Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Catholic Survery

This week, the Diocese of Springfield (in Illinois) released the results of surveys they did of Catholics and ex-Catholics in their area. They interviewed about 1400 people, and the work was done by a third party to prevent bias or a skewing of statistics.

The #1 reason people left the Catholic Church was because they disagreed with what the church teaches. This was mentioned 47% of the time. I thought it was interesting how this coincided with education levels. If you went to grad school, you are more likely (on some topics, twice as likely) to disagree with the Catholic Church.

The issues people disagree with most are birth control, the fact that priests can't get married, divorce and remarriage, fertility treatments and homosexuality, in that order. I am surprised that fertility treatments were mentioned over half of the time, while abortion was not.

The #2 reason people left the Catholic Church was a lack of connection to the Church. This was mentioned 38% of the time. To put it simplistically, people got bored and left. A majority mentioned that their spiritual needs weren't being fulfilled.

Reason #3 and #4 were about tied, around 15%. These are church scandals and a lack of Christian atmosphere. People over 50 hate church scandals more than people under 50, for whatever reason. As for lack of Christian values, the main reason seems to be that the priests / other Catholics are jerks, so people leave.

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The second survey was for practicing Catholics, and they indicate a lot of the same ideas (they don't like it when priests are jerks, they prefer to feel a sense of community, they dislike the church's view on birth control more than anything else, etc.). The improvements people recommended most were changing the mass and/or the priests.

As a Catholic, I wonder what I can do to help, besides for "stop being so anti-social when I'm at church".

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Angry Birds Epic

I finally made it to the end of Angry Birds Epic. The last few sections were extremely difficult, and I had to do a lot of grinding. Fortunately, the game has an autoplay feature. I just set my party to fight the battle with the most enemies over and over again for several days until they leveled up enough.

The second-to-last fight was pretty unfair, in that you had to fight three bosses at once. In addition to this, three healing bombs show up every third turn. If you don't kill the healing bombs right away, they explode and bring the bosses back to full health. In other words, every third turn of the battle is kind of wasted. You can't use it to attack the bosses; you have to use it to stop them from healing.

The last fight steps up the unfairness. The boss has a move that allows it to heal all of its health. And that's just phase one of the battle. Phase two is the one where the boss has a move which does 550 damage to all enemies. That narrowed down my options for the battle, since not all of my characters had more than 550 HP. The boss' healing system in the second phase was pretty unfair--at minimum, it healed a fifth of its health each time--but it was easier to circumvent than in the first phase. I still think I got lucky, but I'm not complaining! I managed to beat it!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Iraq

Last week, President Obama gave a speech about the military action our country is taking against ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), the organization that has seized control in Iraq and Syria. Strangely enough, the leaders of the group are using the medieval term "caliphate" to refer to their organization. It'd be like if someone took over Italy and declared themselves the Caesar.



President Obama says that ISIL is not Islamic. Even though they are Muslims using Islamic terms, their actions completely go against what Islam teaches.

I can understand that. That's basically what I believe about the Catholics who were responsible for the Spanish Inquisition. Also, the malicious people involved with the big child abuse scandal in 2002-3. I know Catholicism is a religion of forgiveness, but I have a hard time forgiving these people for all the harm they have done, which continues to cause harm long afterwards.

President Obama is now the fourth United States President in a row to declare military intervention in Iraq. Clearly, whatever the US has done there since the 1980's has been ineffective. Let's hope this will be the last war in the Middle East.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cooking

My latest cooking misadventure was trying to make a pork tenderloin. It comes in a plastic wrapped with instructions, but even though I followed the instructions, the plastic popped. Also, the middle of the tenderloin didn't cook at all.

I also tried cooking a tri-tip steak, which turned out okay, but you couldn't tell because of the awful gravy. The gravy had way too much salt, and yes, I'm one of those people who dislikes having salt on everything. If food companies would stop putting salt on things that don't need it--cereal and cheese, for example--that would be great.

The problem with cooking the steak in the oven is that I had to cook potato casserole in the oven at the same time. The casserole recipe says 350 degrees for 30 minutes, while the steak says 375 degrees for 40 minutes. I didn't have enough time to do them separately, so I cooked them both at 350 degrees, and I left the steak in for an extra ten minutes. Is that a good idea? Is there any good way to convert cooking times? Like...two hours at 350 degrees equals one hour at 700 degrees?

Tonight is turkey burritos, and I hope turkey cooks the same way beef does, because otherwise I am in trouble. But that's okay, kind of, because I still can't brown beef correctly yet. Whenever I try, instead of breaking up into tiny pieces, the beef breaks up into little slices. And most of the time, the fourth of the meat that cooks first is burned, by the time the final fourth is cooked.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Monkey Island

Every now and then, someone tells me to play the Monkey Island series. I've tried it out, but to be honest, I don't think it's entertaining. The puzzles don't make any sense, and the jokes aren't funny.

I don't mean "not funny" as in "I understand the joke, but it doesn't amuse me". I mean "not funny" as in "I'm not sure if that was supposed to be a joke, or if it's just a weird line of dialogue".

Here's the playlist of me trying out the first game and not understanding it.

Out of the games I played, the third one was definitely the best. I got all the way through the prologue, mainly because the manual told me how. I probably would have played the game all the way through eventually, but since I got the game from the library, I had to return it. Maybe if they do a remake of the game, I'll look into it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wedding Planning

I got engaged on Labor Day Weekend. Right now, we're moving past the "everyone says congratulations" phase, and onto the "we are planning a wedding and have no idea what to do" phase.

Katie had her bridesmaids come over this weekend. I was more or less forced to sit in the basement and hide as they went on a dress rampage. I thought it was over when they left, but Katie started telling me that I need to completely change my wardrobe to fit their dress decisions. Sorry, Katie, but I'm not buying a second tuxedo to match the bridesmaid dresses.

Clearly, I need to get revenge on Katie by inviting all my buddies to the house and playing videogames all weekend, while she hides in the bedroom. The problem is that I don't have any groomsmen. I'd like to ask my GameCola buddies, but they all live on the east coast. They also sometimes read this blog, so "Hi guys!" if they're reading it now.

I have a feeling my wedding party will look like this:


Click for larger picture.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Other Star Trek Characters

I'm not a fan of Captain Kirk on Star Trek, but I like the other main characters, Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy. It's impressive how much Spock seems like a legitimate alien, and not just a human with putty on his ears. As for McCoy, I like him because he's more or less the only normal person on the show. Spock and McCoy play off each other very well, and I think it works so well because they are both extremely smart.

I have no real opinion on Mr. Sulu. I know George Takei has made a career out of the role, but he is a really unimportant character. He's more like an extra who shows up a few times than a reoccurring character. I am still unsure as to what role he fills on the ship. It seems like his particular field of expertise changes, depending on what the script calls for.

I can't understand half of what Chekov says.

Scotty is an okay character. It's interesting, because he's a generic tech guy, and in no way does he match up with our modern conception of "generic tech guy". He generally doesn't do much besides exposition, but on the occasions where he steps up and takes control of the ship (since the captain and first officer are constantly abandoning the ship to enter dangerous situations), he does a fair job.

Lt. Uhura is a pretty awful actress. She does a blank stare all the time and talks in a monotone. When she did actual acting in the "Mirror, Mirror" episode, I was shocked. In her defense, though, none of the women on the show ever seem to have good roles. It's very much a male-dominated show.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Captain Kirk

My fiancée has finished watching the first season of Star Trek. I have inconsistently watched it with her.

I don't like Captain Kirk. Sure, he can be clever sometimes, but he is ridiculously inconsistent. Sort of like other TV shows, his personality changes to fit whatever moral the screenwriter wants to drive home that week. So one week, he's on a crusade to destroy creepy aliens. The next week, he's on a crusade to protect the misunderstood aliens. One week, he talks about how great it would be for humans to find a paradise; for the next five weeks, he goes to various paradises and destroys them.

That's a running theme in the show, actually. Kirk screws up everyone's happiness, because it doesn't fit his particular worldview. So he ruins things for the planet which has simulated wars instead of real wars. And he ruins things for the planet that is run by Landrew the Computer. And he ruins things for the planet where people have happiness plants.

The planet of happiness plants was probably my favorite so far. It's basically the Lotus Eaters storyline, from The Odyssey. I hope they do more episodes based off that book. I mean, a planet with giant cannibals, or a planet with a magician host who messes around with the crewmen for her amusement. Those sound like Star Trek plots.

I can understand why the TV show is popular, but I can't quite explain why Kirk himself is popular. He's sort of like an incompetent Indiana Jones, and most of the time, I disagree with him.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nancy Drew Girl Detective

Here are the reviews for the first four books in the 2004 Nancy Drew series. I kind of like the books, because they're easy to get through. The series still suffers from the problem of drastically changing between books, depending on the author.

Book 2 is the best of the lot, but I can't believe no one notices or cares, when Deirdre's crimes go from committing sabotage to attempted murder. Usually, Nancy doesn't forgive people who attempt to kill her multiple times.









I think I'll review the next two books in this series (which is a two-part story), before moving back to 1980's Nancy Drew.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Engagement Video

In case you missed it, here's the video about me getting engaged to Katie.



The last time I had a big party was for my college graduation, and I sent out invitations to everyone on Facebook. It worked, since Facebook was for college kids only back then. But now I have no idea how to publicly discuss the wedding on Facebook, without it getting seen by dozens of people who aren't invited.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Education Reform

I know a lot of people are calling for education reform, and I thought I would throw my two cents in.

1. Grammar. In my experience, grammar gets taught to 8-10 year olds, and it gets completely ignored in older grades and high school. I think it would be better if high schoolers learned more about grammar, because they would certainly have an easier time understanding infinitives and gerunds than fifth graders.

2. Vocabulary. In my school, vocabulary lists were always taken from whatever book we happened to be reading. This can result in highly specialized vocabulary. For example, if you read Catch 22, you're likely to get a lot of military words. It would be better if vocab focused on words children need to know, not just whatever words happen to be nearby.

I know that The Cat in the Hat was written, in reference to a teachers' vocab list of words young readers need to learn. I'm sure there is a similar list for older children.

3. Math. Math is great, but I feel like it gets too advanced. I mean, I liked calculus and trigonometry, but I have never used those things outside of a math classroom. Meanwhile, my girlfriend who works with the IRS encounters people who can't add and subtract on a daily basis. So perhaps math classes should work extra-hard on drilling in fundamental math, instead of focusing on the more advanced and abstract math.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Channel Anniversary

September 25, 2007 is when the "Arglefumph" YouTube channel was created. Is there something special I should do to celebrate the seven-year anniversary?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Labyrinth of Lies

Nancy Drew: Labyrinth of Lies is available for pre-order now! If you preorder, you get the bonus edition. It looks like the bonus edition comes with cell phone games and phone charms (and an award for getting all the phone charms).

We also have pictures of the various characters available on the game's page! The characters are Xenia, Niobe, Thanos, and Grigor. Additionally, there is a museum curator as a phone contact. The Hardy Boys are also phone contacts.

The most exciting thing is the new trailer!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cooking

Okay, my latest attempt at cooking burgers worked perfectly. I guess 12 minutes on medium heat is what I need to do. Thanks to everyone for all the help!

My mistakes were using cooking spray--maybe my pan is no-stick to begin with?--and setting it on maximum heat. I was sort of imitating my mother, there. When Mom is in the car, she always cranks the AC to the maximum setting of 4. She never sets it to 1, 2 or 3. Likewise, with cooking, she always puts the stove on the highest setting, unless it's a recipe that specifically calls for the lowest-possible setting.

What's the difference between the various settings, I wonder. I'm told that if you cook on low, it takes longer to cook the food, but it is cooked more thoroughly.

This week, I'm only cooking food I cooked before (minus pork chops--I have no idea what I'll do with those). On Saturday, I cooked spaghetti for the first time. Water bubbled up from the pot and coated the entire stove top. And the sauce smelled like vinegar. I'm not sure what went wrong.