Thursday, November 30, 2006

A look at the beginning of it all: The GTM

It is always a pleasure to know that not all the news originated in Mexico have always to do with counterfeit presidents and wrestling activities between deputies of rival parties inside the Congress, as the world has heard recently.
Near the city of Atzitzintla, in the central part of such country, was just opened a telescope named "Gran Telescopio Milimétrico" (Great Milimetric Telescope, or simply GTM), which will study the origin of the universe and the Big Bang, estimated to have happened 13,400 million years ago.
This project, planned 15 years ago, contains huge antenna that weighs around 620 tonnes and has a diameter of 50 meters, which is able to rotate 360° and to modify its angle. It also contains some research facilities in its underground, in which the general controls and some laboratories are located. The total building cost was 115 million US dollars, and it took 10 years to complete it. According to experts, this telescope has a cartographic capacity that supersedes the one available at the most modern telescope in the world, located in Hawaii.
Although this idea has a binational origin (scientists from Mexico and the USA were involved) about 15 years ago, its construction was made possible thanks to the cooperation of companies from all around the world.
This opening is a great way of finishing his rule in Mexico for Vicente Fox.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Snow in the West Coast!

Some people find it weird, but I really love snow. It makes the cities look so great! and why not, playing with it is also a good means to relieve everyday stress.
Although I like it, snow is rare in the Canadian west coast, to be more specific, the cities of Vancouver and Victoria.
If you look at the picture on the left, you'd think "That's a winter scenario". And yes, it is. That's how the city of Victoria, Canada, looks today. It is incredible to see how much has it snowed in this city! The panorama would make you think that you're living a typical winter à la montréalaise. I think that I've got like 15 or 12 centimeters of snow in my garden, the Trans Canada highway 1 is closed and the day is off for students. I believe that some bus routes were canceled too.
But still, it's magnificent! I really enjoy this... don't you?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

More "7 wonders" of the world, but now even worse

I have forgotten how many times I've heard about different versions of "the 7 wonders of the world". Sorry to tell, but the only valid 7 wonders of the world are those referred to as the ones of the "Ancient World", which included the following buildings: The hanging gardens of Babylon, the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Mausoleum at Hallicarnassus, the Colosus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse at Alexandria, and the Great Pyramid of Giza. It is just a pity that from all of those wonders, the only one that still exists until our days is the Pyramid of Giza (and yes, the Great Wall in China is not included in such list, contrary to popular beliefs).
I believe that, after feeling this frustration of not preserving any but one of all those magnificent works, humans have been looking for ways to "replace" by proposing other actual buildings to be considered as contemporary wonders. Some of these supposed wonders include, as far as I remember, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Taj Mahal in India, and the Opera House of Sydney.
But still not pleased with those proposals (for which, it is necessary to tell that there exists no official list), there is still a group of people that are proposing some places as wonders, "New 7 Wonders of the World". But this time, in its most ridiculous level... the candidates have been already announced, and people can vote! (what a taunt!)
Some of the proposed "wonders" are: Stonehenge (UK), The Acropolis (Greece), the Colosseum (Italy), Macchu Picchu (Peru), the Statue of Liberty (USA), and the Christ Redeemer Statue (Brazil).
Can anybody please tell me what kind of chronological link exist between them?
For a complete list of "wonders", or if you want to take part of this ridiculous voting, just copy and paste the following address in your address bar, or click on it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


There have been some rumours lately that Apple is to enter the cell phone industry, producing a gadget named iPhone.
I read from an important newspaper today that such rumours are true: actually, they've given a company in Taiwan the rights to produce their new item, for which they plan to produce between 500,000 and 600,000 units only in this year.
The phone will also include a high resolution (2 megapixel) camera, iPod and cell phone functions.
The price has not been published yet, but what the heck? Why would I want to buy a mobile phone that contains an iPod if I already own one? Is Apple thinking of converting us all in "iSheep" for their products?
Hm... sounds bizarre to me. They'd have to convince me that the battery is long lasting and the reception and phone functions are better than the ones that other competitors (such as Nokia and Motorola) can offer.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Internet, a new potential addiction

How many hours do you spend every day surfing the internet? How many days can you pass without using the web?
According to some studies performed by researchers at important universities, an average user spends 3.5 hours per day using the internet. Although there is no "official" measure to know whether this is an excessive amount of time, it is a considerable portion of the day. Just imagine the following: If a day has 24 hours, and normally 8 of them are necessary to sleep, that leaves 16 "usable" hours... from which 3.5 hours represent 21.88%.
But still, 3.5 hours every day to surf in the internet is not bad. The problem is that there are some individuals who spend more than that... much more than that.
There have been reported cases in which it is claimed that some people surf for as much as 15 hours daily. That's something to be worried about: If you think it mathematically, you'll discover that those 15 daily hours mean 228 days per year, roughly 62% of the entire year!
The problem goes far beyond only marking such people as "internet freaks" or people without any type of social life (excepting the one that chat services can offer). Dedicating the internet so much time means also to give up some other important activities, such as work and family.
Internet addicts, apart from the amount of time spent in the web, also show symptoms such as euphoria, irritability or depression when sitting at the computer, anxiety to use the internet, and problems at school or work.
Some clinics to treat "internet addiction" have been established in some countries, like the United States and Japan, to help people suffering of these disorders.
Is internet the sickness of the century? It's too early to diagnose that, but it has good chances indeed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Looking for something funny?

Well, these days have been very stressful and I haven't really had time to relax a bit. This is when I realize the importance of having some fun from time to time.
Do you feel identified with this thought? Perhaps you'll find some amusement at Bruno Bozzetto's site. Maybe you'll find this cartoonist's page hilarious (and even when you're not as stressed as I am, you can still find it hilarious). I strongly recommend the clips named Female&Male, Yes&No, and Europe&Italy. They're so funny.

To be directed to such page, click on the address below, or copy it and paste in your browser's address bar:


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Big vs small, Europe vs United States, Airbus vs Boeing

The battle is still there: Europe and the United States permanently fight to be better than the other one and they keep a pacific struggle that involves agreements, money, power and technology... even in the air.
It is very notorious that this is exactly the kind of struggle that we can notice between Boeing and Airbus. The latter, is very proud of producing and launching the biggest airplane in the world, which is able to carry 555 passengers and can fly for 15,000 km (this means, approximately the distance between New York, USA, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) without the need of refueling. Immense, surprising. In fact, the biggest commercial aircraft in the world. But what is Boeing doing in the meanwhile? Just stand back, watch and try not to get involved?
I don't think that's the case. Boeing is already assembling a new generation of commercial jets, which are slightly different than the A380: I'm talking about the Boeing 787-Dreamliner family, from which, for example, the 787-9 Dreamliner, scheduled for its first flight in 2007, will be a medium sized aircraft designed to carry a maximum of 290 passengers and to fly about 16,000 km (like about the distance between New York City, USA, and Jakarta, Indonesia) without refueling. According to Boieng, an important advantage that this airliner offers is the fuel efficiency, as this airplane utilizes 20% less fuel compared to other "similar missions", being also able to fly as fast as 0.85 mach (similar to the fastest jets available).
So what do you think is best? medium size, high fuel efficiency; or more passenger capacity to fly less flights? Your choice!

More information about these models in the following links:

Monday, November 13, 2006

NFL: Mid November, time for long returns after missed field goals

In November 13, 2005, took place a game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bears at the Soldier Field stadium in Chicago. This game became historical because it witnessed the longest return for touchdown after a missed field goal: Nathan Vasher, a Bears' cornerback, catched the ball eight yards inside Chicago's own end zone after San Francisco's kicker Joe Nedney missed a 52 yard field goal. This kick was not easy not only because of the distance, but also because it was a particularly windy day.
Vasher managed to exit the end zone, and after a series of turns and twists to change his direction in a couple of times, he managed to run until the opposite end zone to score a touchdown and to impose a new record: the longest return after a missed field goal in history. Nice done huh?
But the story doesn't end here. It seems that it is a good time for the Chicago bears to return missed field goals.
Only yesterday, a match between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants took place at the Giant Stadium. During this match, the Giants sent their kicker, Jay Feely, to attempt a 52 yard field goal (exactly the same distance than San Francisco's attempt). The kick was just short from the target, and the ball was catched by another Bears' cornerback, Devin Hester, eight yards inside his own end zone. Hester feigned to kneel down after catching the ball (which would mean that the down would finish by then and the game would be restarted at the yard 20), and after all of the Giants' players took the bait, he started running with the ball fastly towards the opposite end zone! After a hell of a job by his teammates, who managed to block all of the Giants' attempts to stop Hester, this guy ran for 108 yards to score a touchdown, tying Vasher's record.
I'm sure that images are more clear than my descriptions, so click on the movie below to see the video (I apologize for the annoying hip hop music and stuff related to the bad edition, but it is the most decent movie that I was able to find to post for you).

So the Bears break a record on November 13, 2005, and they attain the same feat on November 12, 2006. What can we expect to see from the Bears around November 11, 2007? Let's wait for another year to see!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Musical options to relax

I can tell you that this week has been pretty intense and stressful for me in terms of workload. Finally, I find some time to do the things I like to do (to write and to listen to music, among them). But that's life in our beautiful western hemisphere, isn't it?
If you feel anxious, you're having a cranky mood lately, and you're starting to think that your responsibilities enslave you, perhaps it's time for you to take a break. And music is a great facilitator to approach to a peaceful state in your mind. For that, I'll suggest you to try any of the following works:

Classical Music: Anything by J. S. Bach or Mozart. Both are some of the greatest musicians ever, and for some reason, I feel more relaxed after listening to their music than any other composer's. Specific suggestions? Try any of the following:

  • Bach's Brandenburg concerts.
  • Mozart's symphonies 40 or 41.
  • Also, Pachelbel's Cannon is a good option

New Age: One of my favourite streams! There are several melodies that I'll strongly recommend you for this one:

  • Adiemus, by Adiemus, is a great song that may take you to another dimension.
  • Adagio in C Minor, by Yanni, which is a very relaxing melody.
  • Orinoco Flow, by Enya. Beautiful music for your ears.
  • On Earth as it is in heaven, by Ennio Morricone. A classic.

Those are the genres that best work for me. Obviously, this list is given in a declarative but not limitative way, so the best choice of music to relax is your own!

Any other suggestions? Please share through a message.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Some fun is always healthy, isn't it?

Hi people!
As I always say, it's very interesting to get some feedback from people who read this blog. It's a good source of ideas and improvement measures, and also, a good source of new knowledge for me as well!
But in this occasion, a friend of mine made me an interesting remark about the blog: "Your blog is too serious!".
Well, yes, it's a serious blog, although from time to time I like to post some strange images that look quite funny. I think that it's healthy to add sometimes some funny stuff, because fun is also part of life. But, there has been so much serious material to post lately, that I haven't posted any funny things. So I'd like to dedicate today's post to the work of one of the most hilarious cartoonists I've seen (and for the friend I told you about as well!): the Argentinian Joaquín Salvador Lavado, better known as Quino. He is, by the way, creator of recognized characters such as Mafalda. I find his drawings hilarious, so I'll share some of them with you (click on them to view larger images):

Next time, try not to hit the bar so hardly!

Pretty creative way to perform an invasion huh?

That's an effective policeman, always making sure that people don't break any rules hehe


I hope you enjoy these pictures as%2

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wireless internet access services at Starbucks, what a swindle!

Are you a customer of Starbucks? Have you ever tried their so called “wireless internet access” services at any of their stores?
I have the misfortune to say that I had. And my claim is not only because of a good or bad internet service, but it’s that you have to pay for it!!
Yes, believe it or not. As if Starbucks’ coffees were cheap. They won’t only charge you for drinking their expensive beverages, but they’ll also charge ridiculously high amounts of money for accessing their supposed “value added” internet service (with the complicity of Bell Canada, of course).
Here are the prices in Canadian dollars (paying with a conventional credit card):
Hour Pass: $7.50
Day Pass: $13.00
Month Pass: $35.00
Do you want other “payment options”? You can also purchase a prepaid card for exactly the same prices, except that they don’t offer a monthly pass. Or… you can sign up for Bell’s internet services in your house or office. What a business, huh!
And this story doesn’t end here. At the very bottom of the pop-up where they announce their magnificent deals, there is a paragraph that reads the following (obviously, in fonts as small that you have a hard time trying to read them):
“Access is valid at all Bell hotspots and provides unrestricted reconnections over the period in which the pass is valid. Access is limited to one active connection at any time. Connect time is metered chronologically (similar to a parking meter) in consecutive minutes/hours/days from the time of purchase. Price does not include applicable taxes”.
Haha! If those are the prices and conditions, I guess that it’s more convenient to go to a conventional internet café. At least there I can pay a fair price for internet services, and in any case, I can have some tech support available in-store as well.
So please, next time you go to a Starbucks store and you feel like using their internet access, avoid that at any cost! They swindle you with the exaggerated prices for their beverages, so don’t let them swindle you with their “value-added” services as well!

Monday, November 06, 2006

After Saddam, what?

So, after several months of trial, they decided that hanging Saddam Hussein would be the punishment for the war crimes committed by this former Iraqi dictator. But this is not the end. Not even close. I'd say that, although I don't feel any kind of sympathy for such a tyrant (except for when his character appears in South Park), killing him is a very bad idea, and here are the reasons:

1. The final decision of killing Saddam was made by a court arranged by the U.S., for which many people (and more specifically, many Iraqis, or at least the ones that feel sympathy for Saddam) may think that the veredict was biased, leading to further clashes thereafter (and probably, to more anti-U.S.A. feelings throughout the world).

2. Executing him will not repair the damages that he caused to many Iraqis during his rule, and will not provide any sense of punishment to Saddam either.

3. There are still Iraqis who defend and support Saddam in many ways, even in the fashion of terrorism (such is the case of the extremist rebels). After his execution, a serious wave of terrorist attacks will be likely to occur in Iraq, probably having lots of casualties on them.

4. If they really want to punish Saddam Hussein for the attrocities committed during his rule, killing him is not an option. A very long-term imprisonment (maybe a life imprisonment term) is more effective in that sense.

5. In the perception of many, Saddam will die as a martyr if he's executed. Nobody wants him to be taken as an example for others in the future.

The chances that these reasons are heard are very little, and thus I don't expect to be successful in stopping such execution because of the effects that it would carry (and not because I support Saddam's situation). The decision is in other hands now, and the veredict will probably be appealed soon. What would you expect to happen by then?
Please post any comments. Bye now.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Fast food burger restaurants: Ranking 3, speed

Fast food restaurants are expected to be exactly that - fast. And all of the restaurants subject to this evaluation are fast indeed; however, I'm afraid that some are doing better than others in this category. So, who is fast and who is not-so-fast? Here is the third and final part of the fast food burger restaurants ranking!

C. Speed

1. McDonald's: There is no doubt, McDonald's is still the fastest fast-food restaurant. I'm still really impressed of the little time that runs between the moment when you order and when you get fully served. Perhaps their strategy is to give up some quality to be faster?

2. Dairy Queen: In relation to the other restaurants (excluding McDonald's), the service is fast; however, after ordering your food, you can still expect to be standing there for a few minutes.

3. A & W: Sometimes they're fast, sometimes not. I don't know on what it depends esentially, but normally, you'll wait longer than other places to be fully served.

4. Burger King: Of all the restaurants evaluated, Burger King has the slowest service. It can take several minutes to have an order fully served. Once again, I don't know if this is related to the quality of food or not, but standing for so long is sometimes frustrating.

So, overall, which is better than the rest? That decision depends on your perception, and on the issues that you consider more important than others. So what are you looking for, a good burger, tasty fries, or a high speed service? It's up to you.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Fast food burger restaurants: Ranking 2, fries

First of all, I want to thank you for your comments. Once again, I want to let you know that I appreciate them, it's very cool to read them and to find out that you think that this blog is interesting. Thank you all!
Well, as promises are debt, I move on to part number two of this fast food burger restaurants evaluation. As I wrote in my previous post, there were some elements that made each of these companies' hamburgers good or not-so-good (because, honestly, none of them are bad at all, but they have sometimes some "deficiencies"). But as we all know, there's no good hamburger that lacks its side order of good fries. Which fries are then good and which aren't so appealing? Here you have my infamous ranking for them:

B. Fries

1. Dairy Queen: The perfect combination. Not too salty, crunchy outside, soft inside. What else can you expect from fries?

2. A & W: Good fries. They are more salted than DQ's, but the general taste is still very acceptable.

3. Burger King: The taste of those fries is great, but I'm afraid that lots of salt and oil are used in order to achieve their combination. The outside texture is not one of my favorites, as it gets quite hard from time to time.

4. McDonald's: Once again, it is necessary to accept that McDonald's has the poorest quality on its products, compared to its competitors. These restaurants' fries are something close to disgusting; the large amounts of oil and salt used to prepare them are notorious when you eat them, as you can feel them in your mouth.

To be continued...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Fast food burger restaurants: Ranking 1, burgers

I have had the chance to visit several fast food restaurants that claim hamburgers to be their specialty. Obviously, during the many years in which I have been a customer for these restaurants, I have had the chance of noticing that not all of them are the same with respect of taste and quality. So I decided to post my infamous ranking of the four main fast food burger restaurants! This ranking is divided in three categories (and in three posts as well): Burgers, fries, and service speed.
A. Burgers

1. Burger King: These hamburgers are tasteful, as they are grilled. It gives their products a special taste that make easy to distinguish Burger King's hamburgers from others.

2. Dairy Queen: Surprisingly, Dairy Queen does not only excel for the quality of their ice creams, but also for their food. The hamburgers prepared by these restaurants are pretty good, and their prices are very reasonable. I strongly recommend to stop by any of these restaurants to have a hamburger whenever you're hungry.

3. A & W: Not as good as DQ's or Burger King's hamburgers, but they're fair. However, having a good root beer with an A&W hamburger is a great experience that you shouldn't miss.

4. McDonald's: Although their hamburgers are not of the highest quality and the portions are somewhat small, they're still edible. What I like of McDonald's is the creativity to come up with new hamburger ideas; it's just a shame that such creativity is still shy of reaching the quality of other competitor's products.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

494 years later...

... the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel are still some of the most preciated paintings in the world. It is recorded that exactly on November 1, 1512, the painting works on the ceiling were finished, after four years of work. In fact, it would be difficult to assign them a monetary value. Their intrinsic value is huge; those frescoes were painted by Michelangelo Buonarroti, commissioned by Pope Julius II. According to the legend, Michelangelo painted the frescoes standing over a high platform built by himself (although some people believe that he painted it laying on his back, but this is generally believed to be fictional). During nights, he was lit by candle light, so he could continue working even in the darkness. Not surprisingly, it is said that after Michaelangelo was done with the painting of this ceiling, he suffered of back and neck problems for the rest of his life, as he spent so much time facing upwards. Also, it is common to hear that some fresh paint dropped into his eyes from time to time, for which he also suffered of vision problems afterwards.
The final paintings contain several biblical passages and people, and according to many, it is the most impressive painting in the world (considering its surface, mixture of colors, and perfection of its shapes).
A wonder of the world originated during the Middle Ages, today this chapel is located in the Vatican City and it receives millions of tourists per year. If you travel there any of these days, just remember: don't use your camera's flash to take pictures inside the chapel!
Comments? Please post them! See you!