Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Monday, June 30, 2008

You may already be a winner.

Yet another car dealership mailed out a contest flyer. I figured I could always invest the money if I won. When the salesman showed me that I had the winning numbers, though, I wasn't surprised or delighted; I was suspicious. (That must say something about my nature.) What I ended up winning was a voucher for three days/two nights at a selected hotel in various travel destinations. I read the fine print again and realized that the odds which I didn't understand the first time virtually guaranteed that anyone who walked in with their numbers would have the same digits as I did and "win" the same voucher. This prize is about as useful as the $1 coin or the $2 bill I have received from other dealers. (Those items are uncommon and thus more worthy as keepsakes than to use them for actual purchases.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Love, Kermit

Heard this on the news yesterday. Kermit Love wasn't as big a name as some of the Muppeteers, but he literally shaped some of the characters my generation grew up with.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Light Bulb over Someone's Head

I got this from the Waste News daily e-mail.

Home Depot kicks off nationwide CFL recycling program

June 24 -- Recycling compact fluorescent light bulbs just got easier. Home Depot announced it will offer free CFL recycling at each of its 1,973 locations.

Customers can drop off expired, unbroken bulbs at the returns counter of any Home Depot store.

The home improvement retailer is beginning the program in response to customers´ concerns about improper disposal of the bulbs, which contain small amounts of mercury.

The national recycling program is the most widespread of its kind and offers an alternative to some existing options -- community hazardous waste programs and select retail stores, according to the retailer.

"With more than 75 percent of households located within 10 miles of a Home Depot store, this program is the first national solution to providing Americans with a convenient way to recycle CFLs," said Ron Jarvis, Home Depot´s senior vice president for environmental innovation.

I neither recommend nor discourage patronizing the store mentioned above, but note that you don't have to shop there if you don't want to; you may simply drop off the old bulbs.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Various Thoughts

For some reason, I remember a particular question from Family Feud (the Richard Dawson version, not any of the johnny-come-latelys). People ("Survey says...") selected brown as the car color which they thought showed dirt the least. (Notice it's just what they thought, not actually what shows dirt the least.) Here in New Mexico, I seem to have hit the jackpot with my silver/gray car. The dust here is very light tan, so I can go for longer periods of time without washing my car than if I drove a green, red, or black one, for example. One of the things I appreciated during my time in Alabama was that it rained so often that I never had to wash my car. (Thank heavens, because the dirt there is orange.)

I mention this because it finally rained here on Sunday night or Monday morning. I slept through it, but it was enough to leave puddles in the parking lot for me to see when I woke up. Unfortunately, it was also just enough to make my car dirtier than it had been. Now I have to drive a dirty car all week because 100+ degrees is just too darn hot to wash my car when I get home. I'll have to wait until the weekend and do it when I get back from my walk, just before the sun rises.

Gym Rat was surprised. "You slept through it? It poured, and there was thunder and lightning and everything." Maybe it was stronger and louder at his house (storms are incredibly variable here in N.M.), or maybe it's genetics. I get the capacity for deep sleep from my father, who once slept through an earthquake during a trip to California. During my second year in college, I slept through a fire alarm -- even though it was right outside my door. My RA, who was checking all rooms to make sure the residents got out, had to physically shake me awake.

For some reason this morning, I found myself pondering whatever happened to my eighth grade classmates who were on the support staff of the boys' basketball team. (Technically, I know what happened to one of them; he's now the principal of the high school we attended.) Then I started thinking about athletic coaches. For some reason, coaches of women's or girls' teams can be women or men, but coaches of men's or boys' teams are always men (as far as I know). I wonder why the double-standard. If any of you know why, or if you know of any female coaches of boys'/men's teams, please post a comment.

All these things ran though my head this morning, in less than an hour after I woke up. (I have to get that much thinking out of the way early. Lord knows they usually don't appreciate my mind here at work.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

I'll take "Scientific Names" for $800, Alex.

I suppose I'd have to see it to know what species of plant this is.

Work Order #445,307 - There is a short but long small bush that is just right outside/in front of our building that needs water.

Scooby Don't

Thing One found this ad which she says depicts the dog I need to get. (It's a pdf file, so you'll need Adobe's Acrobat Reader to view it.)

If that doesn't work, go here and click on the "Horticulture" link.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I think I've mentioned this before.

NMSU professor attempting to preserve record of human space exploration

The article's not that long, but if you don't want to read the whole thing, here's a bit that clears up my earlier confusion about the attempt to make the moon a National Historic Landmark.

While artifacts left on the Moon remain under the ownership and jurisdiction of the nation that left them there, an international agreement stipulates that no nation can claim property rights over the Moon itself. Therefore, when the team attempted to register the base as a National Historic Landmark, in order to ensure some protection of the site, it was not supported. The site also qualifies as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, but O’Leary said no country, including the U.S., has nominated it to the list.

This is disturbingly accurate.

Your result for The Fashion Style Test...

Office Master

[Tasteful Conventional Deliberate Prissy]

Your style is professional. Your clothes always fit the situation and you probably never offend people by, say, wearing pink to a funeral. You just know what becomes. You don't like extravagance too much and you're not accidental. Your well chosen, stylish outfits communicate that you're a serious person. Following classic rules about dressing, you make sure that no one would call you flashy and many people admire your calm, composed look.

The opposite style from yours is Fashion Rebel [Flamboyant Original Random Sexy].

It's a dog-eat-dog world.

The other day, Thing Two got two baby kittens from someone in another office. I am not an animal person, but my desk is in another room, so I barely heard all the, "Oh, how cute!" comments through the day.

Thing One and I started discussing dogs vs. cats, and caring for and training pets. I told her that my favorite dog is the invisible one. I used to see leashes for them all the time on the Boardwalk. I wonder if they still sell them.

Thing Two joined the conversation, and we had a bit of fun with my new, invisible pet. She knows that I am often peeved by working late because everyone else has a spouse or children that they have to get home to, but I don't, so why not make me work late? (Although, I think Robomarkov would be the first to point out that having a wife and two children at home doesn't ensure he gets to leave work after eight hours, either.) Thus, Thing Two suggested that I tell Boss I have to go home and feed and walk my invisible dog.

I had plenty of time to think yesterday, on my way back from the nursery with a truckload of plants but no passenger, and pets entered my mind. I think, if I had to choose, I'd rather have a dog than a cat -- but it can't be one of those "girly" dogs. You know the type: tiny, all hair and eyes and a bow, being carried around in mommy-wommy's overpriced purse. If it were a choice between a girly dog and a cat, I'd pick a cat. Still, I can't have one of those fluffy cats, either, like you see in the cat food commercials, eating gourmet cat food (that probably costs more than my own food) out of a cut glass dish. (Can you see it coming?) Nope, I don't want a "pussy" cat, either.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Two Puns

A couple of years ago, the athletics department replaced one of the grass football practice fields with artificial turf, so they could better prepare for opponents who usually play on that type of surface. Sure, it needs no irrigation, but it still needs to be washed off on occasion. Unfortunately, we've had a very dry, windy spring, and there has been no rain to wash off the dust and dirt from the fake grass. Does that mean it's a Dusty Springfield?

I was pondering what I would do if I ever looked for a job outside of horticulture. Perhaps I could take a job for a company that manufactures cabinets and countertops. Then, I could be productive by being counter-productive.

UPDATE: A friend just e-mailed me and said that, as Batman has the Batmobile, Captain Chlorophyll's vehicle should be known as the Chloroplast -- and (even worse), if I were to exceed the speed limit, it would be the Chloro-blast.

You no push the button. I push the button.

For those of you unfamiliar with the title, I suggest you try to find the Baby Plucky episode of Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toon Adventures. It portrays one of the main characters (Plucky Duck) as a child (in diapers) at the shopping mall. He is fascinated with the "elelator" and likes how it goes up and down when you push the button. (I think this is a riot, but I also thought Chicken Boo was the dumbest cartoon out there, and someone else I knew thought it was high comedy, so it's all a matter of taste.)

When you need to cross a street (at the corner, and with the lights, of course), is there a button for you to push to activate the pedestrian signal? (Ahem. Betty, since your town has only five stoplights, this might not apply to you.)

For many years, your only choice would be a little, metal button that wouldn't exactly move when you pushed it, so you were never entirely sure if it worked or not, so you pushed it again. Note: this does not apply to those people who live by the triumph of hope over experience and think that pushing the button more often will make the light change earlier. (These are the same people that think creeping their cars forward will make the light turn green sooner.)

A few years ago, I noticed that some of the buttons were replaced by larger (about 1.5" diameter) curved disks. I presume these are more operable by people who, for whatever reason, can not push the smaller buttons. So far, my experiences with these are entirely favorable; they do noticeably depress when pushed and leave me with the comfort of knowing they work.

Yesterday, I encountered the new generation of buttons, and it's not a button at all. There is a sensor of some sort, surrounded by a small (<1 cm diameter) metal ring. I couldn't tell whether blocking the sensor or touching the ring was what activated it, but it beeped to let me know I was acknowledged. (How sad is it that I enjoyed the affirmation I got from a pedestrian crossing button?) Now the beep might not be audible for people with hearing loss in the higher frequencies, or if traffic is passing by, but it worked, and that's what counts.

Incidentally, while doing a web search to see if I could find pictures of the buttons I discussed. I was amused by this link, which describes pedestrian, pelican, puffin, and toucan crossings.

Well, this post is done. "Elelator go down the hoooole."

Fresh Fruit

Before I forget, I just wanted to let you know that I harvested my first tomatoes back on May 31. Jealous?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Let's be careful out there.

In our daily crew meeting, Sub announced that it is "hotter than heck out there". I thought of three responses (so far).

- Hmm, must be a non-consuming fire because my skin's not burning up.
- This is Las Cruces in the summer. Where the hell (pun intended) do you think you are?
- Then why are we going to lay sod this week?

Sub concluded the meeting with, "Let's have a good week."

Oh, let's do!

Who goes to work on a weekend?

I did an end-run on Friday (submitting a grant application before receiving approval to do so), but that's not the plot of this story.

The deadline for the submission was on Friday. I told Boss that, if I didn't hear back from the client before I left for the day, I would submit anyway. I came into work this morning, opened my e-mail, and saw a message confirming receipt of the application at 2:46 p.m. on Friday. I also had a follow-up e-mail, from the campus asst. architect (someone not involved in the submission/approval process), saying that my request did not contradict the campus master plan and that he was okay with it. That was at 7:14 p.m. Saturday.

Further reading of the e-mail revealed that the client had sent Boss an e-mail approving my request, as long as Boss received approval from the asst. architect. The client's e-mail to Boss was sent at 9:14 a.m. on Saturday.

Okay, let's assume that they checked their work e-mail from home, rather than coming in to the office. Still, my question is, "What the heck are these guys doing checking their e-mail on a Saturday?"

Incidentally, I had taken home a stack of work orders (over a month old) to close. I thought I could do that from home, since the database is online. The best laid plans of mice and men, and all that. The link didn't work on Saturday. I double-checked it and did not mistype it. The link didn't work on Sunday, either. I checked a few minutes ago, and I did write it down and type it correctly. Maybe it works only on campus. Maybe it works only with a particular web browser. Maybe it was down for the weekend.

UPDATE: Computer support informed me that the database is accessible only through NMSU computers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ask, and ye shall receive.

Demand it like an S.O.B., though, and I'll make you wait until I'm good and ready.

The New Campus Physics Lab?

I'd heard that the physics building on campus is due for renovations, but I didn't think they'd relocate one of their labs to the men's restroom.

Yesterday afternoon, I saw that someone had dumped ice into the toilet. (This is odd because they usually dump it in the urinal.) I was curious to see how well it would flush, so I tried it. I was oddly disappointed. There was no clinking of ice on ceramic (at least not audible over the usual sound of rushing water), and the mechanism appeared to function normally. Possible experimental error can be attributed to the size of the cubes (about 1/2" on each edge) and how long they had been in the toilet (might be significantly melted).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Me & My Big Mouth

I was just surprised by a birthday cake at work. I wasn't expecting anything because, a few months ago, we decided to have a store-bought cake once a month for all employees whose birthdays are in that month. I also wasn't expecting it because my birthday was two days ago, so yesterday would have been a more logical choice.

It is a pineapple upside down cake. I am now officially cursed by them for my birthday.

Several years ago, former Thing One made a pineapple upside down cake, and I complimented her on it. (But, really, is the best pineapple upside down cake all that different from the worst?) Every year after that, she would bake one for my birthday because she knew that I "like it so much".

For the cookout I hosted a couple weekends ago, one of the guests brought -- you guessed it -- a pineapple upside down cake. (I'm still picking at it.)

I don't recall if I told current Thing One that her predecessor would make one each year for my birthday -- and, if I did, I must not have mentioned that I don't think they're as special as former Thing One thought I did. Well, I guess I'll just grin and bear it. (There are no calories in free cake, right?)

Part 2

It's merely a coincidence that I read the following yesterday, but the timing couldn't be better. (It's from Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark.)

At 12:15, he got up from his desk, went into his private bathroom, ran a comb through his sparse head of hair, and straightened his tie. Mirror, mirror, on the wall, he thought sardonically, who's the baldest of us all? Thirty-seven years old, in good shape, not bad-looking, but at the rate I'm going, by the time I'm fifty I'll be lucky if I have six hairs left on my head. He sighed and put away the comb. Jenny tells me that's part of the reason I've done so well, he told himself. She says I look ten years older than I am. Thanks, honey.

At least I don't have a "Jenny" in my life to slice my throat with a compliment.

There's mixed news on the rest of my body. I had my annual fitness check yesterday at the gym. My arms and calves are slightly bigger. My thighs and percent body fat are unchanged, but my chest is significantly larger. My weight is down 1/4 of a pound, but my waist is an inch bigger. What happened to all the weight I just lost? "You mean," I asked Gym Rat, "I gained and lost eight pounds in a year?"

A much more significant difference (mainly because we're comparing three or four years at once, not just one) is how much weight I am lifting. Just six weeks ago, when I started my previous exercise routine, Gym Rat began calculating how much weight I actually move during my exercises. (I haven't asked, but I think he multiplies the number of pounds by the number of repetitions then adds them all together.) Yesterday, he went back to my first tracking card and calculated that amount, as well. When I first started on the weights, I lifted 6,765 pounds per visit. Now I am up to 20,005 pounds!

There is a final, bright spot with which I can end this post. (I wish you were here to appreciate it with me.) Sub just arrived for work. What's the first thing I heard after he sat at his desk? The sound of an aluminum can of Mountain Dew being opened. He blames his more-than-generous girth on his wife's cooking. Yeah, right. How many cans does he drink a day? At least I will never get to be his size. Maybe I should rename him Mountain.

Okay, I can't end it there. (I really am not making this up.) I just did a web search of his name. I figured, since he's an excellent amateur golfer, I'd be able to find a reference to him, and maybe a picture to share with you, online. It turns out he has a pretty common name, but I was extremely amused to see the first three hits return as "Meal-a-minute", "Home of ALL the Fish You Can Eat", and "Menu" in San Antonio, TX.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby

Yesterday was my birthday. As I shaved -- I am not making this up -- I thought of a line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. "I'm thirty-seven. I'm not old."

Many newspapers have a section which lists historic events and birthdays for a given date. I thought that I'd look in the Albuquerque Journal and see if there were any famous "children" that I could tell my mother about, so she wouldn't feel so bad because her "baby" was getting older.

I found two. I share my birthday with Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra's daughter, and also known for the 1960's hit "These Boots are Made for Walking". She is 68. Also on the list was Don Grady, from My Three Sons. (My mom thinks he was the middle son.) He is 64.

See, mom, you won't be old until I turn 68!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Duck you!

We want to upgrade one of our seasonal employees from Laborer I to Laborer II. It will result in a minor increase in pay but no increase in duties or responsibility. We found out that we no longer may fill out a simple Payroll Action Form and have it done. We must funnel the request through our client and the departmental human resources to the client's human resources. Then they will post an announcement for the new job. The employee must complete an entirely new application, even though we brought him on just three months ago, because it is a new position. Then we have to complete the hiring process just as if it were for a full-time job with more than one applicant (i.e. interviews and justification for hiring one person rather than another). I suspect this process should be complete in a month.

I got a call from one of the crew supervisors, asking me to submit a work order to weld a bracket onto the irrigation trencher. I phoned Sub to make sure this was okay, since we are nearing the end of the fiscal year and must be very careful with our expenses. Sub said this is a trencher we have rented. I told him we can't fix it ourselves because it isn't ours; we must return it to the rental agency and be charged for its repair. (Am I right on this?) Sub told me to show him where it says we can't perform the repair. I told him it is common sense because it isn't our property. (Darn, there I go, thinking again!) Sub then asked what needed to be welded because, if it's what he considers minor and inexpensive, he wants it done, and then we can charge the project for the repair, regardless of who owns the trencher. Sub also asked me to ask the supervisor what the welder's estimate is. I phoned the supervisor, who said he would have to phone the employee operating the trencher, who would have to phone the welder. (Yes, Sub could have phoned the welder himself, but Sub delegates everything, no matter how insignificant and easy.)

It struck me that neither of these tasks should be as complicated as they have turned out to be. It brings to mind a quote from Plucky Duck in the "Kon Ducky" episode of Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toon Adventures. "Nothing simple is ever easy."

They should have called it "Big Al".

Here's a link to an item about a replica of Westminster's Big Ben made out of aluminum cans.

Al. Aluminum. Get it?

For the Birds

I should preface this by citing the Peterson Field Guide to Western Birds, which informed me that the bird I saw was a male House Finch, not a Purple Finch, even though the color on my specimen is much more striking than the artistic rendering in the book or the photos I've seen online.

Two or three weeks ago, one of the computer techs asked me what was eating irregular holes in her mint leaves, particularly if birds would do it. I told her insects do but that birds usually prefer to peck at various fruits.

Of course, that evening I watched a house finch land on my arugula plant (which had already bolted) and peck at one of the leaves, finally tearing off a small piece and flying away with it. So much for Captain Chlorophyll's authoritative horticultural advice.

Yesterday afternoon, I saw a male house finch (probably the same one as before) land again on one of the arugula's flower stalks, and peck at the maturing fruit (seed pods). He did get the insides of some of them (presumably for the seeds), and dropped only two pieces on the veranda.

Later on, he returned to share my bountiful crop with four female finches! One of the online articles says house finches are monogamous, so maybe it was his wife, mother-in-law, and two sisters-in-law. (I wonder if he feels henpecked.)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

Every morning, Sub holds a meeting with the entire crew to review announcements, events, training, etc. This morning, his topic of choice was tire pressure on the utility vehicles. He provided an example of a vehicle which requires higher pressure in the front tires than in the rear tires. Then, he was corrected by the mechanic.

Sub proceeded to place a bet with said mechanic, in full view of the entire staff, and Sub cited a world-famous tire authority. "Ob said so."

Would you disregard the knowledge of someone who has been a mechanic for forty years and listen to someone who doesn't even do his own job?

Incidentally, the reason Sub chose to discuss tire pressure is because the tires of one of Ob's vehicles were aired up incorrectly.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Too good not to share

I saw this on the blog Occasional Fish: New Zealand Man Convicted of Assault with Hedgehog.

Small Vocabulary

I sat down after work yesterday to discuss Ob with Worker Bee and Thing One. I had gotten Ob angry earlier in the day by "questioning his authority" as a manager. (Note: he had questioned my authority first, though he won't admit it -- let alone admit that he was totally wrong.)

Worker Bee mentioned that I might have set Ob off when I told him that "I" was checking on the charges for a work order. Worker Bee has observed that the words "I" and "you" make Ob angry.

On one occasion, a couple of years ago now, I learned that Ob doesn't like the word "no".

How am I supposed to talk to someone who doesn't recognize tiny, basic words?

"I", "you", and "no" -- am I not allowed to say "the" either?

Splinter Group

One of the tasks I mentioned in "Singing for My Supper" (6/2/08) was pulling weeds in my mom's yard. Some of them were from last year, so they were dry and brittle. I got two splinters in my left palm. (One of them is still there.)

The obvious one is 1/4" long and is just under the surface of the skin. I can see it, but it's not sticking out at either end to remove with tweezers. I figured that was the one hurting me but that I'd have to live with the minor pain until the skin above it wore away.

So, I took the tweezers to the other one, which appeared to be just a little thing at the surface of my palm. I pulled, and out came a splinter that was 1/2" long! It had been driven straight down into my palm.

Bonus: once I stopped marvelling at the length of the splinter and how deep into my hand it had gone, I realized that the pain had gone away. The one that had looked innocent was actually the bigger problem. (No, that's not an analogy for my life.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Roadkill on the Information Superhighway

I received an e-mail from a new (to me) e-mail provider. It listed my new e-mail address, a URL for the login page, and a verification code. At the bottom, it said, "click here if you did not request this e-mail or do not recognize this message".

I clicked there, and it brought up a "helpful" page that explained that, maybe, I misspelled my e-mail address and asked if that was helpful. I clicked on the "no" and proceeded to tell them that it didn't say at all what to do if your computer-literate friend signed you up.

Oh, didn't I mention that to you already? Well, the web service didn't ask, so why should I tell?

Instead, I clicked on the link for the login page, which asked me to type in my username and my password. Hmm, neither of those was included in the welcome e-mail. I clicked on the "I forgot my password" link to see if that would help.

Of course, it didn't. I then explained that I have no idea what my username and password are, let alone why they provided a confirmation code that isn't requested.

Then (and only then) did it give me a link for "I forgot my username". That page gives convoluted instructions that will, eventually, result in learning whatever usernames (note the plural) are registered to my "alternate" e-mail address. Or, at the bottom of the instructions, I should ask the friend who signed me up what my username and password are.


I have sent said friend an e-mail asking for the information that is required. He had told me several days ago, but as I was driving at the time, I couldn't write them down.

Overall, it appears that this e-mail service assumed two things: that I signed up (rather than a friend doing it for me) and that I can guess, assume, or infer nuances of their unfamiliar instructions (rather than merely reading and following them).

Computer people should remember that a few of us that use the internet are older than twenty, and many of us do not interact as well with machines as we do with people (and, for me, that's saying something!).

Monday, June 02, 2008

Singing for my Supper

I took a week off and visited my mom last week. In return for her feeding me and providing gas money, I pulled weeds and took her on errands. I only hope that was enough to make up for the cost of refueling my car!