Phone messages – rushed numbers

I suppose this has happened to all of us.  You find a voicemail has been left for you.  Upon listening to it, you wade through lots of “um..” and “ah…”, as the caller’s thought processes are revealed in more detail than you ever wanted to experience.  Then, at the end, they leave their call-back number… at light speed!  So, while you could easily skip the bulk of the message, the single most important part of it is rushed and unintelligible even after repeated playbacks.  The caller has therefore failed in their most basic task; to obtain a call back from you.  Oh sure, they know their number by heart, but you don’t, or they wouldn’t need to leave it, would they?

This has bugged me for years, and so whenever I leave a message, and get to that all important point, I consciously slow down when I leave my number.  I doubt anybody notices, or appreciates the little gesture, but it makes me feel like a better human being.


Daylight Savings Time

Last night, we had to “spring forward”, setting our clocks forward in our semi-annual fiddle-with-the-clocks routine.  I’m tired this morning, as my body clock doesn’t reset as easily as the one on the wall.  Most of the folks at work are tired too, and bemoaning the time change.

Arizona is one of the more enlightened states and doesn’t bother with Daylight Savings Time (DST).  It’s the strangest thing; life goes on and there are no dire consequences.  Here in California, we play around with time twice every year, much to everybody’s annoyance.

So, one has to wonder… why on earth do we do this?  It’s quite absurd when you get right down to it.  There has always been a fair amount of controversy on this subject.  Here’s an interesting site which lets you dig into all the gory details.

Here’s my take on it (I bet you aren’t surprised I have an opinion on this, are you?):  Let’s not bother.

Some claim that changing the clocks saves energy, decreases traffic accidents (though pedestrians are more likely to be killed by cars in the month following the time change than at other times), more daylight so kids trick-or-treating will be safer (kids simply wait until it’s dark – no change there), and decreases violent crimes.  All this by changing some digits on a clock.  It’s amazing what power that little device has, isn’t it?

Here’s an interesting proposition: What if we don’t fiddle with the clocks, but instead, we have school start one our earlier (or one hour later) depending on the time of year.  Businesses could do that too, if they felt their employees would benefit.  You’d get all the claimed advantages, without having to fiddle with the clocks.  Businesses and individuals who do not benefit could simply elect not to change their schedules.  If some did, and some didn’t, then rush hour would be less obnoxious as there would be multiple benefits; fewer cars on the road, and Edison would be happy because power demand would be spread out (they are always trying to get people to do this), to name just two.  Bingo! Everybody wins.

You see, clocks provide us a measurement of time.  We don’t alter other measurements seasonally or when convenient, so why do we monkey with time measurement?  Rulers always give the same measurement of length.  Scales always give the same measurement of weight.  Speedometers always give the same measurement of speed.  It’s a good thing that these are consistent, and you can imagine the chaos that would be created if they were not.  Yet we feel it’s quite fine to fiddle around with the clocks.  This makes no sense to me.

Two Inane things for the price of one

Here’s a rare treat, courtesy of my friend Jeff:

This inane product is a plant soil moisture monitor that communicates with you via that inane Twitter system.

It wouldn’t surprise me if we see more of this sort of thing in the future.  I find it odd that people seem to view Twitter as a fixture which can be relied upon, free of charge, for all kinds of odd communication purposes.  I’m not convinced that their business model is necessarily viable in the long run, and if it is, it might not always be free.  This doesn’t strike me as something I want to put in the middle of a communication stream that I care about.  But then, I’m a control freak.

Inane Measurement System

I live in the US, a non-metric country. All the big boys have switched to metric, but according to Colorado State University: “among countries not claiming to be metric, the U.S. is the only significant holdout“.

So c’mon, guys – let’s get with the program. The Imperial measurement system is really inane with it’s inconsistent setup. It’s difficult to do math with it, and why should our kids be subjected to this nonsense in school? Metric is easy, folks. If you can move a decimal point left and right in a number, then you just conquered the bulk of it.

The biggest obstacle that most people seem to have is their “mental measurements”. People are used to the Imperial system and so they know “about how much” 10 pounds is. But 10 kilograms? There is no mental equivalent so you end up doing conversions. I firmly believe that the best way is NOT to do conversions. Just forget the old system, and you’ll quickly learn “about how much” a liter is.

Here in the US, we have metric measurements printed on most things we buy, along with the Imperial numbers. This has been going on for many years, and it’s just not working. People aren’t going to suddenly know metric as a result. We need to do what all the other big countries have done: make the switch!!

Inane Drivers – gold diggers

It seems like gold-digging jerks are now lining up their sights on Toyota, hoping for a quick buck.

This is particularly sad because it seems that Toyota, in response to their recent issues with accelerator and brake pedals really seems to be “doing the right thing” and is being very above board with admitting to the problems, and fixing them properly.

Some guy made the news (see here) because his Prius allegedly would not slow down, and got up to 94 mph.  He claims this was due to a sticking accelerator pedal, or some unknown malfunction.  Now, I drive a Prius myself, and I know that all you have to do to get the thing to slow down in the event the accelerator jams and the brakes aren’t effective, is to simply put it in neutral or turn off the engine.  Is that really so terribly difficult?  Is this guy really so stupid that he can’t figure that out, or is he angling for some dough from Toyota?

Here’s a link to a pretty detailed article in PriusChat which exposes more of the “aroma” surrounding this story.  Included is a video which demonstrates what happens in a Prius when you floor the accelerator, hold it down, and simultaneously apply the brakes.  Guess what it does?  Oh okay, I’ll tell you.  The car slows down and stops.  Kinda boring, isn’t it?

Still, I’m figuring that if I get pulled over for speeding, I’ve got a story for the officer…

News – is it worth watching?

I know a lot of people who are news junkies and watch the news on TV, read it on-line, and pore over newspapers because they “have to know what’s going on”.  While I applaud their dedication, I wonder if perhaps it is somewhat misguided.

I have noticed that whenever I see or read a news bit on a topic about which I am familiar, the errors and omissions are glaring and irritating.  It seems to be that about 20% of the coverage I see is correct.  That means a whopping 80% of the time, they are wrong, wrong, wrong – frequently to the point where if that was your only source of information on the subject, you would be better off not reading/seeing it at all.

Now, I’m not deluding myself that I know everything about everything.  There are many things about which I am ignorant.  However, given the news media’s track record on small amount of things I DO know about, it’s logical to assume a similar accuracy level for things I DON’T know about.

Ergo – I watcheth not.


Ok, so reporters and the media in general is a HUGE topic, so I’ll try to be somewhat brief and only touch on a couple of areas (for now… bwahahaha!)

Todays’ topic: Reporters and their “demands”.  Recently, when a couple “crashed” a white house party, the media was all over it.  They examined every angle, and had experts talking about security and so forth.  On more than one occasion, I heard “We’re demanding to know how this happened”, and “We’re demanding to know who is responsible”.  OK, reality check time!  Is the reporter suddenly director of the security staff?  Perhaps they should demand to know the toilet cleaning schedule, and why isn’t it more often?  Perhaps they should demand an accurate accounting of paperclip usage in the white  house.  Perhaps they should… um, mind their own business?  Yes, that’s what I’m thinking.

I can see demanding an explanation of a human rights violation, or something similar.  That’s entirely different.  That is a useful function the media serves, as a watchdog, and a force that makes people think twice before doing something which will be unacceptable to the public.

In my humble opinion, reporters frequently need a more realistically sized pair of underwear.

GoDaddy support

For years, I have been using GoDaddy for my domain registrar and DNS host.  It has been nothing but a pleasant experience.  On the rare occasion that I have a problem, a quick phone call resolves it in minutes.  Ideal!

So now, I think that I’ll give their hosting a spin.  I have various “teething” problems, as one might expect, not having used their environment before.  I call support, several times on several issues, and the result is always the same; “we don’t provide that”, “we can’t help you with that”, “we don’t support 3rd party products”, “we don’t allow you access to that”.  So, while their domains/DNS tech support efforts get A+, their hosting support gets D-

Fortunately, I have been a programmer for 20+ years, and can solve things on my own (what’s a little hacking between friends?).  However, I have to wonder how other customers are able to deal with this.  Moral of the story: If you aren’t VERY technical, don’t use them.

Inane names – really awful names

Some parents just need to be slapped. We’ve all met people and upon introduction, cringed at hearing their names.  Last names are sometimes just unfortunate, but there is no excuse for cursing a child with a horrible first/last combination.  Here are some winners which are supposedly actual names and can be found in

Al Caholic, Oliver Clothesoff, I.P. Freely, Seymour Butz, Mike Rotch, Amanda Hugginkiss, Ivana Tinkle, Anita Bath, Maya Buttreeks, Fever Bender (born 1856), Leper Priest (born 1929), Cholera Priest (born 1830 during the second cholera pandemic), Rubella Graves (born 1814), Typhus Black (born 1897), Hysteria Johnson (born 1881), Emma Royd (born 1850), Kathryn E. Coli (born 1894), Mumps Sykes (born 1891), Gamble Moore, Cabbage Haywood, Uranus Stukey, Ghoul Nipple, Acne Fountain, Lust T. Castle, Mary A. Jerk, Ima Whore, Mutton Bucker, Hugh Jass, Fanny Whiffer, Tackle Feigenbutz, Envy Burger, Bum Snoddy. Mule E. McCart, Lard Mooney, Good Hell, Emma Royd, Noble Butt, Naught E. Bishop, Stud Duck, Judas Christian, Holly Wood, Candy Kahne, Harry Pitts, Brock Lee, Catnip Moonbeam, Roxanne Gravel, Rusty Nail, Cole Deggs

Awful first names:

Orangalo and Lamongalo (Jell-O was the only thing she could eat towards the end of her pregnancy), Violence, Truth & Justice (the names of twins), Tyranny, Alias (imagine the fun at a traffic stop), Samurai, Abacus, Nataz (Mom thought it was “cool” that it is Satan spelled backwards), Cascade (who names their child after a detergent?), Levitra, Damya (imagine the child on the playground, “Get down from there Damya!”), Felanie (prediction or curse?)

Sometimes, people think they can invent their own clever pronunciations for words and that nobody will figure it out (shades of “It’s spelled ‘luxury yacht’ but it’s pronounced ‘throat warbling mangrove'”):

Shithead (pronounced Shi-TAYd)
Pajama (pronounced pay-jeh-meh)
Strange’ (pronounced Straw ja’)

Celebrities seem to be especially eccentric when it comes to baby names:

Apple (Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow)
Moxie CrimeFighter (Magician Penn Jillette)
Hopper (Sean Penn and Robin Wright)
Pilot Inspektor (Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf)
Sosie (Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick)
Destry (Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw)
Aurelius Cy (Elle Macpherson)
Kal-El Coppola (Nicolas Cage)
Bluebell Madonna (Spice Girl Geri Halliwell)
Audio Science (Actress Shannyn Sossamon)
Sage Moonblood (Sylvester Stallone)
Tallulah (Bruce Willis and Demi Moore)
Kyd (David Duchovny and Tea Leoni)
Moon Unit (Frank Zappa)
Dweezil (Frank Zappa)