2018.02 minutiae

  • Last month I wrote about how impressed I was by the January 2 “supermoon”.  On the 31st was the much‐ballyhooed Super Blue Blood Moon.  It sucked.  The “blue” part is just an accident of the calendar.  The “super” part means that it was bigger and brighter than usual, but the “blood” part means that it was passing through the shadow of the earth, which completely canceled out the supermoon effect and made it an dim smudge in the sky.

  • After going “meh” at the Super Blue Blood Moon, I got on a plane.  This time instead of flying into BWI like usual I flew into DCA.  Thumbs down!  Yes, it’s right on the metro system so that’s a plus, but the wifi was out of order, the rental car monitors were out of order, the elevator buttons were out of order, the tiles were full of potholes… I had always been irked that DCA had been renamed to honor Ronald Reagan, but now it seems wholly appropriate.  Shitty airport, shitty president.

  • One trend I saw during my trip that I am thankful hasn’t made it out here (yet?) is that more than half the people backed into parking spaces.  Apparently this is also common in Japan.  I don’t get it.  Like, no matter how you enter a parking space, you’re going to be driving forward one way and backward the other way.  Driving forward gives you more visibility and control.  So doesn’t it make a lot more sense to go headfirst into the confined space, which requires that control, and then back out into an open area, where you have a lot more leeway?  Who wants to spend a lot of time and effort awkwardly backing into a confined space, in order to have more control when heading out into an open area where that control is a lot less crucial?

  • I had to sleep overnight at SFO because the trains had stopped running by the time my plane landed.  It was actually fine!  I found a flat piece of furniture with a little bit of cushioning in a dim area with no disturbances, so it wasn’t as miserable an experience as I had been expecting.

  • I’ve been seeing “locust bean gum” in ingredient listings forever, and I remember that carob was common as a cheap chocolate substitute when I was a kid, but it was only this month that I learned that locust beans come from inside carob pods.

  • It was also just this month that I learned that in 1996 the NC‑17 rating was redefined from “no one under 17 admitted” to “no one 17 or under admitted”.  If only the MPAA had made that decision in 1990, it could have just called the rating “NC” or (as Siskel & Ebert wanted) “A” rather than adopting the cumbersome “NC‑17” label and then redefining it in a stupid way just to avoid having to apply for a new trademark.  But the MPAA added the number in order to explicitly specify that 17‐year‐olds were allowed into these movies, the same way that they had been allowed into X‑rated movies and the way they continue to be allowed into R‑rated movies without a parent or guardian.  (That too was a change: when MPAA ratings were first adopted, the minimum age to be allowed into an X‑rated movie, or to be allowed unaccompanied into an R, was 16.)

  • I saw that “Irvine” was trending on Twitter, and I thought, uh‑oh, what’s going on down there?  I clicked on the link, and discovered that there had been a high‐speed chase through Irvine, culminating in the guy sprinting away from a police dog who charged him from behind at like twenty times his speed and tackled him.  It was a hell of a thing—​I hadn’t realized dogs could run that fast.  The tweeters were similarly impressed:

    • That dog tore him up!
    • Police dog does his job well.
    • Great takedown by the dog.
    • that amazingly badass police dog
    • That dog nailed him!
    • That dog gave him some work!!
    • Seriously that dog should be in the Olympics
    • That dog made my day
    • POLICE DOG JUST GOT HIM SOME

    Anyone who wants to organize these into the D&D alignment system, please be my guest.  I would surmise that “Police dog does his job well.” is Lawful Good, but otherwise I would just be guessing.

  • This month’s Australian dessert was a vanilla slice—​and it came out looking pretty good, if I do say so myself!:

    Apparently these things are traditionally made with cheap ingredients—​storebought cookies for the top and bottom layers, and custard made from a powdered mix—​but I wanted to make a fancy one, so I used stupidly expensive vanilla beans and all‐butter puff pastry.  I have to think this was an improvement, but ultimately we’re still talking about what is essentially a vanilla pudding sandwich.  It tasted good, but got samey very quickly.  Even some chocolate chips would have made it significantly less monotonous.

  • My final minutiae item has grown to the point that it’s no longer quite so minute, so I’ll try to post it in a day or two.  (It’s the follow‐up to last month’s item about logos.)

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