Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Good Spellers Need Not Apply

In the window of my gas station this morning: "New Hours: Monday Threw Sunday".

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It was twenty years ago today

Okay, so it was actually 60 years. Okay, so it was actually 59 years and 10 months. Anyway, I found a paragraph that could be interpreted similarly to the intent of my blog, so I want to share it with you.

It must not be supposed that I expect every body to agree with what I say, still less that I only write what will be popular. I give my testimony according to the lights I follow. Every possible care has been taken to verify the facts; but much is constantly coming to light from the disclosure of captured documents or other revelations which may present a new aspect to the conclusions which I have drawn. This is why it is important to rely upon authentic contemporary records and the expressions of opinion set down when all was obscure. (Winston S. Churchill, March 1948)

I have just started The Gathering Storm, which is Churchill's first book in his trilogy about WWII. He starts off by explaining the circumstances after WWI which led up to WWII (in Japan, too, not just in Germany). It interested me, though, how some of his words can still be meaningful today. The current economic discussions, considered a "crisis" in the media and seized upon by politicians as something they think they can act upon to get votes in November, can be seen in Churchill's first chapter. "The multitudes remained plunged in ignorance of the simplest economic facts, and their leaders, seeking their votes, did not dare to undeceive them. The newspapers, after their fashion, reflected and emphasised the prevailing opinions. ... No one in great authority had the wit, ascendancy, or detachment from public folly to declare these fundamental, brutal facts to the electorates..."

If that's just the first chapter, I look forward to the rest of the book.

So much for picking my nose

I cut the tip of my pointer finger last night. It's not on my dominant hand, and it only slows down my typing a little, but it strikes me that it's not a particularly good week for me physically.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Nothing to Sneeze At

After my last post and before my doctor's appointment on Friday, I discovered that I could not sneeze. I just inhaled, my back seized up, and suddenly I didn't need to sneeze any more. Again, it's amazing how much your back muscles get involved in.

I went to a chiropractic office in my old bank. (The doctor's office actually is in the vault.) He x-rayed me and gave me a preliminary diagnosis that my vertebrae are compressed, so there is less motion in my spine, so the muscles have to work harder (or the muscles move but the spine doesn't; I was a bit confused there), hence I strained a muscle.

His staff gave me a minor massage of the lower back, gave me an ultrasound treatment (I didn't ask if it's a boy or girl; I want to be surprised), and then sent electric pulses into my lower back for ten minutes. On the uninjured side, I could feel the pulses moving in a varying pattern. On the injured side, it felt as if someone was poking a bruise.

Next, I went back to the doctor to be "adjusted". (A show of hands: how many of you have known for years that I'm not well-adjusted?) I lay on my stomach, and he said he was going to give me a "little" push in the upper back. He said "good" afterward, but I was pondering how he didn't crack my ribs against the table. He did the same to my middle & lower back, and I was thinking how nice it was that he shoved so quickly. I then lay on my right side, feeling a little pain, and he adjusted my arms and legs into a Vesuvian death pose before pushing on my spine from the side. "This guy means business," I was thinking. Then came the hard part: my left (strained) side. My pain level was a constant 4 or 5 (10 being the highest) -- until he pushed. My pain jumped to an 8 (not high enough to cry out nor bring tears to my eyes), and I figured the guy was a masochist. Then I made a follow-up appointment for this afternoon.

It took until mid-day Saturday, but the muscle treatment appears to have worked. I could bend or take deep breaths or, yes, sneeze without pain. I figure loosening my vertebrae might take some more sessions, though.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Time after Time

When my alarm went off yesterday morning, I noticed that the time it showed was an hour fast -- but I hadn't overslept an hour, and all the other clocks in my condo were accurate. That implies that I somehow stopped the alarm, pushed a switch to allow me to change the time, pushed a button to change the hour, and pushed the switch back. (It's amazing what you can do without realizing it, isn't it?)

Then, yesterday evening, I turned on my VCR to watch the (syndicated) episode of Frasier I had taped the previous night, and I saw that the time was about six hours off. Now I'm starting to think that I should stop touching things with clocks in them.

Come to think of it, the clock on my computer here at work (which comes from a server) has been two minutes slow for a couple of weeks...

Call The Police

Sometimes it feels like more than just a Sting.

Somehow, I pulled a muscle in my lower back. I first noticed it last Friday or Saturday, and I was kind of achy, but I could live with it. However, when I got up from my chair yesterday morning to accompany a coworker, I felt such pain that I had to stand still until it passed. As the day progressed, I learned which movements caused more or less pain. Eventually, I discovered that breathing quickly and shallowly (hyperventilating, in a sense) allowed me to twist or bend in certain ways with minimal pain, so I was able to roll over in bed.

Today, I get to play with the company's benefits system to see if I can find a back doctor on our medical plan. That is, if I can get past the logon screen.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Arrest that Computer!

I was pondering computer error messages yesterday. "This program has performed an illegal operation and must shut down."

What illegal actions can a computer do? Can I be charged as an accessory because it was my computer? (I certainly hope it didn't murder someone or download kiddie porn.)

Then I remembered that computers do only what they are programmed to do. Does that mean the software designer made it do something illegal? Does his boss know he wrote that into the program? Is it just a thrill that the programmer gets by putting something "naughty" into a legitimate software package? What, indeed, is the point of programming a computer to do something it's not supposed to do?

I take comfort in the fact that, if the only penalty is to end a program, it couldn't have been a major crime. Could it? Maybe my machine is one of the ten most wanted now. "Have you seen this computer?" might be on the wall of every post office in the country. (No wonder it's lying low, just sitting on my desk all day.) Instead of going "on the lam", is it "on the RAM"?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Burning up the wires

Ob actually seems motivated towards Recyclemania, a competition between colleges and universities to see which campus can recycle the most per capita.

Here's another way to get college students interested: get Absolut Vodka as your sponsor. It makes sense to me: both materials are flammable.

Absolute Climate Change coming to the U.S.

Jan. 17 -- Absolut Vodka is kicking off its first-ever U.S. national sales and marketing platform, and is doing so to help address the climate change crisis.

The Swedish spirit company is joining with Live Earth to launch its Absolut Global Cooling advertising effort to encourage consumers to take simple steps to reduce the effects of global warming. The partnership with Live Earth is built on the Live Earth Film Series, which includes 60 educational short films, and represents a multi-year, multi-million commitment from Absolut. The campaign will include promotions at bars, nightclubs and retailers, along with film festivals and private events.

"Absolut boldly embraces finding a solution to the climate crisis by inspiring consumers and the hospitality industry to move from thought to action," said Ian Crystal, brand director for Absolut Vodka.


Have you ever seen a runner/jogger smile? I don't mean any time; I mean when s/he is running.

I thought not.

Runners say they enjoy it, but they sure don't seem to. I smile often when I'm at the gym or during my weekend walks. It's amazing how many amusing things I can ponder when my brain isn't concentrating on huffing and puffing and how high my pulse is and if my sneakers are wearing down and... To enjoy that, one must be a masochist.

This morning, I drove by a man jogging in nylon pants and a short-sleeved T-shirt. It is just 25 degrees outside. Not only is he a masochist, he's a stupid masochist.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Read this when you have a chance.

You are reading this right away, aren't you? Because, after all, that's what my boss thinks it means.

Monday morning, my boss handed me some papers clipped together and asked me to "read it when [I] have a chance". By past experience, I know that my boss means no such thing. (An indicator is that he handed me something, rather than putting it in my inbox or leaving on my desk after I've gone for the day.)

So, I finished the action I was in the middle of (leaving the overall process to fend for itself) and read the papers. I finished them just as my boss walked out of the building, saying, "I'll be right back". (That has to be the most blatant and repeated lie in this office.) He didn't return the rest of the day.

Tuesday was a travel day to head to a conference. Wednesday through Friday is said conference. Saturday and Sunday are the weekend. Monday is a holiday.

I figure, if boss can't be bothered to tell me to take any action other than read, and if he's not checking in during conference breaks to ask me the status of (un)said project, then it must be okay to wait more than a week without doing anything, so it's not important. Right?

I don't want to grow up. I'm a Toys 'R' Us kid.

I realized the other night that I may do what I want because I'm an adult. (Well, unhindered by spouse and/or children, I may do what I want.) If I want to stay up late, I may (although I rarely can). If I want to go to bed early, I may (or sometimes need to). If I want to go to bed early, nestle in with a good book, and read until the time I usually switch off the light, not only may I, but it's downright enjoyable.

Of course, that's all on my own time. At work is another matter. Please continue on to my next post.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eighty is Enough

Next to the washroom is one of those mail sorting compartments, where employees can pick up any mail, memos, or messages that come in for them. Our current compartment has forty slots. We have only 22 employees, and you even can subtract the eight supervisors, since we put their materials into their inboxes in their cubicles. Therefore, we have 14 slots used and 26 vacant.

The other day, I saw that either Worker Bee or Thing One had ordered and assembled not one, not two, but three new sorting compartments.* Each compartment has 36 slots. (I'll do the math for you.) That's 108 slots for 14 employees.

There must be a reason why someone wants more slots than we have and far more than we use. I'll have to wait to find out, though. Several days passed between the shipment of the sorters and their assembly. A few more days have passed since then, and they're just taking up space at the moment. Maybe I'll learn why we have them some time next week.

* The cartons called them "Literature Sorters", but the pictures don't show novels or even short story collections in the slots. Instead there was a piece of paper in each one (either red, green, yellow, or purple). I suppose there could be a poem on each paper.

Monday, January 14, 2008

To the moon, Alice!

I saw a second woman at the gym with her treadmill set to a rather steep incline. It looks to me as if they are climbing to the moon. While this is admirable, I wonder if it would be more beneficial to them if they didn't hang on to the bar in front of them. After all, if they were walking uphill outside, what would be there for them to hang on to?

Like the sands through the hourglass

My brand of shampoo was on sale, so I bought four bottles. I reflected that, at the rate my hair is falling out, those four bottles should last me the rest of my life.

Friday, January 11, 2008


The Recipe For Captain Chlorophyll

3 parts Giddiness
2 parts Boldness
1 part Allure

Splash of Fearlessness


Is your underwear insured?

Underwear Insurer to Clean up after Manufacturer

Jan. 10 -- An underwear insurer will pay $42.5 million to clean up hazardous waste contamination at four industrial facilities in Michigan, New Jersey and Tennessee, resolving a 2005 lawsuit over environmental insurance coverage.

American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co. Inc., a member company of American International Group Inc., reached a settlement with the federal government to address contamination at the sites, formerly owned by Fruit of the Loom Inc. The clothing company filed for bankruptcy in 1999.

The U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, sued AISLIC in 2005 to recover environmental cleanup costs from two trusts the bankruptcy court set up to distribute Fruit of the Loom’s remaining assets, including its environmental insurance policies.

AISLIC agreed to pay an initial $30 million plus interest from May 15 and make ten annual payments of $1.25 million to the Fruit of the Loom trusts.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Slightly geeky dork

Hmm, not quite the name of a successful rock band. However, it's a good follow-up to an old discussion on Betty's blog, in which I discovered that I am a dork, not a geek. Here's a comic strip that explains it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Carbon Guilt

The new trend is "carbon guilt". People who are worried about the amount of CO2 they create buy carbon offsets, such as a share in a tree planting program. I think this needs to be filed under "Stupid Human Tricks".

First off, if they feel guilty, they're not doing everything they can in the first place. I don't feel guilty about my carbon footprint. I reduce, reuse, and recycle. I walk. I combine trips. I don't drive a gas guzzler. I turn my (programmable) thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer. I support my electric utility's wind generation program. (For a description of real guilt, see my 9/6/07 post.)

Second, these people are wasting their money. Rather than paying someone extra money, they could save money by adopting one or more of the methods in the above paragraph. They'll pay less for gasoline or utilities, and they won't pay a guilt fee on top of that.

Third, these people probably are being scammed. Who will verify that those trees were planted? (Remember the "buy a piece of the rainforest" campaign back in the 1990's?) Who's to keep someone for charging ten people for the privilege of planting a tree -- and then plant one tree and send ten certificates and photos of "your tree"? On top of that, who will verify that the growing, transporting, and planting of that tree didn't expend more carbon that the tree can assimilate? Does the carbon credit come from a 6' tall sapling or a 30' tall mature tree, who knows how many years from now?

Last summer, an "environmental justice" seminar was held on our campus. The participants were giddy about planting twenty trees to offset the carbon they supposedly generated for the seminar. How did they measure the carbon they produced, and how did they measure the carbon these trees were supposed to offset? I know they didn't ask me or my staff about the water (from a well, which uses an electric pump), fertilizer (usually a petroleum derivative, and delivered in a gasoline-fueled truck), digging (with a diesel or gasoline tool), and transport (more diesel or gasoline) of the trees both from the nursery to our storage area then again to the planting site. What about the water (from the same well) we need to keep them alive and growing? I'm getting a headache from this, and there are probably other factors I haven't even included.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

On the eighth day, God invented bleach.

I requested an estimate for a product. Said estimate was e-mailed to me in a four-page document. The first page has large type and a lot of white space. The following three pages are small print, little white space, and full of legal jargon. The problem (other than the actual estimate being a minor part of the document) is that the legal staff didn't fully proofread.

(Company name) "...may require payment to made through an irrevocable letter of credit in favor of and acceptable to (company name) and established by Purchaser at its expense."

In the warranty section, the company shall not be held liable for ", wind, hail, flood, lightening, or other acts of God...."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

1) I resolve not to make any reso... lu.... Oh, damn.