Archive for the ‘Other’ Category.

When the Giant Alien Ship Arrives to Find Out What Happened to the Dolphins Who Were Marooned on this Planet Millennia Ago, This Guy May Have Saved the Human Race

Picking A Lock with a Hairpin

Now I know what I am going to be doing all weekend.

Lost Joy

When I was in high school, there was a dating ritual in which the guy (ie me) went to pick up the girl at the girl's house.  The girl was never ready, so the guy was forced into an awkward (particularly on the first date) conversation with the girl's dad.

Apparently, this sort of dating ritual is gone, at least at our school and in my family.  As my daughter gets closer and closer to leaving high school, it finally struck me last night that I may never get to enjoy the payback of being the "dad" in this ritual.  And I was all ready, too.  I never use my shotgun any more but I keep it around solely in the hope of having it out on the table for cleaning when my daughter's date comes over.  Now I fear I will be denied this small joy.

(Of course, the fact that I have communicated my fantasy of cleaning my shotgun on my kitchen table when my daughter's dates come over may have something to do with my daughter structuring her social life such that boys never come over.  Corollary to Heisenberg:  You cannot discuss a fantasy without disturbing it).

Greatest Thing Since Duct Tape

Don't let Amazon's placement of it in the "craft" section fool you.  E-6000 is the best all-purpose, stick-any-two-arbitrary-things-together adhesive I have ever found.

I made my daughter a Christmas present which was a reproduction of the painting in the Disney Haunted Mansion where the man in the picture slowly turns to a skeleton.  I will post a build report at some time, but I had to anchor a heavy computer monitor to a wood box and an Ikea plastic frame, and E-6000 welded the whole thing together.  I also have used it recently to glue studs to a concrete floor to support a cabinet and to put a rubber weir under my garage door.  It takes a day to cure, and will not go on thin and sometime can be messy, but it makes an awesome bond.   I almost never touch epoxy or  Liquid Nails any more.

Update:  I know Gorilla Glue has its adherents.  The problem is that it expands so much (it kind of foams), it is really hard to control and get good results, at least in my opinion.  Neither of these replace ACC when you need to bond something fast or when you want your fingers stuck together all day.

So Much For the Patrimony

Would a visiting alien look at these photos and assume men were in charge?

Sentence Planning

One of the transitions English speakers have to make in Romance languages, and I have found particularly in Italian, is that the object of the sentence that we so often put at the end ends up at the beginning of sentences.  For example, in Italian, when translating the phrase "I can show it to you", the "to you" and "it" end up as the first two syllables ahead of everything else.

I was working on this just yesterday in my Italian lesson so I got a laugh out of XKCD

You absolute-fucking-... shit.

My Idea of Luxury

If I had a stupid amount of money to spend on a home, I would not go in for the French Chateau style mansion.  This is the house I would want.  The garage has a better view than any house I expect to own.

A Brief Rant -- Believe it or Not -- On Table Legs

Last night I was at a wonderful dinner in Sedona (report to follow in a later post).  However, at this very nice restaurant, the table wobbled, as tables so often do in restaurants.

Here is my question:  Why do restaurants still buy tables with four legs?? I understand in the old style table, where legs were at each corner of the table, four legs facilitates having 1-4 guests at a table without the legs getting in the way.  But most restaurants nowadays use tables that have a single pedestal in the middle, that then sits on -- and this is my problem -- four legs.   Here is an example:

mccoy_pedestal_table

Why not three legs?  Three legs are inherently stable, and in the pedestal design don't have to be any more obtrusive than four.  Even if the ground is uneven flagstone, a table with three legs still will not wobble.  A table with four legs almost always will.

Stop the madness.

Subjunctive in English -- Are There Examples Other than "Were"?

The other day I joked that most of my memories of Spanish in high school were of trying to learn and conjugate the subjunctive, an activity for which English speakers are not well-prepared.

In fact, the only example of a unique subjunctive verb conjugation I can think of in English is "were".  For example in "if I were a rich man,..."

I am sure there must be others.  I could Google it, but does anyone know any off hand?

Update:  We already have an awesome answer in the comments.  Though I am unclear how anyone that proficient in grammar can stand to regularly read this blog.  Makes me even more self-conscious about proof-reading better, which I actually have been attempting, even if the results are not obvious.

You Know You are A Geek When...

... the first thing you think of with this video is the Wrath of Khan

Jealousy

The Internet is full of examples of the humble brag.  You know the type of thing -- "I am such an idiot, I cannot find the fusebox on my Bentley" or "I must be a real loser, Kate Upton ditched me after only sleeping with me twice."  So I am not going to be coy, and am going to straight out brag about this new bad boy I acquired -- A Tetris light.  Each piece has a light inside, but only turn on when stacked with the others (the blue one is the one that plugs in and acts as the based, which is why it is on in the first picture).

photo (12)

standing

Obviously they can be stacked in about any manner, and my family spent most of yesterday rearranging it over and over.  The metal rails on the edges act as the conductors, which is why they light when stacked.  No way to change the bulbs that I can see, but they are all LED so hopefully they will last.

I got it here but they sell them a bit cheaper on Amazon now.

 

All It Needs Is A Big Red Self-Destruct Button

I kind of like having a window in my office, but otherwise this is a pretty cool office / lair.

Remember Richard Jewell

My wife and I were discussing the Atlanta bombing last night and it struck me that, with all the false reports out of Boston, it would be useful to remind folks of the fate of Richard Jewell, a man whose life was essentially destroyed by our collective need for quick answers about a tragedy.  But Patrick at Popehat has already done the heavy lifting, so I will turn it over to him.

By the way, in an odd local angle on the story, for some reason Fox decided to interview Joe Arpaio as an "expert" after the blast.  Joe is an expert -- at getting himself media attention.  But I am trying to remember the last terrorist incident we had here in Phoenix.

Damn April Fools! I Wanted This to be Real

Got Skills

Why Yes, I Am Confident in My Masculinity

This weekend I will be running (with my daughter) in the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando.

Last weekend she and I went to the fabric store, bought a bunch of tulle (new word for me) and made her a tutu to run in.  Tested it out running 6 miles.  I think she found it liberating to run all around town in a tutu and a tiara.  Got lots of honks from cars that passed.

I will post a picture when I have one.  I will run in costume too, but don't expect too much.  I am a person who cuts off the end of my shoelaces when running distances to reduce weight, so my costume is not elaborate.

Update: Got my hair cut today. Another ounce shaved off

2012 Drought in Perspective

I don't know if this is a result of the severity of the drought being overblown or of the continued improvement of farming technology, or a bit of both.   Here is the recent data on 2012:

"As anticipated, lower projected production for both corn and soybeans was reported this month," said AFBF economist Todd Davis. "It will be some time before the long-term effects of the 2012 drought are fully played out. But it appears likely that continued strong worldwide demand for corn and soybeans will lead to higher projected prices."

USDA forecast corn production at 10.7 billion bushels. The average yield for corn was forecast at 122.8 bushels per acre this year, down slightly from the August prediction. Once harvest is complete, if the average corn yield comes in at 122.8 bushels per acre, it would be the smallest average yield since 2003.

I am glad I don't deal day to day with grain yield numbers, because every source I checked seems to be 3-5% off the other sources for historic numbers.  There must be some definitional issues I don't understand with acres vs. net acres.  But taking 2012 equal to to 2003, which is the worst-case way to interpret the above statement, we get this chart:

So, down 15-20% from the last several years, which is not good, but a number that still would be nearly an all-time high until about 2000.  Even at this lower number, US yields will be more than twice the corn yield per acre in the rest of the world.   Disasters are relative, I suppose, but this is a long way from the 1930's.

Bad Week Next Week

Why?  Alimentary, my dear Watson.  I have a dentist appointment at the beginning of the week and a colonoscopy at the end.  Awesome.  I will say that the colonoscopy seems the perfect way to celebrate two weeks of political conventions.  It is a sort of physical analog to how I feel listening to politicians speak.

LA Traffic Bleg

OK, I have to drive on Thursday from San Diego to make a meeting around 10AM just north of LA off I-5.  I am willing to believe that there is no good way across town this time of day, and the only reasonable approach is to leave early and bring emergency rations.  However, if anyone has any advice as to the best way to thread my way south to north through LA during morning rush hour, leave a comment.

Update:  Thanks everyone.  I actually have to be in Ventura County via Santa Clarita so I will probably take the 15 and go around.  I also decided to take my (teenage) kids along to get the carpool lane.  Going to ditch them at Magic Mountain (not a bad fate) as I pass by.  I have my iPad charged with traffic, and will just get up early.

Unintended Consequences

These women's weight gain ads seem funny because they are so out of step with most women's concerns today.  But what changed?  My guess is that the whole weight-gain thing really was about larger breasts.  If you wanted more cleavage, you had to gain weight.  But breast implants changed that.  Now one can have an improbable rack while still starving.  So while breast implants are a positive in terms of empowering women to have control over their body, they have eliminated an important counter-balance to this crazy pressure on skinny-ness.

Disclosure:  On a scale from 1=Kate Moss to 10=Rubens paintings, my preferences definitely are in the higher numbers, so I am not without bias.  I also have a daughter who wastes way too much of her life worrying whether her body properly meets societal expectations for fat content.

Time Perception Paradox

This is true for me, ymmv.

Time seems to pass much more quickly as one is experiencing it when one is busy.

However, looking backwards, time periods that were chock-full of activities tend to lengthen.  A point in time a year ago seems further in the past in a busy year than a sparse year.  Almost as if your mind assumes some average activity density, then applies this to remembered activities to estimate time passage.

The absolute randomness of this observation should give readers an idea of my state of mind today.

Wyoming Ranch

A family member is selling this beautiful ranch in Wyoming.  I can't afford it, but if you know someone who can it is a gorgeous location in the mountains adjacent to the Medicine Bow National Forest.

Sorry for the shameless promotion but the owner has some health issues and I agreed to help out a bit, despite the fact that I have absolutely no experience trying to sell something like this.

Things I Didn't Know

I had always assumed the cover for the Beatle's Sgt. Pepper album was just a photo mosaic, a cut and paste of photos that was then re-photographed into the final image.  But it appears to have been shot life-size all at once.  More here.  Apparently Hitler and Jesus just missed the cut.  Can you imagine anyone even bothering with this in the age of Photoshop?

Wherein I Actually Advocate Regulation and the Precautionary Principle

Can we please make sure no one is able to put an AI into this thing.   We definitely don't want it to become self-aware.

Things Are Getting Better All The Time