Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Tales from the Supermarket...

Have you ever noticed how many ridiculous things there are at the grocery store? My trip to Safeway today gave me two observations.

First, walking through the produce section, you pass the fine selection of apples. Now, I want to know who the genius was who created the Red Delicious apple. While they're probably the reddest apple of all, they are FAR from delicious. In fact, they are anti-delicious. I bought yellow delicious apples today, and they were definitely delicious. It's a shame the red delicious have to give delicious apples such a bad name. Poor yellow delicious apples.

Anyway, how about them apples? The other thing is WHAT is this obsession with mile long receipts. Remember when receipts were you know, short... or at least relative to how many groceries you bought. My receipt today was literally 2 feet long. WHAT A WASTE OF PAPER! So what takes up all of the space? Let's see...

2" just for the giant Safeway logo at the top.
12" to give me a complete itemized breakdown of every item I bought. Yes, this will make it very convenient when I need to itemize my purchases on my taxes. "I spent $2.49 on Baked Goods... but $5.99 on Non-Edible Groceries. Oh yes.. I can rest easy now...
6" to tell me how much I saved by using my Safeway Club card... ($7.87 cents or 15%... what a deal), and how I've purchased 1 of 7 toward my first free deli sandwich . Woot?
1" to tell me I get a 6-cent/gallon discount on my next tank of Safeway gas. Too bad the closest Safeway gas station is... oh... about 30 minutes away.
Finally... 2" to tell me that I payed with my debit card. I think that could have fit on one line...

Geez... save a tree or two.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Tennis, anyone?

I'm used to not having anything good on TV on a Saturday or Sunday morning, this is nothing new. But we're now in the middle of that British pinnacle of sports (or something) they call Wimbledon. On my vast scale of sports I like to watch on TV, tennis typically rates just above soccer and auto racing on the bottom of the list. But seeing as it was the only thing on TV other than infomercials (which I usually enjoy... but I'd watched all of these 50 times before), I watched. I'm a sucker to watch huge upsets, regardless of the sport, so seeing Serena Williams lose to a lowly ranked player whose name escapes me was certainly exciting. I guess it isn't the fact that it's uninteresting... I mean, most people would say it's more exciting to watch than golf, but I enjoy watching golf usually.

Regardless of the reason, what's up with the scoring in tennis? Instead of counting points like 1,2,3, nononono that would be WAY too simple. We'll count points as 15,30,40. Sure... that makes sense?!!? Then to top it off, it's not zero, it's "love". OK people... c'mon, is this ridiculousness necessary? Well, a little research into the history of tennis scoring shows that nobody really knows for certain where this scoring system came from (all the more reason to keep it around, eh?). Closest references say that back in medieval times, where tennis was supposedly conceived, 60 was considered a good number. Since the game is essentially to four points, it would be described as 15,30,45,60, with 60 being a win. Somewhere along the line the 60 became unnecessary (since you win at 60 anyway, who cares)... and the 45 got abbreviated to just 40 (why not?). There's even more debate around where the term "Love" as zero comes from. The one that seems most plausible to me is that it was derived from the French word "l'oeuf" meaning egg, the universally accepted symbol for zero. I can see exactly how this could have happened in unceremonious fashion. Picture if you will ye olde tennis court in the middle of the 11th century, two French monks are playing this new and exciting game called tennis. The first monk makes the point, "ha ha! That makes 15 for me, and you have the big l'oeuf." It's a huge inside joke among those monks, who use the term l'oeuf so much that it basically becomes part of the game. Somewhere along the line, those English speaking monks come along for the great tournament. Of course they must announce the score before each serve, so he says "15-zero". The French monk goes "Nonono... it is 15-l'oeuf! hoh hoh hoh!" Momentarily confused, the English monk concedes, and in his finest British accent, "Right-o. 15-Love." And thus it began.

Either way, I guess the sport has some redeeming merits, regardless of its ridiculous scoring. It's worthy enough to watch when there's nothing else on.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Expedition Everest

Well, I haven't had anything interesting to blog about the last several days, so I decided to put some more fascinating stuff from the world of Disney. Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom theme park is building a new ride (and one that for once isn't actually just a copy of something they already did). It's called Expedition Everest and is themed to the Himalayas and is an actual themed rollercoaster.

Disney artists rendering of Expedition Everest

The ride is scheduled to officially open sometime early next year, but will probably be completed and have some unofficial openings (or as those in the biz call 'soft openings') towards the end of this year. Just my luck, it'll probably open about a month after I'm there... such is life.

Current construction... nearly finished. (picture from MiceAge)

It's exciting that there finally is a new "landmark" ride at a Disney park. I don't think the US parks (Disneyland/Disney World) have had any major attractions (the type you can see from halfway across the park, or at least have elaborate theming on the outside so you can really recognize it as something interesting) for a LOooooonng time. The last major one Disneyland has seen is the Indiana Jones Adventure back in 1995. Yes, California Adventure opened the Tower of Terror, in the last year or two, but that was just a replica of the same that opened at Disney World back in 1994. They also came up with Soarin' Over California... and excellent ride, but no landmark, it's just in a big square building.

So it's about time to see something big and new like this. Though I do have to say, the theme is a bit of a recycle... as the people in charge are quoted, "It's a thrilling adventure themed to the folklore of the mysterious yeti". And how would you describe the Matterhorn at Disneyland? Indeed... it's a roller coaster through a mountain trying to escape the Yeti / Abdominal Snowman (yes, see, he's got quite the stomach muscles :)). But yes, good things on the horizon, who can argue with that?

Monday, June 20, 2005

I liked the product so much, I bought the company...

OK, well, I didn't buy the company. But I like the name so much, I bought the domain. Yes, the Universe of Synergy now has a new home at none other than Who can argue with that? For now this site is just the blog, but in the future I'll roll out an entire website devoted to something fun and exciting.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A bit of logic in an illogical world

I like to think of myself as a reasonable man. I believe that everyone is entitled to his or her opinions and views, based on whatever facts he or she deems credible. However, the key here is that these conclusions people make must be arrived at through a logical progression of thought. Now I'm not saying things need to be as orderly as a geometric proof that A is parallel to B, but things have to make sense.

One of the most frustrating things in the world to me is when someone takes a position based on nothing other than "because I say so"... or "that's just how it is". That is bull honkery. Taking a position like that implies one of three things:
1) Ignorance
2) Stupidity
3) Sheer stubbornness

Or any combination of the three. None of which I can, or should, accept. Ignorant people should educate themselves so they are not ignorant, or else speak not on that which they do not understand. No person is inherently stupid; I believe any normal person with a desire can learn anything with the right amount of effort. Stubbornness is the result of building a wall around your ideas and insulating them from any sort of logic that might case any doubt on their relevance. That is just unacceptable.

Now, I know there are some who may read this and think that I'm saying that the only opinions that I will accept are those which match my own. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, in a world of logical deduction, people can reach vastly different conclusions on the same issue. This is the beauty of it! You could come to a conclusion which I believe to be fundamentally wrong, but as long as you came to the conclusion though some measure of logical deduction, AND more importantly can reasonably explain how you came to that conclusion and back it up, I fully accept your right to believe it, and in turn expect the same.

All I desire is common sense... is that too much to ask?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Most Frustrating Invention

I'd like to present an award. I will call this award the "Most Frustrating Invention" award. It is given to the invention that is proven frustrating to use, under all circumstances, without any necessity need to be so.

This years award goes to... ... the person who invented that hard plastic packaging (common around smaller electronic parts, but also other items) that is completely sealed necessitating the use of scissors or some other sharp blade-like object.

This invention scores very high in two categories. In the technical category, it's just plain impossible to open. It's especially difficult as the packaging gets smaller. Scissors never seem to be able to leverage the right angle to cut into the edges (without absolutely mangling everything inside), and a knife, well, usually involves me slicing either myself or some surface I'd rather not damage.

In the other category, isn't it ALWAYS the case that you REALLY want to get whatever is in the package. It's something you've either been waiting for forever, or it's just really cool and you really want to get it open. But NoooooooOOOoo... all you do is get MORE frustrated as it takes you longer and longer to get the darn thing open. This afternoon, I spent no less than 10 minutes attempting to open one such package.

Now in fairness, I'm nearly convinced that this is completely intentended to be so frustratingly impossible to open. Probably so that if the item is on the store shelf, people can't just rip it open and steal what's inside (at least without being incredibly obvious that they're doing so). BUT... what about the consumer? AHHHH! Obviously nobody cares.

What are you talking about?

Several have asked, others have no doubt wondered, WHAT is the Universe of Synergy and what the hell does it mean? I will explain...

First, there's synergy...

syn·er·gy (sĭn'ər-jē) n., pl. -gies.
The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

In this blog, the random elements I contribute (each of which have little, if any, redeeming qualities for the good of mankind) come together and through the miracle of synergy, become fascinating because of their proximity to each other. I will prove that if you put enough randomness together, you can create order out of chaos.

So what about "Universe of Synergy"... if I just added "of science" to the end of it, it would sound like something Bill Nye would come up with. Interesting segue...

The Universe of Synergy was inspired by the name of an attraction at Epcot at Walt Disney World in Florida called the "Universe of Energy". Essentially the Universe of Energy has an "edutainment" ride called Ellen's Energy Adventure that examines the various forms of energy in use in the world, blah blah blah... whatever. What makes it cooler is that it features Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye, with brief appearances by Jamie Lee Curtis (she must have been on a break from pushing cell phones) and Alex Trebek. It's quite entertaining, and most importantly, it's air conditioned.

Synergy... Epcot... Universes... Ellen DeGeneres. So there you go.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Reality bites...

What is up with reality shows these days? Have things not gone a bit too far? I never thought in a million years that I was growing up in the "age of the sitcom" and that age was soon to die out only to leave people watching reality television. I mean, what about the Cosby Show... probably the greatest sitcom I can ever recall. But I digress... where was I... oh yes, reality shows. Are these not all the same show with a different title and different setting? How many reality shows cannot be synthesized down into the following:

1) You start with a group of contestants (individuals or teams, or individuals that become teams, but later when there's only one team left go back to individuals...)
2) Week by week, people get elimated.
3) The winner gets $1 Million dollars, or a job working for some self-made millionaire.

I guess it all started with Survivor and from there the list goes on and on. Those who know me well know that the ONLY reality show I enjoy is the Amazing Race. And while it definitely fits this same pattern, I guess there's actually an honest element of competition to it that I appreciate.

I wonder how reality shows would work in other parts of the world... how about:

The Terrorist: 12 contestants compete to become the next Al Qaeda suicide bomber. Unfortunately, the producers are becoming very disenchanted... all of the potential contestants never survive beyond their audition tapes. I did watch the pilot episode though, it was a blast.

OK, this is pointless. We should bring back quality sitcoms (where no problem can't be resolved in 30 minutes, or the occasional 2-part episode). And game shows... bring back primetime gameshows! I'm too cheap to get digital cable so I can watch the Game Show Network.

The Universe of Synergy

You've stumbled into the Universe of Synergy. If you meant to find this, then welcome. If you just clicked the wrong link and this is where you ended up, fate has brought us together, don't shun the kismet.

So without further ado... I think the first thing you we should do is set the ground rules. First, what is up with people who insist on pouring their whole lives out in their blog or LiveJournal(tm) or whatever incarnation of wasted bandwidth is popular today? I don't understand why anyone would want to subject themselves to having the whole random world read about their daily exploits, much less subject the whole random world to reading them. So Rule #1: There will be NO stories of the woes of my life or any such things which mean absolutely nothing to the world at large. That's not to say many (if not most) of the topics contained herein won't be inspired by the random things that piss me off in the world, or make me stand up and cheer. Really, I reserve the right to suspend this rule at any time and without cause or prior notice.

Rule #2: There shall only be one (1) rule.