Monthly Archives: February 2009

Sky Mall Rocks

There was no movie on 1193 to San Jose and I was bored.  I tried to sleep and failed.  I read my ebooks for a while but my Axim was running out of batteries.  I looked out the window and remembered why the fly-over states deserve their name.  And then I remembered a source of guaranteed entertainment: Sky Mall!


 Mall catalogues usually are filled with random crap that no one needs.  Some of them are so useless it is hysterical, like the Amazing Ice Melting blocks: pieces of plastic the size of coasters that “melt ice amazingly” given five to ten minutes at room temperature.  Yet, if you look closely enough, you can usually find some pretty ingenious devices, or at least some goofy innovations for daily life.  I figured I would share with you some of my most recent finds–some useful, some goofy, and some of both: 

1) Be your own acupuncturist: New Ancient Technology. “Simply flip a switch and stimulate the qi in your body’s systems where you need it most.  A map of acupoints is included with each Aculife. 

2) Star Trek Full Size Captain’s chair:  “This life size replica Captain Kirk chair features a working swivel design, light up controls, and sound effects from the original Star Trek series.” $2,717.01

3) Personalize your Barbecue!  Brand your steaks with this stainless steel BBQ Branding Iron.  Apparently every man needs one.  Specify up to three initials.  $79.95

4) Wonder Woman Cuff Bracelet: “It never hurts a gal to accessorize in case of an emergency.” $24.95

5) Gustbuster Umbrella: “The College of Aeronautics proves it’s unbustable in 55+ mph winds.” This would be mighty handy in places like Chicago, where no matter your direction, the wind will always hit you in the face.

6) Inflatable Movie Screen: “Bring the maic o the bg screen to your backyard!  Perfect for your family movie nights and block parties, because everyone can see it all on this big screen out in your back yard.  151″ x 32″ x 107”, $249.99

7) The World’s Largest crossword puzzle: “Holding a Guinness record for its size, this crossword hangs on a full 7′ by 7′ wall space.” $29.95

8) The ipod to ipod transfer Device:  Finally a way to pirate (oops! I mean share) music without using a computer. $99.95 

9) The Only Digital Camera Swim Mask:  Basically a swim mask with a waterproof video camera on top, operating to depths of 15′

10) The Voice Activated r2-D2: “This motorized replica of the headstrong little droid from the iconic Star Wars films responds to voice commands, navigates rooms and hallways, and makes any home feel like it has been transported to a galaxy far, far away.”  Apparently he has good and bad moods.  If he gets grumpy, you can say, “R2, behave yourself!” and he obeys.  Only $169.95


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Milton Friedman and Frisbee Golf

“We live in an upside down world,” says my father, shaking his head. He says that most every day nowadays. Most of the time I can’t blame him; many nutty things are happening all over the place. Whether governmental or economical (which seem become closer and closer toward being synonymous) or environmental or intrapersonal, decisions of all kinds are being made in ways that make me wonder where all of the thinking people went to lunch that day. I bet it has great soup.

For days now I’ve wanted to jot down a few thoughts on societal goings-on, such as the stimulus bill or Obama’s moves to socialize healthcare or how so many countries are finger pointing at Israel for winning a war against enemies who threatened its lives. I’ve also wanted to communicate several sentiments to my representative and senators like a good citizen. In both attempts, however, I’ve stifled myself with my own frustration. Too many thoughts flare up at once to make anything coherent, or at least to make anything sound remotely like an argument instead of merely a rightist rant.

So instead, in regards to my feelings on the stimulus bill and any attempt to make this country communist, I have decided to let Milton Friedman say it for me, like the good University of Chicago alumna I am.

In this little clip, Friedman does well to set the perspective: he does not deny suffering in the world, nor does he defend greed as a kind of good, but rather reminds us that greed exists everywhere, and as he says, there has been no economic system discovered to date that produces a better society than what a free enterprise can offer. If its hope and change you want, I suggest you look anywhere but the government. Thinking of the government as some sort of amiable parental figure, ready to bail you out in case you get a boo boo, ready to help you blow your nose in tissues made of treasury bills, think again. Even if the government thinks it can do this, not only will this sentiment not last, it never should be there in the first place. When discussing free enterprise, it’s usually good to emphasize the “free” aspect of it. Of course, abuse of the system in cases of monopolies or fraud ought to be punished, but otherwise, do as the Beatles do, and let it be. And yes, the government can do things to create incentives, such as having tax cuts. But it takes less than two minutes of economic instruction to tell you that putting a trillion dollars of pork into the economy is a bad idea as it leads to inflation. Further, it takes no economic lesson whatsoever to make a thinking person ask, “Where is the money coming from?” Out of my pocket, that’s where! Debt must be paid eventually, and it will likely come out of the taxes of the children of baby boomers. As a citizen of the United States, I consider it my duty to pay taxes, and I will willingly do so. But like any other human, I am a little less willing to pay taxes when I know they will be funding free checks to illegal immigrants and the construction of a Frisbee golf course. Nothing against Frisbee golf, but who in their right mind thinks that this is how the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT should busy itself? Surely, it has more important things to worry about, such as the leader of the IRS who does not pay his own taxes, or rampant black on black crimes that go completely unreported everyday, or perhaps terrorists who long so desperately to see all Americans die exceedingly painful deaths.

“Up is down, big is small, and the Cheshire Cat keeps on smiling.” –Lewis Carroll

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Announcing not one but THREE photo portfolios

After hours and hours of struggling to create an online photo portfolio with a descent aesthetic, I have finally achieved three different mediocre methods of displaying my photos.  If anyone has any thoughts on how to artfully display photos in a professional matter, I would love to know the secret.

What I can’t understand is why is it so hard to display one’s photos in a way that looks half way descent?  What I require is very little:  A black template that automatically places thumbnails next to the display photo with a nice and easy-to-use slideshow function and NO ugly host logo printed all over the page.  Now, before I continue with my complaint, I will acknowledge for the record that to a certain extent I have little right to complain as I am unwilling to pay anything for a customized page.    But what I don’t get is why should I have to pay when there are hundreds of free hosts?  The real question is, why must so many of them be so ugly and difficult to use.

First I tried to create a wordpress photoblog.  There was only one template available (which I can’t understand), and I don’t know CSS enough to upload a custumized template.  This is how Trial #1 turned out: ecapophotos.

Not bad.  But I feel that there is far too much white on the page and I can’t for the life of me guess why the programmer of a PHOTO blog would make the profile length photos be larger than the browser window.  One should never have to scroll down to see a photo.  Takes away from the mystique.

The same problem of needing to scroll down on the profiles happens here at Animus3.  This blog has the aesthetic I’m looking for but it does this weird thing where it forces you to only publish one photo per day.  You can publish photos on any day, even ones past, but only one per day.   To a certain extent this does not matter, but what the heck kind of idea is that?  What kind of photographer only wants to show only one photo per day?  What’s more, what kind of photo enthusiast only wants to see one photo a day?  It’s a ridiculous idea if you ask me.

Yesterday, I was exploring the features of Gmail and I discovered that they have an automatic link to a Google sponsored Picasa account.  This is ridiculously easy to use and I am really quite pleased with it.  It has all I want except the black and the lack of a logo.  The slideshow feature looks pretty good.  Overall though, it is still not quite swank.  I thought everyone wanted swank.  I guess I was wrong.

Ok, I’m done complaining.  Again, if any one has any advice as to how to solve my problem, I would greatly appreciate your comments.

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Did you know…

That Pink Dolphins existed? I did not. Whilst perusing tourist attractions in Singapore, I came across a kind of amusement park called Sentosa. Complete with a zoo, and underwater world, a beach resort, spa, colonial forts, and nature trails, this “slice of paradise in Singapore’s doorstep” has everything to amuse, including apparently, PINK DOLPHINS! And you can swim with them! Check it out:

Delight yourself through a close interaction with our charming pink dolphins at the Dolphin Lagoon. These pink mammals are known as Indo-Pacific Humpbacked dolphins. Grab this rare opportunity to learn more about these intelligent pink mammals on various aspects such as husbandry behavior and their various characteristics. Under the guidance of our trainers, you can learn how to give simple hand cues and watch the dolphins perform their natural abilities such as wave their fins, balance a basketball, and even whistle! You will also get a chance to feed the dolphin too!

Who’d a thunk? Pink!

Sentosa also has one of the most interesting spa activities I think I have ever heard of. If mud baths and seaweed wraps don’t satisfy your lusts for weird pleasures, how about a Fish-administered pedicure…

Fish Reflexology (located next to Underwater World Singapore)
Underwater World Singapore also offers a unique activity that enable visitors to unwind and have fun at the same time. At Fish Reflexology, participants get to enjoy a unique pedicure session done by spa fish, followed by a good massage by a qualified foot reflexologist.

We may just have to pay a visit to Sentosa, because goodness knows a fish pedicure is just what I’ve always wanted.

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