Archive for September, 2007

2007.09.27

Resident Evil: Extinction

I meant to post this earlier since I saw it with friends over the weekend, but sad news at work put me off it. Now I’m ready.

Resident Evil: Extinction rocked. Yes, there were some dreadfully confusing bits but I didn’t really care. The action was solid, the creatures (like the ravens) were creepy, and it has Milla Jovovich in it. Really, the only thing I though lame was the ending… This wasn’t because of how it ended, but simply because it happened too fast. See it, you’ll know what I mean.

Redge and Hiromi had an interesting theory about the Resident Evil series they told us before the movie started. Thier theory is that at the end of every movie Milla will be shown naked. It turns out their theory was accurate! Also true to form, the ending is open enough that it could lead into another movie. Maybe after Milla has her first child.

Finally, a little note to the three Chinese guys who say next to me in the theater. SHUT THE FSCK UP. It’s a movie, not a place to hold long, loud conversations. Is it even possible to whisper in Chinese? I have to assume so but these twats couldn’t, even with half the theater telling the to shut up. People like that… there should be a way of getting them kicked out. Something combining an electric chair and an airplane ejection seat. Without a parachute.

But the movie was great! Go see it!

Comments Off on Resident Evil: Extinction | Catergorized: friends  movies

2007.09.24

Kevin Chan, RIP

Today I learned that my friend and coworker, Kevin Chan, passed away over the weekend. He will be sorely missed. He was only (if I remember) 36.

Kevin Chan at the VIZ bowling party

1 Comment | Catergorized: friends  work

2007.09.23

4×4 Ayes

So Jason tagged me with one of these things where you answer all kinds of questions and then tag others in the hope that they reveal as much information as you do so your answers aren’t quite so embarrassing when you look at them the day after you post them. Jason’s post is a series of four answers for various personal stats. My post title pays homage to the nature of fours, his post title, the fact that I didn’t post anything for Talk Like a Pirate Day, and an old anime called 3×3 Eyes. I’m kind of proud of how much reference is in that title. :)

Four jobs I have had (current job excluded):
I’ll make these approximately in order from the first jobs that I consider “real jobs” since I’ve had far too many jobs in my life…

  1. Burger Flipper. McDonalds. My parents made a deal with me in high school that I could drive the car but I had to pay for the gas and maintenance. Not knowing what else to do I took a job in fast food just like, it seems, much of America has at that age.
  2. Industrial Drill Press Operator. Haynes Engineering and Manufacturing. For two summers I worked for my Uncle in Detroit as a drill press operator. We made many of the pumps that Detroit automakers used on their assembly lines. It was hard, dirty work but I learned a lot about honest work under the watchful eyes of my Uncle and the guys in the shop.
  3. No title. The Front Room. I don’t know if all of you are old enough to remember, but coffee shops used to be almost non-existent. There were no vente, grande, or short coffees. Certainly no frappucino sweet drinks. Despite that we were on the bleeding edge and actually had imported coffee. Ironically I didn’t drink coffee at the time.
  4. Currency Exchanger. Cekobanka. My only qualifications for this job were I could count in a couple languages and speak English natively. The job rather sucked but the people I worked with were united in their bitterness in the job and scorn for the tourists.

Four Films I have Watched Again and Again:
I’m going to divide this up into chunks of time since, really, I watch too many movies. This is probably the only part of this post where I could go on and on and on without let up, and even the answers I give will seem extremely limited. I won’t be happy with any of the answers alone…

  1. High School. Highlander. I couldn’t even tell you how many times we watched this. For quite a long time it was almost a weekly ritual. There can be only one!
  2. College. The Princess Bride and Heathers. Two of the most quotable movies in my life for a really long time. Eskimo! Another good one from this time was Dangerous Liasons.
  3. Early San Francisco. The Matrix and Starship Troopers. Although The Matrix has sort of dropped off the radar after its sequels came out and I got disillusioned with it, Starship Troopers will still come out when Mookee and I are drinking. Man, we drank a lot of Weinhards beer watching these…
  4. Late San Francisco. The Fifth Element and About a Boy. I have quite a large collection of DVDs at this point, and for some reason whenever I feel stuck on what I want to watch I keep coming to these two. There are tons of other movies I’ll watch again and again, but these two keep drawing me back.

Four Places I Have Lived:
I’ve grown up moving a lot. Comes from my Dad being in the military. Until I came to San Francisco, in fact, I hadn’t stayed anywhere more than a couple years. So here are a few of my favorites.

  1. Seoul, Korea. We lived here the first time in my preteen years. It was a brilliant time when our family pulled together. I consider my years extremely formative and can see so much of who I am today coming from those three years.
  2. Athens, Ohio. This is where I went to college. First relationships, life long friends, and loads of stories as we all started discovering our first tastes of independence.
  3. Prague, Czech Republic. Finally out of college I went to Prague. There’s so much that happened there I don’t even know what to say. So I won’t.
  4. San Francisco, California. I had a hard time picking between here and Washington, DC, but I have to choose SF. I’ve been here 10 years this month which is more than twice as long as anywhere I’ve ever lived before. For those who know me that speaks volumes.

Four Shows I Love to Watch:
This is the hardest one for me to answer because I don’t watch television. Seriously. So many of these will be “expired” shows. I think each of my shows depended hugely on their ensemble cast. There is no mistake that they are all science fiction, too. Honorable mention to Stargate.

  1. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I loved this show. I think this is one of the very first American shows that had an angry black male in the lead role. It also had an angry Klingon, but that’s another story.
  2. Space: Above and Beyond. This, along with the next entry, are two shows that were given only (merely?) a single season yet I thought were amazing. S:AaB took war into space with all its ugliness, heroism, humanism, and reality. I wish they’d been given a chance to at least end the series properly.
  3. Firefly. What a show. While it started kind of awkwardly it sucked me in and didn’t let go. The idiots at Fox television made such a huge mistake in cancelling this and S:AaB above.
  4. Battlestar Galactica, old and new. I love these. I remember being allowed to stay up and watch the original series with my parents. I think it was the first show we ever watched as a family. And the new series… Well, if you’ve been reading this blog at all you know what a huge fan I am.

Four Places I Have Been on Vacation:
I haven’t had a lot of real vacations in my life. I’m not much of a vacation kind of guy. Aside from yearly trips up to Tahoe to snowboard, here are a few of my more memorable trips.

  1. Okinawa, Japan. My Dad, brother and I went to Okinawa when we were stationed in Korea the first time. My brother and I were so bloody excited to eat at a McDonalds again, much to Dad’s chagrin, but really, the whole trip was amazing. The place was so shockingly green in color…
  2. Chejudo, Korea. We went one summer break from college when I was back in Korea. The island is well and truly one of the most beautiful places on Earth and almost completely unknown outside of Korea and Japan.
  3. Oahu, Hawaii. Annemone and I visited my brother and his family when they were stationed at Pearl Harbor and went around the island. I loved visiting but I don’t think I could ever live there; too insular (which is quite an appropriate word if you know Latin).
  4. Paris, France and Prague, Czech Republic. Though part of my trip earlier this summer was for work, I did take some time off and fell in love with Europe all over again.

Four of my Favorite Foods:
I’m not really a

  1. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. For years as a kid this is what I had on my birthday every year. I will still eat a whole box of it every other week or so…
  2. Steak. Almost any kind of steak. Mmmm… meat.
  3. Chocolate covered cherries. These things are like crack to me. I’m eating some now.
  4. Lasagna. I don’t know what it is about lasagna. Amazing. Safeway makes an amazing vegetarian lasagna. I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch but this stuff is addictive. I’ve even gotten friends hooked on it.

Four of my Favorite Drinks:

  1. Jolt Cola. I wish this stuff were more widely available out here. I’d drink it to the exclusion of almost anything else.
  2. Coffee. Love it. Live it.
  3. Fermented and unfermented red grape. I love red wine, almost any kind of varietal. Also in the last year I’ve been drinking gallon on gallon of grape juice. It’s actually helped me cut the amount of Coke I drink dramatically.
  4. Coca Cola. I do still drink Coke, though. I used to drink tons of it (since Jolt is hard to find) but in the past few years I just have some with lunch. Sadly (?) I don’t even always finish the bottle I start anymore.

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:

  1. Paris.
  2. Prague.
  3. New Zealand.
  4. Asleep.

Four Bloggers I’m Tagging:
Let’s see if I can break the bad luck I have getting others to take this up…

  1. Carlos Costa at Population Statistic. Let’s see how adorkable his lists are. :)
  2. Kevin at Humble Tidbits of Vacuity. I can’t wait to hear more about his vacations.
  3. Mr. Brown at Brown That Banana. Really I just want to see what pictures he uses.
  4. Banana Boy over at Banana Land. Nothing to do with Mr. Brown’s blog. I keep hoping he’ll do one of these.
7 Comments | Catergorized: college  dc  family  food-drink  friends  korea  life  movies  paris  prague  san francisco  tahoe  tv  work

2007.09.19

So You Want To Be an Astronaut?

Via Slashdot comes the news that NASA is looking to hire 10 – 15 brand new astronauts. Awesome!

The pilots, scientists, engineers and educators that NASA recruits will train primarily for three- to six-month missions aboard the international space station. However, some could be among those who stroll on the surface of the moon as part of NASA’s plan to return human explorers to the lunar surface by 2020 aboard the shuttle fleet’s successor spacecraft.

The requirements are that you’re a US citizen between 5’2″ and 6’3″ with at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological or physical science, or mathematics and vision correctable to 20/20. The deadline for application appears to be next July 1st. Alas, this is too soon for me to get that second bachelor’s degree… If I could even make up my mind which one to get.

1 Comment | Catergorized: geek  science

2007.09.18

Beat Boing Boing to the Punchline

bOING bOING is one of the most-read blogs on the net and has been for a long time. I remember when I first discovered the site I was always impressed by the range of material and how fresh it seemed. Later, when I started my own blog and OOKEE.com I started noticing that a lot of the stuff they post is old hat for me. In fact sometimes they are posting items that I’d seen (and often posted) and forgotten about. The “fresh” at that point is more a “refresh” and sometimes I’ll visit the link just for fun. Take, for example, this post, which I’d posted a full week before here; and the link itself was posted over a month before either of us!

Has anyone else ever noticed this? I’m sure it can’t be only bOING bOING that has this weird post-freshness issue. I know with OOKEE.com I don’t even pretend to be posting items that are fresh; I don’t have time to dig the work for what’s hot and what’s not. But it’s always weird to me to see old stuff on a site I’d always admired for its newness.

In the marketing world you can always see who isn’t in a position of power and influence by the fact that Company Alpha never refers to Company Beta in their ad campaigns, but Company Beta is always comparing themselves to Company Alpha. I’m not trying to compare myself to bOING bOING (that would be tedious!) but I do sometimes think it would be amusing to award badges to some sites the “I Beat Boing Boing to the Punchline” badge of honor.

Now excuse me while I go back to reading their posts about the TSA, copyright, weird alt-porn, and lately gadgets.

Comments Off on Beat Boing Boing to the Punchline | Catergorized: geek  grrr  thoughts

2007.09.17

System of the Moon

I got two things done this weekend. Well, more than two but I’m not counting laundry. I watched the series From the Earth to the Moon and then Apollo 13, and I finished Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and System of the World). Amazing stuff.

As lately I’ve been in a space mode I thought I’d notch it up a bit and pick up a few movies about us going there. I’d seen From the Earth to the Moon when it first aired on HBO back in 1998. I was really impressed with the show. It was tragic, triumphant and honest. Apollo 13 I saw in the theaters. Though a bit dramatic at times, I was actually kind of surpised when I watched the extra materials on the DVD at how much time and research went into the film to make it real. Some of the lines are direct quotes from the astronauts, crew and family as they recollected the tense days wondering if they would be the first floating corpses in space. Both shows are well worth it if you’re a space geek like me.

Meanwhile the Baroque Cycle… What to say? It is huge, vast… So many people asked me what it was about and I still don’t know how to answer that question. Superficially it’s about tearing down the old world of feudalism and superstition and laying the groundwork for the modern world as we know it in terms of economy, science and multinationalism/multiculturalism. The depictions of life in the late 1600s and early 1700s are wonderous and scary, and various plots will take you all around the globe.

One of the primary plots is the shenanigans revolving around a cache of Solomonic Gold (it is slightly heavier than normal gold because it is imbued with mystical, alchemical power). Isaac Newton and other alchemical fanatics are after it while those that have it generally want to get rid of it. It is my assumption that the alchemy and what happens to a few characters with Solomon’s Gold is why Neal Stephenson let the books be marketed as a science fiction story.

Many of the characters are ancestors to characters in the Cryptonomicon except, apparently, Enoch Root. I wondered about him after reading Cryptonomicon (as have others) but wrote it off as artistic license. He’s a very complex thread in The Baroque Cycle and someday I’ll have to read it again and untangle what I can.

All in all a satisfying end of the weekend. I’ve just started in on David Wingrove’s Chung Kuo series. 57 pages in and it’s just as awesome as I remember it…

Comments Off on System of the Moon | Catergorized: books  movies  tv

2007.09.12

Would You Buy This Book?

All you Harry Potter fans, imagine this scenario. You’ve been following and loving the series since it came out. Then the final book comes and and for one reason or another you don’t get the seventh and final book right away. Maybe you had no money, or you were out of the country, or you were in the hospital or whatever. A few weeks go by and you decide to go get it.

But it’s not available. Anywhere.

You discover it had a very limited printing. You don’t know why. Now you can’t find the last book anywhere and it pisses you off. Then depresses you. Then pisses you off all over again. You decide you’re not even going to read the damn thing since they couldn’t be bothered to print enough for you to get a copy.

Years pass and you wonder what happened to Harry. Did he die? Or did he finally defeat Voldemort? In a moment of weakness you reread the previous books and you remember how much you love them. You go questing for the seventh book so you can finish it.

New books stores: not in stock
Used book stores: not in stock
Online: prices ranging just shy of $200

Piqued, you go another few years not knowing how the series ended. When you visit book stores you casually glance to see if they have a copy. They have the others, but not that all important last book.

Finally you can take it no longer. You go online and discover some remote bookstore that has a copy for just under $100. Would you buy the book? It’s been ten years since the book came out. Ten long years where you’ve only heard second hand online how it all ends.

I ask again, would you buy the book?

My nemesis book for the last ten years has been The Marriage of the Living Dark by David Wingrove. It’s the eighth and final book in his Chung Kuo novels. I have the first seven and have read them a few times. I think that Mr. Wingroves books are some of the best speculative fiction books -in terms of characters, story, writing, concept, and scope- I have ever read. I love these books! And for ten years I’ve had no idea how it’s ended. I’ve looked and only found it for close to $200 for years. A couple weeks ago I found it online for eighty-odd dollars.

To answer my own question, I bought the book. And in a few weeks I’ll let you know if it was worth it; I have to read all the others again first so I have all the details in mind. I think I’ll be a bit sleep deprived until this is all over. Finally.

9 Comments | Catergorized: books  geek

2007.09.10

The Giant Phallus Wins

Previously I posted about a contest to rebuild the San Francisco Transbay Terminal. I didn’t like many of the entrants. You can read my critique -such as it is- here. Today a jury chose its favourite and the winner is the design from Pelli Clarke Pelli. Here’s what I had to say about it.

The Pelli Clarke Pelli design looks like a giant vibrator or high tech phallus. Given that none of the buildings in the area are giant, reflective testicles this thing just sticks up in the sky pronouncing its penis inferiority complex. Put a giant SUV on top and the image is complete. Sadly the interior looks like it would be better suited for a rest home for insane persons than a bus terminal. Oh wait, it’s a bus terminal! Spot on design.

I’m happy to say that I’ve revisited the pictures of their design and not changed my opinion very much. The only addition I would add is this thing is the most boring, uninteresting, safest design I’ve seen in a long time. There isn’t even a unique feature on the tower. Just a smooth, smooth skin on a over-long, over-sized phallus.

The jury unanimously chose this thing. They loved it. Yet the park on the roof is not “a risky, daring move in neighborhood development,” as the jury would have you believe and the tower does not fit “beautifully as part of the urban form of San Francisco both from an aerial perspective and at ground level.” It is a dildo of epic proportions with a park at the bottom.

I’ve lived all over the world. I’ve seen people with tattoos of Prague Castle, of Sutro Tower, of Nam Dae Mun, of the World Trade Center, of the US Capitol, and many others. You may not like the buildings yourself, but they are distinctive and loved enough to get inked on bodies. If the sign of unique, distinctive and loved architecture is that people would be willing to get a tattoo of the thing, the Pelli Clarke Pelli building is doomed. Who wants to get a tattoo of something you’d buy in a sex shop? I can’t wait for Good Vibrations to start selling their special version…

5 Comments | Catergorized: grrr  san francisco  technology

2007.09.07

NASA Needs a Slogan

NASA apparently needs a marketing department.

In early August, NASA internally released its latest marketing campaign, designed to show its relevance and value to the American people. Its new slogan? “NASA explores for answers that power our future.” The campaign now seems to be aborted, but it did get me thinking, could we do any better?

Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides posed the challenge and created a forum to let people create -and vote upon- new slogans and mottos.

I submitted “Ex Astris, Scientia” which is the motto of Starfleet Academy. NASA and Star Trek have been inspiring each other for decades. I don’t see that there’s any harm in using this motto, which means, “From the stars, science.” I’ll submit more when I think of them. There seems to be a lot of interest in the words space, explore (or exploration), and frontier.

A “winner” will be announced on October 1st so even if you don’t have any ideas go and give the up or down to a couple of the entries. It won’t be adopted as an official NASA slogan, but whoever wins will get some degree of geek cred!

1 Comment | Catergorized: geek  science  thoughts

2007.09.07

Frozen Smoke and Ten Dimensions

I love science. In an alternate universe I’m a scientist. So when I read about new technologies, even if completely unrealistic, I tend to geek out.

New substances with amazing properties always interest me. That’s why frozen smoke (also called Aerogel) is so intriguing. Created in the 1930s on a bet it’s only recently that direct applications have been found. Some of these applications are pretty amazing, too.

Aerogel, one of the world’s lightest solids, can withstand a direct blast of 1kg of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than 1,300C.

Not too bad from a material that is so light and airy. They can also customize it to absorb oil and mercury spills, capture dust from a comet’s tail, and make bomb proof houses.

Something else that’s always interested me is the concept of multiple dimensions. Conceptualizing the first four is easy. After that it becomes… more difficult. That’s why this video called Conceptualizing the Tenth Dimension, a video based on the book by Rob Bryanton is so interesting. The first time I saw the ten minute video I was a little confused, but after that it started to make sense. One of the concepts I like is each dimension is a mere point for a higher dimension. It makes me wonder if all there is are points, and each point contains all the information for every other possible point.

1 Comment | Catergorized: geek  science
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