Friday, July 29, 2005

Transition is Complete

Well, my host transfer of Snabulus.com from Hurrah.com to EcoSky.com is complete. It wasn't without inconveniences, but the new setup is a good one and hopefully a reliable one. My plan was to make the DNS changes tonight, but the Hurrah.com server went down on Thursday morning, so I decided to make the transition more quickly. Luckily, I had already entered all the e-mail boxes and aliases when necessary.

If you head over Snabulus.com, you will be hitting a server connected to 3 kilowatts of solar panels connected to the electrical grid and using PGE's renewable energy option (which I personally believe is an Enron scam to siphon money from good people, but I digress). Unfortunately, writing crap in this weblog and real life have combined to make Snabulus.com pretty static. The nature pics are always nice though. If you want any as desktop backgrounds, etc., let me know your screen resolution and I will laugh in your face try to accomodate you.

Side Note: Ladybug and I ate at an absolutely wonderful Indian restaurant called the Curry Leaf. Oh my, these folks know how to make GOOD food. I still feel satisfied in my belly 5 hours later. Ladybug had a Butter Chicken Curry and I had a curry with salmon. There was a great Hyderabad chicken appetizer and the garlic naan bread was very...real. The prices are great right now too (possibly because they are a new business). Check them out!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Sometimes I actually get work done

Hi peoples. I had a great post about an awful movie I was rattling through the pachinko board I call my brain, but we are in the midst of a new software deployment at work for a customer, so I've been involved in making miracles happen on short notice. Stupid little miracles like creating reports, but I need to outperform the late James Doohan (Scotty from Star Trek) to get them done.

Speaking of which, I was sorry to hear of Doohan's passing. We should have had a tribute here at Snabby for him.

Another thing I feel bad about is that I've been remiss in reading my usual blog log of cool folks like Pa`ve, Moody, and the Reloaders (see right for links). I apologize for failing to keep up my rhetorical bargain.

So this movie I saw was What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? and it actually made me angry to the point where I had to leave the room. Why it made me angry rather than just laughing at it, I am trying to figure it out. It reminded me rather heavily of seeing a smarmy conversion film, but it was "against" organized religion. I really thought it was a Scientology come-on, but didn't find out until later that it was funded by someone else who looks like Stiffler's Mom from American Pie. Instead, it was a new age chick named JZ Knight. (Compare the links to see the resemblance)

There were a laundry list of hokum claims (like Native Americans couldn't see Columbus' ship because they couldn't conceive of such an event). They wrapped it up with graphic effects and spacy synth music to make it seem that it was technologists speculating on the philosophical implications of science instead of a hidden agenda to make Knight money through drawing false inferences about science. Why Marlee Matlin and Armin Shimerman (Quark the Ferenghi) were in it, I can't tell you, but they lended it a credibility it didn't deserve.

I forgot to mention that Knight also "channels" Ramtha, a many thousand year old super-wise being who uses this gal to impart knowledge to us. Whatever.

Well, enough for now. Have fun!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Back from Philly



I see that the comments are pretty bizarre for the last few days, so everything is normal for this blog. I was in Philadelphia on business for a few days and boy am I glad to back in good old Oregon.

Hot, Wet Airport Action

My business partner and I landed in Philadelphia at the tail end of a drenching thunderstorm, a remnant of Hurricane Dennis. We loaded up our baggage and walked out into a sauna. 90/90. That is ninety degrees F and 90% humidity. Yuck...Portland had been so beautiful. We were gone from Sunday to Wednesday and the humidity didn't start to break until Wednesday (as the temperature rose).

No-Tel Motel

We arrived at our hotel at about 10pm. The place was painted a dingy yellow and the neighborhood consisted of run-down businesses and pawn shops. Nice choice. We checked in with the teller desk person (who was safely behind a piece of plexiglass) and went to our room. The room was much nicer than the environs, but the bathroom was sparse. The room was hotter than the air outside, so we cranked on the A/C and weighed our options for a belated dinner. We walked down the street hoping not to get killed and found a Chinese place with mediocre, but edible food. Unfortunately, the place has no tables. We carried our meal back with us. We were drenched in sweat from that short walk. On the plus side, there was a fridge and a decent Wi-Fi setup in the room. Also, we only saw hookers once our whole time there and that was nice.

I (not a heart here) NY

During the heat alert, I had a chance to visit a customer site in Manhattan. We took the slow train from Trenton, NJ (near Philly) to Penn Station in Manhattan. The trip was okay. However, the subway tunnels are hotter than the outside air and just as humid. Nonetheless, this was my first time through the NY subway system and I took it all in including the occasional urine smell and the hyper-alert police looking for people with backpacks (my coworker had one). Above ground, the city was not too crowded. I imagine people were avoiding the heat/humidity and staying in the buildings. We arrived at the customer site and as soon as I sat in the waiting room, sweat broke out and started rolling down my face. Yuck.

We finished up there and took the subway over to Times Square. We ate lunch at BB King's which was standard corporate fare (like Applebee's I guess) and took a few pictures of giant electronic billboards in Times Square. To be honest, I think Portland's Pioneer Square has more going for it, but I digress.

We wanted to see more (Seymour?), but we were out of time so we subwayed back to Penn Station (all day pass for the subway is $7, BTW), saw the huge Post Office and Madison Square Garden, and headed back to scenic Trenton on a barely air-conditioned train. I should have brought a dang towel with me. I was soaked in humidity. It was getting old.

Chomps: Good, Bad, and Ugly...ok, not much good.

I told you about a couple of highlights. The best meal I ate in Philly was at a place called Chickie's and Pete's. Although their much-touted Crab Fries were just seasoned fries and a cheese sauce (that I honestly didn't taste any crab in), the mussels in red sauce were very good. They had an annoying habit...a VERY annoying habit of leaving about an inch of head on their beers. I guess they don't know how to pour (obviously they do know how to rip people off). Micro-brew is not a big thing there, but the Yuengling beer was pretty good.

We had a pizza in the office that was rectangle and it tasted just like the rectangle pizzas from my grade school. I had a strange urge to drink 8 oz. of tepid milk from a carton and eat some green beans with spillover syrup from the peaches in the next tray. There was more slightly less mediocre Chinese food as well.

We finished the Philly leg of the trip with a dinner at Pat's Steaks, where the cheesesteak sandwich was innovated. I've written about this place before, so I only summarize to say that you get a french hoagie sandwich with fried, shredded beef steak with your choice of toppings (onions are ordered by saying "wit" and if you don't like them, say "wit-out"). It isn't complete without a slathering of Cheez-Whiz on it. The history and location make Pat's the second best food we had on the trip.

(One trip to a standard McMenamin's would blow away anything we had at Philly. Sorry, the truth hurts.)

Flying Home (we hoped)

Thanks to a great guy named Joe, we got to the airport, grabbed our luggage, and headed towards check-in. We were fortunate enough to only have ten people in line on front of us. However, with the typical Philly lack of self-driven people, it still took us a half hour to make it through to security. The plane to Vegas loaded late and it took forever for the lumbering people to get settled. Nonetheless, the pilot gunned the plane onward and arrived 30 minutes early in Vegas (where it was 109 degrees F at 11pm). We sat on the tarmac and were warned that we were waiting for a plane to leave the gate. We waited about 10 minutes. A helpful flight attended mentioned in a sarcastic tone to some passenger that we were early, so don't worry about connecting flights. The ten minutes turned in 45 minutes before we finally were able to deplane. People off-loaded as slowly as they got on, but at least we were closer to home.

We boarded the flight to Portland much more quickly and were on our way home. I saw Mt. Hood in the light of the full moon as we descended to land. We deplaned into a nearly deserted airport, got our baggage and walked out into the luscious 65 degree F night air. I got home around 3am and went to bed.

All in all, the trip was an exercise in patience. It is always good to be reminded of how lucky we have it here.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

POP Goes the Weasel!

DewKid already e-mailed me a link to this same story on a different website, but I thought it would be a good idea to post it here, since that air car has been at the top of the list for waaaayyyyyyyyyyyyy too long.

In our (hopelessly bizarre) high school days, I, Seymour, and a few of our friends concocted a cartoon story scenario in which, in a very dark vision of the future, a nuclear accident results in the world being threatened by rapidly-reproducing, evil, communally intelligent, mutant babies.

Yes, you read that right. We were a twisted bunch, but hey...it made for some interesting cartoons (not to mention a reason not to pay attention during math class).

Anyway, the Mutant Baby War "series" was already well underway when I joined in, and perhaps my first contribution was the E-1 Babe-Burster, a futuristic strike-fighter equipped with, among other things, an ultra-high-energy microwave emitter on its belly. The plane would swoop low over a baby wave, cut loose with the "beamer", and voila! Pink, slimy popcorn!

Well, it made for some great, sick-humored laughs, but hey, that was high school.

Now, it turns out, the U.S. military is planning to deploy a spookily similar device in Iraq for mass slaughter riot control. I say spooky not only because the weapon works on a very similar, albeit lower-powered, principle to my E-1 Babe-Burster. I say it because of this:

But New Scientist magazine reported Wednesday that during tests carried out at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, participants playing the part of rioters were told to remove glasses and contact lenses to protect their eyes.

In another test they were also told to remove metal objects such as coins from their clothing to prevent local hot spots from developing on their skin.


They also said that the device causes "rioters" to feel intolerable heat within five seconds of exposure, forcing them to flee. That is, after all, the whole point.

But I ask you: if they use the thing for riot control, are they going to warn the people they beam to remove their glasses, watches, and pocket change? Are they all going to be able to get away within five seconds?

POP!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Breathe



Air Car Presentation for the UK Market



On the 20th September a car with an air-compressed engine, invented by the Frenchman Guy Nègre, will be presented in London. The presentation will take place at 10 am in the Millennium Hotel (17 Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, London SW1). The aim of the event is to present MDI´s technology to the public before its imminent arrival on the market and to offer to businessmen and institutions the chance to take part in establishing the factories in the UK.

One of the many challenges of today's society is maintaining our lifestyle with minimal repercussions to the environment. This is why Guy Nègre has invented a "zero pollution" car which involves no combustion.

The MDI car can reach a speed of 68 mph and has a road coverage of roughly 124 miles -some 8 hours of travel- which is more than double the road coverage of an electric car. When recharging the tank, the car needs to be connected to the mains (220V) for 3 to 4 hours or attached to an air pump in a petrol station for only 2 minutes.

Economy and the ecological benefits are the main advantages for the client since the car´s maintenance cost is 10 times less than that of a petrol-run car, costing 1 pound for the car to travel for up to 8 hours or to cover 124 miles in an Urban area.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

(spoiler free)

Update: It seems I've written about the harshest review so far from what I've seen. Even the worst review I've seen is more generous than mine. The Mini-Snab says it is one of her favorites and is truer to the book. Therefore, take what I wrote with that in mind. I stand behind my opinion, but perhaps with a caveat.




What do you get when you take a great director (Tim Burton), a great actor (Johnny Depp), and a great composer (Danny Elfman) and you bring them together to do a great story? Well, it wasn't great. It wasn't bad, just not great either.

If you are a Charlie purist, this film was a disaster, but nobody could expect to keep the folks listed above bottled up. However, the changes from the original movie detracted from what was a great plot. Johnny Depp can be amazing, but he couldn't hold a candle to Gene Wilder. Not even close.

Tim Burton's tendency toward the macabre should have been more restrained or perhaps more pronounced. If he was going to go dark with Charlie, he should have taken it all the way. Instead, it was Dark Lite and that wasn't much fun or very entertaining.

Freddie Highmore was a highpoint, I mean, high point of the film. He played Charlie Bucket and was like a plucky little Tony Blair saying all the right things with the right feeling. The other kids were good in their own way, but only Charlie competed with the original.

One other high point was the special effects. The colors and textures of the Willy Wonka world were very well done. Once again, though, Burton overdoes what I call his "sterile suburban perfect world" landscape. Too much Edward Scissorhands if you know what I mean.

Tangent Time: I was joking with Ladybug that I hoped this movie wouldn't be The Nightmare and the Chocolate Factory, and a gothed-out Johnny Depp and a couple of skeleton faces on candy proved me only slightly correct. A trailer ran for another Burton film, Corpse Bride, that did appear to be more formulaic Burton, so I called it The Corpse Bride Before Christmas (got a couple of chuckles from people behind me).


Danny Elfman's music is beginning to sound the same in every film. Take a few Weird Science riffs and fold them into The Simpsons theme and stick it through a randomizer and, Voila!, you have the soundtrack to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Some of the more frenetic numbers could have been much better done by the Moody Minstrel or DewKid (who know what real picante music should taste like). The unfortunate part is that the music for the Corpse Bride trailer sounded about the same. Elfman should learn the difference between a defining style and falling into a big, fat rut.

Are you getting the feeling I was disappointed? Well, you are right. With all that said though, I still recommend the movie to any Charlie fans because you will regret it if you don't see it. Also, for those who aren't tired of the cinematic devices of Burton, this movie will be a classic for you and I apologize for disparaging a good man.

PS - You know, the Augustus Gloop (Philip Wiegratz) angle was very good. In fact, Gloop might actually have been better than the original. (Yeah, so I changed my mind. Ptttttttttttttttt.)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Rogue Ale Makes International History

I think it's kind of ironic that the linked news article is in the Newport News Times, especially since Rogue Ale is made in the sleepy, little town of Newport, Oregon (where this moody minstrel guy was produced, as well). All I can say is that I am very proud that my favorite beer just made history by winning an unprecedented four gold medals in an international beer competition.

The article mentions that Rogue is imported by the U.K., and that it is hoped shipments will be increased. I only hope that fame and increased demand won't end up doing to Rogue what it did to Blitz-Weinhard. Then again, the guys that run Rogue don't seem like the sort to allow that.

Let's all celebrate with a Dead Guy Ale...or a St. Rogue's Red...or a Shakespeare Stout....or a Mocha Porter...or a Soba Ale...or a Yellow Snow Ale...or...

Now if only I could find where they sell it here in Japan...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Final Hurrah (.com, that is)



Well, after years of faithful service, the provider that served up my web space at Snabulus.com is calling it quits for web hosting. Hurrah internet services is hanging up its hat.

To their credit, they gave 30 days notice. Some Internet businesses disappear without a trace leaving a trail of financial wreckage in their wake.

The leading replacement candidate right now is Brinkster.com although the good folks at EcoSky make a compelling argument since they are a grid-connected solar company who resides here in Oregon. However, $4.95 per month vs. $13.50 is a bit of a jump. With organic foods, I pay the extra amount when it isn't more than 30-40% than non-organic. Having eco-friendly Internet is a similar thing. That extra $8.55 can add up to owning my own solar panel over time. The jury is still out though. I'm sure that Corn Cob Bob, that magnet of comment fun, would be happier with EcoSky.

We all do what we can...

Update: I decided to go with EcoSky because they are based in Portland and they gots them neato solar-type panels.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Snabulus Word Factory: Grumpetus

Grumpetus (grum-pet-us) noun - An inciting force that requires one to comment on the respective flaws in a politically charged published statement.

Example: When the Senator finished his diatribe, he provided me with the grumpetus to set the record straight about his foolish, mendacious discourse.




Grumpetus is the fertilizer that drives many weblogs. It even fuels Snabulus at times as much as I try to avoid it. In some cases, grumpetus can make a weblog thrive. In others, it turns them to so much sh*t. Thus the analogy holds.

When a saucy political post appears here or elsewhere, it is a public service, nay a duty of Snabulites, to issue a Grumpetus Alert.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Bigger, The Better?

Another hike, this time a little way from home; Spencer Butte in Eugene! It got mixed reviews from this crew...at least we finished the hike, unlike the time about 3 years ago when we tried it.

The hike is short, (3+ miles), but brutish. Especially if you take the hard route up the face of the Butte, (it's the left-hand trail from the trailhead sign). It's pretty much straight up, with alot of scrambling up slick-faced slabs of basalt rock. This trek brought me back to a trip to Palenque and it's Mayan Temples with the 10-12 inch stone steps. Not for the faint hearted! There is an approximaly 800 ft elevation gain within one mile. We took alot of breaks on this part of the route...

Watch out for the plentiful patches of stinging nettles and poison oak~! My suggestion - wear long pants for hiking around this area, no matter how hot the weather. Also, be careful where you place your hands while you're climbing up.

There are some great views from this side, and also when you get to the top. The entire Eugene/Springfield metro area is within a full 360 degree view! We could even see the Fern Ridge Reservoir from our vantage point. We went down the "easy" main trail down the backside of the Butte; not alot of views, but gentler on the body. There is a nice forest ambience along this part of the trail, and it's much better maintained.

A word of warning, this was about the poorest maintained trail overall that we've seen (and that's saying alot). There are many bushed-wacked trails that look look like the main one, especially the closer to the top you are. It's downright dangerous if you have poor balance or are afraid of heights, or are really out of shape. Plus, several of the hikers we met had dogs, who left some little "presents" for the rest of us. There was also evidence of severe biker damage along this particular trail, which is supposed to be a Hiker trail only; there are two other marked trails which are dedicated for mountain bikes.

Overall, it was a good hike, we sure got alot of exercise and another great workout in preparation for our PCT section hike. I also have to say I don't want to do it again, and would look for another hike that might be more interesting, (like along Eugene's several Riverfront Parks)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Another Sign Armageddon Is Near

This happened in Canada???!?

Ever since the petroleum industry came to be in the U.S., it has used its considerable economic and political muscle to blast any real alternative to oil into little, tiny pieces. In the early 20th century, hemp oil and soy plastic, both extremely promising and economical non-petroleum products, were nipped in the bud by the U.S. government for extremely flimsy reasons...with the oil industry cheering (and financing) them on from behind the scenes.

So what's Big Petroleum's latest victim?

Corn Cob Bob.

CCB is the mascot for the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association. The Canadian government officially banned his use in Canada Day celebrations. Why? Because the chief sponsor of the Canada Day festivities was Shell Oil, and they apparently had a problem with the corny, little cartoon character:

Kory Teneycke, the executive director of Canadian Renewable Fuel Association, was surprised by the call.

"They said they were very sorry but they said one of their major sponsors had indicated there was a conflict between the message that we were promoting and their company's interests," he said.


I repeat: This happened in Canada???!?

Everybody, head for the blast shelters. We're all in big trouble.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Happy Independence Day

I give you an All-American quote for the day from Charles Kuralt:

Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.
Charles Kuralt


Hopefully you all take the backroads to wherever you go on the 4th. Charles would want it that way.

Enjoy and stay safe...

Snabby

Forest Park Delivers

Once again, Snabby & I visited Portland's "back-yard" forest. We also took Mini-Snab with us as a gauge of a certain Mini-Snab's hiking stamina. Turned out to be a great day! It was not too hot, actually a little cool, and there was plenty of parking in the tiny parking lot at the Hoyt Arboretum, (our starting & ending point for this hike).

The main plan was to hike around the Arboretum in a 4+ mile Loop along the Oak, Wildwood, Magnolia, Walnut, Elderberry, Hemlock, Pine, Creek & Fir trails. We got off course a little, but made up for it by taking some quicker routes. We nearly got run over by some illegal bikers along the Wildwood trail near the Bow & Arrow shooting range!

We stopped by the Oregon Vietnam Memorial, (which gave us a chance to discuss it's historical & social relevance with said Mini-Snab), and saw some really cool plants in the Winter Garden, including the Corkscrew Hazel. The nice thing about the Arboretum portion of Forest Park is that interesting and unusual plant specimens abound.

There were many bamboo varieties along the lower Creek trail; and of course we saw 5-6 or more different species of each kind of tree along their respective trails. We looked for Ginkgo trees along the White Pine & Himalyan Pine trail, but I think you'll need to take the Bristlecone Pine trail to see them. As we re-connected to the Wildwood trail again, we passed through a small Redwood stand, shades of California here up north.

The best part was saved for last, as we witnessed a plethora of Columbia Lilies and a few Native Columbines along the end of the Fir trail back to the Arboretum.

Good thing we were about to end our hike, as there was a wedding reception in progress at the Picnic Shelter area, loudly announcing it's boom box presence long before we got there! The Arboretum parking lot was now officially a disaster ...but we were leaving!

Notes to the wise, the Hoyt Arboretum has bathrooms and drinking fountains, so it's a great place to begin or finish your hike. It also has a little store which sells trail-type snacks & drinks, along with maps, jewelry, notecards & other miscellaneous trinkets.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Daffy Russian K-Niggets!!!

Now, this is interesting!

Apparently there are clubs of Tolkien fanatics in Russia that deck themselves out in homemade armor, get together in the woods, and have massive, mock battles. It's the ultimate in escapist entertainment, which is apparently the whole point.

“Tibalt,” known as Vladimir prior to his conversion to Tolkienism, sees his own fascination with the world of the Middle Earth as an escape from the frequently unpleasant reality. With a plethora of fantasy worlds to choose from, he went for the British author’s works. “The history and the mythology are so well thought-out, it’s more profound than other fantasy universes. This is a scientific work.”



Think SCA, but on a much grander and more violent scale. These guys really get into it!

Tolkienists, as they are known, put a lot of effort into researching character family trees and life stories, learning the languages in the books, writing their own spin-offs of traditional stories, writing music, organizing games and conventions, as well as learning crafts such as armor-making. The books that make up the bulk of the Tolkien canon — The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion — provide plenty of material.


Apparently there are interesting, educational fringe benefits that have me wondering if I could start something like this here in Japan:

Although Tolkien is translated into Russian, the desire to better familiarize themselves with the original works of “The Professor,” as his fans lovingly call Tolkien, often inspires people to learn English, Irina says.

Tibalt also emphasizes the positive influence of the culture on his life — his Tolkien obsession has encouraged him to write poetry and songs. “My mother likes that this is what I’m doing, rather than drinking beer out in the street.”


Drat...the Russians just keep beating us to the punch...