Most informative encyclopedia entry ever?

I know I JUST posted, but that's irrelevant. What IS relevant is that we all know that Wikipedia is the world's best online encyclopedia, nay, the world's best encyclopedia. It is constantly updated, has articles for nearly everything, and has other sites such as Wikibooks and my favorite, Wikitravel. One of the things I enjoy about their encyclopedia is that at the bottom of whatever entry you're currently enjoying, it has a list of categories. I looked up two people yesterday, Rip Torn and Tony Reali. Rip Torn is a totally awesome actor, most famous for his role as the boss man in Men in Black, but was also in another of my faves, Welcome to Mooseport. At the bottom of his entry, he's under a number of categories including people born in (whatever year he was born), etc., but of higher interest was that I learned he was a Freemason. This is informative. Not so news to me was that he was in the category titled "Living People." Now, this could be useful incase you didn't know whether or not a serial killer had been executed, or didn't get the memo that Lincoln was assassinated, but is it really necessary to have a documented list of living people in your encyclopedia??? You decide.

H'n'B Don't Read This Post!!!

Viva la France??? More like Morte Alla Francia Italia Anela. (That's supposedly the phrase that creates the acrronym "Mafia," and it translates out of Italian to "Death to French Cries Italy.") It could be Italy and France in the finals (check out the tree or whatever it's called for football), although my guess is Brazil's going all the way. I'd like to see Italy, Argentina, Portugal and Brazil in the Semifinals. I think Brazil's got it taken care of on their end, and shouldn't have any problem serving the French head on a platter. That's what I think... but considering France also beat the living mess out of Spain, which was disappointing... hmmm.
People need to understand that I'm only PRETENDING to know all about football, but I do know that Brazil is the mackdaddy.
Spain scored first, and it didn't take France long to tie it up. They took their second goal in a very graceful set of passes, culminating in an impressive shot. That was with about twenty minutes left, and Spain had a few chances, one very close one as a matter of fact, to tie it up. But with about three minutes left to play, the Frenchies added insult to injury by sealing their victory with a goal that put them two up with mere seconds left. It made me sad. I will admit they played well.



Ukraine wins against Switzerland!!!
(I know I haven't posted in a while because I just got back into town, but more on that later.)
I did just get back into town and have been keeping up on H'n'B's play-by-play, and had Ukraine vs. Switzerland on television all this afternoon. Not a very exciting game, as the entire 90 mins was spent not scoring, but the shootout at the end is the most exciting thing in the world, so as I understand it, Ukraine advances to the quarterfinals. I'm not up on football right now, but I'm working on it.
In keeping with H'n'B's criteria for deciding on favored teams, Ukraine is much more closely related to Russian, geographically and linguistically, but I've been to Switzerland, and it's beautiful. The SwissAir pilot performed a beautiful landing in Zürich during one of the worst storms I've been in, and everyone clapped. Anyway, I decided upon Ukraine, but that's short lived since they're playing Italy in the quarterfinals, and very few countries rank as highly in food, language, history, beauty of population, and general culture as Italy, so I'll be hoping they pull it off against my Slavic friends.
More on my trip later.


Only one small thing about a story

Turns out my first real completed story isn't so much as I thought. A fellow blogger convinced me to go back and change some things around, and it's making its way through an experimental phase (like when you decided to go get those colored contacts and talk with a Jamaican accent) that I'll at least entertain for a while. I've made all the changes, and have either maintained or fixed most of the continuity issues, but I haven't read through it from end to end, so I'll have to make sure that's actually the case. We'll see how I like it, and decide where to go from there: I may trash it, but we'll see. I want to keep the same tone, or atmosphere about it, a lot of which is created in the order, and that's the big thing that fellow blogger suggested should change. We'll see. There were a few things that HAD to be where they were, and I was able to work around them and keep them where they needed to be. I want to make sure these changes didn't make the chain of events too light-hearted, because, as far as I'm concerned, this story isn't. I also want everyone to know that I won't be posting the story on the blog. If you want a copy, you'll have to grovel just a tiny bit to get me to send you the entire word document, and if you're lucky, you may get the cool version, with the cover page, and all that stuff, but I doubt it.
We also know i've been working on trying to get together something that IS lighthearted and happy and not so incredibly downhearted or dark. Well, nothing so far. I'll keep you posted. This is a short post.
I also feel it noteworthy to mention that I have nothing further to say, which is important because I ALWAYS have something further to say. It may just be because the smell of dinner is wafting from the grill in the backyard into the office and into my soul, saying "feed me," so I guess the speechless thing is foiled again.
Until we meet again...


Take one off my bottom ten

Welp, number six has been removed from my bottom ten, if you remember reading that post. Number six was… Turkish. I didn’t give those people enough credit. I like the organization and feel of the language. It’s highly agglutinative, and has NO IRREGULAR VERBS and ALL nouns follow the EXACT same pattern. Also no articles.
Agglutinative means that it’s similar to Finnish or Hungarian, and doesn’t use specific words or prepositions or other things to create meanings, but rather that a base word has prefixes, suffixes, or infixes that give the base noun it’s meaning, so things like “into the house,” away from the house,” (and more things than just prepositional phrases) could be one word and carry the meaning of many individual ones, because you build from one thing, and add to it. An entire sentence in English involving a subject, verb of being and either some predicate adjectives or predicate nominatives can be translated as one (sometimes extremely long) word. It sounds confusing, but it’s incredibly precise and logical. The language doesn’t seem as icky to me as it once did. This is why.
I met a woman in service who speaks it. My brother actually spoke with her first and called me and told me where she lived. She said she was living with her brother, who also speaks Armenian, and I was able to say some things to her in Turkish, like “I apologize,” or “nice to meet you,” and “What is your name,” and “My name’s The Polyglot.” She was no taller than about 4’10” and was incredibly buff, but had the mentality of the sweetest grandmotherly housekeeper type. She was delightful.
I’ve also been podcasting, and because I haven’t had a lot of time to search for/organize these things into logical sequences yet, I haven’t been hunting for a whole bunch of language aids, specifically Chinese and Russian. What I’ve been doing instead is getting news broadcasts in foreign languages, so I’ve got a half-hour news story in Finnish, another in Hungarian, a wannabe “Entertainment Tonight,” episode in Italian, some Persian folktales, an Icelandic news story, as well as some really large audio files of online restaurant review magazines in French, based out of Montreal.
Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ve got to go learn some more Turkish. And work. And have breakfast.
(Also, a Turkish accent sounds somewhat like Russian if you really don’t listen, but it’s got some sounds that are a little too Arabicky to sound similar enough to a Slavic language. Her English accent also sounds Slavic, and I asked her if she spoke Russian. That was a no-go.) Turkish is an Altaic language, and is therefore related to most of the –stan country languages: Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, (NOT Pakistan), and even Mongolian (no –stan) are all Altaic languages. Some linguists are dead set certain that Korean has its roots as an Altaic language, but this is mostly looked upon in the linguistic world as people believing the moon is made of cheese. Turkish is the largest and most practical of the Altaic language family, and the subgroup is none other than Turkic… who’da thunkit?
So Turkish is being replaced as number six by a new addition: Hmong


Flashcards and My New Toy

So. First, an announcement: I’ve decided to start making flashcards (well, not really flashcards as much as “crash course survival phrases that can fit on one 4x6 index card”) in 32 languages, or what were 32 languages last I counted: The phrases come from here, and the “incomplete,” ones that don’t have the selected phrases I’ve decided on using (about twelve of them) I’ll get from somewhere else, and the languages are (in alphabetical order): Arabic, Bambara, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hausa, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Laotian, Malayalam, Nepali, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

The only issue is, I have JUST enough room right now to be able to get in everything I need to have in, plus a few lines for notes. The cards are in two columns with some empty lines at the bottom of the right-hand column for extra stuff, if I come along something notable. Here’s the thing: for languages I cannot read (yet), like Hindi, Japanese, Burmese, Laotian, and other Indian or Asian languages, or other languages that don’t use our alphabet (with the exception of Slavic languages, because I can read those) I have got to figure out how to incorporate room for a phonetic spelling in the Roman alphabet. So that’s in the works, but I’ve got seven or eight of them saved on the compy already.

More about my new toy: first the bad. It crashed on me once, but that was a quick fix. It also wouldn’t turn off one time, and I just had to hit the reset button to restart it; when this happens, it takes a good five minutes to reboot and “recover,” just like your computer scans the hard drive for errors or such, so that was a little irritating. You also can’t use the device when it’s plugged into the USB, which is inconvenient, but not enough to be severely important. Also, there’s a dongle that plugs into the bottom of the device that allows a place for the charger, the USB cord, and an A/V out cord to plug in. I haven’t checked to see if these are available individually, but it would be nice to have one at my desktop, one in my room, and one at the stereo so I didn’t have to keep up with it, although the A/V out I haven’t used yet… So those are some irritations.

The screen is remarkably clear. It seems nearly absurd to watch a movie, a clip, a downloaded episode of your favorite television show, or anything else, for that matter, on something the size of a cassette tape with a screen that’s even smaller, but it become highly reasonable when you see it. It’s also not one of those really soft screens like for your monitor, and since it’s not a touchscreen, it’s not horribly sensitive to pressure. It seems far more sturdy (I just realized Italian isn’t on my list of languages; make that 33 unless I take out German, which I’ll explain later) than most other device screens. I’m told it scratches easily, though, but I haven’t noticed that yet, probably because I haven’t taken of that plasticky rubberish screen cover that comes on most cell phones and alarm clocks and things. I figure I’ll do that if I decide to keep it (and I am, but just for good measure, they can’t say I damaged it if I freakishly decide I don’t like it). I like the FM tuner/recorder for OBVIOUS reasons. Even though I don’t listen to the radio, the recorder feature is super duper for some talk shows or things on NPR or whatever that are worth listening to. Oh, it’s a little hard to use with one hand, unlike the Karma, and it may be easier to use with smaller hands, but it’s a little awkward for me to get my thumb to the scroll bar with it in the palm of my hand without dropping it. The clarity, I think, is as good as most anything I’ve heard without being live, or on a CD. The picture functions are actually pretty sweet: rotate, zoom, set as wallpaper, as well as creating slideshows to music (a function that has to be done on the computer). There are also a lot (from the little bit that I’ve looked) of coolish clips, cases, and thingys for this device, like one for the iPod, a carrying case, but also a hard case with a kickstand to set on the tray table (or office desk) while you watch a video, so you don’t have to hold it the entire time, instead of hovering over it lying flat. It also fits perfectly into the leather holster for my PalmTreo®, and the headphone jack matches perfectly with the hole where the earpiece is supposed to go thru to the bottom of the phone, so I’ve been using that until I get around to getting one for this (if I decide to). The buttons aren’t super sensitive, so they don’t get mashed by accident (except for the scroll bar, which I’ve already mentioned is moody and takes some getting used to). It’s sleek and fits comfortably into every pocket I’ve put it into (except for the teeny tiny one inside the right pocket of every pair of jeans. You know: the one that’s only good for a stick of chapstick, or that you can’t get the quarter out of the bottom of? Yeah, that one), so it’s easily tote-able. I love it.


The Difference

The difference between what, you may ask? Well, of course, the promised analysis of my current mp3 players. And of course, this really doesn’t do anybody any good that isn’t looking for one, but it has been a topic of discussion lately among me and… (shut up, I didn’t ask you.)

The old (and stolen) and the new (and growing on me) are two different monsters. Here’s what I like about each.

I LOVED this thing. The Rio was very sturdy. It was rather thick, but compact. I really don’t care how thin something is if it’s the size of a regular sheet of paper. This thing was about three inches square or so, and maybe even an inch thick, but it was the perfect size to fit in my hand. The main controls were on either side (left and right), and for anyone that’s ever used a blackberry, you know what functionality the scroll wheel brings to any device. This one works very much the same. It is accompanied by a joysticky thing just below it that can be used to scroll, but mostly to pause, stop, or skip tracks in either direction. The other side has the two volume buttons, so holding it in my right hand, I have my thumb on the right side, and index and middle finger on the opposite for the volume buttons. It was great. Oh, something that this has that the blackberry doesn’t (with regards to the similarities between the scroll wheels, not because these two are competitors of any sort) is that (because the scroll wheel sticks out on the corner, you can change the screen orientation for southpaws so that the scroll wheel is on the left corner. Very nifty.

Next is that it holds up to 20G of music. It’s actually just shy of that (more than just shy, if you ask me), at around 18.6. The screen was not a color screen and was nothing more than a very basic screen with 16 shades of gray. No photo displaying here, no crazy visualizations, none of that, but who cares? The screen didn’t suck battery life because it didn’t do a whole lot. It was very well-lit (you could change those settings), and had some great equalizer settings. The features for this thing were unbelievable. You could search for song by artist, album, song title, genre, year of release, and I think even playcount. It had some great DJ features, like “most popular music,” “least popular music,” “random,” and some other grouped searches like “music listened to in the evening,” and stuff. The super cool thing about it was that you also chose how much music to pull off, so if you chose random (a very basic feature, if you ask me) you could select the length of the music at 15 minutes, 30 mins, 60, 90 min, and 2, 4, or 8 hours of music. It was spiffy. The power of this thing to create on-the-fly playlists was outstanding. Most mp3 players will only let you do this on the computer and sync them to the device. Crappy. Super crappy. You could choose songs, albums, or entire artists to queue to my “now playing,” and then delete the ones you don’t want, or change the order, or WHATEVER, and then save it from the device. You named it and everything, and could open and edit it later. This seems like such an easy task, but it’s so rare. It’s a beautiful thing. Rio Karma also played many many file formats, from mp3s and WMAs to lossless formats, and even OGG, which was super cool, even though I only have like two .ogg files. Also, sound quality, very good. Drop-safe (although I wouldn’t recommend it). Doesn’t have a whole lot of extras, like carrying cases, or clips, or anything like that, but that’s no biggie. Using the docking station, you can connect to anything with an RCA cable, and you could even do this thru the headphone jack if you had the right stuff. The first one I had crashed that week, but Circuit City replaced it, and I loved it ever since. I did have to use the reset button every so often. If it weren’t stolen, I would have run out of space on it shortly thereafter. No FM tuner, no voice recorder (but a really solid stopwatch) Just a great player. Very basic, but it covers ALL the basics.

Now for the new, but only in comparison to the second, because this is getting long-ish. It has a lot more gadgety features like an FM tuner, voice recorder, FM recorder, photo viewer, VIDEO (!!!!), slideshows, file storage, 10 more GB of capacity, full color 262,000-something color screen, organizer, contact manager, (both of which sync with Outlook, which isn’t too terribly useful for me because I have a PalmTreo®), saved pictures of album art that displays when you play the album, and some other cool things like “album of the day,” which is really just a “random album,” function. The playlist function isn’t as great: you can create and save them, but you can’t change the order. If you open one up, play it, and queue more tracks behind it, you can save it with the same name, and it’ll ask if you want to overwrite the existing one, and you can do that, but you can’t change the order. Somewhat irritating. There are a total of seven buttons and a scroll thing. The power button on top also doubles as the “hold,” button in the other direction (during hold, the buttons obviously are not functional, but the screen goes into hibernation after about five seconds, which dramatically reduces battery usage, which is cool, but I keep forgetting to turn it off, which can be a pain). There are six main buttons under the screen: top left is a customizable shortcut button (neat feature) top right is the play/pause/go-to button. Bottom left is a “back,” button, and bottom right is a menu button. Right in the middle, running from top to bottom is a touch-sensitive scroll bar that mimics the i-pod’s wheel, except this is a bar. It has a section in the middle to select or change screens, and then the actual scroll function where you can either run your finger up and down, or hold at one end or the other. I have found that my “scroll down” section on the bar is disproportionate to the middle or scroll up sections, so that is kind of irritating, but you get used to it all. It’s not as intuitive as the Karma, but I’ve gotten used to it. Give it a week or so of constant use, and I suggest creating playlists to give yourself some practice. It’s very quick once you get the hang of it, but it takes a little while to do that. Don’t let that stop you, though; this thing is extremely powerful, and I have come to love it in the week (exactly) that I’ve had it. Oh, also, it seems that the video and photo storage does not detract from the total capacity on the hard drive (which makes no sense, so lemme ‘splain). I’ve put about 21 GB of stuff on here so far, and when I added about an hour’s worth of video clips and shorts and things, the “free space,” stat did not change, nor did it change when I added a few hundred photos. This thing boasts “thousands of photos,” and “120 hours of video,” or something like that, so don’t be worried about that, I’ve got about 8,000 MB still left on here, with many of my songs at about 300 kbps, which is far too high, but whatever.

I’ve gotta go. More later. If you’re good.  


Catching Up

It seems that I never post over the weekend because that’s my time off from the computer, I guess. So, here’s the updates (formalities, really. The interesting details may come later in the day):

Friday- took a day off from service to go play golf an hour and some change away from home. It torrentially rained twice while we were there and the entire way home. My uncle was in our foursome (it was a scramble, a best ball thing, and that’s the only reason I went. It takes the pressure off) and it was really good to see him. We played all but two holes and drove home so I could make GSAM (or rather POAM: part of a movie), and H’n’B and Kimmi Stewart did bring me my Thai tea, or my “this tastes like sticks,” drink, but H’n’B can’t decide what kind of sticks. The movie was Young Frankenstein, and it’s sad to say H’n’B did not appreciate it. Everyone else did (I think) and Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle and Gene Hackman were as good as ever.

Saturday- Regular: bookstudy, service (‘twas hot)(I spoke to a Hindi-speaking person), played Tennis with I Dunno, and we did better than I thought. We were actually playing at a congregation get-together for a couple that’s moving to not-so-South-Georgia (shout out to H’n’B) and I’ll see them more regularly because OthaBrotha lives down there and I’ll visit his congregation, too. So I played tennis at a going away party.

Saturday evening- a very nice get-together for I Dunno finishing his school career as he knows it. Lots of our favorite people were there, and I ate far too much food: spinach bread, awesome pizza, little mozzarella-and-cherry tomato bites, and phenomenal desserts. I’m already hungry. All in all, I Dunno got some great things, and it was made known that everyone is proud of him for all that he has done and is doing.

Sunday- the usual, and Grandpa called Saturday to ask me and I Dunno to move a treadmill from his driveway into his house. Told him we could do it Sunday afternoon. Scratched lupper plans to go and everything. Called him on the way there from the meeting; turns out he took it apart and brought it in in pieces. So I missed lupper. Turns out my bad headache was developing into a miserable one, and I was losing any functional vision. Forget lupper, I’m going home. That also meant that the open house for Spanish class was out, and I spent the day at home watching something about the Loch Ness monster. I only felt better when I slept, and that was only in increments of about fifteen minutes apiece about half an hour apart. Yeah. Got feeling better and all was well.

Back it up! to Thursday afternoon: was driving myself crazy not having anything to do at work and having far too much to do outside the office. Got a lot of it done, and went to Circuit City to buy what I had long gone without: an mp3 player. My Rio Karma was stolen last May in a Publix parking lot, and I nearly went into cardiac arrest. Also stolen were my eyeglasses (in a gunmetal Oakley case) and the radio transmitter I used to play my mp3 player thru the radio. NOT stolen was a few hundred dollars worth of tennis equipment and many hundreds of dollars of CDs all sitting in the passenger seat, untouched, not to mention the car itself. So I went and got myself a new mp3 player, and it is delicious. I don’t have time to now, but I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each one in an upcoming post (most likely tonight), so be ready for it. I’m thrilled with it so far, but I’ve got a road trip (of sorts) later this month, and have thirty days to return it (no strings attached) or to go ahead and buy the 2-year warranty plan diggy bob incase ANYTHING goes wrong with it, so basically I have it on loan right now. I’ll ‘splain later.


You must be joking

I saw a commercial for this yesterday on television. Humans have seen too much of themselves in reality television. But isn't that the point? Besides the fact that what we see on "reality" TV isn't normal anyway, what makes this show reality tv? Isn't it based on the audience's perception? I think this show was a bad theory put into practice.


Two evils do not one good make

Funny that two things I only kind of like create something I don’t like. I was talking to a Pakistani friend of mine at his gas station about an acquisition he’s interested in. It’s quite a purchase, and he asked me if it would be “good for [his] future,” or if I could find out… Like all I had to do was go ask the real estate agent. We talked for a while about some things, and some other things, and he had a customer come in, so I quickly stepped aside. When I did, I was met with this. I had heard about it, but never did really think twice about spending one and a half of my hard-earned dollars on one of these bad boys. Until it stared me in the face from it’s teeny tiny fridgy thing atop the counter next to the soft drinks, and I told it “you look cold, and it’s hot outside; may I buy you?” and it said “of course,” but in a more uncouth way, because I don’t see Coca Cola Blak saying anything like “most certainly,” or anything. My friend and I spoke a little longer, and he asked me to keep my eye out for land for sale. I told him I would and I was on my way. The bottle, covered in a plastic label shrunk so tight you couldn’t even tell it was there, was cold to the touch, and I cracked it open. It did a dramatic steam, bubble thing, like you’d expect to come out of the three witches’ cauldron in the first act of Macbeth. I took a sip, and that alone did not change my mind. I took another, and contemplated, but the simple fact was that the complex flavors and tastes were not being released because the beverage was too warm. I got in the car and had a Chick-Fil-A cup with only the ice left in it, and poured it in and stirred. Once colder, the essence of the drink came to be, and it tasted less like an exact mix of 50% coffee and 50% regular coke as much as it tasted like a coffee jelly bean. I don’t know, but it certainly can’t touch the Thai tea that Horse’n’Buggy thinks tastes like sticks. It’s nowhere near as good. So, after drinking nearly the entire bottle in an effort to like it, (as I was not repulsed by it so much as confused) I was home and poured the rest down the drain. I set the bottle next to the sink, though, because it looked cool. I kept the cup, as it was Styrofoam, and filled it with ice, poured a healthy portion of half and half over the ice, topped that with a few packets of Splenda ®, as it dissolves in cold beverages and sugar does not (no matter how much you stir), and poured the remainder of that morning’s lukewarm coffee over this concoction. I was left with a delightful iced coffee drink. It pleased me, and eliminated the jelly bean-ness left over from the other drink.
The conclusion of this is, as I stated at the beginning, and repeat (as any convincing writer does at the end of a persuasive dissertation) that Coke, which I only like on certain occasions (mostly when someone else is drinking one and it’s chilled and somewhat diluted [and only matched with the perfect meal]), and coffee, which I’m trying to convince myself to like (but can’t because I’m told that the coffee I drink looks like melted vanilla ice cream: just as sweet, and just as light), together make something I am not fond of. I should have known this from the beginning. A lesson learned.