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Monday, April 28, 2008

Family Guy, American Dad Illogic

Last night I watched a new "Family Guy" and a new "American Dad." It occurred to me that the creator must be pretty busy running two popular shows that both need new episodes.

There was one moment that stood out for me, when Stewie was commenting on Bryan's parenting ability. In the middle of a sentence, he started playing around with the pronunciation of a word, twisting it and slowing it down, and all of a sudden he started making really rapid and unexpected spitting noises. It was so ridiculous that it reminded me of my first impressions of Family Guy, like the times Peter would fall over way faster than normal.

I liked the conversation Stewie had with Matthew McConaughey. I think it was Seth Green who provided McConaughey's voice, and I don't know if he ad-libbed, but it was terrific. I liked McConaughey's portrayed attitude, and how relaxed he was when reacting to such negative comments (from Stewie). I also thought his responses made a lot of sense, and his life sounded pretty terrific (even if his movies don't appeal to everyone).

I also liked the two foreign guys who sounded "not quite normal" when speaking English. That was neat.

I remember Bryan or Peter coming through the screen and telling me to write about them on the internet. Well, actually they didn't come through the screen. One just mentioned off the cuff that if we had a problem with their logic, we should blog about it. What logic? Bryan apparently has a 13 year old son. Bryan is 7 years old. Bryan said, "That's in dog years."

I think the creator of the show did that on purpose for two reasons. First, because bloggers had probably ranted about stuff in the show earlier, and he figured, "This will give them a real reason to complain." And second, maybe it's part of a publicity strategy.

Anyway, I thought I'd look up Dog Years just to see if I was right in my guess as to how Bryan's take on the situation didn't make sense.

Wikipedia says there's a urban legend under which 1 year of human life is equal to 7 dog years.

So for every 365 day year, a dog is supposed to age like a human would over the course of 7 years. So a dog ages 7 times faster than a man, kind of like that movie with Robin Williams, "Jack."

Anyway, if Bryan is 7 human years old, and his supposed son is 13, then Bryan isn't the father (unless sci-fi shenanigans occurred).

Stewie said, "Aren't you 7?" Bryan replied, "That's in dog years."

So if the figure of 7 was in dog years, then Bryan, being 7 "dog years" old, would be 1 human year old.

I think Bryan said the wrong thing on purpose.

What makes more sense is that Bryan is 49, and 49 is in dog years, making Bryan 7 human years old.

Another possibility is that when Bryan said, "That's in dog years," he was really referring to the figure of 13, referring to the age of his supposed son. If that was the case, then the son would be almost 2 human years old, and since Bryan is 7 human years old, all is well.

Except... Bryan probably wasn't referring to the figure of 13, as the most relevant figure he could have referred to had come just before his remark. That was when Stewie said, "Aren't you 7?"

But I've met people who have weird conversations, where A, B, C, and D were all said before, then you say E, they say F, and you say, "how does that follow what I just said?" And they say, "I was referring to C." Infuriating, but not impossible.

Anyway, I noticed two other illogical moments in Family Guy and American Dad together, but I only remember one.

At the end of "American Dad," Francine was upset about how much money the father and son had spent to pay for a model rocket that didn't win a competition. Stan justified his actions by saying, "You've got to spend money to make money." Francine countered with, "But you didn't make any money." Stan replied, "Then by that logic, I didn't spend any. Goodnight, everybody!"

I thought about it, and wondered what the point is of saying things that don't make sense. Maybe it's a humor trend.

Anyway, if the idea that you must spend money to make money is true, then all money that is earned comes after some amount of spending.

So no matter what, if you make money, then at some point you've spent money. "By that logic" works here.

But you can still spend money to no apparent end, and not end up making any. So if you don't make any money, that doesn't mean you've spent it. But of course Stan Smith knew this, he was probably just using fuzzy logic to shut his wife up. But I'll bet she continued the conversation in "American Dad" world during and after the credits.

There... I've fulfilled the prophecy by blogging about what I beheld.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Super Tough Attire

Every so often I hear about military grade clothing, and it just makes me think, “Wow!” I mean the stuff is usually made to be far more durable than regular clothing. Like with BDU pants, you can get a pair of ripstop khakis that look perfectly normal, but are so tough you could probably play baseball in them, slide to home, and not show any signs of wear and tear. Now that is cool!

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Scotland Oil Strike, U.S. Food Rationing

I just read at Yahoo that Scotland oil workers are striking over pension issues. The refinery that has been shut down because of the strike supplies "almost a third of Britain's North Sea oil."

That's nuts... Hmm... I thought the major oil problems were that we're running out, and that the Middle East has a lot of it. But now there are problems with oil that have nothing to do with the substance at all!

I also heard American store Costco has begun rationing bags of rice. I think each bag weighs 16 pounds. And a customer is only allowed 3 per visit. Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" said it's no big deal, that's still a lot. But the fact that rationing has begun seems scary. Sure, in a place with "plenty" of resources, you'd set initial rations to be huge. But over time they can get smaller and smaller....

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Friday, April 25, 2008

I Have Found Shangri La

I just recently learned about a place called Shangri La… Well, the full name is Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center. This place is awesome! It’s totally green, and I don’t mean inexperienced -- I mean in sync with nature. Over 60 years ago a man named Stark established the Center in Orange, Texas with the goal of improving life in the Southeast of that state. Now, for us in the future, Stark’s vision is a reality. Well, it has been for decades!

I once visited some gorgeous gardens that were so perfect, it felt like Heaven. Seriously. Around that time, I had recently found an old book in a basement detailing one concept of Heaven, and what to do in order to get there. The idea was that Heaven was gorgeous. It was clean, and there were luscious and colorful plants everywhere. Man and nature were in harmony. Serenity overflowed, as well as joy. Well it really surprised me that the gardens I visited reflected that idea so thoroughly. Shangri La reminds me a lot of that.

The Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center occupies 252 acres, and there is a ton of great, natural stuff there. You can see over 300 plant species, birds nesting, a laboratory, and outdoor classrooms -- in a swamp! There’s also a garden for children, a theater, some neat greenhouses, and a cafĂ©. They’ve even got a Garden Store for all your Shangri La shopping needs.

It really is green. So green, in fact, that the U.S. Green Building Council has certified Shangri La as Platinum, the top level, for LEED®-NC, “which verifies the design and construction of Shangri La reached the highest green building and performance measures.” Fantastic.

The Shangri La Gardens have proven themselves eco friendly, and that goal of being environmentally sound stretches back decades. It looks like a great place, where anyone can find out how we can all live in harmony with nature. If you want to relax and renew yourself, while learning a bit, the Gardens are for you. Even the Shangri La Gardens and Nature Center web site is relaxing! So the next chance you get, hop on over to Orange, Texas and discover Shangri La!

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Recent New South Park: No Internet

I love it at the end when Randy's talking about showing the internet the RESPECT!!! ...it deserves... and he slams his fist down and shakes the podium to make his point.

I enjoyed the episode, but thought it was lame that the solution to the issue was to unplug the device and plug it back in.

It made me think that either the South Park creators themselves or someone they knew had experienced that same problem, and they decided to make an episode about it.

When we lost the internet here, that solution didn't help. You call up a guy and he walks you through all the stupid little processes for fixing a normal problem. None of it works. You say, "Well, Comcast just installed Digital Voice on our end. Maybe the issue is because of that...?" And he says, "No, you might think so, but no."

That was...wrong.

"Oh, that's a hardware problem."


Comcast unbundled our IP addresses. It happened at their office. Not here. Not our fault. Their fault. We paid for 4 IPs. We had 4. Then they suddenly reduced that number to 1. It was only when we asked to speak with a supervisor that we made any real progress, because the basic level of support had no idea what was really going on.

So the lesson: Customer support can sometimes not know enough to help you, but even when that happens, company protocol forces you to deal with them. And listen to all their "helpful" suggestions. It can be excruciating.

To read more about this issue in detail, check out this post: Limited Or No Connectivity -- Comcast Digital Voice Was Installed, and Our Internet Access Became Handicapped

This happened back in early October of last year, and it still frustrates me.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Technology To Meet Every Need

I remember a time when an older friend of mine was making a phone call, and he couldn’t hear very well. He kept saying, “What? Speak up. What?” It’s too bad they didn’t make the speakers in the phone powerful enough…

I love it when problems get solved by technology. In the past, people weren’t able to quickly and easily communicate over long distances without the aid of a land line telephone or a computer. Or television or radio if you were a part of the media, but most people weren’t! Then cell phones were invented and refined, and practically anybody anywhere could get in touch with anyone anywhere else.

BUT! There were still problems. Some people found the buttons too small, too difficult to press, too hard to see. The letters and numbers in the display were too tiny to read. And the volume of the call was too low to hear! Plus, the phone was uncomfortable up against your ear.

Well now the cell phone has been even further refined to solve all those problems, and more. There’s a phone called the Jitterbug that is just plain terrific. It’s easy to use, and especially convenient for senior citizens.

It’s got large, backlit buttons. That means you’ll be able to see and press them, even in the dark! It also comes with a padded ear rest, a super-high power speaker for hearing even the faintest of voices, and a system that produces sound designed to be compatible with every conceivable hearing aid.

But the best part is that when you’ve got a Jitterbug phone, you’re never alone! Each phone plan comes with 24 hour a day customer service that can help you make calls. They can even program your phone with new names and numbers, and provide you with detailed directory assistance.

These days, it pays to have specialized technology with a great support staff. And with the Jitterbug, you can, for only $10/month.

There are a ton of service plans to choose from. You can pay monthly, and get as few or as many minutes of Jitterbug use as you want. Or you could pay yearly. And you can always buy more minutes. There’s also the option of getting one plan and sharing it among 2 or more people. You can even get voicemail!

With the Jitterbug, everything’s been taken care of in advance. All you need to do is choose what kind of Jitterbug service you’d like!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Major World Problems: Nothing New

I recently read in an old book something like, "Now we are facing humanity's greatest challenge..." I think it was from the 1970's, and had to do with economic turmoil.

Let's see-- major problems in U.S. history...

Prior wars
World War 1
Great Depression
Dust Bowl
World War 2
Cold War
Gas crisis

And now...
Global Warming
Nuclear Weapons
Running out of Oil
Housing Market Problems

It's funny to see polar opposite forecasts in the news equally "strong" when being presented. Like, "We most definitely could see a Mars colony in 8-12 years," followed by, "It's over. There will definitely be another Great Depression, and you're all going to lose your homes. The end is at hand!"

Many of the forecasts are mutually exclusive, and yet they're all grouped together. I wonder when speculation took over the news...

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Outsmarting The Devil

So, if you look at the Devil and all his evil abilities, and pretend they're all included in a single gun...

And your soul is encompassed by your wallet...

You meet the Devil on the street.

He says, "Wanna sell your soul?"

You say, "Sure."

He says, "And what do you want in return?"

You say, "The power to defeat the Devil."

He says, "Ok!"

He extends the gun/Devil Powers in his right hand.

You extend your wallet/soul in your right hand.

Each of you retrieves the desired item with your left hand.

Then you use your new Devil Powers to take back your soul! Win win!

**Update: Crucial flaw -- he didn't agree to the deal

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Theoretical Dollars

I was checking my site stats for my blog today, and I saw that traffic jumped up yesterday. It was neat; all the previous traffic was going along more or less in a straight line, and then it suddenly veered upwards at a sharp angle.

I think what happened was a lot of people were searching for the term Theoretical Dollars because the new episode of South Park mentioned it.

Glad to see I contributed to the internet!

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

South Park: Canada On Strike!

[Spoiler Alert!]

It took me half the episode before I figured out why the World Canada Bureau was shortened to "WGA." Writers' Guild of America!

Canada went on strike, demanded more money, the South Park kids called Canada up, the guy in charge took them seriously, and demanded internet money. So the kids put a video on YouTube and went somewhere and stood in line to collect their "theoretical" revenue ($10 million theoretical dollars).

I guess you get 1 theoretical dollar every time your video gets a hit? Like, "$1, see the show, only $1." But now everything's "free" on the net, so the original creators who post on YouTube don't get the money.

Anyway, the WGA (Canada) kept striking, and it looked like the Executives (rest of the world) was anticipating the deaths of the strikers. And they didn't care. "Who need 'em?" seemed to be the general consensus.

So the kids stepped in and fixed the problem by calling an end to the strike, with the WGA (Canada) getting really lame compensation.

I thought, "Did that really happen? Was the Writers' Strike a failure in reality, but a success in the news?"

Wikipedia says the writers all got a raise of between 3 and 3.5%. That doesn't seem like a lot... And that pay hike only lasts 3 years.

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