Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Potato fruits and bizzare commercials

I like to read about random things when I look around wikipedia and TV Tropes, and found out something a bit interesting, albeit something most people probably knew already!  Potatoes are part of the Deadly Nightshade family, which I was vaguely aware of, but apparently certain varieties, when the flowers don't fall off, develop actual fruits!  Unfortunately, these fruits are apparently highly toxic, as befits such a plant, but it looks oddly refreshing to me at least; almost like a green grape tomato.

In other news, there has been one commercial lately that has put me off; I usually record the tv shows I watch, and therefore fast forward through the commercials.  This time, however, I had just let them play as I read, but noticed a disturbing thing about this commercial for computers.  A family returns home to find their house has been burglarized, but their outdated computer has been left intact; this in itself isn't disturbing, but the fact that they are insulted that the computer was left behind!  Indeed, once they arrive at Average Purchase, they show surprise that they could port over information!  The last thing they say chills me, "Now this is a computer they'd want to steal!"

Yes, let's encourage crime and endanger your family!  Who cares about your family's safety, we want EVERYTHING stolen, because we aren't some lower class family whose objects aren't worth stealing!

Hoping you guys don't get Bilbo Bagginsed

-Joel de Bunchastu

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gilbert Gottfried

This morning, as I was driving to drop off a netflix dvd in the public mailbox by Bloom (AKA Food Lion for those of you who still remember~), I heard that Gilbert Gottfried had apparently made jokes about the disasters in Japan.  Apparently, they weren't the "Laughing in the face of pain" kind of jokes, but rather mock the victims.  It might even have been kinda sorta forgiveable if they were GOOD jokes, but they're as stupid as they are tasteless.

Some other comedians in the shock genre of comedy have come to his defense, but often I have noticed that people who have specialized in this seem not to think that any other kind of comedy might have value, or at least are not as good.  Making someone cringe voluntarily isn't, in my opinion, something entertaining, but I suppose it could be called a talent.  Then again, I do not greatly enjoy awkward situations when they come up without prior planning, but I can understand that some have different tastes in humor

I just wish sometimes that the dead baby comedians would sometimes consider why some people dislike them, and come up with an answer other than "They're just prudes"

-Joel de Bunchastu

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More on Japan and Nuclear Woes

I have heard that due to the disaster in Japan, 80% of Germans polled are against nuclear energy, or at least were even before the incident.  There is one thing I feel the need to make clear: this was not due to shoddy manufacture, the reactors had the misfortune of being built to withstand a reasonably strong earthquake, instead of these once in a millenium-to-once-in-a-geologic-epoch ones; many structures in Germany are less well shored up, I suspect, as well.  Blaming this on the avarice of power companies is ill-advised, and frankly misaimed.  Nuclear power has indeed been dangerous, but what is not often pointed out is that coal is also as bad, if not worse.  I do not speak only of pollution; detectable radiation levels are generated by coal stacks, and uranium has been found in it before. 

Nuclear power stands as one of the few proven, relatively clean methods of producing energy, something desperately needed in economic times like this; I agree that safety measures have to be taken, and that in the future reactors must be given more redundancies.  Fukushima Dai-ichi had been built in the 70s, relatively new for a reactor; that it held up as well as it did to such a massive earthquake and tsunami is testament to how solid they are in the first place.  Disasters are, by definition, terrible for human beings, but they also expose our weaknesses, so that we can learn from them.  Let's not make a terrible mistake by discarding something, just as we have the opportunity to learn to  make it even safer.

-Joel de Bunchastu

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

I heard about this today as soon as I woke up, and even though I know that Japan is infamous for earthquakes and other seismic/volcanic activity, I was surprised by the magnitude.  The closest I've heard that it can be compared to was an account in the 800s AD, also accompanied by tsunamis of course.  As if this wasn't enough, the main power and diesel generators at at least one Japanese nuclear reactor have gone offline, leaving only battery backups!  If power can't be restored, the core will get hotter and hotter, causing coolant water to become steam!  This creates a terrible choice, because if you don't vent it, it will explode, but if you do you have radioactive vapor as well as reducing the amount of coolant available.  That option would only be feasible if a new power source was on its way, but it may be the only way to avoid such a catastrophe.

Many who were on airplanes from tokyo just heard about the full extent of the damage as they arrived at airports; some had only heard of a "little earthquake", and was apparently not taken as seriously at first, until it failed to stop as expected.  Accounts I have heard place it at at least two minutes of increasing shaking, with buildings swaying ax people tried to save themselves and others.

I hope that all who are affected by this terrible disaster can receive help as soon as possible, and I am planning on donating something at least to help victims; being the lazy american I am, however, I will have to wait until such a group is formed.  I haven't heard anything about the tsunami that reached the west coast of the US yet, and hope that the early warning was able to help people get to safety; early warning systems for earthquakes and tsunami are actually in place in japan, and are said to be the most extensive in the world.  Unfortunately, due to how earthquakes send out waves, the most warning that can be given is about a minute before it hits.  It sent automatic texts to phones and automated messages to disaster and EMS crews in tokyo and the surrounding area, apparently; it may have seemed like a superfluous expenditure to some people, but I am sure no one will call it useless now!  A similar system is apparently being planned for installation in California, but it will be at least 5 years and who knows how much money to get it running.

Here's hoping everyone who was injured will recover
-Joel de Bunchastu

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How The Earth Was Made

As I've said before, I have been recording several tv shows that I normally wouldn't get a chance to see; today the one I am watching is about the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth.  It's part of a series of linked documentaries called, no surprise, "How The Earth Was Made".  It's interesting to me, because the desert is so close to ocean, yet the hot air keeps any cool and moist air from rising above the hills surrounding the coast, which means it is around fifty times drier than Death Valley, even though it is on average about 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  Radio spectrometry performed on the rocks lying on the desert floor show that they have not been moved by flooding for at least 230 million years!

I wonder what would happen if those mountains were to be shaved in a section, allowing the lower hanging clouds to move into the area?  Would it be flooded, and slowly bloom back into a prairie-like state, or just become a treacherous flood plain, even more dangerous than it is now?  It's questions like that which also get me thinking about terraforming, and other major construction and earth-moving projects.  Currents in the ocean are one of the major factors that affect world temperatures; if a sufficiently advanced civilization were to redirect those currents, say by building up islands in their way, would it mean a form of weather control was possible?  Then again, it's just as likely it could ruin a relatively well balanced ecosphere, brining torrential storms where they'd never been seen before.

Speculation in this matter is just that, speculation; perhaps it would be better for people not to worry about modeling the future so much as to do what they can now to prevent climate change, if it is preventable.

-Joel de Bunchastu

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Elf Quest and the Puncturing of my New Tire~

Recently, while stumbling around TV Tropes, I found a comic that I hadn't heard of before, called Elf Quest.  It seems that all, or at least a great deal, of the issues have been put online!  Click here to start reading, but I warn you!  It's really easy to start an archive binge, but not so easy to find a resting place if you get caught up in it!

I had at first thought it had to do with another comic, Drow Tales, that I had heard about before, but that's not the case.  This was started in the late Seventies, and the art is done so well I had mistaken it for digital art!  Then again, there is always the chance that it had been digitally redone, but from what I can tell it was originally done so skillfully.

I have just finished the very first 'series' of Elf Quest, and have started the second run, "Siege at Blue Mountain".  Once I finally catch up, I hope there are some continuing issues being made; I will pace myself in any case, because disappointments like that can be unforeseeable, even if you think you're detached from the story.

During work today, however, something considerably less cheery happened.  Apparently there was a screw left by a construction crew in the road, and I had to pull to the side after hearing a sudden flapping sound.  I had to call AAA because my jack is missing, but thankfully my spare tire is in good repair.  I was actually in a relatively good mood about this, because this is the first time I bought one of those road hazard warranties, so it wasn't money wasted at all!

Either tomorrow or the next day I will head by Walmart and get my replacement tire, and hope that the rim wasn't too badly dented; worst case I can still drive on the spare for a day or two, and it gives me an excuse to check out the electronics area and see if I'm due for an upgrade yet.

For the lulz
-Joel de Bunchastu

Monday, March 7, 2011

Trashy TV Shows

Ever since our family had gotten a dvr unit as part of an upgrade in service (Which actually ends up costing less than C-----t, oddly enough!) I have been recording a few different shows that I hadn't had a chance to watch before.  I started out recordig some shows that I'd see before ad just didn't have dvds for (Sealab 2021, Robot Chicken, etc), but the I decided to check out some ew programs.

The first one I checked out was Pawn Stars, about a pawn shop located in or near Las Vegas.  Much of the entertainment value for me is actually listening to the stories behind some of the items, even if they may be made up.  A lot of the time it seems realistic enough, but there are many times when it's obvious that it's scripted.  A dream sequence is even inserted into the episode, complete with the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire set and cast.  The main characters shown are "The Old Man", Rick, "Big mley"; Three out of four are family, Grandfather, Father and son, with Chumley being the childhood fried of Big Hoss.  Chumley is a source of a lot of comic relief due to bumbling acts, but they are sometimes more painful to watch than you'd like.

These people can sometimes do a somewhat good deed, but greed is common, and they lie about what something will cost to refinish, or how much it's worth.  They also drive down purchase prices to below half of what the 'experts' they have comne in to identify items, and often Rick will claim something is obviously fake, only for it to be authentic, whereas he then makes a 180 turn and says how awesome it is.  Overall, it's a pretty entertaining piece of television, and I'd suggest trying to watch it at least once; you can find it on the History channel of all places, probably citing the iformation about antiques.

Another show worth mentioning is America Pickers, which is actually rather similar to Pawn Stars, except that two middle-aged me go out and buy antiques and interesting pieces of americana,  I haven't watched much of it yet, so I'm not sure if I'll continue watching it, but it would probably be best to give it at least three episodes before dropping it.  This is also on the History Channel, probably under the same pretense of people searching for "antiques".

Tru Tv (Formerly, as I'm sure most of you know, Court TV) has the other two shows I'm following; the first I watched, Bait Car, is actually based off the real bait car concept originally adopted by Canadian police to combat car theft.  The basic premise is that police rig a car with cameras, microphones, a gps tracking beacon, as well as a unit that allows them to remotely shut off the engine and lock the doors from the inside.  The original reason for this was that car thieves were notoriously hard to convict, as getting evidence that a given suspect had actually done anything was hard to prove.  Thankfully, now all they have to do is show the tape in court; as a matter of fact, these tapes became so popular a site was born, Bait Car (DOTCOMMM)

At first, the police were nervous that this would expose their operations, but some disagreed with this assessment; if this was more widely known, car thieves may back off in the belief that any car could be trapped in such a way!   In the beginning, people still made excuses (I need to go see... my,.. nephew's grave), but as the concept was wider known, a look of resigned fear started to appear on thieves' faces as the car they had just gotten away scot-free with was their doom.

Speaking of car theft, the final show I'll talk about is Operation Repo; it is filmed in a manner similar to Cops, but is actually scripted out, all the action supposedly based on real events.  This show, I must admit, is a guilty pleasure for me; seeing people try to lie their way out of being repossessed is a bit like a trainwreck.  I just can't look away; even though I sympathize with people who have financial problems, they wouldn't be in this situation if they hadn't avoided payments.  A lot of time creditors *are* willing to work with you, because they would rather have your payments than have to pay a company to take a vehicle from you.

Until Next Time,

-Joel de Bunchastu

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tying Things Together

Just because I'm in love with seeing my own writing, I have added my twitter updates to my sidebar!  Apparently my very first post is the most popular, according to Blogger; I'm not qutie sure what to make of that, I'm hoping it's positive inn some way of course.

Speakig of positive action, it seems that Failbetter Games is working on the server problem that has been affecting Echo Bazaar for the past day.  I first became aware of it at about midnight tonight, when I got back from work; after trying to log in, I got a server error screen, which is an occasional event in all betas sooner or later.  Unfortunately, when I clicked on the link to go back to the main section, it looped back to the very same error screen; the page said this would signify that '"...somethig has gone very wrong.""

After having sent a email to the developmet team, I clicked the link again and actually arrived at the normal intro screen!  My hopes were dashed when that same error screen popped up; I am still left with the optimistic thought that it may just be normal maintenance, and it's not as if this will slow down progression in the game all that well.

As for Twitter, I am surprised to have as many as Thirty-Two (!!) followers on my account!  It feels strange, even though it is a relatively low number on twitter, it's more people I've had see my writing, not counting forums posts of course.  That site actually gave me inspiration to write more, and in rather increased volume.  It feels good to just let it out, even if it isn't read by anyone, even if it isn't intensely important.  It helps to have any kind of practice n writing, it tends to improve self-confidence after all.

My true hope is to write something that entertains another person; the practice makes me less timid, even if it does expose me to ridicule.  It isn't as if criticism would make my writing worse, after all; it mostly would work the other way, I'd like to think.

Would you like to see through a blogokami's eyes?
-Joel "R" de Bunchastryuuk

Times have changed

Hurrah, my schedule hasn't changed, so I do indeed have more hours this week!  I celebrated by watching the Death Note live action movie I just got from Netflix; it's a lot better than I thought, and have immediately queued up the two sequels, even the one that isn't apparently based on the manga.

I enjoy how some events had been changed; I will not mention specifics, but they tend to streamline the storytelling process, perhaps a bit too much!  When the movie ended, I was not expecting it, to say the least, but I actually was left wanting to see more, which movies rarely do anymore. 

I watched Ichi the Killer as well, which I actually enjoyed also, despite my fears of it being uninteresting, gore aside.  I haven't watched a lot of japanese horror movies, despite my like of anime and such, so maybe its time to expand the genres I watch...

If anyone has any suggestions, I'd be glad to hear them!  In the meantime, I'll look on Netflix and local video stores~

-Joel de Bunchastu

Friday, March 4, 2011

Browser Games~

One thing I've been into for quite some time now has been several browser based games.  You know the kind, you are limited to a certain amount of actions each day/hour/etc and you're either pitted against other players or the environment.  They are also generally either "Free" to play, or you can just buy whatever macguffin the game is based on, such as Fate for Echo Bazaar or "Notorious Status" in Star Pirates.

Now I generally never pay for such things; occasionally I have (Nationstates, curse you!), and I may even buy some Fate in Echo Bazaar, just to help support the game (It's also required to enter some quests, and can also increase your actions, so I might as well do both~).  Even Star Pirates' special stuff helps out without being a game breaker (You recharge your stats 1.5x as fast as normal!)

However, there are always people who will never buy such things, and see it as cheating to do so!  In another game I dabble in, OGame, those who purchase "Officers" tend to be ganged up on by vigilante players who want to put an end to official 'cheats.  (In this case, I feel they are right; the Officers can do anything from letting you queue build orders, increase your energy supply, or let you get more minerals without building anything!  It'd be one thing if it was earned through some kind of action, but when you can just buy it, the richest tend to get the best).

Personally, I don't feel it's too important to stress over; I hope you found something interesting in this, and if you have any questions about some other games, there are plenty out there!  Even MUDS are still around, which I may go back to sometime soon.

-Joel de Bunchastu

Hours increase!

I am in luck, my hours have returned to the previous 5 days a week schedule!  I am still not closing on any of the days, but the increase in tips will make it a lot easier to save money, and my paychecks should go up again as well.  I only hope this is a continuing trend, as my manager claimed it would be; the job search will be extended, and in the mean time I need to make a living somehow.

A friend of mine online suggested joining a union of some kind; I am interested in returning to an electronics related field, and if I joined the IBEW there is training and, at locals with "hiring halls", help with job placement.  I would have to purchase tools though, which would seem to be a couple hundred dollars, so its not a quick-fix by any means!  I would start as an apprentice, but I'm willing to learn, and that kind of structure actually makes me a bit more eager to 'move up' in an organization.

I have the day off tomorrow, which will be spent tidying up some more around the house.  I've finished cleaning my car, and while it no longer has that new-car smell, at least it smells fresh.

-Joel de Bunchastu

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring Cleaning?

Well, tomorrow I am going to attempt to go through all my things I've accumulated during the past year, hopefully finding a place for them!  Unfortunately, I tend to hang onto things long past when I really need them; there are books in my bookshelves that I haven't read in ages, yet I still hold onto them.

Perhaps they aren't classics in the traditional sense of the word, but to me they are some of my earliest exposures to imaginitive writing that wasn't picturebook based.  One of my favorite, which is generally considered a classic, is the Phantom Toll Booth; I think a lot of people nowadays would benefit from such an experience as Milo had, child or not.  We tend to never pay attention to where we are, as a society, instead preferring to constantly either dawdle in the past, or rush forward to a future that will never be.  "Jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today!", as is said in another of the books I still own, perhaps you remember it as well?

Then again, I may be weird for a twentysomething; I prefer to live in the moment, while occasionally planning for the future, and cherishing the past.  There is a difference, after all, and one should never forget what you've experienced, so you can learn from it.

Doing this helps clear out the mind, and brings a clarity and peace that I haven't experienced in any other way, except rare moments.

-Joel de Bunchastu

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Finally going back to work

Tomorrow I finally am scheduled again, and since it is four days, it will be 4 in a row.  Hopefully I'll be able to save up enough cash to get me through till next week when my hours will go back up.  I may even be able to start saving again, but I am not going to give up my search for a second job; I won't leave Deleto's because that way I still have a job to fall back on in case I end up laid off.

I haven't heard from the temp agency yet, but I was told it might take a week or two at best for an opening, since I am relatively new compared to others.   While I have worked there before, I was off the payroll for years sine I had taken on other jobs, which caused me not to think it was so important to keep myself current there.

Even if it was something like helping catering companies, it would be a good amount per hour, and I'd get a paycheck weekly~

-Joel de Bunchastu