Random Crap

100 things we didn’t know this time last year (from Digg) – some interesting ones include [my comments are in brackets]:

  • While it’s an offence to drop litter on the pavement, it’s not an offence to throw it over someone’s garden wall. [neat!]
  • Nicole Kidman is scared of butterflies. “I jump out of planes, I could be covered in cockroaches, I do all sorts of things, but I just don’t like the feel of butterflies’ bodies,” she says.
  • Until the 1940s rhubarb was considered a vegetable. It became a fruit when US customs officials, baffled by the foreign food, decided it should be classified according to the way it was eaten. [sort of like the anti-tomato]
  • It’s possible for a human to blow up balloons via the ear. A 55-year-old factory worker from China reportedly discovered 20 years ago that air leaked from his ears, and he can now inflate balloons and blow out candles.
  • Lionesses like their males to be deep brunettes.
  • The = sign was invented by 16th Century Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing “is equal to” in his equations. He chose the two lines because “noe 2 thynges can be moare equalle”.
  • “Restaurant” is the most mis-spelled word in search engines.
  • The name Lego came from two Danish words “leg godt”, meaning “play well”. It also means “I put together” in Latin.
  • Tactically, the best Monopoly properties to buy are the orange ones: Vine Street, Marlborough Street and Bow Street.
  • It takes less energy to import a tomato from Spain than to grow them in this country because of the artificial heat needed, according to Defra. [this country referring to UK]
  • Giant squid eat each other – especially during sex.
  • First-born children are less creative but more stable, while last-born are more promiscuous, says US research. [what if you were first AND last born (only child)? uncreative, stable, and promiscuous!]
  • A towel doesn’t legally reserve a sun lounger – and there is nothing in German or Spanish law to stop other holidaymakers removing those left on vacant seats. [and there’s no law against me throwing food in your face, but it’s just common courtesy that I don’t.]
  • One in six children think that broccoli is a baby tree. [awwwwww]
  • One in 18 people has a third nipple.
  • Spanish Flu, the epidemic that killed 50 million people in 1918/9, was known as French Flu in Spain. [it’s not from us, it’s from them!]
  • The first traffic cones were used in building Preston bypass in the late 1950s, replacing red lantern paraffin burners.

Border Fence Firm Snared for Hiring Illegal Workers (from Digg) – A fence-building company in Southern California agrees to pay nearly $5 million in fines for hiring illegal immigrants. Two executives from the company may also serve jail time. The Golden State Fence Company’s work includes some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico. Talk about irony…

How long in the freezer does it take to chill a Coke from 89F to 35F? (from Digg) –

That would be about 20-25 minutes in a freezer. If you put it in a bucket of ice, that would halve that time. If you put water in that ice, it’d be cold (+- 5c) enough to drink in about 4-6 minutes, if you put salt in that water, you’d reduce the chill time to just over 2 minutes. Agitating the can in the water, rolling it around, reduces the chill time even more.

The fastest possible way is to grab a CO2 fire extinguisher and unload that sucker on the can.

Whatever you do, do NOT bury the can in sand, pour gasoline on the sand and set the sand on fire. That won’t do anything.

This is all empirically gained evidence, not third party.

SNL – Digital Short – A Special Christmas Box *Uncensored Version* (from RayAlome) – (NOT SAFE FOR WORK!) *Uncensored Version* Something special f *Uncensored Version* Something special for your girlfriend this Christmas Another hilarious song skit from SNL. This time it’s “Dick in the Box”.

GRANDMA’S BOY GAME DEMONIK BEING MADE (from Digg) – They’re actually going to make that game shown on Grandma’s Boy: Demonik into a real Xbox 360 game! I wonder which came first…

Collector pays $2.3M for $1,000 billAn art collector has paid about $2.3 million for a $1,000 bill printed in 1890, according to the auction house that brokered the transaction between two anonymous private collectors.
$1000 bill

Imagining the Tenth Dimension – A Book by Rob Bryanton (from RayAlome) – If the site is down, you can try the mirror. A very intriguing video of the 10 different dimensions that can be perceived by humans which ultimately leads up to string theory. I don’t agree with the author’s usage of the word dimension 100%, but he does give an easy view of understanding this concept. If you’re interested, you can purchase the book from Amazon.com.

Don’t Forget To Declare Bribes On Your TaxesWhen filling out the “other income” section on your taxes this year, there’s a few things you might forget to declare. Like your income from selling drugs. AllFinancialMatters spotted this while cruising the this years IRS FAQ.

Bribes. If you receive a bribe, include it in your income.

Stolen property. If you steal property, you must report its fair market value in your income in the year you steal it unless in the same year, you return it to its rightful owner.

Kickbacks. You must include kickbacks, side commissions, push money, or similar payments you receive in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040), if from your self-employment activity.

Illegal income. Illegal income, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Form 1040, line 21, or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (Form 1040) if from your self-employment activity.

Empty-Stomach Intelligence (from Digg) – Hunger makes the best sauce, goes the maxim. According to researchers at Yale Medical School, it may make quadratic equations and Kant’s categorical imperative go down easier too. The stimulation of hunger, the researchers announced in the March issue of Nature Neuroscience, causes mice to take in information more quickly, and to retain it better — basically, it makes them smarter. And that’s very likely to be true for humans as well. And I always thought it was just food coma that make me lazy. It’s because hunger makes me smarter.

AppleGeeks Lite 081 – What if babies were like video games?

Dolphins saved by arm wrestlingThe world’s tallest man has saved the lives of two dying dolphins in China by reaching deep into their stomachs to pull out pieces of plastic, official Chinese media reported on Thursday. … In an operation shown on local television, a dozen men held the dolphins down while Bao slid his 1.06 metre (42 inch) long arm down their throats to grab the plastic. The dolphins are now recovering well, Xinhua said. His arm is over 3ft long! Interestingly enough, I would’ve thought one of those mechanical arms with clampers would have worked, but they had to request this guy all the way from Mongolia to come. Do check out the gallery of photos.

THREAD (from Digg) – an interesting short animation using just thread to create images and movement. You can see more on his homepage: ARNO SALTERS.

Pray for Coal – The 10 most dangerous play things of all time (from Digg) – In the last year alone, some eight million units of toys were recalled in the U.S., according to W.A.T.C.H., a toy-safety advocacy group. But Kool Toys and Polly Pockets are kids’ stuff compared to the hazardous baubles of yesteryear. In the spirit of the holidays, Radar presents the 10 most dangerous toys of all time, those treasured playthings that drew blood, chewed digits, took out eyes, and, in one case, actually irradiated. To keep things interesting, we excluded BB guns, slingshots, throwing stars, and anything else actually intended to inflict harm. Below, our toy box from hell. These toys are awesome!

Kid Gets Burned By Fire (from Digg) – This dude is insane. I am not sure what he thought would happen by soaking his jeans in gasoline and then running through a fire. I bet this kid has some serious burns after this. Didn’t someone teach him about STOP! DROP! AND ROLL!?

I was reading one of the strips from The Joy of Tech and found this question: Imagine a plane is sitting on a massive conveyor belt, as wide and as long as a runway. The conveyor belt is designed to exactly match the speed of the wheels, moving in the opposite direction. Can the plane take off? My initial instinct was yes, but after I thought more about it, I decided it was no and RayAlome confirms that answer. The thing that is missing is the air flow. Even when your engine is in full power, there’s no air pushing your wings up, which is a natural process when the plane is moving forward. RayAlome suggested putting a giant hair blower in front of it.

How to download HD Trailers from Apple.com

For more up-to-date instructions, please visit HD-Trailers.net

<update>

For simplified instructions, see: Tutorial: Download from Apple

I’ve also added instructions to download HD trailers from Yahoo! Movies: Tutorial: Download from Yahoo!

Finally, I’ve made a simple and elegant page to make downloading HD trailers super easy:
HD-Trailers.net
hd-trailers.net screenshot

</update>

So Quicktime sucks and is a horrible video player. That’s why there’s VLC and Media Player Classic with Quicktime Alternative. However, HD trailers on Apple.com forces you to use Quicktime to watch the HD versions. However, the decoding of the video is so poorly done, I can’t even watch 480p through Quicktime.

So a year back or so, I decided to figure out a way to download these High Definition trailers so I can watch them through VLC or MPC. I believe with VLC, you don’t need the QT alternative codec, but with MPC or WMP, you do. Anyway, if you go to an HD trailer page, e.g. Apple – Trailers – Breach- HD, you’ll usually see 3 buttons: 480p, 720p, and 1080p. My machine’s not fast enough to decode their 1080p, so I always opt for the 720p version. Trailers are usually a couple hundred megs, depending on how long it is. When I showed Derek this trick, he noticed that even though trailers said 1080p, they were hardly ever 1920×1080, usually something a bit smaller.

Anyway, once you’re on an HD trailer page:

  1. Go to view source (CTRL+U in Firefox)
  2. Search for 720p or 1080p (or 480p if you want) and it’s the 2nd hit you want.
  3. You’ll find something close to this:
    QT_WriteOBJECT_XHTML(‘http://movies.apple.com/trailers/images/hd_btn2_720p.mov’, ’67’, ’24’, ”, ‘bgcolor’, ‘FFFFFF’, ‘controller’, ‘false’, ‘href’, ‘http://images.apple.com/movies/universal/breach/breach-tlr1_720p.mov‘, ‘target’, ‘QuickTimePlayer’);
  4. The 1st hit (i.e. hd_btn2_720p.mov) is just the image of the button. The 2nd hit (i.e. breach-tlr1_720p.mov) is actually a file that points to where the real trailer is ‘hidden’.
  5. Take the 2nd URL and add an h between the _ and the resolution:
    From: http://images.apple.com/movies/universal/breach/breach-tlr1_720p.mov
    To: http://images.apple.com/movies/universal/breach/breach-tlr1_h720p.mov
    For 1080p, it would be:
    http://images.apple.com/movies/universal/breach/breach-tlr1_h1080p.mov
  6. Next you can enter that URL into your browser and save it when it finishes downloading or whatever. I usually just use wget which came with Cygwin

Before, I used to keep all the trailers on my HDD:

Directory of F:\Downloads\apple trailers

16_blocks_h720p.mov
300-journal_5_h480p.mov
accepted_h720p.mov
aeon_flux_h720p.mov
akeelahandthebee-tlr2a_h720p.mov
alpha_dog_h720p.mov
american_hardcore_h720p.mov
an_american_haunting_h720p.mov
apocalypto-tsr1_h720p.mov
art_school_confidential-tlr_h720p.mov
atl_h720p.mov
a_scanner_darkly-tlr2_h720p.mov
babel_h720p.mov
basic_instinct_2_h720p.mov
black_dahlia_h720p.mov
cars-tlr_1_h720p.mov
cars-tsr4_h720p.mov
children_of_men-tlr1_h720p.mov
click-tlr1_h720p.mov
da_vinci_code-tsr2_h720p.mov
devilanddanieljohnston_h720p.mov
district_b13_h720p.mov
downinthevalley_h720p.mov
eight_below_h720p.mov
employeeofthemonth-tlr2a_h720p.mov
fast_food_nation_h720p.mov
firewall-tlr1_h720p.mov
friends_with_money_h720p.mov
ghost_rider-tsr-intl_h720p.mov
ghost_rider-tsr_h720p.mov
goal_h720p.mov
guys_and_balls_h720p.mov
happy_feet-tlr2a_h720p.mov
happy_feet_h720p.mov
hard_candy_h720p.mov
hoot-tlr1_h720p.mov
hoot-tsr_h720p.mov
house_of_sand_h720p.mov
ice_age_2-tlrD_h720p.mov
imax-deep_sea_h720p.mov
joyeux_noel_h720p.mov
ladyinthewater-tlr2_h720p.mov
ladyinthewater-tlr3_h720p.mov
ladyinthewater_h720p.mov
lamujerdemihermano_h720p.mov
larrythecableguy_h720p.mov
lastkingofscotland_h720p.mov
leonard_cohen_h720p.mov
little_miss_sunshine-tlr_h720p.mov
little_miss_sunshine_h720p.mov
lost_city_h720p.mov
l_enfant_h720p.mov
madeas_family_reunion-tlr2a_h720p.mov
meet_the_robinsons-tsr_h720p.mov
miami_vice-tlr2_h720p.mov
mission_impossible_3-sb_h720p.mov
monster_house-tlr1_h720p.mov
night_watch-tlra_h720p.mov
one_last_thing_h720p.mov
open_season-rev_h720p.mov
open_season-tlr2_h720p.mov
over_the_hedge-tlr1_h720p.mov
over_the_hedge-tsr2a_h720p.mov
peaceful_warrior_h720p.mov
phat_girlz-tlra_h720p.mov
poseidon-intl_tlr_h720p.mov
poseidon-tlr2_h720p.mov
poseidon-tlr3a_h720p.mov
pulse-tlr2_h720p.mov
pulse-tlr3_h720p.mov
quinceanera-tlr_h720p.mov
ratatouille-tsr1_h720p.mov
renaissance_h720p.mov
ridingalonefor1000sofmiles_h720p.mov
roving_mars_h720p.mov
rv-tlr_h720p.mov
school_for_scoundrels_h720p.mov
see_no_evil_h720p.mov
silent_hill_h720p.mov
sketchesoffrankgehry_h720p.mov
spider-man_3-tsr_h720p.mov
stay_alive_h720p.mov
stick_it_h720p.mov
summer_storm_h720p.mov
superman_returns-tlr1_h720p.mov
superman_returns-tlr2_h720p.mov
talladega_nights-tsr_h720p.mov
tcm_thebegining_h720p.mov
thankyouforsmoking_h720p.mov
thehillshaveeyes_h720p.mov
thesantaclause3-tlr1_h720p.mov
thescienceofsleep_h720p.mov
theusvsjohnlennon_h720p.mov
the_benchwarmers_h720p.mov
the_departed-tlr1a_h720p.mov
the_departed-tlr1b_h720p.mov
the_descent_h720p.mov
the_fountain-tlr1_h720p.mov
the_fountain-tsr_h720p.mov
the_italian_h720p.mov
the_lake_house_h720p.mov
the_namesake_h720p.mov
the_night_listener_h720p.mov
the_omen_666-tlrb_h720p.mov
the_pink_panther-tlr2_h720p.mov
the_prestige_h720p.mov
the_promise_h720p.mov
the_quiet_h720p.mov
the_shaggy_dog_h720p.mov
the_wicker_man_h720p.mov
the_wild_h720p.mov
tmnt-tlr1_h720p.mov
trust_the_man_h720p.mov
united_93-fte_h720p.mov
united_93_h720p.mov
viva_pedro_h720p.mov
volver_h720p.mov
v_for_vendetta-tlr2_h720p.mov
whenastrangercalls_h720p.mov
whokilledtheelectriccar_h720p.mov
wolf_creek-internet_tlr_h720p.mov
world_trade_center-tlr1_h720p.mov
xmenthelaststand_h720p.mov

123 File(s) 11,848,500,131 bytes
2 Dir(s) 51,537,440,768 bytes free

But then I decided that it wasn’t really worth keeping all these trailers, since I hardly ever rewatch them, so they went bye bye one day.

I usually visit the Apple Trailers site once or twice a month and watch all the trailers. For the trailers that have HD, I just paste all the links into notepad and do a replace all like:

wget http://images.apple.com/movies/disney/bridge_to_terabithia/bridge_to_terabithia-tlr1_h720p.mov http://images.apple.com/movies/sony/offside/offside_h720p.mov http://images.apple.com/movies/universal/the_good_shepherd/the_good_shepherd-tlr2_h720p.mov http://images.apple.com/movies/wb/harry_potter-phoenix/harry_potter_phoenix-tlr1_h720p.mov http://images.apple.com/movies/lionsgate/happily_never_after/happily_never_after_h720p.mov http://images.apple.com/movies/wb/lettersfromiwojima/lettersfromiwojima_h720p.mov

Update: Apple made an adjustment to deal with the Avatar trailer traffic which only allows QuickTime to download trailers directly. Please refer to this blog post for more details and workarounds: Direct Download Links from Apple Are Not Working. Here’s to hoping it’s only temporary.

Update #2: Apple links work when you change the domain from movies.apple.com to www.apple.com. For most up-to-date instructions, please visit HD-Trailers.net

Playing MIDI in Winamp Lite

RayAlome and I were talking about Winamp and he said they should release a lite version without the video player. I said they did and pointed him to Winamp Player – Free Download. I said the only real drawback of Winamp Lite is it doesn’t play MIDI files. I guess it’s really no longer much of a deal for me, but I was big into MIDIs back during high school as I thought it was neat to have songs in such a small format. Plus the fact that old cell phone ring tones could play only MIDI.

But it turns out that all you have to do to get Winamp to play MIDI is to have someone with the full version to give you the MIDI plugin. Neat!

You can download in_midi.dll (which I’ve zipped up): in_midi.zip

Afterwards, just dump the file into “C:\Program Files\Winamp\Plugins” or wherever your Winamp installation directory is and start Winamp and associate the MIDI files with it.

Power is BACK!

I think I jinxed myself during the previous entry when I said I was “lucky”. My power went out exactly at 1:41am Thursday night due to the high winds probably knocking over some electric poles or damaging a transformer. I sat around waiting for the power to come back up, assuming it was an intermitten thing. I didn’t for 15 minutes, and my machine was about to hibernate when the UPS said there was 5 minutes left. I did find out that a 24″ LCD uses A LOT of power. Without my Dell 24″ FPW2405 LCD, I have about 25-30 minutes of backup time on the machine. With the LCD plugged in, it drops to 10-12 minutes.

Anyway, I went to bed early that night (before 2am) and set my cell phone to wake me up at 9:30, because I had a one on one at 10:30. Anyway, I woke up around 9 and the power was still out. The reason I woke up was probably a little of the chill + the fact I went to bed early. My car was in the garage so I thought I’d sleep a bit more and hope the power would come back on in those few hours.

I woke up at 2:30pm and the power was still out. I looked around my house. There wasn’t anything to do. I did have my laptop with 2 hours of battery life, but without the internet, there wasn’t much to do. I decided to go to work and see what’s up, hoping they at least have power. So I unlatched my garage. The unlatching was easy, just pull and tug. Lifting the garage didn’t require much strength either. It was trying to figure out how to relatch the garage doors that took a very long time. In the end, I just left it unlatched and locked the door between my garage and my house (this will come back later to haunt me).

The trip to work actually didn’t take that long. Despite all the traffic lights not working, I took 156th up and got to the office building in 25 minutes. I did see horrendous traffic going the other way. The freeways were calm, but the entrances were packed.

It was surreal. It was like dooms day or Armageddon where cities of people are without electricity. I don’t think Seattle was affected, though I haven’t confirmed yet, but many of the east side cities’ (Bellevue, Redmond, Bothell, Kirkland, etc) power grid were all affected. I believe even the airport had to be closed down for awhile (not sure for how long). The funny thing is with all these cars, all the gasoline stations were not running. If you wanted gas, you had to literally drive up to 40 miles away. Thank god my little Civic has good mileage.

Anyway, back to my story. I ended up at my office building and it was totally empty. I didn’t even bother stopping and drove away. Apparently as it turns out, there was an e-mail at 5 or 6am telling all Puget Sound area employees that there won’t be work, but unfortunately for me, I didn’t have email access. At this point I could go home and be bored to death, or I can drop by someone’s place. Derek became the lucky guy I dropped by, plus the fact I had a present for him. Took me about an hour to get from building 40 to 90 freeway. All the main roads were backed up (due to no traffic lights), so I tried some back road, but both Northrup (20th ave) and W Lake Sammamish were closed due to tree fallings. These were trees that were at least 2-3ft in diameter. So I ended up taking 148th ave all the way down and 3 blocks before the freeway entrance literally took 30 minutes (10 minutes / block; maybe more).

Once I got on the freeway, it was nice. Actually about halfway getting onto the freeway, the traffic lights turned on, but it didn’t really help much. I thought, maybe I’d have power back at my place, but decided I’d give it some more time. The remainder of the drive wasn’t bad at all. Traffic lights were not working, but traffic still moved at a fairly good pace. I got to Derek’s place and I think they got home not too long ago. They invited me in and they had many many candles lit. They also had a gas powered stove so that meant they could actually cook. I was actually planning to have cereal and milk since all my cooking equipment required electricity. We made hot cocoa with marshmallows and just sat around chatting next to the fireplace.

I had called Xyon earlier that day and apparently he got electricity back at 6am. Tekman apparently got his electricity back sometime in the afternoon too. Derek gave Tekman a call and he invited us over for pasta and games and to check out his new Sony 1080p projector. We also brought our cell phones and laptops to be charged. Wrexen had his Xbox 360 set up and playing Gears of Wars when we got there and it’s so pretty! We also got to see some other HD content and it’s really nice *drools*… Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting my TV this Christmas as the prices are still somewhat too high. Actually, if Costco had delivery or if the selections on Costco.com was more abundant, I would’ve dropped my 2k awhile back. We played some poker, some board games, and had this awesome Baked Ziti with Italian sausage that Angel made and these yummy garlic bread. Afterwards, Derek and I played a few rounds of Mario Kart – Double Dash.

On our way back, the Microsoft campus seems to be powered. Even that stretch of freeway had the lamps on. I was hoping we’d have power, but neither Derek nor I got power when we got home.

I got home a little after 1am and sat around playing with my fireplace. My fireplace turns out to have fake wood which I thought was real when I moved in. I’ve been following a particular pattern where I only screw up one room: my computer room. I guess I screw up the kitchen too, but I clean that up daily. The living room and the dining room are usually never touched. The fireplace is in the living room. The upstairs are only used for sleeping and showering, but having the temperature drop to 50°F made me decide to try out my fireplace. At first I thought I had to buy new wood every time it gets used up, but it appears that these wood don’t actually catch on fire. It also doesn’t really warm up the room either, guess it’s all going out the chimney. The glass pane in front of the fireplace does get hot, but I only get warm standing right next too it. Oh yah, it turns out I had hot water too. My heat furnace didn’t turn on, though Derek explained to me that was because the fan that pushes the hot air is probably electric. Interestingly enough, even though my thermostat said “Heat On” because it fell below my set temperature of 55°F, the furnace was smart enough to not turn on because there’s no electricity. I was worry when I opened my door into my garage, it would smell of natural gas (or whatever the substance they use to give it that smell).

I went to bed and woke up this morning and found out it was 45°F and I was freezing. Took a nice hot shower and gave Derek a call. I was heading into work to use the internet there, since I assumed the power was back. I took the long way (520 freeway) to get to work to avoid the unpowered traffic lights, however it took me just as long to exit the freeway than the entire freeway trip itself. When I got to building 40, I was once again disappointed. The power hadn’t been restored for that building, so I met up with Derek and we went around searching for a gasoline station that didn’t have a 45min wait. We drove around Bellevue for half an hour or so, trying to find gas stations, and to be honest, I saw more of Bellevue today then I have ever with my whole year here combined. We actually found Bellevue H.S. which was on the top of this hill! We actually ended up all the way in Bothell and still couldn’t find a gas station that had gas. We ended up picking up Tekman in his PJs and he took us to an Arco which was also packed with cars, but at least it didn’t wrap around the entire block (which the Chevron in Bellevue did). That totally reminded me of the comics and pictures of when the middle east stopped shipping oil to us and people waited for hours in line to get gasoline.

Afterwards, Derek, Shanna and I had dinner at Boneyard Fishbone Bonefish Grill and it was yummy. They had a ballet to catch. Apparently when they told me they were going into the city for the ballet, and had to dress nice, and Derek needed to shower and shave, I thought Ballet was either a club or a restaurant. Turns out ballet referred to the Nutcracker ballet. We parted our ways and I drove home to test my luck.

As I was driving home, the street lamps were all on. I was crossing my finger the whole way. About 5 minutes to my house, a street lamp was off and I was like ‘boo’. Then the following street lamp was on and I was like ‘yay’. The street lamps continued to be on until 2 BLOCKS FROM MY HOUSE!?!?! And then it was total darkness. I felt like kicking something. On the other hand, I was hoping they’d be close to fixing my place.

I got home, turned on the heater, pushed my couch close to the fireplace, started paying music from my iPod Nano through my Shure E4C-n, and began writing this blog entry. 2 paragraphs in, I get bored and started playing Free Cell.

living room fireplace couchliving room fireplace couch

After a couple games, that’s when I looked out the window and saw the mail kiosk and was like, did I pick up mail today? Then it hits me, I WAS ABLE TO SEE THE KIOSK!!! The light was on. I turn around and look towards my computer room, the lamp was on and so was my computer!!! Yippee!!! The power came back on at 7:04pm exactly (looked at my alarm clock and saw how much time has passed since it was powered). 12 minutes had actually passed before I noticed it. First thing I do? I log into my computer, sign on AIM, and announce it to the world. Well, really just 2 people, but yay!

So this is me being stupid. Since the power was back on, the first thing… well, the second thing that came into my head was to fix the garage. I had told Derek about my garage door situation, and he tells me that the garage will latch back onto the “traveler” (as the manual calls it) when you open the garage door your next time. Of course that required power, so I wasn’t able to fix it till now. The garage doors snapped back in just like Derek said they would. I was like awesome, turned around and tried to open the door. MY JAW DROPS.

As I mentioned how locking the door into the garage would haunt me later, the door was locked! I felt my pockets, NOTHING. At least I was dressed warmly with a sweater. I tried the door again. No luck. I wondered if I was smart enough to hide a spare key somewhere. No go. I even checked my car’s glove box and underneath all the paint cans. I went around to the front door and was hoping I’d been stupid enough to leave that unlock (which sometimes I do), but nope, I was smart this time. I jumped onto my back balcony and tried the sliding door. Nope, also looked. I walked around my house several times and thought really hardly. Looks like I need a locksmith. Derek mentioned he knew how to pick locks, but he’s probably still in the middle of Nutcrackers and a door was between me and my computer.

At this time, my neighbor (one of the two that helped me with my car in the snow situation and one that I also baked cookies for) was working on fixing his garage door. I walked over to say hi and I helped him with his garage door. Then I told him my story. Unfortunately he was not a locksmith, nor knew any. I asked if I could borrow his phone to call, and he was kind enough to let me into his house and and we Googled for locksmiths in Bellevue, WA. Pretty much picked the first one and called and he said he could be here in 20-30 minutes. I was like sweet. I was actually contemplating on calling multiple locksmiths to quote their prices, but given that this was an emergency plus the fact that I’m borrowing my neighbors phone and house, I decided to not bother. If I had my cell phone and a phone book, I would’ve definitely done some shopping. Do remember, this was a Saturday night. I met his wife and mother-in-law earlier (gave cookies to the mom and bumped into the wife when I was confirming the blackout), but I met their cute little daughter for the first time. They let me stay in their house while we waited for the locksmith, watched some Finding Nemo and even gave me a cookie (dunkers).

The locksmith showed up and apparently, and I thanked my kind neighbors and went out to meet him. He asked if I had any ID, but I told him it was in the house. He asked if anyone could confirm that I lived here and I said my neighbors could. I asked if he wanted me to ask them to come out, and he goes well, I did see you walk out of there, so that’s fine. He said deadbolts are practically impossible to unlock, so he tried the door in my garage. He said these types of locks usually takes 15 seconds (or was it 3 seconds?) for him to unlock, but there’s a pin that he couldn’t pick. He then tried some other tools which include a flat sheet of metal and a bent screw driver and he wiggled it for a good 5 minutes and then asked me if I was sure there wasn’t any other lock on this door. I confirmed and he said, “Don’t worry, there hasn’t been a door I have been unable to unlock. Worse case scenario, I bring out the drill.” I was like okay… I can always break a window and get back into my house too… Of course I thought that in my head. He then busted out with these air pouches and used the flat metal and wiggled it some more and the door finally busted open. I had to bring down my driver’s license and a credit card statement (since my driver’s license doesn’t reflect this address) and to confirm I do live here. He was actually quite thorough. Initially, I just brought down and packing slip from one of my internet orders, but he said he needed to see a credit card statement or a utility bill so I went back up to search for one. Since most of my statements were online only, it took a few minutes for me to actually one one.

I went back down with my Capital One statement (apparently they don’t think my email address exists and keeps sending me statements with a note that tells me emails they’re sending are being rejected). But that’s another story for anther day. I go back down, he confirms I live here and tells me he’ll give me a discount since I’m paying in cash. $120 for the work and $55 for the service call. I knew I was going to pay and $175 was actually near the higher end of my estimate, but oh well, emergency is emergency. Thank god I had gone to the ATM before coming home. I was down to $1 and all my banks around here were closed (no electricity). After dinner at Bonefish Grill, there was actually a Bank of America in that same mall and I withdrew $300 and I was even thinking, how long $300 was going to last me. Welp, over half is gone now. Haha. $175 for a lesson. I need to figure out where to hide a spare key now. I’m actually thinking of dropping it off at my neighbors, but I’m not sure if they’ll feel comfortable with it.

I’m finally back in my house and then I remember… THE FRIDGE! I opened the fridge for the 1st time since the blackout and was surprised there wasn’t any smell. As a warning for those with ice cube makers, apparently there are holes and water was starting to freeze everywhere. There was even a puddle at the bottom. I thought the ice was going to keep the freezer cold, but it made a bigger mess than I had anticipated. And being trapped outside for 45 mins meant it had 45 mins of trying to get frozen. I threw away pot-stickers which were gooey and my frozen bbq wings, which I think was okay, but I didn’t want to deal with it. I kept the mushroom risotto and the asparagus risotto. I actually had to get up and walk over to the fridge to figure out what the name of that green veggie that Ryan likes was. I knew it began with an ‘a’ and it was on the tip of my tongue, but I finally gave up and walked over. The vanilla ice cream was also all gooey. I also threw away my eggs (I think they actually started to change in color) and my pumpkin pie which looked funky and some veggies that have been there for weeks. I’m actually keeping the milk as it tastes fine and smells fine.

I did bake my last 3 cookies and made one jumble cookie:
jumbo chocolate chip cookie

And that’s been the chaos for the past 2 days.

Blind Girl

From Zena:

There was a blind girl who hated herself just because she’s blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He’s always there for her.
She said that if she could only see the world, she would marry her boyfriend.

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her and then she can see everything, including her boyfriend.
Her boyfriend asked her, “now that you can see the world, will you marry me?” The girl was shocked when she saw that her boyfriend is blind too, and refused to marry him.
Her boyfriend walked away in tears, and later wrote a letter to her saying. “Just take care of my eyes dear.”

This is how human brain changes when our status changes. Only few remember what life was before, and who’s always been there even in the most painful situations.

Life Is a Gift

Today before you think of saying an unkind word – Think of someone who can’t speak.
Before you complain about the taste of your food – Think of someone who has nothing to eat.
Before you complain about your husband or wife – Think of someone who’s crying out to God for a companion.
Today before you complain about life – Think of someone who went too early to heaven.
Before you complain about your children – Think of someone who desires children but they’re barren.
Before you argue about your dirty house, someone didn’t clean or sweep – Think of the people who are living in the streets.
Before whining about the distance you drive – Think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.
And when you are tired and complain about your job – Think of the unemployed, the disabled and those who wished they had your job.
But before you think of pointing the finger or condemning another – Remember that not one of us are without sin and we all answer to one maker.
And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down – Put a smile on your face and thank God you’re alive and still around.
    Life is a gift, live it, enjoy it, celebrate it, And fulfill it.

The sad story in the beginning totally reminded me of the KISS – Because I’m a Girl music video. I would’ve posted the YouTube link, but that video has some major artifacts. Then I found my previous post, and uploaded the .asf file to my gallery.

kiss - because i'm a girl

Blackouts

So everyone around here has been having blackouts. From Bothell, to Sammamish, and even here in Bellevue. It’s probably due to the high winds and you can hear it pretty well. From Weather.com:

High Wind Warning

/O.CON.KSEW.HW.W.0019.000000T0000Z- 061215T1800Z/ SOUTHWEST INTERIOR-EAST PUGET SOUND LOWLANDS-EVERETT AND VICINITY- SEATTLE/BREMERTON AREA- TACOMA AREA-HOOD CANAL AREA- LOWER CHEHALIS VALLEY AREA- 706 PM PST THU DEC 14 2006

…HIGH WIND WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM PST FRIDAY…

STRONG SOUTH WINDS OF 30 TO 40 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 55 MPH HAVE BEEN OCCURRING THIS EVENING. AT 6 PM EVERETT WAS REPORTING A SOUTH WIND OF 35 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 52 MPH. WINDS MAY BRIEFLY DECREASE AT TIMES THROUGH ABOUT 9 PM. BUT WIND WILL SHIFT TO THE SOUTHWEST AND INCREASE LATER THIS EVENING AS A STRONG LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM MOVES ACROSS THE AREA. SOUTHWEST WINDS WILL RISE TO 50 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 80 MPH IN THE CHEHALIS GAP FROM SHELTON WESTWARD. SOUTHWEST WINDS WILL RISE TO 40 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 65 MPH ELSEWHERE…BEGINNING AROUND 9 PM IN OLYMPIA AND SPREADING NORTH THROUGH THE SEATTLE AND EVERETT AREAS BETWEEN 10 AND 11 PM.

My first long blackout occurred while I was at work. My UPS gives about 30 mins of backup time and has an auto clock to turn off my computer when there is about 5 mins left on the battery and my connection died sometime around 5:30pm. I didn’t have my computer set to auto-boot when the power came back on. But when I came back, the power had already returned and my computers were up in no time.

Throughout the night, my power’s been flaky, however, most times, not enough to reset the clocks. Here’s what my APC Back-UPS XS800 performance shows:
apc back-ups xs800 performance

Unfortunately, the lowest denominator was for the past week, but 95% of the statistics should be today’s.

Thank god for UPS though, or else my computer would’ve been rebooting over and over again. I have one UPS for each computer, but I’ve realized I need one for my router, switch and cable modem. When the power flickers, most of the time they stay online, but when the flicker takes longer than half a second, they reset, sometimes forcing me to power them off and back on to get them working.

I haven’t seen too many folks online, so I’m guessing they’re not having as much luck as I am. The longest blackout so far (that I’ve been in today) lasted about 2 minutes.

What does get annoying is the fact that whenever the power goes off and back on, APC PowerChute pops up a notification balloon telling me the power has resumed to use AC power. I tried turning off all notifications and sounds, but it still shows up. Who knows.

NobodysGirl IMed me earlier tonight and ask how the flood was, but I didn’t really noticed any flood. However, there is a flood warning on Weather.com:

/X.NEW.KSEW.FL.W.0059.061215T1645Z- 061217T0135Z/ /CRNW1.1.ER.061215T1645Z. 061216T0000Z.061216T1335Z.NO/ 922 PM PST THU DEC 14 2006

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SEATTLE HAS ISSUED A

* FLOOD WARNING FOR THE SNOQUALMIE RIVER NEAR CARNATION * FROM FRIDAY MORNING TO SATURDAY MORNING. * AT 9:00 PM THURSDAY THE STAGE WAS 49.7 FEET. * FLOOD STAGE IS 54.0 FEET. * MINOR FLOODING IS FORECAST. * FORECAST… RISE ABOVE FLOOD STAGE AROUND 9 AM FRIDAY AND CONTINUE TO RISE TO NEAR 55.0 FEET BY LATE TOMORROW AFTERNOON. THE RIVER WILL FALL BELOW FLOOD STAGE BY SATURDAY MORNING. * AT 54.0 FEET…THE SNOQUALMIE RIVER WILL FLOOD MUCH OF THE FARM LAND AND SEVERAL ROADS FROM FALL CITY DOWNSTREAM THROUGH CARNATION AND DUVALL.

I’m actually curious what those colored balls underneath “Severe Weather Alerts for Bellevue, WA (98006)” mean. I’m guessing red is bad, and orange is bad, but not as bad as red. Anything with the word severe weather can’t be good.

$3 Swiss Army Knife

Don’t know if this deal will still be alive when you see this, but the Amazon Customers Vote program is selling the Swiss Army Ranger Pocket Knife (Red) for just $3! That includes shipping too!

swiss army ranger pocket knife (red)

BargainShare discussion thread
SlickDeals discussion thread

Anyway, it looked like the web guys had a field day with this. To verify you’re not a robot, they made you do a little test.
Type this word backwards: radar
Mine was spelling a word backward: radar

At first, I thought it was just a pick of a draw I got a palindrome, but it turns out everyone did too. One of my friends got kayak and another got reviver.

Other people got multiple choice which involved: Pick the right one:

  • Choose me
  • Wrong way
  • Not even
  • Wrong way

Belldandy got a math question: 16+8.

As you can see, I sort of spammed it to everyone online at 12am. Doesn’t really make it up for those who tried to get the Xbox 360 for $100 though. They’ve gotten smart though. If I recall correctly, Amazon.com was down for like 15 minutes during that promotion, but all the Xbox 360s were gone within the 1st 12 seconds as people tried to keep hammering their servers. Maybe I just pulled those numbers out of my *cough*, but you get the jist. Since that they, they sort of have had a raffle system, where if you voted, you can come back on day X and check to see if you were one of the randomly selected few to get the winning item at the promo price. After a day or so and there’s still left overs, they then sell the remainder away to first come first serve. A better system I suppose, though I haven’t won anything yet.


Anyway, I’ll end this post with the opening scene of Kanon:

kanon - opening
Kanon – Opening (large: 856×480)

kanon - opening
Kanon – Opening (small: 428×240)

Everytime I watch Kanon, I always watch the opening sequence because theres this scene where Mai wears bunny ears and Yuuichi chases her across the field which is SO CUTE! The scene is about 40 seconds into the trailer. At first I thought that was Naiyuki because of the bluish hair color, but it’s really Mai who has purplish hair color. The song is pretty nice too!