Wednesday, March 31, 2010

LHC Update and a Plea to CERN.

They say a friend applauds your accomplishments, but only a true friend ridicules you for your mistakes.

Ok, "they" don't really say that because I just made it up. Anyway, I must have a lot of true friends, because yesterday I was bombarded with news updates about the Large Hadron Collider. I guess people thought that when they finally got the machine fired up yesterday and the world did not end, this destroyed the LHC Saboteur theory to which I publicly subscribe and promote.

But I'm here to set the record straight.

First of all, any claim that the time-traveling LHC Saboteur was nowhere to be found yesterday is completely false. While some news reports of yesterday's events may gloss over this fact, it remains true that yesterday's testing began with not one but TWO false starts due to "electrical problems." This is exactly the kind of tricks the LHC Saboteur likes to pull.

Second, this is hardly the end. The LHC will run at this speed for a while (3.5 TeV for each photon), until the end of 2011. At this point, they will shut it down for a year, make repairs, so they can try to fire it up again to reach double yesterday's achieved speed.

What it all means is this. The LHC Saboteur is still very much in control. He made his presence known yesterday by causing the two false starts, but eventually just let things go because he knew that this half-speed smashing would be ok. And who are we to argue? He is FROM THE FUTURE. So do the events of yesterday destroy the theory? In a word, no. There is still far more to come my friends.

Of course, things may be bigger than just the LHC Saboteur. Read the reports and you'll see the plan is to run this thing for a year and a half, and then shut it down for a year before getting ready for the full speed run. Let's do the math.
A year and a half would mean a shut down in late 2011.
Which would mean a restart in late 2012.
Hmm...wasn't some other there some other global destruction planned for late 2012?


THAT'S RIGHT! The Mayan Calendar pegs December 21st, 2012 as the end of the final Great Cycle of the Earth. The date is to be followed by massive destruction. And so it is now that I launch my plea to the CERN directors:

Ladies and Gentlemen of CERN,

They say there is no such thing as bad press. Your association has been getting some press, in part due to fears about the Large Hadron Collider triggering a global meltdown. But there are still millions of people out there who are unaware of your project. The key to grabbing their attention is really quite simple.

All you have to do is schedule your LHC full speed fire up date for December 21st, 2012.

If I may speak candidly, the talk about the LHC destroying the universe has only scratched the surface. If you want to really get on the map and into the consciousness of people everywhere, the step is simple. I cannot stress enough how much this will put you on the map. The press would have an absolute field day. Think of the protests, the vigils, the building of disaster shelters and the purchases of canned goods that would ensue. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that if you think people are talking about your project now, you have no idea of the full potential. That potential will be realized if you simply plan the fire up for December 21st.

As a LHC enthusiast and an admirer of your work, I encourage you to make this happen. It is no doubt in your best interest, and its effect on society will be nothing but extraordinary.

Your #1 Fan.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Star Fox 64

Growing up, I was a big fan of video games. The day my brother and I got an N64 is etched in my mind as a joyous childhood moment. Nintendo 64 remains, in my opinion, the greatest video game system of all time. The list of epic games is long. Golden Eye. Mario Cart. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Donkey Kong 64.

But for me, one game stands out among the others. Star Fox 64. Fox McCloud is the leader of a team of pilots called upon by General Pepper. Andross has invaded the Lylat System and is threatening to invade Corneria. Fox and his team go from planet to planet shooting down enemies and defeating mini-bosses on their way to Andross, the final boss. Fox has a bit of a bone to pick with Andross, on account of Andross killing Fox's father, James. See, the old Star Fox team consisted of James, Fox, Peppy Hare, and Pigma Dengar. On a mission, Pigma betrayed the team, and James and Peppy were captured by Andross. Peppy escaped, but James did not make it back. Fox and Peppy formed the new Star Fox team.

Fox's main team consists of Peppy, Falco Lombardi, and Slippy Toad. At certain stages Fox and the team get help from other characters, or sometimes face a team of enemies, Star Wolf (of which Pigma is now a member).

I recently had occasion to look back on Star Fox and reflect on it's excellence. A post about the GOOD parts of Star Fox would take far too long, and a post about the BAD parts of Star Fox would be near non-existent. Instead, I'd like to point out a few things that I've noticed in recent years that I was blissfully unaware of in the glory days of my youth.

1) Shoot enemies...or just let them go.
There are a couple stages that are played in "all-range mode," but for the most part you play in the standard mode where you can only fly forward. You make your way steadily towards a boss and encounter hundreds of enemy ships. You get points for shooting them, but if you don't they just go right on by. No worries. Wouldn't it be great if real-world battles were like this?
The explanation is that Fox is the leader, and flies in front, so anybody he lets by will get picked off by Falco, Peppy, or Slippy. I really hope this is not the case, because Fox seems way too smart to trust anything that important to Slippy. Which leads well to my next point...

2) Slippy sucks.
Ok, this may be a little bit out of place, because I knew Slippy sucked back in the day too. But I think it's definitely worth a mention. Slippy's worthlessness is apparent right off the bat in level 1. Slippy heads out in front, only to get chased and need rescuing. Any Star Fox player worth his salt hits Slippy intentionally with a few lasers in the rescue attempt. Just for fun. The trick is to hit him when the dialogue box is open, so you can see his face as he takes the hit.
Slippy's one "accomplishment" of the game is his construction of the Blue Marine, the submarine. But even this doesn't count for much in my book, seeing as Aquas is the worst level in the game. The game is called STAR Fox. Why am I underwater? Are there stars in the ocean?
Slippy's gender is ambiguous to say the least. Most accounts I read list "him" as a male, but you cannot tell me that there's no doubt there.
I could go on, but I'll save it for another day.

3) The Sexual Innuendo.
Maybe it's unavoidable, but looking back there really is a ridiculous amount of phrases that could be taken the wrong way. And so I give you my Top-10 Suggestive Lines from Star Fox 64.
1. "Quit dinkin' around Slip"
2. "Incoming enemy from the rear! Drop altitude"
3. "This brings back memories of your Dad..."
4. "Aim for the open spot"
5. "Things are starting to heat up!"
6. "You did it! I was worried for a moment..."
7. "Shoot the tentacles to open the core."
8. "We're getting paid a lot of cash for this!"
9. "Is that any way to greet a girl?"
10. "If I go down I'm taking you with me!"

The funny thing is I could probably extend this list to about 50 with no problem whatsoever.

4) The Character Names
As you may know, all of the characters are animals. There are basically 3 classes of character names.
1 - The type of animal is the FIRST name. This includes Fox McCloud, Falco Lombardi, Pigma Dengar, Wolf O'Donnell, etc.
2 - The type of animal is in the LAST name. This includes Peppy Hare and Slippy Toad.
3 - They just have random names. This includes Leon Powalski, James McCloud, and Andrew Oikonny.

I've gotta say, using animal types as names has always bugged me. Well I shouldn't say always, because I can pinpoint the source of my frustration. It was the TV show Franklin. It was about a bunch of animals, and they were all named their type of animal...except Franklin. There was a bear named Bear. A badger named Badger. A beaver named Beaver. And a turtle named Franklin. What!?!?!? Technically, his last name was Turtle, so "Turtle Turtle" would have been a little strange. But still, how about some consistency?

Besides lack of creativity, Franklin illustrates the problem with naming your offspring their animal name: it tends to lead to problems if other children come along. If you are a family of bears, and you name your first-born "Bear," what do you name your second child? Well, believe it or not, Franklin's friend Bear had a little sister. Her name? "Bea." Wow.

But I digress.

Anyway, please do not misunderstand and think i am saying anything bad about Star Fox. That is not my intention in the slightest. It is a great game and should be cherished as such.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This Is No Time To Panic, But...

I could really use a sign right now. Things are dangerously close to reaching their potential and that just cannot happen.

I speak, of course, of the Large Hadron Collider. You may know that I am a believer in what I like to call the "LHC Saboteur" Theory. For those unfamiliar, here's a quick summary:

The Large Hadron Collider is a 17-mile long particle accelerator that is (mostly) underground. It runs through France and Switzerland, and was designed to smash photons together at 99% the speed of light in order to create "the God particle" and gain insight into what might have happened at the Big Bang. The operation is run by a group called CERN.

Now they have been trying to get this thing up and running for some time now, but are constantly running into roadblocks. Miscalculations. Overheating. A few months ago a bird dropped a piece of a baguette into a piece of machinery that caused a big problem.

Now the LHC Saboteur Theory proposes that these are not just random happenings. Instead, someone or something from the future is coming back in time to keep the LHC from running at full speed. If this project were to actually succeed, results could be disastrous. So someone or something is keeping that from happening by coming back in time and throwing a wrench in these plans every few months.

Blawegsome readers know I am a BIG supporter of this theory. A lot of people think i am delusional, my father included, which is why he was the first to send me this little tidbit of news:

The baguette incident - a stroke of genius by the Saboteur - was almost 5 months ago. In that time, they've been able to get this thing working its way up to speed. Speed started building in December, and it appears they are getting close to where they want to be. On March 30th, they plan to collide particles at 7 Tera-electron-volts, which is twice as fast as what they've done so far.

Let me be perfectly clear: I'm not worried. I have the utmost faith and trust in the Saboteur. He/she hasn't let me down yet, and won't start now. But...LHC Saboteur: If you are reading this from the future, we could really use some help here. They seem to be getting close. You've got a week. Much love.

I will say this - when I first posted about the LHC Saboteur, he responded with another strike within days. That's what I'm counting on here. I await your next move in earnest.

One final note: I've fully comprehended the possibility of CERN leaking some fake progress reports to the press in order to set up some kind of trap. While technically possible, I trust they know that those kinds of plans cannot work on a hero from the future. He will see right through it, because it has already happened.

I'll keep you posted as updates come in.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

1,000 Ways To Die

Over Spring Break, I found myself flipping through the channels one night. I came across a show on Spike called "1,000 Ways To Die" I'll admit it - I had no idea what the show was about but decided to select it just because its name sounded intriguing.

As it turns out, 1,000 Ways To Die is a "documentary" show that details unusual stories of death. Simply put, they recreate Darwin-award type stories, film them, and add ridiculous and cheesy puns and one-liners to the narration. They do not necessarily have to be the "someone does something stupid and ends up dying" story, but from what I saw they usually are. A half-hour show usually details 6-8 stories, with each story being about 3 minutes long.

A couple examples:
-A man was behind on his rent when his landlord came a-knockin'. Looking for a hiding place, he hopped into his Murphy Bed and folded it up into the wall. When his landlord left, he tried to fold the bed back down, but was stuck. He tried to yell, but he was a amateur musician and had soundproofed his walls, so no one could hear him. He suffocated.

-A man shall I put this...engaging in romantic activities with his paramour. She liked to engage in a post-romance cigarette, but he didn't like this. So she went out and got some nicotine patches. Figuring if 1 was good, and 2 was better, she slapped a whole bunch of nicotine patches onto her body. You can guess how that one worked out for her.

And my personal favorite so far:
-An old man wasn't able to drive anymore. However, he still liked to sit in his car and listen to the radio. He lived at the top of a hill. One day, while sitting in the car, he passed out...and didn't wake up. He died right there in the car. Around the same time, the parking break failed, and the car rolled down the hill, picking up speed.
Meanwhile, 2 blocks away, a man had stolen someone's purse and was on the run. He bolted into an intersection...and got NAILED by the car as it plummeted down the road. The guy who got hit died. That's right. Dead guy behind the wheel hits and kills robber on the run. Classic.

Each story is accompanied by experts showing the science behind the death. But the best part of the show is without a doubt the horribly cheesy and ridiculous puns and one-liners sprinkled throughout every story. An example - when the man threatened to break off relations if the woman kept smoking, the narrator said "the stroking and the poking was no longer worth the smoking..." I'd venture a guess that there are usually at least 9 jokes per 3-minute segment, most of which will leave you groaning and shaking your head. But the overall amusement factor is high.

Bottom line - I wouldn't recommend scheduling any time out of your day to catch this show, or planning on watching it at any point. But if (1) you are bored, (2 there is nothing else on, and (3) you have a twisted sense of humor like me, feel free to give it a shot.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fast Food "Sandwiches"

I've been seeing a lot of commercials recently for the new breakfast sandwich from Dunkin Donuts. Well, I shouldn't really say "new." It's the back by popular demand waffle breakfast sandwich. If you ever wanted bacon, eggs, cheese, and waffles, and thought "man, why can't I just put this all together?" then this is the sandwich for you. I decided to try one recently. $2.99 and 500 calories later, I was pleasantly surprised, but in the end the Waffle sandwich couldn't break down my undying love for McGriddles (McDonald's sandwiches with pancakes for bread).

But there's something a little odd here. I looked into it, and McGriddles hit the market in 2003. The Waffle Breakfast Sandwich launched in early 2009 (the first time around). Can anyone explain this? When a huge chain like McDonald's came out with a PANCAKE breakfast sandwich, why did it take 6 years for another chain to decide making WAFFLE breakfast sandwich?

Usually these companies are all over this type of thing. If one guy has some big creation, a competing guy will either come up with the same thing (i.e. Vanilla Pepsi) or something similar. But Vanilla Pepsi was out within months, if not weeks, of Vanilla Coke. So shame on you, Dunkin Donuts. This product should have been out years ago.

On a related note, Dunkin Donuts claims their sandwich is back "by popular demand." I would be very interested to find out how many letters or emails they got demanding the return of the waffle breakfast sandwich.

But my biggest GIAFFC (Gripe Involving A Fast Food Chain) doesn't involve Dunkin Donuts. No, I'm talking about KFC and their "new" offer - the boneless fillet. I almost did not believe this was real when I saw it. It is literally a hunk of fried chicken - basically a chicken sandwich without the bun. For all those times when you really JUST want the chicken part of the chicken sandwich.

At first I thought "well this is dumb, but maybe understandable." I would always just get the sandwich, but maybe there are people out there who are watching carbs, and this would be better than ordering the chicken sandwich and not eating the bread. The line of logic seemed reasonable...until I saw the combo meal that it came with: potato wedges, a drink...AND A BISCUIT! What??? So you take the chicken OUT of the sandwich, and then serve it to me with a biscuit? Why, so I can do the work and make my own chicken sandwich? C'mon KFC. You were already on notice after that extremely questionable commercial. You don't wanna fall too much further...

Friday, March 5, 2010

TrashBerg Monster II?

The destruction of our planet has been underway for some time now. Readers - you know I'm not talking about global warming or carbon emissions or anything like that. No, we deal with a much more immediate and terrifying threat - the impending showdown for control of Earth between the TrashBerg Monster and the aliens.

For those unaware, there is a massive pile of garbage accumulating in the middle of the pacific ocean. It's known by some as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but I prefer to call it the TrashBerg. And by "massive" I mean it's 30 feet deep and twice the size of Texas. No joke. It's my belief that in the middle of the TrashBerg, there is a monster growing (apply named the TrashBerg Monster)

The fate of our planet will be decided as follows: The TrashBerg monster will emerge and wreck havoc on the globe, destroying all in it's path. The poetic justice of our race being taken down by a monster created from the very materials we discarded is too hard to ignore. Anyway, around this time, aliens will come down and invade, expecting a full resistance from the humans. Instead, they find the TrashBerg monster, and the Aliens and the TrashBerg Monster battle it out for global supremacy.

This is the basic plot of my in-progress screenplay, "Wasted Planet." Now I must say, in writing this, one of my biggest concerns has been the destructive power of the TrashBerg Monster. I mean, no matter how powerful he was, the idea of one monster taking out the human race AND the aliens...well lets just say I had trouble wrapping my head around it. There needed to be something else.

I must say, I never thought that "something else" would be ANOTHER TrashBerg Monster. That was, of course, until Carolyn sent me this deeply disturbing news:


Now this one, which I'll call TrashBerg II, is clearly still in development - the garbage doesn't seem to be as densely packed as TrashBerg I. Measurements have put the garbage density of TrashBerg II at 520,000 bits per square mile, where as TrashBerg I boasts up to 1.9 million bits per square mile.

But the size of TrashBerg II is not to be ignored. While the east-west distance is unknown, it's north-south distance is roughly the distance from Virginia to Cuba. I'm gonna go ahead and table the issue of how it took someone so long to discover this, and address the real problem.

Students of history know it is extremely difficult to fight a war on two fronts. How could the United States expect to defeat 1 TrashBergs coming from each side? 1 solution seems obvious - call on other nations for help. But what happens when they are facing the same problem? Specifically, when a TrashBerg III shows up in the Indian Ocean, and TrashBerg IV surfaces in the Arctic Ocean...EVERYONE will be fighting a war on multiple fronts. It's trouble for sure.

At this point, I'm not sure there's much we can do. Things are escalating more quickly than I anticipated. Should any more alien or TrashBerg sightings pop up, I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Starbucks: Go Big or Go House Blend

Some time ago I was feeling kind of down. So I headed over to Starbucks for a venti decaf triple five-pump vanilla non-fat no foam whipped cream extra hot extra caramel upside down caramel machiatto on ice. When it came out I savored it to the last drop. But a funny thing happened - I wasn't energized. Not even in the slightest. As I sat there at the table reading poetry and kicking myself for not purchasing that Corrine Bailey Rae holiday album at the register, I couldn't help but wonder - how is that 23 ounces of sugar-loaded coffee is the LARGEST size of iced coffee I could get?

Well the Starbucks gods have answered my prayers with the "Trenta" - the newest Starbucks size - 31 ounces of diabet...I mean coffee. The Trenta comes with a complimentary nurse and estate planning attorney, because if 23 ounces of coffee doesn't wake you up enough, you are probably about to die. Starbucks will also notify your loved ones so that arrangements can be made.

Now the Trenta is only being used for iced coffee and cold drinks, so you might say "hey, it's not that bad! most of those ounces are ice!" or "well McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts already sell 32 ounce cups!" And well that is true, let's be real here. It's only a matter of time before the higher-ups over in Seattle offer this baby for hot drinks too. Trenta becomes the new Venti, and Venti becomes the new Grande. I'm just trying to stay ahead of the system here.

Oh, and mad props to Starbucks for making a 31 ounce cup and calling it "Trenta," the Italian word for 30. I know it would have been really tough to make somehow make that cup hold 1 oz less.

A couple things to clear up before I go
1) I do not order ridiculous drinks like that. If it's more than 3 words, its too long for me.
2) I do not read poetry at Starbucks. That would imply that I can read. For a strongly worded opinion about people who do read poetry in Starbucks, see Mr. Neitzke.
3) No offense was intended towards Corrine. Love me some CBR.

22 Days til Hot Tub Time Machine!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Shakin' It

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those meant to PLAY competitive basketball, and those meant to WATCH competitive basketball. But don't get me wrong - just because you may be meant to watch the game doesn't mean you can't affect it. The crowd can play a big role, and sometimes, bigger is better.

Which brings me to my Hero-Of-The-Day: This guy:

This guy is in the stands at a game between Idaho and Utah State. Idaho's Marvin Jefferson is at the line shooting 2 free throws. The game is at Utah State, so the crowd is yelling and screaming, and waving their arms trying to distract him. This is a pretty common sight. What is NOT a common sight is this guy. He's down to a teeny pair of white shorts and a pair of cupid wings on his back. And oh yeah - he is shaking every bit of his what appears to be approx. 280+ pound frame.

It's a bit disturbing, but appears to be effective, as Jefferson misses both free throws.

I must say, this guy's achievement holds a special place in my heart for a reason. My senior year of college, my friends and I went shirtless, got body-painted up, and headed to the William and Mary basketball game against visiting ODU. We camped out right behind the basket. Whenever an ODU player shot free throws, we made obnoxious bird calls as loud as possible and waved our arms. We got other people around doing it too. It seemed foolproof!

ODU didn't miss a free throw. The entire game. 17 for 17. Seriously, check the box score.

So my hat goes off to you, sir, for your dedication and success. Bravo.

Thanks to Richard for sending me the link!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Olympic Wrap Up

As February comes to a close, so do the Olympics. I can't help but take a nostalgic look back on what has transpired out in Vancouver

I must say it's been amazing watching world class athletes 24/7/2 (that's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 2 weeks). I must say I love the new "extreme" nature of the games these days. Say what you want about whether or not they are "real sports," but the world is a much better place with Shaun White's Double McTwist 1260 and Speedy Peterson's Hurricane.

USA Hockey took me on a wild ride of hopes and expectations. I got my fill of Nordic Combined to last me another 4 years. The Night Train (choo choo!) came through in the clutch, and speedskating never offered a dull moment.

My quest to be the most graceful person on the planet was shattered in a in a matter of minutes, as Kim Yu Na raised the standard beyond mortal reach.

And curling...ah, curling...I will say I have missed it in the last four years. I'm gonna put it out there right now - I will curl before the Sochi games, come hell or frozen water with colored rings. People will think there is a concert going on in my living room, because I will put the rock in the house like nobody's business. Alright, enough bad curling puns. I think I hammered that one home enough. Ok, seriously, now I'm done.

The thing about the Olympics is that normal people in average physical condition are confronted with athletes in peak physical condition achieving goals set years ago and trained for with countless hours of intense physical labor. The reactions tend to be two-fold:
1) This makes me feel so lazy.
2) This inspires me to go work out.

People who I talk to who say #1 are invariably sitting on a couch. And eating something. Whatever level of laziness they are at in their lives, I'm gonna go ahead and guess they were pretty much that level before February 12th, and they're gonna stay that way now that NBC goes back to being a 4th place network.

People who say #2 - I admire your outlook. But I also have news for you - there's a family of networks called ESPN. Between ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNNEWS, and ESPNClassic, you can find people who are super athletic and inspire to work out all the time! So don't lose the drive now!

As I walked by a TV tonight and saw the closing ceremonies, so many questions ran through my head. But I think two questions are on every one's minds.
1) What will Scott Hamilton do for the next 4 years?
2) How awesome would it be to see him during everyday activities? I mean picture him at, like, an ice cream store. "Here it comes...the triple scoop of vanilla...into the WAFFLE CONE! Oh, what grace, and he's adding NUTS! I am just SO thrilled to have been a part of this Ice Cream experience today! The Sundae is COMPLETE!" He brings so much energy to ice skating commentary, why wouldn't he bring it to ice cream commentary too?

Fare thee well, winter Olympic athletes. It's been a pleasure. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.