pyesetz: (woof)

Our room.  Kid #2 refuses day 5 of ear drops.  In his opinion, “day 1” should have been the day when the medication was prescribed, which was skipped because I didn’t buy the stuff until the next day.  He doesn’t see the need to add a “day 6” to make up for that.
      As an American parent, I can *insist* that my minor child take prescribed medications that I paid lots of money for.  But Canadians over 16 years old have bodily autonomy and cannot be forced by their parents to accept medical treatments, so I throw the bottle of ear drops in the garbage bin.  It did whatever it did for him; we’ll never know what would have happened if he hadn’t taken it; obviously it has been doing nothing for his viral cold.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  This has always been my least-favorite park.  It is so fake!  There’s plenty of trees, but the biggest one (and emblem of the park) is actually a giant piece of concrete that’s been *decorated* to look like a tree.  The park is full of carefully-arranged moats covered by carefully-arranged plantings, to make it look like the “wild” animals have much more “freedom” of movement than they actually get.  It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, but it isn’t really a “zoo” so much as it is a “curated zoo-like experience”.  You need large numbers of “scare quotes” when talking about this park.
      Attractions visited today: Dinosaur, Dino Institute Shop (souvenir, 12:48pm), Restaurantosaurus (no purchase), TriceraTop Spin (kids only), Yak & Yeti Cafe (lunch, 1:43pm), Mombasa Marketplace (take-home, 3:19pm; souvenir, 3:20pm), Expedition Everest (Kid #1 and I), Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Tamu Tamu (snack, 4:33pm).  We had hoped to do It’s Tough to Be a Bug and Flights of Wonder which had been postponed from day 5, but there’s just not enough time, as this park closes at 5pm.
      In the past, I have always avoided the Dinosaur ride, so this is my first time.  The opening video has this “doctor” who tells us that she will ”literally” send us back to the time of the dinosaurs.  IMNSHO, the actress they chose has no idea how to portray a doctorate-holder and their script-writer has no idea how PhD’s actually talk; my family thinks I am being too hard on them.  Anyway, the back-story goes swiftly downhill from there: why should the wayward male “doctor” send the audience back to the extremely dangerous moment of the meteor impact, when he can just as easily redeem himself in the eyes of the female “doctor” by “accidentally” sending the time machine back without any passengers?  You see what I mean about the extensive need for “scare quotes” at this park.  The ride is track-based and has too many swishy-swashy movements for my taste.  The animatronic dinos that you ride past seem okay.
      At the Dino Institute Shop, Kid #2 buys a chunk of amethyst for his rock collection.  $5.28.
      In Wifey’s original plan, today’s lunch was supposed to be at Restaurantosaurus (which is a themed McDonald’s) because it is near Dinosaur.  But that plan had us eating at Yak & Yeti on day 5, which didn’t happen, so the revised plan says we should eat there today.  Yet still we end up sitting down at Restaurantosaurus because it is near Dinosaur and we have to make family decisions while studying the park map.
      This is the first visit in 20 years that does not include any entry into The Boneyard.  But our kids are just too old for a giant sandbox.
      The TriceraTop Spin ride is in an enclosed kiddie area.  You have to go right to enter the area, not left towards the ride’s own entrance which is not directly accessible.  I try to tell the kids that, but they just keep walking left.  So I let them go.  Eventually they turn back and enter on the right, only to discover that there actually is a left entrance that is usable.  Wifey and I sit on a bench like oldsters.
      The last time we were here, the “hidden” seating area behind Yak & Yeti was deserted.  This time it is literally packed; we cannot find a seat anywhere.  They have stopped carrying American-style sauceless sweet-and-sour chicken, which Kid #1 had been looking forward to for months.  The nearby Indian dance music is extremely loud and we have to just stand there and listen to it because we cannot find a place to sit; this all puts Kid #1 into a pre-meltdown mood.  Eventually a cast member takes pity on us and finds us a free table (or just points out that a table has suddenly become free).  The food is disappointing when we are finally able to eat it.
      At Mombasa Marketplace, Wifey gets two boxes of animal crackers to use up snack credits.  Kid #2 pays $5.28 for a slice of agate to add to his collection.
      Wifey was supposed to do Finding Nemo — the Musical when the rest of us did Expedition Everest.  But this is prevented by the need to rejigger our FastPass™ times (which we have had to do EVERY SINGLE DAY because SOMETHING always comes up).  Also, Kid #2 sees the big drop that the Expedition Everest roller coaster makes and decides not to go on it, so he and Wifey just sit while Kid #1 and I ride.
      Expedition Everest is *excellent*!  The ride is very smooth with no bone-rattling.  The broken-off tracks are probably very scary to people who didn’t read the warning that this coaster sometimes goes backwards.  The various loops have an “extreme” feeling to them without actually being very extreme.  A perfect example of why Disney makes the best roller coasters in the world.
      On Kilimanjaro Safaris, Wifey takes many animal photos with her digital camera, while Kid #1 takes some using her smartphone.  As we are exiting from the ride, it begins to rain.  We put on our rain ponchos (mine comes from a dollar store and is decorated with a maple-leaf motif).  Our feet get soaked, but it is a warm rain.
      At Tamu Tamu, Wifey finally(!) gets her Dole Whip® (although it is called “pineapple softserve” at this park).  Kid #1 shares it with her, while Kid #2 and I get thoroughly soaked because there is no place to escape from the (thankfully-warm) rain.  Then we all get soaked on the long walk back to the park entrance.

Golden Corral (Celebration FL, 7:46pm).  Kid #1 was not looking forward to eating here, after our lunch experience in New York with this chain.  But the food here is just as good as I remember.  Only $63.28 for a lovely family dinner.  Now *that’s* what I’m talking about!  This buffet requires payment on entry, so it seems the tip needs to be in cash.  I give the waitress $6 and conveniently get some US money out of my wallet.

Landscape of Flavors (10:35pm).  Convert six dinner-credits into 18 snack credits and buy Nutter-Butters, Nilla Wafers, 10 rolls of Oreos, and 4 chocolate-coated Rice Krispy treats with Disney characters on their packages.  Also get a bottle of Coke (for me to drink during our last morning in the room) and a package of peanut M&M’s (for me to eat on the homeward plane flight).  Kid #2 carries the bag of loot.

Ink and Paint (10:54pm).  Convert 18 dinner-credits into 2 bags of pretzels, 3 bags of nuts, 10 apple pies, 25 Snickers bars, and 14 Kit Kats.  Kid #2 helps with the math.  I get confused and think I have converted too many credits, but a cast member gets the bright idea of printing out the current status of our dining plan, showing that we have plenty of remaining credits of both kinds (because this store doesn’t have the Reese’s cups that we were also planning to buy, so we bought less than planned).
      The store manager thanks me repeatedly for my business and asks me to sign a copy of the receipt showing that I bought over $100 worth of candy from him; no previous use of the dining plan has required a signature.  It occurs to me that I have traded snack credits that are “worth” up to $5 for candy bars that are selling for $2 — but the bars are much easier to carry home with us than the $5 snacks that are freshly-made and perishable.  Perhaps one unit of DisneyCorp pays another unit of DisneyCorp $5 per snack credit, no matter how little the snack cost?  This would explain the manager’s glee.

Our room.  Wifey and I try various combinations of packing the UPS box and the various backpacks and suitcases, trying to decide how in the world we are going to get all this candy home without having it turn into a chocolatey mess.  The kids wisely stay in the other room of our suite.

pyesetz: (mr_peabody)
Because every visit to Massachusetts should include a trip to the MoS!

Museum of Science exhibit halls (Boston MA, 11:51am).  Finally, we’re doing something during this trip that Kid #2 can actually enjoy!  $92 for a family of four.  The overly-geeky ticket machine announced that it would be printing five tickets, but one of them was just a ticket-shaped receipt.  Oddly enough, I can’t find that receipt now, just my own ticket-stub.
      Kid #1 spent much of her time at the museum off with some online friends she had never met before but who live in this area.  We were supposed to meet up with them near the giant T. Rex statue, but the statue has been replaced with a less-imposing one that shows a more realistic stance for the animal.  Later, I found that the old statue (which Wifey and I remember from when we were kids) had been moved outside to the station where you can take an amphibious bus tour of Boston.  Even later, I learned that Hammacher Schlemmer is selling a T. Rex model that has been cleverly designed so you can pose it either way (“15' tall as if surveying the landscape or 12' tall as if lunging for prey”).
      I did not speak directly to Kid #1’s friends.  The two things they have in common with her are ⑴ nonstandard sexuality and ⑵ fondness for Star Trek.  As the friends were preparing to leave the museum, I asked Kid #1 whether she had told them about Star Trek Continues.  She had not, so she then launched into a description of the video that her uncle had found, which they thought was interesting.  So we were all united by the love of geeky old TV shows!
      My kids remember from previous trips the exhibit where you pedal a bicycle to energize a lightbulb — and a skeleton on another bicycle keeps pace with you.  That exhibit is gone now.  Instead, they now have wristbands where you can try out various health exhibits and then go to their website to see how you did.  I did not like that you are forbidden to do the same exhibit more than once on the same wristband, although I can imagine crowd-control reasons why they wanted it to work that way.  But the website’s behaviour is less excusable: you have to clear cookies in order to enter a different wristband ID number.  You know, there’s such a thing as “trying too hard” to remember something the user once typed in!  And there is no reason not to display the ID number that goes with the data you are currently showing.  Anyway, to see my results, go to exhibits.mos.org/view-your-data and type in my ID number 01564722.
      The 500 kilovolt Tesla coils and the 5 megavolt Van de Graaf generator are still just as sparky and noisy as ever!  I am not sure whether they taught the Tesla coils some new songs to sing since last time.
      For me, the worst exhibit was the live talk about Love Canal, which contained politically-correct lies designed to make Americans feel better about their country than it deserves.  First off, the Superfund was not a “law passed by the EPA” because the EPA does not pass laws.  Only Congress can do that, and the Constitution prohibits them from delegating that responsibility although they are constantly trying to.  Second, the point of Superfund is not to “make those responsible pay for the cleanup”.  Just the opposite, in fact: Superfund is a way of getting these things cleaned up *without* making those responsible pay for it, because otherwise nothing would ever happen except motion practice for lawyers.  But the museum didn’t want to tell the kids that (perhaps in fear of losing some of their funding), so a science museum lied to children about the politics behind the science.  This sort of thing used to happen all the time in the Soviet Union, and apparently still happens today in North Korea.  I remember a time when the USA was better than that.




Museum of Science cafeteria “Wolfgang Puck catering” (3:20pm).  $27.55 for crappy museum food.  Chef Puck should be ashamed to have his name on this restaurant.  I mean, it’s actually pretty good food for a museum cafeteria, and maybe the entrées are well-made on Donors’ Nights, but you can’t turn hamburgers and French fries into gourmet cuisine by slapping some famous chef’s name on your fast-food stand.

Museum of Science gift shop.  $7.42 for a “Boston” fridge magnet and also some rocks for Kid #2’s collection.

Museum of Science parking garage (5:23pm).  $17.75 for six hours’ rent of a parking space.  Not bad for Boston!

Outback Steakhouse (Bellingham MA, 8:55pm).  $79.28 for dinner.

Market Basket (Bellingham MA).  $50 for a Christmas gift-card for BIL #3 and his family.

pyesetz: (fire-hunter)
(A₁ is my father’s sister.  She is the only person I knew before my 18th birthday who is both still alive and also still on speaking terms with me.  A₂ was my grandmother’s sister, who died 30 years ago but her estate is *still* unsettled to this very day, because lawyers.)

Interstate 495 (Franklin MA, 12:15pm).  A₁’s house is north of our hotel, so I get on I-495 North even though our pre-printed directions stated that I should use I-495 South to get to I-95 North towards her house.  (I-495 is a semicircle around Exurban Boston and so “North” actually means “clockwise”, while I-95 cuts through Suburbia.)  It is a typical fault of dogs that they can’t grasp the idea of deliberately going the wrong way for awhile in order to get to a spot where they can more effectively go the right way — but humans are supposed to be smarter than that!  It is a typical fault of male humans that they hate reversing direction, so I decide to continue on I-495 North for awhile and then cut over to I-95 — but Exurban Boston is much more built up now than when I was a kid and the roads all have a lot more traffic and stoplights than I remember.  So once again the trip takes *twice* as long as Google Maps had predicted.

Golden Temple (Brookline MA, 1:49pm).  $75.60 for Chinese food to bring over to A₁’s house.  We had told them to prepare the food for 1pm pickup, but thankfully it was still warm enough to eat.

A₁’s house (Brookline MA).  Visit with my aunt.  Unlike previous visits, she did not dismiss her home health aides for the day because she can no longer function without them.  She had a stroke last year and lost much of her hearing.  Also she had pneumonia earlier this year (which was news to us) and has lost most of the remaining function in her one good leg.  But — just like her mother — the mind remains sharp to the end.
      We spent some time talking about her paternal grandfather, who remains relevant because Wifey likes to talk about genealogy online and keeps finding extended family members who are related through my great-grandpa; he was a Shochet who arrived in the USA as a penniless immigrant and then got heavily into real estate and ended up gifting a separate house to each of his children.  To hear my aunt talk, Great Grandpa was also an inveterate liar who could never tell the straight story of why he no longer spoke to his siblings.
      I brought up the subject of the lawyer who grabbed control of A₂’s estate.  Apparently he is still dribbling money to A₁ to help pay for the heavy equipment she needs to help her get in and out of her wheelchair.  He insulted me 20 years ago and I have been waiting for vengeance ever since.  But he’s getting old himself and maybe he’ll die before A₁ does and I won’t have to figure out how to make that criminal let go of the money without having to go to jail myself.  When you’re fighting an evil lawyer, the entire government is against you, even though that guy is associated with one of the largest tax frauds in the history of Massachusetts (according to one newspaper article I found).
      It is unclear how much time A₁ has left, but it isn’t much.  We told her we’ll try to visit again next year.


Shaw’s (Franklin MA, 7:01pm).  $66.06 for groceries, including salad bar for dinner, a cheesecake and a box of cookies for the cousins, Chanukkah candles, a bottle of Barefoot Chardonnay (on sale for $5!), a six-pack of Sea Dog blueberry wheat ale, and two boxes of Sunshine Cheez-Its.
      The Cheez-Its are BOGO; on these trips to the States we usually stock up on Cheez-Its at either Tops or Wegman’s in New York, whichever is cheaper, but obviously they can’t beat this half-off sale.  The store clerk says the sale will run until day 8 of our trip, so we plan to sample these boxes and then come back for more.  We still buy a “test” box of Cheez-Its before buying mass quantities of boxes with that same lot number, even though it’s been years since the last time Sunshine made a bad batch (with a metallic taste).
      The ale is for a furiend whom I’m trying to soften up for (something); he asked me to get him a “surprise” when I visited the States.  He once tweeted that “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”.  He often visits New York to buy beer, so I wanted to get him a Massachusetts microbrew blueberry ale that he couldn’t get for himself.  But instead I got the Sea Dog (which is a widely-distributed product from Maine) because it has paw-prints on the bottle caps!

Humor Labs

Sep. 26th, 2014 11:19 am
pyesetz: (woof)
I'm on the free-public-email list for Humor Labs.  They haven't updated their website recently, but they're still cranking out the daily joke-emails.  Except they're on vacation right now until October 6th so they're re-mailing old lists.  Here is the one from July 10th, 2001:

The Top 5 Least Popular Street Names:
⑤ Vicious Circle
④ Psycho Path
③ Peoples Ct.
② Diminished Sex Dr.
① Nofriggin Way

What a blast from the past, eh?  Such a simpler time, when the Internet was new and there were still people working for the US government who could allow it to be known that they had decency and functioning moral compasses.  Not like our world today.  I had a job making pocket electronic computers that members of the public actually used — and the newly-popular Internet message boards allowed me to talk directly to my end-users!

And now, everything's gone to Hell.  Nobody wants me anymore as a greymuzzle programmer.  The Pope says World War III *may* have already begun.  Volcanoes and earthquakes and negative interest rates, oh my!  It has been publicly admitted that all sides in the Iraq war are now using weapons bought by the US taxpayer — can you say "bread and circus", boys and girls?
pyesetz: (woof)
Stan Hayward is a nobody.  He has no entry of his own at Wikipedia.  When he talks on Quora (what's up with that site?), it's mainly about his life on the water, but his bio on his own website talks mainly about his work in British film.

I like this Quora article because, while Stan Hayward has done a bunch of different things, he is still a mediocre person like everyone else.

A certain cat who frequents the K-W furmeets seems to think that I can't be real because I know about too many different things.  But I am nearly twice his age, so how could he have a clue about what "too many" would be for my age?  This reminds me of an argument I once heard, that evolution can't be true because five million years isn't enough time for the human and the chimp to have evolved from a common ancestor.  But people can't even grasp what can be done in 20 years, so how can they know anything about what would be a reasonable result from five million years' worth of slow change?

When I was a teen, I wondered how my father could solve crossword puzzles.  How could he know about so many things that seemed to have little direct relevance to his daily life?  But now that I am the age he was then, I find crossword puzzles to be fairly easy — it's mostly the same clues, day after day, year after year, just in different combinations.  Eventually you learn them.
pyesetz: (Default)
I should just pack it in and move to Blogspot.  This LiveJournal just isn't very furry.  Who am I kidding?  I don’t wear a fursuit, I rarely write furry stories, and the only fursonal drawing I ever bought got ruined during the move to Canada.  There is no place in this Fandom for “an anthropomorphized Homo erectus pretending to be a cat wearing a dogsuit”.  I never have any drama caused by my packmates’ unmentionably-disgusting fursonal habits.  And Wifey would have a fit if I ever did anything that SomethingAwful.com would consider *typical furry behaviour*.  No-sir-ree-bob, we run a prim & proper household here; there is absolutely no reason for Child Protective Services to impound our geeklets “for their own good”.  Well, yes, we do have open-air piles of corrosive dihydrogen monoxide crystals at our homestead, but that’s the government’s fault.  Why don’t they clean these things?  Get that DHMO off my lawn!  It was only a few weeks ago that a fellow down by Sarnia was enveloped by DHMO crystals and died.  There outta be a law!

So, um, Objective Reality.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I think that Objective Reality actually exists, but is beyond our ken.  We live in a Subjective Reality that corresponds to the real world (more or less, sometimes a lot less) but is always separate from it.  In contradistinction to Plato, who believed that the material world is merely a shadow of the Real World of Ideas, I believe that the objects in the universe are just exactly what they are, but our finite ideas about those objects are mere shadows of the infinite ideas that would truly describe Objective Reality.  Unfortunately for our egos, our ideas about our ideas are also mere shadows of the True meta-ideas about how the universe really works.  And so on, to infinity.  There is just no way to think our way out of our sub-reality and into the real world.

I like this religion because it allows me to dismiss out-of-paw some of the wacky ideas that are floating around the noösphere.  Anyone who thumps his Bible as “the complete Word of God” is obviously deluded, because the complete Word of God must be infinitely long and so cannot be captured by any book of limited pages.  There used to be a lot of well-respected physicists who thought that Newton’s F=ma was Reality, but of course it could only ever have been Approximation.  Today, there are probably some scientists who think that Einstein's F=ma ∕ √1−(v²/c²) is Reality, but we *know* that this too must be Approximation because it is a finite formula with only a few variables.  In Reality, everything in the universe depends on everything else for each of its properties.  For practical purposes we can safely ignore most things most of the time—but occasionally something that we thought could be ignored will turn out to have been critically important, such as the effect of Hurricane Katrina upon President W.’s war plans.  This is the conundrum of our existence: we must approximate because we cannot perceive Objective Reality, but “Reality bites” and so we cannot approximate without risk.

Another nice feature of this religion is that it explains the existence of Magic.  As a professional computer programmer, I could hardly profess my Faith in any clockwork-universe philosophy that rejects Magic.  How then could I explain what it is that I do all day?  Arthur Clark said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, which is sometimes paraphrased as "Magic is technology you don’t understand” (see Zekmalados’ comment here).  To connect this with Objective Reality, I claim that “Magic is useful activity based on approximations of the laws of physics that you don’t happen to know”.  Since the Real laws of physics are infinitely complicated, no one can know all of their useful approximations, so for each person there are things he can do that will be perceived by others as Magic.  With a little practice, you can learn to perceive your own activities as Magic even though you know the physics approximations that make them work.  Do you understand how the “quantum tunnelling” effect works?  You can use a cell phone anyway, but it’s Magic to you!

I’ll admit to a certain vanity in my thoughts about Magic.  I believe that I have more Magic in my right rear dewclaw than you could find in an entire conference room full of Harry Potter fans, but I realize that this belief is Approximation and some Potter fans actually do have the Talent.  Still, it is a useful thought because it helps me to feel superior to the Mundanes.

Regarding E₈ and string theory: Oh dear, this post is too long already.  Maybe I’ll get to those next time.  Meanwhile, here’s a random disconnected link to a certain author’s thoughts on similar subjects.

pyesetz: (flag-over-sunrise)
Berin Greenbear quotes from futurist Douglas Coupland's essay in the Globe&Mail, which I actually read at their website before seeing this reference.  I didn't like it when I first saw it and I still don't.  A "pessimist" is supposed to be a realist, but a "radical pessimist" is apparently someone who sees every glass as half-empty no matter how full it is.

1) It's going to get worse
It is always getting worse for some people, better for others.  The important questions are "what is happening to the average person" and "what is happening to me personally".

4)Move to Vancouver, San Diego, Shannon or Liverpool
Overpriced real estate.  Yeah, weather's nice, but not nice enough for those prices.  Anyway, that's where the author of this screed lives, so at least he's taking his own advice.

5) You'll spend a lot of your time feeling like a dog leashed to a pole outside the grocery store – separation anxiety will become your permanent state
I doubt it.  I don't even have a cell phone!

6) The middle class is over. It's not coming back
That's what the rich folks *want* you to think...

7) Retail will start to resemble Mexican drugstores
Absurd.  There is no need to go to a Mexican drugstore if you can get the same products online!  The value of a brick-and-mortar store is being able to examine the products before purchase.  This is another "what rich folks *want* you to think" item.

10) In the same way you can never go backward to a slower computer, you can never go backward to a lessened state of connectedness
I enjoy retro computing.
Read more... )

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