Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mail disaster!

Wow...trying to catch up on all the old email from this site will be no easy task. I've really let things get out of hand!! New resolution: find a better system for managing mail.

On the other hand, got me some great deals on books through compare-books.com, so i am feeling pretty up about that. Haven't had new recreational reading material in a LONG time.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Just found a great price comparison site

Went out into the ether there for a while, no updates, no contacts. Needless to say its been a very busy year. Grad school is well under way, and in fact, almost done. Still poor, and still scrounging around for money :) I will start off this year with an effort to catalogue my ways of saving money, until my education is done, and I will bring these saving techniques into the non academic world. First off, book comparisons, since I still am in college and still need books. There are quite a few, but Compare Books is a recent one that I have found to be simple and easy to use, without a lot of the extra fluff that some sites give you. In addition, it searches prices in real time, vs sites that catalogue prices and return results that may be weeks old. Sure the search is slower, but at least I am most probably getting the lowest price around. Book prices are something that can change by the hour, so this is quite handy. Happy new years everyone!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fall is coming!

During this last hectic week, there were two glorious, glorious days where the sun did not shine as bright, the temperature was below 90 degrees, and there was that delicious, smoky, change is on the way smell in the air. I do not know if anyone else gets quite as euphoric and nostalgic as I do when that autumn smell comes drafting in from wherever it drafts in from, but it is my favorite time of the year.

By coincidence, I am taking a neuroscience class this semester, and one topic this week happened to be on scent recalled memory associations, although it was not covered in quite as much detail as I would have liked. I am sure most have heard that your strongest memories are tied to scent, and yes there is an anatomical/physiological basis for this too. Beyond this, much is not known, as most of our consciousness is a mystery still. The mystery of consciousness is why it is wonderful to be alive, yet it is also depressing in that it reminds us of our own mortality.

I digress though. The euphoria that the fall air gave me (I must have had some pretty enjoyable events in my life around fall to make me feel like this!) got me thinking about other memories that are associated with smell. To my surprise, I found that I have mostly pleasant memories associated with smell. For example thanksgiving dinners, the smell of grass, cucumber-melon, and even slightly burnt engine oil from an out of tune truck, strangely enough, which I tied back to my grandfathers pick-up.

So this brought up the question, what pleasant memories can I make for my daughter? What will she remember? Hopefully she will remember baking cookies, thanksgiving dinners, running around in the grass and myriads of other pleasurable events that will bring emotions flooding back at a single smell.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

More Nomadic Preacher

Courtesy of TheDMOnline.com, a photojournal of Brother Micah preaching. He is a nomadic preacher, going around, preaching about all kinds of people going to hell. See previous post for more background. If anything, it should provide some serious entertainment if you have not had the pleasure of witnessing this guy. Be sure to turn your volume up.

ORIGINAL LINK: http://media.smc.olemiss.edu/slideshows/200703211/small.html

EDIT: I know this is off topic for the blog, so all I can say is that maybe you should warn your kids about guys like this just like warning them about the neighborhood crazy. Let them voice their opinion, but treat with caution.

Apathy on Campus

Continuing this theme of inaction by recent generations, I would like to illustrate some examples going on at the campus I attend right now. Most of these policies do not affect me, but the ones just entering college. No one protests however:

1. Playboy magazines banned for sale on campus.

Sales were banned based on the preferences of a few, and not the student body on a whole. There will always be a minority that objects to anything, but banning something like this on a college campus, an inherently liberal institution, strikes me as strange. Sales have not been re-instituted because no one has said anything. Never mind the simple reason of the first amendment.
2. ...But crazy preachers are given free reign
What is even more disturbing is that a nomadic preacher, Brother Micah, was given free reign in the name of free speech, even though he was downright offensive. There was a ton of student protest but nothing happened, which actually I believe was for the best. Freedom of speech was protected. People are protesting the wrong things. For reference, here is a good synopsis of this guy from thedmonline.com (no this is not exaggerated):

"Micah Armstrong, also known as Brother Micah, is a nomadic preacher who graced the University of Old Mississippi with his presence last week. He's a friendly bloke who yells at students walking to class, tells them they're going to hell, makes everyone feel bad about themselves and has probably never had any friends his entire life.

Micah Armstrong comes from Miami (City Motto: "Crazy people. Drugs, too.") and has been traveling across the United States judging people and making babies cry.

Brother Micah carefully outlined that most people in this world do not get to go to heaven. Some of those who don't are as follows:
•Mother Teresa
•People in sororities
•People in fraternities
•Independents, obviously"

3. Students are now required to an 8 hour!! alcohol safety examination before they are allowed to register for classes.
OK this one is pretty nuts. Everyone except seniors basically has to do this before any semester. This does not affect me, but to get the full sense of absurdity for this policy, you must read number 4:

4. No alcoholic beverages containing less than 5% alcohol will be permitted in any area before football games.
That's right. Whiskey will not get you more drunk than beer. I am really really not sure what this was supposed to accomplish. Again there was a general sense of WTF around campus, and questions were asked, but there was no widespread involvement to try to get answers to this policy or even try to change it. Actually, I found lots of people asking questions online:

"Can anyone explain to me how they came up with the conclusion that liquor is permitted in the grove over beer? I mean who in there right mind beleives that liquor is safer than beer."

But, as Colbert illustrated, armchair protests. What people need to do is come together for a common cause. From the short time I have been in college, I have seen it go from a pretty liberal state to a pretty restricted state. I cannot imagine what people from decades ago think of the college culture now. I can't help but think that students today are become more and more like automatons, and I sincerely hope this changes before my daughter starts absorbing this kind of thinking.

Colbert on Solitarity

I was watching the Colbert Report last night and his "The Word" segment was quite...moving for lack of a better word. His Word was regarding the student getting tazered at a Kerry debate. If you have not seen it, well basically, it looks as if the kid was asking questions, someone cut off the microphone, and police hustled him away and tazered him. More poignant however was the total look of boredom and apathy seen on his fellow students faces. No one stood up to protest, no one said anything, they just looked on with apathy. What happened to the people of this country? Colbert implies it is because that most have become armchair protesters, posting on their blog, and Digging their way to make a difference. Colbert cleverly equates Digging to masturbating :) It is made even more ironic by the fact that every week or so there is a surge of people calling for action instead of sitting on their computers on Digg, yet you never see anything come of it.

I cannot quite put my finger on what has made the current generations, my own included, so apathetic. I am aware of my own apathy at times, and strive to overcome it, and I hope I can pass on a more involved sense of action to my daughter. In my opinion, apathy is contagious, and the more indifferent people there are the harder it is to overcome the apathy gradient. It's depressing really.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Non-stick chewing gum!

Wouldn't it be great if gum never got stuck on your shoes, carpet, in your kids hair? Gum is popular, especially with kids. So if you have a kid, chances are your kid has chewed gum, whether you let them or not, and chances are you have had gum stuck in the strangest of places.

"Revolymer, a Bristol University spin-out company, claims that it has created a new material which can be added to gum that makes it much easier to remove from surfaces."

"The material is formed from long chains of molecules, called polymers, which have both water-loving (hydrophilic) and water-hating (hydrophobic), and therefore oil-loving, properties.

The polymer's affinity for oil means that it can be easily mixed into the rest of the ingredients needed to create chewing gum; but it is its attraction to water that gives it its non-stick abilities.

Chief Scientific Officer of Revolymer, Professor Terence Cosgrove, said: "The hydrophilic coating means that you always get a film of water around the gum and that is one of the reasons it is easy to remove - and, in some cases, doesn't stick at all.""
The only problem I see is that it may dissolve very fast in the mouth. Oh well small price to pay for the following results:

"The team also tested the gum on one of the most tricky surfaces - hair. Using the company CEO's daughter - who said she was due a haircut - as a volunteer, they attached commercial gum to one side of her hair and Rev7 to the other.

The commercial gum eventually had to be cut out, but Rev7 could be mostly removed using water, shampoo and a comb. "

There is no telling where and when this will be released into the United States though.