A rollercoaster enthusiast website I visit has more information than our local news is reporting about the forced relocation (if, indeed, they relocate) of Bell's Amusement Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority apparently decided not to renew the lease, stating Bell's was not financially viable. That, after apparently having stated at some point that Bell's is the “No. 1 long-term tenant as far as revenue.”
Bell's announced earlier this year that they are going to build a new rollercoaster next year. After having fought for years with the local neighbors who claim the noise is already too loud, I suspect that someone got to the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority and made some kind of deal with them. But, then again, I'm conspiracy minded. It just doesn't feel right.
Anyway, Bell's will be gone from the fairgrounds, and it is a sad day for Tulsa. Sometimes I feel this city is not progressing but going backwards.
Monday, November 13, 2006
A rollercoaster enthusiast website I visit has more information than our local news is reporting about the forced relocation (if, indeed, they relocate) of Bell's Amusement Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority apparently decided not to renew the lease, stating Bell's was not financially viable. That, after apparently having stated at some point that Bell's is the “No. 1 long-term tenant as far as revenue.”
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Just a reminder. Today is election day. Get out and vote, dammit! Even if you don't think your vote counts, it does...but maybe not in the way you expect. It turns out that precincts with more voters typically get more government money funneled their way. So even if you don't like the candidates, you might still see some benefit just by showing up and casting a ballot.
Posted by Michael at 2:12 AM
Monday, October 30, 2006
I don't normally wish bad things to happen to anyone, but if there were such a person it would be Rush Limbaugh. He recently made the statement that Michael J. Fox was either off his medication or acting in a series of political ads where Fox states he supports embryonic stem cell research. Fox has Parkinson's disease, and it apparently obvious in the ads. He's been struggling with the disease for years now. That's why he left Spin City--it was affecting his performance.
My grandpa had Parkinson's too until he passed away, and for Limbaugh to make such a ridiculous statement really upsets me. Why does this guy continue to spout ignorance? You'd think he'd say something smart every once in a while, but I haven't heard it.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Yesterday, I spent most of the morning at Osage Hills State Park. The trees are turning yellow, orange, and red, and it is at it's peak right now. It's spectacular.
I saw lots of animals yesterday. I saw a couple of raccoons, an armadillo, several turkey vultures, a tufted titmouse (never seen one in person before), some woodpeckers, a duck, and probably a dozen deer. My most surprising encounter was with a doe. I had just closed up my camera bag and was preparing to move to the next photo spot, when I suddenly got the feeling I was being watched. I looked up, and there she was, staring at me from about 20 to 30 feet away. She had two fawns with her. Luckily, my camera was still available to shoot, so I shot a couple of pictures of her before she lost interest and moved on. It was one of those magic moments that keeps me going back out into the woods.
Speaking of which, I really need to thank my dad for getting me involved with Boy Scouts when I was a young man. At the time, I went through periods where I hated it. We went camping a LOT. But when I look back on it now, it really helped cultivate my appreciation for nature and all its splendor.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The Great State of Oklahoma is turning 100 next year. I got a thing in the mail the other day with some of the upcoming celebrations. The three that caught my eye are fireworks displays on three consecutive nights.
On November 16th, there will be a fireworks display at the 96th Street bridge near Jenks. The following night on the 17th, there will be one at the 21st Street bridge in Tulsa (where they have the 4th of July fireworks display every year). And the grand finale will be on the 18th in downtown Tulsa. This one I am very excited about as it is literally a once in a lifetime event. The downtown display will have not only fireworks but also lasers. A few years ago when Tulsa turned 100, they did the same thing, and it was spectacular. I thought I'd never see it again.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Here is something that happens in Tulsa (maybe other places too) that is really aggravating to me. A lot of times (usually on the weekend) you'll see an orange, diamond-shaped sign on the side of the road somewhere that says "Right Lane Closed". So you'll immediately dart over in the left lane, only to find out that the right lane really isn't closed, and some lead-footed (possibly clairvoyant) jerk will pass you by on the right. Every time this happens, you'll see the cones or barrels that were used when the lane was closed on the curb. So basically the road crew finished up its work on the road and moved its cones out of the way. But these guys always leave the damn sign up. What's up with that? Laziness? Sick sense of humor? Incompetence? What?
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
We saw Cyndi Lauper last night at the Brady Theater. I felt bad for her. She said they had just put together a new show with a new crew, and they were having a lot of problems getting the sounds levels adjusted. More than once, she yelled at the people off-stage (and a couple of times at her band on-stage) to do this or that. Apparently, she's a perfectionist, which is not a bad thing--she wants to please her fans.
Despite the technical difficulty, she put on a helluva show. She came out into the audience several times, and I was literally only a couple feet from her. The security guard did not like her doing that, and he told her to get back on stage. She said something like "I know you're not talking to me. You gotta deathwish or something?"
It was a fun show, and I recommend anyone who likes Cyndi to go see her when she comes to your town.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
I just read an article claiming the White House wants to halt or regulate a bunch of high seas fishing techniques that are destructive to the environment. And his plan has an emphasis on creating sustainable fisheries, too. I know, I know, I'm in just as much shock as you are. Considering how he reacted to the Kyoto Protocol, this really doesn't sound like something he would say. Maybe there's hope for him yet!
Friday, September 22, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Okay, so I went to Lowe's last night to look for some home improvement stuff. I was absolutely shocked to find they already have Christmas merchandise out. Christmas is nearly 4 months away! Now I like the holiday as much as anyone else, but I don't like how it's so commercialized. Each year, the Christmas goods get put out earlier and earlier. I started not to buy anything there in a silent protest.
Posted by Michael at 7:46 AM
Saturday, September 16, 2006
The problem I reported earlier about not being able to get a game working on my iPod is worse than I thought. Apparently, since I've upgraded the firmware to 1.2, I cannot play ANY content that is DRM'd. Thanks, Apple. You guys are doing a bang-up job on these firmware updates.
I've even tried something Apple refers to as the Five R's, which includes restoring the firmware. I managed to restore the firmware to 1.1, but I still cannot play anything that is DRM'd.
This is really a problem, as I have a lot of songs I've purchased from the iTunes Music Store that are now unplayable on my iPod. This is pretty ironic, as I was starting to believe that DRM isn't as evil as previously thought. I can still play the DRM'd songs on my computer, so it's not a total loss.
Friday, September 15, 2006
On Tuesday, Apple announced a bunch of new products. One of those was games for your iPod. I purchased and downloaded Zuma, but I couldn't get it to work, even after updating the firmware on my iPod. So I contacted Apple via their online support form, and last evening, I received an apologetic letter back from them saying they had credited the money back to my account. They also said I could try to buy the game again in a couple of weeks. By then any issues I am having should be resolved. I was upset at first, but now I'm pretty pleased with Apple's customer support.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
I don't worry about voting irregularities in Oklahoma. Our system works pretty good, and I'll feel confident using it. You go to the booth, you fill our your card with a permanent marker, and then you run it through a computer scanner. The machine immediately tells you if you've made a mistake and rejects it. If there's no mistake, the computer gives you the green light and your done. The computer records your answers, and there's a paper backup if something catastrophic happens.
Luckily, we don't have to worry about them here, but I'm 100% against electronic voting machines where you cast your vote via a touch screen. It sounds cool, but having a background writing computer software, I don't trust them. If I vote for candidate A and a computer bug says I voted for B, a recount would be useless because there's no paper trail. I've heard some machines produce a voting receipt. Still, the machine is producing the output, not me, so it could still be prone to error.
I read yesterday that the electronic voting machine makers were doing a really good job of promoting and selling them, but when it came to technical support and maintenance, they left a lot to be desired. Now, a Princeton professor claims to have hacked an electronic voting machine. You can read about it here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060913/ap_on_hi_te/electronic_voting_1
So I'm more like 110% against them now.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Apple announced a bunch of new products or updates to existing products today that should make even the most jaded geek pee his pants!
There were new iPod nanos, a new version of the iTunes Music Store (which now has movies and games), a firmware update for the video iPod, something called iTV to let you stream movies from your computer to your TV in near-DVD quality, a cute new iPod Shuffle which is literally a clip that you can clip to something such as a pocket, and probably other stuff that I missed.
Posted by Michael at 6:11 PM
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Oklahoma has some odd liquor laws. We still have wet and dry counties. There are many Mexican restaurants where you cannot by a margarita on a Sunday.
Unlike most other states, liquor is not sold in the grocery store. It can only be sold in liquor stores. But if the alcohol content of the item is less than 3.2%, it's not considered liquor and it can be sold at convenience stores and grocery stores. BUT, you wouldn't want the police to see you drinking this non-liquor in your car, because if they see you, even 3.2% beer/malt beverages magically become liquor. Or some such silliness.
Another oddity is that Oklahoma won't let you bring refrigerated liquor into the state. There's a Colorado beer called Fat Tire that refuses to sell here because they have a policy of refrigerating the beer until it arrives at the store. They say it tastes better. Guess I'll never know unless I go to any of the surrounding states, where it is sold.
The latest liquor controversy is the ability to sell wine on the internet. This is currently prohibited in Oklahoma. The primary argument against it being that it will contribute to underage drinking. I feel this is an argument that sounds logical, but no study has been able to show a rise in teenage drinking because of internet wine sales. There are two reasons: it takes a few days to ship to the product, and most teens are not going to have the forethought to order wine several days in advance of a weekend party. And wine is just not a party drink like beer or malt beverages.
Before I went to the Grape Ranch last Labor Day weekend, I went to the Grape Ranch website, and they have a link to petition your Oklahoma State Representative to see where he stands on the ability to sell wine via the internet. Mine is State Representative Ron Peters. I received a letter from him yesterday, and here is his reply:
Dear Mr. Wallace:
Thanks for your letter on your ability to purchase the wines you want in the manner of your choosing. You asked that I let you know where I stand on the issue.
I am big on the free enterprise system and its ability to choose the winners and losers in the marketplace. As you might guess from this, I too am a strong believer in allowing you to choose how and where you make your purchases of ALL items, including wine.
Thank you for communicating with me on this manner. Please continue to communicate with me on matters of interest to you. If using e-mail is simpler for you, I can be reached at RonPeters@OKHouse.gov. Also, I will be on the ballot this fall and would appreciate your vote.
So perhaps internet wine sales are just around the corner.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
A new project, with Dubai-like coolness, has been unveiled for Tulsa. It's called The Channels. My initial reaction to it was that it sounded absolutely absurd. It seemed like a waste of money.
Basically, the plan is to dam up part of the Arkansas River and build a series of islands in the middle of the newly formed lake. Then residential and shopping areas would be built on the islands.
It's a crazy idea, and an expensive one. They want half a billion dollars from Tulsans to bring it to fruition. However, Tulsans have been saying for years the Arkansas River must be developed to help the city grow. This might be our best chance to do that.
Okay, so it still seems like way too much money, but after I saw the artist renditions I am in love with the concept. And I love that it incorporates green technology, such as solar cells, and it will generate hydroelectric energy. This thing could potentially turn into a tourist resort.
But it'll never happen. Nothing cutting edge like this would ever see the light of day in Tulsa. Tulsans have big dreams but never enough follow through. We're too conservative.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Since Steve Irwins' death, I've seen a lot people say they want to do something to help them remember him. Rather than trying to send flowers to Australia, like some people have, might I suggest you consider donating to the World Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, or the conservation organization of your choice?
Monday, September 04, 2006
ABC has been airing a series of videos called "Last Days" that talk about how the earth could end. I've just watched the one on global climate change, and it is chilling. It really makes me wonder why we even have scientists. It's not like we listen to them. The only time we value their opinion is when they are helping big business make profits.
There's no doubt that global climate change is occurring. The majority of scientists believe this change is being caused by humans. Not only that, but it may be reversible --but only if we act soon. Then you have idiots like Senator Jim Inholfe saying it's all a hoax, nevermind the evidence. Why we listen to people like him astounds me. What is really going on here is that it'll be expensive to fix the problem, and some people would rather take a wait and see attitude than address the problem head on. When the water's rising, you don't wait until the last minute to surround yourself with sandbags--only in this case sandbags won't be enough.
Posted by Michael at 11:11 PM
I read that the movie studios are reporting solid, though not outstanding, ticket sales from this year's summer movies. While that may be true, most of the movies I saw this summer were disappointing. In past summers, I'd go to the movies almost every weekend. Not this summer. Pirates of the Carribean, Monster House, Strangers With Candy, and The DaVinci Code were the only movies I saw that lived up to their billing. I liked X-Men, but it was definitely the least satisfying of the trilogy. Superman had its moments, but ultimately turned super dumb in the last act.
The movies studios really need to take a hard look at television. A lot of the shows on TV have become so good, that it almost makes me want to skip the movies altogether. You have Lost, The 4400, Nip/Tuck, Desperate Housewives, Prison Break, etc. What's interesting about all these shows is they don't rely on computer-generated visual effects to tell the story, and most of the summer movies do.
Posted by Michael at 6:22 PM
I just read that Steve Irwin, better known as the Crocodile Hunter, has died. This guy has done some of the craziest, most dangerous stunts with wild animals I've ever seen. It seems somewhat ironic that he was killed by a stingray, which are dangerous but typically not all that aggressive. His show was educational, and I know a lot of children loved him. It's sad to see someone who is a conservationist go like that.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
I never would have expected Oklahoma to have commercial wine vineyards, but over the last few years, several have opened to the public, and they are surprisingly good. Yesterday, I went to the Grape Ranch for the first time. Located near Okemah, Oklahoma, the Grape Ranch was voted Oklahoma's Best Winery in 2005 by the Oklahoma Gazette. The Red Dirt Harvest Festival is going on all Labor Day weekend. It's like Oklahoma's version of Woodstock, minus the free love. It was overcast and cool yesterday, and you couldn't have asked for better weather. My favorite activity was the wine tasting. They let us sample all of their wines, and I have to say most of them were very nice. I particularly enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc. After that, we spent the remainder of the evening listening to a selection of live music, including my friend Jared Tyler, down in the ampitheater. It was a lot of fun.
Monday, August 28, 2006
The rumor is our midtown Wal-Mart is going to be closing soon so they can move to a larger Wal-Mart (actually, one of the biggest I've seen) down the street. I've noticed their clearance area has more than doubled in size over the last month or two.
Yesterday, I ran across a device I saw on Gizmodo a while back. At the time, it was too expensive for me to seriously consider. But with a $40 mark down, I could not resist. It was less expensive than buying it at Amazon.com, even after their rebate.
I must say it sounds very good and was really easy to setup. They had one left if anyone else wants one!
Update: I took this product back to the store. After using it for a week, its quirks and limited wireless range made it unsuitable for my needs. I think I'll look into getting a speaker system with an iPod dock on it.
Posted by Michael at 8:24 AM
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I keep reading story after story of how a new device called a Mosquito emits a high pitched frequency that people over the age of twenty cannot hear. For people under the age of twenty, the sound is very annoying, and the device is being sold to movie theaters and such to cause teens to stop loitering outside. While I had not actually seen the device in use anywhere in Tulsa, a co-worker downloaded the sound off the internet, and played it for us. I can hear it. I'm 33. I think it very irresponsible for the creator of this device to make such blanket statements about who can and cannot hear the sound. I'm sure its a marketing tactic to sell more Mosquitos. What's bad is the media is repeating the statement without verifying its authenticity. If and when I do notice the device in use, I will be giving the owner an ear full so to speak.
Posted by Michael at 8:42 AM
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Yahoo has a scary story about genetically engineered grass used for golf courses being found growing in the wild. You can read the article here.
The grass was engineered to resist Round-Up, a popular herbicide. The article implies the grass could cross-polinate with other strains of grass (and possibly other plants), producing new varieties of Round-Up-resistant plants.
It pisses me off that the scientists in the article use levity to lessen the seriousness of genetic engineering. It is only a matter of time before something bad is released into the wild that cannot be contained. Indeed, it may already be out there. Take StarLink corn, which has pesticide engineered into it. It kills bugs, some beneficial. The last time I checked, it's not approved for human consumption. But it cross-pollinates with other corn, apparently, so who know if we are eating it or not? Somebody ate some of it. Anyone remember the Taco Bell taco shell incident? And if anyone died from it, how would we know? It's not the like the government checks dead people for such things.
Posted by Michael at 4:02 PM
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Last night I uncovered the website for the American statue. You can find it here. There don't appear to be any recent updates, so I decided to contact them.
I got this reply within just a few minutes:
Dear Mr. Wallace,
We are happy to advise that The American Project is alive and well. Yes, we have been very quiet for a number of months while we were completing research and addressing some design issues that we believed were necessary to ensure the success of the Project. Since last August, we have completed two focus group studies, an attendance study, and an economic impact study. The results of these studies all identified the Project as not only a sound Project, but one with great potential for Tulsa and the state. We also introduced The American to the art world at Art Expo in New York City in March of this year. Art Expo is the largest art show in the world. With regard to design, the artist and designer of the Project, Shan Gray, completed the 3.5 ft engineering prototype in February and has begun work on what will be called the Scan Master (a 6 ft engineering prototype of The American image) which will be the final image for enlargement to the over 200 ft monument. With the completion of the 3.5 ft image and the 6 ft Scan Master, certain design issues are being addressed by the Structural engineers (i.e. fitting of the elevator shaft and stairwell inside the statue, etc.). While all of this work is very exciting and important to the Project, we realize it is not very tangible to the public.
While we work on different aspects of the design, we continue to raise funds. When the funding is completed, we will have about a six-month start-up and then the public will be able to begin to see construction on the monument itself. Our goal is to have the monument and support facilities complete by January 2010.
Thank you so much for your interest in the Project. And if you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us.
The American Project
I'm still very excited about this project, and it's encouraging to know the project is still very much alive.
Posted by Michael at 1:51 PM
Friday, August 04, 2006
I just read where another person found herself glued to a toilet seat in a public restroom, and I can remain silent no longer! I'm not one to blame the victim, but I'm thinking there are some very simple precautions one could take to ensure one doesn't find one's self the subject of an embarassing, if humorous, internet story.
It seems to me, that if you wipe the seat off with a tissue or place one of those paper ass gaskets down, it would be pretty obvious if some deviant has squirted a bead of super glue on the seat (which is really funny by the way). That's all there is to it.
It seems like common sense, but I could be wrong. I just can't imagine walking into a public restroom and sitting down without doing a thorough inspection of the seat first. You never know when a Trekkie left Klingons on the seat, if you know what I mean.
I'll give these super glue victims the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they had to go so bad it seemed like a good idea at the time to forgoe the inspection because hestitating even a second would risk unleashing the unthinkable. Just be careful. Apparently, staph infections and pedophiles aren't the only thing to worry about in the bathroom.
Posted by Michael at 12:53 PM
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
It's always the first weekend in August, and I nearly forgot about it! I look forward to this all year, and it is this weekend at the Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino.
Friday night they do the balloon glow where they light the balloons up all at once. They don't fly them, though. Saturday and Sunday, I think they have contests and they will be flying them, weather permitting. It's fun for the entire family.
Posted by Michael at 1:45 PM
Sunday, July 30, 2006
After seeing Terry's post on celebrity look-alikes over at Wild Ramblings (see link under Other Blogs on the right), I did a little searching on my own and found another funny site. This one lets you upload your picture and morph it into a different age, race, etc.
Here is what I'll look like when I get older:
Here is what I'd look like if I were African American:
Check it out: St. Andrew's Face Morpher
Posted by Michael at 3:36 PM
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Yesterday, was our second annual "Team Building Exercise". It's really just a day where we take off work and go the the lake to horse around.
After several margaritas and a few beers, I was feeling really good. But as the day wore on, it became obvious that I'd reached my limit...and went way beyond it. Suddenly, the trip became not so fun.
I'm not exactly sure what happened after that. I do remember hanging my head over the rail of the boat for most of the trip back. Oh, yeah, and I remember vomiting over the rail in front of all of my co-workers. Sweet! I'm sure they'll never let me live that one down.
I passed out in the car on the way back (I wasn't driving). I'm really glad I didn't vomit in the car. That would have been bad.
When I finally got home, I slept for around 12 hours.
If anything good comes out of this, it will be that I don't plan on touching any liquor again for quite some time.
Posted by Michael at 9:41 PM
Thursday, July 06, 2006
After having witnessed the video of the two guys dropping Mentos candy into 2-Liter Diet Cokes on eepybird.com, we couldn't resist trying the experiment at work on our smoke break.
For the first experiment, we didn't have a 2-Liter or a Diet Coke, so we used a 20oz Diet Pepsi. I devised a paper tube from an index card to fit over the neck of the bottom. Just above the opening, I cut a slit and put a piece of paper in there cross ways to hold the Mentos just over the fluid. Then, I yanked the paper out and took off running. The drink did indeed produce a lot of foam, but it wasn't nearly as exciting as the video. The foam came out and spilled over the sides without making any kind of geyser.
So we watched the video again to see what we did wrong. We realized in the video, the guys left the lid on. They drilled a hole through the lid and fed a string through it. This creates a nozzle of sorts. Then, they apparently threaded the Mentos onto a string. So on smoke break #2, we took the original bottle, filled it just above half-way with Diet Coke, and poked a small hole in the lid. We recreated the experiment pretty well. The hardest part was getting the needle through the Mentos without breaking them. I nearly made the mistake of putting the lid on before we went outside. That could have been a disasterous elevator ride, if I'd accidentally let go of the string.
Outside, I had Terry hold the thread and Mentos above the fluid while I put the lid on. Then we dropped the string and Mentos into the Coke. This time we created a geyser, but it still wasn't like the one on the video. Not even close. I think we had too much air in the bottle. By the time the foam bubbled up to the neck, most of the air pressure had already escaped. I think the bottle has to be filled up nearly to the top.
Maybe we'll try again tomorrow.
Posted by Michael at 4:05 PM
Monday, July 03, 2006
Starting today, Tulsa county has tougher animal control laws. Tulsa has been putting a positive spin on the law, saying it will help with keeping loose dogs from running around, attacking people. Apparently, the county is overrun with this sort of thing, didn't you know? The owner of a loose pet could be fined $500. Also, each pet is required to have a rabies vaccination. Sounds like a good law, right?
Wrong. There is more to the law, and it has an insidious side. Tulsa country now requires you to register all of your pets (I'm not sure if it's just cats and dogs or what...do I have to register my fish, too?) for the ridiculously steep amount of $100. Not only that, you are also required to re-register every year for an additional $50. This is just ridiculous. What family can afford that, especially if you have more than one pet?
I believe this law will make people think twice about adopting pets, which means more of them will be destroyed at the rescue shelter. And I think people will be afraid to take their animals to the vet, for fear of being turned in.
Posted by Michael at 5:09 AM
Friday, June 30, 2006
You'd think that with all the improvements in special effects technology and the fact that Superman Returns has around 20 minutes of 3-D in it (but only if you see it at an IMAX), the movie would easily surpass the previous incarnations of Superman. Well, you'd be wrong.
The movie lacks something the original Superman movie with Christopher Reeve had. It just doesn't feel fresh. Rather than re-invent the Man of Steel like they did with the Dark Knight in Batman Begins, they just update him a little. Even the plot is a little stale: it's very similar to the plot of Superman I.
The movie is also too long. By the time the climax is reached, there is easily another 20 minutes...and it seems to drag.
And lets talk about Kevin Spacey. He's a brilliant actor...but his Lex Luther doesn't come anywhere close to Gene Hackman's. Brandon Routh does a great job as Superman...and he so convincingly imitates Christopher Reeve that it is a little eerie at times.
That's not to say it is a bad movie. I didn't hate it. I didn't find at as good as Superman I, but I thought it was better than Superman II.
Finally, there is the 3-D stuff. The 3-D stuff didn't really add anything to the movie. In fact, I found it a little distracting. If the entire movie had been 3-D, it would have been cool...or even one 20 minute block of 3-D. But instead, the 3-D is interspersed throughout the film for about 5 minutes at a time. It comes across as a gimmick. And that's really sad, considering I love IMAX 3-D.
Posted by Michael at 5:35 PM
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
There is a news report on the KTUL website saying that 97 percent of Tulsa is off limits to sex offenders due to laws that say offenders cannot live near parks and schools, etc. I don't really cherish the idea of a sex offender living nearby, but it seems a little restrictive.
I think people should be less concerned about sex offenders and more concerned about violent criminals (the two are not mutually exclusive). Where's the website that shows where the violent criminals live? That's what I really want to see.
Posted by Michael at 8:20 AM
Monday, June 26, 2006
I don't understand this. For the past several weeks, I've been denying my self pop and trying to eat healthier. I didn't lose squat. So this week, I really fell off the wagon and drank copious amounts of pop, and I had a large chocolate shake from Burger King (the only thing I'll eat there). When I weighed this morning, I'd lost 3 pounds. Go figure.
Posted by Michael at 12:46 PM
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Okay, this one goes into the WTF File. A friend of mine found these unusual fireworks at the local fireworks stand. They're called Condom Poppers. I think they're like those champagne poppers. However, I suspect there may be little condoms in it, instead of streaming paper. Get this! There are phrases on the side of each popper like: So Many Girls So "Little" Condoms, Can't Get Enough of a "Small" Thing, For "Small" Emergencies Only, and Tight is Good "Tightwad" Dangerous.
Posted by Michael at 11:44 AM
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I have three cats. And they all suck. If they're not coughing up hairballs, it's something else.
Yesterday as I was leaving for work, I realized the litter box needed changing, but since I was running late, I thought it could wait.
Well, one of the cats--I'm pretty sure I know which one--decided the leave me a reminder to change the litter box. That's catspeak for "he pissed all over the bed". Vindictive little bastard!
I knew I was going to be up for a late-night work implementation at 1:00am, so I'd planned to come home a little early and take a nap. That did not happen. Instead, I spent the evening steam cleaning the bed and washing sheets.
Posted by Michael at 3:09 PM
Monday, June 19, 2006
I'm a little excited about this. I'm working on an open source Java application called BlockParty. I hope to have it available at SourceForge soon.
Basically, it will let you record a "block" of SHOUTcast-compatible internet streaming music. It will produce MP3 files, which can be uploaded to any iPod or MP3-compatible music player.
I got interested in writing the program when I found another project on SourceForge called Streamripper. All the other programs I've evaluated try to break the songs up into separate tracks with varying degrees of success. Streamripper has this capability too, but it's the only one I've found that will also record until a certain file size or time limit has been reached. BlockParty will use Streamripper in the background, but it will have some other features too.
So far the application is coming along nicely. I estimated I will be done with the first version sometime within the next 2 weeks.
Posted by Michael at 2:59 PM
Friday, June 16, 2006
I have a love/hate relationship with my 5G iPod, the one with video. I love that it's compact and goes anywhere, can hold several days worth of songs, can show videos when I'm on a plane or in the car, it's relativily easy to use, and the video looks great! But there are some glaring problems (some of which seem easy to fix) with it, too:
1) It's too hard to get movies onto the iPod. Granted, Apple doesn't advertise you can watch movies on it, but since it is a video player, it's sorta implied. Wrong. The Apple Music Store doesn't have movies. Sure, you can buy TV shows from the Apple Music Store, but at $2 a show, an entire season usually costs more than a DVD box set. Which means you must convert the movies yourself, and it's slow and requires you to find third-party software.
2) The Apple Music Store has the option of blending songs together at the breaks, rather than leave a second or two gap between songs. The makes a playlist seem more like a radio broadcast. Yet, the iPod doesn't have this feature. It's probably one of the most requested features on the forums I've seen.
3) When I create a playlist, sometimes I'd like to shuffle it, sometimes not. Unfortunately, the iPod seems to only have a global shuffle setting and it's a pain to navigate to it and turn it on/off.
4) The scroll wheel sensitivity needs to be adjustable. It's aggravating when you highlight something and raise your finger to hit the selector button only to have the selection move as your lift your finger.
I wish Apple and Sirius would team up and build an iPod that could receive Sirius satellite radio transmissions. Now that would be awesome.
Overall, I'd rate myself mostly satified with my iPod, but I don't think it comes close to living up to the hype.
Posted by Michael at 11:20 AM
Friday, May 26, 2006
I just got back from X-Men 3. Overall, I liked the movie as much as the others, but it feels rushed in parts. Especially, the ending. This is supposed to be the last movie in the trilogy, but the ending leaves you wondering if Twentieth Century Fox might have something else in mind.
This time around, the personal storylines are all but eliminated. This story is more about mutants struggling for their mere existence. Without giving too much away, at the beginning of the movie we learn a pharmaceutical company has created an injection that will "cure" the mutants by suppressing the mutant genes.
The government claims it doesn't intend to force mutants to take the injection, but Magneto and the other mutants see the writing on the wall, and Magneto decides to put a stop to it all. He starts bombing clinics where injections are given, and appears on TV like Osama Bin Laden saying the attacks will continue as long as mutants are treated like they are diseased. Once again the mutants from Xavier's school realize that Magneto will stop at nothing to get what he wants, so they step in to protect the humans from Magneto's assault. I found myself hoping Magneto would prevail.
There are quite a few new mutants in this one, but like the Batman movies, more mutants doesn't add up to a better movie. Kelsey Grammer plays Beast and I wish they had spent more time with him. Another new mutant with angel wings pops up at the beginning of the movie and makes appearances here and there but never really becomes an integral part of the story. (It is his "disease" that motivates his father's company to search for a cure.) I'm not even sure they mention his name. A new mutant named Juggernaut provides some comic relief.
Most surprisingly, a few of the main mutants are killed in this one, so be prepared! Others are injected.
Despite it's problems, the movie is a fast-paced summer thrill ride, and it fits in well with it's two predecessors.
UPDATE: It appears that if you stay through the closing credits, there is extra footage. Apparently, one of the X-Men who was thought dead is not. Unfortunately, I missed it.
Posted by Michael at 4:16 PM
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I consider myself an environmentalist. I'm not necessarily a good environmentalist--I rarely recycle, I don't drive a green car, I probably contribute as much trash to the landfill as anyone else--but I was raised in a rural area and I developed an appreciation for nature at an early age. Blame the Boyscouts of America for all those camping trips I went on.
I just ran across a verified true story on Snopes that is really sickening. Basically, a multinational company is wanting to drill in an area of Chile where a glacier now sits for a large deposit of gold. It will devestate the environment there, line the pockets of the shareholders who couldn't care less about the people of Chile, and leave the local people with a bunch of contaminated lakes and streams. Here is a link to the Pascua-Lama story.
The history of mining is littered with stories of contamination. Here in the Tulsa area a few years ago, the Tar Creek Superfund site was born. It brought a lot of heavy minerals like lead and zinc to the surface. It is now causing health problems for the people that live in the area, especially the children who are more susceptible to the metals. The site has been shutdown for years, but it wasn't cleaned up. The people of the area have been petitioning the government for years to buy them out so they can relocate to safer environments. It's looking like they will finally get their wish.
The people of Pascua-Lama will not be so lucky if Barrick Gold has it's way. And it will be hard for them to put up a legal/political fight against a conglomerate with deep pockets.
Posted by Michael at 9:25 PM
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Over at c|net, they list the current 10 highest radiation cell phones, and Motorola has the top 8 slots. Nice! Especially since I own a Motorola cell phone. Luckily, my phone (V180) was not one of the 8, but it makes me not want to buy Motorola again.
Posted by Michael at 8:29 AM
Last night CBS showed the 2-hour finale of The Amazing Race...and guess what? It overlapped with Lost on ABC, so my TiVo didn't record any of The Amazing Race.
I can't believe CBS would be stupid enough to pit their show against Lost, which obviously stomps it in the ratings.
Furthermore, I went to the CBS website to see if I could watch the last episode on their website, now that they let you do that...and the bastards put the winning team on the video download page, as well as the Amazing Race page.
So much for keeping it a mystery.
Posted by Michael at 8:20 AM
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
1. Sign on with ABC. They rarely give poorly-performing shows time to find an audience. If it doesn't get great ratings the first episode or two, it'll be pulled. Emilys Reasons Why Not is a perfect example. The show could have been the next Sex in the City, but it got pulled after the first episode.
2. Move the show to a different night. Here's my theory: Once a show has an audience on a given night, if you move the show, you will lose some of them. It's unlikely 100% of your viewers will tune in to the new night. And, it's unlikely you'll get new viewers, because once a show gets started, the new viewer will not be able to follow it (unless each episode is self-contained and doesn't spill over into other episodes).
3. Have long periods of reruns before showing new episodes. Commander in Chief (again on ABC) had this problem. So has Desparate Housewives and Lost. Guess what, Desparate Housewives has lost a lot of viewers this season. Lost better watch out.
Posted by Michael at 1:34 PM
Recently, I learned ABC had given Commander in Chief the axe. This was very upsetting to me, as it is easily the best drama on TV. But what is even more upsetting, is that it was doing great in the ratings on Tuesday nights before they moved it. When they moved it to Thursday against stiff competition from CBS and NBC, it just couldn't keep it's viewers. Oh, and it was in repeats for weeks before the move, so people lost interest, too.
This morning I read ABC is moving Grey's Anatomy from Sunday nights--where it gets great ratings following Desparate Housewives--to Thursday nights, pitting it against CSI. I'm sure it will tank, as well.
ABC did something similar with Alias. They moved it, and then decided not to renew it.
I'm wondering if in the history of television any show has ever been successfully relocated to a different day?
I wish network television would play their flagship shows two nights a week, similar to what HBO does. That way, you're more likely to catch it, and therefore the ratings should stay up if the show is any good. I think they tried that with Lost and Desparate Housewives, and guess what, those show have not been cancelled. Hmn...
Posted by Michael at 8:24 AM
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Sorry for the lack of entertaining anecdotes for you to read.
I haven't been myself these last couple of weeks. During that time, I've been sick twice, and though I don't have fever or chills right now, I still feel like crap. I've had a headache all day, but I haven't had any caffeine, either. I'm hoping the lack of stimulants is the cause and not something more exotic like meningitus or bird flu.
I think I might have some kind of inner ear infection, because one of my ears feels like it has a cotton ball stuck in it and my equilibrium seems to be affected. Last night I went out for a couple of margaritas for Cinco de Mayo with some friends, and I left the restaurant early because I started to feel worse the longer I was there. The margaritas didn't help. :)
I had all these plans to work on my flowerbed this weekend, but it essentially rained all day. Even if the sun had been shining, I would not have felt up to it. Instead I spent most of the day on the couch watching forensic shows and a couple of movies (Red Eye and Crash--both are excellent).
Hopefully, I'll be better by tomorrow or Monday.
Posted by Michael at 11:46 PM
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
I finally called Universal about my Back to the Future DVDs. It was a painless procedure. All I had to do was give them my name, address, etc., and they said they would mail me the new discs. I have to mail them my old discs, so I'm not sure if they will wait until they've received those before mailing the others or not. If you're in the United States and want to replace your discs, the number is (888) 703-0010. Other countries can by found in the link in my other article.
Posted by Michael at 1:14 PM
The other day, I was at Wal-Mart and saw a 4-pack of Coca-Cola Blak for the first time. Blak is a Coca-Cola and Coffee hybrid. I tried it and didn't really like it, so I brought the remaining bottles into the office to see what my coworkers would think of it. After they had tasted it, most of them didn't really think much of it. One (the coffee expert of the office) thought it was good, but not worth paying $4 or $5 for a 4-pack. Our taste test was decidely unscientific, but it makes me wonder if Blak has a long-term future?
Posted by Michael at 12:59 PM
Sunday, April 09, 2006
I just found out about this today. Apparently, the DVDs for Back to the Future II & III were improperly cropped when they were transferred to DVD. Owners of the original laser discs noticed some things they could see on the laser discs were off screen in the DVD version. Here is an example of the problem. I checked my discs, and sure enough, they are cropped. I guess I'll call the toll free number listed on that website to see if they are still replacing the DVDs. At the bottom of the page, they list several other DVDs where this has happened...I wonder how many DVDs this really happens to?
Posted by Michael at 11:15 AM
Friday, March 31, 2006
Well, I'm in Fredericton, Canada right now. It's very nice and I recommend you all visit someday.
Anyway, on my trip here, I saw a vending machine in either the Atlanta or Boston airport. It dispensed iPods and iPod accessories. When I saw it, two things immediately popped into my head.
1. I know how mad I get when I put 50 cents in and my bag of chips gets hung up in a regular vending machine. I can only imagine how mad I'd get if I plopped down $300 and then my iPod got hung up. Call airport security! LOL.
2. Let's say the machine actually did dispense the iPod. Now, you've just plopped down $300 and the machine is going to drop your iPod the distance of about 2 or 3 feet into the receptacle at the bottom? Update: After looking at the picture, I'm not so sure your item actually gets dropped. Also, maybe you don't have to pay taxes on it at the airport?
No thanks, but it's still a cool idea.
Posted by Michael at 1:45 AM
Friday, March 24, 2006
My grandfather passed away tonight between 6:30pm and 6:45pm. He was 85.
It's not unexpected. He fell and broke his hip a couple weeks ago. Just this week, they discovered he had a staph infection and pneumonia. He also had Parkinson's so there was little they could do for him.
Anyway, an interesting thing happened today. All week, the hospice workers having been telling my family they should tell grandpa it was okay to let go. The dying sometimes need permission. But my family needed some time to prepare itself first. Today my grandmother finally told grandpa it was okay to die, and within a few hours, he was gone.
It is because of him that I enjoy humor that is a little on the irreverent side. He used to say the most shocking things at the most inappropriate moments, but they always made me laugh. My aunt Nikki was telling me tonight about the time that grandma's sister called to say her third husband had died, and grandpa said "Well Goddamn, she's killed another one!"
I'll miss him dearly, but I'm so glad he's not suffering any more.
Posted by Michael at 9:08 PM
Monday, March 20, 2006
You've heard of speed cameras no doubt. Though not common (I don't even think Oklahoma has any), basically it's a camera that takes your picture when you drive past it, but only if you are speeding. Then you get a ticket in the mail.
Well, someone has invented a camera that does the same thing, only it detects if your car stereo is too loud. I love this idea. I've heard cars drive by my house thumping so loud, you wonder if the pictures are going to fall off the walls. There's no reason anyone should have their stereo that loud. This idea will save their hearing in the long run, too.
Posted by Michael at 1:43 PM
Friday, March 17, 2006
In a previous post, I jokingly mentioned they should put GPS anklets on sex offenders. Well, I read this morning on Yahoo that the state of California is using this very tactic on known gang members to track their whereabouts, so I guess I wasn't too far off the mark.
Posted by Michael at 9:23 AM
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Last night, some friends and I saw Caché(Hidden)at the Circle Cinema. For those of your who don't know, the Circle Cinema is a newly-opened movie theater in Tulsa, specializing in independent and foreign films. I must say, the theater is very classy. You can tell they spent some money turning it into an art house cinema. When the movie started, a Dolby Digital clip played and the sound system in this theater sounds better than any other theater in Tulsa, with the possible exception of the IMAX. I was pleasanly surprised by that. The theater is a single-screen house currently, but it looks like they are working on the finishing touches for a second, bigger screen.
Anyway, you all should check it out.
Posted by Michael at 11:57 AM
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Finally, Oklahoma lawmakers are considering some legislation aimed at sex offenders that I think is good. My favorite bill would allow police to seize assets used in sex crimes, especially computers. I'm shocked that the police can't already do this.
I'm not too thrilled about the web registries. They are expensive to maintain, and I feel they lull people into a false sense of security. I'm surprised they haven't inspired a bunch of vigilantes to take the law into their own hands. However, one of the pieces of legislation being considered would at least place some of the upkeep cost on the offenders themselves--they would be required to pay an annual registration fee and a fee every time they change addresses. Another bill would require offenders to renew their drivers license every year instead of every four years.
They need to make an ankle bracelet similar to those house arrest units that would transit GPS coordinates of the offenders so you can see where they are at any given time.
Posted by Michael at 10:54 PM
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Over the weekend, I went on a striper fishing trip at Lake Texoma. My stepdad hired a fishing guide named "Moe", and he was really good. The weather, however, was not that good. It rained on us most of the morning, which made for a very miserable start. But once we started catching fish, I didn't pay the rain any attention. Toward the end, I probably caught 5 fish in a 10 minute period. I've never been striper fishing before, but I will definitely want to do it again.
On a side note, the fishing guide's buddy "Termite" turned out to be the father of a guy I used to work with at MCI WorldCom. I guess it really is a small world.
Posted by Michael at 1:25 PM
Friday, February 24, 2006
Recently, my credit card number was stolen. It's a Chase credit card. And so far, my experience with them in resolving the charges placed on it has not been positive.
Now, I've been with Chase since I was in college, over 10 years ago, and as long as you don't need to talk to anyone on the phone, it's a pretty good card. But as soon as you need to talk to a representative, get ready for frustration! Their automated system is terrible. It took me 10 minutes to figure out how to talk to someone, after going down two dead-end paths that forced me to hang up and call back. The third time, I was put on hold and the automated voice actually said, "...to continue holding, please press 2..." Now that makes me wonder if I were to lay the phone down for a second, would they drop my call?
Next, I received a threatening letter in the mail from Chase the other day stating they were not going to remove the disputed charge at this time (it's less than $55--chump change to them), and that I should get reimbursed from the company the charge went to. It went on to say that if the charge was not resolved that way, to inform them in writing by March 1st or they would consider the matter closed. That's less than a week away, and I've yet to be able to get Virgin Mobile to call me back. Virgin Mobile should be my next rant!
Finally, the last thing that is aggravating is that when I reported the fraudelent charge, Chase said they would issue a new card. I haven't received it. When I finally did speak to someone today, they told me they would not issue a new card until the dispute is resolved. In the meantime, the current card has been suspended, so I guess it's a good thing I don't need a credit card right now!
Posted by Michael at 9:31 AM
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Once again, the Oklahoma legislature is working on a bad piece of legislation. A bill is in the works to extend the time it takes a divorce to become final by a whole three months. My first reaction was that people in abusive situations will have to endure them just that much longer, but at least there is an exception for those people.
The whole point of the bill it seems is to reduce Oklahoma's divorce rate, but I see it as a way to force unhappy people to be unhappy just that much longer. I find it to be an unnecessarily cruel government intervention. By the time two people get to the point where they want to divorce, I don't think an extended waiting period is going to be an effective deterent. Indeed, it could actually raise the level of domestic violence. Another side effect is that it could reduce the number of new weddings.
On the surface, a high divorce rate seems to indicate some major failing of societal values, but maybe it just means that Oklahomans are more independent than most and are not willing to give in to societal pressure to keep up appearances when they are unhappy. I think it's great when two people decide they want to share a life together, but I also think it's admirable for someone to assert that the marriage isn't working out for him and it's time to move on. Divorce is a means for two adults to admit they've made a mistake, and they no longer want to be legally bound. In the same way that the government should not decide which two consenting adults can get married (yes, I support the idea of gay marriage), it should not be sticking its nose into the divorces of two consenting adults, either.
Posted by Michael at 8:39 AM
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Last night's episode of Lost was even more thought-provoking that usual. In the episode Sayid tortured a man that was captured in the jungle (thinking he is one of the Others), and it made me question my own ideas about when it is and is not acceptable to use torture as an intelligence gathering technique. On one hand, the amount of torture is wholly dependent on the person being tortured. If he doesn't want to be tortured, he has the option of telling what he knows, and the torture should stop. On the other hand, if the person is innocent, then he has no information to tell, and he's probably going to get a severe beating. At the very minimum, I think you need to have some evidence that the guy is withholding, rather than mere suspicion.
Posted by Michael at 8:08 AM
Monday, February 13, 2006
Before I washed my coat last night, I checked all the pockets as I always do, and there was nothing in them...or so I thought. Apparently, I forgot to check the inside pocket. When I removed the clothes from the washer, I found my cell phone at the very bottom of the tub. I immediately took it out, opened it up, removed the battery, etc., so it could dry overnight. But as of this morning, I don't think it can be revived.
Posted by Michael at 7:42 AM
Friday, February 10, 2006
If Democratic Senator Jay Paul Gumm of Durant has his way, Oklahoma will begin executing repeat child molesters sometime in the near future. I don't have any children, or I might feel differently about this, but I strongly disagree with this measure. I prefer locking a person up for life with no chance of parole to the death penalty. At one time, it was cheaper to keep a person in prison than it was to execute them. And the news said that as soon as your second offense could result in the death penalty.
Posted by Michael at 8:19 AM
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
There was an interesting articule on Yahoo! this morning about bottled water. You can read the original article here.
Basically it talks about how bottled water is mistakenly believed to have all these health benefits when the majority of it isn't any better than tap water. The added minerals don't have any known health benefits. Bottling the water is causing the water tables to drop in places where people depend on the water for their businesses. To produce the plastic bottles uses a lot of petroleum. Most discarded bottles wind up in the landfill and plastic doesn't biodegrade. Those that are recycled are shipped to China, which uses even more petroleum. It's definitely an eye-opener.
Having said that, I love the taste of Deja Blue, Aquafina, and Fiji water.
Posted by Michael at 8:00 AM
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I have a co-worker who has the worst luck I've ever seen. I think some of her misfortune is starting to rub off on me.
Tonight, I logged onto the website of a credit card I use, only to find that there was a charge on it from Virgin Mobile, which I have never used. So I called Virgin Mobile and they said the charge came from the Washington, D.C. area. Sweet. Then I called the credit card company, and they showed not only this charge but several other pending charges that had not cleared yet. I seems the computer flagged them as fradulent and was blocking them or something. So I'm safe on those, but there is a small amount already on the card that I now have to dispute. Nice.
Welcome to the world of identity theft!
Posted by Michael at 8:20 PM
An Oklahoma State Senate committee passed a bill today to restrict demonstrations at funerals, particularly at funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. The demonstrations come not from anti-war protesters, but from members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas led by pastor Fred Phelps (pictured above). Yes, you heard me right. If you've never heard of this group, they've been demonstrating at gay pride events and gay funerals all over the country for years. They operate two lovely websites, one called GodHatesFags.com and the other called GodHatesAmerica.com, the later of which now proudly proclaims that "Coretta Scott-King is in HELL!!!!".
Not content to just direct their hate-speech at gays, they've now moved on to soldier funerals, stating that the soldiers were killed in combat because God hates America for tolerating homosexuals. This new movement has so outraged veterans' groups, that recently motorcyclists have started showing up at the same funerals just so they can rev their engines over the voices of the demonstrators.
Now, I'm a big supporter of the First Amendment, but I personally think that hate speech demonstrations should be outlawed the same way that shouting "FIRE!" into a crowded building is illegal. Hopefully this bill will be passed into law, and the impact of these disrespectful demonstrations will at least be minimized.
Posted by Michael at 5:55 PM
Monday, February 06, 2006
You'd think with the moniker "XL", the Super Bowl would have been extra large this year. Well, it wasn't. The game itself was good, but the entertainment and commercials were a disappointment for the most part. It was a severe case of has-beens and never-was's.
I never really liked Aaron Neville or Aretha Franklin when they were in their prime. Now they are WAY beyond their prime, and you could barely hear both of them when they sang the National Anthem. I wish Simon Cowell could have been there to critique it.
And the Rolling Stones really need to go back to England. They are past their prime, too. Mick Jagger looks like Jack Skellington with those long bony legs of his. I was afraid he was gonna break a hip or something.
There were a few funny commercials. I liked the one with the revolving wall in which this guy stocks his refrigerator with beer on a revolving wall to hide it from his guests. Little does he know that when the wall rotates, it rotates into his neighbor's apartment and they start stealing his beer. And there was a good one with a Godzilla-like creature who falls in love with a giant robot. They have a baby...an H3 Hummer.
Janet Jackson may have forever ruined the Super Bowl. I like the risque commercials of past, but ever since the wardrobe malfunction, advertisers have been playing it cautious. There were a couple suggestive ones this year. One had a guy trying to take his Sierra Mist through the airport metal detector, and they were threatening to give him a body cavity search if he didn't hand it over. And another where a woman was on an airplane trying to climb over a guy when they hit turbulence. She sat down in his lap and it looked very much like they were trying to join the mile-high club.
See you next year, same bat time, same bat place.
Posted by Michael at 8:27 AM
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
I just read this morning that George Bush has outlined a plan to reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East by as much as 75% by the year 2025. While the details of his strategy are sketchy at this point, I hope the meat of his plan isn't drilling in Alaska. Instead, I hope it will include research into more fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative fuel sources.
Posted by Michael at 7:47 AM
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I've been seeing a game called Eve Online advertised a lot in PC Gamer, so I went to the website to check it out. I also did a search for a free trial and was able to find a 14-day free trial on the website. I didn't have to give out a credit card to get started, so I installed the game.
The opening scene gives you the back story on how the galaxy came to be as it is now. Essentially, humanity left Earth after it was left uninhabitable. But ruthless corporations took over all the new planets that were colonized, leaving the people under the thumb of oppression. Then one day a stable wormhole was discovered, and people began traveling to an unexplored part of the galaxy to find a new life. Not too long afterward, the wormhole collapsed, leaving thousands colonists stranded on hundreds of worlds. Over time, only four groups of humans survived. And the game begins from there leaving you to setup your character by choosing a bloodline.
I did not get very far into the game yet...the computer is still training me how to operate my ship and engage in combat, but so far the game has a depth that is generally not seen in other games. It reminds me a little of the old game Taipan, but much more grown-up. That's both a negative and a plus. It's a negative because you can't just pick the game up and start playing, but I think the complexity of the game will be more rewarding in the end. We shall see.
Posted by Michael at 8:07 AM
Thursday, January 26, 2006
This has not been a good two weeks. First, I got food poisoning and was sick for a couple of days. Then, I've got some kind of a head cold or allergy thing going on. My diaphragm is so sore from coughing that it hurts to breathe. Then, I got new eyeglasses and something was wrong with the prescription because I couldn't see very well with them, and I was getting headaches. So I went back to the eye doctor today and she rechecked my eyes. I asked her when I would need to start considering bifocals. She said not normally until I reach age 40. But, she went ahead and tested me for problems focusing on far and then near objects, and guess what? I'm having problems. So she tells me I'll probably be in bifocals sooner than age 40. Just freakin' great!
Posted by Michael at 12:05 PM
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Over the weekend, I installed a new nVidia graphics card in my VAIO. Wal-mart had it on sale so I couldn't resist.
A while back I picked up Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 and immediately put it aside when my existing ATI card couldn't keep up with it. It was a painful experience, and my initial reaction to the game was disappointing. So I reinstalled it to see if the new card could handle it, and the difference is like night and day. I believe the game is as fun as the original games in the series were. There have been two expansion packs to the game recently. I guess I'll have to pick them up too, now.
Posted by Michael at 12:58 PM
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
I just got word my grandmother's sister has passed away from a staph infection. She contracted it after she went into the hospital for neck surgery.
Recently, a friend's grandpa had surgery and developed some sort of unidentified infection, and he later passed too.
Sounds to me like the hospitals are not cleaning up their messes good enough. It's an outrage, especially after what they charge for surgery these days.
Moral of the story: if you want to live, don't go to the hospital.
Posted by Michael at 2:07 PM
Two Canadians are sitting in a bar, when one of them turns to the other and says, "Hey, you wanna play 20 questions?".
The other one says, "Sure."
So the first one says, "Let me think of something." So he thinks of "moose cock". "Okay, I got it."
The second one asks, "Can you eat it?"
The first one giggles and says, "Well, yeah, I guess you can eat it."
The second one says, "Is it 'moose cock'?"
My apologies to all Canadians. :)
Posted by Michael at 11:56 AM
Monday, January 09, 2006
I caught the tail end of the Howard Sterns show this morning on the way to work. He must have been on his best behavior on his first day because I didn't hear a single explicative. What I did enjoy was hearing him discuss first amendment rights. It would seem there are some senators who are trying to get the FCC to censor Howard Sterns on Sirius, which is a pay service much like HBO. Also, apparently Sirius can be programmed to block channels, so if you don't want to hear Sterns, you don't have to listen. Basically, Sterns went on to say that if they are successful in altering how the FCC behaves, they'll destroy cable TV and the first amendment as we know it. Keep up the good fight, Howard.
Posted by Michael at 8:45 AM
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Today the news is reporting only 1 survivor in that West Virginia mine explosion. Last night the news mistakenly reported 12 had survived. Apparently, the mining company knew within 20 minutes of the announcement that it had made a mistake, but did not correct the information for 3 hours.
One woman has stated she's going to sue the mining company for lying to her. I'm sorry, but that is just irrational. It's sad that her dad died and all, but last time I checked, lying (and I wouldn't even call it that) is not illegal. People say ridiculous things when they are emotional. This would be a frivolous lawsuit at best. She sounds less concerned for her dad and more concerned about how much money she can get her hands on.
Posted by Michael at 12:19 PM
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Here in Oklahoma the wildfire situation is out of control. A couple of days ago, there was a wildfire about a block north of my dad's house in Duncan. When I talked to him, it had burned one house to the ground that he knew about. The Oklahoma City news was reporting 5 houses burned later that night. It's pretty crazy.
My dad was a volunteer firefighter for years, and he helped out with the recent fire. My step-brother is a firefighter. It takes a special kind of courage to put your life on the line to help others, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for that kind of person.
In the coming days the fire danger appears that it will worsen. If you know someone who is a firefighter, I urge you to thank them for doing what they do and to keep them in your thoughts until we get some rain.
Posted by Michael at 8:39 AM