Jurann's Silver Thread
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.. below are 20 journal entries, after skipping the 20 most recent in Star Seeker's journal ..
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 Monday, December 20th, 2010
Mon, Dec 20, 2010
14:06 PST
YiffyLeaks Discussion
I want to talk about YiffyLeaks here.

Dunno what YiffyLeaks is? Let me explain what I have heard... Apparently this guy Arcturus used the recently leaked Gizmodo/LifeHacker password list and applied it to a bunch of FA admin accounts. And one of them was cracked. Apparently, as I had always suspected, all FA admins have access to all notes by all users, even if they have been deleted. So this guy got into an admin account, and proceeded downloading the notes of hundreds of users completely undetected. He built a simple site to post the notes he siphoned along with some simple search routines to find notes, and began posting them up a la WikiLeaks style with a few new users' notes posted every day.

Well, I was in the process of learning who my friends really are today, and suddenly the search function broke, and then a reload of the main page is now showing a US Dept. of Justice SEIZURE notice saying that the site's been seized in accordance with US Copyright and Immigration enforcement divisions of the DOJ based out of the New York field office.

EDIT: Okay, so I have learned that Arcturus just got the notes database from lulz.net and wrote a nice web interface for browsing and searching them. I don't know who actually cracked an FA admin account to begin with, might have been anon. Still, shame Arcturus took down his site cuz it was really convenient for reading/searching the notes.

So what are people's thoughts? About YiffyLeaks in general, about FA's role in things, about the seizure, etc?
 Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
Wed, Dec 15, 2010
13:25 PST
North Star Small Animal Rescue
     So I just wanted to share that in the last couple weeks I've been helping out with an agency called North Star Small Animal Rescue with a hoarding case where they found over 1,000 rats in a home near Los Angeles. Anyone who knows me knows I love ratties and hate to see them suffer, so I've been contributing time and money to help out at Andy's Pet Shop in San Jose, California who has graciously offered to host the rehabilitation and homing effort for these adorable cuties.
     The rats came from the home of a "hoarder" who started it all off with a single female who got pregnant and everything exploded from there. Thousands of the rats who were born in the home over the course of over 3 years did not survive, and the situation was more grim than you can possibly imagine there for these rats. However, they are from fancy rat lines and have some amazing coats and colors and markings, and they are still sweet, loving companions. Sadly most of them were not handled or raised with proper human care, so most of them desperately need to be socialized with people so that they have better odds of finding a happy home and fitting in with human owners. That's what I'm spending my time there doing, just handling and grooming and socializing with the rats so they can better understand and appreciate human hosts and companions.
     Please, if you can spare some time or money, help out with this grim tragedy that's been turned into an opportunity to save these dear, poor little friends. If you can adopt some that's great and I'd be happy to be a personal resource you can come to with questions or information about rats. If you can spare a little money, North Star accepts donations through Pyapal and you can find out more on their website here: http://northstarrescue.org/ - And lastly, if you are near San Jose and have some time to go in an hour or five a week to help socialize and handle the rats, they are at Andy's Pet Shop in downtown San Jose right off of 87 - they have forms there for volunteers and can give you the tour.

Thanks everyone for listening, and helping if you can spare it. Rats are really wonderful companions and very sweet critters.
 Friday, December 10th, 2010
Fri, Dec 10, 2010
08:55 PST
Hey guys, just wanted to put it out there that I've got a furry-ish guild for Hordies on The Scryers called Primal Scream. We've been around for about 5 or 6 years now, and we're looking for more folks to come join us. We're a casual guild mainly for leveling and sharing mats/info and we play on an RP realm so a little less hectic and the chat tends to be more on-topic and less like a bunch of 13 year olds.

If you're new to WoW, I have several 15-day trial guest passes and am also willing to do the recruit-a-friend thing for you (heck I'll even pay your first month for you!) if you'd be interested. It's a doozy of a download (about 16GB these days) but a really fun game. I've been playing WoW since closed Beta, so for nearly 7 years now, and I still play the game. Please note that I'm a casual player, not an addict, and I always put my job and social life ahead of the game. The guild I run is mainly for casual players and I strongly recommend having a healthy attitude and play schedule for this or any other MMO game.

If you're interested in joining, feel free to B-Net friend me as polaris.ursa@gmail.com or look for Jeemana/Moosefeather/Lightmane in-game most evenings on The Scryers. Or contact me directly here or in e-mail. =) For the Horde!
 Thursday, September 16th, 2010
Thu, Sep 16, 2010
15:01 PST
Problems on Every Side
     So, there's this whole big deal about the Mexican border and the drug war and the illegal immigrants and etcetera, and I keep seeing various sides of it and debates and discussion, but nobody really talking about solutions. It's certainly a big, complex issue, and it's one that with each passing week starts to demand more and more attention because the stakes are getting higher and people are becoming more and more incensed about it.

The Minutemen
     So there's apparently this American grass-roots group called the Minutemen who are rallying and demonstrating all over the country, and they are strongly backed by the Tea Party. Now you can find these guys all over YouTube and in the news, and most of them are either conservatives or are redneck white trash. I feel I need to say that to get it out of the way, because I don't think all of their points are necessarily invalid, though they tend to not be very eloquent or rational in expressing themselves when their public face winds up out on the streets - at least the media and home videos are going for the sensationalist faction of them rather than any of the poignant and well-educated spokesmen. Without explaining all of the intricacy of my logic right now, I will say that I believe they have a valid point in securing the border and fighting the cartels and illegal immigration. They lose their arguments for coming off as racist hicks and for making poor assumptions or assertions when they get backed into a corner about a topic they are not very familiar with. They are genuinely concerned with the security and safety of America, both it's justice and it's culture. (And yes, we DO have an American culture, much as so many people would love to deny it and say we're just a melting pot and completely made up of other cultures - we've had over 200 years (that's 8-10 generations) to establish our own perspectives and way of life here.)

The Drug Cartels
     Who have lately started getting severely emboldened by their money, power, weapons supply, and massive amount of "employees" who assist in the management, transport, manufacture and armed solicitation of said merchandise. They don't just deal in drugs, which is their primary asset, but in guns, people, gambling and mafia activity. They are rogue governments that are both inside and outside of the borders and operate like a massive, organized terrorist organization with cells everywhere. They are active, they are busy, and their job entails the subversion and control over people, money and power like a dictatorial government. They have military grade weapons, low scruples, poor training and a drive to be on top that makes them ruthless and dangerous as Hell. They are a real threat and a real enemy to nations, because their sole purpose is to bring the people of any nation they can to their knees through the addiction or frequent use of substances to power their own coffers and armies. They have kept many of the Central and South American countries impoverished over the last few decades, while others argue that they have brought so much money into those nations to enrich them. Considering the poor education and quality of living after over 30 years of the US economy being deported to them illegally through the drug trade, I'd say there's fair evidence that the drug cartels have not truly enriched their countries of origin.
     What fuels the cartels then, how the heck did these rogue organizations come to such vast power? Drugs. And Americans' insatiable desire to consume them. Americans have money, more of a lion's share than most of the world, and America also does little to police drugs, despite the public image of a "War On Drugs". Why? Because it helps to create a complacent society, which is all any government REALLY wants - the more complacent your population, the easier they are to take from, to cheat, to lie to, and to ignore in your quest for power and glory. As long as they get work done and remain productive, anyway. Junkies can't pay taxes after all, and it's why addicts are considered the scum of the earth - and also why most addicts are also "professional criminals" who get involved in prostitution, grand theft auto, burglary, and any other ways to make a quick buck to buy more crack/meth/smack/etc. The real reason drugs are bad is because they enable unscrupulous people to make a lot of money and gain a lot of power and then use that power to abuse more people and build an empire of control, the drugs themselves aren't that bad if used responsibly, but man people really want them. Really, really, really want them. Which is surprising to me, in this country where we're so conditioned to hate them and be self-reliant individuals, people sure do have an insatiable appetite for them - you can blame that on being a society of convenience that doesn't want to find their release and escape from traditional ways and would rather have the GIMME NOW! rush of drugs.

The Immigrants
     Ya know, everyone in America is descended from an immigrant. Even the Native Americans as we call them came across the Siberian land bridge some thousands of years ago. While technically they were here first, many of our white ancestors were assholes and killed them to take their land when they tried to defend it. Not a whole lot we can do about that now, though I must admit to white guilt on that - both for the natives and for the black slaves who were brought here against their will. So let's just get that out of the way up-front: none of us are FROM here, and making an argument about imminent domain or right is just pointless, uneducated and leads to the descendancy arguments that never go anywhere or get solved.
     What we're talking about is NATIVE SOVEREIGNTY, not race, not religion, not ethnicity - the issue with the immigration is that we, as a nation called the United States of America, have a Federal policy on immigration and how people come into and interact with our country if they are a FOREIGN NATIONAL. If you are not from America, as in not born here or not a naturalized citizen, then you are required by our laws to follow the proper channels and procedures - and if you're here illegally then according to the law you're SUPPOSED to be deported. The US allows more people to legitimately immigrate into it's borders than ANY other country on the planet, so saying that there's not room or the procedure is too difficult to follow is bunk. Concerning Mexicans specifically, I have a number of Mexican national friends who are here LEGALLY who DID follow the procedures, and ARE working their asses off to do what they need to do, within the law, to become a landed immigrant. Every illegal is a slight to people like that, and to our laws and system of justice and national sovereignty, and THAT is the issue at hand. That is where *I* am coming from in being against illegal immigration. Realize that not all Mexicans or other Central/South Americans inside US borders are illegal - praise and support the ones who are not, because believe me there are more than enough ignorant assholes who give them Hell about it.

Global Community/Economy
     Why ARE immigrants pouring across the border illegally? Because they are living in a Hellish war zone with very little prosperity that has historically been abused by dictators, drug cartels, and even the American government and big business. Immigration (the INS) is lax in the US, and they really have nothing to lose - at worst they make a little money and get deported a pocketful of cash richer, and at best they make enough to support their family, and maybe send some back to Mexico to help support friends or family in their homeland. Granted, there ARE also a good deal of illegal immigrants who are criminals (drug dealers, cartel guards, transporters, thieves) but they only make up a margin of them, most folks are just looking to make a better living and the US offers a relatively safe (in comparison) place to live and work. Because that's all MOST people really want! So it shouldn't really be a surprise if anyone really thinks about it.
     So what's the solution? Well, that's a tricky question because it's a tricky problem with many facets. The easy solution would be to remove all addiction and desire for drugs while simultaneously eliminating greedy robber barons and imperialism from the world - fat chance of that! What needs to happen is an orchestrated, multi-front attack on the problems, and who better to lead the charge than the US. Mexico is our neighbor, their problems are to some extent inherently our problems, and it's OUR citizens' demand for their illicit substances that's causing much of the problem. Historically no president has had the gumption to REALLY push for a front line in the "War On Drugs", but it may be time to start. Mexican people in general seem to be really sick of oppression and being butchered and threatened and bullied by the cartels, and the less scrupulous of them are signing-up to work for them and make them even stronger and more difficult to topple. America has resources and a powerful army (the best in the world so we brag), so taking out a few pests should be simple, right?
     What we need to do: we DO need to increase border security in order to help stymie the illegals issue, the drug transport issue, and the gun export issue. We DO need to work directly with the current Mexican government who IS trying hard to fight the cartels with their military, but they're losing the battle because traditionally the cartels are so well-connected and influential on the government due to their size and power. We need to pull out of poor military decisions overseas and start putting our soldiers to work within our borders and at our borders AS UNITS who are impervious to the temptation and bribes that cartel members make at the border to "look the other way". We need to start better educating Americans about the problems and about the dangers of buying cartel-industry drugs (Hell, tell stoners to favor locally-made meth and marijuana, heroin from China, whatever) which support horrendous foreign regimes. Maybe it really is time to consider legalizing some drugs for recreational use, and allow some of these to be grown domestically so that those funds come back and circulate in our own economy and prevent foreign militant interests from gaining regime power from it. The bottom line is that WE as the PEOPLE of America need to wake up and realize that this is a GLOBAL issue with larger ramifications, but WE are the TARGET and WE need to take responsibility for cleaning up the mess that our drug craze has caused. Mexico is our neighbor, and they are suffering in many ways because of OUR complacency an inaction in this issue.

     President Obama, please meet with the Mexican president again and work with him to help clean up the mess our people have created in his country. WE are responsible, it's only fair that WE fix it. We also have an obligation to edify and raise up our neighbors because we have to live next to them and listen to the noise when they are murdering their own people in the house next door. While we're at it, let's start edifying our own people and building domestic stability and security again in this country too - our education and community domestically has gone to shit and it will take a firm commitment and follow-through to fix that. Get our people off of drugs, get them productive, get them educated, get them to embrace peace and understanding and open minds. If you can't do it, there aren't many others who can.
 Saturday, August 21st, 2010
Sat, Aug 21, 2010
15:57 PST
The Wages of Sin...
     So I've moved to California, to the bay area, Silicon Valley to be exact. This is "Furry Mecca" so to speak, ground-zero as the global population center for furry fans. There are somewhere in the 1,000+ range number of furs around the bay, primarily concentrated in Berkley, Fremont and the "Silicon Valley" (South Bay) area which is comprised of some couple dozen cities around San Jose. There are furmeets nearly every day, and on some days you have to decide which of 3 or 4 you will spend your time going to, if any. The people are pretty cool, fairly nice overall, and as furry goes they tend to be mature, civil, and generally pleasant to be around. They are also talented, experienced, helpful or funny more often than not. So that's been a pretty good experience; upgrade to the social circle to be sure. So what's the problem?
     While socially it's been great, it's also been fairly crushing to my ego and my motivation to do much creatively or on projects. Because back when I lived in Seattle I was pretty much the best non-pro cook, the best non-pro singer, one of the very few furs in the pro gaming world, and had one of the nicest places as furry homes went. Now down here there's someone better at everything I used to be the best at. Better cooks, better singers, better musicians, better programmers, better gamers (as in light years better)... So it's completely sapped my desire to DO anything. Mainly because a lot of folks down here don't want to collaborate, either. I'd love to connect with these other people who are better than me and learn from them, grow from working with them, or maybe synergize, but they typically don't want anything to do with working together on anything. Nobody wants to work on music together, nobody wants to work on programming together, nobody wants to work on crafting projects (that I could lend any experience or thought to anyway) together. So yeah, while the social aspects have rocked, I feel like I'm completely stagnating as a person with skills and abilities. =/
 Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
Wed, Jul 28, 2010
18:29 PST
Goodbye, Dad
     Today my father slipped away from the world quietly, peacefully and without pain. Last night he was chatting with my brother and sister who were up to visit him in Northern Michigan, and this morning he never woke up and within a couple hours of attempts to wake him, his body drifted into eternal sleep. He was diagnosed 4 months ago with terminal Stage 4B esophageal cancer, which he barely even noticed. It didn't keep him down or slow him down, and even last week he was still doing his own housework at 76 years of age, shortly after his birthday.
     My father and I weren't terribly close, but he was a good friend and a good man, and I will miss him dearly. He taught me a lot of my personal ethics and professionalism, and he always encouraged me to be a self-made man and find my own path in life. I only hope that maybe this can draw my family closer together. With this, both of my parents have passed on and he was the last of any close family I had, in any sense of the term. Rest well, dad. You had a long, busy life, and I think you left it a better place.
 Monday, July 19th, 2010
Mon, Jul 19, 2010
13:42 PST
An Open Letter to Balligomingo
     Dear Balligomingo,

     You have been my favorite band for something like 4 or 5 years now, all because of the ONE album you released early in the 2000's titled "Beneath the Surface". I really have loved and enjoyed your work and the beautiful songs arranged with deep atmospheric trance and techno themes that were uplifting and bright and hooky and serenely sublime. I've never listened to an album so many times and so successively and STILL loved and enjoyed every note and lyric and sound of every song so endearingly. For music that moves me and a soundtrack to my heart and mind, Balligomingo has always been where I reached to musically to inspire and take me places. I'm really thankful for that and continue to adore and appreciate your work and attention to detail on your first album. You continue to be my favorite band to date.

     However, a few days ago I got your latest CD, "Under an Endless Sky", in the mail and popped it in my car's sound deck to give it a listen while doing some of my typical road travel. I'll admit that the first couple hours I spent in my car I had to keep the volume down because I had passengers and we were chatting, so I missed any subtle parts of songs. But for the last couple days I've cranked up the volume and many of the lost subtleties came up to speed - but I'm surprised and a little disappointed in what I'm hearing now. It's almost as if on some of the songs there are tracks missing, layers of sound I've come to expect from Balligomingo. What gives? It seems like you've taken your "Pushing Beyond Enigma and Delirium in the Sonosphere" attitude and talent and pulled it back to "Just Like Enigma and Delirium" and given us a half-assed album after waiting 7 years to pick up something incredibly new and inspiring from your talented hands and minds. I'd have expected improvement in the refinement and depth of the music, and being taken on a journey to even loftier musical heights with more richness and superb character - but instead there are missing layers and the high mountains have been peeled back into only slight hills of height. The vocal performances more or less fall flat, and soulful/meaningful lyrics have been replaced with repetitive and uninspired ones on many of the new tracks. Clever arpeggiation and programmed synth layers have been replaced with guitar jangling not too unlike The Church, Enigma and Delirium and they are nice for the most part - but we've all heard it before and I miss the rich foundation that the prior synth programming added to your work.

     Please don't stop making music, but just as importantly, please try to reconnect with the rich, deep, refined tone of your first album when working on future projects. The new guitar work is definitely a fine addition, but replacing the even finer and more inspiring synth work with it was a poor decision - put the two TOGETHER and make an even richer and more compelling sound instead of trading one for the other. Also, try to reconnect your vocalists with the heavy emotion and tones of the first album, forget about pop rock techniques and catchiness that syncopates with the mindless masses and satiate your fan base who appreciates the depth and feel of the lyrics and connects with the emotion and drive that came from Lust to Marooned to Purify to Wild Butterfly. I'm not sure what the goal was with "Under and Endless Sky", perhaps you felt it met your goals at the time, but for supplying those of us who've come to expect and appreciate the overwhelmingly intricate foundation and structure of your music, along with the breathy, deep, genuine and inspiring vocal expulsion that comes with the package, please get back to the lush roots you laid down with your first foray into an album. =)

     Thank you gain for your amazing contribution to the sonosphere.
 Friday, July 2nd, 2010
Fri, Jul 2, 2010
09:00 PST
Twitter is the new LJ
Well, it would seem that Twitter is the new LJ. I had a LOT of trepidation about using such an "instant gratification" service, but quite frankly now that I've had it for a couple months it's the same thing as LJ only the messages come to me rather than me having to come to LJ to get them. I know a lot of you out there have been dreading the idea of joining "yet another social network", I did too and now I'm sorry I hadn't joined Twitter sooner. I don't get mega-spammed with messages, because I only watch the people I'm interested in hearing from, and can group various folks I'm watching into different groups with different notification settings so there is a lot of control over the nature of how your Twitter behaves.

If you're interested in watching me on Twitter, my username there is urzapolariz - if there's a chance I may not know you by your Twitter username then send me a little note here or on FA or in e-mail or IM letting me know who you are, because I won't watch-back unless I know who it is!
 Sunday, May 16th, 2010
Sun, May 16, 2010
20:10 PST
Sorry I've been too busy to post. Been working and playing and enjoying life down here. If you wanna catch up, chat me on IMs. =)
 Thursday, April 15th, 2010
Thu, Apr 15, 2010
22:17 PST
Hasta la Vista, Washington
     Well, it's just basically a countdown to departure now. My current place is 95% packed up and ready to roll, I've got my car tuned-up and geared-up for the move, most of my things are scheduled and taken care of now. All that's left is half a day of work and then finalizing things for the haul, making dinner for some select friends tomorrow in return for helping me finish this all up, and then loading my car first thing on Saturday morning and rolling out for the bay. T-minus 36 hours at this point.

     Washington has had the last 11 years and some extra portion of my life now, about one-third of my entire lifespan has been spent here. Lotsa memories. Lotsa growing. Lotsa happiness, lotsa grief. I'm leaving behind a lot of ghosts, closing the door on a lot of loose ends, and moving on to a new place and a new chapter of my life. I'll never forget Washington, and Hell I might be back here some year, I wouldn't rule it out, but that will be a different chapter and a different time in my life. I'll be back to visit on occasion, still got plenty of friends here and I really love the land up here - it's so beautiful and wild and free, and a great place to just get lost on a sunny warm day on the islands or in the foothills. This place is a reminder of another time and age in history, another people, and a unique part of America - life is slower here and more methodical. I'm looking forward to faster times down south!

     So for now I close this chapter and say so-long, Washington! You'll always be in my heart, and you'll always be good to my friends. I'll be seeing you again, sooner than you might expect. =)
 Monday, April 12th, 2010
Mon, Apr 12, 2010
00:39 PST
Sad Night
     Well, I just showed the last of my friends out for the final gaming night at my place here in Redmond, WA. And I'm really sad, kind of on the verge of tears, as the realization sinks in. I've been so excited about the move and change of pace and scenery and looking forward to everything new, but I haven't thought much about the great friends up here I'll be leaving behind from seeing regularly. I will definitely miss you all, and I'll miss our gaming nights that I've hosted for the last couple of years now - it's been wonderful fun and countless weekly nights of socializing and enjoying each others' company and trying a myriad of different games.
     I'm really hoping that the gaming nights don't end with me moving though, I'm hoping that you guys will continue to get together regularly and enjoy gaming and each others' company without me. I know all of you fairly well and you're all good people and I hope that as much as I've met you all, I've brought you all together a bit too. I know G'razel (kelek) recently got a table with gaming in mind, and has some space at his place to host some gaming nights, so I'm hoping he does some bit to help carry the torch. And Trailblazer's getting his own house soon, perhaps he'd be willing and can host at times too. At any rate, I hope you guys stick together and keep playing games and telling me how it's going. =)
     I'll miss seeing you guys every week a lot, but I'm always just an IM or text message or phone call away, and all of you who've attended my gaming nights over the last couple of years I truly hope I can call friend and you can call me the same. It's been a blast, and I thank you all for coming and participating and making it that much more fun! Until we meet/game again... =)
 Friday, March 5th, 2010
Fri, Mar 5, 2010
01:13 PST
A Fond Send-Off to Avatar 3D
     I just got home from the very last showing of Avatar 3D in the Seattle region. As of an hour ago, all of the RealD-capable and IMAX-capable screens switched their offering to Disney's new Alice in Wonderland film in 3D. This was my eleventh time watching Avatar in 3D on the big screens, and it was still impressive, exciting, tear-inducing and poignant.
     The very last showing in the region was interestingly enough at the Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinema here in Redmond, which is a full-service luxury theater of which I am a member. I ordered a Coke Zero and a Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Mousse, and I got the soft drink but never got my dessert - turns out they lost my tab somehow. So the drink was free, and I was spared the exorbitant $9 for some yummy, decadent mousse.
     Now the long 3-4 month wait for the Avatar DVDs to be released. There will be 3 versions put up for sale at varying times (according to the Avatar desktop feed reader anyway): a 2D theater version which is the same version you get to see in theaters, a 2D Director's Cut version on 2 DVDs with bonus features and an additional 15 minutes of scenes not in the theater version, and a 3D Special Edition which will be on Blu-Ray 3D (for which the players are not even on the market yet!) and include all of the content from the Director's Cut DVDs (in 3D) plus some more extras. So the big questions for me are: how much will the 3D Blu-Ray players cost, when can I get a new LCD TV with built-in 3D, and how much will each pair of the active sync 3D glasses gank my wallet for?
 Thursday, February 25th, 2010
Thu, Feb 25, 2010
00:39 PST
Today's Wisdom
Everytime you fail to feed a troll, a thread dies. THINK OF THE THREADS!!!
 Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
Wed, Feb 24, 2010
10:43 PST
Winds of Change
     Seems like it might be time for a change. Feels like one is coming.

     I'm sick of this job at Razorfish (the current project is falling apart and my position in the project is being marginalized), I'm sick of not working in the game industry where I want to be, I'm sick of all of the locally active furries being deadbeats (for the most part), I'm sick of the cool local furries being homebodies (or never having time to hang out), I'm sick of cold and rain keeping me from being outdoors where I can relax and recenter and release.

     I'm looking into moving down to Northern California, around Silicon Valley specifically. I've been working on job contacts and leads, and am working on interviews with a few places down there right now in the gaming industry. The job market is still a little depressed, but there are a LOT more jobs for game developers down there than there are up here for sure. I know I've said over and over that I'd never want to live in Cali, and some aspects of it I still find unsavory, I'll definitely miss the Puget Sound, but I also need to move on in my life and keep advancing and pushing toward where I want to be. We'll see where things go, but that's where I'm looking to right now...
 Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
Wed, Feb 3, 2010
12:18 PST
High On Life... Literally?
     So about 4 weeks ago I decided I got sick of feeling sick, wintertime in Seattle can be really rough on my fibromyalgia and arthritis. I know that exercise and good health can help mitigate the pain and complications with them, and I'm borderline Hypertension anyway so it's all good for me, right? So I started working out and have been working out about 4 times a week - Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat. Usually after about 45 minutes of strong cardio I'm feeling pretty amazing, so I go downstairs and hit the weight room and either for a 7-minute sprint of rowing at the highest resistance (which rips my muscles pretty good from head to toe) or I grab some free weights and work on toning/building specific muscle groups.
     After these good, hard workouts I feel really good. I mean REALLY good, like high good. Like lost in the clouds high good, drunk and happy good. And that feeling persists for a couple days. I love seeing my muscles getting bigger, getting more definition, starting to get ripped up and grown a bit, I love feeling stronger. But I'm also feeling REALLY high lately, sometimes dizzyingly so, such that I have trouble thinking or focusing on things. And I am wondering, is this normal? Might it be that something else is wrong? My body is so buzzing with energy and pain ranging from a dull ache of strained muscles to exerted exhaustion to the underlying fibro and arthritis, and I can no longer tell which is which anymore.
     I might go see my doctor soon, but has anyone else ever experienced this? Or heard about it? I just feel like I'm high as a kite lately, and all I'm doing is working out more often, harder and longer than ever before, and trying to keep a healthy eye on my diet too. It's really strange, I admit, but a lot of the time I just feel like I'm TOO high or somehow something's out of whack and I'm missing it...
 Saturday, January 16th, 2010
Sat, Jan 16, 2010
14:20 PST
Bad News for Pandora Hopefuls
     Sadly, for fans of James Cameron's Avatar film, the situation for the fictional moon Pandora around the also fictional gas giant Polyphemus seems incredibly unlikely. Set in the non-fictional star system called Alpha Centauri, Sol's closest neighbor at a mere 4.37 light years away, what we find when we look into the southern skies does not bode well for the fiction to have footing.
     First of all, Alpha Centauri is what is known as a "trinary system", meaning that rather than one star what we typically see in the night sky as "a star" is actually three stars. They are, in order of size and magnitude from largest to smallest, AC-A, AC-B and AC-C - The largest is slightly larger than our own sun Sol and also brighter and hotter. The second largest is slightly smaller and dimmer than our own star, and a more yellow-orange color as it is cooler as well. The third is a tiny (12% the size of Sol) sub-dwarf star which is so cool and dim that nearly all terrestrial-based telescopes (we're talking observatories here) are unable to see it against the brightness of it's companions. The significance this trinary system has on the ability for a gas giant like Polyphemus to exist is that you have three stars, all of which are a couple to a few orders of magnitudes larger than a gas giant, which are chaotically spinning around each other in elliptical orbits. Anybody familiar with n-Body equations knows why, and the simple explanation is due to very chaotic synchronization over time and the proclivity of multiple-object systems to "eject" companions due to gravitational acceleration or deceleration. Basically the complexity of these three large stars spinning around common "barycenters" of mass makes providing a stable, survivable (let alone habitable) orbit for a planet the size of Polyphemus quite unlikely indeed.
     So aside from sheer speculative science that says it's unlikely, we also thankfully have quantifiable scientific evidence using astrometry, transit and radial velocity methods. A very large group of both scientists and "citizen science" hobbyists led by Ph.D.s and professors at major universities worldwide reviews detailed data about the positioning, brightness and Doppler Shift of stars looking for signs of orbital perturbations that result, predictably, from planetary objects affecting their positioning. Of the over 300 identified exoplanets and additional 500+ "candidate exoplanets" found, nearly all of them have been discovered using these very sound techniques. Any planet the size of Polyphemus orbiting one of the two major stars in the Alpha Centauri system would leave a clear mark of it's presence using any two of these methods, and since Alpha Centauri is our closest neighbor we've definitely had our eyes on it looking for such signs. This doesn't completely rule out the possibility of there being a life-bearing terrestrial planet in the system, however it does preclude the existence of a Polyphemus, which Pandora orbits and plays a large role in the warm blue evenings on Pandora.
     Other terrestrial (rocky) planets could exist in Alpha Centauri, and could even support water/carbon based life. The smaller of the two stars could potentially maintain stable planetary orbits of up to 1.1 AU (10% further out than Earth is from Sol) and the habitable zone is roughly from 0.8 AU to 1.0 AU. Alpha Centauri's main star could conceivably support stable planets out to approximately 1.3 AU however it's habitable zone is from about 1.0 AU to 1.4 AU due to the size and heat of the star, which would place a habitable planet dangerously close to the edge of stability there.
     Another interesting variable thrown into the mix is that AC-A and AC-B co-orbit one another once every (almost exactly) 80 years in an elliptical fashion with the closest approach being roughly 11 AU (Saturn's distance from Sol) and an aphelion of roughly 36 AU (Pluto's), meaning that any planet in orbit around one or the other could warm and cool slightly over a cyclical 80-year period. This also means that for about 40 years daytime would be extra bright from having two stars and nights pitch black, while the other 40 years would have a bright day and a dim day (night), at least when you consider the peak intervals during that period and assuming that the planetary discs of the two stars are on the same orbital plane that the stars follow around each other. Which leads to another complex conundrum and deeper question which cannot currently be definitively answered - Did Alpha Centauri A, B and C all co-accrete from the same planetary disc or were one or both of B and C "captured" by AC-A? The answer to that question would almost certainly have a profound effect on life in the system.
     Current methods of detecting planets in remote star systems can't tell us whether or not Alpha Centauri has a Pandora or other similarly terrestrial worlds in orbit around one of it's stars, but one thing is for certain - any worlds in or around the system would be very interesting due to the complexity of Alpha Centauri's 3 stars. Looking to the future though, NASA's current Kepler Mission and the upcoming Terrestrial Planet Finder mission could reveal much greater detail about both Alpha Centauri and many other fairly nearby stars, and what sorts of orbital bodies they have accompanying them in their voyage through space.
 Friday, January 1st, 2010
Fri, Jan 1, 2010
10:37 PST
2010: A New Decade
     As the sun sets on 2009 and rises on 2010, it more than just brings a year to a close, but an entire decade. Looking back, a lot of revelations about life, career, happiness and personal issues. I learned that if I apply myself I can do anything anywhere, in my career I bounced from being a Dot-Com startup guru to being a global deskside support rep to being a game developer to being an applications architect. I learned that I have some problems with addiction and dependency to substances and people and possessions and that I have a long way to go toward cutting myself free and learning to stand strong on my own legs. I've learned a lot about how to love and how not to love and especially how to let go. Towards the end of the decade I learned to become more introspective and look inward at all of the things I feared seeing about myself, started becoming aware of what I don't like about myself, and started to idealize about who I -want- to be as well. Lately I've started to explore science and philosophy and try to see the world through different eyes with a different attitude, and I like the direction it's moving me.

     Towards the new decade I intend to begin working on improving myself, my knowledge, my self-esteem and begin adapting to a new direction in life. I plan to get into my own house within the next year, both as an investment to the future and to have my own personal homestead in the world. I plan to go back to university to regain knowledge and become connected with the scientific community, because working toward my ideals as a Secular Humanist demands it. I plan to start edging my career more and more in one of the directions that align myself with where I want to be: science or simulation. I plan to get my arse in the gym more often to keep healthy, and work at improving my relationships with people around me while continuing to remove myself from the negatives and grow closer to the positive influences. I can do anything I apply myself to, and I am putting plans into motion.
 Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
Wed, Dec 30, 2009
14:30 PST
And even more Avatar...
     Saw it again in 3D on Monday night with Skylos and Dhugal in a slightly bigger and more comfy theater down in Renton. Will be seeing it at the big IMAX in Seattle on Friday with Skylos, Dhugal and G'razel.

     I also picked up the PC game Monday night and installed it, haven't gotten to play much of it yet, but so far it seems pretty good. Some of the controls are slightly wonky, there are some camera angle issues (a lot of 3D games have those lately it seems) and it's a BEAST on performance - but with that said the rendering and detail of animations, physics, objects, weapons, etc. is just stunning. Obviously not nearly as good as the movie, but a better facsimile than I expected. Another neat little thing is that scattered throughout the game world are plants, animals, documents, research, items, etc. which you can scan to add to a "Pandorapedia" to learn more about the game world and history of Earth and the RDA, etc. The game is also littered with neat little side games like "Conquest" which can earn you bonus XP or effects during normal gameplay. There are also multi-player modes, but until I know some folks who also have the game I won't be able to explore those. Now I need a better computer, lol... =D
 Sunday, December 27th, 2009
Sun, Dec 27, 2009
02:13 PST
Avatar Again
It's better the second time around! =D At least it was for me. Second night in a row I've seen it in 3D. I will skip going to see it tomorrow, but I may very well see it again on Monday night. G'razel and Skylos and I are working out a time to all go see it at IMAX in Seattle in the next week too. Just an absolutely amazing film and I was gripping my seat just as hard this time as last time. I'm not sure I could see it enough to make it any less amazing when I watch it, the immersion is just stunning and awe-inspiring to me.
 Saturday, December 26th, 2009
Sat, Dec 26, 2009
01:02 PST
All I can say is WOW... Damn this movie really connected with me on a deep level. Excellent story, amazingly immersive 3D and world design, compelling and heart-touching throughout. I know some other folks haven't liked it so much, but it just really clicked with me on a deep philosophical and emotional level. Definitely going to go back and see it again in the normal theater and hopefully also catch it on IMAX while it's still showing there. Whatta roller-coaster ride...
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