Monday, December 03, 2012

The Breakfast of "Champions"


For the past couple weeks I've been having a Kellogg's Pop Tart every few mornings for breakfast with a coffee.  And nearly every time I've gotten comments alluding to Pop Tarts being very unhealthy.

First, I realize these toaster pastries are not very health, as neither are really any pastry in the first place.  Pop Tarts, as most boxed food does, has ridiculous amounts of sodium in it in addition to the normal fatty nature of a pastry, which I assume it to give the pastry along with its fruit filling a hefty shelf-life.  But here is the nutritional information on my Pop Tarts:

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/baked-products/5191/2

But what gets me about it is that people here eat all manner of fatty breakfast foods.  Krispy Kreme is extremely popular here.  I don't know if everywhere refers to them as this, but around the office I only hear them referred to as "KKs".  But check out their info:

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/foods-from-krispy-kreme/6689/2

Technically, my two Pop Tarts are 24 more calories vs. two Krispy Kremes (the typical glazed bread kind).  But if you are looking at the calories from fat, the Krispy Kremes have 74% more fat calories.  But people wouldn't bat an eye at having the donuts.

Even worse yet...let's say that someone stopped by Starbucks and picked up a Starbucks 16oz "Caramel Macchiato" (And their 'Macchiato' isn't actually a traditional macchiato at all...it is a latte...but that is a discussion for another time.) at 304 calories (108 from fat):

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/foods-from-starbucks/9529/2

And a cinnamon roll at 620 calories (261 from fat):

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/foods-from-starbucks/9741/2

Dunno...I think that people should stop commenting on my occasional blueberry Pop Tart.

Friday, November 09, 2012

The Republicans Return To Their Gridlock Strategy

House Speaker, Republican John Boehner's and Senate Minority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell's responses to President Obama blow my mind.

First on Tuesday night when the President phones them after his speech, they both have their aids tell the President that they are asleep.  Even if they really were asleep, which seem completely unlikely while the results of the election are occurring, this is the President.  When the President phones you, you take the call.

Secondly, on Wednesday after the election when John Boehner is willing to meet with the President, the plans Boehner iterates to President Obama are a regurgitation of the Paul Ryan economic plan that has failed continuously to get any traction in Congress, and also failed to win over the majority of the electorate on Tuesday. And additionally has been discredited by great majority of economists that have been willing to examine the Ryan plan.

Thirdly, the President ran on not catering to the philosophies that were in play that caused the recession.  And the GOP's first move is to demand exactly those philosophies.

Do the Republicans expect that the last 3 years of gridlock they caused is going to be a fruitful strategy?

Obama to Boehner:  Higher Taxes On The Wealthy Or The Bush Tax Cuts Expire
(Brian Beutler, Talking Points Memo, November 9, 2012.)

So, President Obama is setting them straight, “I’m not going to ask students and seniors and middle class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me making over $250,000 aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes.”

GOP In Denial After Election

Obama only won because of Hurricane Sandy?  Mitt Romney losing the election is a clear endorsement of the Paul Ryan economic plan?  John Boehner offering zero compromises for the budget again, just like the past?  The Republicans are delusional.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Here I Am Writing Again

I didn't expect to be writing again.  Honestly, I didn't.  When I had shut down all my blogs and most of my social media accounts, it was a sort of response to how insane other people's use of and reaction to those technologies had been.

In my case, when I had shut down my Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace (yes, it was that long ago), and other such accounts evidence was just then being presented that these sites were indeed changing how we thought about convenience of communication, how to 'catch up' with another person, how to get together to hang out, and even the notion of what a 'friend' was in the first place.  What concerned me at the time was that in my own experience, and what some of the more detailed articles seemed to be showing was that this wasn't a good thing.

My experience was that once everyone was on Facebook, 'catching up' was just them looking at your posts, pictures, and check-ins, as opposed to getting together to chat.  Even scheduling time to get together, though people had my e-mail address, they somehow couldn't get ahold of me once I left Facebook, as if something in people's brains shut off with their use of it.  And now everyone was your 'friend'.  Nevermind that you hadn't bothered to keep up with each other for the last 14 years.  Nevermind that they would have otherwise not shared details about their life with you in person.  Nevermind that they really don't care about you beyond the 'friend' request.

And now it seems that most have just come to accept that this very distant sort of relationship is the new norm.  I think that I understand though.  Life is indeed getting more and more busy, as indicated by not only my observation of my own life and job, but also the lives of others from my workplace that I'm able to observe and also from my children's very busy school activities.  Social networking is much more convenient.  You get all the knowledge about someone that you felt you needed to feel closer to them without all the time and inconvenience spent to actually talk and find those things out in person.  It is the perfect solution to the stress, distance, and busy nature of most of life.

But that was the last time I backed away from a lot of technologies.  Why discontinue writing recently?  This was more a response to how crazy the media and people's response to the media has become in many situations...but most specifically in social issues and politics.  I felt like all the complicated issues in our society and in politics were being boiled down to that 20 second sound-bite or that blog-summary sort of thing.  And the general population's attitude about information and understanding declined more with it.  If you couldn't explain the connected nature of the Federal budget to how society was structured in 20 seconds...then people don't want to hear it, much less understand it.  They are content to hear a grossly oversimplified and dogmatic outlook on the issue, and then be an ideologue about it from that moment on.

Eventually this just was a bit overwhelming for me, and I had to back away.  I had to not participate in the midst of those sorts of activities occurring around me in the media and with people with whom I have occasional conversations.  I had to take time to sort it all out in my own life.

At this point, if you aren't pulling a "TL;DR" reaction to this posting, you are probably thinking that none of the things that I'm complaining about have changed...so why bother?  The answer is that I want to write and share thoughts on this medium.  It seemed for a while that 'blogging' was caught in the crossfire of social networking and a strange sort of edutainment.  But presently I feel that it has worked itself out more to be a viable place to post  articles and  thoughts again.  Perhaps it has 'normalized', to coin a phrase.

The election is over, and that will serve to eliminate a lot of the crazy as well.  We will see how it goes.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

BPA Still in Soda Cans and Other Food Packaging

As it turns out, Bisphenol-A (BPA) still in soda cans, soda bottles, baby-formula containers, canned food, and other food packaging.  

Is the Can Worse Than the Soda? Study Finds Correlation Between BPA and Obesity
Joseph Stromberg, Smithsonian.com Blogs, Sep 18, 2012.

Perhaps it is just better to NOT purchase food in plastic at all that has long-term, direct contact with these packaging plastics, e.g. no soda except in glass (and soda has the HFCS issues too), no bottled water, no canned food (only glass jars), no frozen foods in plastic bags, no frozen dinners on plastic or plastic-lined cardboard trays (which is all of them), etc.  This obviously creates a problem since so much is in plastic like milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.  And we package our lunches in plastic bags and plastic 'Gladware' containers.  


Perhaps we just need a shift in our thinking about convenience and such...figure out how to use mason and canning jars for things, save and reuse glass containers, only use glassware or stoneware for eating and drinking, reheat food only on tempered glass or stoneware, wrap sandwiches in waxed paper, etc.

Sure, this may be less convenient, but avoiding long-term issues because of simple avoidance seems to be worth it in my opinion.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Barack Obama Rally in Columbus, Ohio

Fantastic speech from Barack Obama about this upcoming election.



Just a few bullet points concerning his vision for the next 4-years, and into the future:
  • No rubber-stamped agendas
  • Invest in American manufacturing
  • No additional tax-cuts for the wealthy
  • Invest in education
  • Invest in loans that allow people to attend colleges
  • Invest in the renewable energy industry that has doubled in size in just 3 years
  • Invest in continued economy standards for automobiles
  • Reduce oil subsidies
  • Sensible regulation of these industries
  • Respect and demonstrate the importance of real people, not corporations, to our economy and lives
  • No repeating policies of trickle-down economics
  • Reform tax-code to be simpler and fairer
  • No tax-cuts paid for by elimination of social services, education, or medical research
  • No voucher programs in place of Medicare
  • Reduce the deficit without merely cutting programs
  • No return to woman being treated as medical liabilities
  • No return of Don't Ask, Don't Tell
  • More checks on special interests
  • No elimination of the EPA or unions
  • Children of undocumented immigrants have a path to citizenship



Excellent Speech from the President in Sandusky

Friday, June 29, 2012

We are losing our 'listening'

I was just speaking with a friend a few days ago that I felt that people were more interested in a 'sound-bite' that somehow effectively sums up an entire issues or topic or field of study.  My opinion (and probably the fact of the matter) is that the sound-byte can almost never take the place of a good, and usually long, explanation.

This TED Talk is about listening, and how we are losing our listening skills and with them our patience.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

MIUI 2.6 Without the Battery Drain

It has been a number of days since I made a number of changes to try to increase the battery life of the MIUI 2.6.1 (Android 4) installation on my 1.5 year old HTC Evo 4G.  And presently I'm pretty happy with my battery life, as it is very close to the life I was getting with Cyanogen 7 + Go Launcher.

I'm easily getting a good full day of occasional use throughout the day. Also it should be noted that I leave the Wifi antenna on all the time.

In Menu -> Settings:
* Display -> Brightness -> turn off automatic brightness, set to about 1/3 on the slider
* Display -> Launcher -> turn off Icon shadow
* Display -> turn off Auto-rotate screen
* Display -> Sleep -> set to 30 seconds
* Accounts & sync: everything off except my Google account, and only syncing Calendar, Contacts, and Gmail automatically.
* Developer options -> on both 'Window animation scale' and 'Transition animation scale' turn animation off

Under the MIUI folder launch the 'MIUI.us Toolbox':
* CPU Settings -> CPU Governor to 'conservative', min = ~250MHz, max = ~1000MHz, restore on boot = ON
* MIUI Launcher Settings -> uncheck Allow Rotation

With these settings in place, I've been pretty happy with MIUI.  The only change that I'd make is change out the default browser with Dolphin Mini (or Dolphin HD if you want a bunch of the addons).

Hope this helps!  Cheers!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

MIUI v2.6.1 is easy, beautiful, and very functional

So far, so good with MIUI v2.6.1 (Android 4.0.4) on my HTC Evo 4G.



The interface is simple and beautiful. The settings are straight-forward and approachable. You cannot change the configuration of (literally) everything, like I could on Cyanogen 7...but I'm fine with that. Gorgeous and easy is at least a good set of tenets for a mobile OS.

Their music app is really fantastic. I love that it is very similar to the music player on the iPod Touch. It also has a simple 5-band EQ, which is sweet. You can set it to auto-download album artwork if you like, as well...though I disabled that and just use art embedded in my music files. It has no issue with all the file types I use: M4A, OGG, and MP3.

The dialer, the contacts app, and the texting app are all very well done. The lock-screen is also fabulous...not only showing you if you have messages, but also changing the color of the lock-button if you running out of battery, or are charging, as well as the charging progress. The whole lock screen also changes to the album art with controls for the music player when the music player is doing its thing.

I don't have a 4G outlet in my area...but WiFi and 3G antennas have worked perfectly. Also controls for turning off and on those antennas, along with you Bluetooth, ringer, and even flashlight...are all right in the pull-down notification area.

The only apps that I haven't been very impressed with are the camera and the web-browser. The web-browser, only because it doesn't zoom in on text very well...in that it doesn't reformat that text for the small screen. Perhaps it just isn't sometime I've figured out how to config? After all, I've changed almost nothing from its defaults. The camera is fine, but it just doesn't have quite as many controls on screen as I'd perhaps like.

Overall, I think that this build of MIUI is fantastic. If you want to control every little thing and config on your phone...then this mod isn't for you. But if you like simple, beautiful, and very usable...MIUI is great.

http://www.miui.us/

Friday, May 18, 2012

New Prometheus Viral Video: Quiet Eye

Can Seth MacFarlane Save Science?

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is using his influence at Fox to team up with Neil deGrasse Tyson to bring back the show "COSMOS" in the hope to rekindle interest in science and human achievement in the United States. Suggested by MacFarlane, people today have sort of forgotten about the scientific advancements that make society and life change along with it.

We've become a society so consumed with getting government out of everything and promoting the economy and business in our society...we do forget all the achievements of humanity...most of which were NOT funded by businesses, and most of which were NOT created for the purpose of creating an industry.  Of course some very notable inventors were motivated by that...such as Edison, for example.  But most creations were people who invented because they had a crazy idea, or who wrote or painted because they had ideas, or because of a military need, or because of a engineering need for a city that the government funded, or because of raw desire for scientific exploration...again typically publicly funded.

Someone is going to point out that numbers of inventors, scientists, and artists made some money on their creations. Sure...that is completely true.  But the question in my mind is if most of these great discoveries, creations, or works of art were driven by funding from business or corporations?  Or if they were just desperate attempts to use crazy ideas to make enough to live another day, or just merely funded by public money (government) for the public interest?

Checking out this meager listing from RationalWiki, it becomes pretty clear it was the latter.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Essay:Greatest_achievements_of_human_history

Anyway...back on topic!  Here is a Forbes interview with MacFarlane about the idea:



source: "Can Seth MacFarlane Save Science?", ForbesVideo, YouTube.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

SNL's Digital Shorts

SNL has their 100th Digital Short this weekend. It was shocking, and of course that was part of the point in celebrating a 100th short film...pushing the boundaries of what is allowed on late-night television.  But I have to say that I've loved a number of them as well, and looked forward to their appearance on the show.

A couple of my favorites, which are probably more off-beat to which ones most people have liked the most (like Dick In a Box, or I'm On a Boat, etc.).  My favorite of their is actually their very first Digital Short...

"Lettuce"




And my second is "Close Talkers"


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Fast Food vs. Other Restaurants

As suspected by many...it isn't fast-food that should be 'demonized', but instead merely what you choose to put in your body. You always get much bigger portions of the food you order at a sit-down restaurant, and most of the materials in the food are the same as what is in fast-food.

This guy seems to suggest that for the most part, the sandwich is alright for what it is...and what needs to be avoided are tons of saturated fat (like in French-fries) and tons of sugars (like in sodas or smoothies).  Then watch the portions, and you can eat at fast-food place and still eat within a decent diet's parameters.

It is not in this video, but I recall reading another article recently that studied people's weight that were in proximity to fast-food establishments, and weight of populations just near a market.  Neither turned up any more or less weight issues based on their proximity to fast-food.  Things were about the same amount of weight issues for a population near either establishment.

Interesting information.  What do you think?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Awesome Iron Man Cosplay

I've always been a huge fan of the Iron Man character all the way back to my childhood with comics. I have very much enjoyed the new movies with that character as well. This Iron Man costume is fabulous...complete with moving face-plate, shoulder-mounted dart guns, and flight-stabilizers on the back.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Prometheus Video

I'm very much looking forward to seeing "Prometheus". The new trailer concerning androids is fantastic. I think that it is coincidence, but curious that their android is named 'David', just as the android boy in "AI". I find that it builds sort of a curiosity right away. Well, check out this new video:



Also, this, of Peter Weyland speaking at TED in 2023:



And the official "Prometheus" trailer:

Monday, April 09, 2012

Titanic Returning to Theaters...

...now in Super 3D "motion feel" technology in cooperation with George Lucus, J.J. Adrams, and Michael Bay...

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Connected, but alone

Smartphones, texts, e-mail, Facebook, and technology in general keep us from actual conversation. We do this to control what we connect with others about. But in the end, it just shortchanges us from experience authentic relationships with each other at all.




"As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other? Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication -- and asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have. Sherry Turkle studies how technology is shaping our modern relationships: with others, with ourselves, with it."

Monday, April 02, 2012

Get Rid of the Penny

 Pennies and nickels cost far more to make than they are worth:



History of the penny and more reasons why they should go away:



Canada got rid of their penny, because they cost more to make than they are worth...and they cost less to make than our pennies do:



Sunday, March 04, 2012

Ditch the smartphone, carry a phone and an iPod

I have to say that I'm unimpressed with smartphones in a number of ways.  Most of us have to pay $20-40 in data fees to have the smartphone on our cell plan in the first place...though the majority of us also abandon 3G for Wifi every case we can, because it is crazy-fast in comparison, and costs less battery power.

So, this has made me consider a something for my next phone contract...or contractless venture:  NO DATA PLAN. 

What?  No data plan...how will you get a smartphone?  The answer is that I won't.  I'll get a freebee on a 2-year subsidized plan, or a sub-$100 phone that will text easily on a contractless plan.  Guess I'll have to live without the status symbol that iPhone has become...boo hoo.

Since I rarely (or almost never) actually use my G3 to do anything but send an occasional G+ article, Tweet something, or get an e-mail....I can wait the 30 minutes it takes to get near a Wifi connection.  Then perhaps I'll get an iPod Touch or a Galaxy Tab or a netbook to actually do data at that Wifi location.

I'll be saving myself quite a bit of cash each year (at least $1000 or so per year on a Sprint family contract)...and still doing those 'smartphone-like' tasks nearly as much as I presently am.  I'll still have texting on the phone...which is how people contact me quickly anyway.  The point being that not getting an e-mail, or not being able to Tweet anytime is not a huge disadvantage or lack of convenience.

What about maps?  GPS devices still seem to work better in general than phones.  What about finding a place to eat?  I can figure that out before I leave my Wifi connection, or just try something new.  What about sending a photo of something I want to share?  Share it a couple hours from now...it will still be meaningful then if was meaningful in the first place.  What if I'm in line and bored?  God forbid that you are not 100% connected every second of your day, or not entertained at every moment.

What if I need to be connected to everything, and can't be bothered to carry a bag with small electronic devices, but have to carry just one thing in my pocket?  Oh...well...got me there.  But crazy-convenience wasn't the point, remember.  The point is:  how do I save my family a bunch of money each year and still do 95% of what I can do with a smartphone.  You just don't need a smartphone to accomplish that, though you may have to carry 2 devices instead of just one.  That doesn't seem to me to be a horrible sacrifice.

Thoughts?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Best Geico Commercial

Love this commercial. Very clever. Nice to not see the Gecko in one of their commercials also.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Please Don't Dignify Star Wars Episode 1 in 3D

This is the advertising featurette for "Star Wars Ep.1: The Phantom Menace - IN 3D" aimed at children. Really, I honestly think that this is George Lucas' last hope to draw anyone who is not such a fanboy, who possibly can't help themselves and shell out a bunch of money to see a recycled, poor movie. Please, parents, place your standards higher than this.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Battlefield 3 PS3 v. PC Observations

I've been playing Battlefield 3 since its release in late October 2011.  I've been playing on both the PS3 and PC platforms.  Some things that need to be stated up front, because neither platform is equal...and they both have their good and bad things.

Things that are equal:
  • Playing at 1080p, 30fps on both platforms
  • Potential for good K/D ratios
Things that are not equal, and better on the PC:
  • Anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering work beautifully on the PC with a decent video card
  • Textures are better on the PC
  • Fire, smoke, explosions, and particle effects are beautiful on the PC
  • Lighting effects are a little better, especially in that they chose to allow light to shine through windows in the PC version.
  • Potential frame-rate is tons better, though I had to keep vertical-sync on to stop all the tearing and blur looking horizontally
Things that are not equal, and better on the PS3:
  • Building designs.  Though the textures of the models are clearly better on the PC, it appears that EA acknowledged this and gave us more complicated building models as a gimme.
  • Load times.  Unless you are running a SSD for Battlefield 3 on your PC, all load times for maps and matches are faster on the PS3.  I wager this is because the models are simply lower resolution on the PS3.
  • Match-ups.  Quick-match works beautifully on the PS3...balancing teams pretty well, and picking populated servers.
  • Simplicity of the interface.
I mention all the graphical notes because there is something very important to realize prior to thinking that clearly the PC version is the version to choose.  The biggest thing to realize is that when you are quickly moving from place-to-place on the terrain, from kill-to-kill, etc...you are (for the most part) NOT going to notice all the graphical strengths that the PC offers.  Frankly, you lose most the added richness of the PC version in the motion.

I've had a couple people argue with me on these notse, and I'm sure more people will, but largely when you are very active in gameplay, like the game encourages...you don't notice the graphical differences.

Other annoyances on the PC version:
  • You must use Origin to play, plus a web-browser plugin to pick your match.  Once you pick the server you want, then it spawns the Battlefield 3 game.
  • Long load times.  Again, beautiful models mean more load-time.
  • Connection problems.  Often I get failed connections with Origin.
  • Crashes.  I've had the game crash on many occasions.
  • Quick-match doesn't seem to work.  I've had friends say I'm wrong about this, but I've never had quick-match for a conquest map put me on a server with any population.  Perhaps if you have ZERO criterion checked, then it works...dunno.
  • The web interface for choosing a server is just poor altogether.  You can check a bunch of criteria for what server you want to play on pretty easily, but the interface is busy and doesn't refresh itself especially well.  Also, there is no 'link' between your BF3 web-page chat and Origin's chat.
  • The web interface lies to me.  It says very specifically this text:  "You own Back to Karkand. get ready to play it!"  But I don't own it.
Another thing that I have to spout about is the cultural difference between the PS3 players and the PC players.  A friend of mine has said that hardcore gamers are playing on the PC.  I believe him. People seem much more serious on the PC, to the point where they are pretty much angry, or at least so it seems. So, the volume of angry chatter and trash-talk is off the scale...so thankfully most of it is just in the text window.

So, as I continue to play both versions (actually, I've given the PC version more actual hours of gameplay), I am more and more frustrated with the PC version, perhaps because of the annoyances...perhaps because of the people.  When I play games, I really am looking for a stress-free diversion and a bit of fun.  Long load-times, more cluttered interfaces, occasional crashes,  connection failures, differences in map limitations, and lots of trash-talk make the PC version more of a chore that a diversion to play.

If you are a hardcore gamer, by all means play the PC version, because you will get all the graphical enhancements and server choices that you probably want.  If you are more of a casual gamer who loves Battlefield, but just wants to jump in for a few diversionary matches, then a console like the PS3 is definitely more for you.


Bird Joins Bluegrass Band

Josh Williams and his band get a woodland visitor that joins them during one of their songs.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Onomatopoeia Woes

If I never heard someone use the throwback to the Cookie Monster sound 'om nom nom' to mean 'delicious' again, it would be wonderful.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

2012 Isn't The End The World



And if it were...what would you do?  What would you be able to do?  Oh, yeah...nothing.