It's actually completely sunny outside right now...yet snowing. It's quite funny. You see the snow hit the ground...and then immediately disappear, like not even a little water residue. I've been trying to take a decent picture of it but to no avail. Anyway, hella busy day at work today…but hey, that’s what happens when you spend half of your day in managerial training and then the other half catching up on a full day of work…plus learning new duties to help out the team. That’s what I like about the job though, it allows me to grow & learn new things and have new opportunities (except my paycheck stays the same…for now). Other than that, not a whole lot going on. My first softball game is on Wednesday. There’s a chance of yet more snow over the next week. I’ve been a little ill the past few days, basically just a runny nose…but I’m over it now. I think my mom’s on her way back from Alaska…but because she has no idea what a cell phone is for, there’s really no way to find out. K-Fish may be visiting this week…but same thing with the cell phones. I hope she’s not expecting a timely ride from the airport if she’s not going to tell me when it is. Sigh… women. Am I right? No? Okay, maybe not. So yeah, since there’s really not a lot of news concerning me…here’s some about the rest of the world…
Laser Reaper - Death need not be a grim affair, especially for the living, and at a new columbarium in Singapore, the deceased can depart, rock concert style (No, not drug overdose, stage dive malfunction, or being burned alive at a Great White concert...and RIP Dio). Unlike most traditional Buddhist funeral ceremonies that follow cremation, there is no incense and no monks offering prayers at the Nirvana Memorial Garden columbarium, where the urns holding the remains of the dead are stored. You read right. The Nirvana…Memorial Garden. That’s just coincidence though. Instead, curtains draw automatically to reveal the deceased's urn which is placed atop a pedestal, machine-generated smoke fills the prayer hall and a booming recorded voice, accompanied by chants, speaks words of comfort and talks about death. (I was hoping for “Are you READY TO ROOOOOCK???”) The columbarium boasts a $2 million sound and light system. Its resident Buddha statue pulsate gently with LED lights and, as a final touch, a ray of bright white light shines on the urn of the deceased symbolizing the ascent to heaven. "This is just 60 percent of what we can offer," said Jessie Ong, who works for Nirvana Memorial, the company that runs the columbarium. "We are still fine tuning the laser lights." Most columbariums are dark, eerie places, with floors littered with incense ash and urns piled high to the ceiling in tiny pigeonholes, each adorned with a picture of the deceased. But in Nirvana Memorial, luxury and space are aplenty. "This is not a place for people to come only once a year to visit their parents or relatives, we want to create an environment to encourage them to come as often as possible," Jeff Kong, director of Nirvana Memorial Singapore, told Reuters. The so-called "six star" columbarium is Singapore's first luxury final resting place and the brainchild of Malaysian-based NV Multi Corp which has other similar projects in Southeast Asia. Buddhism is the most followed religion in Singapore, with over 40% of the population declaring themselves believers, according to the latest census. Most of these practice a form of the religion that incorporates elements of Taoism and traditional Chinese faiths. The 11,200 square meter (120,600 sq ft) columbarium is fully air-conditioned and carpeted, with a skylit lobby and an indoor car park. After it is fully opened in 2011, the $22 million facility will host up to 50,000 niches for urns spread across 11 suites designed with feng shui elements in mind. Each of the suites also feature lounges furnished with sofas and rosewood furniture for families to rest when they visit. To access the niches, families are given electronic keycards. The company plans to open a restaurant in the columbarium as well as set up a system to send electronic reminders to families to pay their respects to their relatives on death anniversaries and birthdays (Grieve-mail?). The price of such luxury, however, does not come cheap. Compared to a state-run facility which costs close to $360 for a single niche, prices here start at $22,000 for a double niche in the Royal Suite and $93,000 for a cubicle that stores up to 32 urns in the Family Suite. There are also "economy" class niches that range from $2,200, and the facility accepts payment in installments. Madam Goh, a woman in her 60s who only gave her family name, bought a niche for herself at the facility and said the investment was worth it. "This place is clean, comfortable and much less eerie than the traditional columbariums," she said. Yes, because the last thing you want in a place where the charred remains of your ancestors are…is an eerie feeling. Wow, $22,000 for a niche. Oh…and a b**chin’ stage show complete with fog lights, lasers & a eulogy from the Buddhist equivalent of Alice Cooper. I assume that’s included too. I like the thought. You know, basically being a fancy hotel for ashes and all…complete with restaurant, lounge area…and probably a full-service spa since it is Singapore…but it’s just a little out of my price range. The Family Suite seems like it would be a great bargain though.
Panda Update – Speaking of things dying in Asia, China plans to build a center where giant pandas born in captivity will be trained to survive in the wild, state media reported Thursday. The $8.8 million (60 million yuan) center will be located in Sichuan province's Dujiangyan city, according to Zhang Zhihe, the head of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. The facility is expected to house three to five giant pandas when it is completed within five years. The center will include 21.5 acres of an experimental zone, along with 2,800 acres of woodlands, Zhang said. Groundbreaking for the new center starts at the end of the month, Xinhua said. Giant pandas are among the world's most endangered species (because they apparently won’t have sex). Some 1,600 pandas live in the wild, while more than 300 pandas are raised in captivity in China. Zookeepers hope to slowly train pandas to reduce their dependency on humans. In the initial five to 10 years, they will still live in cages in the experimental zone. After that, pandas that adapt well will switch over to living in caves and be trained to forage for food, but they will still receive frequent checkups and participate in artificial breeding (bow chicka bow wow). From there, they will transition to living in a largely "natural" zone with little human contact, before being released into the nearby large natural reserve, Zhang said. The entire process would require a minimum of 15 years, he said. China had started a giant panda training project in 2003 to teach the animals to live in the wild, but that project suffered a big setback. Xiang Xiang, a male panda who had been trained for three years, was found dead in a remote part of the Wolong Nature Reserve in 2007, a year after he had been released into the wild. Why? He was never taught Wuxia, the martial arts!!! Seriously, do I have to do everything myself when it comes to saving pandas? I already gave the world Panda Porn five years ago. I taught them how to f**k, now I have to teach them to fight too. I’m guessing Judo would probably be the best technique given their short legs and…we’ll say “dense” figures. Get the opponent to the ground, then go for the jugular. No mercy. Apparently it’s up to me to turn these super-sized plush toys into rockin’, sockin’, f**kin’ animals that are going to last into the 22nd century. Well China, I need moving expenses, a steady paycheck, a place to live & a few lovely assistants. Send me an email when you’re ready to receive me.
Green Card 2 - Prosecutors say the marriage of a couple at Fairy Tale Weddings in North Dakota was a fairy tale fraud. Federal court documents released Wednesday say 23-year-old Jeffrey Goble agreed to marry 28-year-old Alma Numic for $15,000 so the Bosnian woman could obtain U.S. citizenship in 2008. Goble is now charged with marriage fraud (that’s seriously a charge?). He could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted (I guess so). A message left for his public defender wasn't returned. Numic has since moved to Bosnia (that b**ch!). Court documents say the pair met through Goble's co-worker but parted ways after the wedding. Fairy Tale Weddings didn't return messages. The Grand Forks wedding business’ website encourages couples to "Let your imagination create your wedding day." Okay, so…why am I mentioning this? Sheer surprise. I had no idea that there was such a thing as Marriage Fraud. Seriously. I know there’s the whole movie comedy thing like “Green Card” and “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” where there’s apparently some government body that checks to make sure you guys are really in love or whatever…but seriously, I’ve known many a marriage that could be considered fraud & there’s no jail sentence (unless you count spousal support…which I do). Look, a respect the sanctity of marriage. I really do. I may sound cynical about it…but hey, I’m single. Always have been. That being said, there was one time that I briefly considered doing something like this. It’s true. $teve almost got married to help out a friend who faced deportation when her student visa expired. Then again, it was an extremely cute Italian girl so…win-win, baby. Anyway, she chickened out (and I think her boyfriend wasn’t fond of the idea) so it never happened…and I think they’re in Ireland now. Now, if a cute 28-year-old Bosnian girl was facing deportation…and needed a superhero to step in and save the day…and grant her the American Dream, would I do it? Reno’s only 30 minutes away and there’s a variety of chapels for me to choose from. Of course for legal purposes as well as protecting the sanctity of marriage, I have to say that you should only marry for Love and you should have a strong, healthy relationship with your partner before getting married…but I’m also a huge fan of legal loopholes, speed dating & drive-thru weddings ministered by the King. Besides, my brother’s marriage was a f**king joke from the beginning…and there was no investigation into whether it was so that some heartless c**t could sap my brother & mother dry. I guess the main thing was that they agreed on the money exchange beforehand or something…as opposed to in a court of law at the divorce. Love the legal system. So if any of you Brazilian girls out there are looking for a free pass to dual citizenship… call me.
Milla Update - British actress Juno Temple (“Year One”) is in negotiations to play the royal highness in Paul W.S. Anderson's upcoming 3D version of "The Three Musketeers" for Summit Entertainment says The Hollywood Reporter. Yes, another 3 Musketeers reboot. There’s only been like a thousand of those. The actress joins Logan Lerman, Ray Stevenson (“Beowulf”), Luke Evans, Matthew Macfayden, Christoph Waltz (“Inglorious Basterds”), Mads Mikkelsen and last but certainly not least, my baby mama Milla Jovovich who also star in the film. Shooting kicks off in August. It could be a pretty good movie. The cast seems solid…and it’s the timeless tale of Alexander Dumas (IN F**KING 3D!!!). Best of luck to you Paul W.S. Anderson (who is…in actuality, Milla’s baby daddy).
Dangers of Viagra - Tokio Hotel guitarist Tom Kaulitz told a German newspaper on Friday he fell ill after taking too many Viagra tablets and could not see straight for days (and walked with a limp). Kaulitz, 20, told Bild newspaper that someone offered him a Viagra tablet during a concert tour of Asia. After first turning down the offer, Kaulitz said he decided to try one. He said a little later he took a second one and fell ill. "I first asked the seller 'Do I look like someone who needs help with that?'" said Kaulitz, whose brother Bill is the group's lead singer. "He said 'no' -- but that I should nevertheless try it out. I popped one in." Kaulitz, a member of the German rock band that has sold millions of albums around the world, said he took a few more tablets used to treat impotence when he got back to his hotel. "I popped a few more pills, probably too many. The next morning my head was pounding and everything in front of my eyes was blurry. It wasn't fun anymore. It was pretty bad." Kaulitz said it took two days for the effects to wear off. "Unfortunately there were situations where it just wasn't appropriate." Is this what rock has been reduced to? Guitarists OD’ing on impotency pills? Also, of all the pills to be handed out on an Asian rock tour – Viagra? Not some mystical sh*t from Bangladesh or some glowing orange pills out of the Golden Triangle…but a tiny blue diamond that some kid probably stole from his dad? However, there are other side effects to Viagra other than blurred vision, raging erections & public ridicule.
Viagra & Hearing Loss - Men who take Viagra could be at an increased risk for long-term hearing loss, a new study suggests. The results show that, among 11,525 men over age 40, those who took Viagra or other drugs that act in a similar manner, called phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE-5i), were twice as likely to also report hearing loss as were men who had not used the drugs. The findings suggest that the current government warning regarding hearing loss and the use of PDE-5i medications, which include Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, is warranted, said study researcher Gerald McGwin, a professor of epidemiology in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced labeling changes for PDE-5i medications so that the risk of hearing problems was more prominently displayed. This action was taken after several case studies that linked PDE-5i use and sudden hearing loss were reported. The current work is the first epidemiologic study to evaluate the relationship between PDE-5i drugs and long-term hearing loss. Epidemiology is the study of the distributions of diseases or health problems in populations along with the factors that might affect those problems. However, the study only shows an association, and not a direct cause-effect link, and more research is needed to back up the findings. The work also has several shortcomings, including the fact that those who took these drugs could have pre-existing conditions that might also contribute to hearing loss. Also, older individuals, whom the study is based on, are already at risk for hearing loss. "Though there are limitations to this study, it is prudent that patients using these medications be warned about the signs and symptoms of hearing impairment and be encouraged to seek immediate medical attention to potentially forestall permanent damage," McGwin said. The results are published in the May 18 issue of the journal Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. The relationship was strongest for men reporting use of sildenafil (generic form of Viagra) over those who used tadalafil (Cialis) or vardenafil (Levitra), a finding McGwin attributes in part to a small sample size for both of the latter drugs. McGwin said the findings indicated an elevated but not statistically significant increase in hearing loss for users of tadalafil and vardenafil. PDE-5i drugs were originally designed to treat pulmonary hypertension and are now used extensively in the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED). McGwin said it is important to consider whether there really could be a plausible biological mechanisms for how these drugs might cause hearing loss. "PDE-5i medications work in ED patients by their ability to increase blood flow to certain tissues in the body. It has been hypothesized that they may have a similar effect on similar tissues in the ear, where an increase of blood flow could potentially cause damage leading to hearing loss." The FDA originally decided to feature warnings about hearing loss on labels for PDE-5i drugs after 29 cases of the problem were reported between 1996 and 2007. The hearing loss was reported to occur within hours to days of taking the drugs. The FDA urges those who experience hearing problems while on the drugs to stop taking the medications and call their doctor. See, I knew about this years ago…because that’s exactly right. The increase in blood flow can cause damage to the fragile ear tissues. Also, another reason for the hearing loss could be that they’re just old dudes…who like rock music at high volumes…but my favorite explanation – The joyous screams of their boisterous lovers. Having never taken or studied Viagra, I can’t begin to make a scientific correlation…but I’m pretty sure that’s what happened to my hearing.
Fox Update – Speaking of hotties & screaming, in a surprisingly sudden axing, Megan Fox will not return to star in "Transformers 3," which began shooting this week in Los Angeles. The actress last year likened franchise director Michael Bay to Hitler and Napoleon, and said he was "a nightmare to work for." (Yeah, my boss would've fired my ass too) Still, it is unusual to eliminate an actor or actress so closely associated with the movie, not to mention a key character in the movie, just as it begins production. The move is also unusual since word around Hollywood talent agencies was that Bay and writer Ehren Kruger were planning on creating a female nemesis for Fox (mmm... catfight). Bay and company now plan to take the story "in another direction," according to insiders, and will cast a new love interest. The third installment of the popcorn blockbuster had been amassing a higher level of actors, with John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and Patrick Dempsey being new additions. Fox returns to theaters next month in "Jonah Hex." Her non-involvement in "Transformers 3" was first reported by Deadline.com. There were rumors of her being sacked, but Fox's publicist released a statement saying "Megan Fox will not be starring in 'Transformers 3'. It was her decision not to return. She wishes the franchise the best." Deadline added to the story saying the decision was ultimately up to director Michael Bay and that Ehren Kruger's script gives Shia's character "a new love interest [which] makes more sense for the story." Really? That's what you were worried about? Making a movie that made sense? Did you see the 2nd one? Seriously, they teleported all over the world. In fact, I remember one scene in particular where they were in the Air & Space Museum in Washington DC, walked through a hole in the wall, and were magically teleported to a field of abandoned aircraft that, I believe, is located in the Arizona desert. In the few hours since then however several potential replacement names have already emerged with actress Gemma Arterton ("Prince of Persia", "Clash of the Titans" & "Quantum of Solace") said to be the leading candidate according to The Wrap. Also in the running are Brooklyn Decker (Andy Roddick's girlfriend), Bar Rafaeli (DiCaprio's girlfriend) and Aussie supermodel Miranda Kerr (Orlando Bloom's partner) with the latter two having apparently already read for the role. Filming kicks off this month. Sigh... good. Now I don't have to give a sh*t about Transformers movies anymore. Seriously, I don't even think Dinobots could peak my interest now. After how horrible the sequel was...and now not even a few obviously constructed scenes to show off Megan Fox in jean undies, spray-on tans and/or running around with her mouth open and chesticles flailing? Yup, done. Best of luck, Michael Bay. I hope Megan wins an Academy Award now. Then again... I do fancy Gemma Arterton... Damn it, I'm so torn. Oh wait, no I'm not. The Fox always wins.