Sunday, December 30, 2007

Child Dicipline

In America, disciplining your child is a touchy subject for some. And understandably so. There seems to be only 2 common forms:
A) Spanking
B) A time out (for younger kids).

I would have to say both are really stupid. In my opinion, one is too mild, and the other is too extreme. So basically, one is "nothing", and the other one, you need to deliver physical pain to your child with your own hands. In a country where we strive to innovate and improve effectiveness, can't we think of something better?

Yes. My parents used it. I don't know if its called anything but its like a time out, but with a little bit of onsetting pain. What my parents had me do was stand against the wall with our hands up. And it might seem like the arms in the air won't be that big of a deal, but trust me, after a minute, its no joke. I'm not sure what the longest duration I got punished for was, but I wouldn't suggest starting this out with your children with a time longer than 5 minutes, and you can change the times accordingly. Within 30 seconds, you can literally feel the blood slowly flowing down, and a minute in your arm is throbbing while being filled with lactic acid. Another reason it was effective was that my ssiter and brother would be watching me, and it would feel a bit ackward and humiliating, but it wouldn't be traumatizing. The description of that kinda sounds cruel and medival, but its not. After all, it is still just having your arms in the air. And that's the beauty of it. It has the benefits of a time out, the benefits of it being painful without laying a hand on your kid and also a little humiliating. After the punishment is over, the physical effects of the punishment goes away within a few seconds, but it was painful enough to where you don't want to go through that again. You definitely should try it first to make sure the length of time you're handing out isn't going to be more punishment than you want to dish out.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Banana Bread Muffins

I love banana bread. I always look for it when I go to a coffee shop.

I also eat a lot of bananas. Probably on the average 3 a week for the last 5 years. But a problem I always have with bananas are that you can't eat them if you don't feel like eating them, and when you procrastonate on eating bananas, you usually end up throwing out a banana here and there. Sometimes even more.

I don't know why it took me 5 years to figure out but what I should have been doing with them was make Banana Bread or Banana Walnut Muffins. The recipie is painfully simple, and almost impossible to mess up.

1 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon baking soda

mix it all up until it is smooth, bake for 30 minutes at 350 (your oven may vary)

I thought they tasted perfect. If I were to experiment, I'd experiment with substituting less brown sugar for the white sugar. Maybe throw in a quarter tsp of vanilla to enhance the aroma.

I don't know why but having 11 muffins left for the next few days makes me very happy.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Burger King stops selling the Whopper

What would have happened if I accidentally wound up at Burger King.

Me: Can I get a cheeseburger?
Them: We discontinued the Whopper, would you like something else?
Me: What is a whopper?
Them: Burger King has discontinued the Whopper sir.
Me: Oh this is a Burger King? My bad. I'm outta here.

Seriously, have you ever heard someone say "let's go to burger king" in the last 10 years? Forget getting rid of the whopper. Get rid of Burger King. McDonalds will always have their fries and they will always be good on a rainy day. Burger King, in my opinion, doesn't do anything particularly well, and doesn't inspire any interest or give me a reason for me to end up there for any occasion. I don't remember if I've ever ate at a place called, "Why Not Burgers" (It is a real place, but couldn't they pick a better name? Average Tasting Burgers sounds just as boring as Why Not Burgers), but if it was a choice between Burger King and a place with an mundane name like Why Not Burgers, I probably would give Why Not Burgers a try.

I think Burger King needs a new name, and a new menu. Get rid of the King too. He has a presence like Jason in the Friday the 13 movies. Simple name like "The Classic Bun" would suffice.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sky Diving at Las Vegas

I went skydiving a year ago, and forgot about this video. I would say the freefall was a total adrenaline rush, like I've never felt before. Everything else was a snore but I tried to pretend to be excited for the camera. Maybe I expected too much for the price I paid. Haha. Next time, save the $100 for another jump, but you gotta do at least one video so you can look back on your first experience.

I went to the place called Sky Dive Las Vegas, which turned out to be a popular place since Tony Bourdain did it in the show No Reservations in the Travel Channel not too longer after me and my brother went.

The sound of my voice

I've been listening to Carol Flemming's "The Sound of Your Voice" and its definitely a good listen. Quick points are:
-Most of us are conscious of what we sound like to others, and at least try to tune our voices to the appropriate occasion.
-Unfortunately, what we hear is not what the people we're talking to hears because the voice we hear is the sound that resonates through our jaw and skull, so we might think we're tuning our voices so that it sounds deep, rich, and full, but it might sound shallow, soft, and monotone.
-In a business setting we might even lower our voices, thinking we are making it sound more professional, when in fact, we are making it sound more monotone, soft, and shallow.
-Today, I was listening to a section on the octave and pitch. And that to make our voices sound interesting, we should have a normal speaking pitch so we can reach a few notes up and dip down comfortably about 4 notes down. Testing myself, I realized I was speaking at a baseline pitch about 1 note too low. Where it matters is when you fluctuate the pitch from baseline to high, and to low. When you can't hit that low note, your voice is no longer producing the sound of your choice, or worse, you're trying to say a word, and your voice just cuts off.

For males, I think the lower the voice we have symbolizes more manliness, and going higher is not the path I wanted to head down. But a single note is probably not even distinguishable as most of us aren't keeping tabs of what pitch our friends are speaking with. Trying to adjust my baseline of speech from the low "Do" to the next note "Re" is not gonna be an easy task, but I think its going to be a worthwhile investment because it'll mean that I'll have a better range to communicate better with, and my words dropping off at the end will only be at the fault of something else.

This is only a small section of the audiobook itself. Other things it talks about is:
-Keeping a constant stream of air so that your setence is more continuous (easier to listen to).
-Tips for sounding professional and not sounding like a child
-How to project your voice so the source isn't at the back of your throat, but is in your mouth and face.
And a good key term they keep on using is "vocal vitality", how people that have good voices we like to listen to have it, and people that drain the life out of the room are lacking it.

Getting full screen 480 x 272 AVC MP4 files to work on my PSP

For some reason, I thought it used to work, but maybe it never did. I have the ImToo MPEG Encoder version 3, and it comes with the PSP Video Manager which was the problem. I thought it was the encoding that was causing it to say "unsupported data", but the encoding was fine all along. The PSP Video Manager (That comes with ImToo) was putting them in the G:\MP_ROOT\100MNV01 but my PSP did not recognize them. I had the firmware 3.30+ that supported 480 x 272 AVC MP4 files, but it just didn't work. It had the correct naming schemes M4V00001.MP4. Putting the encoded files directly into the G:\VIDEO folder worked perfectly. The .THM files that the ImToo generates should be renamed to .JPG.
One last note about ImToo, it is probably the best and easiest encoder out there. I've used things like:
3gp encoder
Dr Divx (and the many generations of it before that)
And the common problem is that virtualdub won't support mpegs, tmpegenc won't do avi, nothing will do mov, 3gp encoder won't do xvid (I think) and the list goes on and on. First, it takes you a good few hours to figure out the quirks and gotchas of each encoder, things like how some numbers have to be divisible by 4 or 16, or that it doesn't support mpegs, or you need to raise the bitrate because the encoder only supports 1-pass. You need to make sure the aspect ratio of what you encode will be what you want. Isn't there a drag and drop program that just takes any format, and spits it out in any format, and doesn't crash? yep. ImToo. It rocks. Nuff said.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

interesting fact of the day

year 2100 is not a leap year (no feb 29) even though its divisible by 4. It'll be like y2k all over again. but this time, y2.1k. problems would arise for only for programmers who thought it would be cool to write their own date classes without knowing a leap year is more than an extra day every 4 years. they'll be dead anyway, so who cares. haha.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

How to make french bread

1 pkg active dry yeast
2.25 tsp salt
3 cups flour
1 egg (for egg wash to coat the bread only)

1. dissolve yeast 1/3 cup water at 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit
2. keep yeast at 110-115 degrees for at least 5 minutes until it starts frothing/bubbling

3. add and mix all ingredients together:
-1 and 1/4 cup water at approximately 115 degrees F
-2.25 tsp salt
-3 cups flour
-yeast mixture

4. knead for 10-15 min on a flour covered surface. keep adding flour to keep surface and hands dry. by the end of kneading, the dough will have taken in an additional cup of flour.
5. form dough into a ball, put in a large oiled bowl, cover and let it sit for at least 1 hr. (up to 2) preferably in a 90+ degree room. it should double or triople in size.
6. give the dough a stiff punch dough down the center and the bread will deflate. flip over, and let it double in size again. should take approximately 45 minutes to an hour.
7. quickly give the dough a gentle knead, and shape the dough, cut 4 slits on top. let it rise a third time. This, you can do it overnight if needed.
8. preheat oven to 450 degrees. place a tray of water on the bottom rack.
9. coat the top with egg wash (i think egg whites will work just as well) and throw it into the oven.
10. bake at 450 degrees for 20 min
11. bake at 400 degrees for an additional 15 more min

additional tips:
during baking, spray the dough with water every 10 minutes for a harder, crunchier crust.

enjoy the bread with whipped chive butter:
1. finely chop chives
2. mix chives with whipped unsalted butter.
3. add garlic salt to taste

additional notes:
You might find the bread on a bit on the salty side if you have salty meats or salty butter with the bread. you can reduce the amount of salt and substitue the amount with sugar. It is recommended you do this if you want to have the bread with sweetened butter.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

mass graves found in IRAQ!

I don't know about you, but 27 bodies does not qualify in my mind as a mass grave. It looks like they are digging up cemetaries again to look for WMDs....small, private graves.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

what would make downtown San Diego better?

The best and the worst thing to happen to downtown San Diego is the Gaslamp quarter. I believe that if it wasn't there, downtown San Diego would be much better off.

What is missing from Gaslamp? Character. Right now it has the character of what a downtown should look like if a big corporation ran it. That is probably what is going on.

Because of brilliant engineering, most people head straight to the heart of Gaslamp (Horton Plaza) and branch out from there. Its the only place where parking is free and guarenteed. And its the area where the foot traffic is the most dense. These are two very attractive reasons why you wouldn't start your journey outside the gaslamp area. Another thing is that parking outside gaslamp is anywhere from $10-$20. Is "the Man" behind this so that people wouldn't park anywhere else than Horton Plaza? There is some food for thought.

The first thing that is wrong with it is that it is too small for small businesses to open shop, who would otherwise bring character to downtown San Diego. For me, the best places to eat at are places where the quality of food takes precedence over decor, hospitality, and service so that prices for authentic food are a bargain. I know that most people I know would say the same thing. Because at these places, the food is honest, authentic, and good. Maybe when I hit my 40s, Gaslamp would make more sense. I don't know for sure. But the line items of honest and authentic is not in the priority list of how the gaslamp people like to do it. They want ambient lighting, candles at every table, a cute hostess, popular music played a little too loud, hispanic people cooking in the back, and a waiter/waitress who are trained to talk to you at eye level. They run it like a tight ship and they are all great things for a successful restaurant, but when everyone does it, there is nothing interesting about it.

I would rather eat at a place like a self seating curry joint, where there is a line out the door with weird music playing in the background. Because you know the food is going to be good, authentic, and usually at more than reasonable prices. Gaslamp does have the possibility to implode one probably wont' happen, but it could... Take for example Del Amo mall in Torrance, CA (my home town when I was in high school). It used to be THE largest mall in the world, but is now a pretty sad place. What happened? It got bought out by some big company and they decided to jack up the rent which only big department stores could afford which effectively got rid of the small unique stores, and were replaced by 2 gaps, 2 millers outposts, 3 radioshacks...and so on. I'm sure their profits were up for a good 6 months. But until the gaslamp bankrupts itself, we will be missing out on what its like to have a real downtown.