Yearly Archives: 2013

Snitch (2013)

Snitch is a low-action emotionally involved crime drama. It’s not the sort of film I’m used to seeing The Rock in. Most of the action doesn’t start till near the end. In the mean time we are overwhelmed with a father’s struggle to rescue his son from jail, for getting too deep into a first-time drug deal. Since his son (who spends most of his air time crying and getting beat up) won’t rat out his friends, or help with a drug deal to lower his sentence, his father becomes a drug snitch in his stead..hence the title.

If you enjoy dramas with heart ache, I suppose this is a better film than my rating implies. If you are looking for an action movie, or even a police drama with escapism, this is far from it. This is a vehicle for Dwayne to attempt to be a more dramatic actor, and attempt to shed his image of being only a star in action and kid’s movies.

I personally was disappointed with Snitch, and I’m willing to admit I expect action movies from action heroes, with escapism, not with family problems, crying teenagers and deep emotional baggage. But to each their own, some people like to pay money to experience that sort of thing.



The Price of Gas, Death and Taxes

I attended my uncle’s funeral today, he died this past Valentine’s Day at 86.

A story told during his eulogy was about one of the pieces of wisdom he liked to pass on to his grand-kids. He’d tell them to stop complaining about the price of gas, when a tank of gas is worth a day’s wages (like when he was their age) then they have something to complain about.

Pete Hildebrand, March 11, 1926 to Feb. 14, 2013.


Word Abuse

I’m reading the news today, and yet another shooting in the US. So many public shootings in the States these days. How come the US media and government aren’t calling them terrorists? I thought any violence against US citizens was now called terrorism. How come when the US people shoot each other it’s just “today’s news”?

I hate that the US has abused the words terror and terrorism. Generations of kids are growing up with absolutely no real idea of what the words actually means, or how to properly use them. Since 911 the US uses the “T” word as a poster child for revenge against anyone they don’t like, or for justification for any action they care to take.

It’s almost as bad as them homos taking the word “gay” and now I can’t use that word anymore. Now I have to tell people I’m happy! How dumb is that??? I think I’ll just tell everyone I’m gay anyway. Ya, that works!

Image for Android Barely Useful

A short while back Microsoft released a mail app for Android for their relatively new service, intended to replace Hotmail. It’s apparently a warm over of the Hotmail app. And just to be safe, and have it as an option, I installed weeks ago, set up my accounts, and barely used it. Yesterday it was on my mind, hearing that Microsoft was once again attacking Google in the tech news with it’s Scroogle propaganda.

Yesterday I needed to send a link to my Android phone and tablet to remind me to look something up. So with being Scroogled on my mind (good job Microsoft) I decided to send it to an address instead of Gmail or an address on my own mail server. It was there almost instantly with it’s push feature, just as expected. I later tap the link on my mobile device and what happens? Nothing useful! I get a notice that Safari isn’t set up correctly. Say what? I don’t use Safari on any device. No joy and no reading my web article. Instead I get to waste considerable time figuring out why.

What’s happening is the Android app won’t open links in the device’s default web browser. It will only open links inside it’s own app. And in my test case, XBMC thinks I’m using a version of Safari that has Javascript turned off. Not Java, not Flash, but Javascript, which is on most of the web pages on the Internet. And there appears to be no way to force the crappy app to use an external browser. And to add insult to injury, the app won’t let me cut and paste the link so I can manually open it in a real browser. The same app issue occures on both my Android phone and tablet., you are dead to me!!! At least till Microsoft gets a clue. And anyone in the tech biz knows that won’t be till someone with some clout brings it to public attention. Ya people, that’s not me.


Neanderthal DNA

Surrogate Mother Wanted for Neanderthal Baby

I’ve loosely been following this topic for the past decade or more, through watching science and anthropology shows, and taking it all in. I first started noticing that some researchers and “experts” in the field were speculating that Neanderthals may not be the big dumb cavemen that has been the accepted gospel since the beginning of archaeology. Till the last few years, no one has ever challenged the thought that Neanderthals were any more than a half ape dead-end off-shoot of the evolution tree. But in the past decade, researchers with more open minds have supposedly found that Neanderthals were social creatures long before our human line was. And there is now evidence that Neanderthals were building weapons and fixing spear heads to shafts with processed pitch long before humans had any idea to do the same. It now appears that Neanderthals used a complex method of creating a pitch to seal the sinews or leather around a spear shaft that would be comparable to a modern day synthetic compound, as in a butle that dries rock hard. They were also far stronger and more muscular than us at the time.

There is also evidence that the Neanderthals were wide spread across what we now call Europe before humans, and it appears that as humans multiplied faster and spread across Europe, the Neanderthals slowly disappeared. It was first thought years ago this must be due to war, and of cause us humans are always presumed to be far superior in conflicts and wiped them out. But many of these researchers now believe that it far more likely that they interbred with humans and were to some extent assimilated into human society. And now that genetic research is advanced enough, they have proved that Neanderthal DNA exists in all human races.

From the science shows I’ve watched, it currently appears that Neanderthals were as artistic or creative as humans at the time, yet they have found that Neanderthals were social before humans and building weapons like spears with synthetic pitch, and using well honed stone cutting edges long before humans had a clue. So if this is all true and fact, it would seem these talents may have been passed to humans from the Neanderthal, and not great human inventions.

The genetic research also shows that the Neanderthal DNA is the strongest in white European races, and the least significant in Asian and Black races, in that order. White people have the most Neanderthal DNA, Asians have considerably less, and black people have very little.

Okay, so when someone like me with a very analytical mind puts this all together, I come to some rough conclusions. Let’s speculate.

First, it appears based on what I’ve seen so far, that the Neanderthals were more logical and creative in the practical, and these seem to be some of their strong traits. Where humans were artistically creative and that seems to have been lacking in Neanderthals. So if we definitely have Neanderthal DNA, it would seem that the two interbreeding, most likely boosted the combined race with certain knowledge and logic that may have allowed us to be greater than we would have been on our own. So it would seem the combination of the two group’s DNA was better than either one alone.

Second, I find it extremely interesting that the cultures with the highest Neanderthal DNA went on to thrive in the colder parts of the world. Where they were able to overcome the climate and evolve into a more advanced society. As opposed to staying in the warm regions where it would be a daily struggle to simply ward off the onslaught of creatures, where it is obviously far harder to survive, aside from the loin cloth weather.

Ask yourself this, if you were stripped of everything but a loin cloth and a spear, and had 2 choices, be dropped into one of two worlds for the rest of your existence, where would it be? The middle of Africa where it is warm but brutal in every other way, and you are food for hundreds of different creatures, half of which are poisonous. Or the middle of Europe or North America where it is warm half the year and cold the other half, but with only a few creatures to worry about doing you harm? I think most intelligent people would likely pick the logical safer world for themselves and their off spring, where you could deal with making yourself warm, and spend more of your time trying to slowly improve your future. Instead of spending all your time simply trying to survive the day.

That having been said, my described logical choice is where the people of our world with the highest percentage of Neanderthal DNA have evolved. Asians as well chose a similar climate. But unlike the white cultures, the Asian cultures never explored the world, expanded, or questioned the world, anywhere near to the same extent, and had limited interest in doing so. And the people with the least Neanderthal DNA decided to never migrate from the warm parts of the world, never explored, and seemed to have no chance or care to evolve past a certain point.

Some would say my comments and conclusions are simply raciest. I’m not raciest, and have Asian and Black friends. Perhaps the things I’ve mentioned are coincidence, or perhaps they are not. Either way it’s very interesting that the cultures and races that the scientists claim have the highest Neanderthal DNA are the ones that evolved further, have the inbred need to explore and always question things, and also basically rule the world as we know it. Personally, I can’t help wonder what part in these characteristics did the Neanderthal play in our DNA. We would only know for sure if we could clone a human and Neanderthal with DNA from before the two intermixed and most likely became the people we are today.

What do you think?

Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall is the latest James Bond adventure. Unlike most earlier Bond films, the modern day Bond is less a super hero, and more a real person with aches and pains, and everyday emotional scares.

This episode is as good as any other, but without a grand villainous feat, and without lots of exciting gadgets. Instead the focus is to do MI-6 harm and to kill M. We are still handed plenty of action, but a more modern day action than the traditional over-the-top Bond style. And it appears to be a milestone sequel with the introduction of several new actors playing the key roles.

It’s a good Bond tale, but I miss the super hero bond with the gadgets. I’m very disappointed to see M being replaced, and I’m quite unimpressed with the the new Q character. Q used to be a charming and funny English gentleman. Q is now a young, weird looking nerd with no personality at all. But the new Money Penny has a certain flair, and she reminds me of some of the early Bond women – I like her.

Now that it appears we will no longer have any original Bond film actors, the Bond movies will never be the same. So let’s hope they will at least keep some of the traditions in future films, things we didn’t see in Skyfall.



Rock of Ages (2012)

Rock of Ages is a musical, comedy, drama, with a convoluted story of a rock club called the Bourbon in the 80’s, and the club owner’s struggle to keep it open. Of course it’s also the story of an aging rock star. And the story of two young idealists wanting to make it big in Hollywood. The story is weak and seen from multiple viewpoints, in fact more than what I’ve already mentioned.

But this isn’t to say this is a bad movie, in fact it’s an exceptional movie. It’s has interesting characters, it’s fast paced, has some of the best music from the 80’s, lots’ of noticeable movie and TV celebrities, is visually appealing and very entertaining.

The worse things about this movie would be Zeta-Jones singing a Pat Benatar classic. The politest thing I could say is her rendition was pedestrian and sad. She is no where good enough to do Pat Benatar justice. The other oddity was Tom Cruise’s performance. He plays an aging rock star, and it would appear his goal was to come across as a dazed and confused dog. He staggers around with his eyes half shut and head cocked to the side. Cruise makes obvious effort to stick his stomach out as far as he can all the time, apparently that is what stoned rock stars do all day.

I was very surprised to see the producer was Adam Shankman, well known for being a judge on the “So You Think You Can Dance” TV series. Considering his involvement with the Step-Up movie trilogy that I’ve panned, Rock of Ages is of far higher quality. It’s nice to see I personally don’t have to “only” associate his name with crappy bubble gum productions. It seems unclear on IMDb who the actual director is, I think maybe Shankman is taking credit for that, though there is a very long list of assistant directors.

This will be most enjoyed by people who spent their prime in the 80’s, as the music is the true star of this movie.



BlackBerry Playbook Blowout Sale!

BestBuy Canada really wants to dump their stock of the loser BlackBerry Playbook. They are blowing them out at $80. What’s sadder than that is it now shows as sold out. Which means people ran out to buy this thing.

When I classify this as a loser, it’s because I own one and have since the first time it went on sale early last year, cause no one wanted it and sales were in the dumpster from the beginning.

The Playbook OS is great in general. The hardware sucks completely; it’s slow, has horrible battery life, it’s heavy, it’s too thick, apps are lacking, and the power button is nearly impossible to press without pressing it with a sharp stick hard enough to expect to damage the button.

RIM takes years to update a product if they ever do, so there was never a improved or faster version of the Playbook, and I’ll be shocked if there ever will be.

The best thing that could happen to the Playbook OS would be is a company like Samsung or Asus got their hands on it after ROM goes out of business. I’ll look forward to that version of the Playbook.


Polysorbate 60 Allergy Warning

For the past few months I was dealing with what I thought was a new allergy to milk products, commonly known as being Lactose Intolerant. It’s my understanding that people with this stomach and bowel issue can have symptoms ranging from mild stomach upset to severe diarrhea. And by severe diarrhea, I mean where all the contents of your stomach and bowel seem to change to a watery substance and it pours out of you within minutes of having a reaction. In my case it was the latter. For me there is no feeling of my stomach turning inside-out like when you have the flu, but simply a noticeable and extreme stomach gurgling, and a need to find a toilet. Followed by intense dehydration, and shock that your body actually had that much water inside it to void. When it’s over you feel like you were a sponge that was wrung out.

In my case this allergy seemed inconsistent. As I didn’t have a reaction to every dairy product I drank or ate. But to be safe I switched to the more expensive diary replacements for milk and cream, stopped eating cheese, and was even watching the ingredients in everything I ate for dairy ingredients. After a few weeks of this my general health seemed no better or worse, yet I still had one or two episodes of stomach problems.

Since my dairy replacements didn’t seem to solve the problem, I jumped off the dairy wagon and went back to milk, cream and cheese as normal. I then had two more these allergy attacks within a week and a half. After careful thought, I narrowed it down to one of my dairy replacements, fake whip cream, generic Cool Whip. One reaction was to fake whip on store bought pie, and the other to fake whip on homemade cake.

Examining the ingredients of the Safeway no-name Cool Whip, one ingredient stood out from all the rest, something called Polysorbate 60. So I did a quick search online to see what this was, and was amazed at the list of hits from complaints and comments about similar situations and warnings.

So what is Polysorbate 60? Apparently is an emulsifier. As I understand it, to bind together oil and water based substances in food products.

I next went through my kitchen and read the ingredients on every single food product I own. In my kitchen I found this chemical in all forms of pickles and in sweet relish. And I instantly realized that pickles had been giving me an upset stomach, but till then I had assumed it was simply a lower tolerance to vinegar. And the last time I had relish was at the lake this past summer, and I had stomach problems after eating a hamburger with this relish on it.

I also had a reaction after an ice cream on a stick treat one day. At the time I had no idea to link it to Polysorbate 60. But I recently went to to the grocery store and read the ingredients of numerous processed ice cream desserts (including the one in question) and found that it like many others contained Polysorbate 60. To date, I have not seen it listed on a frozen yogurt package, so extra points for the frozen yogurt industry.

Between my consistent extreme reactions to fake whip within minutes, and online reports of other people with the same type of reaction to Polysorbate 60, and the careful review of all the other ingredients in the fake whip that seem to be in other foods I eat with no reaction, and my reaction to pickles and relish, I think it’s safe to diagnose that I personally have an extreme allergy to Polysorbate 60.

So if you find you have similar inconsistent stomach problems to processed dairy products or store bought pickles, you might want to check the ingredient list for Polysorbate 60, and make sure you black list it from your life.

FYI, there is a sister chemical used in food production called Polysorbate 80. I have no personal experience with this one, but since it is apparently similar in chemical composition and use, I would avoid it as well.

Safeway brand frozen whipped dessert topping ingredients.

Bulk chemical image from Google search.

Arduino Wi-Fi Access Alternative

For a while now, I’ve been trying to decide what wireless shield I wanted to standardize on my Arduino projects that required WiFi capability. I’ve been using the standard official wired Ethernet shield. Reading reviews and specs on the many and various wireless shields was a confusing mess or mixed reviews, different libraries and limited information. Not to mention too many variations to pick from. Then to add to the mix the Arduino founders released an official wireless shield which looked very impressive in it’s specs and capabilities, but it also might be the most expensive wireless shield of the lot.

I also noticed that some wireless shields appeared to lack some protocols I needed to use. Or at least they weren’t documented so I’d have to do my own usage trial and error, and possibly purchase more than one wireless shield before I found one I was satisfied with.

Even aside from the price issues and my difficulty picking a specific wireless shield, the thing that I found the most annoying was that it appeared I would have to rewrite the communication code and then re-test, after all the work I had already done on my project. I would have to write, test, and maintain, two sets of code for every project I wanted to create that was both wired and wireless.

I then saw an Arduino project post where someone used a tiny wireless router as a shield option. Not considering size constraints, I thought this was a fantastic alternative! One project code base, no extra testing other than plugging it in and it works or it doesn’t, and one time minimal setup of a nano router.

So I did my research, picked a tiny and easily available router, which turned out to be on sale at the time of my purchase for $22 with free shipping via My selection was the Edimax BR-6258n 150 Mbps Wireless Broadband Nano Router .

You simply set this (or any similar mini router) up in infrastructure mode or bridge mode, plug it in and you are done. The same setup could be used on any wired Ethernet device you wanted to make wireless. With the Edimax router, they use the infrastructure mode to accomplish what I am describing. I’ve noticed with some other mini routers, they use the terminology of selecting bridge mode. With Edimax, bridge mode is used when implementing a bridge between two routers. I’ve posted a link to an instructional PDF below.

Edimax WiFi Router as a Wireless Bridge:

The Edimax BR-6258n is very small, was easy to set up, and worked on the first try. It can be powered by a USB cable, or the included USB wall charger that is roughly the same size as the device itself, with prongs that fold flat into the case for storage or travel.

Price wise you’ll likely end up paying about the same for a wired shield and a nano router as you would a decent wireless shield. Size wise a nano router will be taking up a little more room in your project housing or be external. The big advantage I see is that your project can instantly be either wired or wireless, and with the same code base and IP settings.


Edimax BR-6258N Router
Shown in actual use on an Arduino project,
powered by Arduino’s USB port.

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