2014.02 minutiae

  • When did web designers suddenly decide that making the beginnings of articles overlap with header images, making weird rotated L shapes like this one, was a good idea?  Because it's really not.

  • I watched some Youtube videos featuring comedians of South Asian ancestry.  It was interesting listening to them do bits about their upbringing, in that it had the same mixture of familiarity and foreignness that I am used to when I hear white people talk about their upbringing, except inverted.

  • I had a dream that I was walking down the street to get some ice cream when I ran into a distant friend of mine I hadn't seen for several years.  She told me that I should wait around until her other friends left, and then we could go back to my place and watch TV while cuddling in bed.  I was pretty dubious, because I was neither particularly close to her nor especially attracted to her, but at the same time, I've had little enough affection in my life that it sounded kind of nice, but then again, I wanted to get going because the ice cream shop was about to close, and consequently I was very torn about what to do.

    Anyway, the whole thing proved kind of moot, because as it turned out, I was rooming with Doctor Octopus, and when I got home, he wouldn't leave.

    The ice cream was pretty good though.

  • I'm just about ready to stop getting alerts that people have posted about "Jean-Yves Adam, cadre de la police parisienne".

  • Hey, did you know that the middle of Greenland is actually a good way below sea level?  That's going to make for a lot of prime lakefront property should anyone manage to survive into the 22nd century.

  • Even though in principle I'm all for the regularization of language, in practice I find the replacement of irregular verb forms with regular ones grotesque.  It's not "grinded", people, it's "ground".  It's not "slayed", it's "slew".  I don't care what your descriptivist dictionaries say.  I never thinked I'd see the day when people speaked and writed these kinds of abominations.

  • I didn't like the way it took forever to cook dried beans, but also didn't like the expense of buying canned ones, so a few years ago I bought a pressure cooker.  Everything I read about them said, "You're probably scared of buying a pressure cooker because your grandmother told you horror stories about them exploding. Well, they don't do that anymore!"  I rolled my eyes, as I had never had any such fears.  You can probably guess where this story is going.  One night this month I decided to cook up some navy beans.  I put a handful of beans into the cooker, filled it halfway up with water, closed the lid, put the cooker on the burner, and went back to my computer.  It always takes a surprisingly long time for the pressure cooker to start making those characteristic pssht-a-pssht-a-pssht sounds, but after a long while I started to wonder why I hadn't heard them yet.  But before I could investigate, I heard a "FOP" sound and then a "HAARRRRR" and suddenly my kitchen was full of opaque billowing clouds like downtown New York as the World Trade Center collapsed.  When the clouds cleared, I went in to investigate.  First: check on the condition of the pressure cooker.  I guess it had actually done what it was supposed to — i.e., the rubber stopper and metal regulator had flown off so that the whole thing didn't explode and send jagged metal shards flying into the living room.  (Of course, if I actually had been investigating when those pieces came shooting off at ballistic speeds and the kitchen filled with 250° steam, I still would have been hating life.)  Second: turn off the gas.  Third: deal with the fact that it was now raining inside the kitchen.  The steam had condensed onto the ceiling and was now dripping down as water with a steady pitter-patter.  I tried mopping the ceiling, but the mop was filthy so I ended up using paper towels.  Then I realized that my oven clock was off.  The microwave clock too.  I opened the refrigerator and the light didn't come on.  I realized that steam must have poured into any nearby electrical outlets and wondered whether I was going to have to pay my landlord a hundred thousand dollars to replace the wiring in the house.  The outlets in the living room still worked, so I unplugged most of my computer equipment to free up a power strip, dragged the refrigerator across the kitchen, and plugged it in.  But that was hardly a permanent solution — I couldn't do that with the oven, for instance, because it was also hooked up to the gas.  Eventually I had a realization: fuses exist!  I looked for a fuse box in my apartment but couldn't find one.  When the sun came up I went outside and found that there was a circuit breaker panel under the meter.  But when I switched the relevant switch to ON, it wouldn't stay put, and when I went inside, the power wasn't back.  At that point I thought I was in serious trouble.  Then I thought to look up circuit breakers online, and discovered that the actual procedure is to flip the switch to OFF, then to ON, and then to let it click back to the central position.  I did that, went inside, and found the oven clock blinking 12:00 like a VCR.  Whew.

    Moral of the story: maybe just buy the canned beans

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