Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Titty Tax

My girlfriend's nephew went to the new Hooters hotel here in Las Vegas for lunch and had some wings and Mountain Dew. Sure, it's going to be expensive ($17.27) because you pay for the view but he didn't know how expensive it was until later. After showing the receipt to his grandmother and noting the unusually high tax (receipt on the right hand side of the picture,) she called them asking them why they overcharged the young man and if it was some form of "titty tax." They offered to return the overpayment. Hilarious but it does make you wonder. This is a new hotel with many restaurants and how many people were actually overcharged?

The receipt to the left is of my dinner with Kerry a few nights ago. Smaller receipt, more food and less tax. The tax was 7.7% of our bill. His tax came to 17.8%. All this makes you wonder, do we look at tax closely enough when we are eating out? I tend to look at it because slightly more than doubling the tax gives me a good guideline for tipping (15% to 20%).

Sunday, February 26, 2006


For those that have considered space travel and maybe hope in a few decades to travel to the moon and beyond, put the anime series Planetes on your wishlist. Sure, I think the name is a little messed up (it's like a French spelling of "planets", I think.) Anyhow, I want you to think about what the world and galaxy would be like in 2075. As of 2006, we are sending people into space to explore and robots are collecting photos and samples from planets we can't reach in a manned craft. Exploration is all about pushing the boundaries and, as Armstrong would say, taking that next "step."

Planetes is less science fiction than science reality pushed forward a few advancements. The series centers on the lives of the people in "half-section" or debris section. You see, with all these missions we send into space, things get dropped or abandoned and continue in Earth's orbit. Space junk. One dire accident involving a lone screw colliding with the glass window of a shuttle changed mankind's perception of it. Half section (nicknamed because it is given half the budget it needs to do the work and little respect since it isn't revenue generating) is sent out to clean up the messes created from our interplanetary advancement. But, the series isn't all about cleaning but throws out science "what if's" like what happens when a human is born and raised on the moon (essentially, less gravity means 6 foot tall 13 year-olds with frail bones.)

Now, what's in the series to ensnare someone uninterested in the geekiness of science and space advancement? Human drama... which unfolds between the characters while depicting very realistic relationships in a futuristic setting. It seems there are still terrorists, bureaucrats, love triangles and silliness on Earth as in the future of space. This is a terrific series to consider watching at some point. The artwork is different from most animated series but grows on you as the storyline progresses. I'm just waiting for the final DVD to be released to find out how they wrap this up. For a better explanation and a few photos, check out Tokidokijournal.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

My First Time Will Not Be My Last

Tuesday was my first time donating blood. I have thought about it several times and went in expecting to donate a few times (taking antibiotics and cold medicine got me turned down.) I did it right before going into work and I was iffy about the whole thing not knowing how long it would take. I guess, I have pretty good sized veins because they were able to get in there in one shot. Took only about 12 minutes to drain me.

I actually feel good about doing this because I do know that it will be useful for someone who needs it as currently the blood banks are low. I'm not too sure how long a donation can last but it'd be interesting to hear a news report saying that the blood bank is in a surplus. 93% of the 14 million units transfused to 4.9 million patients were collected via donation. Heck, there are even some believed benefits for men donating (reduce the risk of heart disease, controls blood iron levels and monitor your cholesterol level.) They liken it to bleeding off some oil from your car and putting fresh stuff in except your body is making the new stuff. I was pretty impressed with how easy this experience was and plan to do this again in the future. Later, I talked to a friend of mine about my donation and he said something to me that made me wonder: "I'm not donating. They charge so much money for the blood when it's used at the hospital that I'm not giving it for free."

My question for you is: How much of a difference between what it costs them to receive blood (provide extraction machines, provide clean needles, provide clean bags, provide clean surgical tubes, stock the donation center with food and drink, staff the center with medical professionals, store blood in a clean facility, promote donations, etc.) and what they charge the hospital, insurance and the patient? Would this keep you from donating?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Top 5 Pillow Injuries

Sure, we've seen violence with pillows many many times on television. Whether it is the wife snuffing out her husband's life or snoring under a pillow or the ever popular pillow fights during a 'sleep over.' But here's something you probably haven't thought about... 5,840 people with pillow related injuries checked into U.S. emergency rooms in 1992. Not hospitals but emergency rooms meaning there probably were more non-emergency injuries that just went to see their own doctor. Of course, with a bigger population since the nearly 14 years since that survey, there is a bigger chance of sending more to the hospital today. (I do wonder if that is why more people are seeking help for sleep apnea.) No, I really don't see myself going back to putting a pillow under my head as I sleep anytime soon. My question for you is: What is your Top 5 list of how these pillow related injuries may have occurred?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Feeling Guilty?

You own a functioning automobile, a television set, a dishwasher, washing machine, dryer and many of the things that are considered common in our present era. If you go back a few decades, these were all considered luxury items. But, for some reason they are considered standard fare now because people expect more and have more money to spend. Most of us actually have more than one television, a computer (or you are at the library annoying a librarian presently,) VCR and DVD player. I believe that the more we acquire, the more we think we live a sub-standard lifestyle because we don't have something someone else has. Nothing is wrong with keeping up with the Jones'.

I mention this because we all have jobs to pay for our necessities and luxuries. I'd like to know if you feel guilty about how hard you work, how much money you make and how you live. Many people would like you to.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Revisiting Firefly

I'm pretty upset with myself. I've been easily distracted by my projects around me (and been sleeping as if for some reason my life depended on it) and not posted. I feel you deserve more than a quickie post.

I became hooked on Buffy The Vampire Slayer after the season (had to watch the early episodes in reruns to catch up.) Of course, an addiction to Angel followed. The way Joss Whedon creates a great cast of characters and brings them together is almost magical. That was why I was thrilled when his new series Firefly made its debut on Fox.

If man were to leave earth to colonize the outer planets, would the lawlessness and lack of authority create a modern day wild west in space? Would the planets be ruled by one body or remain independent? Take those questions and add proven character-driven writing, technological elements with a jolt of humor here and there... I'm watching. The series was amazing but ended before its time and before all the filmed episodes aired. Depression set in and I joined a mass of browncoats in a desperate fight to keep the show on the air... which failed. Several of the actors migrated over to Buffy and Angel as both of those series made their final bows. A comic book was released and then finally the movie Serenity was released last year.

I waited until recently to rewatch all of the episodes of the television series (including the unaired episodes and amazing extras) and last week finally viewed the feature film, Serenity. I would implore any of you to rent or purchase the series as it is enjoyable on many levels. Imperfections and all, these characters grow on you and it's amazing to feel that way after spending less than a season with them. Here's the theme song.

Seeing a show that you really got into bite the dust can change how much interest you put into other shows out there. So, what television series cancellation has most affected your TV viewing?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Page Migrations

With the new work hours there is considerable downtime and I can't wear the iPod during work hours so I've finally been able to get some reading done. (Ok, sometimes it's hard to read because there is this person I work with that has a booming and excited voice that resonates off the walls and he needs to talk about everything he does including his last bathroom visit.) I've been stockpiling books to read for the last few years and now can start getting into them. Although I promised someone (cough, Lloyd) that I'd start with the Da Vinci Code, I was drawn into Thomas Sowell's Migrations And Cultures: A World View.

I don't mention Mr. Sowell much but, as I have been reading his column at Townhall.com, he has had a way with words in turning my Polaroid view to that of a wide-angle lens. The book has over 100 pages of reference material (which made the book look ominous) but contains statistics for immigration, emigration, repatriation, remittance and much more that I never knew were documented that far back. If anything, the book does a good job of showing you the struggle of many different cultures to better themselves (which often bettered the economy of the country they came to) while enduring the societal issues of progressing beyond the standards of people of the host country (many of these led from terse harmony to civil wars and genocide to dictatorships.) A very impressive read although it may make your brain hurt a little.

Now I'm off to work and to start Dan Brown's novel in hopes to finish it before the movie is released. I'm sure that it'll be a much easier read. What've you got in your current reading list?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

How The Cookie Crumbles

Today, I'd like to vent about one of my favorite treats... the chocolate chip cookie. The simplicity of the recipe helps those of us picky people that would like to make it at home ourselves. I know... you are wondering, "Why would you do that when there are those bags, boxes and cookie dough rolls staring at you when you are in the shopping aisles?" Well, that's easy. Control. You know exactly what goes in there. (And they taste better just out of the oven.)

My favorite example is the use of coconut and coconut oil in the pre-mixed dough. I really wish I knew why. I can taste it there and it becomes a coconut chocolate chip cookie to me. But, did you know that they sneak those items into your cookies often? I first discovered it after I bought some at 'Mal-Wart' and thought it was an aberration that coconut was used in it. But then I seen that it's in my favorite ice-cream, chocolate chip cookie dough. (Btw... it's been tested, that if you take out the cookie dough in the ice cream, it doesn't bake up like the real thing.)

So, I like to make them myself if possible (not often enough) and looking at each of the labels on the cookies that I buy. It's amazing what they try to sneak in there on you. Any surprise ingredients in your favorite goodies that you'd like to share?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Today's Interest In Genetics

The research behind genetics is pretty amazing. No, I am not thinking of making any of the local animals glow green or growing human ears on the backs of rats. I'm more intrigued by simple things like the tendency for a man and a woman to have a child with the same eye sight as the father. Nothing astounding.

I discovered that I had bad eyesight as a child. I can still exactly remember how. I was sitting in my father's car waiting to go home from the tennis courts with my siblings. I noticed my father's glasses there (he tended to use them most when he drove.) I put them on. It was the weirdest thing... the world really seemed to open up to me. I turned my head to the right and looked at what used to be the Desert Inn golf course and could see little white golf balls out there. This was amazing to me because I've looked at that area thousands of times. It was like super vision but I didn't know that it was pretty much standard. I didn't get my first pair of glasses until much later.

My brother also has vision issues but all 3 of us went in to look into Lasik a few years ago. My father and I were told we had rather thin cornea so we weren't candidates at the time. Matt got his vision corrected. Dad decided to go to another specialist for a second opinion and got his eyes done there. He actually mentioned it to me at the time but I was very wary with someone burning something that is thinner than normal. You ever see where the piano is dangling over the damsel in distress by a rope that has caught fire? Same idea.

So, of course severak years have gone by. My brother is thinking he needs contacts again. My father wears reading glasses here and there. And I? I'm getting my eyes looked at one more time in just a few minutes. They are going to have to make it sound pretty amazing for me to get something done (remember that pessimistic optimist thing?) but we'll see. I'm happy that I didn't do it earlier and I could wait a lot longer for better technology. But, I can't help seeing the irony of having my mother take me to have father's genetic traits corrected. hahaha

P.S. - They talked me into it. Surgery went well and I can see a difference already. I'd describe the process but I don't want to freak anyone out. The doctor did a great job and now I just have to rest th recover quick enough to watch UFC tonight and the Super Bowl tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Baby, You Just Like Me For My Fat Fingers

Ever wonder what happens to all those eBay searches for "furniture" when the person submitting it didn't pass 3rd grade and spells it "fernatur." Well, not everyone has but think of it... if everyone is bidding on one correctly-spelled item the price will keep rising higher and higher. Wouldn't it be great to buy it for a whole lot cheaper at the expense of the person that can't spell? Ok, maybe they were just in a hurry and had a typo but that's the whole idea behind the site Fat Fingers. Nothing promotes a good education and patience like having someone win your expensive items for less than $1 + shipping and handling.