April 07, 2018

The Goofy Gregorian, or A Month Is Nothing But Just A Bad Habit

The Gregorian calendar is awkward and arbitrary, but we are stuck with it. Anyone who has tried an alternative calendar gives up on it after a while. Calendar reformists went full force with the French Republican Calendar and the Soviet Revolutionary Calendar, but those only lasted twelve and eleven years. The Eastman Kodak Company used the International Fixed Calendar for 61 years, but only for financial planning purposes.

I think about calendars every new year when there is excitement for the new year, yet I realize that the calendar change is really on an arbitrary date (rather than an astronomical event). I started thinking about calendars again at Easter because I'm always like, When is Easter this year?

The first thing that bugs me is that months are meaningless. I just found this quote:

November 06, 2017

Whether to buy a new or used car

Transportation is a cost. Whether you're taking a train, paying for a rideshare service, or buying a car, it costs money; and cars are a depreciating asset. As I've started planning my next car purchase, I've come across the stern advice that one should always buy a used car. The usual reason given is the immediate deprecation from just "driving off the lot." Let me put that in perspective and assert that used cars also have the same problem when driven off a dealer's lot, and then I will take a closer look at buying new cars versus used cars.

September 02, 2017

Metric system is like a foreign language

I realize that in all my life I have not become accustomed to thinking about weights and measures in the metric system without thinking about the units in the U.S. standard or traditional system. This is much like learning a foreign language but having to translate in your head before speaking or understanding. I think this is because I learned about weights and measures as a child with the traditional system, so I have established mental reference points in my memory.

I was recently thinking about temperature. What would it take for me to understand Celsius so that I don't have to convert it mentally? Is 27 degrees in Celsius warm or cool? It is easy to talk about temperature in Fahrenheit, and I think I have memories of feelings or even specific things associated with different numbers:

August 19, 2017

Why I'm not traveling to see the total solar eclipse

I really wish I could travel a little ways north to see the total solar eclipse this Monday, but I'm not. Here in Athens, Georgia, we will be just outside the path of the umbra and will see an eclipse which will be 99% total.

First of all, I did not appreciate that the difference between 99% and 100% is a really, really big one percent, so I did not consider making any advance travel plans. Since I learned about the prediction, though, I have read a lot about how much of a difference it makes and what an interesting psychological experience an eclipse can be.

April 09, 2017

Sarcastic descriptions of common drugs

Chantix: You won’t feel like killing somebody for a cigarette because you’ll just feel like killing yourself.

Ambien: Sleepwalking is still technically sleeping.

Hycodan: You can’t cough if you can’t breathe.

Pseudoephedrine: You can actually get high enough without the hassle of turning it into meth.

Cyclobenzaprine: Why in the heck is this not prescribed for diarrhea?

Xanax: Save your money and just skip straight to the chocolate.

Feel free to add more in the comments.

Originally posted as a Facebook note.

June 25, 2016

Why I left law practice to become a bus driver

I have reached my goal of completing a major career change: I am now working as a permanent, full-time bus driver for the University of Georgia. Expect to keep seeing more bus pictures on my Instagram.

Leaving my career as a lawyer and working as a bus driver makes sense to a lot of people when I explain my situation as a divorced father. The economy is changing, my life is changing, and I am having a lot more fun at work than probably every single one of you who spend all day in an office. Here is a list of reasons why I made the change.

April 13, 2011

Retinal pigmentation

I am pleased to announce that I finally learned why my eyes are more sensitive to sunlight than the eyes of other people. My optometrist explained to me that our retinas have pigmentation, and with less pigmentation the eye is more sensitive to light. I had wondered about pigmentation in the iris -- which controls eye color -- but I have found in my talks with friends and family that light sensitivity does not really correlate with eye color.

September 07, 2009

Don't trust the GPS

In an episode of "The Office," Michael Scott drove his car into a pond when he put too much trust in his GPS navigator. I knew that some of the details could be a little bit off in the real world, but now I know I can't even trust my Garmin to plan a route. On a recent drive in the New Orleans area, the female voice told me to "Turn right, board ferry." With all the bridges around, I knew that it did not require a ferry to go from New Orleans to Lafitte. However, this damn device had actually directed me away from where I needed to go just because it thought a ferry was closer. How can I make this navigator plan a decent route? In the setup options I had never seen a checkbox for "favor bridges" or "avoid ferries." What an annoyance. "Recalculating," she said as I drove past the entrance to the ferry boarding area. Recalculating is right, you stupid box of electronics. What's next? "Jump curb for shortcut"? "Activate amphibious apparatus and cross swamp"? "Speed up and jump over missing bridge section"? "Increase speed to 88 miles per hour and enter year 1955"?

August 09, 2009

Why cash for clunkers is ridiculous

Is this government program supposed to help the environment or stimulate the economy?

It is hardly going to help the environment. First, it's promoting the production of new cars, meaning that the earth has to be mined for the materials and enormous amounts of energy have to be burned to produce the car. The amount of resources required to produce new equipment always has to weighed against the resources wasted by difference in efficiency of the old equipment.

Second, the requirement that the so-called "clunkers" be junked and recycled also works against achieving a higher average fuel efficiency of all cars that are on the road. The oldest cars on the road that are least fuel efficient and most polluting are going to be left on the road because the owners of those cars drive those cars precisely because they could not afford a new car even with a government subsidy. Those cars will stay on the road while the used cars their owners would be glad to trade up to -- which are more fuel efficient with cleaner emissions -- are getting junked under this stupid program. Furthermore, the used cars that are still much better for the environment will get more expensive and more out of reach for the owners of the oldest cars because the supply is being reduced.

This program is shaving off the cost of new cars for certain buyers, but how can it help the economy when consumers are being encouraged to take on more debt? I thought consumer debt was reaching a crisis level. And isn't the federal government running at a deficit? After the bailouts and the stimulus, the government is taking on even more debt. Good shot, Congress.

Originally posted as a Facebook note.

January 20, 2009

"It works"

The year — probably '95. The scene — the shop at the residence of my friend. He and I were hanging out as we often did, and we always acted silly. One of my jokes was completely unremarkable: I picked up the telephone handset, listened for a dial tone, and hung up. “It works,” I announced. Later that day, my friend's sister came home, and she picked up a telephone, put it to her ear, said, “It works” — and she hung it up. Had she been spying on us? No, she was not even home at the time, it seemed. I think fate was just trying to amuse us. I hope so. (Or she did a good job of hiding.)

Later in life I became a telephone company technician. I often had to check dial tones. And then later the sister and I both went to law school.

December 13, 2008

Exact temperature of heaven

The temperature of heaven can be rather accurately computed. Our authority is Isaiah 30:26, ''Moreover, the light of the Moon shall be as the light of the Sun and the light of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days.'' Thus Heaven receives from the Moon as much radiation as we do from the Sun, and in addition 7*7 (49) times as much as the Earth does from the Sun, or 50 times in all. The light we receive from the Moon is 1/10,000 of the light we receive from the Sun, so we can ignore that... The radiation falling on Heaven will heat it to the point where the heat lost by radiation is just equal to the heat received by radiation, i.e., Heaven loses 50 times as much heat as the Earth by radiation. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann law for radiation, (H/E)^4=50, where E is the absolute temperature of the Earth (-300K), gives H as 798K (525C). The exact temperature of Hell cannot be computed ... [However] Revelation 21:8 says ''But the fearful, and unbelieving ... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.'' A lake of molten brimstone means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, 444.6C. We have, then, that Heaven, at 525C is hotter than Hell at 445C. 
Applied Optics, Vol. 11, A14, 1972

On the hash, plus two more thoughts

The symbol "#" has too many names, including octothorpe, pound, hash, number, square, and splat. It seems like the English-speaking world hasn't really decided what to call it. That's kind of like the kitten we have in our house that is usually called "kitten" because we've tried so many names but not decided on any.

Are the ways of humans wicked and warped against the way of nature? Or have the idealists among us misunderstood nature?

Here is a new philosophical consideration: Some people believe that it is best to give an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, but others just don't like eating cat food!

July 02, 2008

The evolution of shrinking blogs

The posting of short status messages on services like Twitter is often called "micro-blogging." The messages are limited to 140 characters. In a ridiculous development I have seen a service called Adocu in which you can post only one word, and the website calls it "nano-blogging." If this is the trend, then I propose the next step to be "pico-blogging" in which you can only post a three-character code to communicate your status. After that there will be "femto-blogging" in which you can only post a single character. The logical conclusion will be "atto-blogging" in which you only set a flag, a one or a zero (on or off, yes or no). I don't see how we can miniaturize any further. Micro-blogging is wacky enough already.

May 27, 2008

Notary public

I got my commission to be a notary public today. You know, many notaries public take their position rather lightly. They're easily pressured by employers and clients into violating their oaths of office by doing things such as notarizing a document without a personal appearance by the signer or fudging dates. For that matter, many people see the execution of documents and taking written oaths as exercises in collecting signatures rather than the important acts that they usually are. Some people also think that signing contracts are mere formalities. Maybe this comes from the overload of paperwork in our overly complex society, but people should slow down before they commit their seals and signatures to things.

Originally posted as a Facebook note.