Tuesday, January 31, 2006

1/31/06 What's Your Fetish?

Photographer Dana sends Fetish Flip 'N Match. It's like the childrens' game Memory. But with fetishes. So, it's not exactly safe for work. But it is on the Oxygen website. So, then again, it's not exactly unsafe for work either. Within the game, I learned all sorts of new things. Like the definitions of Scoptolagnia and Eproctophilia.

Monday, January 30, 2006

1/30/06 Scales. Moh, Scoville and Richter.

One of my new favorite Podcasts is "The Naked Scientists". It's a British radio show. People will call in during the show to ask questions pertaining to the topic of the day. Then the hosts will ask science trivia questions for some prize. One of their questions referred to The Mohs Scale. The Mohs scale is a scale of hardness. Talc is on the bottom of the scale, being the softest. And a diamond is on top, being the hardest. Well almost on top - diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring material. There are some harder man-made materials.

The Scoville scale is a way to measure the hotness of peppers.

And now onto the Richter Scale. I was taught that the Richter Scale was logarithmic. And I thought that a 6.0 earthquake was 10 times worse than a 5.0. Turns out, the amount of energy released between a 6.0 and a 5.0 is 32 times. For every 1.0 jump, the amount of energy released is 32 times greater. A 6.0 earthquake is the equivalent of 1,000,000 tons of TNT. A 9.0 quake (like the one in Chile in 1960) was the equivalent of 32,000,000,000 tons of TNT.

We're coming up on the end of the month and I began to think for a second - Does January have 30 days or 31? More to the point, is rent due tomorrow or the day after? Then I plotted out the months, remembering that both December/January and July/August are back-to-back 31 day months. Which leaves us with 7 months of 31 days, 4 months of 30 days and 1 month of 28 days. Now, call me crazy here... But why did we need to make February all complicated? What would've been wrong with 5 months of 31 days and 7 months of 30 days? It still adds up. Why take it out on February? Who's in charge here? And how do I get a hold of him?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

1/29/06 Magnetic Pole Reversal

Yeah, I think I posted something about this a couple of years back. But it's all I have right now. The magnetic poles on earth are starting to reverse. Maybe. It's just gotten a whole lot weaker in the past couple centuries. Nobody is really sure what that means. Except that Mars may have had an atmosphere. And, due to its weakened magnetic field, the entire atmosphere got blown away, voiding it of life.

My dad sends "Who Cries for the Pinata?"

Saturday, January 28, 2006

1/28/06 Space Elevator

Here's a picture from the space elevator. It doesn't exist yet. But one day it might.

Apparently my neighbors in Irvine, CA are about to unlock extra dimensions.

It's hard to believe anything you read on the internet. Most of what I post on this blog included. On top of that list should be the top 10 censored stories of 2005.

In order to make this post bipartisan and of fair use and whatever political/legal term you want. Here are some conservative t-shirts.

Friday, January 27, 2006

1/27/06 Brilliant Marketing

I'm going to share a story that shows how customer service can go a real long way. I brought my 7 year old car to the local dealership yesterday. There's a real faint grinding sound between gears, so I figured I might finally need to get a transmission flush. One of the mechanics drove the car. While he did, the service manager looked up my car and let me know that I haven't had some of the recall work done. He said he'd just take care of it. I asked him if I would need new transmission fluid. He said no, that it would be a waste of time and money. That, if there's a problem, they'll have to replace the transmission. I definitely didn't want to hear that. And I started to not trust the guy. Of course he was going to want to replace an expensive transmission. That's how these guys get paid, right? It's a shame I started to distrust him - he seemed so helpful and friendly to begin with.

So, I calmly asked how much that would cost. I figured if it was too much, I'd start maybe looking at getting another car. "Normally it's about $4500. But they extended your transmission warranty, so it's free." Umm. What? You're giving me a new transmission for free? My car's more than 7 years old. "And we'll take care of all of the recall fixes for you. No charge."

The mechanic came back and verified that I needed a new transmission. The manager then rolled up in a 2005 version of my car with XM Radio and all the bells and whistles. He just said, "Make sure to fill up the tank when you bring the car back. We should have your new transmission by Monday or Tuesday. I'll call and let you know."

So, onto the brilliant marketing. I am now driving a new version of my car. And it rules. On top of it, the guy there took super great care of me and my car. When I get 1999 model car back next week, it's probably going to seem like such a disappointment compared to the car I have for the weekend. Is this going to tempt me into buying a new car? Sure. Is it going to leave me with a great impression of the dealership? Absolutely. Does this work on other people? You bet.

On a side note, I was toying with XM radio this morning. I spent 20 minutes looking for the new Howard Stern show (Just out of curiosity. I had to compare it to the old show). Then my morning coffee finally kicked in and I was reminded that there's a difference between XM and Sirius radio. So again, I'm retarded. After flipping through 200 channels, I realized I wasn't going to find it. So there you have it. Brilliant marketing by both the car company and by XM radio. Sometimes a little customer service goes a long way.

I'm a big fan of Albert Einstein. Yeah, he's dead, I know. I'm of fan of his life. And I found a neat collection of his quotes. Here are a few:
  • "He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."
  • "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind."
  • "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."
  • "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
  • "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."
  • "A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

1/26/06 Buddha on the Brain

As promised, here is the article about the Dalai Lama and his speech titled "The Neuroscience of Meditation." I was surprised to learn that the Dalai Lama is a big fan of science. And some scientists, in turn, are fascinated with the Dalai Lama. East meets West?

In an experiment with 2 meditating groups - Buddhist monks and a control group of college students, "The monks produced gamma waves that were 30 times as strong as the students'. In addition, larger areas of the meditators' brains were active, particularly in the left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for positive emotions."

British scientists claim that liquorice is good for teeth. Yes. Of course they would.

I keep reading that Kevin Federline (K-Fed) is a douchebag and a no talent ass clown. I know very little about him, so it's really unfair to pass along that judgment without some evidence. So here - Judge for yourself.

Here's a list of 176 movie sequels that are preliminarily (did I just make up that word?) in the works. Some of the ones that caught my attention were:
  • Seriously Dude, Where's My Car?
  • Police Academy 8
  • Goonies 2
  • Death Race 3000

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

1/25/06 Party of Five

Years ago I remember catching bits and pieces of the TV show "Party of Five". The little girl on that show was SO annoying. Well, that "little girl" was on Celebrity Poker Showdown. She's gone from SO annoying to SO FRIGGIN' HOT.

What do diseases and the circulation of currency have in common? This.

I read something really cool today about the Dali Lama and him letting scientists monitor his brainwave activity. I think I bookmarked it at work and I'll post it tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

1/24/06 IP Spotting

Curious about your IP address? Want to know how important it is? Yeah, didn't think so.

Two days ago I mentioned caffeine. Well, I was bored as usual today. So I whipped out my slide rule and made some calculations. (Note: I do not, nor have I ever, owned a slide rule). The average American ingests 300 mg of caffeine per day (According to some site that I can no longer find). So, I was wondering, how many caffeine molecules that is. The chemical makeup of caffeine is C8H10N4O2 with an atomic weight of 194.19. With the help of Avogadro's Number and a little high school chemistry stoichiometry, I figured it to be somewhere around 93,000,000,000,000,000,000 caffeine molecules per day. (Note 2: I really don't remember how to do stoichiometry correctly. I have very little confidence that my answer is correct. I'm sure that Mr. Abrams will gladly give us the correct answer).

Chemistry homework for tonight: A gallon of water weighs 8.33 pounds. How many water (H2O) molecules are in that gallon? (For the super nerds out there - assume that it's only water. No minerals or anything).

Hint #1: The molecular weight of water is 18.015. If that scares you, just use 18.

Hint #2: 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds.

Monday, January 23, 2006

1/23/06 Legalized Cheating

Some teachers are allowing their middle school students to use Google and other search engines to look up answers during homework and tests. Amazing. Schools actually reflecting the real world? Allowing the students to use all of the tools at their disposal to research and learn? Wow. I underestimated the public school system after all.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

1/22/06 Caffeine

Caffeine consists of Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen and Oxygen. That's it. It's so simple, yet it such an integral part of so many of our lives. There's some real hot lady, posing as a nurse telling us to stop drinking so many caffeinated beverages. If she made the effort to personally convince me to give up caffeine, there would definitely be quite a bit more motivation on my part. Alas, I still can't seem to give it up completely.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

1/21/06 Big Bucks... No Whammies... Annnnddd... STOP!

Sosa signed a 1 year, $2.2 million contract. Jorge Sosa, that is. Sammy still can't find a suitor for his decrepit, post-steroid shell of his former self.

Friday, January 20, 2006

1/20/06 DMV

I hate the DMV. Absolutely hate it. If hate were people, China wouldn't be big enough for my hatred of the DMV. I've lived in this state for 14 months now and still have yet to register my car. 12 months were due to lack of initiative. But the last 2 months, I've really kicked it into gear. And I still can't get the sucker registered. It's that kind of anger you feel when you get all of your money in pre flop with aces and lose. You just wait patiently for hours, waiting for the opportune moment to make your move. Then, after all of your waiting, the moment arises and you take it. Only to have your dreams crushed 30 seconds later by some jackass you don't even know.

From the "I could teach you, but I'd have to charge" files: My milkshake brings all the boys to the morgue.

My brother told me about this. He told me he wasn't kidding. But it still sounded like a bad SNL commercial. So I looked it up for myself. Sure enough, he really wasn't joking. He told me about some new "medicine" that is supposed to be able to remove traumatic memories. This could be used for hurricane victims and soldiers amongst others. I'm going to refrain from commenting on how ridiculous I believe this to be. I really don't want to subject you to a 500 word rant. Combine this with my day at the DMV and nobody would be leaving here happy.

Alright - we're going to head into the weekend on a positive note. First Sigur Ros. Now this. What *can't* Iceland do? Iceland is definitely moving up my "Favorite Nation Status" list. Not that I have one. But I'm starting one now. And Iceland is on it. In fact, that should be a new icebreaker question. Instead of "What kind of music do you like?" or "Which movies have you seen lately?", we should ask each other "What are your 10 favorite nations in descending order and why?". I bet you could learn a lot about someone if they answered that question. Sure, it's a big *if*. But if he/she didn't run away immediately, you'd probably get into a pretty neat conversation.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

1/19/06 DVR

DVR is slowly destroying me. I've had it for a month. For 1/3 of that month I wasn't even at home. So I've really had it for about 20 days. In those 20 days, I'm going to venture to guess that I've easily watched 100 hours of TV. Ok, 5 hours a day might be pushing it, but it's been a lot. At the rate I'm going, I'll surpass my total TV watching for 2005 in about 3 more weeks.

This week alone (Since Monday) I've watched the first 2 episodes of "24 "(4 hours), a documentary on Abraham Lincoln (3 hours), 2 episodes of celebrity poker (3 hours), 2 episodes of PTI (1 hour), and a few cartoons like The Simpsons, South Park and The Family Guy (maybe 2 hours. Maybe more. I can't keep track any longer). That's 13 hours of TV in 3 nights. That's wrong. That's terrible. That doesn't even count the basketball I watched in the gym while working out last night. It's to the point where, when I come home, it's like I have homework to do. And my homework is to watch my recorded shows.

In conclusion, if you see me starting to lose my mind. It's most likely because of DVR. In that case, please, please return it to the cable company on my behalf.

It's a good thing I don't have DVR in the bathroom. Otherwise I would never read anymore. While I'm still reading that book about the genome, I'll probably keep posting little tidbits I find interesting.

Today's fact is about Telomeres. You know how your DNA is a long, double-helix, almost like a zipper? And when the DNA divides, it unzips in half and combines to make another double-helix? Well, telomeres are the caps on either end of the strand of DNA. It's like an aglet (the plastic tip) on your shoelace that keeps the shoelace from fraying. Each time a cell divides, part of the telomere is lost. Which is why the number of times a cell can be replaced in a human body is limited and why you age and die.

Due to exponential growth, the number of times each cell needs to divide in order to create a human body is under 50. After 47 cell divisions, there are more than 100 trillion cells. This, in part, is how your DNA can stay in tact. Sadly, most cells cannot divide many more times due to the limited length of the telomeres.

Sticking with the topic of science, Einstein's most famous equation, E=Mc^2, has been challenged. Scientists are proposing that the speed of light has decreased since the beginnings of the universe. Which could explain the inflationary expansion of the universe in the first seconds after the big bang. (That wasn't in the article. I came up with that one all by myself. Boy, I hope my parents are proud of me and my misguided knowledge.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

1/18/06 Pig Vomit

Ok, I learned something today. Paul Giamatti, the actor from Sideways and Private Parts and The Negotiator (very underrated movie, by the way)... He's the son of former baseball commissioner, Bart Giamatti. Bart Giamatti is most famous for sentencing Pete Rose to a lifetime ban from baseball. He died 8 days later. Not Pete Rose. He's still alive and bitter.

Staying on the baseball topic, Jim Caple writes a great article about Cuba and the World Baseball Classic.

I found a pretty neat article predicting the next economic boom/bust cycle. According to this guy, get your money into the stock market now. And get it out in 2010. Then pray you're not part of the 15% unemployment.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

1/17/06 Top Ten Satire News Stories of 2005

Here are some pretty good satire news stories from 2005.

Hopefully I'll have more time later to post something I actually learned.

Monday, January 16, 2006

1/16/06 Mike Tyson's Punch Out. Starring Don Flamenco.

This just rules. If you played Mike Tyson's Punchout like I did growing up, hopefully you'll find this at least half as funny as I did.

This poor dog. It's probably the only dog dumber than my own.

In one episode of the Simpsons, Lisa says something about adding up the clues and you'll be able to figure out which state Springfield is supposed to be in. So, I searched on it and found this. (scroll down about 2/3 of the way for the answer(s).)

How can you tell that a dining room set sold on eBay is being sold by a man?

John Digweed. Huh huh.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

1/15/06 I Ain't No Expert

Ok, take what I said about the Bears and change it to the Panthers, I was pretty much right there. Instead of Rex Grossman throwing for 300+ yards and 3 TDs, make that Jake Delhomme. And instead of the Bears winning in a high scoring affair, change it to the Panthers. Yup, I got everything wrong.

Perhaps if Ron Rivera taught the Bears' secondary to run and chew bubble gum at the same time, they might be playing again next week. And why they didn't have 2 guys on Steve Smith every play is beyond me. What a terrible way to go out.

Sticking with the "I ain't no expert" theme, some guy solved the Rubik's Cube in 11.13 seconds. Which is 1000% faster than I ever solved it.

1/15/06 Sports Experts

You know how most sports experts are pretty much full of it? Both of the football games today were scoreless well into the second quarter. So much for high powered offenses and Tom Brady and all of the crap we've been hearing all week.

This leads me to my prediction for tomorrow: Chicago Bears 42, Carolina Panthers 38. You heard it here first. Rex Grossman throws for 352 yards and 3 TDs.

Friday, January 13, 2006

1/13/06 What Celebrity Do You Look Like?

Google Nicki back sending fun links. Today is facial recognition software. You can upload a picture and it will tell you which celebrity you most resemble. The first time I ran it, I got Greg Louganis. Ummm. I guess I was tan in the picture. But I've never been mistaken for Greg Louganis. It's definitely a good time waster.

I learned yesterday that I live maybe a mile from the Orange County Museum of Art. Thanks to Georgetown Leah for introducing me to the museum and the crazy exhibit of John Waters.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

1/12/06 Mario 64

I miss Mario 64. This video brought back good memories. Of when I was a younger loser.

I was watching the South Park where they play the "Brown Note" with Kenny G and Yoko Ono. Which led the Nacho Expert and me on a hunt for a sound file of that note. Nothing yet. It's really a myth as far as I know. But it would rule to try it.

All of the songs from The Family Guy. Too bad they don't have video too.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

1/11/06 Ice Is Nice!

"It is possible to synthesize excited bromide in an argon matrix! Yes, it’s an excimer, frozen in its excited state … As soon as we apply a field, we couple to a state that is radiatively coupled to the ground state" - Chris Knight, "Real Genius"

A few weeks ago I wrote a little about global warming and the book "State of Fear". The overriding theme is that very little is known about global warming. Case in point - Methane is considered to be one of the largest contributors to global warming. And what contributes 10 to 30 percents of all methane? No, not your butt (I'm sure it's a close 2nd). It's plants. Somehow this has gone overlooked until just recently.

Whole Foods is going to feed all of its energy needs with wind power.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

1/10/06 How Bees Fly

I'm sure you've spent countless nights losing sleep, pondering the question - "How do bees fly?". Well, your sleepless nights are over. They flap their wings at a constant 230 beats per second. In order to compensate for heavy cargo, such as pollen, they extend their wings, much like a racecar shifting into higher gear.

NASA took pictures of Area 51 back in 1968. They also made the picture public domain.

Can sonograms harm the unborn baby? Maybe. It may actually promote left-handedness.

Speaking of the womb, I am reading a book called "Genome" by Matt Ridley. Highly recommended. One of the more fascinating studies in the book is that for each older brother a male has, he is 1/3 more likely to be gay. (Note: 1/3 more is equivalent to the difference between 3 and 4 percent chance). There is no correlation for having sisters, or for women becoming lesbians. Turns out that there's some immune system mechanism in the womb that wards off some antigens in the Y chromosome of the developing male. The mother's immune system shuts down part of the male fetus required for full masculine development. Or so I understand from the book. Now I more fully understand why my brother's a wuss. (Just kidding, dude. I mean, yeah, you're a wuss. But you're a married wuss. Which is way better than what I'm doing).

Monday, January 09, 2006

1/9/06 Nutrasweet. The Revenge.

Imagine some non-descript office that is attempting to institute some "Healthy Option" campaign. Old vending machines are replaced with new ones. The soda machine is replaced with a new one. (Note: I have started saying soda since moving out west. I am very ashamed of the change. Very ashamed. It's as though my entire self-worth has been compromised by simply changing one word in my vocabulary. I think I just got tired of getting into the pop vs. soda conversation.) Ok, the soda machine has been replaced. The new machine now offers the following. Water. Juice. Diet Soda. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I dislike Nutrasweet (Scroll about 1/3 of the way down for health risks. Included on the list is "weight gain"). Now imagine that the aforementioned company is in the health care industry. In a simple attempt to institute a "Healthy Option" campaign, a health care company is openly promoting a toxic substance as a "Healthy Option". For legal reasons, I can't say whether or not this office really exists or whether or not I work there. Why do I tend to distrust big companies and big organizations and bureaucracy? This would be one example of why.

From the "Stats are pulled out of our ass" department - Baltimore is named America's Fittest City according to Men's Fitness Magazine. Click over to page two, and "Rival magazine Men's Health had a different take on Baltimore. In its current issue, the magazine ranks Baltimore 93rd on its list of the "100 Best Cities for Men," with grades of "F" in health and quality of life and "C+" in fitness."

I'm actually in a real good mood - It's just that the things I learned today seem to be real negative. So, to keep with the theme, here's the history of Social Security Numbers.

On my way to work today, traffic came to a crawl. It had all of the telltale signs of an accident. It was. There was a white SUV (think OJ) in the carpool lane. It was perpendicular to the flow of traffic with the front ended sticking out towards the other lanes. Oh, and it was upside down. The top crushed and windows all smashed. I couldn't find a study, but personally, I've seen the aftermath of more horrific accidents in Southern California than any other place in the U.S. I'd be willing to guess that the accident injury/mortality rate is pretty high out here.

The results of the 5k I ran yesterday are here. Notes to anyone checking on my time:

  1. I didn't cross the start line until almost a minute in. They didn't compensate for that.
  2. Not that it matters. I was beat by at least 2 moms pushing those 3 wheeled strollers.
  3. An 11 year old girl ran it twice as fast as I did.
  4. A 67 year old guy finished less than 2 minutes behind that girl.
  5. It was still a personal best for me. And I'm very proud of it.
  6. Out of all of my aches and pains today, my right bicep hurts the most. Don't ask. I have no idea.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

1/8/06 Me5k

I ran my race today. I finished. I didn't die. And I set a personal best. By far. Most importantly, I fared a little better than this guy.

If you're wondering about the World Series of Poker events for 2006, here they are.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

1/5/06 The World's Largest Prime Number

Researchers have announced the largest known prime number. I'm not really sure why this is exciting, but it is. It's a Mersenne Prime Number, which (if you're not into numbers or math, just move on) is 2^(some prime number) - 1. This new Prime Number is 2^30,402,457 - 1. The resulting number is over 9.1 million digits long.

For the extra-mathematically inclined, I also stumbled upon the Twin Prime Conjecture, too. Prime numbers sometimes come in pairs (one number apart) and there are an infinite number of Twin Primes. Like 17 and 19. And 41 and 43. The key here is that, even though these twin primes continue to be found, nobody has yet proven it true. Potentially also of interest is that there is no way to predict prime numbers through an equation. Some internet security is based on the unpredictability of prime numbers. So, you know, in your free time you can figure out the equation that will bring down modern civilization as we know it.

For people who are still basking in the glory of the White Sox World Series, you can take pictures of the World Series Trophy this month and next.

John Cage wrote a song called ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible) in 1985 and transcribed it for the organ in 1987. The song is being performed now. The song began on September 5th, 2001. It will end in the year 2639. "The first year and half of the performance was total silence, with the first chord -- G-sharp, B and G-sharp -- not sounding until February 2, 2003." On Thursday, the second chord change will occur.

Nothing like spending four years carefully preparing for 21,630-kilometer trip and crashing into islands 21,600 kilometers short of your goal.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

1/4/06 18 Tricks to Teach Your Body

In a rarity, MSN is the source for my first post. They write 18 Tricks to Teach Your Body. Like how to clear a stuffed nose without the use of medicine, how to prevent near sightedness and how to get rid of brain freeze (and why it happens).

Much like humans, whales have been found to speak in dialects. Bloody 'ell.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

1/3/06 The Panama Canal

We never really had our proper end-of-year goodbye. Nor did we have a proper Happy New Year. I hope you had yourself a nice holiday and took some time off to do whatever it is that you enjoy doing.

I'm back and will be posting again in full force. While on vacation, I vowed to write an entire post about the history of the Panama Canal. While I won't write about it tonight, it was quite an experience going through the locks of the canal and seeing it firsthand.

More tomorrow.