Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bill-Tracking Website Leads to Epidemic Tracing Breakthrough

Epidemics can be better traced now due to the analysis of data from a bill-tracking website, www.wheresgeorge.com . An article can be found here.

Quick Summary:

  • Historical epidemics, such as the plague during the Middle Ages, were only able to move slowly since people could only travel a few kilometers a day.
  • People today travel at much faster rates, so the rate disease spreads has to be faster.
  • Three physicists used the bill movement data at www.wheresgeorge.com to simulate the movement of people.
  • The data will drastically improve the predictions about the movement of disease during an epidemic.

My $0.02: With a pandemic looming on the horizon, a discovery like this can improve our ability to predict the disease's movement on a macroscopic scale. This discovery also helps to show how much power a thriving online community can have in the real world.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sims 3 Coming?

The Sims 3 could already be in development. An article can be found here.

Quick Summary:

  • Design sites Gamma Ray and Feng Zhu design listed The Sims 3 among project they're involved in. (No longer mentioned on their websites)
  • EA refuses to confirm any details.

My $0.02: I really like the Sims. However, I'm starting to wonder if EA is milking the franchise for too much. The game has been released on the PC, the consoles and the handhelds. Heck, the game has even been released on cell phones. Do I really need to control someone else's life that much? Boredom with the game will have to set in if EA doesn't give the franchise a break.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Stain Resistant Products In Your Blood

Researchers have found that a number of stain-resistant products contain compounds that break down into a chemical that hurts lab animals. The full story can be found here.

Quick Summary:

  • A variety a stain-resistant products contain compounds that break down into perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
  • PFOA is used to help make polymers that repel stains, keep grease in fast food wrappers, and improve hair-care products.
  • PFOA doesn't break down.
  • Lab animals have developed cancer and developmental problems after exposure to PFOA.
  • PFOA is not found directly in the products. Compounds break down to release it.
  • The EPA has asked 8 companies to cut down emissions of PFOA and chemicals that break down to form PFOA 95% by 2010.

My $0.02: If more people knew about this harmful chemical in their products, then there would be boycotts and a lot of complaints. This simply wouldn't be tolerated. Instead, most people are kept in the dark. I also note that there was no mention of the names of the companies that need to cut down their PFOA emissions. Coincidence? Definitely not.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse Review

Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse
Plaform: Xbox, PC (reviewed on Xbox)

Edward “Stubbs” Stubblefield was a traveling salesman in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Unfortunately, he was shot by a potential customer and buried in a remote field. The year now is 1959. Andrew Monday has founded a beautiful city of the future called Punchbowl, Pennsylvania. Stubbs now rises within Punchbowl with an insatiable hunger for brains.

The best quality of the game is its quirky plot. Stubbs will surprise you on more than one occasion. Peeing in the town’s water supply was one of the best parts of the game.

The basic combat moves in the game involve hitting you enemy and enemy their brains. You can also rip enemies’ arms off, unleash your unholy flatulence, through your guts as a grenade, roll your head to knock people down, and use your hand to possess other enemies. Though brain eating and your other abilities are fun, they can get a bit boring after a while. The zombie horde that you build up from eating so many brains can be very rewarding though.

From time to time, Stubbs will have the chance to drive vehicles. These are some of the worst designed parts of the game. The vehicles are often hard to maneuver and the controls feel loose.

Another negative aspect of the game is its linearity. There is no time when you can roam freely around the town terrorizing citizens. For the most part, you’ll be told exactly where to go.

Conclusion: The game is quirky and fun. Designs aspects take it down some.
Score: 3 out of 5

My Pink Paper Clip

Very recently, I posted a story about a red paper clip that was traded for cooler and cooler stuff until recently the guy got a car. Link to the post is here. Well, I have started my journey with a pink paper clip. My ultimate goal is to trade for a car. I traded for a cool pen:

Free Image Hosting - PicTiger
The picture doesn't do the pen credit. It has a very cool metallic sheen. The side of the pen says "LORD OF WAR". I'm thanking my friend Smokey for this trade.

For future reference, all posts regarding the pink paper clip journey will be done in pink.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Pimp Juice Review

Drink: Pimp Juice
Official Site:
Let It Loose

Pimp Juice is the best tasting energy drink that I've ever had. The fruity flavor is simply delightful. However, this isn't actually a great value since there are only 8 ounces for a $2, so it's not exactly cheap. The biggest factor that works is against Pimp Juice is the fact that it doesn't provide any energy. I felt nothing after drinking it.

Final Summary: Very tasty, but doesn't pack any punch.
Score: 3 out of 5

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Rip It Energy Fuel Review

Drink: Rip It Energy Fuel
Flavor Being Reviewed: Citrus X
Official Site:
Rip It Energy Fuel

Rip It Energy Fuel's Citrus X has something that's unique among energy drinks: It's actually kind of tasty. You won't forget that you're drink an energy drink, but you will appreciate the fresh taste. As far as energy goes, the drink gives a moderate amount of energy. However, the biggest appeal of the energy drink is the price. This 16 ounce drink only costs $0.99. Yep, not that $2 that the other energy drinks the same size charge you.

Final Summary: Tasty and cheap energy drink.
Score: 5 out of 5

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Trading From a Red Paper Clip to a Car

A man named Kyle MacDonald has managed to trade enough to go from having a red paper clip to having 1995 Ford Cube Van. The link to the his page is here.

The list of trades is as follows(each item was traded for the item after it):

  1. One red paper clip
  2. A fish pen
  3. A doorknob
  4. A Coleman stove
  5. A red generator
  6. One beer keg, one neon Budweiser sign, one I.O.U. for a kegĂ‚’s worth of beer.
  7. A famous skidoo(1991 Bombardier Mach 1)
  8. A three-day trip to Yahk, British Columbia, Canada
  9. A 1995 Ford Cube Van

My $0.02: This is pretty amazing to me. True, some of the trades seem absurd, but the story is interesting none the less. It gives me hope for a pink paper clip I found in my binder the other day...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Ant Teachers

Proof has arisen that ants do teach each other. The full article can be found here.

Quick summary:
  • The ant would lead its nest mate to the source of food.
  • The leader ant would pause as if to giver the follower time to look around.
  • The ants adjusted theirs speeds to keep up with each other.
  • The teacher ant slowed down considerably to teach the route.
  • The learner aunt learned faster than if it had taught itself.

My $0.02: This is just a pleasant reminder to us humans that we're still animals even if we do have bigger brains.

I Will Follow You to the Ends of Time

"I Will Follow You to the Ends of Time"

Set in present day Japan. Kagome is a little shocked by the outcome to say the least.

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of the associated characters. They are Rumiko Takahashi's characters. I am only borrowing them to tell a story.


What a beautiful day, Kagome thought as she stepped outside and looked around the shrine. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom. A gentle breeze played with her hair. She vaguely wondered what Inuyasha was doing.

"Kagome," her brother Sota quietly said to her.

"What?" she said turning to him.

Sota looked unusually pale. He diverted his eyes away from Kagome.

"What's wrong, Sota?!" Kagome said alarmed.

"Well, " Sota said while still looking away, "Grandpa's showing a strange man around the shrine. He has long silver hair and only one arm. I don't know why, but he makes me nervous."

Sota looked up, expecting Kagome to scold him for judging others. Instead, he saw her running the other direction.


Could it be him? Kagome thought. Her heart and mind were racing. She found Grandpa looking sour.

"Grandpa, who were you showing around the shrine?"

"Oh, just some man and his daughter. They refused to buy any souvenirs. The man showed particular interest in the god-tree. He seemed very cold, though. However, the girl was very perky and happy"

"Where are they now?" Kagome panted.

"They're leaving now." Grandpa raised an eyebrow at her. "Why are you so interested in them, Kagome?"

Kagome didn't reply. She was already running past him.


Kagome finally saw the silver haired man and the girl getting into a black car. The man was well dressed in a sleek black suit. The girl was wearing a knee-length yellow dress that was decorated in orange flowers.

"Sesshoumaru, what are you doing here?" Kagome shouted.

Sesshoumaru paused for a moment, and then got into the car.

Rin, however, looked back and smiled at Kagome. She then happily skipped away and got in the car.

The car drove off, leaving Kagome amazed.


Please comment!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday the 13th

What's all of the hoop-la about Friday the 13th? This article does a rather nice job of telling why the day has such a bad reputation.
Quick summary:
  • In a Norse myth, 12 gods were having a party in Valhalla. The uninvited 13th guest, Loki, conspired at the party and was able to get one god to kill another one.
  • Judas, the 13th apostle, betrayed Jesus.
  • In Rome, witches gathered in groups of 12 with the 13th guest being the devil.
  • 12 is the complete number, and 13 is one above complete.
  • Friday was the day Jesus was crucified.
  • Cain killed Abel on Friday the 13th.

My $0.02: The belief that this day is unlucky is just a product of people's imaginations. You must consider the fact that many of these superstitions arose during ancient times when people didn't understand the world as much as they do now. Of course most those people would believe supernatural dates had some sort of spooky affect on their lives! They didn't have any idea of what dictated the flow of their lives. Numbers would likely hold some power to them. And yes, you could point out that you are more likely to be admitted to the hospital on Friday the 13th, but this is just a result of the fact that people believe the day is unlucky, rather than proof that it is.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Computer Chips In Humans

Can you imagine having a computer chip embedded in your hand? Some people in this article do.
Quick Summary:
  • People can have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips put into their hands.
  • The chips can be used to store passwords for your computer and interact with other electronics, such as electronic opening doors.
  • Surgeons, veterinarians, and tattoo artists can insert the chips into people.

My $0.02: This is a bad idea. I'll admit that there is convenience in it. But come on. How lazy have we gotten? There is danger. If someone wanted to get into your house or open truly valuable files, they could just chop off your hand. That might sound a little extreme, but I'm a worst case scenario person.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Free Drinks Help Homeless Alcoholics?

Free drinks could actually help improve the health of homeless alcoholics according to one study in Canada. The full article can be found here.
A quick summary:
  • Seventeen chronic alcoholics were offered a glass of wine or sherry every hour from 7 AM to 10 PM.
  • 3 quit, 3 died from alcohol related disease, and the other 11 had improved health, sleep, and hygiene.
  • The participants had fewer encounters with the police and fewer hospital visits.

My $0.02: This actually makes sense when you think about it. These chronic drinkers weren't going to quit drinking alcohol completely in an abstinence program. This program gave them a way to still get alcohol, but it is was in a controlled form. Programs like this could help chronic alcoholics quit drinking without going cold turkey.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Guitar Hero Review

Guitar Hero
Platform: PS2

In Guitar Hero, you start out as a member of a band playing in someone’s basement. As you advance through the game, you play harder songs and improve your status until you attain the title Guitar Hero.

One of the most interesting things about Guitar Hero is the controller. It's a small guitar. Instead of strings on the fret board, there are five buttons to push. There is also a flipper to strum the guitar with. This completely original controller that helps to make the game fun.

The song selection is one of the low points for the game. Most of the good ones are unlocked through career mode. The ones that can be bought in the shop are titles that I’ve never heard of. Also, when all of the keys on the fret board are used, it can be hard for someone with small hands to reach them all.

Conclusion: Guitar Hero is a unique experience for the PS2. Don't pass it up.
I give it a 4 out of 5.

Happy Birthday, Sesshoumaru!

"Happy Birthday, Sesshoumaru!"

This story I wrote is a little sugary for my taste, but I like it anyway.

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of the associated characters. They are Rumiko Takahashi's characters. I am only borrowing them to tell a story.

"Sesshoumaru-sama?" Rin said inquisitively.

"Yes, Rin?" Sesshoumaru answered. They had settled down for the day and were sitting by the fire.

"When is your birthday, Sesshoumaru-sama?"

Sesshoumaru thought for a moment. He had heard talk among mortals about celebrating a birthday. No demon, however, had ever mentioned such a celebration.

"What is a birthday, Rin?"

Rin smiled and began to talk quickly. "It's a day when you celebrate the day you were born since you're one year older. Everyone gives the person who is having their birthday presents and everyone eats sweet cakes!"

Rather ironic for mortals to celebrate getting one year closer to the end of their short lives, Sesshoumaru thought.

"I don't know when my birthday is, Rin. I have never celebrated such a day."

"That's sad, Sesshoumaru-sama," Rin said. She sat for a while looking into the fire thinking.

Slowly, a smile crept over her face. She kept this smile on her face as she laid down by Sesshoumaru to go to sleep.


The next day, Rin ran around all day picking the prettiest flowers she could find. When she had enough that she liked, she made them into a ring.

At the end of the day, they stopped and rested. After Rin finished eating, she looked at Sesshoumaru and smiled.

"Sesshoumaru-sama," she said in a sing-song voice.

"Yes, Rin?"

Rin grabbed the ring of flowers she had made. Somewhat unwillingly, Sesshoumaru allowed her to place the ring of flowers on his head.

"Why are you doing this, Rin?"

"You don't know when you birthday is, Sesshoumaru-sama, so Rin decided that today is you birthday! Rin has one more gift for you!" She suddenly put something in Sesshoumaru's hand.
When Sesshoumaru looked in his hand, he discovered that he had a little wooden butterfly hair pin. It had little designs intricately carved in its wings. As he looked at the pin, he saw the fire cast a warm glow over it.

"Rin's parents gave it to her," she said. "Rin wants you to have it."

Sesshoumaru stared at the little butterfly for a while. He then closed his hands around it.

"Do you like it, Sesshoumaru?" Rin asked nervously.

He reached out and hugged her. No words were needed to answer her question.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Wind Your Clock One Second Forward!

Be sure to wind your clock one second forward for the new year! A leap second was inserted at the very end of 2005. This addition second accounts for the very gradual slow down in the Earth's rotation. For more information visit Wikipedia's article on the leap second.