Thursday, April 26, 2007


I hate when people are stupid. I find it highly irritating. Part of the reason for this is that I am highly invested in thinking that I’m a smart person. So it’s an ego defense for me to recognize stupidity in others. That is a double edged sword since I do stupid things too and my ego takes a beating when I am forced to recognize that I’m just as stupid as other people. (HELPFUL HINT: I know I’m not as smart as many of my friends but I’ve learned a clever trick of being quiet and just LOOKING smart. It turns out that this is almost as good as being smart.)

Hmmmm… gonna have to follow some bread crumbs back to where I was going with this….

Lately I’ve been super irritated by the recent announcement that scientists have discovered a new planet around a red dwarf type star about 20 LY away. The worst example of this came in a morning news broadcast. The scientists or their group have released a video animation of what the world COULD look like so that their story could get some air time on TV news. The anchor person said “So is this actual video of the new planet?” to her co-anchor as the video was playing. I sat there stupefied. Then I felt a surge of energy – I would have leaped through the screen and yelled “YOU MORON” at them were I able to.

I may not be the normal one – maybe regular people think that it might be actual pictures of a new planet. I’m familiar enough with physics and the general capabilities of our current technologies to know that there is no way we have pictures of a planet 20 light years away from us. It is common knowledge to me that this is impossible. So I’m amazed when someone else doesn’t understand this.

The planet was detected by measuring minute shifts in the stars spin and then inferring that the resulting red and blue shifts are because of gravitational influences of planets in orbit around the star. I’m sure the math is beyond me and I’m over simplifying this. From what I can understand the only things that we can really tell about the planet are: Something is orbiting that star and it has a certain minimum mass (approximately 2x the mass of earth).

With those two details we can theorize a few more things – one the approximate distance of the mass from the star, that given it’s proximity to its star it’s probably a rocky type planet (as opposed to a gas type planet), and that it possibly may have a local temperature able to support liquid water.

From what I can tell that is about it. Obviously these theories are completely un-provable given our current technology. That hasn’t stopped people from announcing long and loud that a human habitable planet has been discovered or that an extra-solar planet capable of supporting life has been discovered. I will grant that these are both potential theories but they are pretty extreme and I see no way to prove them true or false.

It’s stupid and funny. I guess just announcing that there is possibly a planet doesn’t have the same ring to people than announcing they’ve found Vulcan and expect to make first contact any day now. *sigh*

I guess I feel awful smart right now but also really sad. Have we come so far that it’s no longer acceptable to have actual science intrude into our consciousnesses? Are we so unwilling as a society to spend any time thinking but instead need to be drip fed fun sound bites regardless of their veracity? Believing in Voodoo will not help us at all in the long run.

P.S. The link to the voodoo science essay by Jerry Pournelle is well worth your time if you've never see it before.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I got to my first baseball game of the season last night. We have a local AAA affiliate of the Anaheim of California, Los Angeles, and Surrounding Areas Angels. (Ok that is a joke – but I may have only amused myself with it.) The local team is called the Bees. It’s an AL affiliate so they have to use the Designated Hitter rule which is to bad, but it’s still professional baseball and it’s fun to watch.

The Bees have had pretty good teams the last few years which has also been fun to watch. They missed the play offs last year because in the end of the season they started to loose games – but they started to loose games because of how many of their players had been called up to the big league. So it was a mixed blessing – I got to see a bunch of guys that made the big time when they were local. But I missed out on seeing a playoff game for the PCL.

Last night I was given tickets by my Mom so I took my boys and met her and several other family members there to watch the game. We had a lot of fun – we got to see a real funnel cloud out over the lake as we walked up to the stadium (a rarity in these climes). My 10 year old got a game ball tossed to him by a Bees player and the six year old caught a promo Frisbee tossed into the crowd.

Team sports teach lots of things but I was fascinated last night by what watching a game could teach. Set aside for a moment all the times that my oldest and I talked over rules of the game and explained some of the strategies of the game, but look instead at what they learned by doing.

As the home team would run in from the field if a returning player had a ball he would toss it up to the kids waiting up above the dugout. So my boys would watch the game and when there were two outs they would get up – make their way down the stands and wait over the dugout – then wave and cheer and look hopeful as the players ran in. They were doing something on their own – without being guided or shepherded by me in any way. I could see them the whole time of course but this is something they did. The sense of accomplishment is much greater, I’m sure, because of their own actions. They learned it’s fun to get something by doing.

My youngest ate the entire time he was there. I made several trips to the counter with him to purchase peanuts and popcorn and typical ball game foods. He learned that you can just drop the peanut shells right on the ground at a baseball game. And also how much fun going to a ball park can be. This year is the first year that he is probably old enough to enjoy both the game and the experience – although he didn’t watch a lot of the game but more than he did last year for sure.

I don’t get to watch near as much of the game when I take my kids to a game but I love taking them anyway. When I go to a game myself I buy a brat and a soda on the way to my seat and never leave it once the game starts. With the kids I was up and down all the time helping them to the restrooms or buying the next bag of peanuts or jumping up to get pictures when they did something cute.

That kind of family activity is hard to beat – when I finally dropped the kids off that night they were tired but happy and so was I. Pretty good pay off for the first pitch of the year.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I'm a sucker for web quizes. Since I've written about how much I liked Serenity before when I saw this quiz result up on my freinds site I had to take it too.

Your results:
You are Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)

Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
Inara Serra (Companion)
River (Stowaway)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
You are good at fixing things.
You are usually cheerful.
You appreciate being treated
with delicacy and specialness.

Click here to take the Serenity Personality Quiz

I'm highly amused by this one and pleased with the results. All three characters that I rated high in I can see similarities in myself with them. I was a little suprised to see that I scored so low in Wash but I don't have any plastic dinosaurs either so maybe it's right.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I like fortune cookies. Well technically I like opening fortune cookies – the cookie itself (with rare occasion) is a twisted dry lump of nearly inedible cardboard. Occasionally, I’ll find one that is really tasty. Not often but occasionally.

But by far the best part about getting a fortune cookie is opening up the cookie to get the fortune inside.

Every time I open one up, especially if I’m eating with friends, I desperately want to hold my fortune up as if I’m reading from it and say: “Help! I’m being held prisoner in a fortune cookie factory.” This is a joke I heard from my Dad when I was young. It has now become so engrained in me that every time I open up a cookie, and I really mean every time, I want to say it. I usually manage to hold it in UNLESS I’m with my kids – then out it comes thus infecting the next generation with the same meme.

I hate when I get a platitude instead of a fortune in my cookie. This happens way to often. “You are a nice guy.” Well whoop-dee-doo. I don’t care. I already know what I am and I definitely don’t want a cookie commenting on me. “You like puppies.” Sheesh – these kinds of ‘fortunes’ are just stupid. Yes people like puppies – people think they are reasonably decent people – so platitudes can often apply to a wide range of people and I’m sure that is why then end up in fortune cookies. But I always feel ripped off when I get one. I want a fortune in my cookie, I want a prediction, not wisdom from the I-Ching or a banal platitude.

If I get a non-fortune in my fortune cookie I will throw it away with the chopsticks and the plate. If I get a fortune though, I’ll keep it around for a while. If it’s a really good fortune it will get stuck up to my mirror where it becomes a little positive affirmation for me every time I see it. Right now I’ve got two fortunes stuck to my mirror.

The first one says: "You will have many friends when you need them". I got this fortune one afternoon about seven months ago when I bought myself a dinner at the Panda Express. Panda Chinese food is comfort food to me – half fast food half Chinese I really enjoy it, and use it sometimes, as a pick me up. It was a message that I needed to hear at the time – it funny because I don’t deserve it but I have terrific friends. They have been a tremendous source of strength to me during this past year which has been rather difficult. I have needed them and they have always been there for me. I can’t get any luckier than that. I hope I can learn from them to be a good friend too.

This fortune is right at the top of my mirror and every time I see it I’m reminded of my friends and feel a surge of happiness just knowing that they are there if I need them.

Oddly enough given my feelings above, the second fortune up on my mirror IS a platitude not a prediction. This one though, had enough truth for me that I kept it. I got this fortune when after visiting a game store prior to playing D&D with friends (and buying new dice which I am clearly unable not to do when visiting the gamer store) we bought Chinese food on the way back to the game. My ‘fortune’ said: "A little madness, a little kindness, makes for happiness".

This one seemed to capture the feelings I have when I am the most happy. I love activities where I can be silly (mad if you will) and let out the comments I think of. It’s not a form of madness it’s rather a form of freedom but I imagine that it looks like madness to an outside observer. I love the times when I can talk and listen and visit with friends to. The best times have been the opportunities to help someone else with something in their lives. The chance to be kind to another really does create positive feelings.

Now it’s like nine in the morning and I have totally made myself want some Lo Mien. That is a peril of blogging that I had never imagined.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I’ve written here before nostalgically. I’ve mentioned books I liked and I’ve talked about the types of games that you just don’t get anymore. I generally like my old music better than this new fangled stuff. Fortunately, I haven’t descended to the point where I’m complaining about how I had to walk uphill to school both ways though the snow or about how kids these days just don’t get it right any more. Even though I did and they don’t. I’m really really really fighting the urge to start quoting a Weird Al song called When I was Your Age from his Off the Deep End album. I’ll settle for those links instead.

I got my hair cut the other day. I usually go to SuperFantasticGreatCutsClipsSams because I can find one that doesn’t have a long waiting time and I have no brand loyalty to any of the incarnations of the shop. Sometimes I get a stylist who just wants to rush through my very simple style and get my money and sometimes I get a really good cut. I get good enough hair cuts to make me keep repeating the process it’s like a vending machine that usually works – I’m now conditioned to keep going there.

Stick with me, this will all tie together in the end. Well at least to me it will – your mileage may vary.

This most recent trip I had my hair cut by someone who was clearly of the type of stylist that wants to get the cut done right not fast. Her name was Carlie. I had a chance to talk with her a bit and she told me that the thing she likes the most about cutting hair was that she loved helping people to be happier and feel better. We talked about how you feel after you get your hair cut and what it does for your attitude and mood. I have to admit that my mood is always lifted by getting my hair cut.

As she was working on my hair and we were chatting I mentioned that I usually just let my hair flop and as long as it wasn’t sticking out anywhere I considered it as done. I admitted that this wasn’t so much of as style as it was a complete surrender to entropy. I asked her what would be better to do. She told me my hair was fine – but then as she was nearing the end of the cut she said that my hair would make a perfect Caesar I’d just have to learn to make the front part do what it was supposed to do. So I had her teach me how to do that. I’m not really good at it since I’m used to letting it flop and now I have to try and point the stuff in the front out but it’s definitely fun to have a change.

Next came my favorite part of any modern haircut – the shampoo and rinse. This is the all time greatest invention in modern hair styling. Frankly – I just like being touched anyway. And to have a pretty girl wash my hair is a definite kick. Again sometimes they are routine and quick and sometimes they are done well with a scalp massage. Carlie, again, did this part just right – she took the time to make it a pleasant experience.

While she was doing this I started to remember haircuts of old. So I told her about my first barber. I have no idea what his name was so I’ll just call him Floyd after the one from the Andy Griffith show. I didn’t like going to get my hair cut as a child – I hated having to wait for my turn – there was nothing to do and the place usually smelled like old people. When it was my turn I had no choice but to sit still and let Floyd do the one cut that he always did. The worst part, for me, was that he always asked me if I wanted my nose hairs trimmed. Every single time he asked that. For crying out loud to little kids EVEN HAVE nose hairs? I never knew what to say to that question and I spent the whole time dreading when he would ask it. I could probably use that now but definitely not as a kid. I hated going to Floyds. It wasn’t fun at all.

Old Floyd has nothing on Carlie. Sometimes the good old days and ways just aren’t. I'll take Carlies cut anyday. I'm glad some things have changed.
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