Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Friday, August 31, 2007

I'm a Special Case

I don't know why I'm bothering to post this online quiz. After all, the questions were highly weighted and offered a lack of choices. Besides, do I really want the world to know that I'm a dork, not a nerd? says I'm a Highly Dorky Non-Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

Example: "Have you argued about which super hero is best?" is followed by "...and it ended up getting physical?" Both are followed by yes/no options.

Well, if I said no to the first one, why not give me a "I have never argued about superheroes" choice. You've just required me to say no and lower my nerd quotient.

What if you've argued about things other than super heroes? Is nerdiness exclusive to heroes? Shouldn't Betty get nerd points for arguing about which Doctor Who was the best? (This example may be moot because she ended up being king (or queen, whatever) of the nerds anyway.)

Another example of how these questions are weighted or restrictive is, "Do you quote movies?" They didn't allow me to choose, "No, but just ask me about Pinky & the Brain, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, or Frasier."

And why not include the question, "Have you ever argued about internet quizzes?"

With This Ring

What does it say about me that my cell. phone ring tones are TV show themes? For coworkers, I have Green Acres. For my friends, it is Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Sorry, Betty, but you know that, if I didn't select Dr. Who, it must not be available.) The Munsters plays whenever my condo. board pres. calls, and my mom's ring tone is The Pink Panther. (Okay, so that one's both a movie and TV theme.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Charge of the Light Brigade

I have a secret power, but I don't know how to control it. That makes me a pretty useless superhero. Maybe I need to find my own Professor Xavier to help me discover how to harness it and use it for good. Even then, it's still kind of useless, but maybe it's just the tip of the iceberg.

I discovered in college that I can shut off streetlights when I walk under them. This has continued but still isn't frequent; on my 1.25 hour weekend walks, I average about three during that period. (My range is from one to five.) It isn't the same lamp posts each time, either, so I can't just blame it on a faulty fixture.

I may or may not have the same control over a particular traffic signal on my route from work to the gym. It is a traffic light that controls access to/from an interstate exit. I encounter it immediately after exiting the local access road onto the interstate's cross street (less than a block), and it is always red as I pull into the turn lane that leads to the on-ramp. The thing is, just as I make a complete stop on red before turning (lawful good man that I am), the darned light turns green. It doesn't matter if I am the first car in the lane or the third or the fifth; it stays red until my car is in front. It is inconsistent in the duration of its red phase but maddeningly consistent in its tendency to change just as I stop.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Long and Short of It

Have you ever given much thought to the words we use each day? The more useful words tend to be shorter. Think of the Anglo-Saxons, or even earlier cultures, conveying meanings by varying simple sounds.

Domesticated animals have short names: cat, dog, cow, sheep, horse, fish, bird. Chicken is a little longer, but you still can make do with hen and cock.

Ages ago, people were closer to the earth: hoe, rock, dirt, weed, soil, ground, rake, peat, loam, silt, sand, clay. Now we have bulldozers and articulated loaders. They used to look at the moon. Now we can view our planet's satellite through a telescope.

A restaurant is a fancy word for a place that serves food. (The word can have three or four syllables, depending how expensive the establishment is.) Pretentious Americans like to use foreign words, as if it makes them sound more important. They consume international cuisine at gourmet bistros. I would prefer to eat at a diner or even a joint.

Would you like to go to Spain, France, or Greece, or would you rather vacation in the United States of America?

Objects, things we use or touch, are simpler than ideas. We drive in cars. We pay bills. We don't use the word antidisestablishmentarianism because it's too long. Well, maybe the viewers of encore presentations of documentaries on public television do, but many people would rather watch a sci-fi repeat on TV. (That's if you're not reading a book or perusing a piece of literature instead.)

Few people have intelligence. I have wit. Do you consider me humorous, funny, or droll? Some people take a constitutional. I go for a walk. You live in a house. I live in a condominium. (That's a big word meaning a small place.) We've come a long way from mud huts to multistory skyscrapers.

Did your grandmother position an antimacassar on the back of her davenport, or did your mom-mom put a doily on her couch?

The word president has three syllables. It makes him or her sound important. Kings and queens don't have as much power as they used to. Their job descriptions shrunk to match their titles. You would think that the prime minister has quite a complicated position, what with four syllables contained in two words.

Names are deliberately kept simple (I'll use only male names in this exercise): Mark, John, Scott, Todd. Even two syllable names like Michael, Douglas, Thomas, and David are abbreviated (a long word meaning to shorten). Do you know anyone named Aloysius? How about Al?

It appears as if I'm composing this on a computer (or a central processing unit) and watching my words appear on the monitor (which contains a cathode ray tube). Actually, I'm just typing at a desk with a box on it and looking at a screen.

Do I exercise at a fitness center or lift weights at a gym? Would you rather swim at a natatorium or at the pool? Do you like to ogle people of your preferred gender (or sex) if they are wearing bathing costumes or bikinis? Undergarments are utilitarian. Panties and briefs are sexy. Socks cost less than hosiery.

Shorter words are more friendly. Would you rather go to a doctor or consult a physician? Will s/he prescribe computerized axial tomography or send you for a CAT scan? Which costs more: medicine or pills? On the other hand, a therapist sounds more approachable than a shrink.

How many people smoke weed from a bong, and how many ignite cannabis or marijuana cigarettes? And is that a drug or a controlled substance?

Have you reached the conclusion, or is it just the end?

Monday, August 27, 2007

High Holey Day

Horrors! I missed the nation's newest holiday: National Underwear Day. For years, I have wondered why I couldn't take a day off in August. Now, it appears that I get to take something off. ;)

Friday, August 24, 2007

How High the Moon?

NMSU's daily e-mail of press releases contained the following notice.

Archaeologist gives keynote address
Beth O’Leary, a space heritage archaeologist, recently gave the keynote address on the Heritage of Space at the International Council on Monuments and Sites in Cairns, Australia.
An article about the talk from the Australian Broadcasting Corp. can be found at

I'm puzzled how an archaeologist can talk about the moon at a conference for monuments, let alone how items less than 40 years old qualify as ancient. I read the article, and it was quite informative, even entertaining.

Dr. O'Leary is quoted as asking, "How do you vomit in space?" I would guess pretty much the same as on Earth, the difference being how quickly and where it lands...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Cricket in Times Square

...or my pants, whichever is closer.

During our daily staff meeting this morning, I felt something brushing my arm. I shooed away a fly - or so I thought. A bit later, it was back. A rather pesky fly, no? No. It was a camel cricket that had crawled up my pants (the outside of my pants). A minute later, I looked down and saw the same cricket attempting its second ascent of Mount Chlorophyll. As I am a gentle, benevolent soul, and crickets are generally not considered to be "bad" bugs, I brushed it to the floor again and let it crawl away.

Did I somehow pick up some cricket pheromones? Is the color of my slacks just the right shade of tan that is irresistible to camel crickets? And why are these things crawling all over our shop and office floors this summer? The link above says that camel crickets can become a nuisance in "extended periods of hot, dry weather". Where am I going to find hot, dry weather from June through August in the Chihuahuan Desert?

Side note: I now have a song stuck in my head. "Bad bugs, bad bugs, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?" Here are the original lyrics. I wonder if I can write a parody of them.

New on Animal Planet this fall: Insect Cops. Fly along with Officers Gryllidae and Lepidoptera as they patrol the back alleys and basements of society, keeping their hundreds of eyes peeled for any insects that attempt to flaunt justice. In the first episode, the officers break up a swarm of yellow jackets loitering by a garbage can filled with half-full soda cans, and a man pulled over for driving erratically tries to explain why a roach was found in his pocket. Also this season, special episodes on army ants of Bolivia and how to safely use mace, pepper spray, or insecticide. Warning: this series contains scenes of fly swatters, and may be unsuitable for small larvae.

On second thought, maybe I should parody a song by The Beatles.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Short Straw that Broke the Camel's Back

I had an unsatisfying discussion with Boss yesterday afternoon.

I politely complained that Ob is not doing his job. In fact, he is doing the opposite. As I have mentioned before, a new residence hall was constructed this year. That involved new furniture, all of which was shipped in cardboard boxes. It was a veritable trove of product to sell to our vendor. Something odd happened, though. During my monthly review of the solid waste invoice, I noticed that 14 roll-offs, marked with the work order number "for the cardboard boxes to be taken to recycle", were sent to the landfill. Ob said, "There was packing material mixed in, so we just sent it all to the landfill."

Excuse me? Isn't the purpose of the recycling manager to, oh, say, recycle?

I went to Boss, who told me, "The contractor was supposed to separate it." So? Why couldn't Ob's staff (since Ob can't be bothered to lift a finger other than to steer his truck around campus as he practices "management by driving around") pull out the styrofoam or plastic wrap or whatever? That's what they were hired to do, wasn't it?

All in all, Ob isn't even going to get a slap on the wrist for sending 12.68 tons of cardboard to the landfill. (That would have been worth $1,268.00 if we sold it, not to mention saving $389.28, plus tax, in landfill fees.) I give up. Ob is incompetent, Boss doesn't care, and I am not appreciated for not only doing my job but frequently going above and beyond. I might as well just show up at 5:59 a.m. and leave at 2:31 p.m. and tell everyone else who wants me to do something to f*ck off.

The cherry on this sundae was that, just as I was walking out of Boss's office, he told me to go to a meeting in his place. This is for a committee that he doesn't want to belong to, so he has sent "proxies" (i.e. Sub or me) every two months for over a year. Now I have eight hours to print out hundreds of pages of documents (the agenda is one page; the "packet" is 105 pages; there are 19 separate amendments, drafts, maps, and what-have-you), read and understand them, and do my real job at the same time.

I have crossed the line from being indispensable to being strictly utilitarian. Why don't they just stick me in a drawer and pull me out whenever I'm needed?

Dr. Who, What, When, Where, Why, & How

Betty already knows this, but I figured I'd make it public.

I have been watching (apparently, with relish) the latest incarnations of the sci-fi series Dr. Who. While most commentary occurs on Betty's blog, people are welcome to post here, as well.

As a possible conversation starter, I will confess that I find numerous parallels between Doctor Who and Pinky & the Brain. What's sad (and scary) is that I'm not the only one. (Robomarkov, if you happened to watch the first season of the new Who, you'll love it, too.)

Monday, August 20, 2007

It's not Easy Seeing Green

Let's face it. There are some paint colors that never should be used.

Friday evening, I saw two vehicles (a car and a motorcycle) painted what I can describe only as a "violent" green, sort of a cross between fluorescent green, lime green, and Kermit the Frog.

Which begs the question, "Wouldn't Violently Kermit be a good name for a rock band?"

Thank heaven for little girls

The following is a press release issued by NMSU on Friday, August 17, 2007.

Parents, teachers can help 'girly' girls learn to be active
As children return to school this month, one NMSU researcher says parents and teachers can help young girls be active, despite stereotypes and self-identified barriers that label them as "girly" and often keep them from participating in physical activity.
In a study this past spring with fifth-grade students at Las Cruces area elementary schools, Kimberly Oliver, an associate professor in the College of Education's Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Department, looked at what barriers were keeping young girls from participating in physical activity and then worked with the same girls to identify how to overcome
those obstacles.
What's wrong with girls acting like girls? If there are any "barriers" to children (of either gender) being physically active, then require the students to participate in phys. ed. class, and ensure that the activities are suitable for the age group and are inclusive to any physical limitations.

A better question would be for them to study "girly" boys -- although I can tell them the answers already.
1) Teasing and peer pressure from more active or athletic boys discourages passive or uncoordinated boys, even when they try. It gets worse with the onset of puberty. (Elementary school was okay, but junior high gym class was hell.)
2) Perhaps certain children simply are not genetically programmed to be active. As early as kindergarten or first grade, a classmate came over to my house to "play". He wanted to do something, but all I wanted to do was to read. I suspect this is nature overcoming nurture, because I had two older brothers to play basketball, baseball, or hockey with, and parents who encouraged me to be active. Still, I didn't want to play because I didn't like it. I took gym class because I had to.

As an adult, I am more active, but that is my choice, and I participate in solitary exercise, not group athletics. That could be where physical education improvements could be made: vary exercises between organized team sports and independent activity ("No sport is more disorganized than Calvinball." -- Calvin, Calvin & Hobbes). to accommodate both the competitive and solitary children.

Confluence, Convergence, Coincidence

When I was in high school, my school's chapter of Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) would invite a guest speaker to lecture the juniors and seniors about the possible consequences of alcohol impairment during prom and graduation time. The speaker during my tenure in high school was Gene Hart, known as The Voice of the Flyers, because Pelle Lindbergh, the team's star goalie, had recently died in an alcohol-involved crash. Through various situations (either my teacher was the SADD advisor and had to be there, or we couldn't have band practice with so many students in assembly, or because I was a junior or a senior), I heard Mr. Hart speak seven times during my four years of high school. Is it any wonder I can remember the gist of his speech... ahem... years later?

Mr. Hart said there were several conditions that, together, contributed to the crash, but if one of them had been different, it probably wouldn't have happened. (I think there were seven of them.) I noticed a similar situation this weekend, when we had a broken irrigation line the morning that students were moving in to a brand new residence hall.

If the employees had operated the trencher carefully, it might not have happened.
If our overtime hadn't been restricted a month ago, it might have happened a couple of weeks ago.
If the senior VP didn't want us to work during move-in, it might have happened during the week.

However, all three circumstances converged, which meant we were stuck cleaning up a mud pile off the sidewalk and handicap parking spaces as students and their parents toted boxes around us.

They're ba-ack!

This weekend, the students moved back into campus housing for the fall semester. It's a time full of excitement and hope and enthusiasm, even for those of us on staff, who are here year 'round. This year, though, my feelings are dampened somewhat, for this year I feel old.

This year's freshman class is exactly half my age. When I graduated high school and started college, they were being born.

I was working this weekend, but I was able to view and appreciate the students walking by. Those thoughts were immediately followed by, "Don't kid yourself. What would they want with a grizzled, old thing like you?"

To quote Mr. Harman of Are You Being Served?, "You've just made a happy man feel very old."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My Own Internet Quiz

This isn't one of those fancy internet quizzes with "clever" questions and a picture to link to your blog. This is more like Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?, except I call it "Are You Smarter than a Computer Programmer?"

The man's job title is Manager of Computer Information Systems. You'd think he'd be smart enough to find information on a web page. At least he's in a happy place -- honestly; according to the campus directory, his home address is on Happy Place. :)

Here's how to take the quiz: open the following web page, and see if you can answer these questions.
1) How much does an umbrella cost?
2) What size umbrella can I buy?
3) What colors are available?

I used to assume that people who programmed computers were smarter than I am, because they can make bits of metal and plastic do things like math and show pretty pictures, all with 1's and 0's. Of course, maybe they all assume I'm smarter because I can grow pretty and/or edible plants.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Is It I, Lord?

I'm fairly certain it isn't -- at least as far as Ms. Communication goes.

Sub told me this morning that he was expecting a visitor to play golf at 9:00. A man came in at 7:53 and said he had an 8:00 appointment with Boss. I notified Boss; he arrived, and the two of them disappeared. It wasn't until our admin. asst. arrived that I found out that the man who showed up and the golfer were the same person, that he was an employee of our company, and that both Boss and Sub were to golf with him. Boss later phoned and told me I had to take his place at the quarterly meeting given by our Senior Vice-president because he and Sub would be busy at "union training".

Worker Bee asked me to type a maintenance log for our new utility vehicles this morning. No, it wasn't a maintenance log, it was a preventive maintenance checklist. No, it wasn't a preventive maintenance checklist, it was an equipment orientation checklist. His repeated use of the word "course" confused me. No, it wasn't just an orientation, it was also a certification of the "obstacle course" driving test, so I needed to put "pass/fail" for each of the preventive maintenance and equipment and safety and certification items. Oh, wait. Why not just type up what's on page 68 of the operator's manual? By the time I straightened all this out, Worker Bee could have typed it himself.

Am I wrong to expect managers with college degrees to be able to express themselves clearly? Am I wrong to listen to the words that pass the managers' lips, rather than burrow into their brains to find out what they are actually thinking? Perhaps I'm spoiled by my brilliant co-bloggers' comments, such that I expect the same from my coworkers. (But don't dumb yourselves down on their behalf.)

Bloody Vikings

My mom has kept my dad's internet account paid up since he died. At first, I thought it was a nice idea, but now I'm not so sure. She doesn't use it, and I don't use it, so why not save that amount of money each month?

Every week, I check the e-mail and delete all the spam. (There's another reason to discontinue the service: everyone who knew him knows he's dead and won't e-mail him, so all that comes in any more is spam.) "Surely," I wondered, "there must be a way to filter all this spam." I checked the spam filter; it was set on 7 (10 is the most restrictive). Even at that level, my dad's account garnered approximately 1,000 spam per week. I changed the spam filter to 8, and now it's down to a little over 600 per week.

Every so often, one of the spams will catch my eye. Here are some examples, just from the past week.

"Hot, Christian singles in your area" So I'm thinking, "Joan of Arc?"

"You could own a food franchise" Yes, he most certainly could, if he were alive.

"I want to buy your house" and "We want to buy your house" Sure, try to take advantage of the grieving widow.

"There was a strong, impetuous movement in their bodies, but at the same time there was elegant restraint in them." There's a book to put down after the first sentence.

"Sign Up & Get 1 Candy Bar for Every Day of the Month" Thanks, but I'm trying to avoid candy now.

"Victoria's Secret gift card at no cost (participation required)" This one sounds promising: free, and you get to participate.

"Computer problems are now optional" Yeah, so's having a computer.

"Be full of energy and fill your partner with it!" Fill your partner with energy? What is this, the remake of Cocoon?

"Drop 10lbs in two weeks" Heck, just give me a dumbbell, and I can drop it in two seconds.

"are you dating a con?" I sincerely doubt it.

"Quality life insurance coverage" You're a little too late, thanks.

"Cut Through Foods Without Crushing Or Smashing" Yeah, use a knife, dummy.

"you've seenWicker Man in the theater - now learn witchcraft" I know I'm not up on popular culture, but after scores of spam about "Wicker Man", I have yet to actually hear if this movie really exists.

"I won the lottery! Really!" Um, good for you?

"Hang pictures with no tools or use of studs" Aw, but I wanted a stud with a well-hung tool.

"Eliminate bloating and constipation" was immediately followed by "Keep your Septic System Trouble Free".

"Starting a Federal Contract Company" Been there, done that, authorized the company T-shirts.

"Here is a Complimentary* Bible for You" It's that asterisk that worries me.

"Can't keep up with your monthly Bills?" Actually, it's the monthly Joes who get away from me.

"Credit Profile Change" Yeah, death does kind of do a number on your credit score.

"Our Singles want to MEET and DATE you this weekend." I'm afraid they're going to stay single.

"Begin second youth in your life!" Ah, getting existential, are we?

"Say hello to your toes" Hello, toes.

"Women eliminate your balances today" I'd stay away from those women, if I were you.

"Dance your way to flat ABS" Who knew that the fox trot could fix your Antilock Braking System?

"What were more holy Than to rejoice the former queen is well." Proper grammar, capitalization, and punctuation, that's what.

"He tore open the plastic bag of water with the fish in it, poured out the water over the fishing gear, and put the flopping fish into the basket." Is that supposed to sound dirty?

"He had a clipped mustache and a crew haircut, the bastard." Yeah, damn him for being neatly groomed.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Creeps & Crawls

I haven't complained about drivers in a while...

Why do so many people inch their cars forward at a red light? It doesn't change the light any faster. It doesn't get them to their destination any sooner. Is their sole purpose simply to irritate me?

I never inch forward; it keeps a safe distance between me and the car in front. What if some idiot were to plow into the rear end of my car while I was at a red light? At least I'd keep the front end of my car from being damaged, as well.

Do airplane pilots inch their cars forward? What would happen if they did this while awaiting their turn to take off? Inch by inch, sooner or later, the nose of the plane would stick into the runway where some other plane is landing or taking off at high speed.

I also am irritated by big, honkin' SUV's or pick-up trucks that don't stop for a red light until they're on top of the stop bar (or, indeed, the crosswalk). Meanwhile, I'm sitting in the right-turn lane, waiting to make a turn after a complete stop on red. All of a sudden, I can't see if there is a clearing in the traffic to my left, so I, in turn, must pull even farther forward to see around them because I drive what is "only" a full-size car. Oops, there goes the front end of my car, clipped by the cross traffic! That'll teach me to drive a car big enough for me to fit into but with a pretty decent fuel efficiency, instead of a gas guzzler.


It is time to order next year's calendar, according to the page inserted between August and September of my current one. However, I don't want one like I have now. I want one simpler and thinner. I want one that opens up and shows the month on two pages and lays flat on my desk. Beats me if I can find it, though. There are far too many choices.

Is it a calendar, planner, or desk pad? Will it be used at home, at school, or in the office? Do I want one that's daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, two-yearly, or school-yearly? Do I want to keep track of daily tasks, appointments, future plans, or just organize my life?

Actually, I want one that looks just like the picture on the "monthly" page. There's no link embedded in the picture, though. Let's try "desk pad", since that's where I'll put it. Nope, wrong choice; that's all those blotter-size, giganto-calendars.

The "planner" link worked out better; it shows pictures similar to what I want and calls them "monthly planners". Now, do I want one that's executive, large, premiere, duo, academic, refillable, scenic, floral, or erasable? (Wouldn't erasable depend on whether or not you use a pencil or a pen?) How about just a plain "monthly planner"? Shall I choose item #G400, G440, G450, or G470? (That's just the first 16 choices out of 134.)

This is what I think I want, but they still have to confuse me. Under "product info", they describe the closure, format, rings, size, and style. What, pray tell, is an "open closure"?

It might be easier (definitely cheaper) if I just drew lines and wrote words and numbers on some scratch paper.

And, yes, the title is a witty reference. Did you catch it? It's one of the words used in "Bulbous Bouffant" by The Vestibules, available on the Dr. Demento 30th Anniversary Collection: Dementia 2000. Lyrics are available here, but they don't capture the insanity as well as actually hearing the song.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fun with Wurds

Yesterday, I made plane reservations for my mother and myself to attend a cousin's wedding in Iowa.  We will be flying into Sioux City.  I can imagine it when we disembark the plane and I state, "Boy, this airport sucks!"  (Dirty glare from mother.)  "But, Mom, I was merely referring to the airport's call symbol:  SUX."

The other day, I saw a blue bumper sticker from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Does that mean the graduates are Fuqwads?

Caveat Emptor

Two current news items have me wondering about the responsibility of U.S. consumers and of the manufacturing or service companies.  I think it's time for us to remember the adage, "Let the buyer beware."

The more dominant of the two news items to which I refer is the recall of children's toys made in China. The reason is that paint containing lead was applied to toys made for the U.S. market. Can we blame the Chinese manufacturer? No, not if lead paints are still allowed in China. Can we blame the U.S. company (Mattel) that ordered the toys? Yes, to a point. On the one hand, it is understandable if they assumed that no paints contain lead any more, since they have been prohibited in the U.S. for over 30 years, so how were they to know that the Chinese still use them? On the other hand, they do have responsibility for two reasons. 1) Knowing that they are dealing with a foreign company, they should have researched the materials to be used, not just look at a pretty, finished product and ask how cheaply it could be made. 2) The product specifications should have said that no lead-based paints were to be used. Now we have a massive product recall, unsatisfied consumers, and (in our lawsuit-happy country) the potential for an exorbitant class-action suit.

I just touched on something that really torques me off. Yeah, but I meant other than being lawsuit-happy. I said "specifications". How often have you heard someone say, "Damn low-bid phone," or something similar? It's not the phone's fault; it was made to specifications. If Company A says they can make you a widget for ten cents, and Company B says they can make widgets for twenty cents, why shouldn't you save fifty percent and do business with Company A? On the other hand, if you want your widgets to be made of tungsten carbide and be ten mils thick, Company B will say, "That's what we can give you," but Company A might say, "In that case, our price will be twenty-five cents per widget." You get what you ask for.

Speaking of which... (I love how I can segue seamlessly between examples.)

A man is suing McDonald's (target sighted: multi-million dollar corporation) for serving him cheese on his sandwich, even though he has a cheese allergy. The sandwich in question is a Quarter Pounder, which normally contains cheese. There isn't a similar, cheese-free sandwich, so it's not a case of, "Why didn't you order a hamburger rather than a cheeseburger?" Also, we must consider that this is not Burger King, whose slogan is, "Have it your way." (I have not looked into how much leeway McDonald's allows its franchises when making sandwiches that might fall outside of specifications.) Maybe even (dare I imagine?) the employee who prepared the sandwich made a mistake. Is that worth suing the entire corporation for negligence? (Hmm, I ended up griping about lawsuit-happy, too.)

Now let's look at the customer. Even if this was his first visit to McDonald's, or if he thought he'd try that sandwich for the first time, why didn't he know or find out if it contained cheese? I know a few people with various food allergies, and every single one of them will not eat food known to contain the allergy-causing ingredient or without asking before trying it. I have seen numerous packaged foods whose labels warn that the item contains or was produced in a facility that also produces foods which contain whey, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, MSG, etc. I presume that people who know they have allergies peruse the labels before opening the product, to see if the food might cause any adverse reactions. Why didn't this man, knowing he has a cheese allergy, do the same? According to this news story, he ate the sandwich at home, in a dark room. Still, why didn't he check the sandwich when he unwrapped it? Could he not feel for the cheese slice before opening his mouth? How dark was the room that a light-orange cheese slice did not stand out from the brown meat, red ketchup, and green pickle? Simply put, he is a boob who doesn't accept responsibility for his own actions. He brings to mind the bumper sticker (I am not making this up) which reads, "Some people are alive simply because it's against the law to kill them."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Terrible Man with a Terrible Name

And last of all an Admiral came,
A terrible man with a terrible name,
A name which you all know by sight very well,
But which no one can speak, and no one can spell.
Robert Southey, "The March to Moscow", stanza 8.

I have finally thought of a name for my co-assistant manager, the one who is inseparable from Ob. As you know, I was vexed for quite some time because I could not think of a concise yet appropriate blog name for him. ("If thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil!" William Shakespeare, Othello, Act II, Scene 3) From here on, I shall refer to him as "Sub". Here's my reasoning.

1) It's short, and "Ob and Sub" has a nice ring to it.
2) He is below Boss, both in position and capabilities, so sub-manager seems an appropriate appellation.
3) He is corpulent, as if he has eaten too many large sandwiches in his life.

Monday the 13th

Yesterday was Monday the Thirteenth, a day I dread more than others. (Thank you, Garfield.) Here's how my day started out.

1) Fought with the copy machine because it was repeatedly misfeeding paper. (It's still doing it today. I assume the warranty has run out.)
2) Knocked the digital camera off the desk, as I was uploading pictures onto the computer, and bent the male end of the cord where it attaches into the camera. (Surprisingly, it still functions properly.)
3) Answered a phone call in which a woman asked to speak with one of our temporary employees. I immediately pictured the incorrect employee in my head and told her that he no longer works with us. (She phoned back later and spoke with our admin. asst., who gave her the correct information.)

That was in just the first three hours I was at work - not a bad average.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Two Wrongs: Don't Make 'Em Right

These two items are hereby banished to the "Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should" realm.

While flipping channels at the hotel in Levelland, I found a very disturbing, new cable network: Fox Reality. These programs shouldn't exist in the first place, let alone have a network dedicated to them. (On the other hand, we could rescue the rest of television by barring "reality" shows from all networks save this one.)

At my favorite "greasy spoon" on Friday, I saw a new poster advertising a drink called the Chelada: Budweiser and Clamato. I... have... no... words... (Note: I can't find it on the official Anheuser-Busch web page. Are they so ashamed of creating it that they now deny its existence?)

Through the Looking Glass

After chatting with the young woman parked next to me during the missile range stop last Thursday, I noticed my reflection on her SUV.  It made the vehicle I was driving long and sleek, like a stretch limo.  However, I was oriented vertically, and at just one point on my car's profile, so I looked like a stubby guy with chunky legs.  It was like looking into a fun house mirror.

The mirror over the sinks in my gym's locker room has the unfortunate ability to reflect anyone by the lockers (which is usually me). It shows me just as I am. While I appreciate seeing my improving muscles, I also must look at my fat. I don't like this mirror.

There's a mirror I like in the men's room on the second floor of Corbett Center at NMSU. It's very tall, so I can see a full body image of myself. (Extremely few mirrors in the world can do that.) Plus, I think I look good every time I see myself. It shows off my legs, which I feel are just shy of excellent, while minimizing my waistline. I wonder how difficult it would be to pry the mirror off the wall, sneak it out of the building, and get it home in my car.

My favorite view of myself is in my bathroom at home, when I have the dim, ceiling light on, and I'm not wearing my glasses or contacts. I see a very fuzzy, dark view of myself, which accentuates my pectorals and biceps and all but eliminates my somewhat corpulent abdomen. It is very flattering, and I'm glad I'm not a narcissist, or else I'd be there now. Now if I could only get other people to see me the same way...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Not the Emerald City, but not Kansas, Either

Geez, I used my best green reference on 7/12/07. The second one I thought of was Baron VonGreenback, but I couldn't make it fit with my theme. (1,000 points and my eternal friendship if you recognize that reference.)

Anyhoo, I forgot to mention in this morning's post about the "green" status of my hotel in Levelland. They did not have the notice posted about keeping towels, but they succeeded with a little conservation. I left my towel and bathmat hanging above the tub, but they replaced them anyway. On the brighter side, they saved a little water by not replacing my sheets after one night. The housekeeper made my bed but did not change the sheets. I probably should have given them a positive comment card when I checked out.

Road Trip

I just got back from Texas and, boy, are my arms tired!

I rented a Chevy HHR. Although I am impressed with the gas mileage, I will never buy one for myself. The driver's seat was not made for someone of my height. My choice was either have the back at a comfortable angle and my head at an uncomfortable angle, or vice versa. (I think I need to get a massage to have my neck and shoulders worked back into their proper positions.) Nor could I get the seat low enough. They had an odd pump-action lever (in this model) that raised or lowered the seat like a barber's chair. Well, it raised it, at any rate. I could drive my head even further into the ceiling by raising the seat, but it was already bottomed out, so my eyes were never below the top of the windshield.

That's another reason I won't buy this vehicle: visibility is restricted. 1) Rear window is very small. 2) Very small rear window is obscured by rear passenger head rests. 3) Front and side visibility is restricted by very wide frame supports. 4) Windshield is too low for me to see out of (I had to duck to see traffic signals), and rear view mirror blocks my forward view (although I have these two problems with every car I've ever driven, so don't take off too many points for that).

I've implied this before, but I'll say it straight out now: don't trust online maps. The incomplete directions and poorly detailed map caused me to miss a turnoff and take the wrong highway. (I knew I should have made that left turn at Albuquerque.) Thankfully, it headed the same direction (just a little farther south), and I got to see parts of New Mexico and Texas I hadn't seen before. Who knew the middle of nowhere could be pretty? Unfortunately, the map didn't account for the dead end of the highway at an adult bookstore. (Excuse me, could you direct me to Brownfield? Oh, and while I'm here, I might as well pick up a cat-o-nine tails, a carton of aerosol whipped cream, that leather mask/ball gag set, and the personal massager that looks like a rubber duck in leather.)

The town of Levelland, TX itself was small (pop. 12,800) but comfortable. (It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.) The employee driving me around was friendly (if we'd have had more time, I would have learned why he got divorced and just how old his daughter in Houston and his grandchild are), but even he had the small town blues. He kept asking me how to qualify for management jobs and what training the company offers, so he could move to a bigger (presumably better) place.

Speaking of friendly, the restaurant where I ate lunch was crowded, so I shared a large table with two men. Not only was it amusing to listen to them talk about their "kinfolk" and to share the ketchup bottle, the waitress came over after they left and told me they had paid my bill!

On the return trip, I located the correct highway and got to drive through Robomarkov's hometown and see how pretty this part of middle-of-nowhere was, too.

I was almost home free. I estimated about an hour left to drive, and then I was stopped by a roadblock for a missile test. Not only "Argh!", but it would have helped if there were notification on the road before getting there. Rather than standing around for 45 minutes in the blazing sun (yes, with sunblock and hat) trying to eat a half-melted protein bar, I could have eaten a proper lunch in an air-conditioned Alamogordo restaurant.

All in all, it wasn't a bad trip -- but if I have to do it again, I'm going to borrow one of my mom's road atlases, rather than trust an online source.

Monday, August 06, 2007

All Wet

This press release announces that NMSU has received funding to develop a computer program to predict with more accuracy the chances of flash floods.

After last year's disastrous floods in Hatch, NM and El Paso, TX, I'm sure some people with think it's too little, too late. However, one must keep in mind that a) someone must generate the idea, b) technology must be advanced enough to make it possible, and c) funding must be in place. At the very least, consider that most organizations review grant requests only once per year, so it probably wasn't possible for the university to get the funding any earlier. Now considering that the funds came from the U.S. government, we'll see if the full amount is received and if all three years are funded. (Given that 435 Representatives, 100 Senators, and one President determine the funding, not to mention all the departmental employees that request funding and those who process the requests, it's a miracle anything gets done in this country.)

A couple of months ago, it was announced that owners of property next to levees in Dona Ana County would be required to have flood insurance. Naturally, people whined that it wasn't fair and that it's so expensive. I was astounded, first because they didn't already own flood insurance, and second because
they weren't required to do so, even though they live next to the river, but I had to purchase flood insurance, and I live a mile or more east of the river - on the second floor of a building. (Note that I was not astounded that they complained.) I'd like to meet every single one of the whiners and tell them to stop whining, that what really wasn't fair was that I had to pay and they didn't, that they should have known better to live next to a river in the first place, and that they should just "suck it up" and pay.

Friday, August 03, 2007

To Beep or not to Beep

For the past several days, I have heard a series of three beeps whenever I am on my veranda. I thought it was the alarm system in the office suite next door. Yesterday evening, I discovered it was my downstairs neighbor's smoke detector. She is not in residence at the moment and is not renting her unit, so the condo board pres. and I entered (with a key) and replaced the battery. Silence reigned supreme.

Or so I thought. Later in the evening, as I was on the phone, I heard a periodic single beep. I thought it was my new cell phone, which irritates me by making more noises than the old one. I detoured to the study and was nearly knocked over by an ear-splitting beep from my carbon monoxide detector. Thankfully, it merely needed replacement batteries; it did not indicate that my gas water heater was going wonky. (To thank me after I refreshed its batteries, the CO detector gave an equally loud but longer beep.)

All this brought to mind one of the answering machine messages I had in college. This is it, as best as I can remember.

To beep or not to beep, that is the question. Whether to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous messages, or to hang up, and by opposing, end them. To speak, and by to speak to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that messages are heir to. To speak, perchance to answer. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

I need to change my current message, although it's not like I'm such a social butterfly that I'm away when anyone phones and hears it often enough to be bored with it. I used to be quite creative with my messages. Once, I had a friend sing lyrics I had made up to the Toreador song from Carmen. (It was in too high a key for her, but she performed admirably.)

*** is not home now. Leave an answer please. The day and time you called, it's such a breeze.
And so on.

Then there was the assistance I received from a song by The Playmates.

I can not answer the phone right now. Please leave an answer after the...
Beep-beep. Beep-beep.
His horn went beep-beep-beep.

Robomarkov left an almost rabid message asking where I had gotten the recording of "Fast Food" by Stevens & Grdnic. You remember it...

I want a cheesburger,
onion rings,
and a

I once received a message from a woman who said that she had misdialed but loved my message so much that she stayed on the line to tell me. My favorite, though, was the woman who was recorded laughing after hearing Spike Jones' rendition of "Chloe".

(Sound effects ring)
You don't say.
You don't say!
You don't say.
(group) Who was it?
He didn't say.

I've had the same message (the 60 Minutes team introduction, with me tacked onto the end) for several years. I wonder what caused my brain to go stagnant.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Get Smart

Some employees will walk off with whatever isn't nailed down. There is a shower in our men's restroom, but no one ever uses it. It's just as well they don't, since the water control knobs were stolen last year; only bare copper fittings stick out of the wall. (I did not make that up.)

You will understand, then, that we keep our gloves and safety glasses in a locked cabinet, to keep them from going home with someone. Only a persistent thief could steal them. It's not that the locks are particularly difficult; it's that the process is tedious, so only someone with patience will survive the process.

First, I use my key to enter our admin. assistant's office. In there, I retrieve the key to Boss's office. Inside Boss's office is the key to the safety equipment cabinet. But wait; there's more! Next I use my key to get into the training room. Only then may I get the gloves... that are in the locked cabinet... that is in the locked training room... using the key from a locked office... using another key in a locked office... using my own key... which is in the house that Jack built. Is it any wonder I feel like I'm walking into CONTROL headquarters?

Two Thoughts

#1 There is peculiar comfort in seeing your hydrovore loaded with fully ripe tomatoes picked from your own plants. (Hydrovore is my mom's name for the vegetable drawer/crisper. I've never seen it written down, so I spelled phonetically.)

#2 I had been stressing myself about how two coworkers were behaving with me the past week or two. I worried that I had acted badly towards them. Then I thought maybe they were having bad weeks. Perhaps they were being overworked, too, and I just got in the way. I finally settled on a solution last night, and I slept well: so what? If they want to be buttheads, let them. I'll just get on with my job, stay out of their way, and get my own work done.

The Bear Necessities?

Man, it gets tough to find a witty (or an anhydrous) title for a post when I'm not that keen on the topic. This one's about shopping, and what do I know about that? I'm a guy; all I do is go in, get what I need, and get out. How am I supposed to come up with a clever reference to that (well, without being obscene)? However, I will be referring to items frequently termed "staples" or "basics", so the title was the first thing that popped into my head. (When I pull a Disney reference, from a movie I've never seen, you know I'm stretching.)

Yesterday's mailbox stuffers included an ad for a "Back-to-School Savings Event!" from K-Mart. The front side included paper towels, bottled water, 2 liter soda, toilet paper, and bleach. The back side included girls' sets (whatever they are) and dresses, boys' shorts, pillows, composition notebooks, and a 32" LCD TV. I understand the clothing and the notebooks, but what child needs to take a television to school? In my day, it was pencils, notebooks, crayons, and maybe even white paste.