Energymania II: Monster vs. Red Bull vs. Rockstar vs. Full Throttle

So here’s my current Top 3:

  1. Monster Khaos – The spelling hurts and it doesn’t taste as good as Full Throttle Fury. On the other hand, it has 40% less sugar, which I’m guessing is why it out-buzzes FTF for me. And the taste is far from awful — there’s very little of the sulfuric aftertaste in this one, instead it’s more like a chewable vitamin that’s been melted down and slightly carbonated.
  2. Full Throttle Fury – This is the only energy drink whose taste is actually bona fide *good*. To me. It’s like a high-sucrose orange soda with an adult-style kick to it. ‘Course, as mentioned, it’s exceptional in the sugar category, which I *think* dampens its energy-given qualities, but still, it really does taste good.
  3. Rockstar Juiced Guava – I don’t think it has the buzz effect of regular Rockstar, but on the other hand it doesn’t taste like cream soda and rotten eggs.

After those three there’s a big gap. Regular Monster, Red Bull, and Rockstar are tough for me to choke down. Eh — that’s probably too harsh, but they don’t taste that great and the energy kick doesn’t seem to be any better as a result of the weird taste. I was once a big fan (a month and a half ago) of regular Rockstar Juiced, but something in it started giving me indigestion, which has taken the shine off the experience (despite tasting okay and having a good energy contribution). I don’t get how Red Bull managed to fuel this energy drink boom — the taste seems too odd for mass appeal to me, although it’s essentially the same flavor as regular Rockstar and Monster.

Other Full Throttle variants — Regular and Blue Demon — aren’t bad tasting (similar to drinking an acidic Mountain Dew and a highly carbonated green apple Jolly Rancher, respectively), but they’re too acidic for my mouth to deal with. I end up with a sore tongue, similar to when I eat/drink citrus. Which is odd given that I’m not sure an actual fruit juice has ever come within a mile of either of those variants. Unless agave’s a fruit now. Neither delivers more energy than Fury, though, so there’s no sense in my spending much time worrying about Regular or Blue Demon when there are better options available.

For the sake of expressing the totality of my experience, I’ve also experimented with Amp Energy Overdrive, which to me was extremely similar to drinking a Code Red. Nothing wrong with that, but it didn’t seem to have any of the extra impact of a “true” energy drink. Also tried something called “Daredevil” once, but it tasted as bad as anything and had the smoothness, character, and packaging timidity of a down-market me-too product.

I’ll keep updating as events warrant.

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The Problem with Direct Democracy Is That It Sucks

We live in a fantastic society. It’s one in which it’s not possible to leave a Target store without someone trying to get you to sign a petition for something or other. See? Fantastic.

Direct democracy and referendums are bad. Aside from the Target hassles, here’s why:

We already have a government. Several of them in fact — federal, state, county, city, school district. Plenty of levels of government. Direct democracy (those neat “ballot measures” that seem particularly exciting to us self-important Californians) constitutes yet another level of government. Only this one cannot be easily trumped, doesn’t have to make decisions unless it feels like it wants to, never gets held accountable for what it’s done, doesn’t even have to *pretend* to understand the decisions it’s making, and can’t be voted out of office no matter what kind of crap it does.

Further, direct democracy panders to idiots. “Everyone” hates taxes. “Everyone” wants someone else to give them stuff (like a free education for their kids). Therefore, everyone wants to have laws that lower taxes and increase entitlements (read: government spending). Therefore, wily states like California end up with referendum-mandated laws that both restrict the state government’s capacity to tax while at the same time requiring minimum levels of spending.

I hate taxes. But even more damaging is a government that writes checks it has no capacity to cover. Everyone loses — yes, including the suckers that voted in favor of these referendums. Uniformly brilliant.

Vote NO on everything.

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You Know the World’s Becoming a Better Place When…

The people who deliver the yellow pages books stop leaving them at your doorstep and instead drop them off within six feet of your recycling bin.

yellow pages recycling bin

Out of gratitude for their astonishing courtesy I was tempted to, like, keep this one. But how often do you get the opportunity to throw away yellow pages as quickly and conveniently as *this*?!

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My First Red Egg and Ginger Party

I finally got to go to a *real* Chinese party. Finally, finally, finally! Here’s my one photo:

red eggs and ginger at a party

In case you’re wondering, the Red Egg and Ginger Party celebrates a baby’s first month of being alive. The event, as shown above in a photo taken from my cell, begins with the serving of red eggs and ginger. There was a lot of food. The waiters never smiled or in any way implied that they were okay with being there, which I understand is also traditional. There was no dancing and no costumes and, contrary to what About.com might suggest, no magician. Just food. Here’s what I recall (in order of appearance except where I screwed up in remembering):

  1. Red eggs and ginger.
  2. (Cold) fried pork and jelly fish.
  3. Fried and deep-fried shrimp with vegetables.
  4. Hockey puck-sized scallops.
  5. Duck and rolls (arguably my favorite part — this or Shrimp I, but maybe this) (also my favorite activity during air raids).
  6. Hot and sour crab soup.
  7. Lobster.
  8. Partially breaded fish with skin and head.
  9. Mushroom and sea cucumber — or something. I couldn’t tell if they were joking or not.
  10. Shrimp fried rice.
  11. Sugar and red bean soup (I’m sure there’s a real name for it, but I think this is descriptive enough).
  12. Mango mousse cake.

Big thanks to Fancy J for indulging me with the invite (and congrats on the baby, he looks like a winner — no joke). The party was at a well-regarded (Chinese) restaurant in Monterey Park, the home of well-regarded Chinese restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area. Again, no joke. One of our discussions over dinner was my preference for Americanized Chinese food over Sinoficated Chinese food. I suck that way, but at least I can admit it. I wouldn’t mind a $4.95 beef-and-broccoli lunch special at a Korean-owned, strip-mall-located restaurant *right now*, come to think of it.

So now that I’ve finally gotten into one of these exclusive Chinese dinner parties, I can stop cozying up to random East Asians just to try and get invites. That’s a weight off, I’ll tell you what.

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Cross-Country Road Trip Plans

Not sure when I’m going to get around to it, but I’m planning on taking a three- or four-month cross-country road trip. I’d be interested to hear what anyone has to say about where I should or shouldn’t go.

Here are my priorities:

  • States I’ve never set foot or tire in (from left to right: North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Aarkansas (it should be spelled that way), Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine).
  • National Parks and places to hike.
  • “Checklist” stuff I haven’t seen before (e.g., Mt. Rushmore).
  • Historical sites, monuments, and museums.

Here’s what I have so far as must-see locations (ordered clockwise starting in SoCal):

  • Big Sur and Monterey
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Crater Lake National Park
  • Glacier National Park
  • Mt. Rushmore
  • That whole claw part of Michigan
  • Wright-Patterson National Museum of the US Air Force
  • Niagara Falls
  • The Adirondacks
  • The far northeastern corner of the country (probably Acadia National Park will suffice)
  • New York City (I’ve been there, I’d just like to go again)
  • Ft. McHenry
  • National Museum of the Marine Corps
  • Shenandoah National Park and the Appalachian Trail (I’m not walking the whole thing)
  • The Outer Banks
  • New Orleans (so at least I know why it is I don’t like the place — or can be convinced otherwise)
  • The Alamo
  • Carlsbad Caverns

Otherwise I’m wide open… If I were to leave in the summer from Southern California, I’d head clockwise (up north through California then into Oregon, across the top of the country, then back down the eastern seaboard and across the southern US). If I were to leave in spring, I’d go counter-clockwise (start out heading east into Arizona).

What else? Rules of the road:

  • Stay in a hotel no more (or less than) once a week — just to get cleaned up.
  • Camp or stay with someone otherwise.
  • Cell phone and laptop: yes.
  • Stick to the state highways (and avoid interstates) as much as possible.
  • Stop to help anyone I see on the side of the road.

I’d need to get a different car for the trip — 17 mpg isn’t going to cut it over 10,000 miles. If I had to choose today, I’d probably go with the Honda Fit (better gas mileage) or the Subaru WRX Wagon (better driving). Both seem pretty versatile (read: I could sleep in either one).

We’ll have to wait and see when it happens.

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Do the FLDS in Texas Deserve Due Process? I Mean, Polygamy’s Worse Than Murder, Right?

It’s *possible* that the State of Texas held hearings for each and every FLDS child in Eldorado prior to taking them from their homes. I mean, *possible* — it just seems like, if they did, then they should say something. Otherwise they’ve committed state-sponsored kidnapping based on an anonymous phone call from a person they haven’t even managed to identify.

Do they even know that the call came from that compound?

Listen, I *suspect* that the FLDS are some of the worst people in the country. I’m guessing they *do* marry off and impregnate 12-year-olds. I’ve read enough stories about “lost boys” in Utah to think that the FLDS really do abandon male minors when they become inconvenient, an utterly un-Christlike practice that royally sucks. But I can’t prove it. And no one else has done that in a court of law yet either. So how does Texas get off removing children from homes and asserting some sort of statist right to place them in foster care?

Am I crazy? The more I read about what’s going on with the polygamist kids, the more preposterous this seems. There wasn’t a trial. The entire action was based on ONE anonymous phone call. There did not seem to be any attempt during the “raid” to determine whether there were any improprieties going on with the kids there. I mean, did they *ask* the kids if they were abused? (No.) Did the kids voluntarily list off all the abuses they’d suffered when the cops came? (No.) The most damning evidence they found of anything was some information about cyanide (or whatever it was). Man. I have toxicology research sitting on my freakin’ hard drive. I have books about rifles and one about becoming a Marine Corps sniper of all things.

Is someone going to break into my house and take my Roomba away now?

And the women who went along with the kids have been stripped of their cell phones. Because people with cell phones can communicate. Use words. Speak. And Texas isn’t about to let someone have free speech if it, like, threatens their ability to kidnap children, I guess.

It’s easy to pick on people that are different — and, as far as I can tell, that’s what’s happening to the FLDS in Texas. There’s been no court proceedings that have shown the individual parents of the abducted children have done anything untoward to their kids. (None that’ve been even suggested publicly, at least.) What there has been is a religious group that has different practices than are observed in the “mainstream”. And since they’re different, well then, there’s not going to be much of an outcry if we strip them of their rights, right?

It also makes me wonder about religious tolerance in Texas, at least among the “public servants”. If there’s one thing that Mike Huckabee taught me over the winter, it’s that there’s still a substantial element in American society that doesn’t understand that the difference between an individual’s personal beliefs and that person’s objective worth as a human being. Mike Huckabee is *still* looking for ways to defame Mitt Romney. Because he’s Mormon, face it. There’s no other rational reason for that level of pit-bullish, vitriolic hatred toward a political rival.

And the FLDS? They’re even crazier than Mormons. Let’s just take their kids and raise them as proper Baptists, Methodists, and Secular Humanists. You know, normal religions. State-approved ones. Because, really, we only need the middle 90% of society, right? The rest can be out-voted. So we’ll take their kids. It’s too late for the parents. We can leave the adults destitute and grief-stricken and it’s a-okay, because they’re not like us cool people anyway.

I really think the FLDS are shady people who have done some bad crap. But just because I or you or some judge in Texas thinks that (and someone received an anonymous phone call), that shouldn’t mean that due process is out the window. But apparently it means exactly that. Lousy fascists.

bkd

Desert Island Albums

Rules/Guidelines:

  • Can only choose five.
  • No compilation albums.
  • One album per band.
  • It’s not really the albums you would take with you onto an actual desert island. It’s: if you could only listen to five albums for the rest of your (otherwise normal) life, what would they be?

Mine (alpha by artist):

DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 / You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine

EASY STAR ALL STARS / Radiodread

MODEST MOUSE / The Lonesome, Crowded West

NIRVANA / Nevermind

THE PIXIES / Surfer Rosa

I actually like OK Computer better than Easy Star All Stars’ version, but everything else on the list was already in that vein (i.e., they’re all rock albums), so I needed something to switch things up. Also regret that there’s nothing from my new wave era on there, but New Order would’ve been the band I’d have wanted to include and I don’t think they ever made a complete-enough album. It was also tough picking between Surfer Rosa and Doolittle. And DFA79 is a pretty short album, so I might not be getting as much value as I ought to out of it. And somewhere my 17-year-old self is crying that I didn’t even consider including an REM album on here.

It’s okay — my 17-year-old self is gone now anyway and he’s never coming back.

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Program Music: An Ode to the Gulf War That I Wrote When I Was 24

This came up on my iPod at work today and it cracked me up. I’m guessing no one else will have the same reaction. Shame. I wrote this while I was taking an honors class on Beethoven my senior year in college. One day we talked about Wellington’s Victory and it sounded like it was a good idea, ergo this:

Schwarzkopf’s Victory (.wav file)
Schwarzkopf’s Victory (.m4a iTunes file)

Here’s the program:

  1. Saddam’s Army Invades Kuwait – 0:00
  2. The U.S. Denounces the Invasion and Vows to Assist the Sovereign Emirate – 0:42
  3. European Allies Proffer Money and Arms to Support the Coalition – 0:54
  4. The Coalition Gathers, SCUDs Fall, the World Awaits – 1:24
  5. The Air Offensive Begins, Things Go Well – 2:15
  6. The 24-Hour Ground War – 3:08
  7. Though Defeated, Saddam Lives to Fight Another Day – 3:51

I sampled real artillery explosions to make it sound more lifelike. Man but I miss ScreamTracker.

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(Yes, a colon in the title again.)

More B-52 Photos, By Request (Plus a Couple Pics of AMARG)

And because, let’s face it, I’m never actually going to get around to putting anything on Flickr.

 

Bomber Row at Pima — B-47 in front of three B-52s

B-52 with x-plane spar

Tail Gun on B-52 at Pima Air & Space Museum at Davis-Monthan AFB

b-52 at the pima air & space museum, close-up

And because the last set didn’t include any actual photos taken from the boneyard at Davis-Monthan (AMARG — Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group), here are a few. The bus, as mentioned last post, made it tough to get good photos. For me. Maybe DLF got something better.

c-130s and mountains at Davis-Monthan AMARG

The above C-130s are in the “could be re-used” wing of the boneyard.

B-1 bomber with C-130 at Davis-Monthan boneyard

There were a handful of B-1s scattered around also. And for some reason the right side of the bus didn’t seem to get the best visuals. If you ever go there, try and get a left-side window. And start trying to peel off the tint some time before it leaves the parking lot…

boneyard airplanes used for scrap

And then these poor guys are on the cannibalization side of the street.

But the view from Google’s satellite maps are, IMHO, the most interesting (zoom in and scroll around for best effect).


View Larger Map

Enjoy. Or, “have enjoyed”, I guess.

bkd

 

Pima Air and Space Museum and the Davis-Monthan Boneyard

Went out to Tucson last weekend ahead of some business meetings I had in Tempe on Tuesday. Primary purpose: visit the AMARG, the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base airplane boneyard (I think “boneyard” sounds less ominous than “graveyard”, although I suppose maybe it shouldn’t). Tours of the boneyard are facilitated by the Pima Air and Space Museum, located around the corner from the base. The museum and the boneyard were both cool.

b-52 at the pima air & space museum in tucson

The B-52 above was one that dropped several of the x-planes — you can see the spar on the right wing where the planes were carried pre-drop.

A-10 flying at Davis-Monthan AFB

Above is an A-10 Warthog banking hard over the top of Davis-Monthan AFB as seen between the prop blades of the DC-6 that used to be John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One.

c-133b cargomaster and the pima air & space museum yard

Above is a Douglas C-133B and the view from the far end of the museum’s 75 acres of airplanes.

Highlights:

  • 75 acres of airplanes is a lot of airplanes.
  • There aren’t many ropes keeping you away from the aircraft. If you want to get down on your belly and see what the underside of a B-52 looks like, you’re welcome to do so.
  • Oh — right, so on the Sunday we were there, the air force base was doing practices for the spring and summer air show season, including having civil pilots get qualified to join air force pilots for “heritage flights” (in which a couple of old planes, piloted by civilians, fly in formation with a couple of current air force planes). This meant we got treated to an air show with aerobatic maneuvers from an F-22, F-15, A-10 (I’m an A-10 fan), F-4 Phantom, P-51, and P-40.
  • Actually those last three didn’t do anything aerobatic, but the first three did a lot to make up for it.
  • Like, for instance, the F-22 stopping and hovering mid-air. Pretty trippy.
  • They actually have three B-52s there — that’s an imposing-looking, ominous airframe. IMHO.
  • They also had a nice collection of WWII bombers — a B17, a B24, and a B29. Again, with full belly-based viewing privileges.
  • The docents were all pretty old and friendly.
  • They had a couple of Lockheed Constellations and a Sud Aviation Caravelle — I’d never seen either of those up close before.
  • Included pretty much every American jet fighter up through the F-15.
  • Also included a bunch of huge ol’ cargo planes.
  • It’s just a lot of airplanes and a lot of access to those planes.

Other notes:

  • It’s at least a one-full-day museum. If you go see the boneyard, which we did, it’s at least a day and a half.
  • It was pretty cool seeing how different the aircraft designs have been throughout the Air Force’s history. In a world where every commercial aircraft built in the last 50 years still looks like a 707, it’s nice that *someone’s* trying.
  • You have to make reservations to take the tour of the boneyard itself. Those tours only run on weekdays.
  • You’re only allowed to see the boneyard from the tour bus.
  • It’s kind of hard to get good pictures through the windows of the bus — all the photos above were taken at the museum.
  • It was weird to see so many recent airframes among the retirees at the boneyard (including B-1 bombers). Also strange that we’re still building new C-130s when there are apparently hundreds that have already been retired. I can only hope that someone’s done a cost-benefit analysis on some of this stuff.

Anyway: cool trip. Many planes. Nice weather. Recommended.

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