Sunday, December 30, 2012


With Christmas wrapped up, it's time to talk about one of the many foods enjoyed during Christmas: eggnog. This year has been a bit different, with us going out and buying a bottle of Pennsylvania Dutch, a tasty alcoholic variety. The "bite" is there, which I think can be softened with a bit of milk and enhanced with a bit of nutmeg. While I wish I could mix good eggnog and hard spirits myself, it did the job.

But beyond the sweetness, there's a level of bitterness that's happened for years off and on, going back to 2002 at least. Often, two things would usually end up happening (maybe both).

Scenario One: My mother would buy low-fat, store-brand eggnog and wonder why it didn't taste very good.

Scenario Two: My mother would buy eggnog, severely restrict portion sizes, then wonder why it went bad so quickly.

While there were practical reasons for both, I still feel regret about these. At least this year's was good (as it was my brother and I that selected the eggnog from the local Spec's, mother uninvolved).

This year has been okay in terms of gifts: I got two CDs (both ELO, though I already bought Out of the Blue on iTunes), a bag of Dunkin Donuts coffee, an insulated travel mug, a bicycle light kit, good chocolate, a new USB charger for my iPod (one that works like it should, yay), a digital wall clock, Cook's Illustrated The Science of Good Cooking, a bottle of ramune soda, some snacks, some rather interesting chocolate flavors (New Orleans Chili, beef jerky, bacon and maple syrup), Expo markers, a backpack cover, a renewal to Amazons Prime, and a "chocolate cola cake mix".

Monday, December 24, 2012

Figured out one thing

One of the things that drive me bonkers (in a generally good way, given that I'm a slightly crazy person) is where I've seen something and can't find it again. I told you about that crazy abandoned railroad in the Southern military base--still AWOL. But I have found something else--years ago, possibly about 7-9 years at this point, I remember going home from a barbecue in Gatesville (my first and last time eating goat. I would've preferred a steak), I passed by on the way home a side view of Montgomery Ward. It was gone at that point, but the sign remained intact, and it sat empty.

Since then, I've tried to figure out where it was. And I went by it again, and hardly noticed. I had even gone to the strip center's H-E-B just yesterday, but the fact that the Kohl's was Montgomery Ward makes total sense. Same side of the road, same orientation, and the reason I saw it is because the highway was different at that point (the highway was not limited access like today). It also had a Weiner's, too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

This Picture Is Just Awesome

From Wikipedia, this glorious shot of Breezewood, Pennsylvania:

What makes it awesome, you say? Not the fact that the road is actually an Interstate highway (yes, with stoplights--but such a thing used to be more common...after all, there used to be an actual active railroad crossing in Austin, Texas until 1970) and I can see an old Shell sign (ALL of the ones of that yellow-on-red style were replaced by 2006 with the yellow-with-red-border-on-white or they lost their license), Subway (last time I saw one of those was in 2011 and that was VERY rare), Taco Bell (also a rarity, mostly disappeared by the early 2000s), etc.

In fact, most of this picture could pass for the early 1990s if not for the modern signs of Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and Shell.

Sadly, this was taken six years ago, so most of this is probably gone by now. Personally, I like to think there should be always examples of unrenovated things around: I saw a largely-intact Kroger Greenhouse building across from a still-operating old school Taco Bell in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Despite my general consensus that buffets are generally revolting, it's too bad there are no known examples any more of say, the Wendy's Superbar, though some modern KFCs offer buffets.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ape and Creatures

RPGs are not my all-time favorite games to play, but it is one of the big four (generally), which includes RPGs, simulations, adventure, and hybridized puzzle (Tetris no, Braid and Portal yes).

But I have played a handful of them. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI (which I've completed maybe 60-70% of, it's a long game), EarthBound, Super Mario RPG, and now currently Pokémon Yellow (nostalgia--plus I never beat the Elite Four).

There are two things to note in that list: all but one are Super Nintendo games, and all but two are made by Squaresoft. The first detail isn't that important, but the second one is. EarthBound and Pokémon were co-developed by a Japanese company. In the days of EarthBound, it was known as Ape. By Pokémon rolled around, it was now going under the Creatures moniker.

Both of these games are somewhat fun, with pockets of frustration: the games have extremely uneven difficulty. A few gyms and battles are able to breeze right through, and then you have to do a bunch of monster-battling (often whether you like it or not) to even get close to pounding the Big Boss. EarthBound (and not the NES version. that's even worse) caught a lot of flack for this. According to TVTropes, "It starts out fairly challenging, gets extremely easy after Happy Happy, gets hard when you reach the mines and stays hard all the way through Moonside, drops insanely low all the way through Scaraba, gets a bit more challenging in Deep Darkness, and finally gets pretty nasty once you reach Fire Spring through the end."

And that's true, looking back on the time when I did play EarthBound without cheating. It's also true in Pokémon. I can't tell you how many times I had a boss battle or two that was extremely easy: a good water type move can douse any of Blaine's, or Giovanni's Pokémon (and their followers), but suddenly, the Victory Road trainers have battles so hard, you think you're fighting the bosses right then.

So now, instead of going through the Elite Four easily, I'm getting pounded on the first Pokémon Lorelei pulls out. It also haunted me on the last Pokémon game I tried (Gold) as the second half of the game (Kanto) was extraordinarily easy (except for the final, final boss, which I shouldn't spoil even though it's pretty common knowledge by now).

The problem is far from unheard of but ONE SPECIFIC COMPANY who pulls the exact same stuff twice? Give me a break!

Monday, December 3, 2012

On Disney parks and Renaissance festivals

So recently (as in, over the last few months) I've been reading Yesterland, a website dedicated to Disney theme park attractions, and I learned that California Adventure, the "other" Disney theme park, has been all but scrapped and renovated from its original form. But you know what? I liked it before. Not that I've ever been, but there's something about the original form that was endearing (not "Hollywood Superstar", though, brr). But, besides opening at the worst time possible (months before 9/11), people were whining about the fact it wasn't "Disney" (read: Mickey Mouse and friends figuratively smacking you over the head) enough, that it didn't have enough things for kids especially to do. The theme park was also developed under the assumption that people wanted to shop and eat. With that in mind, there was some rather innovative stuff developed.

Within a decade, though, the wacky California pastiche things and most of the dining was closed for the whole "Disney romanticization"...and the whole thing became a "second Disneyland".

But there is something to keep in mind...while it was an incorrect assumption to believe that people came to Disney theme parks to shop and eat (because that's the first thing people think of when it comes to mind, duh) but it's not an absolutely wrong assumption.

First off, when EPCOT Center opened in the early 1980s, the restaurants there really were worth going to, which may have started it (and California Adventure was built on the scraps of the canned "WESTcot"). Secondly, I can tell you where it has worked out...Renaissance Festival in Texas. There's an admission fee, and a huge percentage of what's there are shops and eateries (both of which are very good). And it is successful. But the success of RenFest in this area and the non-success of original California Adventure is for two reasons, and it has neither to do with skimpy clothing.

1. Renaissance Festival serves alcohol. Besides being a money-maker itself, it's also easier to be convinced into buying something. Disney doesn't serve alcohol based on tradition.

2. Renaissance Festival has better shops. At Renaissance Festival, you can find a large selection of handcrafted jewelry, Renaissance-era (replicas, of course) garb, giant chimes, awesome and/or impractical weapons, blown glass, things made out of wood, pewter, leather. It's all unique, and you can't find elsewhere. At Disney theme parks, it's mostly licensed Disney stuff.

I suppose if California Adventure had actually done things a bit differently, a bit cheaper, served alcohol, and all--it could actually have been a success instead of a huge money-loser. And so, a combination of poor marketing and whiny people killed what could've been an interesting concept. Too bad!

(Yes, I did go the Renaissance Festival this year, what with my super-budget Link costume...a Link hat from a Halloween costume a decade ago and a green t-shirt)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Eggs and coffee

Disregarding my bad coffee experience this morning: in which I took a thing of hot water to school instead of coffee, then finding out, after an expensive cup, found they only had flavored coffee and decaf, and then finding out that decaf served in all institutions really does taste like they replaced ground coffee with fine dirt...I finally got home, made coffee (cheap coffee, but it still tasted better), and then a good "poached egg". Having failed at making a "real" poached egg multiple times (I even followed a recipe, including putting the egg in vinegar to firm up the white), I decided to take a large Pyrex container, filled it with a pint of water, cracked an egg in it, and put the thing in for 2 minutes and thirty seconds. It came out quite well: hard white, cooked but not yet solid yolk. Served on buttered toast with salt and pepper, it tasted quite good indeed.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph

I admit, I wasn't too sure of Wreck-It Ralph, Disney's fall 2012 computer animated feature, at first. The combination of Disney's fairly weak reputation in terms of storytelling still lingering since the Eisner era, and the poor understanding of video games by Hollywood wasn't encouraging.

This wasn't an issue. First, the executive producer is John Lasseter of Pixar fame, and they managed to deftly created a universe where it is a blast for video game enthusiasts but enjoyable for the mainstream film audience.

The movie begins in a premise similar to TRON (which Disney also owns, so no fear of copyright infringement), wherein behind the screens of the arcade, video game characters "live" and do things for the player. In the game Fix-It Felix Jr., Ralph, a hulking giant, climbs out from the dump, and breaks windows of the condos, letting the player-character "Fix-It Felix Jr." to fix windows that Ralph breaks, while avoiding bricks, and eating pies for power-ups. After a disastrous 30th Anniversary celebration where Ralph isn't invited and with little help from his "Bad-Anon" group (a meeting of video game bad guys), Ralph decides to "go turbo" and game-jump, causing major trouble everywhere.

While the games visited, "Fix It Felix Jr.", FPS "Hero's Duty", and the sugar-coated racing game "Sugar Rush", are all fictional, the influences on them are noticeable ("Sugar Rush" is an over-the-top Mario Kart-type parody, complete with weapons to get ahead, for instance).

However, that's not to say there aren't a bunch of cameos. Zangief and Q*Bert have speaking roles, real arcade games are seen, Bowser (but no Mario), Pac-Man, Sonic (which has a few minor speaking roles, announcing PSAs in a manner similar to the "Sonic Sez" segments), with references abounding, from the obvious (the Konami Code) to the subtle (graffiti that reads "Aerith Lives"), and others that I've undoubtedly missed. You can also try to spot the similarities between the movie and the webcomic Kid Radd (which explores similar themes, right down to parody games and the true villain reveal), and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (also in more ways than one).

Alas, there's a few things that I could've wished for it be in there...there are mentions of a fourth video game "Extreme Easy Livin' 2", which was a combination of The Sims and Grand Theft Auto, or a proper Mario cameo (and not just a mention). I'm also disappointed because although there's great fodder for a sequel (especially since Disney now has LucasArts to do stuff with), the plot got resolved.

Ah well.

EDIT: I'm sure that someone watched this Blur commercial, which features another ridiculous Mario Kart parody undoubtedly influential to the movie's universe.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Marooned in Northgate

Live from the Taco Bell parking lot!

So I was at lab at Texas A&M University. I had low hopes--I was failing and preparing to drop the class. So, after half-paying attention, there was a message on the intercom to evacuate campus immediately on foot. With my bike and car stuck in a university locked down, I had little choice of what do to.

So I did what any other 21+ student would do in a time like this: hit the bars! It was a Friday, no classes until Monday, and I had easy access to it. Of course, at the best-known watering hole, I ended up ordering an iced water (I was thirsty) but ended up getting a beer at another bar (although ended up consuming about 8 ounces of it). By the time I had eaten something (fried bacon at the "Daily Ruckus", which was disappointing) the novelty had worn off. I could probably get picked up, but then I would have no way to get my bike or car back...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

America's Top Rated Cities

Glancing through another book at the college library (this time West Campus Library) and it was on "America's Top Cities", Volume One (the South), and published in 2008 (before the recession, before the current President), and it is fascinating, because it tends to open up what makes cities great. Not just these abstract "Best Places to Raise a Family", which I've (poorly) deconstructed on Two Way Roads once (and never again, because it was horrible), but real reasons.

The book selects a number of these for the South: including Orlando, Miami, San Antonio, Charleston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and many more. Most of them were large cities, but not all the largest cities made the list. Disappointing in many ways, it starts a profile of a city by its brief history, a list of achievements (positive or negative--Knoxville made "#1 Asthma Capital", then how much it spent on various services, which is inaccurate usually because if it comes from an outside source somehow, it says "0". From looking at the stats it gives, Knoxville doesn't spend a penny on libraries, but the money comes from somewhere--it just doesn't report it. Then it has socioeconomic statuses (race, religion, unemployment, employment types), but then it gets into more interesting things, like average wages. One would hope that the "top cities" isn't based on wages: usually one with higher wages has a higher cost of living. It talks about other things, too, including what highways a city has, whether it has Amtrak service, the major business headquarters, cost of living (to balance with the wages, I suppose), major employers, and all the radio stations. Another interesting statistic was the time it takes to travel to work. Altogether, it was a disappointment--the book just aggregated the skewed statistics found on Internet sites and then added stats. Ah well...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Screwy Stoplights

Well, it happened. The stoplight at George Bush Drive and Harvey Mitchell Parkway is now the flashing yellow arrow type, replacing the "Doghouse Dallas" one that all the lights use normally. And that's a terrible idea: here's why.

The "Yellow Trap" just makes it worse.

Under the old system, there were five "balls" (and yes, that is an official terms, apparently) on the left hand turn light: Red, Green, Yellow, Green Left Arrow, Yellow Left Arrow. Obviously, a solid red meant "no go". Red + Green Left Arrow meant traffic was normally stopped in the lane you were in, but you could go left (almost always in conjunction with the traffic directly ahead of you also turning left), Green + Green Left Arrow meant you were with the lanes next to you, with the Yellow Left Arrow meaning time was running out on either one. A solid green, as the driver's handbook told us, meant you could go, but you didn't have the right of way, so you could turn left if no one was coming, which depending on the road, was easy or nearly impossible. For the most part, it works. For less confusion sometimes, the red light didn't turn on at all when there was a Green Left Arrow (Villa Maria and Texas is the only one I could think of)

In other systems, there was an independent left hand turn light with red, yellow, and green, or arrows thereof, and basically accomplished the same thing without yielding.

But the flashing yellow arrow makes it more confusing. In the left hand turn lane, there are four balls: the yellow arrow, the yellow flashing arrow, the green arrow, and the red arrow. The green arrow and red arrow are, naturally, stop and go, but the yellow one is different. The yellow one appears after the green one (protected) goes away but the flashing one is different: it means "no right of way", which is the solid green.

We as drivers are trained to think of yellow as "speed up or slow down", so there's entirely a problem of someone seeing a blinking yellow, speeding up because they believe they still have the right of way, smashing into another car who actually does. Additionally, unlike the "solid yellow" meaning the "your time of turning left at all is ending" has no equivalent.

Have fun!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Where is, the glowing beacon of rare articles (especially of us who don't have database access, or access to certain databases) has been AWOL for nearly a month.

It now holds a robots.txt and redirects to This is likely because was acquired by CNET in 2007, with CNET being acquired by CBS in 2008. No changes happened until recently, with also being a part of CBS Interactive. However, this was unannounced, and just took over it without a trace. The real question is, am I the only one who cares?

In other news, Blogger recently changed its interface for good. At least it functionally resembles the old Blogger, more or less at least.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Infused waters

Since I've been going to school, my university has rolled out compostable cups and utensils, and science has succeeded in creating some sort of fake plastic that is somehow both compostable AND sturdy. The water cups were the pinnacle of this, a "plastic" cup that was compostable, sturdy, and large (12 ounces, I think).

This semester, they rolled out "infused water", which basically consisted of various fruits (orange, watermelon, honeydew, strawberries, etc.) in cold water (and rosemary, too), and charging it for $1.85 a glass. I had tried some at the all-you-can-eat dining center on campus the previous week and wasn't impressed. Sure, it smelled like honeydew, or rosemary, or whatever, but the taste was just water. In any case, when I was getting the "ala carte" options, which is more common on campus and cheaper anyway, I avoided them.

So I was eating at the Memorial Student Center, which I have written about in great length before, and I had just gotten two slices of pizza and was looking to get water, there were no water cups by the soda fountain as normally are, so I walked over and grabbed one near the infused water.

When I was "checking out", the woman working at it (who was rude to me anyway, I could tell by the way she handled my credit card) informed me that those cups were for infused waters only and if I used one again, I'd be charged for an infused water, which of course got me kind of upset. Here all this time I never used the Pepsi cups (which were now some sort of white-and-green wax paper-based thing, even cheaper and flimsier than paper Pepsi cups usually are), and now they're telling me I can't even use the water cups anymore, forcing me to use the Pepsi cups for water. And here I thought they had just forgotten to restock them.

"Listen, lady," I snarled. "If this were an infused water, you would be able to smell it. It's just water. If I used a Pepsi cup, the ONLY other alternative out there, I could fill it up with Sierra Mist and pass off it as water. It's a water cup, it's meant to be filled with tap water. The people who get infused water should get a Pepsi cup and have it be charged as a fountain drink."

But I didn't actually say any of that, even if I had cut out the rude parts.
Instead, I just sighed, and started to look for a table.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tutoring rehab

I haven't posted on this blog in a month, probably because I'm busy with other things (even my other blog hasn't seen a real update in half a month--and that's unusual). Like I said before, I am now regretting that I wanted to go to Organic Chemistry II, because I'm holed up with all sorts of dreadful homework that I can't understand very well.

It's also difficult because last semester I sucked at my class until I went to a local tutoring company to improve my grade. It worked, but now I'm no longer going to it, primarily because of two reasons, the first of which because I used to just be able to bike across University Drive to it, and have dinner options close by (Taco Bell, McDonald's, Fat Burger, and a Cajun food place), but now it's a good several blocks outside of campus in an area generally antagonistic to cyclists like me (narrow sidewalks, hills) with no reasonably priced options around. My professor in Organic Chemistry II (who somehow is not crazy, evil, incompetent or incomprehensible) says that the tutoring places don't teach you how to learn, just how to pass tests, which is somewhat true, and sooner or later, you'll have to learn on your own. I guess I can take comfort in the fact that most of my contemporaries are pre-med, and they'll have to face no longer going sooner or later.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Remains of the weekend

I go on vacation to Knoxville, and this happens back in my hometown. Let's see, vacation was fun: I visit my brother in Knoxville, which seems like a cool place, not too big or small (city keyword is "scruffy", apparently), old, traditional, beautiful, fun, et cetera. They even hosted the 1982 World's Fair.

Of course, there's way too many dangerous hills in the rural-esque suburbia, narrow roads, crazy drivers, et cetera. It didn't seem as depressing as suburban Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti was, and there were cool things to see: the Smokies! An old Taco Bell! A Publix this far from Florida! Super Target! Trader Joe's! A cool downtown! The list went on and on. There was even a less-welcome sight: right in the middle of a somewhat upper class suburban area was one of these sleazy "adult video" establishments, except it had windows (yikes), though despite a few scantily dressed mannequins, there wasn't anything too explicit (from the outside, that is).

It was great seeing my brother (and Die Hard), eating lots of good food (gourmet pizza, omelets, blueberry pancakes, Memphis-style barbecue, et cetera), hiking in the Smokies (no bears, sad to say), and more, but it's great to be back home.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tasty smoke

I am not a smoker, though I hate blanket "smoke free" campus bans (especially if it's a state-supported university or college), simply because it tends to discriminate people even if there's plenty of fresh air (that can't be said in a building, for instance). I also have a dislike of anti-smoking propaganda simply because they try to twist facts for their own purposes. They make claims like cigarettes include 4,000 carcinogenic ingredients and things like tar. Kids (which they often target) erroneously believe that the cigarette companies actually PUT tar in cigarettes, which is nonsense (at least in American cigarettes, at least).

The fact is there are 600 trace ingredients that are put in, with some interesting combinations like butter, carrot oil, caffeine, and menthol. The problem, is of course, when they burn, they create those 4,000 chemicals they were talking about. If these anti-smoking propaganda pieces were honest, maybe kids would actually smoke less. With this kind of deception, it's no wonder why kids get into smoking, even today. But I digress.

Moving away from cigarettes, a common shrubby plant called mesquite (actually a deciduous tree, but most of them are shrub-sized), found in Texas and the like, is a nasty-looking plant. Physically ugly, full of thorns, generally inedible beans. But when it burns, it infuses things with a delicious taste (usually barbecue or chicken). Different woods burn different (pine has a very distinct smell, when the Lost Pines burned last year, it was in the air for miles around), but why is that? I mean, wood from tree to tree have generally the same chemical structures, but they all smell different enough and all give meats a different taste than normal.

I'm probably going to regret saying this, but I can't wait until Organic Chemistry II next semester, where we can study that type of thing. Yay!!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lockhart's Dairy Queen

Lockhart, Texas: the Barbecue Capital of Texas. It's one of those small towns that's facing increasing suburbanization (in this case, Austinitis), with a toll road nearly making a semi-circle around it.

It's also the site of a Dairy Queen.

Every year or so, I had gone with my cousins (taking a break from a family reunion) to seek three things: air conditioning, Wi-fi, and a good frozen treat.

But this was no regular Dairy Queen, with those red roofs and limited seating. This was a somewhat larger Dairy Queen.

It had a variety of cool features, including the humorous (except in this case, they were dead serious) "Medicare Corner", a playground, and a truly retro (or at least retro-inspired) signage bunch.

Sometime between August 2010 and July 2011, it went from this: this:

I didn't weep, but it's SHAMEFUL what they did to it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Universal U.S. Politics in a Nutshell

Pick one!

- About half the country is composed of moderate and sensitive liberals. The other half is a bunch of extreme right-wing conservatives.

- About half the country is composed of moderate and sensitive conservatives. The other half is a bunch of extreme left-wing liberals.

Cynical third option: EVERYONE is an extremist.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Good sandwich combos

Sometimes its best to keep things simple. The best barbecue sandwich has white bread, barbecue sauce, brisket, onions, and pickles. The best turkey sandwich is oven-roasted turkey, iceberg lettuce, and mayonnaise on white bread.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Highway construction in a good city simulator

One of the things that makes a good game is that you can get inspiration from other games. SimCity 4 was released in 2003, and the way that highways/roads/etc. are constructed is less than favorable: place something, and it takes a few seconds of going from transparent to usable as workers finish it off.

But while it's an improvement over the "plopping" of the old SC games, it's still not very realistic. In 2004, Evil Genius had a much better way of constructing things: when you planned out something, it wasn't a direct cost to you immediately, it was in "blueprint" mode and you had to actually enable it. So the way that a good city simulator would work, if you say, wanted to build a new highway, you would create a blueprint for free (which is a bit unrealistic, as it takes money to even plan out something) then enable construction. From there, you have to wait a set period while it slowly takes cash to build (in a certain number of increments in a certain amount of time, more expensive, more time). At any point, you can stop, but if you're in the middle of a huge road project, you can't do anything with it: those huge trenches and the like cannot be helped without a bulldozer. If you have to stop due to budget shortfalls, it's especially dangerous, and you'll have to live with your mess until you can backfill things or finish it. When the money is finally paid off, the road opens, any detours disappear, and you have a new highway/subway/public works project.

With the "blueprint" mode, you can have any number of projects in various states of completion, and you don't run the risk of accidentally developing an area with residential you wanted to put a highway through. If that happens, then you'll have to pay market price for the land value, so if you want a highway to run through an upper end development, expect to lose tons of money (and popularity). Of course, there would be other ways to get around it: buy one house at market value, demolish it, don't maintain the lot, and let land values plummet, but that would be...mean.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Right, so I finally watched The Dark Knight Rises, as I watched The Dark Knight over a year prior.

I didn't like TDKR as much as TDK for a few reasons, mostly except for the reference to Batman leaving and Harvey Dent, everything with the Joker and the chaos he caused is swept under the rug. You know how for every movie, there's that "Darkest Moment" time when it seems that the villain seems to win, and the hero is dead/incapacitated? Yeah, well, for this movie, it goes on for way too long. After confronting Bane (the villain) in the sewers, Bane breaks Batman's back and sticks him a prison in the Middle East, which is mostly a huge pit with no plausible escape. Meanwhile, Bane, the criminals that Gotham City had put away, and his philosophy of "the people" ruling and taking from the rich destroys infrastructure, kills people, plunders and kills the rich through kangaroo courts featuring Dr. Jonathan "Scarecrow" Crane as the "judge", with a sadistic policy that involves killing people through slow strangulation, neck snapping, and a "lose hope until you pray for death" philosophy. And this goes on in-universe for five months. To make matters worse a clean energy source-turned-hydrogen bomb would blow in five months anyway.

When Batman finally returns to kill Bane, the attractive female board member Bruce Wayne entrusted with the energy source and one of Bane's hostages was evil all along, which means that even if Bane hadn't shown up, Gotham was doomed anyway. Even the ending isn't particularly upbeat, though there is a new origin story for Robin.

But more interesting is that even though some people have compared that Bane is a play on Romney's "Bain Investments", the character of Bane and his cohorts is the philosophy of Occupy taken the logical extreme. They even LOOK a bit like Occupy members. It's even more obvious if you know that Bane's character was created by political conservatives.

It's also a bit frustrating that while Bane is extremely skilled in hand to hand combat and wears a bulletproof vest, NO ONE thinks of shooting Bane in the head. But as a movie, it is very well done, both from a cinematographic and plot perspective, even if it is extremely violent.

Carbonizer says: YES, if you know what you're doing. This does not follow the "Marvel formula".

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Video games 2012

Well, given what I said two years ago, how have I done in playing video games?

Right. So I did play and beat EarthBound that last summer, and Link to the Past in spring, but still not Ocarina of Time. I would pick it up every few months, play a bit, and quit, so a year later, I would be one dungeon ahead. But it's better now, and I'm now in Water Temple, after blazing through Forest Temple and Fire Temple. Chrono Trigger was done last summer IIRC, and I replayed it to the point to try to get the Developer's Ending (or at least a different one). Either way, I'll try to save Lara's legs each time (and don't forget to hit "A" to get rid of the dialog box). (It's also worth noting that in the prototype, you can't save her)

While I never played Mother III very far, partly because it didn't look very good played on a huge screen, and partly due to the fallout I had with, I haven't eliminated it from the list.

In the meantime (between 2010 and now), I beat other games, including (deep breath), Scribblenauts, Super Scribblenauts, Beneath a Steel Sky, Portal, Machinarium, Braid, Plants vs. Zombies, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (long time coming, had it since at least 12/10--too many fetch quests), Super Mario RPG, TeenAgent (yeah, it was a GOG freebie), Eversion (not 100%--but I got all the gems), and VVVVVV.

Final Fantasy III I finally picked up, but it's slow going--I never got into quite the way I did with CT. Evil Genius is going well enough, but I need to hold off on it, because I've played way too much of it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Callin' it quits

I've officially given up my project to restore my Game Boy Advance SP in a new case. It would help if they came with the hinge parts instead of relying on you to pull them out (and potentially damage them). And that's not even counting the grief I went through trying to buy a tri-wing screwdriver...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Orange pork fat

I've noticed that pork fat that has been processed somehow (pepperoni, tamales, not bacon) has a distinct orange color, both in liquid and solid form (it is saturated). After trying unsuccessfully Googling a variety of terms related to it, I'm coming up blank, so I'm asking you this question.

Speaking of unhealthy foods, I'm thinking about some sort of McDonald's related blog (about restaurants, food, etc.) or website, which has been in planning for about two years, but I still can't decide if I want it to be a blog or website. I know I had written about the local ones, so I do have some ideas.

EDIT: It appears that the pepperoni fat is spicy in itself.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Non-Human Death

I haven't dealt with a personal death in a long time, not since my grandfather died in summer 2008 (and my writing's gotten a lot better since then). While it wasn't the death of a person I knew closely--and I'm thankful for that--it did involve a friendly old tomcat who resided between Heldenfels (a common building at A&M which I visited many times) and the Evans Library (also one of my favorite haunts). He would be in his normal place in the garden, he was "officially" a "feral" cat even though he was neutered and got vaccinations, and he was extremely tame, better than my cat, even (maybe I shouldn't have teased her so). If you held out a treat, he would eat it out of your hand WITHOUT taking gnawing at your finger.

And now ol' Bisbee's gone. He won't be back next semester in the garden outside Biological Sciences Building East.

I resolve to no longer tease my cat, and also keep her well-fed.

In lighter news, I managed to get a controller working with Snes9x, as talked about yesterday. There's hope for bigger things!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A MESS O' Trouble

My affinity for obtuse puns can be found today. Kudos if you get both references.

Well, I'm playing through The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which I started well over two years ago (Water Temple now. Gee, I'm in for some fun...)

But as I play, I'm getting increasingly dissatisfied. The constant pestering about a Rumble Pak (which the N64 version utilized) is getting to me: I can't use the Stone of Agony and fishing is a bit more difficult. And of course, I'm haunted by the mythical Ura Zelda (which, I can't reiterate enough, is NOT the same thing as Master Quest), which will never happen. After Ocarina of Time, I want to play The Wind Waker next for the "great Zelda experience", but also have a desire to play Majora's Mask, which isn't really the grandiose epic like OoT and TWW are, so it could be played at the same time (after all, both are in alternate timelines).

The thing is, I want a good emulation device. While the jailbroken "iPod as portable SNES" was a crushing disappointment, so much so that I ended up restoring it, with two lessons: jailbreaking isn't the Golden Ticket that will free your iPod from the invisible box Apple creates, nor is the iPod really a good game playing machine, with or without jailbreaking.

I realized then that while a portable device is cool and all: nothing like a device that you can play on the cozy environs of your bed, your couch, or any place where you can sit down and chill with headphones (school hallways, public transportation, etc. etc.) it's also to have a better emulation range. No doubt that the 16-bit generation was a great one (and yes, that includes you Genesis die-hards), but I'd kinda like something better: like the 5th generation of video game consoles (N64, PlayStation). Mupen64, which I have on my Mac, looks and runs great--that is, when the Rice video plug-in isn't giving the screen jitters (and yes, it's in a small windowed mode). The other major problem, which comes to a major problem when trying to play an N64 game: is the fact that my computer (Snow Leopard based) doesn't seem to recognize controllers very well. I suppose I could boot up into Windows, but the last time I tried that, it wouldn't even run sound--in an updated version of Snes9x, even--without some ActiveX upgrade. I stayed away from that. Frankly, I don't even boot up into Windows unless it's worth it: usually it was for SimCity 4, Portal, or Evil Genius, and I'd frankly like everything to stay on one OS (in an ideal environment). The reason I can't do that is...
- Games perform poorly in WINE or Cider wrappers, which is a major pain if it's a game that's not supposed to be some retro-style freeware game
- It takes up a ton of space per game.
- gmax, used for building SC4 "BAT"s, can't be used in WINE to my knowledge

I considered doing homebrew on my Wii again, as that would solve the "emulation but I can't use controllers" issue, but there were a few problems with that, and I wouldn't be able to use some of the cooler emulation features (such as a high-resolution texture pack).

I suppose my main problem is really the controllers--I can't get a joystick to work right on any software (even my beloved Apple IIGS emulator--I had a working joystick set-up on the iMac G3 for playing The Three Stooges in Bernie ][ the Rescue). And of course, I would need a bigger screen: my monitor size isn't going to cut it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

Well, to my surprise and relief, The Amazing Spider-Man plays off the solid tried-and-true Marvel superhero stories, and does it quite well. The real thing is how it compares to the Maguire-and-Sam Raimi Spider-Man series, first launched a decade ago. I admit I haven't seen Spider-Man 3, but I can tell you that I've read the novelization and heard enough about it, how it killed the franchise.

TASM is a definite improvement, although it does try to make it seem like the first movie, changing up things enough so it doesn't feel like the original with names changed. It swaps MJ for Gwen Stacy, changes the set-up in which Ben dies (alas, Uncle Ben is Doomed By Canon), makes Dr. Curt Connors the "new" Norman Osborn (complete with schizophrenia!), alters the focus of the character (more on vigilantism and finding out what happened to his parents), which arguably makes him less angsty. It avoids the common pitfalls and embarrassments of the first movie (the "upside-down kiss", the "throwing trash cans at the villain"), no long monologues while web-slinging, no over-the-top dorkiness in high school.

That being said, while it doesn't tear into its canon too much, it definitely feels like its treading on well-worn ground. Besides a few similarities to the 2002 Spider-Man, there's all sorts of things that remind viewers of any number of Marvel movies (including Iron Man) and the Dark Knight Saga. It has plot (unlike anything recent by Michael Bay), it has action, it has a story (superhero movies that don't tend to do this so well, such as the Green Lantern movie from last year, tend to not do so well financially or critically), and it doesn't deviate from its source material too much (Catwoman, anything from Uwe Boll are basically in name only). Following those four criteria (and plus an interesting side story, too) will result in something generally enjoyable, at least, spending money at the cinema.

Carbonizer says: YES

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Windows IV

Re-installed Windows again, which was a pain. If you read my previous posts (click the "windows" tag at the bottom of the page), I give my trials and tribulations. After reformatting the BOOTCAMP drive created by Boot Camp to NTFS (reformat, not convert), Windows Update didn't work at all, so after connecting it to Ethernet (it can't use the wireless without SP3), I eventually tracked down this with a woefully out of date version of Internet Explorer. It was a pain, but I did it. You also have to run Boot Camp twice (before and after SP3) since there's some essential SP3-only stuff.

Happily, I was able to get Evil Genius running again with my files intact.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Railroads in a good city simulator

Alas, what we wish for but cannot have. The new SimCity does put thought into the way traffic sounds are done, for instance, but alas, there are absurdly placed graffiti and over-saturated flat textures in the actual game (and not that's not even counting the fundamentally broken things in there).

Over the last past few years, I've really thought about the way trains should behave in a city simulator, focusing on a new concept: like the military bases from SC2K, railroads are bought and run anywhere they please. In addition to saving costs, it creates an exciting new obstacle in which you must work around your railroads (which are greatly beneficial to your city), and bring new challenges, and trade-offs. Overpasses and underpasses can allow traffic to go through, as well as giving a quiet zone.

One benefit I realized since writing that post is how with multiple trackage and unbroken crossings, trains could park for hours, if not days (or weeks, or months, or years--though those only typically tend to happen on semi-abandoned tracks). That would be beneficial to your city: the longer unbroken sections of track you have, you could gain a small sum of money. While a bit unrealistic (the train company owns the track and does whatever they please), it would give a bit of incentive to you, the city builder (although train companies have been known to offer up cash to close off a railroad crossing, though this doesn't happen very often)

This is, of course, to compensate for the fact that you're not actually the one being held up by railroads. In the case of near me, there were two main crossings (Villa Maria Road and Harvey Mitchell Parkway) that were giving people grief, especially when trains came through right during rush hour. And when the 5 pm train comes rumbling through and you're not being stuck, it's a great feeling. Except, of course, that "pay off" doesn't happen in a game, in fact, it might be more fun to watch traffic jams reach legendary proportions.

Either way, there should be a way to help you realize that the train going over or under is the better way: compare major East Coast cities to cities elsewhere. There's hardly an at-grade crossing in site. The other thing about railroads is that railroads "coming through a town" is much less important than before: in fact, train companies and cities would rather route freight lines out of town if possible today (unless there were freight spurs), so it would be best to have some sort of 19th century simulation when railroads were truly all the rage, which would only add to the cost of the game. That's why they have expansion packs, I guess.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Esters give fruit flavors

From the July-August 2010 issue of Michigan Beer Guide. This is a pretty neat article about the esters that yeast produce when fermenting, which in turn, give the beer fruity flavors, as esters give fruit flavors (food science!). I especially enjoyed the part about isoamyl acetate which is both produced by bananas and bees (when they sting you). Since bees start losing internal organs as soon as it stings you, the main threat is the other bees that come after you, attracted by this phermone they left at you, at which point, you'd better start moving.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Viva la iPod

After a four month stint, the jailbreaking experiment is over due to the problems in that post and others (wrong clock time, problem loading Safari, shorter battery life, etc.). It was restored and is now back to normal.

But was it worth it? Well, yes. Remember, the original point was to convert the iPod into a lean, mean, games-playing machine, and in the process, I realized that the iPod just wasn't meant for games. I had installed Bugdom 2 after restoring it, a Pangea game that I had got for free a while back (it was released on the Mac in the early 2000s) and I realized that not only did have horrible controls, there was a bit of lag, just hammering home the point that the iPod really wasn't a games machine, no matter how many times analysts were saying this or that.

Even videos weren't all that great. I took off most of the videos, simply because I had either already seen them, they take up too much space, the iPod isn't an optimal viewing experience (the novelty wears off quickly), and I have YouTube (which now works again).

For a brief minute, my iPod felt NEW again, and it felt great. Sure, I'd like to get one of the newer ones (camera, iPhone capability, retina display, something that can run Ghost Trick), but for now, my late 2009 model will do fine.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Some run-down strip

A laundromat and a sign that says "25¢ pool tables".

(Baton Rouge, Louisiana, November 2006)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A haiku

Warm summer evening.
Wish I had can of Cel-Ray.
Supermarket, call!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Restaurants, food, and the person who makes it

Profoundly disappointed to see that "Stover Bros. Cafe", a restaurant-within-a-store no longer appears to carry the "Southern Fried Donut", a delicious concoction which was a bit like a funnel cake, only a million times better. That got me thinking...when people miss a restaurant, what do they really miss? The décor, the service, or the food? Say you've got a restaurant, a favorite restaurant. One day it burns down and the waitstaff decides to open in a different location with a new name. Perhaps it's a little more or less downscale. But the menu is almost identical, and it's the same guy doing the cooking, so no loss, right?

It's not the same, is it? I mean, the local Maggie Moo's was kicked out of its strip center, and it reopened as "Harolds" elsewhere. The location is a bit smaller, it no longer carries the name, and it serves hot dogs as well, but the ice cream is the same. However, it's very different. Or the Stover Bros. example: it used to be this redneck-ish gas station burger place, now it's all "upscale" and stuff, but it's the same guy working there. I believe the donut was originally named something else. As for a fictional example: in the movie Ratatouille, the old Gaston's restaurant was shut down by the health department, so the main characters create a new restaurant, which served the exact same food (much to the evil food critic-turned- good "small business investor"'s delight).

It also depends on the way you cook it, something unique to an individual. Even if you had an exact recipe (not a clone that someone hypothesized) of, say, Coca-Cola, or Colonel Sander's herbs and spices, it wouldn't taste the same, would it? I know at least two or three local restaurants that changed hands (some closed, some not yet) where the food tasted noticeably worse after the new ownership.

I'm sure that Little Caesar's pizza recipe is standard. Yet I've been to a few Little Caesar's across the country and every one is different, even within the same town. So why is it that way?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Two Way Roads is back

Two Way Roads is back. Now maybe the clutter on Carbonizer can disappear.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Ashamed of the crap I've let build up. Random scans, stuff I pulled off my desktop, et cetera, et cetera.

Anyway, I tried Python for the first time (which I should've done two years ago). A simple command:

% python
>>>Print ('Hello world!')

and got this in Terminal and Python Launcher:

Last login: Sun Jun 17 12:00:35 on ttys001
cd '/Users/*/Documents/Python/' && '/usr/bin/pythonw' '/Users/*/Documents/Python/' && echo Exit status: $? && exit 1
*-MacBook:~ *$ cd '/Users/*/Documents/Python/' && '/usr/bin/pythonw' '/Users/*/Documents/Python/' && echo Exit status: $? && exit 1
File "/Users/*/Documents/Python/", line 1
% python
SyntaxError: invalid syntax
*-MacBook:Python *$

So I have an error. A syntax error, but I don't know what. I followed my Python book exactly...

Note: because I like to keep my privacy, my first name is marked with a *.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

E3 2012

E3 came and passed away, hardly seemed to last a day, but it's over, and what can I do?

E3 2012 was probably one the worse E3s I've seen in a while. Nothing to get excited about from any console:

- The PlayStation Vita, which I've seen but heard practically nothing about, didn't get a whole lot beyond LittleBigPlanet 2
- Nintendo was supposed to reveal more of the Wii U but all we got was Pikmin 3. I don't even know right now if Wii U is actually next-gen. And this is a console releasing this Christmas?!
- The Nintendo 3DS, which was saved from being a total failure, saw Luigi's Mansion 2, which everyone has heard about. No new 3DS games or remakes, except maybe Project P-100.
- No Wii games notable. All in all, the Wii was a rather disappointing console.
- Neither Sony or Microsoft showed off next-gen consoles. Halo 4 and Internet Explorer for Xbox 360 were shown.
- No Half-Life 3 or Episode 3.
- SimCity (2013) did nothing to quell my fears about the game. In addition to the always-online Origin integration, and the fact it resembles Cities XL both graphically (cartoonish, flat graphics), and the like, plus some goofy "tilt-shift" effect that doesn't even LOOK like a SimCity game, at shames me to say that SimCity Social looks like a better game. I mean, at least it LOOKS like a SimCity title (plus, the trailers slammed CityVille). That's not say SimCity Social would be a better game, because both of them, in all honestly, look pretty terrible.

I don't know why I even care about Nintendo or its ilk. While there is a joy in playing games on a huge screen, and I enjoy Mario and Zelda (and Nintendo in general), I am bred to be a PC game player.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Dr Pepper Beef Jerky

Testing out a new scanner (and Image Capture!) with this beauty (beef jerky), which I ate a while back. Sadly, I could neither detect Dr Pepper very easily, plus Dublin Dr Pepper is gone.

It tasted a lot better than the "fruit punch" beef jerky I had later (which WAS easily detectable, tasty, not so much)

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I recently saw (OK, today) saw Men in Black III. Besides being the typical ridiculous aliens and humans getting killed in some less than pleasant manner, it also contained one of the most darkest (but effective nonetheless) "Cerebus Retcon" in the history of the franchise, or even the trope as a whole.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I was eating at a Korean restaurant with one of my cousins recently, and he had his less-than-a-year old son with him. He seemed happy and quiet enough, and he listened patiently as I talked with his father. Then the food came, and it was served in a heavy black metal plate, still visibly steaming. I could tell that it was rather hot, but the baby was curious. He reached forward with his hands in curiosity. But it was hot, and his father wouldn't let him touch it. He tried again, and again failed. He started to get upset.

There was no way he wasn't going to cry, either throwing a tantrum because he COULDN'T touch the plate, but he would cry if he touched it and got burned.

Just something I hadn't thought about, I suppose.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer Progress Moving Along

- In, Around, and About Brazos Valley is moving along readily. Condemned gardening stores, small strip centers, and times where you could buy Whataburger with your meal plan.
- I beat Portal! [This was a triumph.] Now it's onto other games in my existing backlog, which include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. On the PC, however, I'm going to play Evil Genius, which I purchased recently from But first! A break. Portal took me almost a year to beat, even though I've played no more than 9 hours on it. I think I need to focus better.
- While cleaning out my room, I found a sheet of paper with roads on it, from May 2011, when I was creating a "dream city" (I had a huge list on the iPod, see):

Fast Food Boulevard
Crayton Avenue <- Westheimer
Bassett Road <- north merger
Nacogdoches Drive
Main Street
Troseman Street <- Montrose through
Octavius Avenue
Texas Avenue
Jefferson Highway <- not a real highway
Heights Blvd.
Mario Road
Gradient Street
Memorial Drive
Veterans Memorial Drive
Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Riverside Parkway
Capital Avenue

It's obviously Austin, Baton Rouge, and Houston inspired, although there are nods to other cities ("Octavius Avenue" is a nod to San Francisco's "Octavia Boulevard"). I wrote it in "Cousin L"'s old bedroom in the house where she grew up. Cousin L no longer lives there anymore, though. I think I mentioned Cousin L before, right?

- My scanner application doesn't work anymore (I updated it so its Universal Binary), so I can't show you my sketch, "Grocery Wars". Boo! Personally, my scanner is bulky (it's also an inkjet printer, which has problems) and I wish I had Photoshop, too.

- I started to write down (this is last summer, again) all the problems with the Windows port of the 1990 classic Cosmic Osmo and the Worlds Beyond the Mackerel, with the "A salad doesn't fret..." line repeated twice. It runs too fast in the iMac G3 (of course, I could get a speed throttler), too slow in Basilisk II ('lisk has a huge problem with transitions), probably not at all in SheepShaver (I believe its still 68k, and SheepShaver doesn't really have a 68k processor ready), and won't mount in Mini vMac. GRR.

- I also pulled out an old map from 2010 showing the new Metro lines in Houston, which were supposed to be complete by now (instead, there are some areas with track, but nothing beyond the 2004 stretch is running). I wish I could just go to the Northwest Transit Center and get to the majority of inner-loop Houston via train, but alas...

Monday, May 28, 2012

This is why having a real SNES would be cooler

With a Game Boy emulator and a SNES emulator you can play most games. Problem is, the SNES can't play Super Game Boy games, and the Game Boy doesn't have access to common Super Game Boy games nor can simulate TV scan lines.

I whipped this up in a paint program a while back. Bummer that I can't play it like this.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Google Maps in Japan is Awesome

View Larger Map

I love how they can put little icons for fast food chains (the orange and blue thing is Matsuya, a soup chain) and stoplights, too! Why doesn't American Google Maps have these?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Not in the Garden" List

Here's a list of things that are not in Macintosh Garden that I created as part of a huge project last year but never got around to finishing. I'm dumping the contents here (I think it was mostly culled from a few request pages) because it's been sitting on my computer desktop for literally almost a year now (May 22, 2011--last modified). It didn't even get the chance to be edited: at least here in Blogger it's at least a unified color, size, and font...of which the original document had no uniformity.

Shining Flower: Hikaruhana (Voyager, 1993)
A series of surreal animations featuring a character and a glowing flower.

Glider 1.x (John Calhoun, 198?)

PippinPuss (John Neville, 1990)
"A Hypercard Stack that let you decorate an apple, Mr. Potatohead style"
Available here:

Turbo Math Facts (??, 19??)
A education math game. System 6 and 7 compatible.

Hot Dog Stand (Sunburst Communications, 1991) - Educational game where you manage a hot dog stand.

SkiFree (??, 19??)
Rumored Mac version.

Ace Detective (??, 19??)
A crime-solving game for kids. System 7 compatible.

The Pawn (Rainbird/Magnetic Scrolls, 1985)
The Guild of Thieves (Rainbird/Magnetic Scrolls, 1985)
Last Call (Simon & Schuster, 2000)
Rodney's Funscreen (Activision, 199x)

Buried in Time

The C.H.A.O.S. Continuum

Return to Treasure Island

Small World Baseball

Small World Football

Small World Hockey

Small World Hoops

Wages of War

Allied General

CodeWarrior 11 (non-Pro)
CodeWarrior Pro 9
CodeWarrior Pro 10

Also, evenings with (old) games and Blue Skies & Nintendo are back.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Road Rebuilds 2

Here's another "Road Rebuild", IIRC this was in St. Louis area (Frontenac! There you go) and is interesting: rather than the myriad of intersections (six) it reduces it to two with the use of roundabouts. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how it's a huge improvement: even if you knew what you're doing, it still results in several nasty curves (take the people going east going off the highway, rather than a straight exit, it's practically an S curve) and if you don't know what you're doing (includes out of date GPS) you'll be slingshotted in the opposite direction.

Curse you, ideas

Either I forgot or I realized how flimsy my idea of reviving Two Way Roads was. I think what I was planning for partly was merging Evenings with Games and Blue Skies & Nintendo into it, neither of which I really want to get rid of that much, and re-reading the last fateful post made me realize there are a lot of things that I'd rather do.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Text clippings

Since I'm "cleansing" TWR of dozens of posts, ready to "reboot" it with a new theme and new posts, that means older posts are going by the wayside. That doesn't mean some will resurface here, like this one!

A word of caution to my fellow Mac users:

I have Mac OS 10.6 on my MacBook, and I had some text clippings from a Mac OS 10.5 iMac (G5). So I transferred them to Dropbox, but on the other end, it appended a .textClipping to them and managed to delete the entire contents of them. When Dropbox re-synced, *poof*. They were gone, ruined, corrupted. If anyone has this problem, please post here. Or if you know what happened, post here, too!

EDIT: The only way to properly "save" your text clippings is to stuff them (not zip them). Once I had my text clipping test in a .sit, it formatted normally on its transfer.




Seth said...
Text clippings store all their information in resource forks. The past decade has seen Apple transition from "resource forks" to "extended attributes" (a subset of something called "metadata") that can mimic those forks. There's a very good chance that DropBox does not store these extended attributes. If you zip the files before sending them to DropBox, the attributes will be encoded in such a way that it can be safely transmitted, though. See this article about resource forks and xattrs for more information.

JULY 22, 2010 5:28 PM
Pseudo3D said...
Zipping didn't work. This time, those weren't my only copies, so I'll try something else...

JULY 26, 2010 8:50 AM

It was originally named "Text Clip Panic"

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tales of a City II

This is my city, shortly after importing it into SimCity 2000 on SheepShaver. I had grown it a bit on Micropolis some more, adding more zones, roads, and the like. The hospital kinda grew on its own. I need to add water now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tales of a City I

I'm trying an experiment: importing a city from SimCity 1 to SimCity 2000 to SimCity 3000! (3K to 4 was never finished, sadly)

Here's the city, shortly after starting. It's in Micropolis, the open-source version.

It eventually expanded, with a ring road around the city (it was on the west side of the map) and I think I overlapped some zones, too. It went bankrupt and slowly climbed a few times. I let it run for some more money, so I could create a railroad, and managed to save it before an earthquake completely destroyed the city (simulation was set too fast).

We'll see what it looks like after importing soon.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

On applying for a job

I want to get a job this summer. The local H-E-B doesn't seem to have any positions open yet, so I decided to apply for a job at Kroger instead, my second option. Besides a local chain that's in Bryan, there's no major supermarket that's not Walmart. And while admittedly I never got actually into the H-E-B application process, I didn't want to do the Kroger one because they wanted my full Social Security Number fairly early on in the application process. It's not enough to give them my address, my phone number, all previous jobs, if I have legal right to work in the U.S., if I have any criminal history, et cetera. They want my full Social Security Number (no "last four digits" or whatever) and they haven't granted me a single interview yet, much a less a job. I mean, the nerve of those people!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Damage Report / Summer Preview

Well, looks like my MacBook's hard drive is going to fail any day now...signs are increasingly looking like the entire hard drive is going to fall apart, and I can't even back up the Windows drive without it getting a kernel panic (I can't boot up into Windows).

Stuff I'll lose will include the full Windows installation, which will be a lot less painful this time around since I took notes when I installed it. I'll lose SimCity 4 (also will have to be re-installed, along with the tools and updates), I might lose my Plants vs. Zombies data (if I remembered to sync it with the Cloud again), I'll have to reinstall ALL the Steam games I have (not that many, but hey), my BAT progress will be lost, my Python 2.3 install will have to be re-installed, Eversion's data is lost (and I was this close to 100% completion, too...grr...), Treasure Adventure Game is lost (never really got into it), GOG games are lost and will have to be re-installed (they were sent over to Boxer on the Mac side and saved), I Wanna Be The Guy is lost. WinAmp and its .usf plug-in is lost. SimCity 3000 Unlimited and the city I worked hard on is lost. That version of Carmen Sandiego from the mid-1990s that never worked because it required an obsolete version of, who cares.

BUT! The big news that although Carbonizer won't do anything for the summer, what WILL be happening is Two Way Roads, the "original blog" which has been mostly inactive, will come back to life with a new post (and hopefully many more following), a new theme, and maybe a new look...provided Google doesn't screw over us bloggers with their "new Blogger interface". In, Around, and About Brazos Valley will continue to post and work through updating posts. Carbonizer, of course, will still be here, mostly posting in a quieter manner. This is my blog, after all.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dust Graffiti

Taken sometime in March in a building off Ross Street (door has since been wiped). While a lot of it bleeds immaturity, the "I Don't Want to Live On This Planet Anymore" parody is brilliant. Click for a better view.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chrono Trigger Wrapper

I created a SNES9x-based wrapper for Chrono Trigger, the SNES game for OS X systems, probably even possible with PPC systems (10.4? 10.5?).

To use it, right click it for "Show Package Contents", open "Contents", and drop a ROM labeled "Chrono Trigger (U).smc" into the "Resources" folder. You don't have to have the American version, however. Just name it that.

It does not include the ROM, and I am not telling you where to get it.

Chrono Trigger for Mac.

Thanks to my cousin J for helping me out with this one, and the Snes9x team for the fantastic emulator.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Road Rebuilds 1

This is one of those "road/highway reconstructions" I like seeing in Google Earth (no telling how many I've spotted and lost). This is in Marietta, Georgia, and I have to say: what a nightmare, having that four lane road stripped out for a huge seven lane or so highway. If it wasn't for the traffic, they could've converted it to a two lane road with turning lane and bike lanes...

(yes, this is the same view level, they widened it dramatically: look at the buildings for comparison)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Campus shots

Some of these will be utilized in a better fashion on my other blog soon enough. That and Wikimapia.

The Student Computing Center, built at the same time (and attached to) the Evans Library Annex. Unfortunately, it doesn't have interior access.

This was outside the William A. McKenzie Terminal, on the far side of campus. It's kind of neat because it shows the MSC's expansions over the years, including the original 1950s structure (top part), 70's (south part), and ~1989 part (east part with the now-demolished portico). It doesn't show the late 2000s rebuild, though.

Zachry Engineering Building, with chandelier. This is just awesome.

Early morning outside of Reed Arena, there was a Cirque du Soleil show coming up.

Detail of the MSC's bookstore entrance, compare and contrast with this shot:

What I really wanted to do was show the old "Memorial Student Center" labelscar above the Barnes & Noble sign, but alas, my phone isn't good enough.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Remains of the week

- Ron Paul came to campus last week. While I do have sympathy for libertarian causes (a lot of them do make sense), it didn't help that the stereotypical libertarian crusaders were out in full force, including a particularly angry guy with a huge sign that said "I LOVE RON PAUL except for foreign policy I LOVE JESUS except for loving your neighbors". He was the one screaming that the "same rich people who support Obama support Romney" and "George Carlin was right about this country", except using lots of expletives that we don't use on Carbonizer. It's people like these that make libertarianism unable to gain a huge momentum in the country, and people like these that make the Occupy movement seem like nice and sane Americans.

- I have no major problems with the Dining Services being 98% minority (yeah, really), but please, be able to understand English. It keeps the lines moving, and people from getting frustrated.

- I was contemplating Lion and moving on like a Good Mac User, but in addition to losing my favorite apps (including those that their superior versions were Carbonized, and the Mac OS 9 versions would, at best, be a replacement). More practically, I thought about my parent's frustration with it.

- Given that my GBA hasn't ruined the ribbon cable yet, I found a replacement case for $9.99, considering that's way cheaper than other used GBA stuff. Sounds like a great future project.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Go away, scammer

For the third time in about two days, I was called by 876-284-6658, harrassing me (before 8 am, even!) about winning something. I caught wind of the accent (which was hard because it was trying to be an American accent), the word "lottery", "980,000 US dollars", and "Wal-Mart gas station". It was especially obvious since I don't give my number out (and not to Walmart, especially) and my local Walmart doesn't even HAVE a gas station. Didn't give him long enough to bait me or anything, but he's blocked. He gets the honor of being the first blocked number on my cellphone. Congratulations!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Goodbye, GBA SP

I got my Game Boy Advance SP for Christmas 2005, but it met a fatal ending last night minutes before midnight. After a futile attempt at the Elite Four again (in Pokémon Yellow), I tossed it off my bed (which is only a foot or so above the ground) and maybe it was the headphone adapter plugged in, but it cracked in several places, pulling it apart if it opened or closed, and there's a crack under the screen that I can't access.

So that means I can't play games on it, essentially, and it needs to be replaced. I could play the old Game Boy games on the Game Boy Color with its terrible screen and crummy speakers, and the GBA games on the DS, but that's not really the same thing. This means that it needs to be replaced. It's not terribly urgent, however (maybe next weekend at the earliest) and its not like I don't have other games to play (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time NEEDS to be beaten). Either way, it is time to put Pokémon dormant again, even though I have plans once I get everything working...

- Reset the Cinnabar Gym and beat Blaine multiple times for experience, money, and his TM (also to sell)
- Go through Pokémon Mansion for experience, items, and more money
- Use GameShark to be able to buy Rare Candy, and also use it to catch Mew at Level 50
- Replace Mr. Mime with Mew, Moltres with Flareon, and Venusaur with Snorlax
- Upgrade Snorlax to Level 50 (at least), Flareon to Level 55, and Pikachu to Level 60
- Teach Flareon an awesomely powerful Fire-type movement (also with GameShark)
- Make sure I have nine Lemonades, five Full Heals, three Max Potions, and four Revives before facing the Elite Four

Ultimately the plan is to catch all 151 (assisted with GameShark, of course), making certain duplicates and catching new copies of Pokémon, then moving onto Crystal and beginning the journey anew. Crystal will get Pokémon back from Yellow via Time Machine (they might come with items).

In other news, I'm putting The Lost Vikings dormant, gonna give Machinarium an occasional shot, and focus on The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks in terms of portability (and of course Zelda 64).

EDIT: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand while tooling around with GameShark trying to get said Mew, I ended up wiping my file. I made a backup on the Mega Memory Card not too long ago, but that's a lot of lost ground (I think I need to try Blaine and Giovanni again). Yup, I can DEFINITELY wait about getting my Game Boy back.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

After-AFD Pranks Are Even Crueler/Funnier

A day late, but one of the many things you can do with your friends who use a Mac is to figure out your mark's favorite Internet browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox), use Command I, click on the icon in the box, Command C, and close it.

Then quickly navigate to /Applications/Utilties/AppleScript Editor and then copy and paste this:

tell application "Finder"
shut down
end tell

Save it as an Application and name it the same name as the Internet browser. Then use Command I again, click on the icon, and Command V the new icon into the script. Drag the Internet browser off the Dock at the bottom of the screen (provided it isn't already up) and swap in your new fake application.

Old Mac hands should know this one, but it's great fun to those who use a Mac because it's cool and have never mucked around the Utilities. I know I have friends like this. Anyway, use it before they figure out what you're up to. Sit back and watch the fun!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Carbonizer's Picks #1

Here's some cool sites I discovered recently that at least earn a place somewhere on Carbonizer...

New York Songlines: Imagine an annotated version of New York City, a combination between Wikimapia and Google Maps Streetview. Now imagine that all in HTML 1.0.

Porting Team: The Mac, its Intel core, and all are great, but there's still comparatively few games for it released through publishers. You could run WINE, Crossover, or DOSBox for these missing modern masterpieces, but that means mucking through preference files and all...a very un-Mac like way of doing things. Enter Porting Team, which makes empty wrappers (often modern games) based on a myriad of platforms (Cider, DOSBox, even some Amiga for the classics). Of course you'll have to supply your own copies of games, but it's still a great idea! I might just give SimCity 4 a spin on the Mac again (keep in mind that CIDER is still slower than a "real" PC, however)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Google Maps of Days Past

In late 2011 or early 2012, all this was changed, to have no tic marks for zooming in, and different icons (less bold) for highways. Earlier, they had changed the pin border to be from black to a different shade of the main color. I miss those days.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's a Mac World After All

When my brother went to college, it was a time when Macs were still rather rare (always a treat to see someone else using one) and PCs were common. Nowadays, it's Macs that are the highly dominant ones (or at least iPads) with PCs much rarer, only seen by mostly the gaming/Linux-using guys.

But is it worth it? What do Macs have nowadays that Windows cannot do? Sure, it's still a better operating system, but Lion has all sorts of annoying features that Windows used to pride itself on, and frankly people use so few applications (between an Internet browser and Word) that it's practically irrelevant. The software library available for Mac without emulators has grown smaller than before, and let's face it--the "stability" gap has closed dramatically, as is "user friendliness", but other things like "customizability" have gone by the wayside.

Mac gaming isn't any better: while there are far more games for much cheaper (remember in the days when the PC ports would drop in price while the Mac ports stayed high?) and more stable (Aspyr's ports were more often than not pretty bad), these ports of today are simply PC games in a wrapper that translates the Windows API calls into Mac calls, which degrades performance.

So why do I use a Mac? Simple: it's because I live in the past. I'm still using Snow Leopard. I'd never upgrade to Lion unless major things were done to it (interface changes, Rosetta compatibility) which will never happen because it's hard-coded in, and Apple's current trend is to try to create a fully uniformed system with a closed application environment. This, coupled with the whole "more popular" thing, is making Apple and the Mac more and more like the "evil IBM compatibles" it was suppose to be against.

I'm not against Apple because "it's popular, therefore it sucks", I'm just thinking that it's sad that as it became worse (at least in my opinion) it became mainstream. For the near future, I'll keep using my Mac. For the future after that, I'm probably going to end up joining the legion of Linux nerds, I'm afraid.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Huge Thanks to...

S, my brother, for his assistance in helping me change my Java settings to not pop up a warning box for my Java applet based homework ("OWL"), changing it to run with protections (the applet had signed and unsigned code, creating the problem). This has helped it run WAY faster, something those Windows-trained monkeys for the in-house "support" would NEVER be able to figure out.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Forgotten Blog Post

I had made this up back in August to reflect the differences between Marvel and DC based movies.

Spider-Man (2002): Pretty cool, I’d say.
Hulk (2003): Enh, it was okay, but not as good as Spider-Man.
Spider-Man 2 (2004): Wasn't too bad either.
Fantastic Four (2005): A bit weak, but enjoyable.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007): Even weaker than the first, short movie, forgettable plot.
Iron Man (2008): Actually pretty awesome
The Incredible Hulk (2008): OK, if it wasn't for the fact that they tried NOT to make it a sequel (even though Bruce Banner just happens to be in South America at the beginning, just like the end of The Hulk)
Iron Man 2 (2010): Didn't like it as much. Didn't like the replacement actor, didn't like Tony Stark's antics, made what he learned in the first movie irrelevant.
Thor (2011): Liked it, definitely some features that make it unusual, but there were some obvious flaws.
Captain America The First Avenger (2011): Liked it.

Catwoman (2004): Saw part of it when renting. Really boring, really terrible.
Batman Begins (2005): Actually pretty awesome!
Superman Returns (2006): Terrible forgettable, made many changes to Superman to be more politically correct, and a sequel to a film made over twenty years ago (and ignoring its two sequels)
The Dark Knight (2007): Had a few flaws, generally enjoyable.
Green Lantern (2011): Huge disappointment,

I think I meant for it to show that Marvel movies are generally better than DC, but I didn't get that point across.

Also, Spring Break is far too short, especially where homework is concerned (how could they?!). I feel like I'm cramped for time, making only token progress on the games I love.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Late Night Currently Playing

Yes, Currently Playing has returned after a long hiatus. Not that I haven't been playing games, mind you, but I've done some reading and picked up a half-abandoned game list that was basically a Word version of the long-abandoned Backloggery list (needs pruning itself) and converting it into a fine Excel spreadsheet with publisher information and release dates. Highlighted were the games I needed/were playing.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time should and will get some time in this Spring Break. It is on the Wii as a Virtual Console item.

The Lost Vikings is fun, playing it in Snes9x.

Klondike is solitaire. I waste too much time on it.

Machinarium, I remembered fondly from last summer, and wanted to pick it up again, only to realize I needed to play some sort of board game with another robot and I remembered why I stopped playing. I got some hints (block the robot until he tries to block yours, don't let him get 4 in a row, space yours out when you try to when, etc.) until I won.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks isn't in my DS because I spent time playing the DS version of The Urbz: Sims in the City, which is a huge time-waster but I had just bought it and knew there was more stuff in it than the GBA (larger screen size, too, but the touch screen interface is not very well-done). I had just bought it from the used video game store after selling two games I didn't want. I put the Urbz away and will play Spirit Tracks.

Pokémon Yellow is in my GBA SP. I just bought a GameShark to get things like Mew and Surfing Pikachu. I think I got the latter too early (Mt. Moon). I promise I won't take advantage of it (you know, going into Unknown Dungeon, all that jazz).

I am on the next to last level of Portal. Unfortunately, the person that helps me out in Portal when I'm stuck is J, who is out of commission (you know, he got married just last Saturday) so I'll have to take it on blind or wait for a weekend when J is up and around again.

Finally, I'm replaying VVVVVV again, to get more Trinkets and less deaths in less time. But can I do that? I mean, should I waste my life trying Veni, Vidi, Veci?. That is the only way to get 100% completion...

Monday, March 12, 2012

A wedding

Recently, I went down to Galveston to see my cousin J get married to his fiancée, M. What was really neat about this wedding is that J and M are somewhat nerds, so their wedding cake (with fondant) featured homages to their favorite games like Minecraft, the Katamari Damacy characters, and their characters from World of Warcraft (J had got M addicted to WoW last summer). Their choices of music were excellent, in my opinion, having the Braid "Downstream" theme for the groomsmen, an arrangement of the fairy fountain/file select theme from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the bridesmaids, and many other small references. J sang/played a song he composed for M, and E gave a small narrative on the lives of M and J. (E is J's sister, and was the one we were waiting for at the bus station nearly ten years prior, if you pay attention to my other blogs). Galveston itself was pretty depressing: most of the shops open were heavily-tourist shops (including a head shop called Hazy Daze) but a lot of stores, including the Peanut Butter Warehouse (it had a peanut butter/fudge pantry, plus antiques) were closed. The H-E-B Pantry was also the "Island Community Center" or something along those lines. The trolleys were still offline from Hurricane Ike. But it was nice and windy, so it wasn't all bad.

I noticed that nearly all the old Jack in the Box signs were gone (boo) including the one we went to in August 2008. Also, the "dated Travelodge" is now America's Best Value Inn & Suites.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

On iOS, Jailbreaking, and the Search for a Portable SNES

The other day, I wrote about Macs and Obama. In light of that, me, frustrated at my iPod's continuing obsolescence (what, no Ghost Trick?) decided to jailbreak it to squeeze more life out of the out-of-warranty thing. What I found wasn't a wonderful thing. Sure, there were promises of giving your iPod unbelievable powers, but what I found wasn't exactly the same thing. Besides the jailbreaking changing the iPod's startup screen (at least mine, anyway), it's really nothing special. First off, the jailbroken app store, Cydia. There's no safety net like there is for the App Store, and it resembles the Android Marketplace, a ramshackle place of themes and apps, with no guarantee if any of them work right. Secondly, things are expensive, averaging about $5 instead of 99¢ (and who knows how money is handled). Thirdly, the main thing I wanted, emulators of old systems, was tragically under par. First off, expensive emulators. Only Snes9x is really free, and there are a couple of others that were free, but didn't work so well. Others were several dollars. Secondly, it's slow. To get it up to a decent speed without sacrificing sound, you had to change the screen size to tiny and blocky (at least there's no distortion). Whether using a Bluetooth controller or the touch controls, you have to relearn practically everything if you're playing something Mario or Zelda. It seems like every other time that button didn't work (it's possible it's the controller, but you can see it: it's slow up there). Turning off the sound makes the thing run better, but that's a huge part of SNES gaming. Even my cool idea of duct-taping together a Wii Classic Controller to a Wii remote to an iPod didn't work, because the iPod is too heavy (even the Classic Controller has a bit of trouble staying on). It's also because of programming, as I know even SNES9x years ago ran better on the G3 iMac, so it should be at least par to that.

Well, it's probable that I'll never get to run right (unless I wait for performance improvements), so what other things does jailbreaking provide? I'm not interested in downloading tons of pirated movies and games (a waste of space, really). There is ScummVM, the adventure game engine interpreter, but if there's anything about LeChuck's Revenge: Monkey Island II Special Edition I picked up on the App Store a while back when it was cheap, the controls are pretty lousy (especially in regards to "catching" the mouse and moving it), and frankly, I've played most of the games already, and if I want to experience more I should play it on a real computer. And of course, once you've got a controller (like my Wii controller contraption), the whole "portability" thing is kind of ruined. Even getting an "official" controller with official apps (like Atari and Commodore 64 collections), like this, still isn't a portable gaming experience akin to a Game Boy.

So what if I wanted a portable SNES, with the option of playing other games? Well, there are options.

The Pandora is supposed to be the ultimate in this type of thing, but good look getting one. The Dingoo was advertised as a SNES emulator but it's about on par with the iOS. The Supaboy plays actual SNES games, except I heard it always has a slight high-pitched whine, and SNES cartridges are required. But this forces collecting if you want to do anything: I think there's only one video game store in town that stocks classic games, and they're not particularly cheap (ranging around $8 a cart). These are usually B-list carts, too (Street Fighter II, SimCity, that type of thing). A lot of the best games are way out of league for an actual cartridge. An EarthBound cartridge goes for at least $150 on eBay. Chrono Trigger goes for around $25. This is not good, and only useful if you have a bunch of SNES cartridges collecting dust in the closet (or if you plunk down another $150, you could buy a cartridge that has 2GB of storage on a SNES cart, but you can't run a bunch of SNES games due to special co-processor chips in the actual cartridges). A Nintendo 3DS and its Virtual Console? Nice try, but no: there's no SNES games there, yet (except for a few mangled GBA re-releases). Even the Wii's Virtual Console was crippled with an embarrassing release rate and licensing issues, so it would be a while before we see a decent library on the 3DS, at all. SNES classics Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III never saw the Virtual Console until nearly five years later, and EarthBound, which Nintendo of America hates (going so far as to remove the demo from Super Smash Bros. Brawl), even getting it rated by the ESRB, only to pull the rating later and never letting it see the Virtual Console. It's doubtful we'll see such a thing for the 3DS. The PlayStation Portable (which doesn't go for a whole lot cheaper on eBay) has had emulation for years, but it's still kind of pricey. It may be the best choice, however, if I wanted to do that route.

But overall, it's a lost cause. I don't really want to sink a lot of money right now, but I still dream of a portable SNES.

update 3/5: Further research shows even the vaunted "Supaboy" has really stiff controls, was tested to zap a Final Fantasy III save state(!!), and didn't play Donkey Kong Country, the latter believing it to be a pirated console. Another option, The Retro Duo Portable has a peripheral to play SNES games, but the screen is weak and the controls feel too loose (the overall feeling of "cheap"). It's also the newest, not carried by any retailers (such as Amazon). I also feel the need to point out why cartridges have a slight advantage: the Super Game Boy!