Feb 27, 2007

Movie recommendation: The Road Home by Zhang Yimou

Those who frequent my blog are aware that I am in the midst of a Chinese foreign film phase. However, with each passing movie that I watch, I get a little bit more addicted to them. I am aware though that due to selection and availability issues, I am probably only getting the most popular (and probably the critically acclaimed) ones here in the US, but regardless of that, I find this genre to be refreshing. Zhang Yimou, the Chinese director/producer is turning out to be one of my favorite characters for his honest and simple, yet incredibly powerful movies. He directed "Not one less", which I recommended in an earlier post, and his two biggest films here in the US are 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' and 'Hero'.

'The Road Home' is a film direct by Zhang in 1999, and stars Ziyi Zhang, who is probably China's most popular female film star export to the world. She looks really young in this film, probably because she is.

Anyway, 'The Road Home' is the story about this college graduate who returns home to his village upon the death of his father. He finds his mother, understandably so, in a state of terrible depression and mourning. He then narrates the beautiful courtship of his parents, which is what this movie is about. I'm usually a sucker for this kind of movie formula - simplicity, honesty and emotion all tied in. This is usually pretty difficult to pull off but in this case, I found this story to be incredibly moving.

Feb 26, 2007

Secrets contained within polar ice

Recently, a science news feed on on my blog about Antarctic ice melts caught my eye. Due to global warming, some polar ice shelves melted and scientists have discovered some unique and exotic species trapped within the ice. From CNN.com...
Spindly orange sea stars, fan-finned ice fish and herds of roving sea cucumbers are among the exotic creatures spied off the Antarctic coast in an area formerly covered by ice, scientists reported Sunday. This is the first time explorers have been able to catalog wildlife where two mammoth ice shelves used to extend for some 3,900 square miles over the Weddell Sea. At least 5,000 years old, the ice shelves collapsed in two stages over the last dozen years. One crumbled 12 years ago and the other followed in 2002.
This is quite cool on its own, but it reminded me of another interesting study I had read about earlier. In that study, scientists studying climate change, (Climatologists) would search for trapped air bubbles within polar ice. They would then examine the contents of the polar ice and examine its composition. This would subsequently give them an accurate and preserved snapshot of the atmosphere hundreds of years ago. This is ideal for studying climate change and apparently has been instrumental in advising and informing scientists about global warming. Apparently this technique been around for about 50 years now.

Another blog I browsed through comments that sometimes they drill up to 2 miles deep and find air bubbles that are more than 400,000 years old!
For example, ice cores from Greenland tell us that Earth's atmosphere has undergone rapid global changes many times in the past 110,000 years. But since the time that people have developed agriculture and industry, the climate has been the most stable and at least Greenland has been far warmer.

Ice cores from the Andes Mountains of South America and the Himalayan Mountains of Asia suggest that the climate drastically cooled about 5,000 years ago but is now reversing to a warming trend within the last 50 years...and that most of the world's high-elevation glaciers may melt in the near future.

Ice cores from Antarctica have been drilled to over 2.2 miles deep. Studies revealed that greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, and other gases) trapped in the ice correspond with temperature variations, over a 420,000 year history...perhaps warning us of current influences from our own activities that produce such gases. But it's unclear if the greenhouse gases caused the temperature increases or vice versa.
Very cool!

Some additional links...
Link1, Link2

Feb 24, 2007

Nestle Cerelac commercial parody

This is hilarious.

Though if you can't understand Urdu, don't worry about it. You're not missing too much!

Feb 7, 2007

Banned 2007 GoDaddy.com Super Bowl Ad

This is the one that wasn't allowed but everyone was talking about...

Garmin Ultraman Super Bowl Commercial

This one was hilarious! It's supposed to Ultraman. (I don't know anything about that character) This was great though! Something to do with Japanese cartoons I believe?

Kevin Federline's super bowl commercial

This was one of the funniest commercials this super bowl...and there weren't too many this time around

Feb 6, 2007

Dealing with Static Electricity

It's a bit amusing, I suppose, that my issues with static can warrant an entire post, but jokes aside, I hate static! I don't like the way clothes cling to me, how I get a tiny shock every time I touch anything, and how the hair on my legs and arms are constantly on red alert!

This is my second winter in Jersey, and certainly not my first winter at all, so I was wondering why, all of a sudden, static has become such a hindrance.

Naturally the static comes right straight from the washing machine. Every fabric comes out static as hell. And it only just began a few weeks ago. I've been washing clothes in that particular machine for a while now. So I googled around and did some research and it wasn't because of my fleeces or winter clothes. I had assumed it might have been the material that fleeces are made of, but its due to something called the triboelectric effect being enhanced in my home environment. The triboelectric effect is the technical term for stuff rubbing against each other and static charges being exchanged. We've all done those experiments like rubbing balloons on our sweaters in elementary school. Well, that is the effect.

It can be magnified by dry air, which is basically what winter is all about. Winter, coupled with my central heating system, really creates a dry environment, which is ideal for charge transfer. Additionally this charge stays on my clothes and sheets for a while too. I thought leaving my shirt for a couple of days would be cool, but, static charge actually hangs out for a while.

Solutions are aplenty as well. An industrial source recommends rubbing your clothes on metal pipes. Okay...

A more home oriented site recommends rubbing metal hangars on shirts, shaking them after they come out of the drier, or adding vinegar to your wash cycle. Fabric softener, which I had seen people use, but I hadn't until now, is what I use now to eliminate this charge. The problem has pretty much been solved by now, but there are some other things one can do.

Having a moist environment has helped as I bought a air humidifier. Wetness, and humid air dispense electrons at a greater rate from surfaces, hence your bathroom after a shower, or rainy environments aren't conducive to static electricity as this site explains.