The Titanosaur!

Much like many things in New York (1 World Trade, Empire State Building, Manhattan Bridge…) we do things large and in style. Our museums are no different. Grand, magnificent displays, intricate and detailed dioramas, classic descriptions of the days old, the American Museum of Natural History have unveiled their latest and greatest display– the Titanosaur.

The Titanosaur– a dinosaur so enormous that it does not have a proper name– is now the newest resident of the museum’s fourth floor, right with its other dinosaur brethren.

Disclaimer though, the skeleton currently on display does not contain the actual bones, but a fiberglass replica, as the fossil bones were too heavy to be mounted. They do have an original bone, a femur, for a limited engagement at the museum that is on display. The display itself is awe inspiring. The Titanosaur is so big that its head sticks out of the entrance. A very apt welcoming indeed.

According to the display information (click here for more information from the AMNH), the Titanosaur spans an impressive 122 feet across, and in its heyday, weighed 70 tons.

To put that into prospective, for example:

  • An elephant weighs 11,000 lbs, or 5 tons. A Titanosaur would be equal to 14 elephants, roughly.
  • An Orion VII transit bus weighs 42,540 lb, or 19 tons. A Titanosaur would be equal to 6 Orion VII buses.
  • The Brooklyn Bridge weighs 14,680 tons. The weight of 210 Titanosaurs would equal the weight of the Brooklyn Bridge

Boggles the mind. That and the fact of the existence of this gigantic beast. It drew a huge crowd on its debut, so I wasn’t able to take many pictures but I did manage to get some nice ones as seen below. The exhibit floor was pretty dark, they were showing a movie as well at the time. Lucky for spotlights and the occasional flash.

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Panoramic of the Titanosaur (click to expand)

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Hello there!

I will definitely be making a return visit hopefully with a better camera and get more pictures of the Titanosaur.

Review: Inspire your Inner Cat Lady/Man with Neko Atsume (Android/iOS)

I stumbled upon this game when I was reading Kotaku one day and they reviewed it. Either I’m not as unique as I thought I was or that there are more people like me out there (I’m leaning towards the latter).

Neko Atsume is a game that is low maintenance and pretty darn rewarding. You play as an unknown person that leaves food out for stray cats who visit and leave presents for you. It’s very cute and the fact that you don’t have to check in every few minutes is a huge plus. That way you’re not tethered to the phone (as if you needed another reason to these days) and you still get rewarded compared to someone who checks it religiously.

Note: the game is in Japanese, but it’s very easy to play once you get the hang of the icons. Trial and Error helps in this case.

Without going into a full walkthrough (instead check Welcome to Wonderland for a very comprehensive walkthrough), this is just to touch upon how fun this game is.

When I first started out, it felt pretty empty. After a week I think I attracted 2 or 3 cats. It felt pretty sad and I thought maybe I did something wrong. Just keep leaving food however, more cats will come. As long as you keep the food coming, so will the cats. The more cats that visit and the longer that they stay playing with the toys you leave out, the more fishes they leave you. More fishes = more currency to purchase higher value foods and toys. You have a choice of using real money to purchase in-game fishes but the way that it is, you really do not have spend your money as long as you’re patient. Suggestion: when you start amassing gold fishes, start saving up so you can buy an extension to your house to hold another food bowl and more toys (price: 180 gold fish for extension, 280 gold fish for different remodeling types).

After a while of attracting “regular” cats, “special” cats started visiting my yard. These cats are uniquely looking. You’ll know it when you see it. One looks like a Musketeer, another looks like what I would imagine if Anna Wintour was a cat, another is a Sphinx cat. It’s a treat whenever a unique cat visits your little yard. In addition to taking care of the little cats, you also have the ability of taking pictures of them and storing those photos in an album. The toys that you put out has different interaction scenes with the cats and it’s animated as well; if you experiment, you can get some of them in some nifty poses. Special cats that are only attracted by one type of unique toy will only have one unique pose, however.

The only drawback I found to this game is that you can only take pictures in landscape, and you can’t rotate the camera in portrait to take pictures of some cats that stand vertically (eg: the samurai cat, the noble looking cat, the mountain climbing cat). You end up cutting some part of them out of the picture. Other than that little pesky thing, the game is overall pretty fun.

Some screenshots:

My first yard...

My first yard…

First house extension

My first house extension

Coraline

Individual cat file: Coraline in the cowtube

Pandacat

Individual cat file: Panda(cat) with the little butterfly tether toy

Netflix and Being Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Isn’t it weird to have something for so long and never really use it?

That’s me. I’ve had Netflix for a little under a year and have never really used it much. Nothing really, just never had the inclination to watch anything. I did use Netflix to watch old staples such as Frasier. I really liked that I didn’t have to dig out the ol’ DVDs. I never watched anything else, either because my Netflix search skills suck (or their search sucks, one of those) or because they didn’t have what I wanted to watch.

This weekend, I am pleased to say that I officially binged on Netflix. I don’t recall watching as many movies/series as I had in my history of having it. The downside is that my whole day went because of it.

And it all started with Poirot. I watched one episode last week and got a little hooked. That led me to watching it from the start (which was a bit disappointing, because in the episode that I watched he seemed really nice, but then he wasn’t in the beginning). Those first few episodes weren’t really notable to be honest. That then led me to jump around and find some other shows. I ended up watching Death Comes to Pemberly, which if you are a Jane Austen fan, you may enjoy for it continues the saga of the Darcys. The acting was good and the plot was believable. BBC makes such great shows (such as Doctor Who– which I tried watching the classics, but just could not get into) when you think about it. They make you think and keep you on your toes.

Segueing from that, I watched an Indie Comedy just to spice it up. Ended up watching The Station Agent, starring Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones), Patricia Clarkson (Claire from Frasier), and Bobby Carnavale (Vincent from Will and Grace). It was a really good movie, despite its seemingly disappointing ending. Being conditioned with watching your mainstream movies, I kept watching and waiting for the romance to happen only to find out that everything was truly platonic, a rarity in films these days.

All in all, just like how you can get sucked into the rabbit hole in Youtube, you can get sucked into one on Netflix too. Don’t even bother with worrying about the time and just enjoy the ride. You never know what you may be opened to and who knows– end up liking.

Review: Zoho Sites – a website builder for newbies that is truly free

Seriously.

When I purchased my first domain name, I was happy (yay, personalized email) and then I was shocked and sad (wait, what? I have to purchase a domain and a web hosting for a website?!). Then after heading to The Googles (yes, the almighty search engine) it directed me to Zoho.

Zoho is a company based in India. They specialize in websites for business. They also specialize in freemium products it looks like. Don’t get me wrong, they sell you add-ons for your business (CRM support, price for added webforms and web space) as well as domain names if you need one, but it all starts off free and with no real catch. A company after my own heart.

Because I learned that nothing in life is often free, because it always contain catches/strings, I still gave it a shot because hey– they had me at free.

Continuing on, so at that moment all I had, was a domain name (thank you hellodotnyc) and no clue where exactly to proceed after that. Reading up a little, I saw that I had to get email support (which was another separate charge) and web hosting if I chose to have a website.

Zoho seemed to have everything I needed. Following their instructions, I effortlessly set up my domain with their email and now I had email support. I also linked my domain with their site builder and now I had a website– all for free.

Caveat— while free, the themes for the websites from Zoho really (I kid you not) look like they came out of the early 90s. They look like the sites that spammers purchase and spoof real legitimate websites to fool the elderly and novice users into visiting. However on the other hand– it’s free– and the workaround is that it allows customization– if you know how to do CSS or HTML (but there’s a limit to the customization that you can do, as you still have to retain some parts of the themes that you may not really care for). Another thing I didn’t really care for was that some of their website add-ons (Twitter button to fetch your feed) doesn’t display correctly when you add it onto your site. It also happens to a lot of their other third party add-ons as well. Until they fix that, if that is a big deal to some, you may want to just spend money to have hosting that truly support it. The developers had posted that they are working on it, but that was a year ago and still it looks unresolved.

So in conclusion? While it has its limitations, Zoho really is a good starting point for a newbie looking out to create their own first website. If you’re inclined, you can check mine out: Just Lok’s Little Website.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Website support
  • Email support
  • Features online tutorials to help you build
  • Custom themes that support customization

Cons:

  • Limited 90s themes
  • Website builder GUI is laggy at times
  • Third party add-ons do not display correctly (8/12/15 Edit: Third party add-ons do work, just make sure your adblocker/any other privacy add-ons are disabled)

Game App Review — SimCity BuildIt by EA

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For those who has always sucked at the SimCity game franchise, you would be glad to know that this latest incarnation by EA Games isn’t so annoying… once you get used to the mechanics. Or maybe it was just me that sucked way back when. In any case, SimCity BuildIt is a much more easier (and less stressful) game for both Android and iTunes.

Starting out with your brand new city:

In the tutorial, you start off building a road. After that, you are asked to place a residential building next to the road in order to start your first residential household. What I instantly liked about it, is that there aren’t any zoning regulations and you are able to build anything next to each other (mixed usage land). Building is pretty simple: as long as you have the supplies that are asked for (steel, wood, seeds, plants, chairs, etc…) you are able to expand without any other requirements. To know when you qualify for an upgrade is when you see a yellow helmet with a check next to it. A plain yellow helmet (like in the picture above) just means that they want to build but material is missing. It is then up to you to tap on the factories to acquire that material. You can also request that the architect draft up new plans which will set you back 30 minutes but will randomize other materials that you may have to expand.

Materials and Money:

Getting materials are pretty simple. There are no prices to getting material. The only thing you have to lose is time by waiting for them to build. Your basic materials are: steel, wood, seeds, minerals, and plastic (I think there’s one more expansion but I haven’t leveled up enough to unlock it as of this post). With subsequent level ups, you unlock other factories that create more complex materials such as nails, hammers, shovels, chairs, and such. Those more complex materials are used in expanding hi-rise buildings with higher property values. Those materials take a lot longer to create compared to the basic materials (30 mins to create a hammer compared to 30 seconds for steel). Of course with many games out there nowadays, you can always speed that up with in-game dollars (that also cost real money to purchase if need be).

To build, you can tap on the various types of buildings on the right hand side of the screen to choose what you want to build. You have roads, residential buildings, commercial buildings, factories, and governmental buildings. Leveling up will allow you to place more diverse buildings around your town. Many buildings are purchased with in-game currency that is generated through taxes or selling your excess materials and others are purchased through keys that you gain when you start exporting materials through the city’s seaport. You can also obtain money by utilizing the Global Trade HQ, which allows you to visit another city to purchase their excess supplies or the Trade Depot, which allows you to place for sale your excess supplies and advertise so others would see your items when they go to their Global Trade HQ.

Your Citizens:

Compared to the old SimCity, you do not really interact much with the residents. You can see that they are unhappy by the little smilies or unhappy smilies that float off the buildings. There is also a little display that shows your approval rating (which affects the amount of taxes that you can receive per day). Sometimes you’ll get bubbles that display from the buildings. When you tap on them, you may even get a little reward– which could be an item that helps you expand the city’s storage building to house more items or to expand your land possession– so do not neglect to tap on anything. Usually any blue icon in a bubble signifies good thoughts whereas red icons mean that those residences need something and you must place something nearby to satisfy their needs. Outside of figuring out the placements of the buildings to get optimal happiness, it really is not hard to satisfy your citizens. Just keep the nasty buildings (smoggy factories, smelly sewage treatment plants) away and keep the good ones (parks, schools, firehouses) nearby. After figuring that out, my citizens are happy and I’m not seeing yellow ‘meh’ faces and more green ‘yay’ faces. Not too shabby.

Verdict:

The game is fun, it is not much of a hassle if you are in the ‘set it and forget it’ mood with your games. I like that I am not rushed to level up or complete quests (although the cargo ship seaport quests do have a time limit to them). I have played other freemium games that require you to check in much more than this one and I have to say, this is much less stressful compared to them. Give it a shot, who knows, you may enjoy being the Mayor of your own little cybercity.

If you are inclined to visit my humble little town, my city’s name is “Bad Wolf”.

MF’in Franklin Delano Roosevelt – a movie review (FDR: American Badass)

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FDR: American Badass Poster

Ensemble:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Barry Bostwick: Spin City) – The main character of the story. Then-Governor FDR contracts Polio from a Werewolf attack and that spurs him to run for President and get involved in World War II in ways that you did not read in the history books.

Louis (Bruce McGill: MacGuyver) – FDR’s companion and right hand man. He witnesses FDR’s attack as well as assists him in his reign as President.

Eleanor Roosevelt (Lin Shaye: There’s Something About Mary) – FDR’s supportive Wife and mother of their 6 children.

Douglas MacArthur (Ray Wise: Reaper) – Aka Dougie Mac. Gen. MacArthur assisted FDR in fighting back the soldiers from the Axis of Evil.

Abraham Lincoln (Kevin Sorbo: Hercules) – Ol’ Honest Abe gives FDR a little bit of advice in his time of need.

Cleavon Buford (Ross Patterson: FDR: American Badass) – A ‘Repube” that assists FDR in gaining the state of Georgia in his run for President.

Plot:

America has been infiltrated by Werewolves where any area that you’re bitten by a Werewolf you contract Polio. FDR goes on a hunting trip and encounters a werewolf that gives him Polio. We follow FDR’s journey into acceptance and making the best of the situation by taking matters into his own hands and going after those responsible. We meet various characters along the way, such as Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito from the Axis of Evil as well as Winston Churchill, who engages America in Lend-Lease to fight the enemies.

Verdict:

I can’t say when I’ve watched a movie so absurd that it tickled me so. The humor of this was very similar to Anchorman where it seems the characters had Carte blanche to say whatever popped into their minds. The movie with its cast of veteran actors (that you’ve undoubtedly have seen in many shows throughout the years), as well as the ridiculous story plot and lines, really come together and make this a flick worth watching. The humor was so wrong and if you’re one who cries about how un-PC things are, you should avoid this movie. All those who are looking for something to fill their 93 mins with, should watch this movie.

Orden en el Museo del Barrio, Aquí Viene el Juez*: Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Book Signing

*Order in el Museo del Barrio, here comes the judge

Still playing catchup (and not breaking any records unfortunately), Justice Sotomayor’s book signing happened on 1/19 at el Museo del Barrio. To me, it’s one of those museums you always hear about but never knew where it was. El Museo del Barrio is located on E104th Street and 5th Avenue. It’s conveniently across the street from the upper part of Central Park should you choose to take a leisurely stroll after your visit there. It’s accessible by the 4/5/6 train (get off at the 103rd Street stop & walk to 5th Ave). Extremely nervous and ill prepared (no decent camera and no copy of her book), I had to leave early and take a detour to the nearest Barnes & Noble to pick up her memoir. Luckily I found her book without much problem (for a new release, they didn’t put it at the front of the store like they usually do, was it because it was 30% off sticker price?) and checkout was a breeze. Hopped on the train for one quick stop and off I was right in East Harlem. The last time I was there, I was with the then bf (now dh) picking up some pets from the AC&C on E110th (anyone in NYC looking for a pet should definitely check out that place first).

Although her interview wasn’t starting until 3PM, when I arrived at 2PM, the line was down to the corner of the block already (the museum’s front door is actually in the middle of 103rd & 104th Streets). Luckily I was there early to save a place in the line for my companions. Can’t say I wasn’t excited, even if it was to just stand on line, soon we’ll all be sitting in the presence of Justice Sotomayor. It’s such an honor, personally to be in such an atmosphere. Of course the more excited I was, the more nervous I was, and the more nervous I was, the more I was leaning towards puking. Well 3PM came and the line started to move. We all walked inside and got our seats. I’m glad I bought the book outside of the museum. While I support museums, I saved quite a bit buying not from them (~$10 difference). I did see some people going crazy though, purchasing 5+ books. Someone’s getting a Sotomayor signed book for their birthday!

The stage at el Museo del Barrio.

The stage at el Museo del Barrio.

Beautiful artwork in the auditorium of el Museo del Barrio.

Beautiful artwork in the auditorium of el Museo del Barrio.

The inside of the auditorium was beautiful. There were full painted murals on the walls. According to one of the museum’s staff members, he advised people to not go too crazy on the flash- especially if they were taking pictures of the murals- because the flash will degrade the paintings. Very interesting and definitely still did not stop some people who feigned ignorance. That also applied when they advised against using flash when Justice Sotomayor was speaking. I guess that’s one reason why she didn’t look much at the audience during her hour talk.

Justice Sotomayor chatting with Interview Maria Hinajosa.

Justice Sotomayor chatting with Interview Maria Hinajosa.

After a brief wait, our interviewer and host, Ms. Maria Hinajosa came out to a lot of applause. She was pretty funny, cracked jokes, and traded back and forths with Justice Sotomayor. While we loved her energy, we definitely brought down the house when the Justice walked out on stage. She got an extremely loud standing ovation. She discussed her life growing up in the Bronx with an alcoholic father and how that affected her growing up. What stood out most in my mind was in the beginning, when she mentioned how people always look towards her with reverence, and she tells them that they shouldn’t look at her like that, as if she was “better or higher than them.” So down to Earth, Justice Sotomayor wants to be treated equally with the likes of you and I. I can’t say I could do that though. She’s definitely “Sonia from the block”. Throughout the whole interview, they peppered their conversation with some Spanish, which was great considering that pretty much 99% of the crowd were Spanish-speakers, but definitely did not help me and my rusty Spanish skills.

She did take some audience questions at the end, but was running short on time so they breezed quickly through it.

Running short on time, Ms. Hinojosa read through some of the questions audience members had submitted on cue cards. Ms. Sotomayor answered in an impromptu lightning round.

What’s a Latina feminist? “Someone who is ‘tough as nails.’”

Life/work balance? “All of life is choices.”

Would Ms. Sotomayor recommend law school? “Law is the noblest profession.”

Favorite Yankee? “Bernie Williams.”

Most surprising thing about getting to know the president? “He is so tall.”

After they finished their interview (and to Justice Sotomayor getting yet another long standing ovation), everyone rushed out to get on line for her book signing. There were so many people that they had to crowd off dozens in different groups and then admit them 10 at a time. Apparently Justice Sotomayor has a record of signing a certain number of books in her sessions (it was 500 before today) and she was definitely determined to break it today (definitely doable considering there were probably 500+ people there, with some bringing multiple books). Luckily sitting at the end of the auditorium gave me an advantage at the book line, as my wait time was probably about 15 minutes (until I got into the actual signing room). I never really attended a book signing but she had a lot of handlers. I mean, every 5 feet, someone would give you the once over, and tell you if you were holding the book wrong (I was told to put the cover flap a certain way so it wouldn’t bother Justice Sotomayor). Great tips for the newbs, but it was rather intimidating. I was wondering if we would ever all get patted down at one point or another from the entrance to the Justice (we didn’t). We also weren’t allowed to take any pictures of her while she was signing, which seemed silly. I read that she shook hands but I didn’t see any of that. As usual with anyone of authority, I turn into a bundle of verbal diarrhea. In my head I had what I wanted to say prepared, but when I got in front of her, all I could eke out was, “oh it’s an honor to meet you.” Blah. Not bad but I could have done better. She thanked me for coming and for buying her book. I guess she had to say that to everyone, but even in that cold atmosphere she still managed to make you feel so warm.

All fangirling asides, what am I going to do with her book now? I’m going to have to put it in a airtight box or something. It’s really not every day you get to meet a Justice of the Supreme Court.