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Damn Interesting

I have been reading this site for a while now, because every day or so they post something, well, interesting. Since I don’t have much else to post, I thought I’d link to one of their most recent interesting items, a discussion on how to design a sign to tell people 100,000 years from now that the radioactive waste in Yucca Mountain, Nevada is NOT something they should play around with. It is an interesting dilemma, and one that I think frankly the posters at Damn Interesting nailed better than the so called “experts”.Another very interesting article from Damn Interesting is this one on Hyperbolic Discounting.  Put simply Hyperbolic Discounting is the name for a behavior that humans exhibit that limits how much credence they give to how the action will affect the future.  In other words, we consistently do stupid things because we fail to think about what will happen to us in the future because of it.  The article gives some good reasons why humans have this trait, but we will need to figure out a way to get around it, or as our technological capability increase, the race may not have a future.

Shibuya and Shinjuku

Today in Tokyo was the kind of day that makes you estactic to be alive. The warm sun bright on your face and the cool late spring breeze
blowing your hair about were a perfect counterpoint to each other. I felt as happy as I have felt in a long, long time. I felt so happy that
I wasn’t the least bit self concious about being the gaijin giant guy, like I usually do. One cannot walk through Tokyo or any Japanese city
without feeling as if many eyes are on you at all times, but today I did not care one whit.

It felt like I could almost hear the trees and plants of Tokyo were singing their joy at the beautiful sunny day. It was a great, great day to wander the city. Last night however was like… well, night and day :)

Got into Tokyo late yesterday afternoon, around 6pm or so. Then went to the Imperial as always before going out to dinner with a Japanese friend of mine. I had mentioned to T that I was probably going to wander Shinjuku after dinner, and T had said that she was going to Shinjuku anyway to stay with her father, who lives there. So we agreed to have dinner and then head to Shinjuku.

After dinner at Maharaja (we were both tired of Japanese food), we hopped the Chuo line from Tokyo station across the city to Shinjuku. When we arrived at Shinjuku station though, it was raining. At first it was just a bit of mist, but that soon progressed to a light drizzle. T, being the smart Japan traveller she is, had remembered to bring an umbrella. Me, being the baka gaijin fool that I was, had not. The refreshing drizzle soon changed to a drenching shower, which meant that I had to find an umbrella, because T’s little folding one was not going to cut it for both of us. So, after walking for a few blocks in the downpour we found a 7-11 and I bought a 399yen clear plastic umbrella. This made things much more bearable, but of course, I was already drenched. We walked for about 10 or 15 minutes through west Shinjuku (and I learned that Nishi means West in Japanese and Higashi means
East), and we came to T’s dad’s condo building. It was quite nice. We dropped off T’s luggage and then wandered through Shinjuku looking for a place to have a quiet drink and chat, but the rain continued to POUR down and we finally gave it up and I hopped the train back to the Imperial. I felt like I had been swimming. Also realized that I hadn’t put any sealant stuff on my new leather shoes…. not sure if they will be ruined or not… they are still wet…

After a good nights sleep, Saturday (as I mentioned above) dawned bright and beautiful, so I decided to kill a few birds at once. I took the Yamanote line to Shibuya and wandered around taking photos, including a couple of the famous Shibuya station crosswalk that was in Lost in Translation. And of course found this VERY interesting store… I didn’t really have time to go in and look around though, and besides, I was laughing too hard. After a quick walk around Shibuya, I realized that Shinjuku was not that much further on. So I hopped back on the Yamanote line and rode it up to Shinjuku. In the DRY light of day, Shinjuku was much nicer than in the soggy, showering night. Some photos of both are up on flickr. Since I still had a hour and a bit left, I finished off with a trip to the Ginza and the Sony building. I was hoping for a glimpse of the PS3, but no such luck. Just a lot of publicity for “The DaVinci Code” and various other usual Sony stuff. No Aibo though… I guess the Aibo is dead.

Now I am at the airport, hogging the nice “PC Desk” in the waiting area all to myself, desperately charging my laptop and iPod for the 8.5hr flight back to the US. Well, gotta run…. they start boarding in 10 minutes…

Matsumoto Castle

Once again I am in Japan. This is trip number 18. Flew into Nagoya and then hung around there for a few days on business before heading north on Wednesday. Kaz, JC (other JC) and I found ourselves with an hour to kill in Matusmoto while we waited for a train, so we decided to go to Matsumoto Castle. It and Himeji Castle are two of the oldest and best castles left in Japan. Matsumoto Castle is the oldest castle in Japan that has not been burned and rebuilt. It was originally built in 1593 and this is still the original castle, although with some additions. Unlike almost every other castle in Japan, Matsumoto is black in color, giving it the name “The Crow Castle”. We pretty much had to run through it since we only had an hour. More photos up on Flickr soon.

Not much else to relate. Work, work, work, with some sake here and there. Oh, got a new camera at Bic Camera. A Casio Exilim EX Z600. 6 Megapixels in something the size of about 10 credit cards stacked on top of each other with a huge high visibility LCD on the back. Takes pics within 1 second of turning it on and takes pictures and saves them almost instantaneously… Nice… really like it. Planning to spend Friday night in Tokyo. Will either to go to Shinjuku or Shibuya, not sure yet.

Site Upgrade

You may have noticed that the rotating Kubrick image headers are no longer working. This is due to a site upgrade. Finally upgraded from WordPress 1.5 to 2.02, which of course broke the theme. I will fix it as soon as possible, please bear with me… I will also make some new Kubricks if I can…

Flugtag 2006

On Saturday some friends and I went to Tempe Town Lake for the Red Bull 2006 Flugtag. Flugtag is German and stands for “Flying Day”. What IS Flugtag you ask? I would call it more of a “Gliding Day” than a “Flying Day”, or maybe more of a “Falling Day”, since most of the entrants had the glide characteristics of a rock, but here is what happens. Groups of entrants make human powered gliders in various shapes and sizes, preferrably in funky shapes and sizes. Many appear to be more concerned about appearance rather than function, hence most of the “gliders” really fall like a rock rather than glide, but it is all in good fun. Most have some sort of skit or act they perform before flingling themselves off the edge of the Flugtag “carrier” (really more like a ramp/platform). The fact that they have copious amounts of alcohol at the event makes it even more fun 🙂 There were supposedly 70,000+ folks at this Flugtag, which I think is a US record for Flugtags. Incidentally, there is a fun Flash game on the Flugtag website where you get to try to glide as far as possible. Our group record appears to be 109ft, by Srini. Photos are up on flickr.

Hilarity and Wierdness

Yeah, it’s been a while, but here is a link to a bunch of funny stuff I’ve seen lately.

First up is a video of a truly hideous, but incredibly funny event that took place in World of Warcraft. Apparently some lady died in real life, and her online friends decided to hold an online funeral for her. Nevermind that this is incredibly geeky, that goes without saying, and nowadays when so many of us live online anyway, maybe it isn’t THAT geeky. But here is the bad part. A rival guild/group/whatever they are called in WoW decided to crash the funeral. And crash it they did. Massacring all the funeral guests. And the best part is they video’d the whole thing. So, in what is certain to be the most viewed MORPG video since Leeroy Jenkins, I give you the google video of SO WE PWNED THIS FUNERAL TODAY. An article discussing this travesty, with suitable hilarity is here.

From the “wow that is wierd” department comes the following page about fossilized spark plugs embedded in ancient rock and 12,000 year old nuclear debris in India…

Unskilled and Unaware and Nuclear Weapons

This post is another grab bag of stuff I’ve been sending myself, telling myself to put it on the blog. First up is this cool post about the clueless in our society. Called Unskilled and Unaware of it, this post to Damn Interesting goes over the fact that most people think they are above average, even though, of course, there is no mathematical way that can be true. Based on some internal newsgroup discussion of this post at work, I recently ordered the book “The Logic of Failure”. Very funny and interesting stuff. Best quote from the article, “the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt” – Bertrand Russell.

Next up on the list is this article on the very early moments of nuclear detonation. Lots cool photos of nuclear device tests, including guide wires turning into plasma.

Last is this article from Bruce Schneier’s blog about the 1.9 trillion call database that AT&T has, going back decades! So much for privacy.

Vegas Vacation

I spent the week before last on vacation. Mom, Dad and my little brother JC came out from Florida and we did a bunch of fun things together. We went to Vegas and stayed at the Flamingo for a few days. Things done in Vegas: visiting every casino from Wynn at one end to Mandalay Bay at the other, tequila shots at Isla, vodka flights at Red Square, and various gambling pretty much everywhere. Once again we DROVE to Las Vegas, something I keep telling myself I will NEVER do again, because I hate driving for almost 6 hours to get there. However I fully expect to do it again at some point…

After Vegas we drove to Laughlin for yet more gambling (and just to check it out). Laughlin, Nevada, for those who don’t know, is about 40 miles north of Lake Havasu City and is home to Las Vegas for retirees. I’m not joking. JC and I were easily the youngest people in the hotel other than a couple of children. The median age had to be 50, easy. However, it was still fun and interesting because the roulette wheel outside bets were only $2 and I could try out my roulette strategy.

After we got back to Phoenix, we mostly hung around the last couple of days. We did go to the Festival of the West at the new Rawhide, which was interesting, if only for the quick draw specialist.

Anyway, it was all great fun and I was very glad the family came out to see me. Hopefully they had a good time too.

Nothing Much

There is probably some unspoken blog rule that one should never post just because it has been a long time since one has posted, but frankly I don’t give a rat’s a$$. To be honest, part of that might be because of the beer tonight, but this post is primarly because it has been 2 weeks or so since I’ve posted. As a sop to actual content, I will point you to Petite Anglaise. She has a far more interesting life than I, given that she lives in belle Parie, has an ex-lover/father of her child, and now has just recently broken up with a lover she met on her blog. So, please read the jolie Petite Anglaise and pretend that I have posted something profound rather than hidden behind someone else’s interesting life 🙂

February Weekend

The weekend basically started Thursday (sort of), with a nice reprise of the Pint Club at Rock Bottom. Several of us met there and had a few good beers while chatting about life. Since most of us work at the same place, work inevitably came up, followed by the inevitable cursing 🙂

Friday was a real pain during the work day, which is really starting to suck. It used to be that Fridays were relatively easy due to not having to deal with the Far East much, but now it is literally being taken up by all the meetings that don’t have to happen on Mon-Thurs.. 🙂

This is of course made worse by the fact that I am doing the jobs of about 3.5 people. I don’t care how good you are, you can’t do the jobs of 3.5 people very well. However, my lords and masters haven’t started bitching about it yet, so I assume I am managing to keep my fingers in all the right holes in the dike. But something is gonna have to give, and I can feel it coming. Maybe it is the fact that I literally do not have time during the day to “plan” and update my objectives for my employees, and yet I MUST have my latest quarter plan done, presented and rolled out this week. Never mind that it is for the current quarter, which is about 70% over already…. 🙂

Or maybe it is the fact that I have to teach another class again on Wednesday, this time to almost 50 people from various technical areas. I am supposed to be the “content expert”, and I am, but there are definitely areas of the 95 pages of material where I basically cannot find my a$$ with both hands, and I am afraid that with 50 people to teach, someone is gonna call me on it… Yay for Wednesday….

Where was I… oh yeah, the weekend. The weekend was actually pretty fun. Friday night I basically just stayed home and relaxed (and played CivIV until my fingers bled 🙂 ). Then Saturday I did some needed errands before dropping by my friend/coworkers house for some serious ethanol consumption. Wound up watching the Olympics and sipping brews and talking about work more. Then Sunday some friends and I went to the Matsuri Festival downtown. The Matsuri Festival is the local Japanese festival. They had Iaido, Shin-kendo, Aikido and Kendo demonstrations that were pretty cool. That pretty much managed to make up for the very wierd white guys wandering around in Japaneseish stuff carrying katanas…

We met up with some Japanese friends, including one of our local reps who had a friend just in for the week from Shibuya, so we had an interesting discussion about which part of Tokyo was the “coolest”. Shibuya won with Roppongi and Shinjuku coming in a distant 3rd. Our Japanese friends had a big laugh at how “authentic” the festival was, but hey, as long as I can have yakitori and Hi-Chews, that is authentic enough for me… The only real negative was NO sake… oh well.

Sun night wrapped up at another friends place, who is nicknamed “The Leprechaun”, because he is Irish 🙂 (yes, literally from Ireland in the last few years, versus most of the rest of us whose great-great grandparents were from there sometime back in the dark ages), where we watched Six Nations Rugby. Saw Ireland beat Wales pretty badly, and a really great game where an overmatched Scottish team managed to beat a much bigger English team in only the 3rd time in 20 years. I bet there were some damn happy (and drunk) Scots running around Edinburgh Saturday night…

Thermally Driven Exponential Resistivity in Germanium

Did that title get your attention? No, I am not back in school (thank God!). Instead, a friend of mine just pointed me to this HILARIOUS website at the University of Wisconsin with a lab report from some undergrad trying to replicate the findings whatever giant in the field determined the title to this post. However, he seems to have had some problems. I think most of us who have any technical background in college at all will empathize with him. Certain lab experiments from my “Lectures on the Electrical Properties of Materials” class were sadly very, very similar to this. Of course, I never had the balls to write a “true” lab report on the web like this guy did… And of course, we didn’t really have the “web” then. That didn’t come out until grad school… And given that my prof for that electronic materials class was the #1 faculty web guru, I STILL wouldn’t have written it… but you get the picture. Anyway, kudos to this kid. Welcome to the real world. 🙂

Grab Bag

Ok, this post is a grab bag of stuff I have sent to myself, telling myself I should put them on the blog. First up is Second Life. This is an online world where you can buy real-estate, and basically do a lot of the things you can do in the “real” world. This may be the closest thing to the “Metaverse” aka “net” as described in Neil Stephenson‘s Snow Crash.

Next is this post to Bruce Schneier’s blog, which purports to be an actual cryptogram from a double murder-suicide that no one has been able to break. Of course, it isn’t like the cryptogram holds the key to who did the killing, because like I said, it was a murder-suicide, but it might hold more of a key as to WHY the husband in this case went nutso and offed his wife and stepson. Or it might just be a list of movies to rent… who knows…

Then there is the Anonym.OS LiveCD. This claims to be a live BSD distro that can hide your surfing and stuff by routing everything through anonymous servers. Not sure if it works, and supposedly it is pretty slow, but there it is. I guess if you didn’t want to go to the trouble of driving down the street and connecting on your laptop through someone elses WAP, you could do this instead… 🙂

Last but not least is this very funny “Zork“-type text adventure story where someone is playing as the President of the United States. Hilarious.


For those who are not privy, Engrish is a term that refers to relatively humorous attempts by Japanese writers to use English words and phrases. This is often done as part of advertising and no visitor to Japan will probably complete their trip without seeing several examples of this. Often times the most hilarious ones are on what are meant to be cutting-edge t-shirts worn by teenagers and young adults. Last trip I saw several examples, but either didn’t have my camera with me or thought it would be inappropriate to take a photo (usually this means the hilarious Engrish was being worn as apparel by someone).

On Flickr, there is a photo group I belong to called “Engrish“. A few months ago they had a contest for “best” Engrish. This was the full group of the 10 “best” engrish phrases or signs that were up for consideration, and these were the winners. Hilarious! The winner is my favorite by far.

Pretty Cool

A friend of mine noticed these very cool wallpaper photos of macs on Flickr…

Tres cool…

Tortilla Trail Hike

Tortilla Trailhead

Originally uploaded by neepster.

Saturday I took a hike I have wanted to take for almost a year (ever since Mom, Dad, Jay and I drove past this trailhead on the way to Roosevelt Dam). I went for a hike at Tortilla Trailhead. Not to be confused with Tortilla Flat Trailhead, which is right near Tortilla Flat. Tortilla Trailhead starts at an old ranch road and leads to Tortilla Ranch (which used to be a cattle ranch in the mid 20th century). The hike in is pretty easy along the ranch road (although long, at 3.5mi), and would even be drivable except for the first tenth of a mile or so. I did find these folks on the web, who managed to drive in, but from their description, I don’t think I want to give it a try in the Murano. The ranch is just a couple fence posts, an entrance gate, and a couple of cement and stone foundations now. Half a mile down the road from the ranch is Tortilla Well, which has an old water tank and windmill, both of which have seen better days. Two trails start from near Tortilla Well (JF and Peter’s Trail), but by the time I got here I was fairly tired, so I just went a little ways down Peter’s Trail before turning back. A map of the hike is here, and photos are up on Flickr.

Economic Hit Men and Taxi Cab Blogs

From a friend of mine comes this link to an interview with an author of a new book. The book, entitled “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” is about how the NSA and CIA used civilian commercial enterprises to sink third world countries into massive debt as a means to both drum up business for US companies and as a way to keep them under thumb. Before you sign this off as just another conspiracy theory, remember that even the paranoid can have people out to get them and some conspiracy theories actually do come true… Besides it would do a great job of explaining what the hell has really been going on in the world for the last 50 years. Sometimes newspapers and modern history are like physics experiments. They tell you what happened, but they don’t tell you WHY they happened… Maybe with the rise of the net we will finally find out WHY. Of course, even if we do find out WHY, most people will prefer the big lie of the governments anyway….

And to match my eclectic nature, thank you AZCentral for pointing out this interesting blog of one of the few female taxi cab drivers in New York City. Favorite quote so far on this blog from the JFK Airport Taxi stand rules, while waiting in line – “Do not prepare any types of food.”

Pics From Christmas

Jay and Renee

Originally uploaded by neepster.

Just a quick blog note to throw up some pics from Christmas. This pic is my brother Jay and his girlfriend Renee.

Happy New Year

Well, I’m back after a nice relaxing holiday vacation in Florida with the family. Things done while on vacation: sleeping (a lot), drinking (a bit), played some golf with Dad and Uncle Chuck, drove a Vette, shot some firearms with JC (first time, thx JC!), visited with cousin Chuck at his place and took a ride on the Black River in his boat, watched a lot of football, ate a lot of good food (thx Mom!) and played a lot of Civ4 (which is amazingly addictive). All in all, it was a pretty good holiday. Hope everyone else had a great holiday too.

Warp Speed Mr. Scott

From the realm of science fiction comes this very interesting article. Apparently the Air Force is going to try to make some warp engines using some strange quantum concept that says a very large magnetic field can be used to create a gravity well. Supposedly, if this worked, we could go from the Earth to Mars in 3 hours and from Earth to a star 11 light years away in 80 days. I can see the new Gilligan. “A three hour tour (of Mars), a three hour tour (of Mars)…The space storms started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed…” Maybe Gilligan can ski down Olympus Mons this time instead of swimming in the lagoon… Anyway, if they could make this work, that would be way cool.

Become a Republican

From a friend of mine at work comes the following flash movie. This movie is HILARIOUS. The movie is about what you need to do to become a Republican. The premise is that the viewer is a Democrat who is tired of being a member of the losing side. So here is a short video of what one has to do to join the Republican party.

Best Quote: “If liberals loved America they would stop trying to fix it and start trusting it blindly!”

Warning: If you are a Republican and have no sense of humor, you might find this offensive. However, if you are a Republican with no sense of humor, you are EXACTLY the person who should watch this. Click here for the movie.