Dracil’s BlogJournal

May 31, 2008

Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival

So the Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival is back!  At a new, more convenient location (from Solano to Shattuck) too.

Leqi and I left a bit after 10:30 and we got to Berkeley at noon, where we met up with Jenny who was waiting for us at the People’s Cafe.  From there, we went to the Cheese Board Collective for lunch.  Along the way we passed the registration booth for the chalk art so we registered for some space in front of Chez Panisse.  We were given a free chocolate sorbet which was cool but kinda ruined Leqi’s chocolate appetite for the rest of the day ’cause it was too sweet.  We then got some chalk and then had our lunch (a whole pizza that we almost finished).  Sat in the road divider along with other people, pretty neat.

Brainstormed on what to design and we went through some photos and eventually settled on sunflowers with the Chez Panisse logo below.

We got tickets first and then went around trying various stuff (woah, I guess I do like coffee after all, though the caffeine didn’t really wake me) before finally doing our chalk art, which took about 3-3.5 hours.  People seemed to like it, I think it’s because it was so big and full of solid color (which really makes chalk art look cool).  Many said they should’ve given us a free meal.  The employees, particularly this one woman, didn’t seem too pleased by our presence though.  She didn’t even know there was a chalk art festival going on and had come out to ask what we were doing at the beginning.  Oh well.

Afterwards, we went and cleaned ourselves, but when we came back, it was already kinda damaged, I guess by people walking on it to see the menu and/or some kids we saw running around walking on every single art piece.  Ugh.

We ended up having dinner at Great China.  Food was ok, I liked the pork.  But the waitresses seriously need to fill the water.  That’s one of the things I look at when deciding on tip.  Best = fill automatically.  Bad is me having to ask.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Worst would probably be ignoring me and I’d probably withhold all tip in that case.  We gave ok tip I guess for this service, which is actually kinda bad, since I’ve been finding myself overtipping by a fair bit when I’m happy with the service.

Jenny took some pics in the Bart station and I followed suit.  She has a knack for finding interesting vantage points.  :)

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May 30, 2008

The Hovind Scale

Found at Pharyngula.  But here are the direct links to The Hovind Scale and its online calculator.

It’s named after the infamous Kent Hovind, sometimes known as “‘Dr.’ Dino”.  The “Dr.” is quoted because he got his degree from an unaccredited degree mill called Patriot Bible University.  He used to like to say his degree was in “Education” but it’s actually in “Christian Education”.

Not convinced it’s a degree mill?  Here are some examples of their educational material:

And this is the dissertation that he wrote.

He also created a Creationist theme park called Dinosaur Adventure Land where it shows humans and dinosaurs living together in the past.  Yes, he actually believes that.  He also believes that dinosaurs actually still exist today.

It’s all pretty bad stuff, and it’s still amazing how many people believed him.  But this is why the scale is named after him.  He’s currently serving a 10-year sentence for tax evasion.

May 29, 2008

OMG Ponies!

Filed under: personal — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — dracil @ 8:55 am

This is referencing the new Bella Sara card game and Ponystars online game.

I’ve never gotten why ponies/horses seem to be a primarily girl thing.  Or at least they seem to be marketed mostly to girls, though I remember watching and enjoying My Little Pony as a kid.  You can read about Tycho’s comment about it all here.

Is it because horses were mainly seen as a guy’s thing in the past (knights and cowboys) so this stuff became a sort of outlet for frustrated girls not being able/allowed to ride horses?  Or is it the magical fantasy worlds these horses tend to reside in?  But I like magical fantasy worlds too!  Though not usually this colorful :P.  Or maybe it’s just the Hallmark effect, and this is simply a manufactured desire.

May 28, 2008

Left Behind Insurance

Wow.  Just Wow.

The sad thing is that there are people who would probably fall for this.  There are three sites.

The first is You’ve Been Left Behind.  They state:

We all have family and friends who have failed to receive the Good News of the Gospel.
The unsaved will be ‘left behind’ on earth to go through the “tribulation period” after the “Rapture”. You remember how, for a short time, after (9/11/01) people were open to spiritual things and answers. (We are still singing “God Bless America” at baseballs’ seventh inning stretch.) Imagine how taken back they will be by the millions of missing Christians and devastation at the rapture. They will know it was true and that they have blown it. There will be a small window of time where they might be reached for the Kingdom of God. We have made it possible for you to send them a letter of love and a plea to receive Christ one last time. You will also be able to give them some help in living out their remaining time. In the encrypted portion of your account you can give them access to your banking, brokerage, hidden valuables, and powers of attorneys’ (you won’t be needing them any more, and the gift will drive home the message of love). There won’t be any bodies, so probate court will take 7 years to clear your assets to your next of Kin. 7 years of course is all the time that will be left. So, basically the Government of the AntiChrist gets your stuff, unless you make it available in another way. You can also send information based on scripture as to what will happen next. Each fulfilled prophecy will cause your letter and plea to be remembered and a decision to be made.

“WHY” is one last chance to bring them to Christ and snatch them from the flames!

All for the low low cost of $40/year for the rest of your life.  And all you get is 150MB of encrypted storage and 100MB of unencrypted storage, and only 62 email recipients?  Why such arbitrary limitations?  I feel tempted to call out Poe’s Law on these people.  The PayPal link is very real though, so I’m tempted to call scam instead.  Especially since they don’t go into any details of how their system will even work.  I mean, seriously, if these people are “Christians” who really believe in the Rapture, they won’t be around when the Rapture arrives.  It’s also extra fishy that they decided to register their domain via domainbyproxy.

Now, the Post-Rapture Post at least is honest.

Just write your letter and it will be hand-delivered immediately following the exodus of the pure from the Earth. But you must be thinking to yourself, “How can the letters be delivered after the Rapture?” The answer is simple. The creators of this site are Atheists. That’s right, we don’t believe in God. How else would we be able to deliver your correspondence after the Rapture?

The emphasis is in the original text.  See?  At least that would work.  Costs range from $5 for a handwritten letter to $10 for a typed letter on resume quality paper to $800 for a medieval parchment.

The best one though is probably Rapture Letters.  Unlike all the others, this one is completely free.  And it operates off a dead man’s switch so it’s guaranteed (theoretically) to send the letters out should the owner disappear (whether via the Rapture or through physical death).  Now that’s the correct way to do things on the Internet.

Still, Pre-Tribulation Rapture beliefs are pretty hokey to begin with and these websites are a glimpse to the kind of life such beliefs entail.

May 27, 2008

Welcome to 1984. Welcome to the 2008 Beijing Olympics

That’s right, your ticket to the 2008 Beijing Olympics now includes a free bonus gift!  A mandatory tour of George Orwell’s 1984!

Some of the many attractions of this brand new amusement park include:

  • “Tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies are embedded with a microchip containing the bearer’s photograph, passport details, addresses, e-mail and telephone numbers.”
  • “Thousands of closed-circuit TV cameras”
  • The very real possibility of identity theft
  • A cool game you can play with friends called, “Guess which ticket is whose?” with hilarious penalties like “Denied Admission” or “Standing in a huge long line”
  • If you’d prefer something with a bit more thrill, you can even play “Spot the undercover security officials”

Don’t lose or throw away your tickets either.  That’s a heckuva lot of information on them for random strangers to have.

Man, I can’t wait to go to the Olympics!  Oh, wait, I’m not going.  :(

3:10 to Yuma

Filed under: movies, Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — dracil @ 6:00 pm

I had originally wanted to see this when it was in the theaters. But I don’t think Westerns really appeal to my friends, and I don’t really go to the theaters by myself. :P

3:10 to Yuma is a remake of a film by the same name from 50 years ago, and as such, there are people who feel the original is better. I haven’t seen the original, but I certainly liked this remake. I liked the ending too, which appears to be a point of contention between those who liked the original and those who liked the remake. Sure, the film in general is pretty fantastical and requires quite a bit of suspension of disbelief (it is part action film too). But the creators make a good point (in one of the special features) that Westerns as a genre, are pretty much already mythical. The setting didn’t really exist. Instead, it was all the cool stuff happening in that period condensed into a single point in time. I suspect pirate films in general are probably similar, drawing on various stories from different time periods and putting it all into one cool action-packed setting. I think it’s just part of period films.

So yeah, you may think it would be impossible for some of the things that happened in the film to happen in real life, like the relation between Ben Wade and Dan Evans, and you’d probably be right. But it is a fictional story after all, a story about two very different men who we learn are not quite what they claim to be.

May 26, 2008

Clinton’s New Math

For people who are wondering how Clinton could possibly be ahead on the popular vote, here’s how it works (summed up by a guy on Penny Arcade):

The explanation given to me is that you:
A) Include Florida and Michigan.
B) Michigan’s “uncommitted” stay that way. Obama gets nothing.
C) Exclude caucuses in Iowa, Maine, Washington and Nevada.

So, let’s not count only 48 states. Let’s count all 46.

Smooth, real smooth.  I think the saddest thing is that some people actually buy into this crap.

May 25, 2008

Carnaval + Buddha’s Birthday Celebration

That was a lot of standing.

8 blocks were barricaded for the Carnaval which confused me, but it turns out the parade was part of a different barricade.  I ended up being 30 minutes late to the parade, but I still caught most of it, because it lasted over 4 hours or so.  I think seeing SambAsia is what made me start to really enjoy it.  Because the guy was singing 島唄 (Shima Uta), which is one of the songs I often sing at karaoke.  It’s a good thing too, because I followed them to a much better spot than the one I started out at.

The difficulty of picture-taking went up through the event though because the people next me kept raising their hands for random goodies being thrown at the crowd, and it got really bad when they got these balloon sticks that one guy kept banging right in front of the camera.  Then they climbed on top of the fence so I had to do it too.  But they kept shaking/kicking the fence too.  Blargh.  That was very annoying.

I managed to take almost 400 decent pictures though, with some videos as well (but since I kept pictures from Bay to Breakers, I had memory issues).  Besides SambAsia, the other things I really liked were the Pirates of Emerson, who had a really cool ship complete with a water/bubble cannon, and there was this group of people riding on cool bicycles that had designs like monsters, vertebrae, or the Golden Gate Bridge.

Afterwards, I went through the booths but that wasn’t nearly as interesting as the parade.  Glad to see all the Obama stuff out there though, including a voter registration drive (though to be honest, California really doesn’t need it :P)

Then I went over to the Buddha Birthday Celebration over at Union Square which wasn’t very interesting actually.  The only cool thing were a couple girls dressed up in Qing Dynasty clothing, but they were asking for $3 donations to have your picture taken with them.  Meh.

Also finally had my camera to catch John F. King II, the drummer guy who I’ve seen on Embarcadero across from the Ferry Building several times now.  He has a website (that doesn’t really work).  But here’s a video of him.

Blogging is good for you

Filed under: Blog, News, science — Tags: , , — dracil @ 7:15 am

I’m sure any sort of venting probably helps reduce stress though.  Except instead of the normal venting to close friends, you vent to random people on the Internet.  :P

Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not.

Read the article

May 24, 2008

The Holy Land Experience and other religious theme parks

Yeah, that’s as weird as it sounds.  It’s in Florida.  Why am I not surprised?  :P

I first read about it in the article The Crucifixion and Ice Cream.  Some interesting stuff there, like how The Holy Land Experience was originally meant to be a tool to convert Jews.  But it’s part of the Trinity Broadcasting Network now.

Amid cell phones ringing, video cams rolling and ice cream melting under the Florida sun, a blood-spattered Jesus stumbles through the crowd on his way to Golgotha, where nasty Roman soldiers strip him, nail him to the cross and crucify him—while perspiring tourists look on in Bermuda shorts. After the resurrection sequence, visitors applaud and line up for a photo op, not with Mickey or Minnie, but a disciple or bloody-handed yet friendly centurion. Welcome to Orlando’s most unusual theme park, the Holy Land Experience.

At first, I was thinking, only in America.  But that seemed unlikely, so I decided to check out some other major world religions.  Sure enough, they all have their own theme parks.

In Vietnam, for Buddhism, there’s the Suoi Tien Theme Park.  There’s also a Haw Par Villa (Tiger Balm Gardens) in Singapore.

In India, of course there is a Hindu Theme Park.

Finally, you can’t leave out the Muslims, and there’s an Islamic Theme Park in Malaysia.

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