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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Most Hard Core Trick-or-Treaters Ever!

Happy Halloween! Today the thought occurred to me that there are probably some kids out there who take Trick or Treating a little more seriously than most. I wondered what it would be like to have a family member with a car willing to drive a kid around. Or what if future kids use Segways to travel from house to house, maximizing the few hours they are allowed out? I remembered an old "Pete and Pete" episode where the kids mapped out a devious plan to have the biggest bags of candy at the end of the night. I thought, "If someone wanted to do that FOR REAL, how would they do it?" Here's what I came up with:

Say the Trick-or-Treating is locally limited to between 6 and 8 p.m. That's 2 hours. The Extreme Family has three kids, two of which are past Trick-or-Treating age. That leaves little Billy Extreme to Trick-or-Treat with friends, or on his own. And since Billy is going for the record, he decides to meet up with his friends later.

Billy Extreme has the benefit of two older siblings who already know the neighborhood inside and out. The oldest Extreme child, Kyle, made an Extreme map showing where all the houses are. He kept it extremely up to date. The second oldest, Jill, made an Extreme chart marking the exact amounts of candy received from every house. The chart syncs up with the map perfectly. As it turns out, most houses give out an average amount of candy, encompassing the whole range of goodies. But there are a few rare houses, represented in Gold, that give out not one, not two, but Three or More King-Size Candy Bars!

The Extremes have Halloween down to a science. They all know that every parent buys about as much candy as their kids will bring home. If all the parents everywhere bought candy and instead of giving it out bit by bit to other people's kids, they instead gave it to their own kids, all the children would have just as much candy as if they had gone out Trick-or-Treating. That's pretty much the system, except in the rare cases of the Houses Marked In Gold.

Over the years, the Extremes asked around, each time keeping their questions limited, and each time acting like they didn't really care. Nobody caught on that they were really working to become Legends at the Trick-or-Treating game. What they learned was that those blessedly rare houses that gave out excessive amounts of candy were owned by people with especially unique Halloween situations.

In the houses that either had no children to begin with, or have now let their children fly free, the candy dish is sometimes empty, and sometimes excessively full. In houses that aren't on a standard Trick-or-Treat route, the ones that do wish for the smiling faces of costumed children are willing to go the extra mile by lighting the way and providing a substantial candy reward for any young Trick-or-Treater brave enough to venture off the beaten path.

The Gold Houses are both childless and off-route, which is why the candy given out from them is so incredible. The Extremes know this. And they have a plan.

The average kid goes from house to house haphazardly, getting whatever he or she lucks out with. Some houses give coins, others give candy apples, and still others give out -- dental supplies! But most give candy. The Extremes will hit up all the houses that give out candy, including the Gold Houses.

But wait! Isn't Billy Extreme the only one going? And he's not quick enough to reach all the far corners of the neighborhood, is he? No, he's not. But Kyle is, when he's driving! But wait! With all those other kids on the street, isn't driving dangerous? Yes, if you've got a car. But Kyle's got a motorcycle with a side car!

Kyle drives Billy around to all the key houses. At each stop, Billy jumps out, runs up to the door, smiles and says, "Trick or Treat!" and is given some candy. Being a good actor, he convinces the person at the door that he is thoroughly surprised. Then he makes sure to say a hearty and truly genuine, "Thank you!" as he turns and runs back to the Extreme motorcycle, still idling.

After Kyle and Billy hit up all the normal candy houses, making sure to avoid the abnormal ones, they finally go Gold, with half an hour left. Why did they wait so long to visit the houses with the best candy? Because with so much leftover candy at the end of the night, the people in those houses are willing to give the kids practically everything in the bowl!!

Kyle and Billy finally return home at 8:14 p.m. Billy immediately goes to the scale and weighs his candy. A new Extreme record! Suddenly, the phone rings.

"Billy!" his Extreme mother calls. "It's your cousin!"

Billy and his cousin exchange stories, and tell each other how much candy they both got.

"So," Billy's mother asks. "How did Ricky do?"

Billy says, "He got twice as much!"

Cousin Ricky and his older brother Mike did everything Billy and Kyle did...but Ricky wore two different costumes!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Don't Get Hit By A Truck! Part Two...

For those of you who haven't read my previous Don't Get Hit By A Truck post, suffice it to say that I am not a fan of giving just anybody the keys to a machine that could easily kill someone. That being said, allow me to begin Part Two.

Yesterday, two days before Halloween, I accidentally broke a mirror. No big deal, since I'm not really superstitious in that respect. Seven years' bad luck? Um, no thanks. I like to focus on how superstition can help, and pretend that if I don't believe in it, it has no power. So I'm good for the next 7 years. I'm just great.

Or so I thought...

Today, ONE day before Halloween, at rush hour, I went out to the street to get the mail. I live in a quiet area of a suburb that doesn't usually see too much traffic. And even when we do, the traffic isn't too severe. But today there was an anomaly.

As I stood a couple of feet away from the curb, retrieving the mail, I heard a powerful vehicle turn the corner nearby. I could see peripherally that it was in its own lane, on the other side of the street, so I would be fine. No collision. But then it did something unexpected. When it was still a short distance away, it began to accelerate. The road ends shortly after where we were, and drivers must turn left or right, so it's not like the truck could have been going for any kind of speed record. But the driver must have been in some hurry because he (or she?) just kept going faster and faster. I knew I was in the clear, since the truck wasn't aimed at me, but I realized that the speed it reached was lethal. If it had somehow veered off-course and hit me, I'd either be en route to a hospital right now, or dead.

So...my first thoughts after it left were questions. Why did it speed up? Did the driver know me, or think he/she knew me? Were they scared of me, or trying to scare me? Were they in a hurry? Did they want to catch up to the next car, because of that whole warped sense of, "I could go faster if only you weren't in my way, Next Car, don't you see, that's why I'm right on your bumper? I'm better than youuuu!!"

And then I thought of a movie I saw once, in which 3 separate tales of fear were woven in a tapestry of darkness. The one that struck me the most starred Lance Henriksen as a priest who had given up the cloth. As punishment, he was subsequently chased by none other than a Black Pickup Truck, with a crucifix hanging upside down from the rear-view mirror. Just that cross part alone had freaked me out, but in the movie, the truck was able to burrow underground and resurface without a scratch.

Of course, it couldn't have been the same truck for me today. But the memory of that short story made me think back to yesterday when I -- broke that mirror!

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Chuck, Yes! Heroes, Yes! JourneyMan, Aww...

:) :) :(

I was reading the information on tonight's NBC 3-hour lineup, and "Chuck" and "Heroes" both sounded pretty good. But then "JourneyMan"'s info comes along, and says, "Everything's all messed up for our hero, and his life is falling apart! Stay tuned..." It just seems like a huge downer.

When I read a book, or watch a movie, I enjoy a nice, uplifting ending. That's just the way I am. Some people think it's fancier or more artistic to have a tragic ending, but I don't really enjoy walking away from something with a bad feeling. I like things to end on a good note. That's exactly why I was mildly disturbed by the way the three NBC shows were organized. It's like, "Are they trying to make me stop watching 'JourneyMan'?"

I'll be watching "Chuck" tonight, and thinking, "Awesome! I love this show." It really is great. Follow that up with the amazing "Heroes," which thankfully is still going strong... And then "JourneyMan," with a cool concept, but full of major bummers no matter where you look. Why isn't there anything good to focus on? Sure, he's helping the timeline, and allowing people to improve their lives, but the main focus on each episode is how his condition is impacting him, and in a negative way. And a lot of his and his wife's "suffering" just seems unnecessary. I find it difficult to pity them, because it feels like they're just causing their own problems, and have no one to blame but themselves.

So for two hours tonight, I'll be cheering NBC on. And then for the third...I don't know how I'll feel. Maybe JM will surprise me. Let's hope. (Sarcastically:) 'Cause TV is my life!!

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Greatest Simpsons Halloween Special

Which one is the greatest? I'd say the one that takes itself the most seriously. And for me, that's Treehouse of Horror VI (1995). The three segments featured were entitled, "Attack of the 50 Feet Eyesores," "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace," and "Homer 3D."

I think most of the other Halloween episodes poke fun at themselves. I always look forward to watching a "scary" Simpsons, just because all bets are off. And the other night, to my delight and surprise, the 6th special was on. I only caught the last two portions, but they seemed to be more hard core than usual. I think it's because they so explicitly rewrote the laws of what you're going to see on a Simpsons, and even on a Halloween Simpsons.

The dream sequence where Bart and Lisa nearly die was, I think, scarier than the times when characters really do die, because it kept you wondering, "Are they gonna make it? Are they going to be all right??" And then, BAM! They're back at home, awake, and safe.

Some of the scariest things can only happen in the midst of pure chaos. Do you remember when you were a child? Your parents (hopefully) took pretty good care of you. But then, every so often, you'd have a nightmare in which they were totally different. In the nightmare, your caregivers act bizarre, irrational, and totally uncaring. At that point, there's nothing left to hold on to. You've hit the 9th circle of Hell. The scariest part is no longer being sure of what's going to happen. And that's exactly what an episode like the T of H VI does. It shakes things up.

But besides being scary, it's also entertaining! I loved the 3D realm Homer and Bart stumbled into. And at the end of the episode, Homer crossed over to a higher dimension, never to return to his beloved family. That too is way out there as far as T.V. shows are considered, since most often things will revert back to normal at the end. But not on Halloween! It's like, "Homer is gone, and he's never coming back. He's stranded somewhere out there...all alone in a world of flesh-colored weirdoes."

I love it!

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Chester Cheetah vs. Joe Camel

Hey kids, addiction is cool!

I've only just realized that's the message that has been put out there for years by ad executives, and not just the ones advertising cigarettes. A lot of product mascots, it would seem, have severe problems in their lives, in that they are addicted to one thing or another. And their conditions are glorified. Even Sonny the Cuckoo Bird is an addict, frequently going "cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs." But there are two that stand out for me, even more so than poor Sunny, because these guys are especially cool: Chester Cheetah and Joe Camel.

Both have similarly-shaped heads. Both wear dark sunglasses. And both have that certain something that makes people like them.

In "Family Guy," Chester Cheetah was depicted as snorting a line of ground-up Cheetos. Joe Camel smoked cigarettes. Who's worse?

Now that Joe's dead of cancer, he doesn't seem so cool. But a few years ago, he was everywhere. I like Chester, and am glad he survived. I can look past his addiction because I myself am not *munch* *munch* addicted *munch* *munch* to cheesy snacks -- oh CRAP! Well forget that.

What's so bad about these guys?

First off, the worst thing is the insidious nature behind them. Their mystery emphasizes their evil, because the fact that you have to take a moment to think before you understand the true nature of CC and JC proves that they're supremely talented at living a caustic lie. The lie is they're cool, and they should be looked up to and emulated. The truth is they are pawns, addicts, and out of control in every way.

Cheetos pays Chester to make public appearances, but because he's addicted to their cheesy product, they probably pay him in snack bags. Joe was addicted to cigarettes, and though he tried many times to quit, the company wouldn't let him. They had invested too much money in him as a representative, and forced him to make appearance after appearance, all the while smoking it up. In the end, it killed him, but not before convincing children that smoking was something you did to be cool.

What did Chester teach? That it's perfectly ok, even admirable, to be a slave to some product, to have it own you and not the other way around. "I have to get this, I have to buy it and eat it, because, I just have to!" Chester taught us not to use our minds, not to make decisions, but rather to emulate the habits of a role model who is cool enough, even when those habits are destructive. So we buy cheetos because the cool cat does. Then one day we meet Stan the drug dealer, and he seems extra cool. He recommends buying his full supply so that we can “toughen up” with a raging binge, and before we know it, we've OD'd, all because the cool guy said to.

Who's worse, Chester Cheetah or Joe Camel? Well, despite the fact that JC has the same initials as Jesus, and he was used to market death sticks to children, I'm gonna have to go and say Chester Cheetah is the worst. All Joe Camel did was look cool, act cool, and nonchalantly smoke cigarettes while being cool. He never screamed a slogan like, “If I don’t have my Pops, I’m gonna pop someone...” or “I’d kill for a Klondike!” His addiction was a subtle part of his image, an image that was then shown in conjunction with cigarettes. No more, no less. But Chester… He preaches that slavery to junk food is a good thing. Essentially, he does with Cheetos exactly what Joe did with cigarettes, but takes things to a whole new level. He goes nuts, gets into crazy dangerous situations, and then verbally excuses himself with, “It’s not easy being cheesy.” Meaning, “Hey kids, it’s ok to risk your life for something, as long as you’re addicted, and as long as the cool people like it too.” Pure Evil.

But if you can look past all that, he does seem pretty cool…

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Fighting Racism vs. Preserving Free Speech

Is it right to fire a racist employee? Society seems to say yes, it is right. Don Imus got canned for racist remarks, and Nobel laureate James Watson, who helped discover the design of a molecule of DNA, was also forcibly retired for the same reason. Sure, Watson is 79, and even he said his retirement was overdue, but it makes me wonder if in a truly free America, firing someone for racist remarks should be allowed.

Say Imus and Watson didn't get fired. In our current situation, their coworkers would tell them, "You can't say stuff like that. It's offensive and ignorant, and just spreads the wrong ideas." Which is true. But should free speech be used as a tool to preserve racist ideas? Bad ideas should be put to rest. But we should all have the right to speak our minds. Bad ideas shouldn't be allowed to infect the next generation and spread. But is the limiting of a bad idea wrongful censorship? Who decides whether an idea is bad or good?

I've heard the argument put forth that once you say, "That's bad, and you can't talk about it," about just one thing, then someone else will limit speech on another subject, and pretty soon the dictionary is filled with omissions.

When the Constitution was created, racism and slavery did exist. Nowadays, we aspire for true equality. Limiting one freedom (speech) does seem good and necessary when that freedom is used as a tool for evil. But limiting any freedom just seems wrong. Can there be world where speech is truly free?

When you get too serious about religion, it can and often does lead to unnecessary wars and bloodshed. When you get too serious about insults and stereotypes, I believe other problems can result as well. It is nice not to have to deal with toxic speech. But wouldn't it be better to be immune to it? It's like we're fighting a disease by limiting our exposure to the disease. The virus knows it can still do damage if it gets past the "outlaw" defenses, because we can't handle it. But if we take a different approach, and rather than using the antibiotics of censorship, we instead rely on our own immune abilities, and build up our tolerance to the point where the virus no longer phases us, maybe then it will finally go away - for good. And free speech will live on.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Like Smallville's New Directorial Style

When "Smallville" first came out, I couldn't get enough. Then I got busy, and couldn't find time to watch it. When I caught a few recent episodes last year, they seemed corny. Kind of like those Batman movies in between "Batman Returns" and "Batman Begins." I thought, "I guess 'Smallville' just can't compete with 'Heroes.'" But now it's back!

Somehow, for some reason, the direction on the show seems different. Before, they'd use dialogue to push the story forward. Now they use silence, with stunning visuals. It's awesome. The show is now saying even more, and in an eloquent way, than it ever did when it was overly wordy. I like it a lot.

One of the recent "new" types of scenes that stuck out for me was Lana's reunion with Clark. They didn't say a word to each other. They just looked at one another and embraced. It was great.

I hope they stick with this new style for a long time.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Caveman Show Explains Why Tap Water Tastes Bad

Last night on ABC's "Cavemen," one of the three main cavemen got a job as a substitute teacher. Dissatisfied with the fascist textbooks, he decided to explain to his class as to how things really work. One of the many topics he covered detailed why tap water tastes bad.

Why does tap water taste bad? So you'll buy "clean," "pure" bottled water, shipped and trucked all the way from some magical, far-off mountain. Who benefits from all that trucking? Big Oil. BAM! Simple.

Tap water tastes bad so Big Oil can make some extra coin. Use this knowledge at your own risk.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

JourneyMan Theory: Professor Tachyon Is A Time Traveller Being Manipulated By The Government

Last night on JourneyMan, JM spoke with a professor or educated man on the subject of tachyons, particles that can travel faster than the speed of light, and therefore theoretically go back in time. JM lied that he was working on a book in which the hero had the same problem he does. The guy travels through time haphazardly.

The Tachyon guy said, With such a tremendous power, it's a wonder no one is taking advantage of him. He acted oddly mysterious. JM hinted at the fact that while he was in the past at one point, he received a phone call from the Tachyon guy, apparently in the present, but possibly in the past instead.

My theory is that while JM was hinting that his "book's" hero was him, the Tachyon guy was hinting that what might happen to the hero (i.e., being manipulated by a higher power) is already happening to him. He had mentioned that God might be controlling the "leaps." Maybe he's right, and he time travels to do good works, but unfortunately the government or some organization holds him hostage and forces him to manipulate the timestream to their benefit.

If this is true, the show could take an exciting new turn.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

The New Flying Kid On Heroes Is Lame

I can't believe Claire finally hooked up with him. He's a geeky stalker, first of all, and he made no attempt to understand Claire's point of view. He just kept pestering her and pestering her to "admit who you really are!" What an idiot. If he had any sort of clue, he'd have already figured out that being "honest" when it comes to super powers is a bad idea. Especially after he'd already been bagged and tagged! Jeeze!

Claire was totally right to be private, as her father's instructions didn't arise out of fear of not being socially accepted, but out of fear of being kidnapped and tortured for the rest of your life. Claire's dad knows what's what, but this guy who can fly is clueless. That trait is especially revealed in the scene at school when he referred to Claire as a "lizard girl" in front of the whole class.

I can't stress enough how bizarre it seems to me that she would actually come to accept him. Even after things calmed down between them, and there seemed to be a spark, he still constantly reveals the fact that he is a walking, talking security risk that doesn't know when to keep quiet.

The only redeeming quality he has is that he can fly. Big deal, right? Nathan Petrelli can fly too. Whoop di doo.

I think the actor is doing a good job with the character. I find the character's ideology totally flawed, but the actor made him seem almost likeable in last week's episode. Let's hope the character learns a thing or two about discretion.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cartoon Network's Adult Swim Can Get A Little "Out There"

I was channel surfing last night and came across some programming on Cartoon Network within a block they call "Adult Swim." I've watched a few of those shows off and on for years, but some are just way too bizarre. But they can also be fun if you're in that kind of mood.

One of the shows last night was called, "Perfect Hair Forever." I'm not sure what it's about, but from what I can gather it's a spoof of all kinds of Anime with no solid plot. The gags, though, seemed to make up for that. I think it's the kind of show where if you're really tired and out of it, it might entertain. The colors of one of the characters' hair kept changing and looked pretty psychedelic.

I became interested when the main character, an apparently balding teen with a comb over, was meditating and then decided to begin a quest to achieve the 9th level of power. I thought, "Cool!" Then he got sidetracked by a bear, and I lost interest. Oh well. But now I know something. If I'm ever in the mood for some random animated weirdness, I can tune to Cartoon Network at around midnight on the weekend. Score.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

What's Your Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?

Mmm, mmm! Ice cream is great! It's a wonder that when it first came about, ice cream was considered a delicacy for the wealthy few. Now we've all got access to it, thanks to our technology and friendly characters like The Ice Cream Man.

I enjoy most flavors, but these ones especially:
  • chocolate with broken peanut butter cups,
  • Twix,
  • mint chocolate chip,
  • peanut butter,
  • and chocolate chip cookie dough!!
If there were an ice cream made purely out of cookie dough, without the vanilla buffer, I think that might become my new favorite! :)

What kinds do you like?

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Missy Peregrym of "Heroes," "Reaper," And Some Lifetime Movie

Last season on "Heroes," Missy Peregrym played the shape shifter. After kidnapping Micah, she revealed through her eating habits that her character was somewhat overweight. This season, she was replaced and then killed by Sylar, all in one episode. When she died, she reverted to her true form, which had always been hinted at as being less thin than she usually seemed. This turned out to be the case.

Why isn't she on "Heroes" anymore? Because now she's on "Reaper!" She plays the title character's potential love interest, and hopefully future partner in crime. Awesome.

Today I noticed a movie on Lifetime which starred her as the main character in some mystery involving an elusive serum. I thought, "Wow, she's everywhere." But, really it's probably just the networks wising up to what's in demand. "Hayden Panettiere is famous now, so let's air her cheerleader movie. Sarah Silverman has her own show, so lets rerun that episode of 'Star Trek: Voyager' she was in." It's neat when you get to see someone you "just met" from one show in another, separate role. I think the movie Missy did was called, "Wide Awake."

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Brain Damage Cures Cigarette Smokers

This article describes a medical study which revealed that the insula (a part of the brain) has a tremendous amount of influence over a smoker's urge to continue smoking. Many individuals with insula damage have quickly and easily stopped smoking as if they had simply forgotten the habit.

I remember hearing an actor who I believe used to be addicted to cocaine tell an audience how he was able to rid himself of addiction. He said something along the lines of his being able to disconnect the action from a feeling of pleasure.

Doctor Antonio Damasio had ideas on the insula being a place dedicated to feelings and emotion before studies were done confirming his theories. He was not involved in the study mentioned in the article, but he did say that, "It's really intriguing to think that disrupting this region breaks the pleasure feelings associated with smoking. It is immediate. It's not that they smoke less. They don't smoke, period."

This new finding is in such early stages of being put to use that it would be folly to say, "Want to quit smoking? Go get some surgery!" But maybe some sort of magnetic process can zap the insula into agreement with the logical will of its owner. When that day comes, cigarette companies will likely lose a great deal of business.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Universal Health Care May Not Be So Grand

I've always thought that going to the doctor for free would be great. From what little I knew about Canada's health care system, I figured, "If only we had what they have!" I may have been sorely mistaken.

I got an email today forwarded from a Canadian resident who can easily name a few of the many flaws with Canadian universal health care. Hopefully we can avoid the same. Enjoy:


"Subject: Canada's Health care system from a Canadian's point of view.

Hey Guys. I seen on the news up here in Canada where Hillary Clinton introduced her new health care plan. Something similar to what we have in Canada.

I also heard that Michael Moore was raving about the health care up here in Canada in his latest movie. As your friend and someone who lives with the Canada health care plan, I thought I would give you some facts about this great medical plan that we have.

First of all:

1) The health care plan in Canada is not free. We pay a premium every month of $96. for Shirley and I to be covered. Sounds great eh. What they don't tell you is how much we pay in taxes to keep the health care system afloat.

I am personally in the 55% tax bracket. Yes 55% of my earnings go to taxes. A large portion of that and I am not sure of the exact amount goes directly to health care our #1 expense.

2) I would not classify what we have as health care plan, it is more like a health diagnosis system. You can get into to see a doctor quick enough so he can tell you, yes indeed you are sick or you need an operation, but now the challenge becomes getting treated or operated on. We have waiting lists out the ying yang some as much as 2 years down the road.

3) Rather than fix what is wrong with you the usual tactic in Canada is to prescribe drugs. Have a pain here is a drug to take - not what is causing the pain and why. No time for checking you out because it is more important to move as many patients thru as possible each hour for Government re-imbursement.

4) Many Canadians do not have a family Doctor.

5) Don't require emergency treatment as you may wait for hours in the emergency room waiting for treatment.

6) Shirley's dad cut his hand on a power saw a few weeks back and it
required that his hand be put in a splint - to our surprise we had to pay $125 for a splint, because it is not covered under health care plus we have to pay $60 for each visit for him to check it out each week.

7) Shirley's cousin was diagnosed with a heart blockage. Put on a waiting list. He died before he could get treatment.

8) Government allots so many operations per year. When that is reached, no more operations unless you go to your local newspaper and plead your case and embarrass the government then money suddenly appears.

9)The Government takes great pride in telling us how much more they are increasing the funding for health care but waiting lists never get shorter.

Government just keeps throwing money at the problem but it never goes away. But they are good at finding new ways to tax us, but they don't call it a tax anymore it is now a user fee.

10) My mother needs an operation for a blockage in her leg, but because she is a smoker they will not do it. This despite my parents paying into the health care system all these years. My Mom is 80 years of age.

Now, there is talk that maybe we should not treat fat and obese people either, because they are a drain on the health care system. Let me see now, what we want in Canada is a health care system for healthy people only. That should reduce our health care costs.

11) Forget getting a second opinion, what you see is what you get.

12) I can spend what money I have left after taxes on booze, cigarettes, junk food and anything else that could kill me, but I am not allowed by law to spend my money on getting an operation I need, because that would be jumping the queue. I must wait my turn, except if I am a hockey player or athlete, then I can get looked at right away. Go figure.

Where else in the world can you spend money to kill yourself, but not allowed to spend money to get healthy.

13) Oh, did I mention that immigrants are covered automatically at tax payer expense having never contributed a dollar to the system and pay no premiums!

14) Oh yes, we now give free needles to drug users to try and keep them healthy. They wouldn't want a sickly druggie breaking into your house and stealing your things. But, people with diabetes who pay into the health care system have to pay for their needles, because it is not covered buy the health care system.

I send this out not looking for sympathy, but as the election looms in the state, you will be hearing more and more about "universal health care" down there. The advocates will be pointing to Canada, I just want to make sure that you hear the truth about health care up here, and have some food for thought and informed questions to ask when broached with this subject.

Step wisely and don't make the same mistakes we have."

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Time Traveller JourneyMan And His Wife Just Don't "Get It"

"Journeyman" is a neat show with a lot of potential. Generally, I like it. I've heard rumors of its cancellation, but maybe it can hold out for a while. However, there are some serious flaws with the logic of a couple of important characters. Specifically, the Journeyman and his wife.

Last night there was a preview for next week's episode. In it, Journeyman is whisked away by unknown forces to another time, leaving his young son outside, alone, and in the middle of an area crowded with strangers.

How absurd is that? The show has already established that the Journeyman (JM) has no control whatsoever over when he leaves. He and his wife should know that by now.

I had trouble understanding it a few episodes ago when JM and wife tried to board a plane after JM had already vanished from a previous flight, subsequently causing some airport commotion.

Are you kidding me?? If JM vanished from a flight and forced his wife into custody for a few hours once, you'd think he'd be smart enough not to risk doing it again. But JM and wife are apparently not that smart at all, and try boarding a second flight, which thankfully won't let them on because JM is now on the "No Fly List."

Ok, so JM can't be trusted to have control over anything, anywhere, because at any moment he could vanish. He already "journeyed" from a car he was driving, which crashed after he left. Thank God no one was hurt. Can you imagine if he was driving his family or a couple of friends on a highway?

What kind of idiot repeatedly encounters situations in which they cannot be trusted to run things, and then goes and does something like saying, "Sure, I'll look after my five-year-old son. Come on, kid, let's cross the street" -- ZAP! "Dad??" Lame.

And the wife must be just as lame in the brain, because she blames JM for "doing" the things which he has no control over. He's already made it clear to her that his journeys occur randomly, and he will lose time in the present at any given moment, even if he doesn't want to. Even if he promises not to. Asking him to promise not to leave is absurd, because he has no way of making any sort of guarantee. But that's just what she did! Why didn't he explain that he couldn't promise anything? I have no idea. Maybe he's just whipped into dumb submission. And then she got upset when he "broke" that promise. She already knew he couldn't control his journeys. So she must be a very forgetful woman.

I'm thinking the writers are just going for basic drama without giving their characters the benefit of logic and reason. Hopefully this kind of writing won't last too long, but if it does, I can see why someone would want to cancel "Journeyman." It's hard to watch the heroes making the same stupid mistakes every episode.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Don't Get Hit By A Truck!

A few years ago, I was crossing the street, and there was a big pickup truck stopped at the intersection. It was on my right, ahead of me, in the far right lane. The traffic light was red.

| |=(Truck)
| |
(Here, I want to go "up," through the crosswalk, past the truck.)

I had pressed the button to get a "pass" to cross the street. The little white light of a man walking lit up. I started to cross.

As I neared the other side, I began to pass in front of the truck. About 3 quarters of the way past it, I suddenly noticed it begin to move forward. It wasn't inching forward. It was as if the driver saw a green light and hit the gas, oblivious to any roadway obstructions (like humans).

I jumped up to the curb, and the truck went on its merry way.

It didn't occur to me until later that maybe the driver was focused on things behind him, as opposed to what was in front of him.

All I could think of at the time was, "Of course he must have seen me. Maybe there was some incredible amount of disdain for pedestrians at work there?"

Who knows. The point is, even if you look both ways, and even if all the cars are stopped, and even if they see you, there's still no guarantee that you won't get hit. So do your best to keep your eyes open at all times. Especially when you're behind the wheel...

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Digg Kills Another Cool Web Site

Yesterday I went to Digg.com.

I saw one of the links I wanted to check out: "Windows Xp easter eggs!........must see." Cool! I love easter eggs!

I clicked on it -- "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage"

Hmm, Digg must have sent more traffic than that site could handle.

Let's check the good 'ol Internet Archive.

And what's that link? http://www.bizzntech.com/?p=125

Ok, "Take Me Back."

"Sorry, no matches."

Ok, it's no problem, I'll just check back tomorrow.

--Next Day--

Do dee doo dee doo...Let's go to Digg...

Hmm, where's that cool story...

It was on Page 1 before, now its...ok...page 5.

It should be ready now. I'll bet the strain has lessened, and -- look, it's even got more diggs! It must be available.


"404 Page Doesn't Exist!" (Yes, there really was an exclamation point)

Aww God!

Hey, an informative link...

Your 110MB domain is suddenly showing this page?


This is what it says:
"I get taken to 404 page when I go to my domain. Why?

Ok. Your site was working fine. And now when you access it you're getting http://www.110mb.com/404.htm (404 page). Here's why...

REASON 1: ***
Your account or site violated our Terms of Service at http://www.110mb.com/agreement.html and was deleted. Registration process, email confirmation and account created homepage all assumed you've read TOS and understood it.

Note: This only applies if the root level of your domain (IE: http://USERNAME.110mb.com/) shows 404. Otherwise you're most likely getting it because of missing page or your script is taking you to 404.

REASON 2: ***
Username you registered just now previously belonged to another server. Hence you must wait 10-15 hours for IP addresses to assign your username to the new server. You also won't be able to FTP during this time.

Poor site owner. They lost their site. Or maybe they sold it to the highest bidder...? Whatever the case, Digg strikes again!

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

How Fast Is Your PC?

I've got an old machine here, running with a mildly-upgraded processor at about 2 GHz. Every time something slow happens, I think, "Man, if only I had a processor that was 5-10 times faster!" Then I wonder why there aren't commercials pushing the new 10 GHz processors. Do you know why that is?

It seems like we've been at a standstill, developmentally wise. I've heard that there's only so much we can do with a certain amount of space, and that once our processors surpass a certain size threshold, the technology will no longer work. We're talking processors that get faster and faster as things get smaller and smaller, until things are so small that nothing works at all. Are we at that point now? Is that why I've only been hearing about the Intel Core 2 Duo for the last year?

Whatever happened to Moore's Law, which says that between every 12 and 18 months, processors should roughly double in speed? I remember before I upgraded the last time, my computer was getting pretty slow. The new "big" software and "complex" web pages were definitely putting some strain on my PC's resources. So I went out and got a new computer. Faster, more powerful, and so much more so that all the old "difficulties" were nothing for it. It's like that story where an ordinary person is bullied in their home town, then goes off and has some adventure, to return a different, stronger version of who they once were. A new version that doesn't take crap from anybody.

Right now it feels like my PC is taking "crap" from a few different areas that seem to hint at an upgrade, but not insist like before. I once had a theory that the hardware industry pushes the software industry to demand the latest hardware through the use of their programs. The truth is probably just that once you've got all these exciting new resources, you might as well make use of them. Still, I'm wondering why it doesn't seem necessary to upgrade. It doesn't even seem worth it. I want an upgrade that will make a difference, and last a few years. Not just a couple of GHz that will get me by for a few months. I want Terahertz!

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Growing Dichotomy Between Commercials And Reality

Have you ever seen an ad on TV that seemed “too good to be true?” I know I have. But usually you could tell which ones were pushing the envelope of believability. I notice a lot of infomercials that give off that feel of “whatever we’re selling, it’s not as good as we say it is.” But lately some commercials seem to be crafting deceptively clever ads that skew the line between what you can expect in real life and what is depicted on television.

Commercials that I enjoy (and they do exist) are often entertaining, but the real kicker is when they seem trustworthy. A commercial that communicates a message that is congruent and believable has me thinking, “Yeah, that sounds good. That feels right.” Lately I’ve noticed a few that seem to give off the air of trustworthiness, while communicating an incongruent idea. The two main examples are the Maytag Repairman commercial and the Verizon FiOS Tech ad series.

Both these ads feature friendly, knowledgeable, likable characters that can fix up just about anything, or upgrade your home from cable to FiOS with no problems whatsoever. I’m sure iconic repairmen have always existed in some advertising form or another, but the sad fact of the matter is I actually caught myself believing in these “ideals” for a brief moment. I thought, “Yeah, Fios! The technicians will know everything!” But if you’ve read my post on how Comcast Digital Voice Took Away My Internet, And Not On Purpose, Either, you’re probably wondering how I could have put so much faith in an ideal that is obviously scarcely realized on earth.

Technicians and repair guys only know so much. That’s just the nature of this world, a place in which new information and new problems arise every day. No one man can know it all. So to advertise your brand of technician as being a know-it-all leader, and to do so congruently, in a way that makes people trust you, is a pretty terrifying thing. A lot of people must then believe in and expect a lot from ordinary everyday technicians, and a lot of people will probably be sorely disappointed when those ordinary people make ordinary mistakes. But I guess that’s what advertising is for -- building up hopes that have little chance of spontaneously arising in the real world.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Three Reasons The Blonde Bionic Woman Is Really A Robot

The new "Bionic Woman" show supposedly has two bionic women involved. One, a nutzoid blonde who kills for fun, and another, our hero, the brunette. But I don't think the blonde is really a "bionic woman" at all. Here's why:

Clue #1: On the pilot, the blonde claimed she was the original bionic woman, and had been becoming increasingly cybernetic, replacing more and more organic parts of her with bionic machinery. She said she did this to become stronger. If she's so messed up, how can we trust that's really the reason most of her is a machine? Maybe she got it wrong, and she's pure -- a Tin Lady.

Clue #2: On last night's episode, we learned she had died, and was later "brought back" to life. Pet Sematary style, all messed up? Or Species style, where the "repaired" brain is no longer being run by the original individual? Or maybe it's just a full-on robot that looks and acts like the original human...crazy.

Clue #3: On last night's episode, she tried to eat a can of food, but couldn't bring herself to put any of it in her mouth. Duh! Robots don't eat food!

So there's the evidence that stuck out and seemed to screamingly hint that the blonde is a bot. Take it or leave it.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Web 3.0

The future is going to be amazing. We've already got computers everywhere, all networked together to share information. But most of them are stationary. With handheld browsing devices like the iPhone, a whole new world will open up.

Take this for example. You're talking to your friend, and he mentions something you're not familiar with. 20 years ago, you'd have to ask someone or go to the library. A couple years ago, you could look it up online, but you had to find a terminal. Now, if you've got handheld Internet, you can immediately look up anything you don't already know.

The speed of information transfer will increase dramatically, because the ease of use and on-demand nature of handheld browsing will eliminate the wait between becoming curious about an idea and learning more. Things will continue to happen faster and faster, and we as a society will move our definition of "progress" closer and closer to the speed of thought.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Heroes TV Powers Theory

Time travel opens up my favorite show, Heores, to some pretty exciting possibilities. I like the character Sylar. I think he's got the potential to do good. While I cannot condone his murderous actions, I now know there's a way he can achieve unlimited power without killing off some of our favorite characters -- at least not in the present...

When Hiro and Ando went to the future, future Hiro was killed. But present-day Hiro was fine, and will now diverge from his original path, and never become the dead future-Hiro. This means that at any point in the future, Sylar could kill someone, and then return to the present and change things so that alternate future never occurs. Then both Sylar and his "victim" will have the same power, and be alive at the same time.

In order for Sylar to reach the future, another future-Hiro must travel back, and either return to the future with Sylar, or become another of Sylar's victims. A time-travelling Sylar would be truly unstoppable, because he could go to the future and absorb as many powers as he needs without getting in trouble once he escapes.

If Sylar went to 2020, he could take every power in the world, and build up a massive man-hunt to find and kill him. But then he returns to good old 2007, and waits for the alternate 2020 to never happen.

Even simpler, Sylar could go back in time, take Peter Petrelli's absorption power from him right when Pete's on the verge of figuring it out, but not yet strong enough to really defend himself. But of course, that would devastate the present. So maybe there's another absorber in the future.

The main reason I came up with this idea was to allow for two things that right now in the show seem to be mutually exclusive. I wanted to allow Sylar to gain more abilities, while preventing the loss of any more 1-power Heroes.

Theory #2: Sylar has already somehow achieved time-travel, and maybe healing as well, making him effectively immortal. Then he went back in time, and just hung out doing whatever he was doing until he freaked out the little girl by linking with her and saying, "I see you." That's pretty scary, though. And plus, another bad guy would probably be more interesting. Unless Immortal Sylar was so far removed from the one we currently know that he could be considered a separate entity. Maybe our Sylar would fight him!

That being said, I like Peter Petrelli better in the end because he's truly got unlimited potential, and especially because he's a good guy. It would be neat to see a future-Peter come back and have all of his amazing powers absorbed by present-Peter. That's a trick that the writers could theoretically make use of if they've overstacked the odds against all of the Heroes with some massive new threat. So there's always hope...

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Limited Or No Connectivity -- Comcast Digital Voice Was Installed, and Our Internet Access Became Handicapped

Cable guy was scheduled to arrive last week. Never showed. We rescheduled. He shows up, does his work (which includes eliminating cable, internet, and phone access for two full hours, something that was not previously mentioned). He leaves.

We have multiple IPs in the house. Computer number one (XP) is fine. Computer number two (also XP) is no longer able to access the internet.

"Limited or no connectivity" appears near the clock on the lower right hand side of the desktop.

Attempts at a fix:

  • Observe the current hookup: cable line into cable modem, ethernet line into hub, and then one ethernet line from the hub to each computer

  • On computer #2 (no net) go to control panel, network connections, right click on "Local Area Connection," click "Repair." After a rather long wait, this pops up: "The following steps of the repair operation failed: Renewing the IP address. Please contact your network administrator or ISP."

  • Setup new network on both computers. Restart. "Limited or no connectivity" on PC 2.

  • Went to command prompt, typed "ipconfig /release" then "ipconfig /renew" -- cannot contact DHCP server.

  • Went into Windows Task Manager (ctrl+alt+delete), clicked networking tab -- what do you know? A signal! Network Utilization is fluctuating around 0.04%, and jumps every once in a while. But I can't use it...

  • Unplugged ethernet cable, tried a different Cat 5 from a different space in the hub to computer # 2. "Limited or no connectivity"

  • When the cable was unplugged, it said "Cable unplugged," so obviously the signal is there when it is plugged in, I just can't use it for some reason.

  • Connected computer #2 to computer #1's ethernet cable, from the hub. That space in the hub was working for computer 1, as well as that cable. What happens with computer 2? "Limited or no connectivity." Which means that the other spaces on the hub and the other Cat 5 cables work just as well, since I get the same "Limited or no connectivity" no matter what connection combination I use. But just to be sure...

  • Connected computer 2 directly to cable modem. "Limited or no connectivity." So the hub, the cables, and the modem are not to blame. Maybe my ethernet card...

  • Swapped ethernet card out with a spare that I am sure works. "Limited or no connectivity"

  • Tried various connections and combinations using new ethernet card. "Limited or no connectivity"

  • The card is not the problem, so switched back to normal setup for computer 2.

  • Unplugged cable modem, plugged it back in, let it reset. "Limited or no connectivity"

  • Unplugged hub, plugged it back in, let it reset. "Limited or no connectivity"

  • Searching the net (off an on during this whole process for any possible solution), came across a bug in XP Service Pack 2 that could be the cause. Downloaded fix to comp 1, copied onto flash drive, ran on comp 2, modified registry, ran special software. "Limited or no connectivity"

  • Ok, ok, roll back to yesterday’s settings. "Limited or no connectivity"

  • Roll back to last week. "Limited or no connectivity"

  • Reformat the hard drive. "Limited or no connectivity"

  • Mind you, all the while, computer 1 still has access to the internet.

  • Successfully established that the things that are not the problem include: the cable modem, the hub, the Cat 5 cables, PC 2's hard drive, and PC 2's ethernet card.

  • Time to bite the bullet, and call Comcast.

Friday at around 5:15 pm -- leave a message.

(They're open 8-5, and also work Saturdays.)

Saturday -- try calling another number, as the first number (at which we left a message) never called back.

We're on hold multiple times, call is lost multiple times.

Finally we get someone, at around 2 PM. They say, "The problem is the Walled Garden. We'll put in a work order, and it usually takes about 2 hours. If you still don't have anything by 4, call us back."

4pm -- Computer 2 still has no internet access.

On the phone with a secretary for the "Walled Garden" people, we get an incoming call -- from the other number we had tried 23 hours ago. We switch to him.

We say, "We had internet. The cable guy came, and as soon as he left, we lost access to internet on one of our computers."

He says, "I know it can seem like the cable guy had something to do with it, but usually that's not the case."

We hadn't touched anything while the cable guy was here. If any changes occurred, they were either done by him or down at the office. He had turned off power to our water heater because the configuration struck him as potentially problematic. He didn't turn it back on. So it's not unforeseeable that he could have been fallible in other areas, especially since he was the only one changing things. And the office wasn't blameproof either, as they had gotten portions of our service order wrong.

The guy on the phone says it's not Walled Garden that's the issue. We ask about the new black cable modem that was installed as part of Comcast Digital Voice, and mention that since it has an ethernet port, maybe it's meant to be our new internet modem? He says no.

Then he walks us through the same steps that we already tried, except for one small variation. When it comes to unplugging the modem and hub, he instructs us in sequence: First unplug the modem, then the hub, then plug in the modem, then the hub. Restart PC 2. "Limited or no connectivity"

I mention how I'm getting a signal, and that Network Utilization is not at 0.

His somewhat insistent response: "That's a hardware problem."

We decide to let him go and try again later.

PC 2 was then hooked up directly to the black modem in the basement. It got the internet right away, easily and quickly loading Comcast’s “Download our Software” page. Never had to use that software before, so why start now? But it does prove that PC 2 is internet ready. The problem is our connection.

My theory was that we weren’t getting a second IP through our normal cable modem for some reason.

Next day, Sunday. We call. Get a new tech. He walks us through the same steps -- ipconfig /release, renew, restart. Then a new variation.

Turn off computers 1 and 2 first. Then unplug cable modem and hub, plug in cable modem and then hub, then try computers. Computer 1 has net. 2 has “Limited or no connectivity,” as usual.

We stay on the phone as long as it takes this time, even as he walks us through minor variations of the same “fixes.” It becomes apparent that he’s reading from a script, and not pulling unique ideas. We educate him as to the fact that we’ve already established that there is no problem with our hardware. We ask if we’re still down for multiple IPs. He says yes, we are.

Eventually he finds our problem hopeless, and not knowing how to help, he wants to let us go. We ask to speak with his supervisor. The woman is a little more helpful, as she quickly determines that at the office, their information on our services had become incorrect. Someone had for some reason unbundled our IP addresses.

That’s what we had suspected all along -- that the problem was IP-related, and could only be taken care of on their end.

Lessons Learned:

  • "Limited or no connectivity" has many causes. If you get "Limited or no connectivity" on a secondary machine, you've got multiple IPs, and your first IP works ok, and when you've exhausted all of the ways the problem could be caused (or fixed) on your end, it might end up that someone at the office of your ISP accidentally unbundled your IPs. Then your primary computer could access the net easily, but all the others would get the same old message of "Limited or no connectivity," no matter what solutions were attempted.

  • Tech Support will be more helpful with a problem that you physically have the power to fix from your location, than with a problem that was created remotely, above Tech Support's head, at the company.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Family Guy's Joe Could Walk, But He Walked The Line Between Nice Guy and Jerk, and Then Crossed It

I watched the new Family Guy a few hours ago, and enjoyed it. The commercials for it had all been playing up Joe's newfound ability to walk. If you've never watched the show before, Joe is a police officer who fell off a roof and lost the use of the lower half of his body. Tonight's episode saw him getting a full transplant -- a new set of legs. Joe is ultra-macho, and his upper body is incredibly developed. Even without the use of his legs, he was still the best cop in town. When I saw the ad showing him walking again, I thought, "He'll be... unstoppable!"

He did become unstoppable, and far more active, to the point where he ditched his old friends because they were too lazy. Mayhem ensued in order to recreate the status quo, and suffice it to say things got back to normal (by any means necessary).

The moral of the story is: When you live in a cartoon, you shouldn't live to please others. Joe wanted his wife to be happy (she had been subtly expressing disappointment at the current state of affairs) and had the surgery. Then he was living his life, and his friends and wife ended up forcing him to undo what had initially been repeatedly hinted at by her at the start.

If cartoon people can be that fickle (which history has been proven to be the case), even fellow cartoon people you love and care about, then why bother doing something to satisfy them when five minutes later they'll turn around and say, "Nah, I liked it better the way it was,"?

I guess that's the way most shows are. Stuff happens to upset a balance, the balance must be restored, and then is. The exciting thing is that while there is only one way things can come together in perfect balance, there are infinite variations when it comes to tipping things in a new and interesting way.

Maybe next week -- Future Robot Family Guy vs. Clone Family Guy vs. Alternate Universe Family Guy vs. Higher Self Spirit Form Family Guy vs. Evil Family Guy vs. Martian Copycat Family Guy vs. Long Lost Twin Family Guy vs. Future Ghost Family Guy vs. Lookalike Cousin Family Guy vs. Unrelated Doppelganger Family Guy vs. The REAL Family Guy...vs. Superman, disguised as Family Guy!

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Friday, October 5, 2007

What Would You Do With Ten Million Dollars?

If you won ten million dollars, how would it impact your life? Would you sock it all away in a mattress, saving it for a rainy day? Would you put it into a simple bank account? Or maybe go into stocks or currency trading? Would you give it to people you met on the street? Or start a charity? Or get a discount on a trip into space?

Maybe you could take your funds to a bank and change them into loads of 100-dollar bills. Then buy a swimming pool and fill it with the cash. You might want to get used, softened bills. You wouldn't want to end up with a deadly case of paper cuts after taking a dip in your money pool! If you chose to go Scrooge McDuck with coins in your pool instead, maybe cleaning them first would be a good idea. I'll be most of those Sacagawea's are pretty clean, since they haven't seemed to have been changing hands that often. But it seems like a hard thing to pull off to dive into a pile of metal and sink beneath ground level! Maybe Mr. McDuck had a secret technique...

What would I do with ten million dollars, you ask? I'd use a little to buy a gigantic sub sandwich to celebrate my sudden newfound wealth with friends. And I'd save the rest!

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Bill Clinton for First Gentleman

I've heard that there's a group of people motivated to get Mr. Clinton back in the White House. It's surprising to me because I wonder just how much power he'll be able to wield as First Gentleman, if Hillary gets elected. I'm thinking he might be able to achieve more as a First Spouse than any previous holder of that title specifically because he's a former President. If a different woman were to be elected, and her husband had never held such a high office before, I wonder how much he would accomplish? Would he do everything from behind the scenes? If Bill Clinton did become First Gentleman, I'd appreciate his working out in the open, as I'm sure he would end up doing. But it would be Hillary's Presidency, not his, so while he'd obviously have a little influence, she'd really be in the driver's seat. Since that would seem to be the case, why focus on Bill Clinton as First Gentleman more so than on Hillary as the first female President? Maybe some people favor Bill over Hillary. In my eyes, it's because putting both Clintons in the White House again, but reversing their roles, is like getting two Presidents for the price of one.

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