Tuesday, August 29, 2006


A three-minute video clip shot at the 2.2-meter telescope on Mauna Kea, showing me filling one of the cameras with liquid nitrogen.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

General Mills says: Eat 25% less Wheat Chex!

While shopping today, I noticed some colorful boxes of Wheat Chex. These boxes had more green on them, because in America, when a corporation wants customers to understand that its food is good for them, it makes the packaging green. Whether the food's green or not.

The first box I noticed was a good half-pound lighter than the usual Wheat Chex box, and only $1.00 cheaper ($5.79 versus $6.79 - cereal is 
expensive here in Hawaii!), but I quickly found a "regular-sized" box that cost the same as before.

So... why the green? Chex have been relatively good-for-me all along, right?

A-ha! The old box reported 180 calories per serving, while the new box reports 160 calories per serving! That's 20 calories, less, or an 11% reduction in calories. Wow, this is great! And how'd they do this, you ask?

By cutting the serving size, of course. Instead of having 1 cup of Wheat Chex, General Mills wants you to have 3/4 cup. Yep, that'll cut those calories.

Of course, the media section of the General Mills web site doesn't say 
anything about this - and it probably never will. Because of course if 3/4 cup is the right amount, mentioning this would amount to admitting that they've been telling us to eat one-third more than we should, all this time.

Thanks, corporate America! :)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

How I got an orange safety vest

 My routine drive home from work was a little less routine today.

I finished my work a little after 3 pm, 48 miles from (and 2.6 miles above) home. Started down the hill, and wound up right behind another vehicle that was heading to the same office as me in town. At the intersection with Saddle Road, they were a little way ahead of me, and managed to pull out in front of a couple pickup trucks, which I then wound up behind. It was drizzly and foggy, and Saddle Road is narrow, winding and sometimes steep, so nobody was eager to exceed the speed limit by much. Within a few miles, we had caught up with another truck, and a couple other vehicles weren't far behind me.

After milepost 22 (counting down to 0 in Hilo), there's a curve to the right, a short uphill, curve to the left, downhill, curve to the right, uphill, curve to the left, downhill. I came up the first hill, curved to the left, and as I went downhill and around the curve to the right, noticed the vehicle behind me - a small pickup truck, "lifted," with big off-road tires - go rapidly across the road toward the inside of that left-hand curve.

When I first started driving "Official Use Only" government vehicles as a volunteer, I was told to never pass an accident without stopping to at least ask whether everyone was all right, and that's stuck with me, especially given the isolated and tricky nature of Saddle Road. It took me a minute or two to find a turnaround, make use of it, get back up there and find a safe off-road place to park, since the scenery along the upper reaches of the road is mostly lava fields. By the time I got there, three other vehicles had stopped. The pickup truck was completely off the road - and completely upside-down. I called 9-1-1 and gave the operator some information on the location, what had happened, etc. I told her we were midway between Hilo and the Army's Pohakuloa Training Area, both of which have fire trucks and ambulances, and that I wasn't sure who would have the best response time. She asked me to check on the people in the truck, so I jogged up. Both the driver and the passenger had some minor cuts on their arms or hands, but they said they were okay. They must have had their seat belts on, since the truck was thoroughly smashed.

Another fellow had pulled on an orange safety vest, and headed down the road a bit to the west, to flag down people who were coming downhill from the saddle. I headed east to catch the uphill crowd, but I was wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. Fortunately, one of the first folks to drive slowly through the area downhill after I decided this pulled up and handed me an orange safety vest! He wasn't an EMT or anything, as far as I know - just had one with him. A lot of people who work up that way have "safety" somewhere in their job title or description - heck, even I do - so it wasn'tthat much of a surprise, but it was a very nice gesture. Suitably attired, I flagged down all uphill traffic and warned drivers of the need to proceed slowly through the area.

Pohakuloa's ambulance arrived first, followed by its fire truck, followed by a Hilo ambulance, a fire department SUV and a fire truck from the Kaumana station in Hilo, and - finally! - two policemen. By the time the policemen set flares out, the fire trucks and ambulances had left, and after identifying myself as the primary caller and giving one of them my contact information in case it was needed for any reason, I was happy to be on my way again.

I followed a slow-moving tree-service truck (with wood-chipping trailer) down toward town, but shortly after milepost 11, I stopped again, when I came across the Kaumana firefighters keeping an eye on an old Honda that had spun out and gone backwards into the bushes. It was right-side-up, and no one seemed hurt, but I guess they were just waiting for the ambulance to come back up and check on everyone, or for someone to come pull the car back onto the road. I said to one of the firefighters that I'd just seen him at the other accident scene, and he laughed. I guess it's not every day they come across an accident on their way home from an accident.

And now, boys and girls, you know why we don't go 90mph on Saddle Road in the rain!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Lyrics for "Take Off Your T-Shirt"

Watt White, lead singer for The Smashup, made a funny little song ridiculing those who buy "retro" t-shirts featuring 1980s rock or metal bands they've never even heard... and I haven't seen the lyrics out there anywhere, so here they are.

Take Off Your T-Shirt (If You Can't Name A Song By The Band That's On It)

Sabrina, Sabrina, check it out! My new t-shirt!
Oh my God, oh my God, you look rad!
Like, I know! I know!
Yeah! Wait, what's... Qu... eens... ryche?
Oh. I dunno. I think I'm gonna rip the collar off it.

I cut class, I skipped school,
I hauled ass, to sleep out,
In the parking lot of Coconuts,
Where they had the Ticketron
Tower two, obstructed view,
I saw the show that changed my life
But I did not see you, so

Take off your t-shirt, Miss Metallica 
You were two years old when "Ride the Lightning" came out
You felt no pain when Burton died 
But you cried when they canceled "Baby Muppets"
You master of the puppets

Take off your shirt, Miss AC/DC
You don't even know "Hell's Bells" from Hatebreed
You got that shirt 'cause urban stuff is so cool (fool!)
For those about to suck, we salute you

Take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt
If you can't name a song by the band that's on it
Take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt
If you can't name a song by the band that's on it

No size tag, and faded, 
Decal disintegrated
How I suffered, cash in hand, 
while clawing to the concession stand
Like a flag my shirt has flown
Through countless painful nights 
You could have never known

Take off your t-shirt, Mister Misfits
You mistook Glen Danzig for Trent Reznor once, you dipshit
Miss Motley Crue, I mean you
No they did not sing "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"
The sheep must be shorn
Take off your t-shirt, Iron Maiden
The number of the beast was not six-six-seven
I'd like to learn about Black Sabbath from you
But they don't play them on MTV2

Take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt
If you can't name a song by the band that's on it
Take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt
Strip to the waist, take it off, be honest
You can't name a song by the band that's on it

Still so crisp from hanging on the rack
This t-shirt stretched across your back
Says nothing of the sacrifice
Through thick and thin, wind, snow and ice
Did I through adolescence wield
This one hundred percent cotton shield
Now face to face, and shirt to shirt
It's revealed your ignorance of Queensryche
Won't you let them be, 'cause they belong to me!

Take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt
If you can't name a song by the band that's on it
Take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt
(spoken) Check it out, it says "Molly Hatchet!"
Take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt
If you can't name a song by the band that's on it
Take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt, take off your t-shirt
Strip to the waist, take it off, be honest
You can't name a song by the band that's on it
You don't know the guys put it on your garment
So take that shirt off now

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Ministry of Silly Law Enforcement

Having solved all problems relating to actual crime in West Midlands, the police have begun looking after more pressing matters.

For example, the Daily Mail recently reported on three 12-year-olds who were arrested, DNA tested, interrogated and incarcerated for two hours... for climbing a cherry tree.

Meanwhile, the 
BBC notes that playing too much hopscotch will also get you a visit from the local authorities.

We need one more for the hat trick / trifecta, so... what else should English children be set upon for by the police?

Why I'm leaving Twitter.

I've stuck it out and continued participating on Twitter while Elon Musk has run it into the ground, made it progressively more inhospit...