2010 January minutiae

  • I never believed that old saw about how people look like their pets until I got a Facebook account.

  • To those who noted in their decade wrap-ups that "I call the '00s the Naughties! Hee hee hee!" — no, you don't. Seriously. You don't. So why say it?

  • P.S.: People writing "2K10," please stop.

  • From Twitter:

    shitmydadsays "Universe is 14 billion years old. Seems silly to celebrate one year. Be like having a fucking parade every time i take a piss."

    According to the bio, this guy is 73 years old. Let's round up to 74 for argument's sake. That means he would have to take six pisses per second in order for the math to work out. Prostate problems, you figure?

  • More math: last month, I mentioned that current estimates have the earth becoming uninhabitable not in five billion years, but merely one billion. Here's an even scarier way to put that: this is being posted on the night of January 31st. Add up all the human experience between now and March 27th. That's a billion years.

  • When I went to London twenty years ago I couldn't help but note that the sidewalk was covered in painted instructions telling pedestrians to LOOK LEFT or LOOK RIGHT when crossing the street. I was reminded of this when I read that former Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell was hit by a car and killed in New Zealand. She'd looked the wrong way before stepping out into the street.

  • Rick Reilly: he returned to the old basketball court his dad built for he

  • Here is a story along the lines of those that were originally supposed to make up the Calendar section when it started ten years ago under the title "Sketches New and Old."

    I was driving on that stretch of road that is simultaneously called "eastbound on I-580" and "westbound on I-80" and is actually southbound, heading towards I-880. A few car lengths ahead of me, one lane to my right, was a Toyota truck. Its left blinker was flashing, so I hung back for a bit to allow it to get in front of me. The truck didn't move, and the blinker was annoying, so eventually I accelerated past it, at which point the truck did in fact change lanes, getting behind me. Then it moved one lane to the left, accelerated past me, and settled in a few car lengths ahead of me, one lane to my left... with its right blinker flashing.

  • I noticed that a lot of people have been linking to maps showing the level of religious belief in the U.S. Here's a map I made nearly a year ago using a data set that covered both the contiguous 48 states and the Canadian provinces and territories, but not Alaska or Hawaii. Darker = more self-reported religious belief:

  • abcnews.go.com article on how the elderly are reacting to new TSA regulations: "These are not things we have much control over, so why work yourself into a tizzy?" asked Prospero, reminding that "tizzy is a word only us old fogies would use." On the contrary, I bet Snoop Dogg uses it all the time.

  • I wonder when I stopped being amazed that "891 megabytes left" could mean "basically out of space."

  • 2010 decided to start with the bizarre medical issues bright and early, as I woke up on January 3rd feeling like I'd just been punched in the nose. A look in the mirror showed that the bridge of my nose was pink, and the affected area was painful when touched (and also oddly warm). I figured that since my heater had also busted that night I had perhaps buried my face in the pillow a little too hard to try to escape the cold. But the situation didn't improve, and it turned out that I had apparently contracted a spontaneous case of "facial cellulitis," which if left untreated leads to bacterial meningitis and death. I was prescribed some antibiotics and the problem went away but it took a couple of weeks before I felt right again.

  • AP: Barred from using lead in children's jewelry because of its toxicity, some Chinese manufacturers have been substituting the more dangerous heavy metal cadmium [...] Enh, I wouldn't worry. I'm sure they'll start phasing out the cadmium once they figure out how to make toys out of polonium-210.

  • I take BART to the Powell station a lot. One night, a couple of months ago, I was walking out and passed a young woman who had parked herself right in front of the main exit. She was dressed like a spunky 14-year-old girl on an early '90s NBC sitcom and was playing a fancy acoustic guitar that appeared to have been cobbled out of one of those expensive Dell Inspiron cases. She was also singing. Badly. So badly that I thought it was performance art — "How will people react to the world's least talented subway musician?" But no — she's there every frickin' time I go to Powell. Maybe it's a longitudinal study?

  • Brad Childress on what he told Brett Favre after the Vikings lost the NFC championship game: "'Lick your wounds, and I'll do the same.'" Careful, Brad — John Madden'll get jealous.

  • I was clicking around reading the news and came across this story: Teen Tortured by Cyberbullies Hangs Herself. I started reading and was startled to find that the girl and her tormentors were from South Hadley High School, where I used to teach. I remembered being surprised at how much that school sucked given the reputed quality of Massachusetts schools — I quit after one semester. Having now read a few articles about the culture at SHHS, I see that apparently things were even worse outside the classroom than inside.

  • I borrowed a book from a library on the peninsula, and proceeded to renew it twice. When I was finally ready to return it, it occurred to me: it costs $4 to take the bridge to the peninsula, and I only get reimbursed if I'm doing it for work. I was due to head out there for work a couple of days after the book was due. In those two days, the book would accrue fifty cents' worth of fines. So clearly returning the book late was the economical choice.

    ...and yet doing so felt so wrong.

  • Saw this while shopping:

    Yes, they've changed a couple of letters, but that still says "Mr. Clean Nipples."

  • apple.com: Because iPad is essentially one big screen, with no distracting keypad or buttons, you feel completely immersed in whatever you're watching. Right, because when I'm watching a movie on my laptop I'm always like, "How can I focus with all these fucking buttons in front of me?!"

  • I've noticed that I've developed a new tic: placing the word "probably" before the subject of the sentence rather than after it. When I'm writing at least I can go back and correct it, but I do it while speaking as well. Probably I'll eventually give up trying to fix it.

  • OCD Symptom o' the Month: It really bothered me that the cap on my shampoo bottle didn't align with the major axis of the bottle's cross-section. Eventually I had to dig the old bottle out of the recycling and raid it for parts.

  • Spotted: "All Saints' Church." Reaction: who decided which saint to name the church after, Sarah Palin?

  • Speaking of whom, she and her daughter Bristol appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show to discuss Bristol's a-bit-late abstinence pledge. A partial transcript:

    Oprah: When you make the statement that "I'm absolutely, positively not going to have sex and I guarantee it," you don't think you're setting yourself up?

    Bristol: No, I don't.

    Oprah: I'm wondering if that's a realistic goal.

    Bristol: It's a realistic goal for myself.

    Sarah: Hey, does that mean that you're gonna marry pretty young?

    Bristol: I don't know, Mom.

    Sarah: Because I think we all know how much you crave the cock. I give you about three months.

    Okay, I made up the last line, but it's pretty much implied by her previous one, no?

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