What's Up!

December 17, 2006


So it's a Sunday, one week 'til Christmas Eve. I've been bouncing around some thoughts for the new issue of What's Up!, and figured it was time to just put these random mental tidbits down on paper (or in this case, a text-based HTML file). Not too mention there is nothing on TV on a Sunday night.

  • After a bit of shopping with the Mrs. and my parents, I come home and turn on the telly. Sky Sports News is on FSC (that's Fox Soccer Channel for those scoring at home). And nothing is more surreal than a British guy piping up with, "The Tennessee Titans defense scored 21 points on the Jacksonville Jag-U-ars in this week's NFL action." What really iced it is after those highlights, and that of the Bears/Bucs game, they moved on to cricket highlights.

    I can't understand cricket. I've tried. I consider myself a smart guy (actually, I consider myself a super-genius), and I'm pretty sport savvy, but when they show cricket highlights, I sit there stumped like a slack-jawed idiot. It really does seem that they are speaking a different language. It must be a code, because they are stringing together English words, but I can't get a handle on it.

    Me and Val thought that we would get EA Sports Cricket and maybe learn about the sport that way. Ya, it's only sold in the UK and Australia. If I want it, I'll have to have it imported via eBay.

  • I tried not to latch onto any other anime after Fullmetal Alchemist and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex finished their runs. However, I got hooked onto Eureka Seven. I tried not to, and it was easy at first, because it started slowed. But when I returned to it, the pace had picked up, and it became very good. Just don't ask me to explain the plot-line.

    Due to shows like FMA, GitS: SAC, and Eureka Seven, my collection of anime theme music has grown. I actually find myself a fan of the JPop (that's Japanese Popular music for those scoring at home). Don't ask me what their singing, because I've always leaned towards the musical side (as in the actual music) of songs, as opposed to the lyrical side. Hmmm, maybe that's why I like smooth jazz and not rap.

  • Somebody needs to explain to me how when I clean my desk, the floor space surrounding it gets messier. Anyone?

  • Someone asked who I had on my speed-dial. Well, here's how my cell phone is set up with one touch speed-dial. 1=Voicemail, 2=The Mrs., 3=my apartment (but that number has been disconnected, so I need to find someone to put there), 4=the Armory, 5=El Madre, 6=the Bounty Hunter, 7=my Best Friend, 8=my Mistress, 9=my Lesbian Girlfriend.

  • For eagle-eyed fans of Demosthenes Online, you might have noticed a small little blurb, that says, "Going XL, Feb. 1, 2007." A few have asked what that means. Well, if things go according to plan (which if past precedent holds, it won't), then a larger Demosthenes Online will premiere then. The new beefier DOL:XL will look be the same, but have more D-mo goodness. I don't want to divulge what exactly yet because: a. I never stick to self-imposed deadlines regarding this website; and b. I want to make sure I have the components ready before I unveil them.

    Some fans of the Demosthenes have noticed that a few things have changed. Well, a little cosmetic changes have taken place. Nothing major, but just some touching up, and in same cases, replacing "borrowed" images and backgrounds with original artwork. For example, the Bank of Demosthenes now has a new background that features actual money. I wanted to use U.S. bills, but as I'm chronically broke as of late, there were none to be had. But, to what should have been no surprise, I had gads of foreign money available (remember, Demosthenes = INTERNATIONAL celebrity), so I used a 20 euro banknote and a 20 pound (UK) banknote.

    When I went to scan the euro in first, this was the warning message I got:

    I walked away for a second while the euro scanned, and that was what greeted me when I came back. Well, it's good to see my counterfeiting days are over before they started. Now, when I went to scan the 20 pound note, I didn't get the message. Curious. I wonder if my contact in Bayswater is still around. I've already said too much. Let's just keep going...

  • I think my worst habit is falling of the face of the planet. Ask my friends.

  • So I went to the ophthalmologist to see if anything was medically wrong with my eyes, trying to check it if anything may contribute to my headaches (being a brilliant, creative, uber-thinker kinda hurts). My eyeballs are the pictures of health (the faulty vision is another story), but the doc told me I have, no joke, Floppy Eyelid Syndrome. Ain't that festive?

    But wait, there's more. According to the doc, Floppy Eyelid Syndrome, or FES, is clinically linked with SLEEP APNEA (that's where you stop breathing while you sleep, for those scoring at home). No one knows why one is connected to the other, but it is. Oh joy! And then, when I told the doc that the Mrs. has suggested that I might have sleep apnea to begin with, the doc seemed legitimately worried. I've always joked that I would prefer to die in my sleep, but I didn't mean right now.

  • Iron Chef America is a repeat tonight (Battle Cranberry). Bummer. At the start of the year, look for a What's Up! article about Iron Chef America. Believe it or not, I'm planning ahead.

    Just for the record, I love popcorn.

  • You know what I don't like, poker tournaments that allow re-buys. People play a little more careless when they know they can call for more chips. Unfortunately, the closest "no re-buy" tourney (and the cheapest) is an hour away at Pechanga.

    I have found myself winning many tournaments online as of late (though due to new federal legislation, it can't be for real money). And my success rate goes up when I'm doing something else, like tinkering with Photoshop or something. Somehow, I don't think the casino will allow me a laptop on the table.

  • As 2006 ends, it looks like I'm going to go 1-6 on the Next VII again. I think ye olde Next VII is going to take a year off.

    My success rate isn't that great, but with a few other things I want to do with the site, The Next VII may have to go on hiatus. Of course, things may change between now and then, but if you a fan of the Next VII, you may not want to get your hopes up.

  • Sci Fi Channel is moving Battlestar Galactica to Sundays. Bad call.

  • For fun, I think I'm going to go to the 24 hour Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve to see the madness. Especially at 2 p.m. on Christmas morning. Did that once at the Super K-Mart, and that was fun to watch.

    You know, I'm not a big Christmas guy, but I don't wait until, literally, the last minute to buy a gift. Don't they understand that they had a 12 month advance warning?

    Here's the best way to avoid the "Happy Holidays" trap. With the big brouhaha about saying Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas, I've got the solution that'll be as accommodating as possible while wishing good tidings.

    When greeting someone or biding farewell, say, "Happy Winter... what do you celebrate? Then 'Happy (insert indicated holiday here)' to ya!" It's guaranteed to bring a smile to the person you're saying it to. And early testing shows that laughter can result. If that doesn't say holiday cheer, I don't know what does!

  • Oh, and I love that I can look out my balcony window and see fireworks from a little theme park we've got here in Anaheim. You might have heard of it.

    Ok, I think I'm done. I think everything is out. Be sure to look out for the next issue of What's Up! which will be tentatively titled, "Iron Chef vs. Iron Chef America." Until we meet again my friends, have a Happy Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa (circle one that best applies) and a Fan-fraking-tacular New Year.

    December 3, 2006


    Hmmm, how 'bout them Bruins?!?!?!?

    Some fun facts:
  • During my time as a student of UCLA, and subsequently post graduate employment at UCLA, my alma mater/employer never lost to USC in the big game. In fact they would 8 straight, the longest streak in the series (obviously that was more than 7 years ago).

  • Parking at the Rose Bowl is on the golf course next door. Seriously, on the course. The worst place to park is within the driving range.

  • When the very first BCS rankings were released, UCLA was #1. They were on their way to the National Championship until a fluke loss to Miami Hurricanes in a rescheduled game. The original game between the two earlier in the year had to be postponed due to, fittingly enough, a hurricane.

  • Did you know, I was invited to come try out as a walk-on during my senior year? 3 weeks later, I blew out my knee playing basketball (as of this posting, only 1 out of the 4 ligaments in my right knee is intact). No tryout for me.

  • How's this for a vicious circle: UCLA beat USC; USC beat Notre Dame; Notre Dame beat UCLA. Friends, that's why they play the games.

    Now, the Bruins are off to the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco to face the Florida State Seminoles (the first time these two have ever met).
    GO BRUINS!!!

    October 14, 2006


    The "Ask Demosthenes" page on Demosthenes Online has officially been retired. More often than not, most answers would be answered here in What's Up! so having that page up has proved to be redundant. So, it has be packaged up and shipped off to some folder on my computer.

    However, I will publish here in What's Up! 3 of the most popular questions and their answers, so they can continue to live on (and because they are still useful).

    Originally Asked: December 20, 2003
    A seasonal question asked of me was, "Why do people kiss under the mistletoe?" Excellent question. Luckily, I got asked this question right after I read the following from Ms. Martha Brockenbrough. Enjoy!

    So once again, there you have it. I knew that mistletoe was poisonous and not to be eaten, and that can now be explained since it's a parasite and whatnot. Happy Kissing!

    Originally Asked: April 2, 2003
    As usual, I get a lot of questions asked of me. My reputation as a frightenly potent wealth of knowledge usually fuels the random question frenzy. So, it should have come as no surprise (but it did) when the question comes forth, "What's the currency of Brazil?" Now, any schlep with business associates in Sao Paulo know that the Real is the money of Brazil. But that got me thinking? What if it was a country I knew nothing about? Hmmm. So, for your convenience, here is a listing of all currencies in the world today. Enjoy!

    Originally Asked: March 6, 2002
    Why is Greek Easter different than American Easter?
    -Well, it all took place when their was the Great Schism between the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire (which were really two halves of the same entity), which lead to the flourishing of the Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy, respectively. Easter was commerated on the same day for a long time. It's always the First Sunday, after the Spring Equinox, after the first Full Moon, after the end of Jewish Passover. The Roman Catholic Church decided that they would trim off the Passover requirement, but the Greek Orthodox Church didn't. Hence the two different dates. On occasion, the two Easter fall on the same, but others can be radically different. In 2002, Orthodox's Great Lent began, that's right BEGAN, the Monday after Western Palm Sunday. Putting Greek Easter on May 5.

    For future reference, here is the when both Easter will be, up to the year 2015.
    Western EasterGreek Easter
    2000April 3April 30
    2001April 15April 15
    2002March 31May 5
    2003April 20April 27
    2004April 11April 11
    2005March 27May 1
    2006April 16April 23
    2007April 8April 8
    2008April 23April 30
    2009April 12April 19
    2010April 4April 4
    2011April 24April 24
    2012April 8April 15
    2013March 31May 5
    2014April 20April 20
    2015April 5April 12

    So while "Ask Demosthenes" will put to bed, just remember, the concept that I know everything is well within the realm of possibility. So if something's tickling your brain, and you can't come up with an answer. Ask me, I just might have it.

    September 19, 2006


    Can anyone identify this?

    If you said it's a Sodium Chloride Containment Unit, you would be correct (that's a saltcellar in lay terms). After seeing Alton Brown use one for years on his show, Good Eats, and Val expressing her interest in having one of her own, I put two and two together and came up with salt.

    Val, as the consummate cook, always had a small bowl full of salt for cooking around the kitchen. Now, it's been replaced with official Alton Brown Gear.

    And in true AB fashion, here is some interesting facts about salt:
    -The word "salary" come from "salarium," the pay Roman soldiers received for the purchase of salt.
    -Salt is the only edible rock.
    -In Iran, to break an oath is to be "untrue to salt." -Many American roadways began as paths blazed by buffalo traveling to natural salt licks.
    -During the Middle Ages, the size of the saltcellar indicated the wealth of a household.
    -A salt tax called the "gabelle" led to the French Revolution.
    -In small amounts, salt makes sweet foods taste sweeter.

    (Ok, so I got them off the box the saltcellar came in)

    Even I got into the act, here on the set of me and Val's show, Dance Kitchen, USA.

    Yes, it's kosher salt. Now, being the magnanimous guy that I am, I'll share the secret of where I procured my saltcellar. Go to altonbrown.com and click on "Alton Shop" and get your own Sodium Chloride Containment Unit.

    Not Worth His Salt: Buffa-slug
    So the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL have unveiled their new logo and unis. This is it...

    Some have called the "Buffa-slug." Others, just "Banana Slug." Still others, more creatively, call it "Blonde Toupee." Val, calls it "cute" which elicits this response from me, "I don't think that's the image they were shooting for."

    I think this is my beef with it (aside from being too abstract for western New York): the team is called the Sabres. They are not the Buffaloes. Yes, they play in the city of Buffalo, but that's not their team names. It's the Sabres. The red alternate below was the best Sabres jersey, and one of the best of the NHL.

    I wish someone would have asked me before they made any decisions. Just wait until I own a major league franchise.

    Worth His Salt: I'm Pretty
    So the Wacky Greek Boy was featured in an article on the Disney intranet. Unfortunately, you can't get there from here, but I thought I would share the photo spread that was on the first release.

    What can I say, the people love me!

    Not Worth His Salt: Crimson Axe
    For the second season in a row, my beloved Crimson Axe finished the regular season in last place (though I will finish in 11th in the consolation playoff bracket). This is obviously unacceptable. I need to take a hard look at my team and see what changes need to be made, and what keepers need to be kept.

    In the offseason, here are some of the questions we must ask:
  • Which 2B do I keep? Mark Loretta or Josh Barfield? Or both?
  • Do I look for a new SS since I can't trust my boy Khalil Greene to stay healthy for a full season?
  • Now that Ryan Freel (who I call the white Chone Figgins) is playing everyday, do I keep him?
  • Do I finally part ways with Garret Anderson?
  • After swinging the deal of the year (acquiring Ryan Howard, Paul LoDuca, and Jacques Jones for Carlos Beltran and Brian Fuentes), can I keep the front office mojo with a deft draft?

    Right now, I have the best team that isn't winning. But superior marketing can't overcome subpar performance. Let's see what happens next year. *grumble*grumble*grumble*

    Worth His Salt: Pete's Pond
    God bless the internet. About a year ago, right here in What's Up!, I told you of WildCam Africa on the National Geographic website, where they have this webcam streaming a live feed from a watering hole in Botswana, called Pete's Pond. It's located at www.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/wildcamafrica/wildcam.html and you really never know what you'll see wander into view. For instance, behold this family of elephants...

    How freakin' awesome is that? Honestly? Ok, go over there and do some wildlife viewing. I'll still be here when you get back.

    Worth His Salt: Exploding Cement Truck
    Two issues ago (scroll down to find it), I said that Travis Pastrana's double backflip was one of the most impressive things I've seen on TV since Brock Lesnar superplexed Big Show and collapsed the ring. When mentioning Val that I could watch those two clips all day, she reminded me of something equally as impressive, that I could always watch all day: the exploding cement truck on Mythbusters.

    The myth was whether a stick of dynamite could clean the inside of the cement truck's hopper of dried concrete. Of course, the Mythbusters cranked it up a bit. Here's the climax of that episode, courtesy of YouTube...

    August 24, 2006


    ...But It's No Longer a Planet
    This was on cnn.com earlier today. Discuss amongst yourselves.

    PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) -- Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.

    After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. The new definition of what is, and isn't, a planet fills a centuries-old black hole for scientists who have labored since Copernicus without one.

    Although astronomers applauded after the vote, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a specialist in neutron stars from Northern Ireland who oversaw the proceedings, urged those who might be "quite disappointed" to look on the bright side.

    "It could be argued that we are creating an umbrella called 'planet' under which the dwarf planets exist," she said, drawing laughter by waving a stuffed Pluto of Walt Disney fame beneath a real umbrella.

    The decision by the prestigious international group spells out the basic tests that celestial objects will have to meet before they can be considered for admission to the elite cosmic club.

    For now, membership will be restricted to the eight "classical" planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

    Much-maligned Pluto doesn't make the grade under the new rules for a planet: "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit."

    Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.

    Instead, it will be reclassified in a new category of "dwarf planets," similar to what long have been termed "minor planets." The definition also lays out a third class of lesser objects that orbit the sun: "small solar system bodies," a term that will apply to numerous asteroids, comets and other natural satellites.

    It was unclear how Pluto's demotion might affect the mission of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, which earlier this year began a 9 1/2-year journey to the oddball object to unearth more of its secrets.

    The decision at a conference of 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries was a dramatic shift from just a week ago, when the group's leaders floated a proposal that would have reaffirmed Pluto's planetary status and made planets of its largest moon and two other objects.

    That plan proved highly unpopular, splitting astronomers into factions and triggering days of sometimes combative debate that led to Pluto's undoing.

    Now, two of the objects that at one point were cruising toward possible full-fledged planethood will join Pluto as dwarfs: the asteroid Ceres, which was a planet in the 1800s before it got demoted, and 2003 UB313, an icy object slightly larger than Pluto whose discoverer, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, has nicknamed "Xena."

    Charon, the largest of Pluto's three moons, is no longer under consideration for any special designation.

    Brown was pleased by the decision. He had argued that Pluto and similar bodies didn't deserve planet status, saying that would "take the magic out of the solar system."

    "UB313 is the largest dwarf planet. That's kind of cool," he said.

    ...But He's Still The Top Dog
    After the announcement above was made, this was the response from Disney. Obviously tongue-in-check, but legit.

    Despite Planetary Downgrade, Pluto is Still Disney's 'Dog Star'
    In reaction to news today that Pluto was demoted to the status of "dwarf planet," the Seven Dwarfs issued their own short statement:

    "Although we think it's DOPEY that Pluto has been downgraded to a dwarf planet, which has made some people GRUMPY and others just SLEEPY, we are not BASHFUL in saying we would be HAPPY if Disney's Pluto would join us as an 8th dwarf. We think this is just what the DOC ordered and is nothing to SNEEZE at."

    As Mickey Mouse's faithful companion, Pluto made his debut in 1930, the same year that scientists discovered what they believed was a ninth planet. Said a white-gloved, yellow-shoed source close to Disney's top dog, "I think the whole thing is goofy. Pluto has never been interested in astronomy before, other than maybe an occasional howl at the moon."

    August 13, 2006


    One of the most impressive things I've ever seen was during X Games 12, during the Moto X - Best Trick competition. Travis Pastrana pulls off the nearly impossible, and never-before-done double backflip.

    Mind you, the first ever backflip in competition was pulled off just about 4 years ago. Pastrana stepped it up pulled it off the double perfectly. And it couldn't have been more Hollywood, too. Pastrana was in 4th place, and was going to ride last, and needed a big trick to win the gold. The double backflip was rumored to make its debut. The X Games broadcast extended past 8 p.m. Pacific time (11 p.m. Eastern time) so people tuning in for SportsCenter also watched with anticipation. Before the event, Pastrana told his mom something along the lines of, "If things don't go right, just know that I love you." How do you tell a mother that?

    Pastrana is at the top of the starting ramp. Revving his bike. Wearing full body armor, which is NOT normal. The announcers are obviously stoked. The crowd at the Staples Center are on their feet. I'm on the edge of my couch.

    Pastrana takes off. Everyone holds their breath, and a relative hush falls upon the crowd. He's in the air...

    ...one backflip...

    ...two backfliiiiiiips....

    ...and he nails a perfect landing and the Staples Center ERUPTS! I jump off my couch, hooting and hollering along with the 13,000 folks in attendance.

    I could watch that clip over and over, and not get tired of it. And since this was on the first night, they showed it over and over all weekend long. In case you missed it, click here: http://expn.go.com/expn/story?pageName=sx12motoxbt and click the videos on the side. In the event that page stops being good, click over to expn.com (note the x) and hunt for it. It's worth it.

    This has to be one of the most impressive things I've seen on TV since Brock Lesnar superplexed Big Show and collapsed the ring.

    A No-Win Situation
    The MLS recently had their All-Star Game and played defending English Premiership champions, Chelsea FC. I like that MLS is able to bring in European teams over for tours and exhibitions because it does raise the profile of the league. However, for Chelsea, this was a no-win situation. Win against the MLS All-Stars, and big deal, they are the EPL champions and should win. Lose against the All-Stars, and it's a loss, and excuses will fly. This has all the shades of the U.S. playing in the World Baseball Classic.

    So you can guess how this turned out, with that reference. The MLS All-Stars beat Chelsea, 1-0, in what I would call a very good match. Chelsea says that it was their preseason, and it showed, while the MLSers were obviously in game shape. It's just surprising how the All-Stars, for long stretches of the match, looked ridiculously better than Chelsea. Sure, Chelsea did field a team consisting of their new signings, but those signings are world class players (and Chelsea didn't look that good in their FA Community Shield loss to Liverpool, today).

    Nonetheless, Dwayne DeRosario showed that he was one of the best players in the league, and frequent hook-ups with Houston Dynamo teammate, Brian Ching, created many chances (which validated my claim that I expect to Houston in the MLS Cup Final). The question I have is when Toronto FC opens up for business, while DeRo find himself north of the border? He is Canadian national player, and he would be a even bigger superstar up there. That's something to pay attention to.

    Congrats to MLS.

    Get a library card. Just do it.

    Ok, THIS Is The Best Fortune Cookie Fortune Ever
    This is a real fortune cookie picked up at Panda Express across the street from Angel Stadium.

    My mom howled with laughter when I told her, and added, "See, I've been telling you that for years. Just ask your mother." Thanks, mom.

    Pound for Pound
    So I baked a pound cake last night. A marble pound cake. Unfortunately, I had no ice cream. Excellent forethought on my part, I know. Pound cake still good, though.

    Churches Are Made by Man
    Friends, this is God's handiwork.

    This picture can in no way do this beauty justice. Believe it or not, an actual trip description will go up on Lost Expeditions. Really! Watch for more on that site.

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