A History of All-hallows Eve

18.33.42 - Mark

One of the best things about Halloween, other than free candy and geeks building haunted houses, is that it is one of the few holidays that has been completly secularized - so much so that its easy to find religious individuals (from a variety of faiths) that absolutly hate it and are calling for its destruction. Of course, part of their hatred of the holiday is that they are ignorant of its history, from Celtic traditions thousands of years ago to the Christian tradition of begging for "soul-cakes" which led to the modern trick or treating to the modern myths about apples with razor blades and poisoned candy.

For a more fleshed out Halloween History, check out this article on OmniNerd

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Our own little time machine

01.20.35 - Mark

One of the coolest things about the end of daylight savings time is staying up until 2am then watching the clock roll back. As long as you remmeber that daylight savings time is ending. Instead of an expected double take moment you start questioning your own mental stability. :)

Coolest article I've seen on the rollback - "Time to stand still" via the Bangkok Post

Call it Groundhog Hour.

On Sunday (Thailand time), most North Americans and Europeans will set their clocks back one hour and "relive" the previous 60 minutes.

For Thailand, the curious rites of the westerners mean only that the time difference between this country and the rest of the world will change.

Sunday marks the end of summer time, as it is called in Europe -- or Daylight Savings Time as the Americans and Canadians call it.

Each spring, these people put their clocks ahead one hour so that the longer days will extend even further into the evening, typically until 9 or even 10 p.m. This supposedly saves electricity.

By winter, when a solar day is well under 12 hours, they put their clocks ahead again, so that it is sunrise by the time most children go to school.

Because they often forget which way to turn the clocks on March 26 and Oct 29 (this year), these people have been forced to make up a pun, based on the seasons and the way to turn the clock: Spring ahead, Fall back.

Europe will move its clocks ahead this year at 8 a.m. Thailand time on Sunday. The US will do the same at 1 p.m. Sunday, Thailand time.

As a result, time differences will move back. Instead of 13 hours, Thailand will be 12 hours ahead of New York. Other, sample time differences as of Sunday afternoon, when Thailand will be:

13 hours ahead of Chicago
15 hours ahead of Los Angeles
7 hours ahead of London
6 hours ahead of Rome

Please check carefully for actual differences, as many provinces, states and countries have their own rules about summer/daylight time.

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Six words - filled with strange tales

23.54.06 - Mark

I've been having some fun flipping though Wired's collection of six word stories. It's a pretty simple task, so some are bland, but some of those stories open up neat worlds, even if I have visited some of them before. While I'd almost like to see some of them flshed out, I know they would lose their charm.

In a way it reminds me of when I was sucking down a Phillip K. Dick short story anthology a few weeks ago and thinking that so many of them would make great movies, then getting to Paycheck and Minority Report and realizing how horribly Hollywood has butchered those stories.

However here's one for the pile
Heaven Closed. Bankrupt. No more Kharma.

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A BSA the BSA would be proud of

00.46.19 - Mark

I'm going to preface this with the fact that I am a Scout. Eagle rank and I've spent three wonderful summers working at a nearby Boy Scout camp.

I'm also an avid computer user and proudly release works under creative commons because I feel that copyright law in this country and around the world is very horribly corrupted by groups like the MPAA, RIAA, and Business Software Alliance. I regularly use what thouse groups would consider "Piracy Tools" like bittorrent and other peer to peer networks.

The idea of the Boy Scouts of America being used to combat piracy by the MPAA and RIAA absolutely disgusts me.

On the local levels scouting is a wonderful thing. It teaches valuable life skills, helps youth find subjects and hobbies that can lead to careers, and in some areas does a better job of educating kids than public schools. Not to mention giving back to the community.

While I severly disagree with the national scouting organization on matters like allowing "gays" and atheists to participate in scouting I'll live with the fact that it is a private club (by some definitions at least). But allowing industry associations to exploit it for commercial gain is far beyond reason. What's next product endorsements in Salesmanship merit badge and partisan politics in Citizenship in the Nation?

Sometimes scouting actually deserves the bad reputation it has developed in today's culture.

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Good Afternoon

22.42.58 - Mark

I love early fall. When the weather is good, there's a contrast between the deep blue of a cloudless sky contrasting the crisp browns, reds, yellows, and lingering greens that is so much more satisfying than winter, spring or summer days. Today, without question was one of those ideal fall days.

This afternoon I managed to drag myself out of the house to help a friend fix a computer but, selfservingly used it as an excuse to run down to Yadkinville for a round of disc golf. It was good to play a round after having my discs sit around doing nothing for over a month. While there aren't that many well developed parks in the area the Yadkin park was pretty nice, and had a nice course layout. Unfortunatly I don't know what par was, but I' sure I didn't come very close (65-ish)

Finally, I just got out and drove. I'm far from being a motorhead, but it's hard to deny that cruising around North Carolina's backroads isn't a pleasure all its own. Smooth roads bending around the hills painted by autumn is almost breath taking. Add some good tunes and life is simply put, very satisfying.

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Video Games

11.13.47 - Mark

I'm curretly drooling over various MAME Cabinets, deciding if I can make an arcade cabinet that I would be happy with without blowing all of my limited funds on it.

That said, it was inevitable that I'd find some video game character quiz to distract me for a few minutes.

What Video Game Character Are You? I am an Asteroid.I am an Asteroid.

I am a drifter. I go where life leads, which makes me usually a very calm and content sort of person. That or thoroughly apathetic. Usually I keep on doing whatever I'm doing, and it takes something special to make me change my mind. What Video Game Character Are You?

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I Hate Columbus Day

15.28.41 - Mark

While I'm not going to say that Columbus Day is the stupidest holiday to be recognized in the United States. It is unquestionably the stupidest holiday celebrated in the US.

Only an entity as severly messed up as the United States Bureaucracy would take a day off to honor a genocidal tyrant and religious fanatic.

Banks are closed and mail won't be delievered because some european with particularly good marketing set foot on a carribean island - whose population would soon be killed or enslaved.

Of coruse today isn't just Columbus Day, apparently it's also Leif Erikson Day (with it's own Presidential Proclamation)

What a weird world we live in...

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Day(late) Against DRM

09.52.08 - Mark

Day Against DRM - October 3rd 2006

Don't know why I didn't post this yesterday, but yesterday, October 3rd was Day Against DRM. I didn't participate in any actions, but I don't like DRM. Not because I'm a pirate and want everything for free (as tempting as it may be) but because DRM breaks stuff.

When I buy music, or videos, or event text, I want to be able to work with it, not around it. Some of the music I've bought though iTunes hasn't been listened to in months because it needs a working mac to play it. Even when my computers aren't broken I'm moving between OS X, Linux, Windows, and anymore even older systems like my Newton and Mac OS 9. Even between the first three there isn't a single DRM solution that works, and nothing that would allow me to use the same files on every platform I use.

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09.32.23 - Mark

For a long time I really hated YouTube. I hate most things that mandate flash, didn't like the forced online viewing, the low video quality, and the hordes of idiots that sites like myspace and youtube can attract. All that said, YouTube is actually growing on me, not as a publishing method (you won't find any of my videos up there) but as a discovery method.

Last August, I was searching the web high and low for some music videos Cartoon Network used to run as bumpers (and still do on occasion), specifically one based on Jabberjaw (see the post I wrote)

After a month or two of on and off searching I found it streaming off of some Yahoo server and managed to hack up a download solution. Of course, now over a year later, the video can be found in seconds and is a lot higher quality than the one I first found (there are a few instances of that video on youtube as I write this)

Of course the problem is that the reasons I'm starting to like youtube isn't because it makes it easier to make and publish videos, but because its a great engine for copyright infringement. Too bad big media is starting to see youtube in the same light.

I'd love it if they allowed it to be used for sharing clips and short videos. A copyright holder could probably make a lot of money off the advertising they could stick next to short videos like the cartoon network shorties and looney toon segments rather than let the old videos waste away in a vault somewhere.

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A little bit of Nostalgia

10.58.08 - Mark

Breakfast this morning was a bowl of cereal and a couple sodas. A lot like the snacks I'd assemble during the commercials between Saturday morning cartoons, or right after finishing my paper route - trying to catch a couple cartoons before school.

Except the servings are larger and the smart, funny, multidimensional cartoons that cater to kids and adults just aren't made anymore.

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