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Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Random Story: UPDATE - "Mike and the Porsche He Never Drove"
I was thinking about this story, and I figured that if they took pictures, then they're probably online somewhere...

Click the picture for the whole story.

Sunday, May 27, 2007
And another thing...
So...this is the scenario:

You're in a store. Any store. Doesn't matter. You're checking out. You swipe your card. The machine says "Enter your PIN." You don't want to enter your PIN, because they charge for that. You want to do a VISA debit, or a MasterCard debit, or whatever. So you tell the chick. If you're in a really nice store, the machine tells you what to do, but you're not in a really nice store, so you have to tell the chick. "I want to do a credit."

Her response? The machine's instructions for doing a credit? "Press CANCEL for Credit."


Since when does "Cancel" mean "Credit"? Why doesn't EVERYONE just put in a "Credit" button?

The reason they default to EBT probably has something to do with them being charged by VISA for processing debit transactions, but there has GOT to be some measurable value to making things easier for the customer. By extension, this would also make less work for the employees.

Why is it so often the case that things that make perfect sense (to me) are so contrary to the way things are generally done?

Why do people throw their trash on the ground when there is a trash can FOUR FEET AWAY?!?! Maybe just keep it in your car until you home?

You can hear the music MUCH better when it's about half that loud, nimrod. As an added incentive, maybe you won't go deaf at the age of 50. And MAYBE your newborn or toddler's ears aren't are still a little fragile.

When you cross a 5 lane street in the middle of the night...wearing all black - I CAN'T SEE YOU! I'm probably trying to get home after a long day at work, and I'm probably speeding. You might be dressed like a ninja, but you don't have the reflexes of one, so you might want to move A BIT faster if you don't want me to take out your kneecap with my bumper. Oh yeah, and if you get halfway across and have to ask yourself "Is that black car speeding up?" I probably am. Move your ass.

I don't want a bean pie, or a car wash, and I'm not going to put my money in that boot that you're carrying around. I'm willing to bet cash money that if I went to the store and bought a nice nutritious bunch of bananas and a salad instead of just giving you the cash, you'd look at me like I was crazy. GET OUT OF THE STREET.

That's a great segue to something else that has been on my chest for a while - panhandling. It's an issue in Downtown Atlanta. The way I see it, it works. If it didn't work...if you couldn't make a certain amount of money doing it, nobody would do it. My personal issue is with the panhandlers that don't speak to you. They just shake that damn cup at you. Listen. The biggest thing that sets us apart from animals is spoken communication. What do you do? You shake a damn cup at me. That's disrespectful. I'm a grown man. Speak to me. Babies play with rattles.

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Repeat. Where's my drink? Happy Memorial Day.

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Friday, May 25, 2007
Random Story: "Mike and the Porsche He Never Drove"
I used to work with this dude named Mike. Really cool guy for the most part. Maybe a little wild, but most 24ish year old caucasian males are.

Mike left the company we were then working for years before I did. It was sometime during the Summer of 2001. They laid him off. We haven't been really great at keeping in touch. He moved to California, but his parents live here in the Atlanta area, so as far as I know, when he comes to town, he gives me a call.

The last time I saw Mike, which was still a few years ago, this is the story he told me, as retold by me, because of course I don't remember any of his exact words:

Mike went to work for this real estate company in California. It might have been another industry other than real estate, but that's what I think it was. Not really important to the story. He was totally new to the industry. Very shortly after he started, a few people from the office went to an industry conference in Las Vegas. He was there for a week or so, but being so new to the industry, it probably was a bit of information overload, and he really didn't get much out of attending the conference. Not his fault, really. Poor planning and decision making on the part of his employers.

The result is that the next year, since Mike didn't get much benefit from attending the conference the year before, they don't take him. They do, however, have him fly out to Vegas on the last day of the conference to help break down the company's booth. Kinda a slap in the face. "Come do our grunt work." So, he flies in maybe the night before, and is walking around the conference on the last day, essentially killing time. He talks to a few people, shakes a few hands. Whatever. Puts his name in a box or two to maybe win some stuff. (They always have drawings and such at these things.)

Turns out, he wins one of the drawings he enters.

Mike wins a brand new Porsche.

Like an $50,000 or $80,000 car. I don't remember which. Mike takes a few pictures with the car, and never sees it again. The car is taken to the dealership that owned, and Mike puts the car up for sale on

Mike quit his job, and a week or two later, he was sitting in front of me telling me this story over a beer.

Crazy. Only in America.

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UPDATE: I was thinking about this story, and I figured that if they took pictures, then they're probably online somewhere...

Click the picture for the whole story.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
I've mentioned the Idea Festival before.

Interesting (to me) post there today about "Nothing." I'll post the full text here to spare the lazy ones out there. I hope they don't get upset with me...

There's something about nothing

Turn to the back page of a special issue of Discover, just out, and you'll find "20 things you didn't know about nothing" by LeeAundra Temescu, a continuation of the magazine's "20 things" series. Here are some of the points Ms. Temescu makes about nothing that I find interesting:

1. There is vastly more nothing than something. Roughly 74 percent of the universe is "nothing," or what physicists call dark energy; 22 percent is dark matter, particles we cannot see. Only 4 percent is baryonic matter, the stuff we call something.
4. Even nothing has a weight. The energy in dark matter is equivalent to a tiny mass; there is about one pound of dark energy in a cube of empty space 250,000 miles on each side.
9. "Zero" was first seen in cuneiform tablets written around 300 B.C. by Babylonians who used it as a placeholder (to distinguish 36 from 306 or 360, for example). The concept of zero in its mathematical senses was developed in India in the fifth century.
14. Vacuums do not suck things. They create spaces into which the surrounding atmosphere pushes matter.
15. Creatio ex nihilo, the belief that the world was created out of nothing, is one of the most common themes in ancient myths and religions.
16. Current theories suggest that the universe was created out of a state of vacuum energy, that is, nothing.
17. But to a physicist there is no such thing as nothing...
19. ...In fact, according quantum mechanics, the energy contained in all the power plants and nuclear weapons in the world doesn't equal the theoretical energy contained in the empty spaces between these words.
20. In other words, nothing could be the key to the theory of everything.

The links and emphasis above are mine. Since hearing John Barrow speak at the last ideaFestival on the related concept of infinity in mathematics and cosmology, I've been a fan of nothing. And if nothing really is the key to a theory about everything, what we do with uncertainty surely matters.

Some insightful leaps in logic. Fascinating facts. Thoughtful comparisons and contradictions.

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Big City, Small Town
So last night, I dropped trough this event hosted by Tanqueray, featuring The Roots. Breezed in maybe 15 minutes after the performance started, but it was all good. You can't really complain when you miss a little bit of a free show.

Anyway, I'm strolling through, and I pass by this chick. I think "I know her. I think. Jeez, that's Errin Haines." I found Errin's blog after surfing through one or two others, and I've always figured that I'd see her in the streets eventually. Atlanta is by no means a small city, but it's not huge, either, and judging from the places she writes about frequenting, we run in the same circles. At any rate I make a mental note: "Maybe I'll drop through her blog later and grace her with a comment."

A bit later, she's chatting with my..."brother-in-law". Turns out they're good friends! I speak to him, and turn to her and say..."You know, I read your blog." She withered slightly. Was maybe tad bit mortified. I think she recovered, though. I'm surprised she's not used to it by now. I mean, her blog is at [her name].com. And she's pretty liberal with posting pictures. She's like a local celebrity. I'm not I try to keep a more anonymous profile.

Anyway, good to meet you, Errin.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I have my evenings back again...

Well, last night was finale night. This marked the end of the Spring television season for me.

24 – done.

Heroes – done.

The Office – done.

You know what? Even though I’ll probably be right back in front of my TV next season, there’s a slight chance I won’t. Why not? Because I recently realized that 24, and Heroes, and yes…my beloved The Office; they’re just primetime soap operas. And I don’t want to be a soap opera watcher.

But I realize that that is what I have become. I talk about what Jack did at work. I’m completely engaged in the Heroes story. I work in an office, so The Office hits eerily close to home on a weekly basis. But they’re soap operas. And I DON’T WANT TO BE A SOAP OPERA WATCHER.

Why do they call them soap operas?
What ever happened to that show called Soap?
(a couple random questions)

And don’t try to convince me they’re not soaps, either. Sure, they’re episodic, but they’re also tightly linked. Regular dramas like CSI and Law and Order are episodic, but clearly (to me) in a different class than 24. Not nearly as tightly woven together.

I’m rambling, but you get the point.

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Monday, May 21, 2007
The 24 Season Finale - As it Happens
8:35 - We're about a quarter of the way through. Mrs. Mau mentioned during the opening montage that we hadn't seen Bill Buchanan in a while, and he has already "inserted himself" into things. His wife is arrested. Jack is loose. All of a sudden, everyone is on edge.

8:40 - The VP looks pissed.

8:47 - Already, Jack was right, and anybody who didn't agree with him has been proven wrong. Oh yeah, and Ricky Schroeder just had a small bomb to detonate in his face. That's what happens when you disagree with Jack.

8:52 - The VP doesn't look so pissed anymore. That shell of righteousness of his just came crashing down, and pretty fast, too.

8:54 - Jack knows how his father thinks. He can run, but can he hide?

8:59 - OOOhhhhhhh! Chloe goes down!

9:07 - Jack: It's not your fault, Doyle. You were following orders.
Doyle: Just get the kid, Jack. Get the kid.

9:09 - A bit more unrealistic than usual: "I'm commandeering your helicopter. Get out. GET OUT!" Nobody's learned not to turn their back on Jack Bauer, yet? Come on, people?!

9:20 - They've got the fast music going. Something's about to happen.

9:21 - Jack is a one-man wrecking crew.

9:26 - Chloe's still down. I've got a feeling she'll be back on her feet by the end of the episode. Mrs. Mau is POSITIVE Chloe's pregnant.

9:27 - Shoot him Josh!

9:27:50 - Good job, Josh!

9:33 - Everybody's safe, and the bad guy is in custody. BUT...there are still like 30 minutes left! 24 isn't soft enough to spend that long wrapping stuff up. There MUST be more fireworks to come. Something else is gonna happen.

9:35 - You knew from that look on his face that Jack was about to let go of that ladder. "Jack's not ready to go back yet."

By the way...a break or two ago saw a commercial for the Transformers Movie. I'm SO THERE. May even catch it at the IMAX.

9:40 - Everybody's acting all nothing else is coming. Do you know what can happen in 20 minutes?!?! That's practically an eternity in 24-time.

9:42:55 - Mrs. Mau was right.

9:45 - Nadia: "Where's Jack?" Buchanan: "We'll never find him. Not if he doesn't want us to."

9:46 - Jack's going to get his woman!

9:49 - "If you try sending someone after us, I'll kill them. I'm pretty good at that, too." Cold blooded.

9:53 - If they end the season with Jack whispering to a woman who can't even respond, I'm never watching 24 again. Okay. That's a lie, but I'll be really upset with...somebody.

9:54 - Jack is walking around, still with the gun in his hand like he's expecting Ninjas to appear out of nowhere.

9:56 - Not happy with the ending. I expected more. They even cheated me out of a few minutes. Bastards.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
There's just SO many of 'em!
So, sometime last year, me, my wife and her best friend were riding together somewhere. Even though she's usually the one with money, I was giving her my ATM card to pull out some cash. As I dictated the PIN, her face screwed up into a look of confusion and disbelief.

"What's with all those numbers?"
"Yeah. My PIN is 6 digits."
"What? What kind of PIN is that? 6 digits! You need to change that. That's crazy."
"I will." (I didn't)

The point is, Bank of America is SO large now and they issue out so many cards, that there just aren't enough 4-digit numbers to give their customers a certain sense of security.

They're that large.

Crazy, huh?

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Speaking of grammatical stuff...(A Confession)
I know it's not grammatical per se, but I have a confession.

I use ellipsis WAY to much.

I hope those who have been visiting me for a while haven't noticed, but it's true. Not that I plan on changing any time soon. I'm just acknowledging. it's going to drive people crazy.
I'm nitpicking, I know, but...
I hate it when people write out the phrase "first come, first serve".

That's just stupid. Come on, people. Fill in the missing words - "The first to come is the first to serve?" That's just not right. This isn't the Army.

What you really mean is: "The first to come is the first to be served."

Hence, therefore, consequently and so..."First come, first served."

I can't believe I'm the only one who sees this. And it's not just a random fact that I picked up along the way. To me, it's common sense - at least an extension of that "Reading Between the Lines" worksheet that I was given in...what...the 6th Grade? 7th? Yet time and time (and time) again, I get e-mails and Evites from people who run businesses, and have years and years of education more than I. More money. More lots of stuff. More grammatical errors in their communications.


Spread the word.

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Friday, May 11, 2007
That's just nasty.
Mrs. Mau and I recently concluded that the day before yesterday (Wednesday), the dog ate a whole stick of butter.

That's just nasty.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Random Knowledge

So…I was sitting here at work on a conference call, right? I scored a headset from the EA, so I’m cruising hands free.  Good stuff.


So I’m on this call, and I have idle hands, so I pick up my stapler.  I’m playing with the stapler, and I notice the little metal anvil with the grooves where the staples hit.  Everyone has seen these things.  You ever notice what the second set of grooves is for?  We usually use the set bends the staples towards the inside.  The other bastardized set bends the staples to the outside.


Well, I’m hear to share, and teach, so here is what the other setting is for:  The standard setting is for “stapling”.  The other setting is for “pinning”.  The difference is that pinning is for when you want the fastening to be more temporary.  The staple comes out a lot easier using this setting. 


Try it.  Today.  Go forth and conquer.  Own your office implements.  You may never find yourself wanting to “pin” something, but you just might.  Now you know!  And knowing is half the battle.


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"You give this stuff away for free?" aka "Christopher Columbus discovered America"
I came across this recently, which neatly summarized this New York Times article. The gist is that there are currently about 150 yoga-related copyrights, 134 patents on yoga accessories, and 2,315 yoga trademarks. This is all well and good for a capitalist society, but the author's point is that Indians are getting more and more perturbed by the day with all this, since it is ALL based on centuries-old Indian culture and traditions. Kinda makes the whole concept of patenting and trademarking it today rather laughable.

The author extends this argument to pharmaceuticals. The drug companies make billions upon billions of dollars off of drugs that are essentially rehashes of long-time herbal remedies. The Indian government estimates that 2000 patents are issued each year based off of traditional Indian treatments.

Somebody even tried to trademark the Hindu syllable "om". He likens this to trying to trademark "Amen".

Pretty interesting stuff. Check it out.

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