Archive for June, 2006

Family Fun Center Reduced to Rubble

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

As a child I remember returning home from long trips to Utah and getting excited seeing the dragons on hole 19 off to the right of the freeway heading into town. They always let me know that we were almost home. The Family Fun Center in Escondido is no more. A secondary casualty was the Chuck E. Cheese’s next door. Both of these locations provided me hours of entertainment and enjoyment including a few birthday parties.

I can’t exactly say that I’m surprised to see them go. This part of town has been steadily going downhill for years. Part of this demolition project included what used to be a K-Mart. It was the worst K-Mart in the country though when it finally closed. Twenty years ago it was a much nicer place. There was a restaurant inside and you could buy ice cream cones and Slush Puppies and all sorts of things, but over time it grew worse and worse. I went in there once looking for an obscure toy and the aisles were strewn with discarded merchandise. I am assuming that this was the building that was slated for demolition, but that the new occupants wanted more space so they bought up the Family Fun Center next door for the extra space.

No more bumper boats, no more “maze craze,” and no more miniature golf. Family Fun Center, you will be missed.

All that remains of the Family Fun Center in my hometown

When I looked at this picture after getting home I thought it kind of looked like they might be replacing the Family Fun Center with a miniature version of Disneyland with the Matterhorn being constructed first, but alas, I must deal with the sad truth that a Lowe’s Home Improvement store is building there instead.

Do Cheaters Ever Prosper… In Algebra?

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

I’m taking an Algebra class this summer. Six weeks ends up being a really short period of time when a math class is involved. I took Physical Anthropology in 12 days, and that was no problem, but math is a different story.

Today I had this jock sit right next to me. I had noticed this because the previous class periods he had always sat two rows in front of me, right next to a group of people that look like they might be pretty good at this math stuff. A couple days ago I heard him comment that he had expected me to challenge the instructor’s teaching style rather than the girl who ended up challenging the teacher. His motives were soon made clear when he told me that he had cheated on the math placement test so he could get into this college level algebra class. He made it obvious that he was only in college to play baseball. During the quiz the teacher left the room for a few minutes and he tried to see what was written on my paper. After the quiz he said that he thought we had the same kind of calculator. I doubted him because almost no one has the TI-85 in college algebra classes. I asked to see his calculator to check the model number. Even though we all knew that it would be needed on the quiz, he said he had left his calculator in the car and that it didn’t matter because he didn’t know how to use it anyway.

Later on it seemed that he had realized that I wouldn’t prove to be the exceptional math student (and source of correct test answers) he had suspected I would be. He started looking around and asking people who the really smart people in the class were. We have our first big test in class tomorrow and he’s just trying to figure out who might let him cheat!

Cheaters never prosper, or so I’ve heard. I can’t help but wonder what this guy is like on the baseball diamond. If he cheats this wantonly on tests and in class I can’t imagine him having anything against such dishonesty in other matters in his life including baseball. I don’t know why, but something tells me that he’s not going to learn much in this class. If he passes and I don’t, I’m going to be really upset.

Computer Training… The Blind Leading the Blind

Monday, June 26th, 2006

At least I wish I were blind after having seen this beautiful design job advertising some free computer training being offered to residents in my apartment complex. Computer without a mouse? A backwards @ symbol? A long hole where the space bar ought to be?

I guess you get what you pay for.

Computer Class Flyer

Graphing Calculators Cause Contention

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

Today, after we got back our quizzes in my six-week long algebra class, one student raised her hand and asked if it were okay to not have used a graphing calculator on one of the questions that asked that one be used and then consulted to draw an estimate of what the graph of a particular function should look like since she did not have one yet because the instructor said on the first day of class that one would not be required until the second week of class. The instructor paused for a moment and said that it was indeed not acceptable and that she needed to have used one for full credit. The whole class seemed quite taken aback. Most instructors would have realized their mistake and awarded credit for requiring something she had previously stated was not required. I took a four-week class that ended just last week and the professor would go through the tests while the students were taking it and tell us the answers to the questions that were not addressed in lectures or our reading materials. Why, after all, should students suffer for the mistakes of their professors?

The rest of the class period was rather tense and uncomfortable. I could feel the loss of respect in the classroom. We all had this feeling like we weren’t being dealt with fairly. Each of us had become that poor girl in the front row. Now, as it turns out, that “poor girl” turned out to be rather bold and obnoxious, but none of us could really blame her. After all, we didn’t respect the teacher anymore. The wronged girl raised her hand a number of times questioning the teacher’s judgment and she did so with an indignant accusatory tone that made each of us in the class feel even more uncomfortable as the teacher then fought for her ideas openly. One such idea was that we should be using the calculator so much for what the girl thought were trivially easy tasks.

I propose the following as the first Article of Fairness in Academics:

Students will be marked down for their own mistakes and not for their teachers’ negligence.

Sir Winston Lives On! (GCW009)

Monday, June 19th, 2006

This is probably the biggest surprise I’ve ever encountered in geocaching. This is a huge ammo box with (at present) tons of travel bugs in it. It’s really unusual to find such large, high-quality caches in the middle of the city. I wanted to come here to get some travel bugs to take with me to Arizona. There were a lot to choose from, but I chose NIKO, a metal dog looking to end up in each state before returning home to Idaho, and Jack the Pumpkin who seems to just want to roam all over the country.

This is in front of a small English pub called Churchill’s. The food smelled really good, although we didn’t go inside. It’s in a really tiny building, but it seems to be rather popular. I would consider going in, but since I don’t drink, I don’t think I’d fit in too well.

Trying to look inconspicuous sitting in front of the pub just a couple feet away from the street.

Punch Buggy (GCJ5BK)

Monday, June 19th, 2006

This is one I’ve been wanting to get for a while. I thought of trying to get some of the people at the dentist’s office where I go to come outside and get this one. It’s right outside the San Marcos City Hall and the dentist’s office is located in the same building as the city hall. I didn’t have time to do that, thought the last time that I got my teeth cleaned.

When Krissy and I got to the cache we found it right behind a large moving-truck. The truck provided excellent cover from muggles and had the added benefit of shading us from the late afternoon sun.

In the cache was the best thing I’ve found to date: a $2 off gift certificate to Baskin Robbins! We took that and left the Inspector Gadget we got a while ago from another cache.

Krissy getting her cache on.

Get More Gear cache (GCRHPK)

Monday, June 19th, 2006

Shawn under the Fry's signThis was our second atempt for the day in Geocaching. The first one we think we might have found where it was, but it looked like it might be in a hole, and I didn’t want to stick my hand down there in case I was wrong. Krissy found this one. It was right close to the Fry’s Electronics, and that’s where the name of the Geocache comes from! There were some spiders around here, but not too many. There was some fun stuff in this cache. When we opened the top it had a Koosh ball sticking up. Koosh balls were awesome when I was a kid!

This cache is really in the open. So many cars were driving past us and staring at us. The chances that any of them will even care are minimal, but if someone wanted to, they could come and swipe this cache or mess it up for everyone. One guy even winked at Krissy! Why I oughtta!!!

We took a C-3PO ring and left a Chuck E. Cheese’s token that my Grandfather found long ago while metal detecting. These tokens will soon be all over the place! He found so many of them when he thought he was finding quarters. He’d dig ’em up and… a lousy, useless Chuck E. Cheese’s token!

Krissy nabs the cache.

Power Failure Fosters Neighborhood Bonding

Friday, June 16th, 2006

Last week we received a letter from the power company that there would be a scheduled power outage tonight starting at 11:00pm. Well, I put it on my calendar and promptly forgot about it. Krissy was already asleep when it happened, but I was listening to the FLOSS Weekly podcast when all the lights went out as far as I could see out the window. The electric company had brought their own lights to see what they were working on, and that was the only light around. Shortly after the lights went out I went on the balcony with a flashlight. I was not the only one who had this idea, however.

When I started flashing the flashlight onto the field across the way I saw another beam of light originating from another balcony in my building. When I moved my light, the other light followed. No matter where I went the other light tried to “catch” mine. I tried all sorts of silly little things. I spun the flashlight over my head like I was a lighthouse. That really seemed to confuse them. Just when they thought they knew what to expect, I started going the other direction. It all sounds so silly now, but when everyone in a neighborhood all experiences boredom simultaneously it’s like everyone’s a kid again.

You aren’t having fun? Make up a game!

Eerie light from the poer company workers.

Are Flash Ads More Fun than Real Games?

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

I’m sitting in the computer lab at Palomar College. I just witnessed something so ridiculous that I could hardly believe my eyes. Everyone already knows that 95.7% of computer lab usage is checking MySpace. Although that’s ridiculous, that’s not news. While I was reading digg doing my homework I was interrupted, as is so often the case, by the rapid mouse clicking associated with playing a stupid flash game. Rapid keyboard activity can indicate work (or blogging), but mouse clicks can only be one thing. Usually when this happens to me the person doing the clicking is in a position that doesn’t allow me to see what they are doing. This time was different.

The girl behind me was clicking furiously for about 15 seconds followed by hushed rejoicing in her rapid-fire mousing abilities. It was so annoying that I had to see what all the noise was about. When I turned around to look I was astonished. She wasn’t playing a game. She was on MySpace! For those of us with the AdBlock firefox extension installed: MySpace is covered with little flash ads that you can’t see. These ads promise things like free ringtones as rewards for winning virtual tug of war contests. You “win” by clicking a red button on the screen fast enough that the rope puller starts overtakes his opponent. I say “win” because your reward for participating in this game is a popup ad. That’s right, a popup. People are playing games where you click forever just to get to an advertisement. But it doesn’t end there.

It soon became apparent that this girl knew what she was doing. She was having so much fun that she would click until her reward came. She would then immediately click the close box on the popup, reload the page, and play the next “game.” Apparently there are multiple “click here a thousand times and get a popup” games. The gameplay is identical, but the animations are different.

This takes me back to my original question. I always assumed that no one ever fell for the old “get a free NAME_OF_PRODUCT by (swatting_the_fly | shooting_the_prairie_dog | mashing_the_mouse_button)” routine. By the looks of things, those games are so fun that people will endure the ads just to keep playing them.

What has the internet come to?

Palomar College’s Mysterious Ecosystem

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

I usually have my camera with me. I’ve heard it said that if you don’t have a camera with you, then you aren’t a photographer. Between classes and during breaks at school I like to relax by walking around and taking pictures of interesting things or trying out new photography techniques. Today I happened upon two interesting things that were together. I have probably walked by these at least a hundred times, but today they stood out.

The first thing that caught my eye were these flowers. I know nothing about flowers or plants. I can never remember anything about plants and they all tend to look pretty much the same to me. These flowers though were amazing. Maybe it was just the way the sun was shining on them, but I had to have a picture. When I went in for some really close macro shots I was greeted with mysterious fascinating living thing number two for the day. Sitting atop the flower I wanted to photograph was a tiny insect. Insects are usually wary and fast making them very difficult to photograph without very expensive equipment, but this guy just sat there and let me take picture after picture from different angles all at less than three inches! I thought this was all quite a nice accident to have found him on the one perfect flower that I wanted pictures of. After I started looking at the other flowers more closely, however, I saw this same type of insect on almost every one of these flowers in the area. Most of the other ones hopped off the flowers when I came close, though.

I know less about bugs than I do about plants, so I wouldn’t even know where to begin in identifying him. I would be interested to know more about both of these. They seem to go together, but that might have indeed been a coincidence.

Unknown Type of Flower found at Palomar College

Unknown Type of Insect found at Palomar College

Unknown Type of Insect found at Palomar College