May 22, 2009

How To Prevent Road Rage

Do something harmless, such as hold up a sign.

May 14, 2009

Manhattan Special Espresso Coffee Soda

A couple of days ago I got to take my lunch break in the Cranbury/Dayton area (an industrial area of New Jersey just off Rt. 130, north of Hightstown and East Windsor).

Despite being industrial, the area is notoriously truck-unfriendly. The only game in town for truckers is the new gas station that opened up at the intersection of Rts. 535 and 522...but being the only real truck stop in the area, it's always jam packed.

There is a Wawa at the south end of the industrial zone, where Prospect Plains Rd. crosses Applegarth. The entire plaza has 'No trucks over 4 tons' signs at every entrance. The only area to park on the side of the road has 'No stopping or standing' signs. And while there is a commuter parking lot nearby, I've been told by another trucker that it's an expensive parking ticket.

The only available option is to park across from the commuter lot, in a vacant warehouse lot.

So anyway, this strip mall with the Wawa also has a pizza place, Antonios. Good place, great food.

Even better, they carry a drink called Manhattan Special Espresso Coffee Soda.

It comes in a small glass bottle, 8 ounces of syrupy, coffee goodness.

May 13, 2009

Delicate Sound of Thunder

For as long as I can remember, I've been able to make a rumbling sound in my ears.

All I have to do is think about it, and I hear a steady rumbling, like distant thunder. There's a very slight sensation of pressure that goes along with it. I can't keep it going indefinitely, but can make it last for about a minute.

I once described this to my mom and asked her to listen, ear-to-ear, to see if she could hear it too (she could not).

I've found only one use for this weird ability, to drown out loud noises. It's almost as effective as wearing ear plugs, except that I have to concentrate on it.

Today, on a fluke, I decided to 'Google' it, just to see if anyone else had the same thing. It turns out that I'm not crazy after all (or at least this is not one of the symptoms), a few people posted in various forums that they could produce this rumbling.

Then I found the answer: The Tensor Tympani is a muscle in the ear that puts pressure on the ear drum to reduce the amplitude of very loud noise (120 db and above), also it dampens the sound of chewing. At the very end of the Wikipedia entry I found my answer, which is elaborated in this footnote:

Individuals in a small percentage of the population can contract these muscles voluntarily even though the muscles normally contract only involuntarily. The voluntary contraction of these muscles vibrate not unlike the small vibrations in any muscle that is contracted very hard, say the muscles in your arm. You perceive these contracted middle ear muscle vibrations as a "rumbling noise" because the vibrations are transmitted (to) the middle ear bones and then to the inner ear. I suspect that you are among this small percentage of the population who can voluntarily contract the middle ear muscles.

All that, plus I can roll my tongue into a tube!

May 12, 2009

Star Trek

I'm an old school Star Trek fan. I've been watching the original series ever since I was a child, for as long as I can remember. Kirk and Spock were my childhood heroes. Needless to say, I purchased the entire thing on DVD as soon as it became available as a set (recently re-purchased the digital remaster, which was well worth it).

I've seen every Trek movie, even the Shatner-directed Star Trek V as well as the last NextGen debacle, Star Trek Nemesis.

On the TV I enjoyed Next Generation's later seasons (watched season one and quit after too many "Lower shields and surrender the ship" episodes). DS9 I of course boycotted, being a Babylon 5 fan, which that show shamelessly ripped off. Voyager and Enterprise I tried, but it seemed that all the Trek shows started off with this great idea then fizzled off.

So then I heard rumors of a J.J. Abrams reboot of my beloved, vanilla Trek. There were rumors before of a Starfleet Academy movie, featuring a young Kirk and Spock, but this time it seemed to be the real deal. But how do you replace Spock, or Kirk for that matter? Ugh.

I started to get won over when I saw the first teaser poster, which featured Kirk, Uhura, and Spock. Christopher Pine (Kirk) looked like he was trying to seduce a woman, which seemed fitting. But Zachary Quinto looked uncannily like Spock.

As the premier came closer, I kept a close eye on /Film (a site I check daily), as well as the mainstream news outlets. Ever review I saw for the new Star Trek film was not only good, but glowing. Wait, this is a science fiction film right, now a drama?

I saw the film opening weekend, of course. Amazing. I honestly didn't think it could be done, revisit the original series with new actors playing the old characters. But somehow J.J. Abrams has pulled off the impossible, making a great Trek film while keeping all the fan boys and the 'more mature fans', such as myself, satisfied.

The acting was good, each character was represented properly without becoming a parody. Checkov and Uhura benefitted from expanded roles, which worked out well. Kirk and Spock were presented excellently. The actor playing McCoy really surprised me, he's another one that nailed it. Even Scotty and his little buddy were greatly satisfying.

Everyone I've talked to who's seen this film enjoyed it. My buddy Jim had one complaint, that some of the props on the bridge were bar code readers. Personally, my only complaint was with the interior of the Enterprise. Once you get below decks, say to engineering, it seems like a bunch of empty space filled with pipes and support beams. But that is my one and only complaint. I'll probably see this again in theatres, will definitely buy it on DVD.

They better make more, I want to see what becomes of this crew...oh wait, I already have! OK, I want to see how they get there.

May 10, 2009

Whatever Happened to the Free Internet?

Okay, so today is Mother's Day. As I always do, I'm gonna send my mom an ecard. So I get online to pick one.

Every ecard site I've been too now charges, this includes Yahoo! and a few others I had bookmarked.

What happened to the days of the free internet? Remember that, when everything on the internet was free, and if anyone charged for content there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth?

It used to be that for something like ecards, all the sites had a few free ones, but the bulk were what you paid for. What happened to the free stuff? Why wasn't I notified? How am I gonna fix these teeth?