2011.10 minutiae

  • As I was re-ripping some of my old CDs, it occurred to me: how did I pay for these? I didn't have a bank account until the '90s, by which point I had what was at the time a complete set of Beatles CDs and a few others besides. Then I remembered: in the summer of 1989 I went to France on a school field trip (to date my only trip to Europe) and my parents gave me some travelers' checks to cover my expenses while I was there. But I didn't buy much of anything in France: a t-shirt, a fleur-de-lis pin, a translated edition of Avengers #274, some croissants. I still had hundreds of dollars' worth of travelers' checks when I got home. And with them I bought the original core of my CD collection. I even remember the cashiers at the Tower Records in Brea giving me weird looks as I countersigned.

  • I don't get the thinking behind Major League Baseball's first playoff round being only five games while later rounds last seven. The NBA used to do the same thing. It seems to me that, if anything, it should be the other way around, given that the shorter the series is, the more likely it is that you get an upset. If you have your upsets early, what's the point of having a longer series to make extra sure that you know who's really better between #7 and #8? Whereas if the early rounds do their job and deliver you the true #1 and #2, then even in the event of a final-round upset, the championship still goes to a top-two team, which is less of an injustice than giving it to #7.

    Of course, this assumes that determining the best team actually is the point of the playoffs. If the point is to generate surprising outcomes by holding a virtual lottery, baseball does a fine job.

  • This month I made the last payment on my Honda Insight. I did some quick calculations and estimate that over the course of the past five years, it has saved me roughly $7500 in fuel costs.

  • I bought some orange juice for the first time in quite a while, and I noticed that prices hadn't gone up quite as much as I'd expected. Then I noticed that the cartons no longer held 64 fluid ounces, but 59! So instead of raising prices, I guess they held prices constant for a bit and just gave people less for the same amount of money? Fine by me, though going from 64 to 59 is pretty sneaky.

  • I presume you're familiar with Trollface. I noticed that Wikipedia hosts a copy, with the following warning: "To prevent the use of this image for vandalism, it can only be used on pages for which it is specifically allowed. To use this image legitimately, such as in an article about human anatomy or physiology, contact an administrator either directly or by posting a request on MediaWiki_talk:Restricted-use_image_list." Because what would be more ideal for an article on human anatomy and physiology than Trollface?

  • Walking back from class I found that I was suddenly happy for no reason I could identify — not just "ah, life is going well" but "something just happened that I like!" I looked around, and identified the culprit: out of the corner of my eye I had caught a glimpse of a bus, and on the bus was an ad for some kind of ice show, and on the ad was a picture of Rapunzel.

  • Apparently the rate of fatal accidents per airline flight has dropped 65% just since 1997. How about that.

  • Wikipedia: By the late 19th century, etiquette dictated that men be addressed as Mister, boys under 13 years old be addressed as Master, and from 13 to the age of maturity males not be accorded courtesy titles. Also known as the "I don't like the looks of those teenagers" rule.

  • Boxer Chad Dawson on fellow boxer Bernard Hopkins: "He's a weak physically- and mentally-minded person."

  • A journalist friend sums up a recent exchange with what he described as a "Major City Bureaucracy press officer":

    Me: Are you doing this thing you've been accused of?
    Them: No.
    Me: So can I write that you're not doing it?
    Them: No, because I just checked, and we are doing it.

  • Carl Franzen, talkingpointsmemo.com: the total charge was an astronomical $201,005.44 [...] the company agreed to slash the bill by a factor of nearly 10, down to $2,500. A while back I kvetched about a science journalist describing 500 as "nearly 1000," but calling 80 "nearly 10" is a whole different category.

  • I got one of those Bluemax lamps, and while it doesn't flood the room with lovely inviting light the way those halogen torchieres did back in the '90s, when I bounce it off the ceiling it does do a pretty convincing job simulating daylight. I've got it behind my bed, and even in the middle of the night I keep forgetting that I'm not sitting in front of a picture window at one in the afternoon.

  • On the bus one afternoon was a toddler in a stroller who had apparently just learned to speak in sentences, as she demonstrated for everyone by repeating the following sentence over and over: "Yeeaaahhhh, apples are yucky! Yeeaaahhhh, apples are yucky!" She kept this up for several minutes and then finally concluded her performance by declaring, "Ha ha ha ha ha! That was funny." Then not a peep for the rest of the ride.

  • Now that I'm familiar with the format, I find that in most cases I prefer reading screenplays to watching the movies made from them. I think it's for the same reason I've cited in talking about why I prefer comics to movies: you can actually sit and think about what you've just read and the story won't go on without you. (Yes, you can hit the pause button a lot, but it's not the same.)

  • Van Driessen having an LCD panel is just wrong.

  • Bikers, it's bad enough when you blow through stop signs, but you really don't get to ignore red lights and weave through the cars that are proceeding through the intersection because their light is green.

  • Apparently the hot Halloween costume among the older kids this year was to put on an older sib's Cal gear and go trick-or-treating as a college student. Pretty lame, ninth-graders of Albany.

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