archive for January, 2005

Disneyland: Jan. 30, 2005

Yesterday we went to Disneyland with John (a co-worker) and his girlfriend. We started at 10 AM as California Adventure opened by going straight to Sorin’. Then we went to the Tower of Terror, Screamin’, and the Sun Wheel. We had lunch at Cocina Cucamonga.

We hopped (not literally) over to Disneyland itself and rode Pirates, Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder, Indiana Jones, Star Tours, Small World, the Carrousel, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Alice in Wonderland, Haunted Mansion, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and another trip on the Jungle Cruise.

We took the cruise twice because the first time we got a really bad guide. I hope he was new, but they really should do better training before putting guides like that in front of guests. The used the throttle the whole way, so the trip was about twice as fast as it should have been. It was really hard to understand what he was saying for the people in the back with the engine running, and he wasn’t very enthusiastic. The second trip was much much better. Our guide stopped at all of the major points, told a lot more jokes, and truly seemed to be enjoying herself. At the end of the trip, the whole boat applauded her.

We had dinner at the Blue Bayou, and left there in a rush so that we could catch the Electrical Light parade back in California Adventure. We tried to see It’s Tough to be a Bug after the parade, but it was closed for the night. We did a little shopping in Downtown Disney, and flew home.

Overall, it was an excellent trip. I want to go back a couple times before our passes expire in April. Hopefully we’ll be able to catch some of the new attractions (like the Buzz Lightyear ride) that will be opening for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. Space Mountain won’t be open until this Fall, but it’ll be interesting to see what they do with the Tiki Room. I noticed several changes to the Haunted Mansion that I was very impressed with. (I’ll let you find them for yourself.) Don’t you love how Disneyland (and CA Adventure) are always changing, and usually improving?

Google and Answers.com

For the last week or so, I’ve noticed Google linking to Answers.com instead of Dictionary.com. I’ve got to say, I really like the switch. Answers.com still supplies definitons, but it pulls information from other sources like Wikipedia to really flesh out the search. Take “ribosome” for example. They start by giving several definitions, then a whole encyclopedia article on the subject.

I like it so much that I’m adding Answers.com to my Firefox Search Bar. If you use Firefox, and would like to add the Answers.com search tool, click here…

Edit: removed broken install link.

Super Bumpy Clean Glass

Engineers at Ohio State University are working on self-cleaning glass that would cause water to bead up and roll off. Think of it as a permanent coating of Rain-X. Not only that, but their bumpy, slick, glass could be used to reduce friction in micro-machines (the new technology, not the toy cars).

Getting Cut Off

I had some more tests today. I think I aced them all. Memory games, IQ tests, and everything else they could throw at me seemed way too easy now that I have my own little mental whiteboard. It almost feels like cheating. They asked me how I was doing it, and I explained it to them. They just nodded and made some notes. Typical, isn’t it?

Apparently I’m not the only one who has figured out how to work the whiteboard. To be honest, I got the impression from the questions they were asking that several others had figured it out a while ago. On the other hand, a few people’s daydreams are more than they can handle and are causing serious problems. They think that it’s something the psychologists will have to figure out, and that those people probably weren’t too happy to begin with.

The bad news is that they’re cutting me off. No more little white pills to keep me going. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to go before I’ll start to feel like I need real sleep again. Actually, thinking back, it’s been almost two days since I took my last pill and I feel fine. I think I have developed a bit of a caffeine addiction though, but who hasn’t?

One last thing. They found my blog and have asked me to stop talking about the study. They even hinted that I should delete a few posts. They admit that I haven’t broken any contracts or anything, but they want to make sure that nothing I say about these early studies will have an impact on how the public receives the final product. I guess I understand, but I don’t think I’m doing any damage, so I’m going to keep on blogging.

Bad Chicken

Last night I made grilled chicken sandwiches for dinner. Unfortunately, I did something wrong and it came out really tough and flavorless. I may have rushed it and over defrosted in the microwave. I might have left it in the pan too long, or maybe the chicken was bad to start with. Anyway, it was bad. Jesse was nice enough to not complain, but I could see she was having a hard time eating it. Oh well, I’m sure dinner tonight will go better.

Link Roundup: Jan. 26, 2005

I’ve been reading Darren‘s notes from the Blog Business Summit. “Reportage, not links, beget eyeballs” is absolutely correct. I’m going to make more of an effort to talk about the links that I dump in my Link Roundup posts.

Mystery novel delivered in email installments
It’s a great use of some not so new technology. It is a little pricey ($7.49). They’d be better giving away the email version, and selling hard back copies to collectors and people who want to skip ahead.

Heavy metal umlaut: the movie
Jon Udell demonstrates the evolution of a Wikipedia article. I love Wikipedia (it’s probably my single most linked to site). This is a great way to see how powerful the idea of open community development is.

Schools bribe students
Personally, I think this idea is totally wrong. Who do they think they’re really bribing? Do they actually think it’ll make kids learn more? It’s funny because I was just talking to Jesse a few days ago about how they should put GPS tracking devices on kids that are habitually truant. Not only would it make sure kids went to school, it would also let you know where to find them when they don’t show up.

Google Video Search
I don’t know who started actually working on their video search first, but Google is following Yahoo at least in naming conventions. The surprising thing (at least to me) is how different these two search services are. Yahoo is just dumping thumbnails and links of movie files that it has found on the web. It’s not exactly innovative, but is is still quite useful. Google on the other hand has thumbnails and transcripts, but no video. Google is also focusing on TV, which is useful in other ways. They probably should have called it Google TV Search instead.

Google hires Firefox developers: Ben Goodger and Darin Fisher
I think the analysis is right on. If you’re Google, would you want the vast majority of your users to come to your site through your competitor‘s browser? I don’t think so.

10,000 Steps and Pedestrian-Friendly Neighborhoods
WorldChanging gets it right again. The reason American’s are so out of shape is that our cities are designed for cars, not people. Hopefully we’ll start to see some serious redevelopment work to make our cities more livable. It’s up to us. If you demand better cities, they’ll be built.

Forty Thousand Words

Today I passed the 40,000 word mark on my blog. Forty thousand is generally considered the minimum length for a book to be called a novel. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I think of my blog as a novel, it’s just nice to have a number with which to compare my word coun. I think I still have a long way to go before I become even a decent writer, and even if I become a good blog writer, that doesn’t make me a good argumentative, creative, or technical writer. Oh well, words are words, and this is still a nice milestone.

For the archive, here are my current stats:

Word Count: 40228
Post Count: 255
Recent Posts: 12
Outgoing Links: 740

Practice Daydreams

I tried some more of the biofeedback and meditation when I got home from work today. I think I’m really getting the hang of this stuff. With the biofeedback, I’m able to sort of tune my brain to the right frequency to bring out the hallucinations, or daydreams, or whatever you want to call it. It reminded me of the lucid dreaming experiments I did back in college. I was able to use some of the techniques to both amplify the daydream to the point where it was super clear, and at the same time I was able to control the daydream. I just tried some basic visualization tests, but I was able to do some things that I could never have done before. For example, by daydreaming that I was writing on a white board, I was able to do long division in my head, and still keep track of everything. Just to make sure I didn’t imagine that I got the right answer, I wrote it down on a piece of paper, and then checked it on a calculator. I’m not sure what else it’ll be useful for, but for now it’s a fun little trick.

The meditation work is going well too. I can feel my brain working away during the day like a soft buzz in the back of my head. By letting it fade out, I go nearly unconscious for half an hour at a time. I lose track of time when I’m doing it, so I use a timer to let me know when my time is up. It’s not quite like sleeping because I don’t lose control of my body, and I’m somewhat aware of what’s going on around me.

I’ve also found that by laying down and completely relaxing for an hour or so a couple times a day, I’m able to give my muscles a chance to relax and recuperate. I overlap this time with my meditation time, and I’m feeling much better. I know, it seems like I might as well be sleeping because I can’t really get anything done during these rest periods, but it’s a lot easier to fit two one hour periods of inactivity into my day than it is to fit eight solid hours. These rest periods are also way more refreshing than a normal nights sleep.

Phonetic Alphabet

I created a little Phonetic Alphabet Study Guide to help me learn how to talk in preparation for my aviation class. It’s not pretty, but it does the trick for visual learners like me.

More Tests

I went in for some more test, and to talk about the side effects I’ve been experiencing. They suggested that I try meditation and biofeedback to help clear my head, and gave me a guided meditation CD. We did one session there at the office, and it really seemed to help. We also tried some relaxation techniques to help give my neck a break. They think it’s cramping up because of the lack of rest, and that’s contributing to my headaches.

The doctors warned me that some of the patients aren’t doing so well. Nobody has gotten hurt or at least that’s what they tell me. I guess some of the patients are having really bad hallucinations. They’re taking precautions by asking anyone who has had problems with hallucinations to not drive, and they ask that I report it right away if I have any problems. The weird thing is that I have been having little hallucinations here and there. Nothing freaky or anything, and I can usually tell that it’s not real right away, so I’m not really worried about it. I didn’t mention it to the doctors because I’m a little worried about what the other “precautions” might be. If it gets bad, and I’ll go ahead and let them know, but not yet. I’m not ready to stop quite yet.

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