19 November 2007

Taking Bets for a Psychic-Predicted Earthquake?

I'm sure that BigHeathenMike will love the stupidity in this article:
JAKARTA (AFP) - Local officials in a quake-prone Indonesian province said Monday they were taking precautionary measures after a Brazilian psychic warned a powerful earthquake would strike next month.
According to the article, officials in the province of Bengkulu on the island of Sumatra are taking psychic Jucelino Nobrega da Luz's claim of a magnitude 8.5 earthquake on December 23, 2007 very seriously, including setting up evacuation shelters and doing drills.

As one commenter stated, "Psychics" predicting earthquakes in Southeast Asia is like a "psychic" predicting snow in Canada in the winter. Along those lines, I'd hope that Bengkulu officials would have good earthquake procedures and practice them regardless of any warnings from Brazilian woo-woos. My worry is that the officials are setting themselves up for a "cry wolf" scenario in the future if (when) the earthquake doesn't happen.

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12 November 2007

I'm Old

It's my birthday today and I feel old. Mind you, I'm not actually old but I feel geriatric. (Actually, I've had chronic leg/knee injuries since grade 9, so in that way I am old. It's not the age, it's the mileage). I would feel positively ancient except my supervisor at work just turned the big 5-0 a week and a half ago (and he looks it). As it is, that makes me feel a whole lot better about my measly age.

Age is a funny thing that way: for such an absolute number, it's all relative. Normally, I feel like a baby since almost all my coworkers and friends seem to be older than me. I guess that's what happens when you leave school and join the workforce.

But at school, things were very different. I remember the tail end of the second year of my masters. I was finishing up my thesis over the summer and planning on defending in August. Meanwhile, many of my friends from my own year had either defended in May or had vacated their cubicles, preferring to start new jobs and finish their grad work at home. Filling the void were brand new MSc candidates a clear two years younger than me: too young for me to have ever socialized with them during undergrad. They looked like highschool kids. And to them, I was just some old has-been taking up valuable office space and refusing to leave. A relic. A dinosaur. A fossil. And I felt it.

Anyway, that's enough moping. Afterall, if my ancient supervisor can celebrate, so can I. I've managed to visit most of my family and get some great Indian food (mmm, lamb dhansak), and the presents so far (cash and a bookshelf) are exactly what I need, so all is well.

So really all is good. Except that I learned (the hard way) that my trusty black dress shoes have sprung a leak. Now my left foot is very soggy and will remain as such for the rest of the afternoon. That kind of puts a damper on things.

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05 November 2007

It's Eastern Standard Time!

CBC hockey commentator Harry Neale calls it his favourite day of the year. Like Neale, I find the extra hour of sleep (or extra hour of guiltless bumming around) to be quite heavenly. I was so happily enjoying the extra hour of sleep that I almost forgot just how much I hate it when Daylight Savings Time gives way to regular, fuddy duddy old Eastern Standard Time. It's getting freakin' dark out now. Dark at 5:00? What the hell? It'll be even worse in a month.

I've never understood this system. During the winter, there are fewer hours of daylight in the day. In response to that, we shift our clocks around so that we get to enjoy less of them? Huh? I'm not sure what the rationale behind it is (is it farmers? schoolchildren? Damn them all!!!)

I am not a morning person. At all. My brain is basically equivalent to that of a vegetable or a creationist until about 9:30 in the morning, no matter how much sleep I get the night before or what time I awake. Also, I work in a cubicle (nowhere near a window), get to the office at 8:00 (or rather I should) and leave at 5:00. Even with Standard time, the sun is barely up when I start (not being a morning person, it's not like I can enjoy the sun at this time) and it has long since set by the time I leave. There are many days in the winter where I do not see the sun at all. May as well be living in Iqaluit. Or Hell.

I think I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I feel blah and generally horrible on really overcast days and I feel even worse by the time March rolls around. SAD is a fairly common condition (up to 9% of the population suffers from it), with many people having it far worse than me. Think of the productivity and quality of life increase that could be realized in wintertime if sufferers just got a couple of hours of good sunlight a day. It seems a whole lot easier to just reverse a stupid clock change than to have 9% of the population buy specialty light therapy lamps.

On top of the SADness, there are more immediate health effects (well, getting hit by a car is a health effect, sort of). According to a recent study, when drivers and pedestrians are plunged into sudden darkness in the days immediately following the time shift. The researchers say that it's not the darkness that's the problem, but rather the fact that it's dark when drivers and pedestrians aren't expecting it.

In summary, the switch from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time should be abolished.

Hell, if it was up to me, I'd go farther than that. In the winter, why not move clocks forward one hour. That would let us increase the light in the evening hours, perhaps even giving us enough daylight to, you know, actually do something with our days.

That's right: screw the farmers, let the children go to hell, and morning people, I want to kick them in the nuts. All I know is that Standard Time is bad for me, and, like many people in this flawed, selfish organization called humanity, if something is good for me, I want to force it upon others who may not agree with me.

In fact, let's not just get rid of the standard time, nor just move clocks forward one hour, I say move clocks forward in the fall two or three hours. I'd love for there to still be some sun at 7:00 pm in December. "Fall ahead and spring back" works just as well as a mnemonic device as the current "spring forward and fall back."

Let King Aardvark see the light!

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01 November 2007

Happy Hallowe'en, (mainly because it freaks out fundies)

Oh, and the whole candy thing.

Hallowe'en is an interesting little tradition we have here, eh? At my age, I'm kind of indifferent to it. Though I thoroughly enjoy the leftover candy (but not Rockets - man do I hate those things - why do they even keep making them?), the whole costume thing kind of bothers me. It's not the idea of costumes (hell, they can be fun) but having to think of an idea for costumes. Not only thinking of a good costume, too, but also either buying or making one. Big pain in the ass. If you buy, it often makes you look like a tool, especially if you cheap out. If you make your own costume, you have to put in a lot of effort so that your costume won't suck and make you look like a tool. Costumes are a real ordeal sometimes.

Unless you're a hot girl, then you can just dress slutty and all is well.

The other thing about Hallowe'en is that a lot of religious people have a hard time with the idea of a day celebrating the demonic. Assuming that their religion is correct, I can appreciate their concerns (at least a little), except for the fact that Hallowe'en is so far removed from demonic things as you can get these days.

Noteworthy costumes at the party I went to included Batman, Wonder Woman, a giant banana, a guy who got run over by a car, a guy dressed as a hillbilly girl (now that's frightening), two Greek maidens, several Little Red Riding Hoods along with a wolf in grandma's clothes, Comic Book Guy, and Geisha, a Priest and a Nun. The only demony costume was a single vampire.

Really, I think these religious type people are missing the point of modern Hallowe'en. It's not about frightening people with ghouls and goblins; it's about dressing up and having a good time.

There is an alternative. Perhaps their aversion to Hallowe'en has less to do with the devil than it does with the fundy desire to stamp out fun.