2011.02 minutiae

  • One thing I forgot to mention in the last month's item about the beard: I never really understood the old cliché of the mustache-twirling villain until I grew facial hair myself. It turns out that when you have a mustache it's pretty much impossible not to spend all day twirling it!

  • Another thing I forgot to mention: at the end of January I received a piece of mail postmarked October 28. Based on the return address — it came from Oakland — my calculations suggest that the USPS carried it 342 feet per day.

  • One more leftover — a Hawaii story. On January 11 we had a packed agenda: we started the morning in Hilo and had to get to Holualoa on the other side of the big island, with detours at Puna to check out the lava fields and at Kilauea to get sick from the SO2 fumes. All told it was around 200 miles, none of it on freeways, plus time to actually see the sights, so we were going to have to get an early start if we wanted to finish the trip before nightfall. And... as we were about to head out of Hilo, I noticed that the car was rattling a bit, pulled into a parking spot, and sure enough, flat tire. I started to get out the gear to change it, then realized, wait, I have AAA — I might as well get my money's worth. I called and some guys came out and put on the spare.

    The problem: on a spare tire you can drive a maximum of 50 mph (not really a problem on Hawaii roads) and a maximum of 50 miles (big problem). This meant that I had to (a) find a tire store in Hilo, (b) spend money on a tire that I was only going to use for 200 miles, (c) argue with tire store people about how, yes, I really did want only one tire and not four, and (d) wait for hours while the tire was installed, meaning that we probably wouldn't get to make any of our stops — we'd just have to drive straight back to Holualoa, mostly in the dark. I asked around for the location of a tire store...

    ...and then suddenly realized: I was in Hilo, which had an airport, which very likely had an Enterprise counter, and if I had to pay for an extra day's rental and/or for the tire, so be it — at least I'd be back on the road having lost only an hour and a half. And as it turned out, I didn't have to pay a penny extra. They just let us swap cars, no questions asked. Not only that, but the new car was a substantial upgrade! I couldn't believe that I had come a few minutes away from torpedoing the last day of our vacation just because I hadn't thought of going to a different Enterprise outlet.

  • This quote from the protests in Egypt caught my eye: "All I care about is soccer, and that's what Mubarak wants, for young people to sit at home and watch soccer on television and be stupid," Gabar says. It's interesting in that he seems to have had a revelation that the system has deliberately made him stupid, and is angry about it. Most stupid people in the U.S. seem pretty happy about it — in some cases, aggressively proud.

  • I saw that Angry Birds had come out for Windows so I figured I'd give it a try. It's pretty good fun, but I couldn't help but notice that level 7-1 requires you to fly into skyscrapers and bring them crashing down on your enemies. I guess the '00s really are over.

  • I've also played a fair number of Sporcle games over the past while. This one may well be my favorite — the headlines that pop up as you enter correct answers could not have delighted me more.

  • My garbage disposal broke, so my landlord came over to fix it. I quickly opened the curtains in order to give the false impression that I ever do that.

  • I saw a flyer for a lost dog, done on a color laser printer, that described the dog as a "chi Wawa wearing a pink color."

  • Got a question from one of the higher-ups at TPR: "If you and your student both had iPads, how might that be employed to teach the SAT?" My reply: "Well, sometimes I have to work in a room without a table, and I need something solid to put my piece of paper on."

  • Jokes for a limited audience department: Stephen posted a link to someone asking, "About basketball players, are they tall because they play basketball, or they play basketball because they are tall?" One of the replies explained, "The act of playing basketball can not make someone taller. Height is based largely on genetics and can not be altered just by playing basketball." Hey, it worked for Lamarck Aldridge! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  • I've noticed that '80s videos tend to have moments in which the singer is supposed to act scared. It's never a good idea.

  • It's interesting how pineapple juice is improved by the addition of ice. It's okay plain, but when sipped over ice cubes it's so much better. Off the top of my head I can't think of any other juices I'd say that about.

  • from Matthew L. Moffett in School Library Journal: ...readers see events like the blinding of the Cyclops through the eyes of poor Polyphemus... (credit to M. for the find)

  • New Jersey Nets coach Avery Johnson on trading Derrick Favors: I really feel strong about losing he

  • I was curious about whether there were any Qantas flights that went over Antarctica (Perth to Buenos Aires, say). It turns out that there are no regular flights that do so, but there are special Antarctic sightseeing flights. Now, you would think that on such flights a window seat would be a priority. And this is one of the selling points for the premium package:

    First Class$6,799
    All seats will be full length sleeper seats. First Class passengers have the opportunity to sit next to the window for the full time over the ice.

    Now, you might be thinking, whoa, seven grand is a little rich for my blood. No problem! If you're willing to spend only half the time at the window, you can cut your costs substantially:

    Economy Class Standard$1,599
    These will be the four seats on each side of the aircraft in the Economy Class section over or near the wing area and will be exchanged at the halfway point of the journey. Each passenger will have a window seat or the seat next to a window seat for half of the flight and an aisle seat for the other half of the flight.

    So you save over five thousand bucks and you still get to see stuff for a couple of hours (though possibly over someone's shoulder). Both these options seem like they might attract interest. But then there's this:

    Business Class Centre$2,999
    These seats are the three seats in the centre row in the downstairs Business Class cabin. Although they do not rotate to a window seat, full Business Class facilities, food, and drinks are provided.

    So... you don't actually get to see Antarctica, but you can fly above it while eating a Chicken Kiev! A bargain at twice the price.

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