Where are the left-handed microwave ovens?

We’ve moved our microwave oven into a little corner in the kitchen recently. It makes it a little difficult to open the left-hinged door. So, I’ve been searching the Internet for alternative microwave ovens with either reversible doors (like our fridge) or a left-handed door with a right hinge.

So far, nothing. Do they not exist? One expert site asked that question, and the majority response was that 100% of microwave ovens have left-hinged doors. I feel bad for all you Southpaws (I know quite a few).

In my quest, I did discover some interesting (if not useless) microwave oven facts:

  • Electromagnetic microwaves cannot produce the “Maillard reaction” (a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars) in food, which is what browns toast and caramelizes milk and honey. That is why your microwaved food tastes so bland and has a “steamed” appearance.
  • New microwave ovens are being manufactured with high-powered halogen heat lamps to create that Maillard reaction with infared energy while the microwave energy cooks the food.
  • Microwave ovens generate radio waves at 2.45Ghz, which is annoyingly close to the 2.4Ghz block of frequencies set aside for 802.11b/g WiFi. Also, some cordless phones operate on this frequency.
  • Spoons are safe to microwave, however, forks are not. This is because the tines of the fork cause an electrical concentration which results in sparks. From experience, I know that the pointy edges of ketchup packages are affected by this property.
  • Along with metal, some foods can produce electrical arcing, such as grapes. See the video below.

[youtube width=”400″ height=”300″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCNNqgKqnaQ[/youtube]

Three Day Weekend!!!

Woo hoo!!! Boy, do I sure need an extra day this weekend. I had today off, and it was fabulous. I slept in until 10:30 this morning and then pretty much did nothing except laundry.

This week went by pretty fast, and I have to admit that it is almost to that time of year that I love so much. I hate being a teacher up until Thanksgiving. From then on, it time flies by so much and I get breaks more often. From the start of school to Thanksgiving, I always wonder why I am doing this. I am a short distance person, not a long distance person. Give me small breaks more often, please, and I will last longer. I have been having a really rough time this past month, and I even took a vacation! But now that it is almost to the easy point, I wonder where the time has gone.

Here are some things that I love about this time of year: The beautiful weather; planting fall/winter flowers like pansies and marigolds; baking holiday dishes and goodies; chai tea; shopping for Christmas presents; spending time with family.

I am off to Phoenix tonight. Matt and Serene are having their house warming party tomorrow. I am riding up with Keeley and Justin tonight. Phil can’t go because he works on weekends :( I will be back tomorrow night.

I had ambitions about doing some more yard work this weekend, maybe some gardening. That didn’t happen today, and it won’t happen tomorrow. We’ll see about Sunday…

Attack of the killer weeds!!!!

So owning a home is fantastic, except for when monsoon season comes and with that TONS of weeds and unwanted bermuda grass, which then need to be killed immediately to prevent a complete take over!!! I was able to keep on top of it this summer when I was doing nothing all the time, but in the last 3 months since I’ve been back to work (it’s been 3 months already??), our yard has been taken over by alien weeds!!!!!! So, last Tuesday, we hired someone to come out and work on our frontyard. He spent 4 hours, and did a great job, but there was still chunks of the yard left to be worked on (and this is no reflection on his work – he worked hard).

Today I mustered up all the motivation and courage I could find and went out to face the 2-feet-high weeds in the corner of our front yard. Armed only with a weed eater, I faced the ferocious fiends fearlessly! (like my alliteration??) I chopped and then raked up all the fallen victims.

Next mission: spray with round-up. But that will have to come tomorrow, because my arms feel like rubber.

Rest and Relaxation

Jenny and I have decided that our town-hopping Northern Arizona trip is a great opportunity to photoblog. Here’s the link to the Flickr stream. We didn’t take very many photos tonight (Friday), but we’re planning on seeing all sorts of interesting things (vortexes, mansions, canyons, ruins, etc.) tomorrow, Sunday and Monday.

More from the photoblog:

Workaholic or just stupid?

I just finished calculating the hours I worked for the past 2 weeks (my pay period at Pantano), and my Pantano total is up to 70 hours, which doesn’t include whatever I’ll be working today. In case you didn’t know, I’m an hourly employee only contracted for 60 hours in a pay period.

Now here’s where you say “big deal, most people work 80 hours in 2 weeks.” Yeah, well, there’s more. The other ministry hours I put in, whether it be through the Refuge Center or through Priority, pushed my grand total up to 103 hours (still not including today, and assuming that Overflow on Friday will be loaded out by 10pm).

So now you’re saying “lots of people work hard and do ministry.” Yeah, well, my work happens to be the same job as my ministry, so it’s easier to feel overloaded. I’ve spent 103+ hours doing sound tech work and playing guitar.

Tomorrow night: Overflow worship concert at the U of A
Saturday: Women of Virtue Conference (and then regular Saturday service)

Next Sunday through Tuesday is an All Staff Retreat for Pantano, so I’m hoping the drive to Prescott and the stay will be relaxing and recovering.

Update Oct 11, 2006: The staff retreat last week was a nice “quick” getaway from such a hectic schedule. More importantly, Jenny and I are leaving Friday for a 5-day retreat to Northern Arizona. We’ll be town-hopping and mostly relaxing. God is good!

Dreams (and Facial Recognition)

I’ve been making an effort to remember at least one dream each night. Basically, I’ll tell myself “Okay, self, we’re about to go to sleep, so try to remember that we’re sleeping and dreaming.” Oddly enough, that’s been working. I’ve been remembering most of my dreams, and I’ve been dreaming almost every night. Is that normal?!?!

I only remember dreams that occur right before I wake up in the morning.
Now, I say “remember,” in other words, I’m able to recall memories as vivid as anything real that happened yesterday. I don’t remember every turn of events, but I remember a lot of visual details. I have a very hard time remembering faces from dreams (I know why, too – I’ll get to that in a second). This has really broadened my understanding of the complexity of the human brain. Our conscious mind isn’t able to visualize or auralize complex details. Right now I could imagine a dog, and I might be able to visualize most details of the appearance of the dog, but wouldn’t have much left to concentrate on where the dog was, why he was there, and what his immediate surroundings looked like. If I start to think about those things, the image of the dog loses clarity. It’s too complex a scene for the conscious mind.

But, in a dream, the dog and the scene look completely real. It feels real. It’s like the most advanced form of virtual reality. Our brains, when dreaming, are able to create very complex scenes, complete with background noise, realistic sounds (the dog barking), and even “psuedo-conscious” motor movement. In other words, many times when people dream, they have full control of themselves and, in normal dreams, the laws of physics are mostly there. I say “mostly” because our brains don’t recreate nature and physics perfectly. Flip a light switch in a dream, it won’t always work. But it’s amazing that the brain is able to create the room and the lightswitch, and then give you enough control to choose to flip the switch.

I’ve been remembering vivid dreams. In most, I have my normal motor, speech, and thought functions. I remember looking around and examining minute details of my surroundings. Awake now, I can remember some of those details as if I had actually been there. But, dreams are dreams, and sometimes unexpected things happen. The scene may jump to something different, or unrealistic events may occur. And the one thing I haven’t been able to achieve is awareness. I want to be aware that I’m dreaming, while I’m dreaming. If I knew it was my dream, and my brain controlling the whole thing, I’d have a whole lot more control over things, wouldn’t I? Some call this lucidity, and it has been scientifically proven, but it’s not yet considered a “textbook” science subject.

So, no awareness (or lucidity) yet, but just remembering dreams is pretty cool…

Oh yeah, facial recognition. It’s a known fact that the human brain recognizes faces with a completely separate function from memory recall. You use memories to recall a scene, details, colors, sounds and smells. Even to remember a person and what they were wearing. But our brains don’t store all facial information into memories. Faces go into a special area – the facial recognition engine (that’s my paraphrased name for it and not the technical name). It isn’t the same as a memory, it is more along the lines of a fingerprint database. See a familiar face, and your brain instantly triggers that familiar feeling. You may not remember his name, address, or even how and when you saw him last, but your brain says you’ve seen his face. Facial recognition is one of those psychological/biological sciences we haven’t totally figured out yet.

Here’s an example of your facial recognition engine at work. Here are two copies of a photo of me and my wife, upside down. The right side is slightly altered, but I bet your brain isn’t complaining too much. You may notice a slight difference in my mouth, but you really have to look back and forth to tell.

Now click the image, and it will load the upright version. Don’t be scared! The same exact two images, just right side up. At that point, your brain’s facial recognition kicks in and my mouth looks seriously jacked up! The explanation for this phenomenon is that your facial recognition engine works best when faces are in an upright position.

I don’t seem to remember faces well from my dreams. This probably means that my facial recognition engine isn’t in use when dreaming. So, I may see detailed faces in the dream (or they may appear fuzzy like in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – I can’t remember!), but I have no recollection of those faces when I wake up, because my facial recognition engine didn’t store a proper snapshot. Of course, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes someone specific is in a dream, and I can remember that person easily. I think things get complicated when my brain decides to create new people that I’ve never met in real life.

Leonard Nimoy said it best – “Fascinating!”

New Comment CAPTCHA

I’ve installed a new anti-comment spam plugin. It uses the CAPTCHA method (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart). The nice benefit for readers is that you are no longer required to give me your name and email. Comments appear instantly without moderation.

So… I’ve filtered out all the spam, but hopefully the human “troll” variation doesn’t find its way into the discussion area.

Let me know if the CAPTCHA images are too hard to read.

Flashback 1983 (aka Tucson floods again)

Thanks to some awesome aerials over at the Star, I’ve been able to create a short but sweet tour of some of the major flooding and flowing rivers in the Marana area. Not yet pictured, but flooded: Sabino Canyon, Catalina Highway, Houghton at Sahuarita, plus several more places I can’t think of at the moment.

These low-altitude aerials are at an angled perspective, so it was difficult to line up the images in some places, because Google’s imagery at this altitude is from a top perspective. The Sanders Road image suffered the most, but you can still see all the elements in both the Google original and the overlay, they just don’t line up at all.

Download the Google Earth KMZ file of the July 31st, 2006 floods
(Get Google Earth for Linux, Mac or Windows)

I-10 at Rillito River
(I-10 where a very active Rillito rushes underneath)

All images used were grabbed from a slideshow at http://www.azstarnet.com/metro/140232.php, by Jeffry Scott/Arizona Daily Star. Used without permission under the assumption that this falls under Fair Use. Don’t sue me!

According to the National Weather Service, there’s more to come. It’s a good day to know that my house doesn’t sit in a flood plain.

My Political Manifesto

I just finished reading an End-Times extremist spamvertisement, without realizing its true identity until the last few paragraphs. I hate manipulation and I’m not a fan of the common practice among Christians to “conceal” a subliminal message into otherwise decent text. So it got me to thinking about where I currently stand in politics. I think it is important for everyone to understand what they believe, whether religiously, politically or ethically.

First, I consider myself a Protestant Christian, in that I strongly affirm the words and ideas of the Nicene Creed as well as the Reformation’s Five solas. That alone should be enough to convince anyone that I am indeed a conservative Christian. But I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the “Christian Right” agenda in America. Because of this, some conservative Republicans think I’m liberal or moderate, and most liberal Democrats think I’m grossly conservative.

At the heart of most constitutions, certain irrevocable rights are bestowed upon the citizens of that country (or, in most cases, to human beings everywhere). That demands a moral code – a clear definition of what should be right and what should be wrong. That is where I base my political beliefs. The sanctity of human life is the foundation and morality forms the building blocks.

  • I believe in a free society, where individuals have the freedom to choose their own actions, except when those actions may harm or adversely affect others.
  • I believe that a proper welfare goverment can only exist where citizens have the freedom and choice to participate in funding and receiving benefits.
  • I believe in tax-funded services such as public education, disaster relief, commercial regulation and deregulation, and essential utilities (food/water/electricity) for the poor (when and where appropriate).
  • I believe in the importance of a secular state and a secular society, because a look into history will show us that whenever religion and politics mix, war and the absence of peace ensues.
  • I believe that full-scale war is archaic, barbaric and immoral; a blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life. Modern political issues can be resolved with diplomacy.
  • In the case of war criminals and abusive totalitarian dictators, I cautiously believe that when diplomacy has failed, foreign moderation and incarceration should occur.
  • I believe that a utopian society is impossible, and any such attempt will inevitably lead to dystopia.
  • I believe there can be a balance between anonymity, privacy and security.
  • I believe that in our postmodern digital world, information wants to be free. This means I (obviously) reject digital rights management (DRM), proprietary software models, and most cases of patents to software or otherwise. Inventors should strive for noteriety and a greater good, not monetary gain. When information is free, creativity and innovation are free of burden, and human society as a whole will reap those benefits
  • I believe that there is no just argument for capital punishment. A vote of confidence in capital punishment says it is acceptable to murder innocent humans, because no justice system in the world will ever be perfect, and will always be prone to human error.
  • I believe in lifetime incarceration for those proven guilty of the worst crimes through a fair justice system, however, the human ability to redeem and forgive is what separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom, so parole must always be an option.
  • I believe that abortion is an unequivocal form of murder; a taking of human life. There is a delicate balance between the life of a mother and her child, so exceptions might exist. The most important step in the fight against abortion is to spread information and to criminalize the medical procedure. Put the doctors in jail, not the frightened 16-year-old who doesn’t fully understand her situation.
  • I believe that guns should be generally outlawed; society has proven its inability to cope with the dangers of citizen ownership of guns. Sport hunting (likewise should be outlawed) is not an argument. In a safe, secure society, guns are illegal, and personal protections exist to counter those guns that will inevitably still exist.
  • I believe that all ethnic, religious, and gender groups should be treated equally and fairly. A secular society cannot criminalize homosexual life styles or lifepartnership.
  • I believe in Equal Opportunity for all only when it works and is still applicable.
  • I believe that national history and heritage plays an important role in determining future law. Although it may not seem appropriate in a secular society, the reference to “God” on American money and the American flag pledge is part of our American heritage and serves to teach us about our founding and our roots. That is not to say that religious relics in all forms of government objects will not eventually be removed.
  • I believe that illegal immigrants should be granted amnesty when the cause of said illegal immigration is war, unlivable conditions, or an abusive totalitarian regime.
  • I believe that citizenship should not be difficult to obtain for legal or illegal immigrants. Every person alive has ancestors who immigrated from one place to another.
  • I believe that certain social educational topics (sex ed, drugs, ethics) are primarily the responsibility of parents, and should only exist in public education as an afterthought.
  • Did I mention that information wants to be free? This also means that copyrights should enjoy short lifetimes, and should be non-renewable. Digital equipment in the home should be as non-restrictive as traditional equipment. An analog television set and VCR let you watch and record anything you wanted. A typewriter allowed you to add to any letter or document you received in the mail. A phonorecord or cassette tape could be played or copied. Laws pertaining to digital equipment should respect the “analog tradition” of freedom and consumer choice.
  • If a non-communist, non-socialist society without economies of monetary value could exist, I would endorse it and probably move there.

Ubuntu 6.06 LTS is released, I possibly have no life


Considering it is 2:40am, I’m sitting in a Freenode chatroom (#Ubuntu) with over 1000 other geeks, and until just a few moments ago was eagerly anticipating the scheduled release of the next version of Ubuntu.

Not only did I feel the Internet noticeably slow (okay that’s hyperbole), I’m watching before my very eyes a real-time Internet. The release was announced on the lists, which was then copied to #Ubuntu, and then I saw a digg, DistroWatch, and Slashdot article appear. I’m still waiting for the BoingBoing article, and I’m waiting to see who will update the Wikipedia entry.