjoy it while it's here.

The USS George HW Bush under construction
Construction of the USS George H.W. Bush, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier scheduled to join the fleet in 2009.

3:18 a.m. [GMT-7:00]
11 Aug. 2005 (Thu); Post #609
Some links:

Okay, this first one will be of very little interest to 99.9% of you, but I'm gonna post it anyway because it's a fantastic tool for anyone who needs to make pedigrees. SpreadPed is a couple old spreadsheets this Physics professor, Ray Kozub, designed in 1992. Though they're a little antiquated, they run okay in Excel 2000 and produce nice pedigree printouts. The only annoying bit is that you have to define a name for each 4x20 dog record and manually enter it into a TOC. My mom needed something to do pedigrees for her latest Weimaraner litter and this is working really well.

The Smoking Gun has an interesting "contingency plan" (memos, speeches) from 1969 that would have been used if the Apollo XI astronauts had become stranded on the moon. Could make for good alternate history fodder.

This page is really nifty in a spooky way, but it's actually just a viral marketing scheme for Cold Fear, an upcoming video game. Really looks like some government web site though, right? Heh.

This next link is kind of disturbing; if you're the sort who gets woozy at the sight of blood, don't click. Scar Wars' artists page has some painful looking tattoo alternatives... apparently these people have designs etched into their skin with something like an X-acto knife, then somehow cut/peel away the inside tissue. A little NSFW material, but interesting if you can stomach it.

I added a second "O RLY?" Gallery page. Funny if you get a kick out of dumb stuff, interesting in a micro-historical kinda way if you frequent the chans. I learned some things while trying to identify the source of each image... for example: did you know Azumanga Daioh is considered the second most popular anime series of 2002?

Remember the Super Mario Bros. Super Show? Ran from 1989-91... kind of a Generation Y thing. Anyway, I stumbled across this gem yesterday: The SMB Super Show Intro (ASF, 2.55 MB).

Downloaded the new version of Avant (10.1). It's nicer in a lot of ways (minor UI tweaks, less CPU usage, better performance) but the new skins don't work right with the Google toolbar (with any skin except Windows Traditional these ugly gray bars show up) and the refresh/F5 mouse gesture is broken. The addition of a "Re-open Last Closed" button is brilliant though. Very handy. Apparently you can browse forward and back by clicking the mouse buttons in different orders (e.g. hold down the right and click the left to go back)... dunno if they just added that or not, happened to notice it on the help page.

To me it seemed like the Daily Show had really been declining in quality ever since they moved to the new set... especially with the longer interviews and the way Jon Stewart humiliated the author of 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (who seemed like a nice old man with openly conservative opinions) on 7/13/05's show. (I know Jon Stewart's a democrat, but why treat that author so horribly, then turn around and roll out the red carpet for Rick Santorum?) Well, the show seems to be back on track with 8/8/05's episode (guest: Paul Rudd). Funny all the way through, more like how the show used to be. It's odd how the show's tone can shift so much in short amounts of time. They must be trying out new writers or something. The 40 Year-Old Virgin clip they showed was truly hilarious; definitely seeing that one.

Got new comics at IF today. Albion #2 (#1 was pretty good, typical Alan Moore stuff), the 50¢ PvP comic (some kind of promotional thing, I guess), Sandman Vol. 3, Nodwick #28, the Marvel 1602 trade (heard lots of good things), Top 10: Forty-Niners (kind of a prequel to the original Top 10 books, Dan says it's not as good though), KoDT #105, and Justice #1 (DC comic Dan recommended). Woo!

New comicbooks
New comics.

1:36 a.m. [GMT-7:00]
9 Aug. 2005 (Tue); Post #608
Had to change my MP3-swapping page because of the barrage of stupid emails I was getting. Sure, I'd occasionally get a legitimate trade offer, but most of the messages were from borderline-illiterate nincompoops rudely demanding songs, frequently in a foreign language. Does anything on this site suggest that I'm fluent in Portuguese? Geez.

I watched Steamboy Friday night. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but the story is pretty generic as anime movies go. Really terrific art... apparently most of the movie was CG, though I didn't realize that until I watched the featurettes on the DVD. If you're a fan of the steampunk genre, it's definitely worth seeing.

Got a flat on Argent around 1:00 AM on Saturday. Dunno what caused it. Changing the tire was a little tricky with only the light of my cell phone to work by. But I got the spare on okay and the sheriff was nice enough to stop by just as I was tightening the lugs to make sure I wasn't in any trouble. Saturday afternoon I took the car to the Court St. Les Schwab and they fixed everything in about fifteen minutes for free! Really nice of them.

The GURPS game is in full swing now... zombie bikers, a magical doctor's bag, and the PCs on the run from the law (shocking, no?). Somehow most of the action ended up taking place in Casper, Wyoming. Our games always seem to gravitate to the strangest locations...

Started reading Kiln People. Very good so far; seems likely that it'll stay interesting (unlike Startide Rising, which kinda turned me off of Brin for a while). Oh, also read a ton of TPBs — a bunch of Transmetropolitan (only need six more trades and I'll have read the whole series), a couple Powers (Vol. 3-4; it's hard to imagine how it'll continue now that Walker's off the force), and Sandman Vol. 2 (the "Cereal Convention" was creepy and fascinating).

The latest Battlestar Galactica episode was awesome... Cmdr. Adama is back! I loved the scene at the end where Col. Tigh tells him "I fracked things up. And good." Oh man, and the stuff between Baltar, the chief, and Boomer #1... this is such an awesome series. Stargate: Atlantis, OTOH, was disappointingly sitcom-ish this week. At least it was McKay-centric. The new character, Ronon, is good. Nice to have a prominent offworlder who's not Teyla.

Saw an amusing story about this old guy who built a really cool treehouse. With pictures.

"Russia's like 'AAAH, MOTHERLAND!'" (link)

Steamboy scene
Cool scene from Steamboy. (1400x756; 189 KB)

Ugliest dog in the world
Ugliest dog in the world: a 14-year old Chinese Crested. (850x640; 145 KB)

1:11 a.m. [GMT-7:00]
5 Aug. 2005 (Fri); Post #607
Link dump!

This is actually pretty old, but I just read it for the first time a couple days ago: Metaphilm - Fight Club: The Return of Hobbes. It's a surprisingly thorough/cohesive analysis of Fight Club and Calvin & Hobbes as two parts of the same story. It almost makes me wonder if Palahniuk wasn't influenced by the comic strip to some degree...

There's a neat little trick you can do in many elevators to make them go into "express" mode (i.e. forces the car to go straight to your destination without acknowledging stop requests on other floors).

Peekaboom is an amusing multiplayer web game where you take turns guessing at the subject of a mostly-hidden image and giving clues to another player doing the same. Better than iSketch, but a little frustrating at times (mostly because your partners are random and some of the images are too obscure/low quality).

There was a really awesome story in September's Analog: Resonance by Eric James Stone. Indubitably the best thing in that issue. (Though Sanctuary was also very good.) Anyway, it's about this race between several corporations to build the first space elevator and win something similar to the X Prize. But there're all these financial, technical, and legal problems that the main character (CEO of one of the corporations) has to overcome... a bit of exciting action towards the end too. Really clever and well written.

I picked up Dork Tower #31 on my last trip to Infinite Frontiers, mostly because it had gotten filed into my box by mistake and I figured I'd see if it had improved since I'd stopped reading back around issue #15. It hasn't — still sucks. But it's in color now (which is totally unnecessary). It's a little strange that Aaron Williams and John Kovalic produce both comics I love (Nodwick, Full Frontal Nerdity, Dr. Blink) and comics I hate (PS 238, Dork Tower).

Killed a couple people on Urban Dead. I'm halfway to level 2. Woo. Much easier to play a zombie.

Bought some smoked turkey and provolone for sandwiches today. They were pretty good. Also got some Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper which was better than I thought it would be. Wish I'd gotten cottage cheese instead of Pringles though.

Currently downloading: Metropolis (1927) and 8/4's Daily Show. Finished watching NewsRadio seasons 1 and 2. Man, that show had a great cast. Dave Foley does sarcasm really well.

An interesting comparison of maps of Mars (click thumbs for full size):

Real-life Mars. (1280x782; 233 KB)

Transhuman Space Mars. (1365x726;175 KB)

3:58 a.m. [GMT-7:00]
2 Aug. 2005 (Tue); Post #606
I got a new monitor (birthday present from my parents). It's too awesome: a Dell 2005FPW 20.1" LCD display. 1680x1050 resolution. The 16:10 ratio was a little weird at first, but now I love it. The monitor has four different inputs: DVI, D-sub (regular VGA), composite, and S-video. Right now I have my main system on the DVI and the laptop on the D-sub (easier to use the Wacom tablet on). I experimented with the vertical view (see image below), but went back to the horizontal view after a little while. Switching back and forth is really easy; I just tilt the display to one side and hit Alt+Ctrl+L/S. Kinda messes ObjectDock up though. Anyway, super cool.

Dell 2005FPW LCD display

Been playing this web game, Urban Dead. It's kinda fun, you can play as a bunch of different professions (fireman, medic, scientist, civilian, etc.) or as a zombie. I had been playing a fireman for a few days (you get to start with an axe and a fairly high proficiency), but last night some zombies broke into the hotel I'd been hiding out in and killed me. It wasn't all bad though... I rose as a zombie and attacked a few people. Only need 17 experience points to buy a new skill (I think I'm gonna get "Vigour Mortis," which gives +10% to hit with non-weapon attacks).

We had an actual honest-to-goodness GURPS game on Saturday. Modern day setting, PCs were a couple of struggling private eyes in Omaha, Nebraska. There was supposed to be some minor paranormal stuff, but we all got caught up in this arson/murder case. Long story short, Pierce (Justin) shot this girl who tried to kill him and Riddel (Beefy) and now they're both on the lam with a bag of financial records. The girl's boyfriend, now probably $10,000 richer, is still out there somewhere, probably plotting his revenge. Lots of mystery, betrayal, espionage, and some tense skirmishes. A couple exciting chases. Fun stuff. Looking forward to next week.

Finally got my hands on GURPS Character Assistant 4 (which we used to build Beefy's character). Great program. My only complaint is that they put languages and cultural familiarities in kind of a weird place. The new equipment tab is a great addition though.

I made the mistake of mentioning I still use IE on Slashdot. Got flamed instantly by a dozen or so Linux nerds. It's shocking how vicious these losers are towards people who just happen to use what they consider to be a bad browser. Anyway, I decided I'd try the alternatives they suggested, just to see what all the fuss was about. I've already used Firefox (didn't care for it), so I downloaded the latest version of Opera. It wasn't bad, but I dislike the way it represents the tabs and you can't use the Google toolbar in it. Oh, and it has these annoying ads that you have to pay $40 to get rid of. Thanks, but no thanks. When someone comes up with a browser that gives me all the options of Avant for under $10, I'll switch.

The Maxwell Edison Story is a great Flash animation that goes along with the little-known Beatles song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." I think Justin in particular will appreciate this one.

Speaking of Flashes, I can't stop watching this weird little one: vip7371.swf [567 KB]. It's a loop of video from Metropolis (1927) set to a weird song about Super Mario RPG. If anyone knows the name of the song or the artist, please contact me.

Really creepy story on CBC.ca about a spider web that covered sixty acres.

Machu Picchu
Cool Machu Picchu pic. Click for full size. (1024x768; 126 KB)

Hay guys hrrrrrrglhkh
Random funny 4chan text-macro pic.

2:49 a.m. [GMT-7:00]
28 Jul. 2005 (Thu); Post #605
So you've all probably heard about the Family Guy movie getting leaked, right? Beefy and I both liked it a lot. Really funny. Favorite bits: "No you cannot still read Parade!" and "Ron, huh? You know, I've always really liked that name. 'Ron.'"

My Favorite Word is a slightly amusing web site. My favorite word's probably a toss-up between "clockwork" and "insinuate." And maybe "asynchronous." Or "esoteric." Yeah.

Here's another site I enjoyed: Recent pictures of the stars of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). The comments at the bottom of the page are pretty interesting too.

Ordered Scrubs Season 1, NewsRadio Seasons 1 & 2, Bottle Rocket, and Steamboy from Amazon. Looking forward to all of them, but especially Steamboy. I like what Jurgen Fauth had to say about it:
In "Steamboy," bizarre Victorian machinery battles for the future of science.
How can you not want to see a movie with a description like that?

Got all my application stuff done for AIS. Just mailed the enrollment agreement a few hours ago, in fact.

Overhauled the Links page. No longer is suprnova.org listed as "The number one torrent site."

Some cool pictures from Discovery's launch on Tuesday (click thumbs for full-size images):

Discovery on the launch pad
On the pad. (1280x1024; 239 KB JPG)

Discovery launching
Blast off! (800x1030; 180 KB JPG)

11:59 p.m. [GMT-7:00]
24 Jul. 2005 (Sun); Post #604
First, some links:

Songs To Wear Pants To is kind of a "song blog." This guy, Andrew, makes up songs based on peoples' requests. You can download all of them in MP3 format... some are quite good, like Fishcat Catfish (which was used in this Flash cartoon).

Found this site that collects random, (mostly) funny quotations submitted by eavesdroppers: Overheard in the Office. Good for a minute or two of diversion.

Another neat Wikipedia entry: a list of films ordered by uses of the F word. Three of the top forty are Kevin Smith movies, heh.

This Wired article ("Mind May Affect Machines") suggests people might be able to affect machines and electronics very slightly through their thoughts alone (i.e. without any extra equipment). Of course, the results are probably just due to poor methodology like the other scientists claim on the third page. Real or not, I thought it was interesting that they found women produced greater effects while men had better accuracy. (Reminds me of Nancy Kress' book Trinity, where the scientists discovered romantically involved twins of different genders were needed to telepathically contact God.)

Fun fact: Stephen Colbert (of The Daily Show) is deaf in one ear because of a tumor he had as a child.

Apparently work's begun on a Futurama straight-to-DVD movie. The info was leaked by Billy West (the voice actor who played Fry, Prof. Farnsworth, and others) and confirmed by Matt Groening at the San Diego Comicon.

Emptied my box at Infinite Frontiers and picked up some Transmetropolitan TPBs, plus the latest Y: The Last Man TPB. So far I've read The Walking Dead #17-20 (really excellent; they added a much-needed characters page in #20), the two Transmetropolitan trades (#0 and #1, both very good), and KODT #103 (which I actually bought from Justin for a dollar). Oh, and I read this new comic Dan suggested called Deadworld. It's another zombie comic, but the zombies seem a little smarter and at least one can actually talk and ride a motorcycle. It's no TWD (what is?), but I liked it. Speaking of The Walking Dead, there's gonna be a big hardcover compilation of issues #1-24 in November. Definitely picking that up.

New episodes of Stargate Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica have finally come out... at this point I'm enjoying the new Atlantis eps more than BSG. In fact, I now prefer Atlantis to the original SG-1 series. SG-1's good (heck, I've got seven seasons of it on DVD), but Atlantis seems to have a better cast, better writing, and better special effects. I love how both series have kept moving forward with real, continuous developments, unlike (for example) Star Trek: The Next Generation, where everything always ended up the same at the end of each episode.

Got the new issue of Analog last week... I'm only halfway through the previous issue though. At least I've finished Roma Eterna. Overall it was a great book IMO, though I wish Silverberg hadn't ended with the Hebrew's second exodus. Actually, I'd rather have seen Roma continue to flourish as a Latin-speaking empire instead of turning back into a republic and falling apart. The Roma Arcana map in GURPS Fantasy was kind of helpful while reading the book; without it, it's hard to figure out some of the geography (e.g. "Lusitania" is actually Portugal).

Beefy and I saw Wedding Crashers on Friday. Thanks to Beefy's atrocious punctuality (whale biologist!) we ended up sitting in the very front of the theater and had to look up for two hours. But the movie was fairly good. I didn't care for the Owen Wilson/Rachel McAdams romance, but the rest of the show was very funny. I had no idea Will Ferrell was in it.

Audioscrobbler's really messed up ATM... right now it's saying I played 2,147,483,647 Dolly Parton songs in the past week.

Beefy and I are going back up to Seattle around August 25-27 to look for apartments. Oh, and Krunk suggested we have lunch together after we get moved in. Woo.

Beefy and I watched Red vs. Blue seasons 1, 2, and 3 in a single sitting. Fun series, but it dragged a little bit towards the end of season two and season three has a lot of recycled video from season one (there's this whole time travel thing). I guess if I'd waited a year between viewing seasons one and three it might've been less annoying. I disliked how Caboose got much stupider between seasons one and two. After season one, he's so dumb that his lines stop being funny for the most part. Best quote from the series:
Church: So how are you doing, Caboose? Are you following any of this whatsoever?
I think so. That guy Tex is really a robot... and you're his boyfriend. So that makes you... a gay robot.
Yeah. That's right. I'm a gay robot.
Weird buildings on stilts in the sea
Not sure what these are, but they look cool.

Gorillaz Demon Days thumb
My current wallpaper. Click thumb for full size (100 KB JPG).

1:38 a.m. [GMT-7:00]
18 Jul. 2005 (Mon); Post #603
Just got back from seeing the 10:20 pm showing of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Carmike 12. It was satisfactory. The oompa-loompas (all played by Deep Roy) and Depp as Willy Wonka were funny. The songs were good, but not as catchy as the ones in the 1971 version. Some other things I liked in the original were missing too... Like the scene where Grandpa Joe tries to walk for the first time in ages, the bit where one child tries to sell Wonka secrets to a spy, the scene where Charlie and Grandpa Joe sneak some of the Fizzy Lifting Drink and have to burp to avoid getting chopped up by the fan, Wonka's use of foreign languages, and Wonka's singing. But they added a backstory about Wonka that I liked and the ending is happier.

Both films (1971 and 2005) are essentially parables that warn children not to be selfish or disobedient. But they seem to have different themes besides the obvious moral lessons. 1971 seemed to emphasize hope and optimism more while 2005 primarily pushes family togetherness and solidarity. IMHO at least. It's also worth noting that Charlie and Grandpa Joe are more sinless in the 2005 version. Might be some kind of cultural commentary to all that.

Anyway, the movie was decent but probably not totally worth the $7.75 I paid to see it. I'd recommend waiting to rent the DVD.

Beefy sent me a link to this webcomic about the Fantastic Four movie which I thought was pretty terrific. (The comic, I mean. Not the movie. The movie blew chunks.)

The "optimus keyboard" has been linked to on a lot of blogs. I think it's pretty slick looking but, overall, kind of pointless. Who looks at the keys that much? Even in programs with special key bindings, most ppl learn the layout quickly enough that something like this wouldn't be worth the money. If I ever buy a >$50 keyboard, it'll probably be a FrogPad. For now, I'll stick with my MS Office Keyboard.

There's a really neat article on wired.com about how it might be possible to fix the global warming problem by dumping iron into "desolate zones" in the ocean. The iron causes tremendous phytoplankton blooms in these areas which would remove CO2 gas from the atmosphere, reducing the greenhouse effect. From the article:
Given 200 boats, 8.1 million tons of iron, and 16 million square miles of HNLC ocean — just over 11 percent of all the water in the world — Markels says his flotilla could zero out 8 gigatons of CO2 each year, the entire global fossil-fuel emissions enchilada, all for an annual cost of around $16 billion. Crisis over. Next question?
If you're bored, check out the Japan SAQ (Seldom Asked Questions). Some of the questions are dull (e.g. Why is Saitama written in hiragana when it's the name of the city, but written in Kanji for the prefecture?), but most are quite interesting. I actually read all 36 page's worth of questions, skipping only the few to which I already knew the answers. If anyone knows about similar web pages for other countries, let me know.

I realize I didn't go into detail about the sushi at "I Love Sushi" in Bellevue. Here's a brief summary: It took a really long time for us to get served (maybe 30-40 minutes), but once a waiter actually spotted us the service was great. We had quite a bit of salmon and eel (plus at least an order or two of abalone, tuna, yellowtail, sweet shrimp, and mackerel). Also had a sashimi appetizer and some assorted vegetable tempura. Because we ordered so much sushi, they gave us a complimentary dish — deep fried shrimp heads. Those were a little too exotic for Beefy and I; we only had a bite each. The deep fried green tea ice cream was just as good as the last time. Great meal overall. I think the abalone was my favorite this time instead of the yellowtail which is my usual preference.

Do you like waffles? (249 KB Flash)

Hershey's Skor with Crisp Butter Toffee
My favorite candy bar ATM. (Photo by wnissen of the eGullet forums.)

"I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting." — Ronald Reagan