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October 2005 - Posts

Song of the moment

 Tangerine Dream - Legend - Loved by the Sun

I love the movie Legend, it's a very fantastical movie; childlike in its innocence.  There are two different versions of the soundtrack.  Americans got the Tangerine Dream version so that's the one I've grown to love.  At the end of the movie you see the main antagonist, Darkness, laugh in the background as the music in this post plays.  You don't hear the full music played hear though, just a few seconds.  It is dreamy though, I really like it, thus it's the song of the moment :)

Posted: Fri, Oct 28 2005 8:37 PM by Humpty
Filed under:
The Amazing Race 8, Episode V

Finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, and one more, hold on......finally!!  We've -- finally -- left the country, yay, yippee ya yay ka yay :).  Big bucks, big bucks, no whammy, no whammy, big bucks!!  Yeah, someone just watched I Love the 80s 3D, tee hee.  Okay, so if you can't tell from my obvious excitement, we've left the country, Panama is the destination country.  Too bad it took the show five episodes to do something that used to be commonplace on this show.  Anyway, not like I'm bitter or anything.

The teams take taxis to the airport to get tickets to Panama and amazingly they all play nice, they just get into a line and wait for the counter to open.  Only three teams manage to get on so the other three teams have to get on a plane that lands three hours behind the other one, ouch.  Once in Panama the teams race to the next destination only to discover that it doesn't open until 7am and it's like midnight or something so all the teams catch up.  Amazingly, yet again, the teams decide to get in order, sleep in some building, and leave in the order they came.  Maybe it's the addition of little kids, families, or both but these teams just aren't conniving enough!  Geez.

In the morning the teams get on speedboats and race to an island to find some guy in a hammock, some science and research place.  The race there is hairy for the Linzs because pretty much every other team passes them by.  However, two teams are carried the wrong way, haha, so they luck out.  Once the teams find the guy in the hammock they discover it's a Detour and also that the only Fast Forward on the race is here -- I'm not sure if the teams know it's the only Fast Forward on the race though.  The Paolos and the Gaghans decide to go for the Fast Forward while everyone else does the normal Detour.  The Detour involves bungee jumping off a crane situated about the Panama river, or some river.  The Paolos do it, despite one of the son's fear of heights, forcing the Gaghans to backtrack and do the regular Detour.

The Detour involves either a hunt around a city to find musical instruments and bringing them to a club or bird watching.  Not really much to talk about.  After this there's a Roadblock involving the teams trying to get a base hit on a little league pitcher.  Not too much excitement here either.  Now what is interesting is noticing the string of bad luck that seems to befall the Gaghan family.  They're one of the teams whose speedboat driver leads them astray that I alluded to earlier and now they're forced to wait in traffic because a truck is loading a vending machine into its cab :P.  But, they get to the mat at fifth place leaving the annoyingly screeching Godlewskis to come in last.  They had thought this might be a non-elimination round so they put on as many clothes as they could on the drive to the Pit Stop.  Good thinking since it was a non-elimination round.

Ambidexterity

I'm on my latest health improvement kick.  This time it's ambidexterity: the ability to use both hands equally well.  I'm not quite sure why I started on this but a couple of days ago I just had the urge and desire to become proficient in using my left hand.  I have some stress balls that I can twirl in my hands, so I started doing that with my left hand instead of my right.  It's a lot tougher, of course.  When I do it I can feel my left arm tensing up more, like it's being used a lot, which it is.  Today a co-worker suggested using the mouse with my left hand since the precision necessary to hover over tiny icons would help increase mastery of my left hand.  It works!  Not that I'm that good with using my left hand but I can feel my body coping, new pathways in the brain being formed :).  I even noticed myself opening doors with my left hand today and my arm didn't feel so weak and underused.

As a weird side note.  I noticed that I could see a lot better after doing all this today.  Images were even clearer than usual and that same feeling of being strong on my left side was there in my eyes.  It's strange, but it feels like the left side of my body is waking up.

Posted: Tue, Oct 25 2005 8:47 PM by Humpty
Filed under: ,
LastTab 1.5 released

 Gustav Holst - Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity


Tab list window in LastTab

I've spent the entire weekend, and many days before it, working on the latest version of LastTab, my tabbed browsing Firefox extension.  I think the one feature people have wanted most from it was the feature I just added: displaying a window from which you can choose the next tab to select.  Why did I never add it before?  Well I got my inspiration for LastTab from working with Visual Studio .NET.  In that program pressing control-tab doesn't display a menu of tabs, it just cycles between them.  I liked using Firefox and hated not being able to flip between tabs thus LastTab was borne.

That was back in February of 2004, when Firefox was still going by Firebird -- or Phoenix depending on the day, heh.  Anyway, I was happy to have it out and it did what I wanted.  Eventually I fell into using Maxthon over Firefox so I stopped using my own extension, haha!  Since I developed it I'm still committed to maintaining and improving it though.  I was reading some of the comments people have left for it at Mozilla Update and saw people were wanting a window to appear, like what happens when you press alt-tab.  So back to the drawing board.

I had to reacquaint myself to writing Firefox extensions again since it's been a while since I've done anything more than bug fixes for LastTab.  I first had to figure out the appropriate way of displaying the window: popups.  Then I had to figure out how to dynamically create elements: document.createElement().  And then how to get the image and label for each tab: getBrowser().mTabContainer.childNodes[].getAttribute().  There were, of course, some unexpected surprises: like you can only show a popup off-screen along the y axis and not the x!?

It was a labor of love for me though, I had fun writing it.  I actually wanted to release it Friday but it became apparent to me I was underestimating how much time it would take me.  Aside from that I kept thinking of features I thought people would like so I resisted the urge to release it too early and focused on getting out a good product.  I think I succeeded, I'm really happy with LastTab 1.5.

Oh, and in case you're wondering why I chose 1.5 for the version number, and not 1.2 which would have been the next logical choice after 1.1.1: Firefox 1.5 is due out pretty soon and I wanted to piggyback off its version number, hahaha.  I want people to associate Firefox 1.5 and LastTab 1.5 together, e.g. if you have Firefox you gotta have LastTab :P.  Yeah, I'm megalomaniacal like that :)

Posted: Sun, Oct 23 2005 9:48 PM by Humpty
Filed under: ,
The Amazing Race 8, Episode IV

I have mixed emotions about this episode.  On one hand the show is becoming boring as hell, The Amazingly Boring Race.  There's just no suspense, no drama, no exciting locales to look at, nothing to really grab you.  The toughest challenges involve things like sawing wood and navigating a rowboat across a river, c'mon how challenging is this!  I remember back in season 1 where teams had to navigate past a group of tigers but now we're sawing wood...  Having kids on the show is a big no-no as that forces the race to be dumbed down.  If there are any producers of the show reading this, remember that statement for next season.  However.  On this particular episode some interesting, albeit circumstantial, things happen on this episode to liven it up.

Okay, guess what country we're in this time?  If you guessed, "The United States again!? Fuck!!", then you would be correct.  In this episode Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana are the destination states, not countries since apparently we're not leaving the U.S.  The first task is finding the world's biggest office chair, which just happens to be in Anniston, Alabama.  Um, okay.  After this the next task is to drive to the Talladega Superspeedway.  Having to do this is psychologically tough for the Weavers since their dad was an avid racer and was killed on a speedway; I'm not clear on this but perhaps this very same speedway.  But they decide it's better to start working through their issues rather than being dragged down by them so they do the challenge.  And if you're guessing the challenge is driving souped up 200+ MPH cars around a track, you'd be wrong :).  Remember, this is the dumbed down race so instead of possibly driving in the passenger seat while a professional races around the track, the show has the families pedal party bicycles around it :(.

Ho hum, hum ho; I need to wake up.  The next destination is finding a mobile home park to sleep in for the night.  There's some excitement from the constantly bickering Paolos.  Thank god for them being in this race, lest it ends up being a big snoozefest.  The Schroeders have a family tiff on the way there as their daughter is irritated by the dad, and furthermore because the family won't listen to her when she says they should search for a better departure time.  (Each mobile home has an associated departure time with it: 7:20am, 7:40, and 8.)

In the morning the teams are racing to a gas station for their next clue, I'm serious -- btw, remember when gas was $2.10?  Ahh, the glory days....  The clue points them to New Orleans, Louisiana, site of hurricane Katrina's destruction.  But, since the show was filmed before this we get to see footage of New Orleans in all its glory.  If you taped this show good for you, keep it; if you didn't, wait for the DVD :P.  It's kind of neat seeing the French Quarter and Bourbon Street in their original glory which is a stark contrast to the imagery today.  This is a detour with a choice between sawing wood or gambling.  Not too exciting here if you ask me.  After this is a pit stop and the Branson family wins first again, and a trip to Orlando.  The last place team are the Schroeders, the same team that had problems with their daughter earlier.  It's kind of ironic too since the father used to work in the area for a year but couldn't find the Detour which lead to them being eliminated.

Can you note my lackadaisical attitude toward the show now?  This is hands down the worst Amazing Race season, ever!  I can't wait until it ends...

I need a nap before going to bed

It's been raining a lot where I'm at the past few days, lots of gray skies.  A friend of mine took some pictures on a trip to Arizona and one of them reminded me of today, thought I'd share.

BTW, I added a picture to a previous post I made; you can scroll down to see it too depending on how you read this post.  I always wanted to add a Renaissance type picture to it but didn't really search to find one.  I like what I picked.

Posted: Wed, Oct 12 2005 12:04 AM by Humpty
Filed under:
The Amazing Race 8, Episode III

This season has definitely lost some of its magic.  Not traveling around the world, not having to face difficulties in not speaking the native language, not dealing with culture shock.  All these things are missing and it sucks.  I've thought at times to call off blogging this season, but since I've started I'll continue.

At least in this episode we have the teams getting on an airplane for the first time in the race, albeit it's only to Charleston, South Carolina.  The airport scene is interesting as we finally get to see some ill will forming amongst the teams.  In this case, it's the Weavers who don't speak to the Aiellos when they are asked a question about a flight.  The Weaver mom apparently hasn't flown that much so she was asking the ticket agents questions about flying, not so much about better flights; though she did that too.  The Aiellos were suspicious anyway about this behavior and so took a disliking to them.  Aside from this not much of interest is shown happening at the airport.

At South Carolina there's a Detour: choosing between mudding around a track or de-heading 200 pounds of shrimp.  The shrimp task is boring and most teams do it, so I'm going to talk about the one most people don't do, but which is much more interesting :).  Only three teams attempt this task: the Aiellos, the Weavers, and the Gaghans.  Up first are the Weavers closely followed by the Aiellos.  The Weavers initially have a lot of trouble and get bogged down.  And then come the Aiellos.  On their first attempt around the track they almost make it, but get bogged down really close to the finish line.  Again and again they race on multiple attempts, after getting pulled out each time by a tractor.  Eventually, at attempt #6, the Weavers give up and go do the shrimping.  The Aiellos, well...they go on to race for 14 total attempts!  What's even odder is that on the first 13 they had the same guy do it.  So after 13 unsuccessful attempts they finally put another guy in the driver's seat and he finishes it his first time!  You'd think they might have thought of that sooner.  Oh, the Gaghans came around attempt #7 or so, do it in one attempt, and leave the Aiellos with their wheels spinning, yuck yuck.

After this all the teams make their way to a charter bus that has two buses leaving at different times.  The destination is a mystery, whooooooooooooooo...........it's Huntsville, Alabama.  The first group of racers to get there handled the trip alright, the second group, because of the Weavers, had a tougher time.  Their bus driver stops at a Waffle House and the Weavers mentally break down.  You can hear one of the daughters holed up in a bathroom proclaim that she can't do it anymore and the mom says that they'll just lie and put on a good face.  After this you see one of the daughters and the mom prancing around in the parking lot in the middle of the night.  I  guess to relieve stress, ya' got me.

Next up is a Roadblock.  This one is different since two people can perform it, rather than the usual one.  In this one teams get in a centrifuge and have to endure up to 3.2 Gs of gravity on their bodies at NASA's space place, Space Camp!  I went there when I was 10, didn't ride in the centrifuge though.  Anyway, all the teams do it and have to race on foot to a bunch of AOL advertisements, whoops I mean computers, where they get a video clue directing them to the pit stop.  After the bus ride that split the teams into groups of two everything was pretty much predictable as all the teams on the first bus got to the pit stop before any team from the second bus.  And you know who lost?  The Aiellos.  Fourteen attempts at anything is bound to hurt you :).  Ooo, ooo, the first place team got free gas for life for coming in first!!!  Who needs a million bucks when you can get free gas for life!!!  I mean seriously, have you seen gas prices lately....

More post-philosophy class thoughts

This is starting to become a habit, me posting my thoughts about my class.

We're on the subject of life after death now.  Our professor encourages everyone in the class to speak, because he's tired of the same people speaking.  I still haven't spoken up to give my thoughts -- perhaps I should -- but in any case I did think of a couple of things while in class.

One, the subject of where is your consciousness when you sleep came up, you know, since you're not aware are you really alive.  I had a thought flash through my mind to explain it, an analogy.  What if, if there is a consciousness somehow separate from the body, that our bodies are aware of this consciousness.  It could be a trivial matter to say which is aware of which: the consciousness is aware of the body, the body aware of the consciousness.  I say that because the body in this sense would be a tool for the consciousness, it expresses itself through the body.  It can move the arms, the legs, etc.  So then would the brain be a tool for the consciousness?  In our class examples were brought up that if a piece of the brain is damaged then the person seems to change, their personality changes.  If any other part of the person is damaged, say their arms or legs, then this doesn't occur; therefore it would seem that consciousness is contained within the brain.  Even if this were true the brain is still a part of the body, therefore could it not be said that this portion too, the brain, is a tool used by consciousness?  Perhaps, in this case, consciousness is more concentrated in this portion of the body, but can you say that consciousness itself is the brain?

In reference to dreaming then, where does consciousness go while we sleep, how does it return again when we wake?  If we are consciousness, where are we when we sleep?  Perhaps not all things are sensible by the body but yet are extant.  For instance, infrared or ultraviolet light.  These exist but yet our eyes can not perceive them.  There are sounds beyond which our ears can not perceive; high frequency enough for dogs though.  So the body cannot perceive everything that exists.  Could it be possible that our body is only capable of sensing, being aware, of a certain portion of consciousness?  That which we are aware of when we are awake could be only a portion of our consciousness, much like visible light is only a portion of the entire light spectrum; infrared and ultraviolet being areas of this spectrum unavailable to being perceived by our eyes.  What we are aware of would be all that we know, but like visible light to the light spectrum is all that we know all that is?  Perhaps then, while sleeping, our bodies are unaware to such a degree that they are not aware of our consciousness, not able to perceive it in a manner similar to how our bodies become more unaware of external stimuli while sleeping.  Are dreams the portion of consciousness we are aware of while sleeping?

 

Aside from that, the other thought that entered my mind in class was a quote from a book I used to read, Emmanuel's Book: "The curve of the earth pulls human thoughts into its orbit."  That can be interpreted in any way you want, but the way I want to here is similar to how I mentioned before that all that we know may not be all that is.  It's as if everything that we're capable of knowing is contained within a sphere, our knowledge is contained then.  Every line of thought that arises seems to be gently lead away from that which it strives.  What brought the idea to mind for me was how there's no seeming proof for things such as life after death, or even the soul, all evidence seems to point to their non-existence.  It seems the brain is consciousness itself.  There's a kind of thin barrier which cannot be penetrated with rational thought alone, but yet, there seem to be things outside of rational thought.  It's as if the very nature of rational thought itself precludes it from penetrating certain areas of existence: the insistence on perceiving before believing.  In this way can there be any rational reason for believing in things such as life after death?  If rationality depends on inferences of repeated observations, how can something which can not be witnessed, such as life after death, ever be deemed rational?  Can there be rational reasons for all things in existence?

Posted: Mon, Oct 10 2005 11:18 PM by Humpty
Filed under:
A proof for the existence of "God"?
 Young American Primitive - Sunrise

My philosophy class is pretty interesting.  Monday I left class thinking about what had been said in class.  There was a discussion in class about whether it's rational to believe in miracles; the current topic our class is discussing.  One of the students played devil's advocate and took a position opposite from his own and argued for believing in miracles.  His argument centered on the idea that thinking that this classical world is all that exists, the world in which we perceive with our five senses, hinders progress and precludes learning from phenomena that are outside of the perceptions of our five senses.  He brought up an example of how scientists, the government, and just in general learned people study ESP and that this at least signified that there was something of value in experiences beyond those perceivable with our five senses.

Even though he was arguing for a position he himself didn't really hold, for the sake of argument, I found it intriguing and started thinking on it when I left class.  I started playing around with an idea in my mind.

What if there were a person that was born without a sense, say hearing, he was born deaf.  What if this person lived in a culture that shunned deformed people of a type such as his, not being able to hear is a handicap to the culture.  There are other people of this kind born to this culture and all equally shunned.  Somehow they all end up taking residence in another land, free from the prevailing disapproving views the culture expresses towards their kind.  So in time there ends up a land of deaf people.  Throughout the years they build up their own culture, all of which devoid of the sense perception of hearing.  Suppose at some future time a person who has their full five senses visits this land.  This person may astonish the people of this land, how he/she is able to perceive things sooner than they can, perhaps by being able to pinpoint where a bird is in a tree before it can be seen.  The people of this land would need to see the bird, perhaps some movement in the branches to spot it, but this new person can instantly locate it even if he/she isn't even looking at the tree.  Of course, the bird could just be singing and so this is how the new person can spot the bird: by use of the sense of hearing which none of the natives of this land have the ability of.

Although the story I just gave was contrived, it is somewhat plausible, but the main point was just to imagine what it would be like to not experience some aspect of reality.  In this case that would be ESP, psychic abilities, paranormal phenomena of various sorts.  Who is to say that the world perceivable with our five senses is all there is.  For a completely deaf person there is no aspect of sound in their world, the concept just has no meaning, you couldn't explain it since there would be no frame of reference for the person to relate to, it's an experience you just have to experience for yourself.  We have five predominant senses, perhaps there's a sixth, and a seventh, and an eighth, and so on.  Perhaps there are aspects to reality that exist, but simply because we lack the ability to perceive them, they don't exist to us.

When I think about that it becomes apparent to me that our senses, however many there may be, are just labels given to means of perceiving some aspect of reality.  That's important, a means of perceiving some aspect of reality is what a sense is.  So, then, could I say that anything that comes into our perception is a sense of some sort?  Feelings, emotions, thoughts, can these be labeled senses?  Inner senses, definitely, as opposed to the more usual five outer senses, but if something is in our perceptions something about us made it available to us.  Could dreams be a sense? or more properly dreaming is a label given to a means of perceiving things we have labeled dreams.

What is reality, that is the question.

Posted: Wed, Oct 5 2005 11:42 PM by Humpty | with 5 comment(s)
Filed under: ,
The Amazing Race 8, Episode II

God this episode was utterly boring.  I hate saying that too because I really really like The Amazing Race, but I thought this was a race around the world, hello!  It's quite apparent to me now that this season is basically going to be a family vacation around the U.S., hitting all the touristy places.  Ugh.  Well, okay, I guess it's not so bad.  Even though I live in this country I'm learning a lot more about it from watching.  So, yeah....still sucks though :(

Since we're not jet-setting across the globe all the destinations are U.S. states.  I forget where we started on this leg because I was so pissed at staring at the U.S. again.  So the first task, is, damn, forgot.  Okay, so all the teams complete it, whatever it was.  Okay, next task is driving somewhere.  I don't know where they're going or where they came from, but I don't care, I'm still pissed.  The one highlight is the Rogers family -- I remembered their name, hint hint -- they get horribly lost taking a wrong turn.  Since this episode was so boring I'm going to fill the space with commentary on the teams, k :)

First off, what it means for me to remember a team's name.  There aren't any rules, per se, but there are some general characteristics necessary for a team to be graced by my remembrance of them.  One, they must do something exceptional, usually exceptionally wicked and / or deceitful; think Rob from season 7.  Two, the show must have gone on long enough so that by sheer force of repeatedly seeing their names pop up on the TV I remember them.  Or three, they lose!  So yeah, I just gave away who lost this leg :)

Okay, commentary on the Rogers...  They have a really cute daughter!

Okay, enough of me goofing off, back to the race.  My memory returns with teams trying to find a clue box at the Reflecting Pool.  Did you know there are two of said Reflecting Pools?  I didn't, but The Amazing Educational Race taught me.  One is near the U.S. capital and the other is somewhere else close by.  Probably about half of the teams don't really read the clue and went to the Reflecting Pool not at the capital.  Most teams who make this mistake ask for directions from someone and get put on the right path.  But the last team with kids -- don't know their name yet -- is hobbled by their dad displaying that everpresent male quality of "not asking for directions even when you've been looking for 2 friggin' hours for a clue box."  Luckily his family is saved from his bullheadedness by the last place team, the Rogers!  Ha ha ha, now see how exceptional that is!?  Not only do the Rogers, eventually, lose this leg, but they help another team seal their fate!  Hot damn!!  You can't make this stuff up, only on reality TV, hehe.

Next up, a Roadblock.  If you don't know, basically one team member has to do a task rather than the entire team.  This time it's carrying a spy briefcase and finding another spy that responds to a password.  Saying, "The sky is blue", nets you "The sea is green" and the next clue.  Not too much excitement here.  I will note how physically out of shape one team is, the family with the three girls and the dad; the dad is out of shape.  I will remember these teams names', I promise you dear readers :)

The final part of this leg is actually interesting.  It's a reenactment of the Civil War and teams have to either carry five wounded soldiers to safety, or fill 20 oil lanterns with oil and light them.  The interesting part of this isn't the actual reenactment of the war, no, it's the teams who dump their "wounded" soldiers on the ground, rolling them face first into the grass, hahaha.  Some teams legitimately carry them off the stretchers, but some are in a hurry and just push them off :P.  Anyway, some team comes in first; they get a trip for four for winning.  And the Rogers lose.  Damn, and their daughter was hot too.  I would much rather see them, her, in future episodes as opposed to the Paolos -- that's the Italian family that bitches all the time and came in next to last.