August 2006 Archives

Random Thoughts


If I had a cat, I'd name it Schrodinger. This idea is not original, as both Quinn Mallory of Sliders and Samantha Carter of Stargate SG-1 had cats named Schrodinger. If I had an zombie cat, it's the perfect Schrodinger Cat -- a cat that is neither alive or dead, but whose status can't be determined.

I thought my sister was joking when she said that Slyvester Stallone was making a new movie called Rocky Balboa. I thought he's too old to be in another Rocky film -- Rocky V already covered the "I'm an old middle-aged boxer who wants to get back into the ring" story (or so I thought), but apparently they want to make another Rocky movie. Not only that, but Stallone is slated to make Rambo IV. The 80s are coming back indeed.

The future of vehicles, it seems might be algae-produced biodiesel as being one of the most efficient ways to create fuel. However, it will be about 10 years before they have a product. Of course, that's not good timing, as the DOE predicts peak oil within the the next 10 to 20 years.

Do the living outnumber the dead? According to snopes, not a chance. The dead humans created within the last 40,000-45,000 years number anywhere from 12 billion to 110 billion (with the numbers most researchers accept as 60 billion) meaning that should the dead rise and attack us, we'd need to kill anywhere from 2 to 18 undead apiece in order to survive. Because children make up 1/6th of the world population, and those aged 65 or over make up another 10-15%, the number of zombies we'd have to kill should be around 25 each. However, in watching zombie movies, I'd say the average human is capable of killing no more than 10 to 15 zombies before becoming a zombie. The dead would likely overwhelm the living. Do you have your Zombie Preparedness Kit?

St. Petersburg is Burning


"A fire which broke out at a 19th Century cathedral in the Russian city of St Petersburg has brought down its main blue dome, officials say."

There aren't any reports of injuries, but it's quite a loss of historical and cultural value.

Blaze rips through Russian Church [BBC]

101 Ways to Save Money


Earlier this month, employees were laid off from Northwest Airlines. As part of the literature that was given by the NEAS company, a 4 page booklet containing 101 Ways to Save Money was given to departing employees.

The complete list of 101 ways (in the extended entry) contains such gems as "#46: Don-t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash."

NPR link



Maybe it's just me, but I think time passes faster here than it does in Taiwan. When I was in Taiwan, I could get up, go for a morning walk with my father down to the market, buy some food which we could then use to make lunch or dinner and then have the rest of the day to do whatever it was that needed to get done. Here in California, I can't see walking anywhere as a time-effective solution to getting things done.
Earlier this evening, Canon China posted online some specs on the Canon 400D 10.1 megapixel camera, a new upgrade to the Canon 350D/Rebel XT line. Lenses that were mentioned were two new lenses -- the 50mm f/1.2 L and the 70-200 f/4L IS USM. The page announcing this info has been removed, as it was an unintentional error since official announcements of new cameras and lenses are due on August 24th.
If the info posted is correct, both lenses fill gaps that presently exist in the Canon's L-lens lineup. While the 50mm f/1.4 is well-constructed lens, Canon hasn't made an 50mm L since their 50mm f/1.0 (a lens that retailed at $3000 in 1989, and can now be found on eBay for $6000+). The problem was that at f/1.0, the 50mm f/1.0 was soft, and had a very narrow depth of field to work with. Now it seems, 15 years later, they'll make another go at introducing a 50mm L lens. Since I already own the f/1.4, it's an unlikely purchase for me, as the rumored price of the 50mm f/1.2 L is in the ballpark of $1600 USD!
The new 70-200 f/4L IS USM I am less excited about because the addition of IS (Image Stabilization) to an already excellent lens (the 70-200 f/4L) will likely add a couple hundred dollars to the price, and a couple more ounces (for the IS element), without much enhancement to the lens quality.



I went back to Taiwan recently with my parents to visit relatives and to take a short tour around the island.
Flickr: Taiwan 2006
I'm not a tour person. I loathe tours. I hate having my schedule on someone else's timetable, and not having the time necessary to adequately explore a place (and take photographs). Amazingly though, the tour worked really well for my parents who never seem to be able to get anywhere on time, because they actually managed to be ready early.
The tour started simply enough -- the itinerary stated that we'd do Taipei on Day One -- Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world, the National Palace Museum, and Chiang Kai Shek Memorial before departing for the city of Taichung. Our visit to Taipei 101 was anti-climatic -- we didn't really get close to the building, nor did we get to go up it -- instead the tour bus took us to a location near the city hall and gave us 10 minutes where we could take pictures of the Taipei 101, before shuffling us off to the National Palace Museum. The Chinese obsession with jade was entirely too apparent, as every likeness imaginable was captured within jade carvings.
The highlight of the museum is the Jade Cabbage, which was part of the dowry of Concubine Jin in the Qing Dynasty. According to the story, the Jade Cabbage was originally part of the dowry of her sister, Concubine Zhen. When Emperor Guangxu chose them as concubines, he prepared large dowries for them. Concubine Jin loved jewelry, so her dowry was money and valuables. Her little sister Concubine Zhen was fond of books, so her father gave the priceless jade cabbage to her. When Concubine Jin discovered that there was no jade cabbage in her box, she became angry and cried. In order to comfort the elder sister, Concubine Zhen gave the treasure to Concubine Jin, thus making it part of her sister's dowry.
I didn't get much out of the museum -- far too many people, and displays too crowded. The museum has exhibits constantly in rotation, as only about 12,000 of the 620,000+ pieces are displayed at any given time. For more info on the museum, NYTimes has a good article detailing the source of these treasures and the history behind them.
Taipei is a city I'd very much like to revisit and explore without the constraints of a tour bus. They have a metro system, and they are currently constructing a Shinkansen (bullet train) instead of another highway to connect other areas to Taipei.

links 8-21-2006


Another boring link filled entry as I attempt to catch up on everything I've missed while I've been gone:

Jetlag is Fun!

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My body is still a good 12 hours off from where it should be, since I've gotten back, I've not had a day yet where I've been able to wake up before 1pm, or go to bed before 5am.
I've got about a month of catching up to do, but here's some interesting links I've come across:

I'm a Winner!

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Coming back to my apartment tonight, I noticed that a package had been left for me during my absence. I opened it up to discover that I was one of the winners at Universal's drawing at Comic-Con (I didn't need to be present to win). The thing is, I never would have entered into the raffle if I hadn't seen littlestar's glow-in-the-dark Hulk stick -- so I guess that promotional swag does work as an advertisement, because here I am, promoting Universal Pictures and their box of swag that they sent me:

  • Black T-Shirt which reads: Carlito's Way: Rise to Power (front) and "When you got'em hangin' on the meathook... they tell you everything." (back)
  • A small King Kong movie poster
  • Kong Movie Camera Bubble Gum Rolls Candy Container
  • Kong: Mighty Chew Bubble Gum
  • DVD of Joss Whedon's Serenity
  • DVD of The Incredible Hulk: The Complete First Season (starring Lou Ferrigno), and featuring a lenticular hologram that changes him from Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk.

Anyone got any DVDs they want to trade for the Complete First Season of the Incredible Hulk? And it comes with a lenticular hologram too! (oooh, aahhh)

Are we there yet?


I have been internet deprived for the last two weeks.
Amazingly, I have survived, but it's very possible that World War III could have started during my absence and I would not have known about it. I happened to be watching the Chinese News Report when the news broke about the capture of the possible terrorists in Great Britain (otherwise I would have remained news free during this family vacation).
It appears that they will allow us carry-on luggage from the Chiang Kai-Shek Airport, so it doesn't appear that I'll need to check my camera equipment. We'll see how things are when we actually get to the airport.