August 30th, 2010

#2256: "Oh God, I'm crying into this lens!"

For want of anything more intelligent to do, I'm rereading back posts of the Fungus, and I came across something that made me laugh until tears came. But first, I have to explain the post title!

When I was a wee lad of 10, I wanted a tape recorder for my birthday. We didn't have a functioning stereo system in the house and I wanted to be able to listen to music. Well, I got one; and I accumulated a few tapes of music (like the Star Wars soundtrack).

Then one of my friends showed me something incredible: you could record funny audio skits and then laugh at them.

When I got into junior high school, then, one of my friends had a couple of Super 8 movie cameras, and we applied this marvelous technique to making hilarious films.

Okay, they were juvenile and stupid. But I can watch them today and get a chuckle out of them, if only because I remember having so much fun filming them, and I also remember the anticipation with which we awaited the film's return from the developer.

(This was 1982. You had to wait weeks for movie film to be developed. "One-hour developing" was still years away.)

In 1985, my then-friend Eric's mother's boyfriend bought a JVC GR-C1 camcorder. And we did funny skits in front of it.

...one of the funniest things is that at first we did them all silent: we were all so used to Super-8 film with no sound that when we got in front of the camcorder, we just did our funny stuff without saying anything. Then I remembered, Hey, this thing's got sound! and started talking, which broke the ice.

And as time went on, we used other machines to make funny skits; in 1985 we were making some videos and another friend of mine was being a smartass behind the camera. Eric was running the camera while I acted; Marcus was holding up a light bar, and occasionally making silly faces at the camera. So you could hear Eric laughing while I was doing my thing on-camera, and after a few repetitions of this, Eric chortled, "Oh, God, I'm crying into this lens!" meaning the eyepiece.

(I still have almost all that video, too. Some of it is in pretty bad shape, being a copy of a copy of a copy, but I have it.)

And so what made me laugh until tears came?

My snark at #7 of the "Ten Dumbest Green Gadgets": solar-powered coasters!

I said:
Because, damn it, the coasters you have to plug into the wall are just power hogs. I'm pretty sure that plug-in-light-up-color-changing coasters are the reason global warming and pollution have become the problems they are today.
I mean, come on! This is so stupid I don't know where to begin!

Let's face it: a drink coaster is there to protect your furniture from moisture and mechanical damage. All it needs to do in order to fulfill this role is to provide some kind of absorptive or containing function in a package made of something that won't mar wood. The coaster I use on my computer desk is made of sandstone with a cork base; it absorbs water and lets it evaporate. In the family room we have these nice octagonal teak coasters, which can hold about half an ounce of condensation before overflowing.

Notice something interesting about these perfectly acceptable coasters?

THEY DON'T REQUIRE A FREAKING POWER SOURCE!

Solar or WTF-ever: I don't have to plug them in or set them in the sun for 5 hours. The point is, a coaster does not need to light up to perform its basic function. And making solar cells and LEDs and the other electronics in the solar-powered light-up coasters requires a lot of toxic chemicals and a shitton of industry to support it, none of which is very "eco-friendly". And so the plain wood coasters sitting on the end table in my family room are several times as "green" as these idiotic solar-powered light up drink coasters.

In fact, everything on that list is just as pathetically idiotic as the solar-powered coasters are, and for much the same reason: if it actually does anything useful, it does with less efficiency and more expense (and more environmental damage) than conventional devices which are already perfectly acceptable for the task. *sigh*

Every once in a while, when I reread something I've written, I get this kind of laugh out of it. That makes it all worthwhile.

#2257: I done figgered it out! I'm NUTS!

Yeah, like that's some kind of big revelation. 9_9

Back on July 5 I had this to say:
After having a grand day yesterday I think my subconscious didn't want it to end, because I absolutely could not get to sleep last night. I was exhausted; I hit the sack at around 2 AM and proceeded to toss and turn until 5 AM. Xanax at 3 only made me groggy; finally about 4:30 I took a dose of NyQuil, and I was asleep by 5.

Xanax always knocks me out; WTF.

Anyway, I'm still tired, and all I can think about doing is crawling back into bed and getting some more sleep...and I can't think of a single reason not to. So that's what I'm going to do.
Now: Sunday I didn't get to bed before 4 AM and I know I didn't fall asleep before 5; and I woke up around 11-ish to go over to Og's place. So I didn't get more than six hours' sleep Sunday, all told...yet now it's past 5 AM on Monday morning and I haven't been to bed yet. In fact, I am only now just starting to get tired after being awake more than 18 hours on 6 hours' (or less) sleep.

WTF? Well--going out and doing something social is what did it both times!

I have no life right now. My day consists of taking care of chores for Mom, blogging, running errands, and doing my own chores; none of this requires any serious interaction with people I'm not related to. Sure, I interact with strangers--store clerks, bank personnel, whatever--but I don't do any real socializing with them. Nor do I have much occasion to do things other than play computer games, by myself.

So when I actually get to spend time with friends, I get all amped up. And then I can't sleep even if I want to.

Last night I was dubbing Kimi ni Todoke while listening to anime music and singing along with it, and acting almost completely unlike my normal self. It's kind of amazing, in a way.

I'm kind of stupid in that I often don't know what the hell's going on in my head. Depression, anxiety, happiness, whatever--it often only occurs to me some time after I've been feeling whatever way it is: "Hey! Wait a minute!" Sometimes other people have to point it out to me: "You know, you're probably...."

It's only natural to be happy when you get to go have some fun (for once); but it's also kind of worrisome for me that I get this spazzed over something like this. I'm normally so phlegmatic about everything that it's a normal occurrence for people to ask me at parties, "Hey, are you having fun?"

Being the kid everyone picked on is what did that to me. When you're at the bottom of the pecking order, the last thing you want to do is let anyone know you're in a good mood, because they'll be sure to ruin it for you. *sigh* (Then when you graduate, you get the "class grouch" award. Gee, I don't know why I was always in such a bad mood; I mean, I only had EVERY-FUCKING-BODY picking on me. In an environment where fighting was absolutely not tolerated, ever, under pain of expulsion, so there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.)

(It's really a good thing that school shootings had not been invented when I was in high school.)

...anyway, point is, this is something new for me. It might just be because I am mind-numbingly bored and don't realize it; I am just stupid enough for that to be possible. Then I go and do something fun and social, and wheee!!

There were other times in my life when I had few or no friends and rarely got to socialize; I don't recall this kind of thing happening then. Of course, I was much younger then (grade school) so God alone knows whether or not this is actually typical of me, or something new and exciting for me to worry about.

Being in the situation I was in, making new friends always included a cautious period where I wasn't sure things were on the level. People don't like feeling like you don't trust them, but I couldn't afford to trust right away. I still have that problem with being reserved around new people, and it's one reason I have such trouble making friends. I just can't trust very easily, most of the time, even when I want to; I've got too much sad experience with people who I thought were my friends abusing my trust.

Somehow, your own uneasiness around strangers translates into them being uneasy around you.

That's probably why I enjoy Kimi ni Todoke so damn much. At the beginning of the series, Sawako has never had any real friends (at age 15!) and she's amazed to meet people who actually seem to like her. She becomes friends with Ayane and Chizuru, she's extremely happy with this but she's afraid to say, "These two are my friends!" because she doesn't want to presume. Instead she says, "I really want to be friends with them, if that's possible!"

(By the time I was 15 I had several good friends, so I was one up on Sawako.)

Sawako is incredibly positive, despite being such an outcast for her entire life up until high school. Of course, she wasn't picked on; she just didn't have any friends. There's a big difference. (I would have been fine with having nearly everyone just ignore me.) Anyway, I really identify with Sawako, which is why I like the series so much.

(Also, Hana Yori Dango--Tsukushi is picked on by the entire student body of Eitoku; no wonder I identify with her and like that series so much. ...if I'd had 1/49th of Tsukushi's moxie when I was in high school, things would have been very different.)

So: I'm just going to have to bear in mind from now on that whenever I get to go do social things, I should expect to be all wound up like the Tasmanian Devil for half a day afterwards. Maybe next time I can have the stuff ready to paint the living room or something--y'know, get some good use out of all this energy.

Instead of singing in Japanese and scaring the cat, y'know.

#2258: Thoroughly cook eggs.

Didn't I say this? Salmonella is why you have to thoroughly cook chicken, after all.

...but I have to ask: what about irradiating the eggs?

I have no idea if that would work. Enough gamma radiation to kill bacteria shouldn't be enough to cook the egg, but since I know very little about this kind of thing I don't know for sure. What I do know is that irradiation is the perfect way to extend food's shelf life, and it seems to me that zapping eggs with gamma rays would prevent any further problems with salmonella.

Of course, thanks to the tireless efforts of anti-nuclear dickheads, people now FREAK THE FUCK OUT whenever radiation is even mentioned. "OH NO DON'T ZAP MY FOOD WITH GAMMA RAYS I DON'T WANT RADIOACTIVE FOOD! Hey, while you're up, get my hot pocket from the microwave, will you?"

(Fungus readers should be smart enough to recognize the irony in that statement without me pointing it out.*)

* * *

Maybe the fair has to have a written policy. Sorry; I think the guy with the sign was in the right here. You can't enforce an unwritten policy, unless you're a totalitarian asshole who wants to make exceptions whenever the hell he feels like it and to censor speech he doesn't like.

Because security people "felt that they were assaulted", this guy got arrested.

Okay: the guy loses points (like, all of them) for being a LaRouche douche, but if the Alaska State Fair doesn't want people campaigning, then they need to have a written policy and it needs to be enforced on everyone. If the Alaska State Fair wants to allow campaigning, it has to let everyone campaign. Sorry; that's how "rule of law" is supposed to work.

* * *

I have been saying much the same thing Scott Angell is saying here: China may be on the way up, economically, right now; but predictions of it taking over the world by 2030 are--at best--optimistic.

I've said before that China faces many of the same problems that Japan does. Look: in the 1980s Japan was supposed to be an economic powerhouse, unstoppable, and that it would soon surpass the United States. But Japan's success was built one one thing: the fact that a dollar bought four hundred yen.

Take, for example, a fictional 1985 Japanese car which was competitive with an American car costing $10,000. Selling that car in Japan brought in perhaps ¥1,000,000; selling it in the US, though, with the exchange rate running ¥400 to the dollar, that car garnered ¥4,000,000, about 3/4 of which was nothing but pure profit. (In the early 90s, it was still true that about 90% of Japanese car company profits came from the United States.) And it was like that for every product Japan sold in the US. These were the years of Japan's "bubble economy".

But then the yen rose against the dollar. Soon that $10,000 car only brought in ¥2,000,000. The car hadn't changed, nor had the actual relative cost of the car; the only difference was the exchange rate. The flow of easy profit went away, and by the mid-1990s that $10,000 car was selling for ¥1,000,000 in the US.

Once the "easy money" stopped rolling in, Japan's "bubble economy" popped.

China's doing the same thing: right now, the exchange rate is lopsided; also, with the way they do things over there, labor is extra-cheap and there are no worries about environmental legislation getting in the way. So stuff coming from China seems really inexpensive to us, but Chinese businesses convert their dollars to yuan and are simply swimming in loot, at least compared to other Chinese.

China's got more troubles with its financial system than Japan did; not just things which are disproportionate and irrational (such as the price of land in Tokyo in the 1980s--Jesus) but things which are actually wrong, things no sane government would think about doing if it wished to ensure long-term stability. Whatever China's reasons for doing some of the things it does, they're going to find out that they're not any smarter than the other folks that tried those things, and failed.

Angell sums it up rather neatly: "In the end, the nation develops an established economy dependent on the distortions, and unable to function and develop once they’ve lost any meaningful effect." That's what happened to Japan, and that's what's happening to China. And it's completely unsustainable.

* * *

I hope Vox Day's last sentence is prophetic.

* * *

Look at this poor dog:

funny pictures-needs Ritalin needs salt

That put-upon expression is priceless. I doubt the cat is actually hurting him, anyway, so it's more like he's thinking, "I just want to go have a nap, and I have to contend with this nonsense?"

* * *

*For the non-scientific types, though: microwaves and gamma rays are both electromagnetic waves, exactly like light but of a different frequency. If you're not afraid of eating microwaved food, you should not be afraid of eating food preserved by exposure to gamma rays.