WHY I HAVEN'T GONE TO THE ANIME CLUB LATELY...
I know I haven't talked about going to the University of Ottawa anime club
for several weeks now. There's a good reason for that: I haven't gone.
I went to go to the first meeting in January, which was in a different room because of some conference at the University of Ottawa, and ended up wandering around a whole floor of a building for at least half-an-hour, where every room that seemed appropriate to hold an anime club event was completely empty, until I went in the library to see if I got the wrong room or the wrong building, and I had to ask one of the librarians to look up the homepage on his computer just to double-check that I had the right room, and I did. It was just that there was nobody there.
I found out the reason: projector problems. Namely that it broke. They hope to get a new one eventually, but, in the interim, meetings are at one or the other of the club executives' apartments. I'm not criticizing this arrangement in any way: they're doing the best they can with the equipment they have available, which seems to be one executive's personal DVD player and television. But, sorry, I'm a pretty shy person and I've never, not even when I was a kid, been comfortable being in the houses or apartments of people that I don't know extremely well. Hell, I'm still not even all that comfortable being in my sister's house, to be perfectly honest, and I know her just fine.
And, while the executives at this anime club, from what I've seen of them, seem like nice, friendly people, the fact remains that I still don't know them that well (again, just because of my shyness, not because of any personal weaknesses or flaws on their part). While I can say to myself and my parents a day or so in advance that I intend to go to the club, when push comes to shove, I end up being too intimidated to go.
And another problem for me there is that, in terms of club meetings, I am not the most punctual guy in the world, and, while it's fine for me to show up whenever I like when it's just a darkened classroom (as long as I try to stay quiet, though, half the time I arrived late, it was during the hour-long dinner break), when a club meeting is at someone's apartment, arriving too, too late seems like a huge faux-pas
, since I'd have to buzz in and make my presence known just to get past the outside doors. And, on many Saturdays, today being one of them, I often like to leave early and take in a movie while I'm downtown, since it saves me having to make two trips and use four OC Transpo tickets. Leaving early from a darkened classroom is fine, no one cares. Leaving early from someone's apartment just to see a movie just seems rude, as you're implicitly telling them that you have places you'd rather be.
I wish I wasn't so easily intimidated.
I'm still working on that prophet Mohammed cartoon. I'm not terribly satisfied with it so far though; I made the background in the first panel overly complicated, to the point that I procrastinated colouring it in, and I'm also not satisfied with any of the characters' faces. I like to think that I'm a good artist, but, eh, I'm really not that good at inventing "cartoon" faces from scratch without some kind of photographic reference. No, wait, I can if I work them out in advance, but that's for characters I'd draw more than once. I'll submit it to the Infidel Bloggers Alliance
regardless, but it'll probably be too late for their "Golden Balls" Mohammed cartoon contest
Oh, if anyone's wondering, the movie I'm seeing tonight is Final Destination 3
. If you've been a very long-time reader of this blog, you will recall that I liked the second one
"It's pretty much the same movie as the first time round, except with more expensive, graphic, Savini-esque demises. But the only reason I go to these films is the quality of the demises, which are the most creative, original deaths since the heyday of the Nightmare on Elm Street series".
I imagine, if I decide to write a review of Final Destination 3
(and I am not saying that I will; depends if I feel I have anything original to say), I'll have more or less the exact same reaction, but this is one of those film series where I'd be disappointed if they don't follow the exact same formula every time, just with different elaborate-and-unlikely death sequences.
Also, over at the Rotten Tomatoes forum, I had an epiphany:
I think the appeal of these films, for me, is that they are almost like a straighter, live-action version of Teen Girl Squad, with fairly anonymous teenagers dying in creative, unusual, and amusing ways. The filmmakers know that's the only reason we pay to see this series and they don't bother pretending that the films are anything more than that.ERRATA:
One thing that would make them even better is if Strong Bad dubbed all the voices and narrated the deaths.
Last week, I said that I will become the uncle to a nephew. Actually, the sex of my sister's baby is still unknown, and what I heard was my mother pretending to be absolutely sure that the baby will be a boy because my sister thinks it's going to be a girl. She recently had an ultrasound, but the baby somehow decided to be modest and kept on blocking the gender-identifying bits with its arm. The Steve Brandon
regrets any inconvenience that this may have caused, as though this minor error has any relevance to your life.
Z MACHINE OF INFINITE COOLNESS...
What the hell is a "Z Machine"?
Isn't that the type of car that "Bluestreak"
is on The Transformers
?(A Z-series Nissan car, or, as they were known back when I was a kid, a "Datsun Z". To be precise, Bluestreak was a Nissan/Datsun 280ZX, and the toy was apparently originally supposed to be blue and not silver.)
Well, maybe you can call that kind of Nissan car a "Z Machine", but that's not what I'm referring to today.
The Z Machine, sometimes called the Z-Accelerator, is a big-ass gun built by Sandia National Laboratories
, which does research for the United States Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. By "gun", I don't mean a firearm, I mean the technical term for a giant device using magnetic fields that shoots tiny objects really fast. Like, faster than the Earth
. And when they fire it up, it generates a whole bunch of lightning, just like that machine that malfunctions and brings in those alien demon things at the beginning of Half Life
And why do I care about all this? Because, if some scientists' theories are correct (and this is admittedly a huge "if"), this technology might make possible the development of a real-life equivalent of Star Trek's Warp Drives within my lifetime
. Possibly even within my parents' lifetimes.
From The Scotsman
Here's a link to the aforementioned New Scientist article.)
'3-hour trips to Mars' bid
Scientists are thinking of building an extraordinary anti-gravity machine which - if it works - could make "hyperdrive" starships a reality.
The design is based on the ideas of a little-known but brilliant German physicist who modified Albert Einstein's theories of space and time. Burkhard Heim postulated a multidimensional world in which the forces of gravity and electromagnetism are coupled together.
Last year, a paper drawing on the concept won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Future Flight prize. It envisaged an engine that could not only defeat gravity but propel a space craft through multidimensional hyperspace at unbelievable speed.
Using the drive, it would take as little as three hours to reach Mars, and just 80 days to journey to a star 11 light-years away.
Testing the idea would require a huge rotating ring, several metres in diameter, placed above a superconducting coil to generate an intense magnetic field.
If the theory works, a large enough current and magnetic field should cause the ring to float free by reducing gravity.
Building such a machine would stretch existing materials and technology to its limits.
But one space propulsion scientist in the US thinks it might be possible.
Roger Lenard, from Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, runs a powerful X-ray generator known as the Z-machine.
He told New Scientist magazine that it could "probably generate the necessary field intensities and gradients".
© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2006, All Rights Reserved.
Of course, not everyone is buying into this theory just yet. You can read a handful of in-depth discussions of the article and research paper here
, and here
What's my opinion? I don't have one. All of those discussions seem to use "string theory"
as the basis for having this alternate subspace dimension, and, whenever a discussion on the feasability of any kind of loophole around lightspeed brings up "string theory", as someone with a very basic Nova
/Carl Sagan's Cosmos
/Discovery Channel/CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks
/Science of Star Trek
-type books/etc... understanding of astrophysics, well, I'll let Mobile Police Patlabor
's Noa Izumi tell you how I feel in the following screencap, from the New Files
String theory is a bit beyond my grasp. Or, rather, a heckuvalot beyond my grasp.
Certainly, with my very limited understanding of such things, Heim's theories seems more feasible than Stephen Hawking's fanciful "wormholes", though. Because I always had all sorts of questions about wormholes that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
never really answered, like exactly how we would get to even just the opening of a wormhole without some form of faster-than-light travel, and how would they prevent a spaceship from being crushed into a singularity, and how could we be sure that there would be an "other end", and, even if there is a positive answer to all of the previous questions, how could we end up somewhere we actually want to go with a wormhole? I get the idea that, even if wormhole theories are true, you'd start in the middle of nowhere and end up in the middle of nowhere. (It would be like an intergalactic version of Ottawa's O-Train!)
I don't know whether or not this theory will ever lead to anything substantial, but it does make me happy to know that serious scientists are still looking for loopholes in the lightspeed galactic speed limit, because, without some form of faster-than-light travel, manned space exploration will hit a seemingly insurmountable wall beyond about the orbit of Neptune, or maybe Pluto, and it depresses me to no end to think Man will never go further than the Oort Cloud
. If this pans out, maybe habitable planets like Earth could be within our reach. Maybe even other civilizations.
No, I haven't had my head chopped off by angry Muslim "demonstrators" for posting a couple of those Danish Mohammed cartoons the other day. But I might still lose my head yet; I was working on a Prophet Mohammed (or Prophet Muhammed, for you sticklers) cartoon of my very own for the The Infidel Bloggers Alliance Mohammed Cartoon Contest
, and the cartoon I'm doing is so benign that the seething, protesting hordes would have to be crazy to be offended by it. Oh, wait, they are crazy.
I've more or less finished the pencils, but I still have to colour it in, and I included a considerable amount of background detail, at least in the first panel.
Also, I've been looking for Star Ocean 3
for the Playstation 2, but it's a really, really rare "used" game around these parts. The EB Games on Merivale said it's long out of print and they're unlikely ever to get any "new" (meaning "previously-played") and Microplay on Merivale doesn't even have it in their computers. So, since I was at Microplay anyway, I decided to get the used copy of Crazy Taxi 2
for the Sega Dreamcast. I've played Crazy Taxi 2
once, but only as a demo at, probably, Toys R' Us (or maybe it was Future Shop) nearly 5 years ago, shortly before the Dreamcast was declared a failure and the stores stopped pushing it, removing the demo machines in favour of X-Boxes, so this was really my first chance to play it in-depth.
I've seen a lot of reviews that state pretty much that Crazy Taxi 2
is disappointing because it's more or less the exact same game all over again, but I'm a big proponent of "same game, new levels"-type sequels that don't reinvent the wheel, hence why I was never dissatisfied with any of the Tomb Raider
sequels on the PlayStation 1. The "Around Apple" city is basically the equivalent of the "Arcade" city from the original, that is a few neighbourhoods that extend for only two or three blocks each way connected by long connector roads, and "Small Apple" being more like the "Original" city from the first one, with a more intricate layout with a lot of different ways to reach a destination (and it gives you the option of driving throgh the subway to get there quicker).
Another criticism of this game is that it's "New York", but it doesn't have any of the real skyscrapers, but I think it's better to think of the city as a generic New York-inspired city, just as the cities in the first game were inspired by San Francisco yet they weren't San Francisco. Also, there's different product placement in this game: whereas the first one had KFC, Pizza Hut, Tower Records, and the Authentic Levi's Store as destinations (as well as a big Dockers billboard and, though I don't think Sega had permission, they put a barely-altered version of the Amoco logo over some storefronts and buses), this one has Burger King, Hard Rock Café, Gap, HMV, and FAO Schwartz. I have a problem with this product placement: there needs to be more of it. I mean, five "branded" stores in the whole city? That's hardly realistic. That's one thing I definitely appreciate about the Getaway
games on the PlayStation 2; they included as many of the real London storefronts as they could license, to the point where, if you were to drive around counting them, you'd be up all night.
Speaking of New York in videogames, while it's essentially just another "track", I really appreciate the New York circuit in Gran Turismo 4
which includes portions of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, some other streets in Midtown New York, and all of Times Square, with many of the giant Times Square signs licensed, and, those that aren't are still there but are pixellated, though you can usually tell what they are anyway. (Like the McDonald's Golden Arches are included, but the actual word "McDonald's" looks kind of like a low-resolution GIF, so I'm not sure if it was licensed or not.)
Another real-world sign that Polyphony Digital included in the New York circuit is the Late Show with David Letterman
marquee on the CBS Ed Sullivan Theater, which makes for some slightly amusing-but-odd trivia as one of the hundreds of licensed cars is something called the "Tank Car '03" from... Tonight Show
host Jay Leno, who is listed as an automobile manufacturer because, as one of America's foremost automobile collectors, he also has custom cars built to his specifications. So both of the major American early "late night" talk show hosts are represented in this game. I wonder if Gran Turismo 5
will find unusual ways to work in Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, and Carson Daly?
I have been progressing slowly in Gran Turismo 4
, getting my "International A License" at long last, but only after spending several very frustrating hours trying to drive one complete circuit around the world-famous Nürburgring
(Nordschleife), which is, by far, the longest track in the game, 13 miles with 73 bends, in less than 10 minutes in a Mercedes as one of the final tests. Sounds easy, but the track is relatively narrow and a lot of the curves are "blind", especially at high speeds, and, if all of your wheels leave the track and go on to the grass or sand during the tests, you have to start over. The Nürburgring Nordschleife, known by English-speaking fans as "The Ring", is a very lovely track, with most of the course resembling more a country road than a racetrack (and the track is open to the public). I'd love to go to Belgium to visit it in real life, but I don't think I'd ever want to attempt to drive it for real, as it's a pretty deadly track
Also, on Thursday, I went to a job fair for Swiss Chalet restaurants
in Barrhaven, which is a small-but-growing town in the south of Nepean, which is one gigantic motherfucker of a suburb in terms of land area. It was also my very first time visiting Barrhaven, period, so I didn't really know my way around the town, though my mother drove me to the sports centre where the event was held. There were about a dozen or so people waiting to be interviewed when I was there; I filled out an application and handed it in along with my CV. Since I didn't show up at the beginning of the event, at 10 a.m., I only had to wait 10 minutes for my mini-interview. Most of the questions were standard job interview fare, though they did ask me if I knew about Cara
, the Canadian food service company that owns Swiss Chalet, as well as Harvey's, Second Cup, Kelsey's, and several other franchise brands, and that's a company I'm quite well aware of, because, back when I was in Montreal, I took the train or the 211 bus downtown many times a week, and there's a large Cara facility in Dorval near the airport, since Cara is also the company that handles food services for Air Canada. I think they were slightly impressed that I knew that Cara makes airline food (at least on flights originating from Canadian airports), though possibly not impressed enough to overcome my lack of experience. They also made clear to me that, if they were going to hire me at all, it would be only for the position of dishwasher, and they asked me if I minded that, out of all the restaurant jobs, dishwasher is the lowest in the status totem pole (lower than "toilet-wiper/declogger"?). Look, if I'm 31 and am still applying for franchise restaurant jobs, "status" is the least of my concerns. I really wouldn't mind getting this job, even if it's not the Merivale location that's within easy walking distance and I'd have to travel all of the way to and from Fallowfield Transitway station and then some, and Fallowfield road itself seems to be missing sidewalks between Pinecrest and the station.
I wouldn't say I eat at Swiss Chalet often, since, if I'm eating by myself, I tend to only eat at fast food franchises where there are no waiters to tip, but the last time I went there
, for my birthday in 2003 (at the aforementioned Merivale location, almost foreshadowing me moving to the general area only a year later), I enjoyed my beef burger and fries, so I could say, with a straight face, that I like the place.
Also, in case any of you have been wondering, while I mentioned that I will be becoming an uncle for the first time in July at least once before, now it can be told that I will be uncle to a nephew, since my sister had another ultrasound and it's obviously a boy.