Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Friday, February 29, 2008

E plural-bus unum

Then I started pondering why we spell it "hippos" instead of "hippoes". And, is the plural of "hippopotamus" "hippopotami" because it's Latin, or should it be something else because it was a Greek word before the ancient Romans used it? (I once took a Latin course, but as far as other dead languages, they're all Greek to me.)

I have Betty Crocker's Cooky Book at home. I guess that's the proper singular form of "cookies", but it looks funny. Then again, I always eat cookies; I never eat a single cooky.

One plural which often is misspelled is the plural of "bus". The correct spelling is "buses". Whenever I see "busses", I wonder what kisses have to do with what I'm reading.

Hungry, Hungry Hippos

I was feeling cranky earlier because I nearly didn't get my lunch break. People kept calling or stopping by my office. I eventually started lunch 45 minutes late -- and then I had to cut it short to make it to a meeting.

I started pondering how lucky and grateful I am to eat well enough that I could afford to skip a meal without any adverse consequences.

7 x 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon

The temperature yesterday was 37 degrees on my way to work. The forecast high was in the upper 70's. "Gee, that's about 40 degrees," I thought. When I arrived home (about 4:00 p.m.), the thermometer on my veranda (on the north side, in the shade) read 79 degrees.

What is the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, to which the temperature differential is 42?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Phun wyth Wurdz (Part II)

The caption at the bottom of the news channel's screen yesterday read, "Injecting Fear into Debate". Naturally, I wondered "defeabater"?

I was interested enough to ponder this a while once I got home from the gym. I tried seeing if I could make sentences out of those words. Here's what I came up with.

beer fat ade
deaf at beer
read be fate
a fated beer
defeat bear
bare defeat
beer tea fed
tear beef ad
eat rad beef
deaf rebate
be ear fate
be rate fade

Then I started a solitary game of Boggle. Would you like to play? Under my rules, you may create words of any length (even one letter), and there is no time limit. Tenses of words are allowed, but you may not use proper names, abbreviations, or foreign words. Including the starter words "fear" and "debate", I managed to come up with exactly 100 words. How many can you get?



Wednesday, February 27, 2008


"N.I.M.B.Y." stands for "Not In My Back Yard". It usually refers to something someone thinks is a good idea -- as long as it's not near them. One example is, "A nuclear plant is a great source of CO2-free energy, but I don't want it in my city." Another could be, "I'm all for integrating neighborhoods, but I don't want a black family to move in next door to me."

NMSU's press release yesterday provides well-deserved attention about the engineering college's efforts to improve the efficiency and actual use of solar panels. Aggie researchers will be part of a group to increase solar panels in 13 cities throughout the U.S. -- but not on the NMSU campus.

Wouldn't it make more sense to clean up your own house before telling someone else how dirty their floors are?

I probably shouldn't say this, but...

The world needs more people like me.

At the supermarket yesterday, I demonstrated how I can pack a bag more efficiently than most of the store's employee's. I also used two canvas bags and two paper bags that I have had for some time. (And, once they rip or get holes beyond my tolerance limit, I use them to hold my newspapers or paperboard for recycling.)

I saved paper. I saved plastic. I got 20 cents taken off my total. Why don't other people see how easy this is?

If I Only Had a Brain

I don't know where my mind went yesterday. I forgot to do the load of laundry I had planned. I forgot to take my jacket and gloves and hat home from work, so I ended up coming in pretty darn chilly today. (Of course, "chilly" is relative. It's warm enough here to go without a jacket in the afternoon, and Geosomin, in Canada, exults whenever the temperature gets above 0 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Word to the Wise

Never discuss replacing your monitor (which resembles Oliver Wendell Jones's one from Bloom County) with the head of computer support, while sitting in front of it. Otherwise, it will start showing lines across the screen and leave junk visible when you close various windows, making everything you type virtually unreadable.

As annoying as that is for me, imagine how the monitor feels, knowing it's about to be replaced with a flat-screen.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Better Safe than Sorry

The news item about the U.S. blowing up a defunct spy satellite in orbit, rather than letting it crash back to Earth, has bugged me since I heard about it. At issue is the fuel tank of the satellite, which contains a chemical named hydrazine, which the government said is poisonous. The government claimed a successful mission, according to various news reports, the other day.

The government's logic (if that isn't an oxymoron) is that, rather than allowing the satellite to crash to Earth, with the potential of the fuel tank not burning up as it passes through the atmosphere, and with the potential of fuel contaminating soil or water or causing injury to humans or other life forms, blowing up the satellite will create small pieces of debris, which almost certainly will burn up upon reentry into the atmosphere. I'm all right with this so far. It's much like the reason why very few meteorites reach the ground vs. the Skylab crash in Australia in 1979. (Humorous note: according to Wikipedia, "An Australian municipality, the Shire of Esperance, fined the United States $400 for littering.") What bothers me is this: what if the unspent fuel is vaporized rather than combusted? Will molecules float through the atmosphere? Will they settle to the ground? Maybe Betty, my astrophysics friend, can educate me.

This article is a follow-up, but note that it includes the phrases, "if not eliminating the risk" and "high degree of confidence". That doesn't sound like 100% to me. Is that still safe?

Frosty the... Oops, he melted

I was in ABQ at the end of the week to attend the annual xeriscape conference. It snowed twice when I was there. Both times, there was snow at my mom's house but not at lower elevations in town. Both times, it melted before the sun went down.

The weather report at six o'clock this morning for Las Cruces said that it was 54 degrees with an expected high in the mid-70's.

It's no wonder weather forecasters are wrong so often.

Give me a brake!

When did it become legal to change lanes (with or without signaling) in the middle of an intersection?

Hmm. You said it was about the same time that it became legal to disregard the posted speed limit and to make right turns on red without stopping and to ignore stop signs?

Drivers are getting worse. It's a good thing I'm cautious.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You heard it here first.

Since the U.S. Postal Service so conveniently neglected to publicize their last rate increase (see my 6/20/07 post), I thought I'd perform this public service and share the news that they are increasing rates again, effective May 12, 2008. Note that this is less than a year since their last increase. Note further that other rates will increase in March. On the other hand, the first-class stamp which most of us use is not getting more expensive (at this time).

I present the following e-mail, which I received from the campus purchasing director.

Please be advised that the USPS will again be raising their rates.  The new rates take effect May 12, 2008.

Pricing highlights:

No change in the First-Class Mail single-piece additional-ounce price.
Lower additional-ounce price for presorted First-Class Mail letters.
Lower pound price for Standard Mail saturation and high-density flats.
Shape-based pricing for First-Class Mail International letters, flats, and parcels.
First-Class Mail International price groups expand from five to nine groups.

Select prices:
First-Class Mail letter (1 oz.) $0.42
First-Class Mail letter (2 oz.) $0.59
Postcard $0.27
First-Class Mail large envelope (2 oz.) $1.00
Certified Mail $2.70
1st-Class International to Canada and Mexico (1 oz.) $0.72
1st-Class International to all other countries (1 oz.) $0.94

USPS will announce new prices for shipping services - Express Mail, Priority Mail, Parcel Select, and International Mail - in March.

For details on rates please see this USPS site.

Dig Dug

Rumors were flying last week about two bodies allegedly buried in the back yard of one of the houses in Student Family Housing at NMSU. The only fact I had was that the campus police asked to borrow four picks from us. Now the truth is revealed: nothing was found. This was the biggest build-up to nothing since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone's basement twenty or more years ago.

Monday, February 18, 2008

May I toss him in, as well?

I've mentioned earlier about the Recyclemania competition, which compares the recycling rates for various universities (per capita). Ob is all gung-ho about it. I suppose I should be grateful that, for the first time in his 2.5 years here, he is actually doing his job, except it really ticks me off that, after 2.5 years here, he is finally doing his job.

On the more positive side, here is his e-mail about the second week results (numerous exclamation points removed, although they are indicative of the way he talks, because they are annoying -- which is indicative of the way he talks).

The second week rankings have been published on the website. We improved in all categories. You can find them posted on the "Results" page. Log onto We are registered under the Partial Campus Division. Here is a brief summary as to how we did after the second week of the competition.

Grand Champion Category: New Mexico State University came in at number 5 in the country.

Per Capita Classic Category: New Mexico State University came in at number 7 in the country.

Waste Minimization Category (which is part of the commitment that President Martin made by signing The American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment): New Mexico State University came in at number 13 in the country.

Targeted Material Categories:
* Corrugated Cardboard: NMSU came in at number 6 in the country.
* Paper: NMSU came in at number 10 in the country.
* Plastic Bottles & Cans: NMSU came in at number 47 in the country.

Aggie Recycling had another fantastic week. Where our motto is "See A Bin, Drop It In".

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rubber Ducky, you're the one!

It's not that I intend to give equal time to all Muppets (although I can, if you wish), but Ernie sprang (?) to mind last night.

I don't know what mailing list I'm on now, but I received a catalog last night, which is full of cheap, plastic-y gewgaws intended as giveaways for kids. For amusement, I flipped through the pages, and I was astounded by how many versions of rubber ducks there are now. Here's a link to that page of the online catalog -- for 76 styles of rubber ducky. Can you imagine someone being paid to design new molds of rubber duckies? "Hmm, I think I'll try an Elvis one next."

For the record, Grover is my favorite.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sweet and Sensual

but enough about me...

The NPR program All Things Considered aired this interview with Cookie Monster yesterday afternoon.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Gift Idea

I came up with what I want my Secret Santa to get me for Christmas this year: a tiny broom and dustpan, mop and bucket, and a shovel, to symbolize how I end up cleaning up everyone else's messes.

Man, am I glad it's almost quitting time.

At least the kitchen floor got swept

I had been putting it off on account of laziness. Then I caught a cold and didn't feel like doing much of anything. This morning, I made the mistake of thinking, "Hey, I'm feeling a lot better today!"

Shortly after that was when I dropped the dish.

As the water for my oatmeal heated, I was putting away my dishes from last night, and I dropped the glass lid from one of my stovetop/microwave/freezer containers, and I can't tell if it hit my glass cutting board or just my granite countertop, but it shattered and sent pieces all over the counter and the floor. (Thankfully, I was already dressed and wearing my steel-toed work boots.)

I swept the floor and decided to leave the countertop until tonight, when I get.... No, it will be dark before I get home, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow, when the sun will be up -- preferably before I need to use that cutting board to prepare brunch.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Here's the Proof

Math, science, and engineering nerds should appreciate this one.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Spread 'em

Most people in the U.S. know that the Super Bowl was this past weekend. Even I, who live in my own little world and dislike sports in general and watch far less TV than the average American, knew that something more than the typical football game was going on. That's because most of my coworkers are men who are sorry about their day-to-day existence and glean evidence of their machismo from watching 22 men being paid millions of dollars each to run into each other repeatedly.

Said coworkers also stake their pride and bragging rights on their luck/skill in football pools. I've never understood gambling. What's the point in risking money that you're more likely to lose than increase? You'd be better off holding on to it. Above that, it's more than placing money on which team will win or lose. These guys come up with grids more complicated than a Punnett Square with six alleles, and then, depending on which square you choose, and whether you check the score at the end of the game or at the end of one of the quarters, or if you switch the digits in the scores, you win -- but only if the full moon rises and falls three times in the third quarter and a black lynx tap dances the merengue on your head.

At least, that's how complicated it seems to me.

Another type of spread has captured my interest this week, and you'll be happy to know it is much simpler but just as amazing. I'm talking about the temperature spread. On Mon. 2/4/08, I mentioned that the temperature had reach 70 degrees the previous weekend. It is forecast to do the same this coming weekend. Still, that doesn't preclude the local radio station from announcing that it was 19 degrees this morning.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Slow Children

School crossing zones in my town drop the speed limit to 15 mph when the lights are blinking. From what I remember, it was all the crossing guard could do, when I was growing up, to enforce a 25 mph zone -- and that was back when children actually walked to school, rather than being ferried by their parents.

I can't quite figure out the times that schools are open, either. My gym owner's wife says that the elementary school where she teaches gets out at 3:15 p.m. Last week, though, on my way to my appointments, I drove through an elementary school zone with the lights flashing at 2:25 p.m.

What really ticks me off is the people who drive below the speed limit. These apparent freaks of nature ignore the 35 mph limit normally on that road, but they'll drive 10 mph in the school zone. Meanwhile, those of us actually driving 15 mph are passing them, and the crossing guard will either blow his little whistle or (gasp!) give us a dirty look!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Spring is Sprung

It must be spring. The temperature hit 70 degrees this weekend, and the wind is blowing like all get out today.

On the other hand, the northern part of the state is still getting snow. I included here an article (and the link, in case you think I'm making this up). This is what you get for trusting your spell checker.

Rio Arriba County declared disease due to snow
The Associated Press

SANTA FE—Gov. Bill Richardson has declared Rio Arriba County a disaster area due to heavy snow that has blocked roads and left residents stranded in their homes.

Richardson says emergency management, state police and the state Department of Transportation will be available for emergencies and to support local efforts to clear roads.

The heaviest snow has been reported around Chama and Tierra Amarilla.

The disaster declaration makes $750,000 in state disaster relief funds available to cover the cost of crews to clear public roads, respond to emergencies, support public services and utilities and related efforts.

The state emergency operations center has been activated to monitor the situation in the northern New Mexico county.

A Complete Waste of Time

A local car dealership mailed a flyer advertising a new truck giveaway, with alternate prizes of money and consolation prizes of $2 bills. I figured, "What could it hurt? I could always sell the truck and use the money for something I want."

First off, the dealership was packed, and nearly everyone there was part of a family which had, at minimum, three children. I hadn't seen that many kids in one place except for at elementary school. The dealership, though, must have expected that because they had coloring book pages and crayons.

Second, you couldn't just walk in, check your numbers against a list, and walk out. They wanted face time. I was instructed to sit down ("if you can find a chair") and wait for a salesman to take his own sweet time and get to me.

Then the guy nearly sent me away. They wanted me to verify my address and prove that I was the "resident" to whom the flyer was mailed. It would have taken me too long to explain to the guy why my driver's license address is different than my actual address, so I popped out to my car and brought back my proof of insurance.

Naturally, I didn't win a mega-prize. Naturally, I had to sit and wait some more before the guy brought me my $2 bill.

Then, to top it off, they patty melt I ordered at my favorite greasy spoon came with onions, even though I ordered it without, and even though the waiter, who recognizes me as a regular knows I don't want onions.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Warning: Rant Ahead

(along with plenty of righteous indignation)

I include the link to an article about an alleged murder. Aside from the personal interest that it is my home church mentioned and one of my brothers is quoted, I felt compelled to comment on the details (as I often do), in both the article and the blog-like comments which follow it.

If you choose to read the article, my comments will make more sense. If not, you may sit back and enjoy a brief offering of logic in a world which sorely lacks it.

1) Innocent until proven guilty, whether you like it or not.

2) Regarding Cindy's comment: I cannot believe a church would condone murder.
Umm, did she even read the article? As stated by the minister, the fundraising is for legal fees, "We're not saying (Mandichak is) innocent or guilty."

3) Cindy again: The family members are affluent in their church community.
Umm (again), the article says "active", not "affluent". Moreover, a church which struggles to meet budget each year is not affluent, and no one, except maybe starving Africans or Asians, would call Maple Shade an affluent town.

4) Regarding the suspect's picture:
Wow, he has changed a lot in 18.5 years! (Wow, do I feel old!)

5) No body was found (as of the 1/28/08 posting date).
The police say they have ample evidence for a murder conviction, but I'd be that darn stickler causing a hung jury because, without a body, how can I be certain that someone is dead?

6) The victim's uncle, the alleged accomplice, believes he might be the father of the victim's baby.
I'm amazed that the commentors care more about criticizing a church for raising money for someone's legal defense than they do about the incest that (most likely) occurred, which leads the uncle to think he could have impregnated his niece in the first place.

7) Frank appears to want to change the sentencing and parole system.
Based on what we read in the article, we don't know why the suspect was paroled for an earlier crime. The commentor needs to get off his high horse.

8) Dear Poor Me:
He can, but that is up to God, isn't it?

9) To Johnny:
Oh, yeah, because only atheists and agnostics are capable of murder.

10) Jim apparently is an expert in everything simply by living in the same town. He can know through osmosis that ...that church is a complete joke.
I guess he must have missed the nearly 100 afghans knitted by church members each year for needy people and disaster victims... or the free water given out during each summer's street fair while every other vendor is selling something... or the food donated for needy families... or the school supplies donated for needy children... or the money collected for various world charities while the (aforementioned) budget never seems to have enough for fixing windows, replacing threadbare carpet, or installing air conditioning.

11) Jim continues, that whole church can rot in hell.
Has guilt by association ever worked? (There's also something about the sins of the father visited on the son, but I have neither a Bible nor a copy of Bartlett's handy.)

12) Jim won't stop ranting: Poor girl had a baby to raise...
Pardon my tendencies toward being literal and logical, but the article said nothing about the "poor" girl's financial situation, let alone how complicit she may or may not have been in becoming pregnant before finishing high school and then choosing to give birth and keep the child.

13) I'm getting tired of Jim, but I have to respond to this one, too: The baby will have no mother and looks like no father either.
Do you mean "no father" or "no uncle"? :)

14) I'm not sure if a Spanish-speaking Jesus is leaving a comment or if the Son of God Himself is speaking up. Who's raising money to help baby Miciana?
That would be a good question to ask the reporter.

15) Jesus again: What if Miciana had died?
The family would buy a tiny coffin and dig a small hole. (Black humor. Sorry.)

16) Another from the hijo de Dios: That would have been very very late term abortion.
Indeed, not to mention a very very wrong definition of the word.

17) Uno mas from our amigo: Does this church support attempted infanticide now?
Not likely. (Does he seriously believe his own question?)

18) El ultimo: If the 17 year old mother's life wasn't important...
Hmm, maybe it is the Son of God after all, if he can pass judgment on the girl's worthiness.

19) From Ray: Thou shall not kill has just become thou shall not kill, but if you do we will pay to get you off.
Actually, it's "murder", not "kill." Read it in the original Hebrew, Ray. It's fascinating.

20) Another assertion from Ray: The church has been condoning child rape for years now.... The church has now lost ALL credibility. This is exactly why I am a recovering catholic.
Really? Where does he see the word Catholic in my church's name? (Note: I'm assuming he meant (Roman) Catholic with a capital "C". Spelled with a lower case "c", the word means something different.)

21) A different Ray (I think) says, No one is Pro Abortion. It's called pro-choice.
Wow! And I thought I was the only one who noticed the distinction!

22) Warren's last sentence: So before one reads be wary that you are only hearing part of the story.
Seems like a good place to end this post.