Friday, April 23, 2010

And they make how much per hour?

Just got back from vacation. Looking at a pouch containing a Southwest Airlines dinner (handful of peanuts), I see the following information:

INGREDIENTS: Peanuts Roasted in Peanut and/or Canola Oil, Salt.
Produced in a facility that processes peanuts and other nuts.

Well, gee, d'ya THINK?

And I'll bet the lawyer that advised them to have that printed on the pack doesn't even see the irony in that.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Stupidity in action

My wife is a notary. In order for her to notarize something for someone she doesn't know, she must see a valid photo ID. Makes sense. A lot of times the banks she does work for want a photocopy of the ID that is presented. Doesn't make as much sense, but OK.

So the other day, she's doing a notarization and the woman who showed her a driver's license noticed that it was expired a week earlier. Just to be sure, my wife called her supervisor, who called the bank issuing the papers and they said that before my wife could return the papers, the woman would need to go get her driver's license renewed and give my wife a photocopy of the new license. The reason: Since it was expired, it was no longer 'valid'. What, did they think that her photo wouldn't match the day after the license expired?

It was indicated that all this is because of stipulations in the Patriot Act. Oh, I feel so much more safe from terrorism now that the bank has a current photo of the mortgagee!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday afternoon random thoughts

So this past week we had a forecast for snow today. First it was going to be a dusting to an inch, while the Mid-Atlantic region would get hammered. As the week wore on, the forecast kept getting more and more dire. By the time I got home from work Saturday night, we were expecting as much as a foot of new snow. So what did we get?..... An inch. And the Mid-Atlantic got hammered. The weatherman should have quit while he was ahead.

Now, some random thoughts from this week's headlines.

First, Tiger. Basically, who cares? The man can play golf. The man can finagle a bunch of great advertising gigs. But that doesn't mean he was smart enough to figure out the first rule of survival: Don't piss off your wife!

And there are reports that he paid some of his partners in extra-curricular activities as much as $20k a month to keep quiet. Obviously, it wasn't enough.

Next, there was an item in last Sunday's Boston Globe about a principal who banned the word 'meep' from his high school. Apparently, the students were using it constantly, against the requests of faculty and staff, to the point of disrupting education. Well, obviously this principal never had kids of his own or he would have known that if he ever wanted to do anything to perpetuate the use of the word 'meep' (used in both the context of Beaker of Sesame Street and the Roadrunner of cartoon fame), banning the use of the word would do it. These are kids. It's in their genetic makeup to do things that annoy adults. And if they know it annoys them, all the better. Just ignore it and it will go away. Just like goldfish swallowing, DA haircuts, Beatle haircuts, Valley Girl speak and all the other silly things kids have been doing all their lives.

There was the story of a rescue effort in Oregon in the middle of the week. Some hikers were lost on Mount Hood and the body of one of them had been found. But conditions had worsened so that the search for the other two had to be put on hold. That got me to thinking. I know everyone has their own hobbies and some people need the challenge of overcoming great obstacles to feel fulfilled. But when that person's hobby starts to endanger the lives of others, I have to say, 'Wait a minute. What gives you the right?' The caring side of me wants to say I don't want to stand around and do nothing when someone is dying up there on that mountain. But the cynical side of me says, 'Well what do you expect? It's a mountain over 11,000' high in December in North America. If you decide to hike up it and things go wrong, why do you think a bunch of other people are gonna want to hike up looking for you?' I'm torn on this one. But I do hope the cost of the rescue effort is billed to 'em.

And my favorite headline this week: "22 million missing Bush White House e-mails found" Well, I'm shocked, SHOCKED that it is even possible that 22 million e-mails went missing. Of course, the spin doctors got to work on this right away, saying that the e-mails were found while Bush was still in office. That may be, since the law-suit that instigated the search for them was filed while he was in office, but it is just now being settled, which is why it is news now. But the best part of the story are some of the quotes from the article, which had me doing the proverbial ROTFLMAO:

'Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the Bush administration had been dismissive of congressional requests that the administration recover the e-mails. Leahy said it was "another example of the Bush administration's reflexive resistance to congressional oversight and the public's right to know." '

'Meredith Fuchs, general counsel to the National Security Archive, said "many poor choices were made during the Bush administration and there was little concern about the availability of e-mail records despite the fact that they were contending with regular subpoenas for records and had a legal obligation to preserve their records."'

' "We may never discover the full story of what happened here," said Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director. "It seems like they just didn't want the e-mails preserved." '

'Sloan said the latest count of misplaced e-mails "gives us confirmation that the Bush administration lied when they said no e-mails were missing." '

Every time I read those paragraphs, I want to say something. But nothing I can think of is any near as funny as the quotes themselves. All I can say is 'Congratulations to all us for surviving those eight years. It was tough, but we made it! Barely!'

Friday, November 27, 2009

Good music is good, regardless of style

Recently, my son gave me an album he had created from downloads he had purchased from iTunes. They have an entire category called "Pickin' on..." which are bluegrass arrangements of many classic rock and popular songs. The album was fantastic! It just goes to show that it's not just not the style of music that makes it good, it's the music itself. It just reinforced what I always thought about music: I don't have a particular favorite style. I like all music - if it's good.

The same idea was commercialized some years ago when there were a series of popular albums called "Hooked on Classics". Listening to them now, they seem a little hokey, what with the synthesized rock beat, but they showed a similar point. People that 'won't listen to classical music because it's too boring' WILL listen to it if is 'transposed' into a format they're familiar with.

Another example of this is the MTV (or was it VH1) series called Unplugged that was on a few years ago. One of the all-time classic rock songs was 'Layla' by Derek & The Dominoes. Years later, when Eric Clapton re-did it on Unplugged, it became a classic version by itself. It's just a good song. Period.

I have a gift card for iTunes that I plan to use to build another album of blue grass versions of rock favorites. It WILL include 'Layla'.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Would she even qualify for a TV reality show?

Lipstick on a rogue - The Boston Globe

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'At the same time, even women who are profoundly tired of the fact that we have to be overqualified to win are turned off by a celebrity pol who still will not admit she was wildly underqualified.'

Like I said the other day, she just doesn't get the fact that she just doesn't get it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Won't she PLEASE just go away?

Her real problem is that she just doesn't get the fact that she just doesn't get it!

For Palin, reality goes rogue - The Boston Globe

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Better than Teflon

Ever notice how waxy new-fallen leaves feel? Well, when they break off the tree and when they hit the ground, minute amounts of that wax are broken loose to cover every thing. Multiply that by millions of leaves and pretty soon you're talking about quite a waxy buildup.

Now trains obviously run with steel wheels on steel rails, which sounds like there wouldn't be a lot of friction to create traction. But with the high concentration of weight on a very small point of contact, it works. Older diesel locomotives have an adhesion ratio of about 25%, meaning that the wheels won't slip until the tractive force reaches about 25% of the weight on the wheels. Newer locomotives with more sophistocated anti-wheelslip systems can reach an adhesion ration of as much as 40%. But in the fall, add a little water to that waxy buildup on the rails, and adhesion can drop below 10%. It can get real fun trying to haul a freight train up a hill this time of year. I've had instances where just putting the locomotive in gear, without even opening the throttle, has caused runaway wheelslips. Look out the window and you're barely moving, but look at the speedometer and it says 40 or 50 or more. Kind of like trying to drive a car on glare ice.

Leaf wax plus a little rain or frost. I'm telling you, it's better than Teflon.

Now the funny part is that every year, this comes as a surprise to the railroad. Every year, the leaves fall. Every year, some time during that 2-3 week period when the leaves are falling, it's either gonna be mild and rainy or cold and frosty. And every year, for the first couple days like this, trains stall on the hills. Every year, the railroad reacts by adding more locomotives to the trains. But even so, the engineers have to be light on the throttle, as too much torque just causes more wheelslip. So every year, the dispatching office wants to know why we're losing time in the hilly sections. The only part about this that surprises me is that it surprises the railroad ... EVERY YEAR!

Wait 'til they see what falls out of the sky in December! And that will be just as much of a surprise!