2016.02 minutiae

  • At the airport I saw a sign warning about the risks of contracting MERS — Middle East respiratory syndrome — if traveling to a particular set of countries.  One of the countries listed was Syria.  Seems to me that if you go to Syria and make it back with just a cough, you've done pretty well for yourself!

  • On one of the planes I took there was a little girl who was looking out the window and asking some very bright questions for her age — one of them was, "Every ocean is part of one world ocean, right?" — which was pleasant, but where she really came in handy was when we hit some really violent turbulence, because while I was calculating the odds that our little commuter jet was about to be shaken out of the sky, it actually was comforting to listen to her giggling with delight at the roller-coasteriness of it all.

  • It looks like there are quite a few private islands in the Salish Sea — I saw a bunch of substantial ones that were wholly forested except for a single clearing with a mansion in it.  I also saw one that was wholly forested except for a single clearing with nothing in it but a car.  Apparently wealth has become sufficiently stratified that the one-percenters are buying entire islands to use as garages.

  • I was showing Solange how my cell phone (which is now about ten years old) could receive but not send text messages: "I don't know what happened," I said, "but one day it just started glitching so that the buttons I pushed didn't pull up the right letters anymore. See?"  I tried typing "Hello", and what came up instead was "Hidell?".  I shrugged.  "It's a good thing I never actually text anyone—"

    At which point Solange took my phone, started tapping buttons, and up on the little screen appeared: "It's a good thing I never"—

    "Whut the whut," I said.

    "It's called T9," she said. "It's a system to make texting without a keyboard faster. My boss thought I wouldn't know it, but she's only four years older than me. I used to use this all the time."

    So, yes.  I have reached the point that I haven't yet heard of the technology that the young'uns are already nostalgic about.

  • Youtube won't let me embed studio recordings that have achieved any measure of popularity, but its matching algorithm usually lets live performances slip through.  So when I wrote my All Is Lost article this month, I wound up listening to several live renditions that ABBA did of "SOS" over the years.  Hardly a sacrifice!  But I was struck by how in a couple of the clips I found, the band slowed the song down just a tiny fraction — and that fraction was enough to make those performances wrong.

  • Having seen people online misspell Gandhi as "Ghandi" more often than not, I was not surprised to find that Youtube clips of Friends tend to render Phoebe as "Pheobe".  But I was very impressed by the uploader who managed to come up with "Phebeo".

  • For several years now I have used Tom's of Maine toothpaste, though I have had to be careful to stick to the varieties that carry the ADA seal — since it is also the preferred brand of a lot of Marin County types who avoid things like vaccinations and fluoride, several of the Tom's varieties aren't actually certified as preventing tooth decay.  But the last time I had to buy a new tube of toothpaste, I was startled to discover that none of the Tom's boxes carried the ADA seal any longer!  And then I looked at all the other brands, and I couldn't find the ADA seal on any of them either!  I tried a couple of different stores: no ADA seal!  And yet I can't find any indication online that the ADA seal program has been discontinued or anything.  What's up with that?

  • Also, urgh, I've picked up the same bug that everyone else seems to have nowadays, including my friends in faraway states and foreign countries.  It's not the very worst — I've been reasonably functional — but the cough is annoying and it's already stuck around for a long time.  Some people I know have had this for weeks.  MERS, you figure?

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