November 13, 2006

Random old blogged thoughts

Going as far back to 2003...

Action names

Action names for pets are fun. I'm sure I had the name Rock Biter in my head from that movie The Neverending Story. It was a name that described what the character did, and it has been intuitive to think of such names for the members of our living mammal collection. We accepted a stray kitten that would nurse on her tail, and she still does it years later, so I have called her Tail Biter. I called one cat Doll Stomper because he would often jump onto the bed and roughly walk over Mrs. Pritchett who is a doll. The other became Lap Finder because she persistently tries to get in my lap and stay there.

The names didn't stop there. We got a dog, too, and this dog — being a dog — has to survey the lawn carefully with her nose for a long time before finding a place to poop, so I dubbed her Turd Ranger. My father's cat has claws that strangely click on the floor, so I easily thought of the name Claw Tapper.

Mrs. Pritchett eventually earned an action name, too. She was experimenting with many lamps in the decor at home, so I've called her Lamp Buyer. I'm not sure what my name would be. I'm not sure people should have these names.

Baby name trend

It is apparently more and more popular to name babies with family surnames, girls just as much as boys. It seems that there was a time when a girl's name needed to sound like it belonged to a girl, but that notion is being thrown out the window. It is common to guess upon seeing one's name whether the title is Mr. or Ms. in their form of direct address, but I predict it will be rather common soon to just write “Dear first name, last name” in letters.

Pet drugs

We all have our pet drugs, don't we? It's interesting how we love these little tiny pills and often depend on them to help us and make us feel good. My first pet drug was pseudoephedrine HCl. Boy, oh boy, how welcome that light-headed feeling is after a nasty sinus headache that just makes me want to smack my head with a brick. And what is that mild giddy feeling? Relief? Wait, that's probably just drug-induced euphoria, and that's a little scary. I better just use it when I need it. I often buy it in the form of small red pills mixed with no other useless drug like acetaminophen.

Acetaminophen (the Tylenol ingredient), what have you ever done for me? Absolutely nothing, that's what, except reduced my fevers, which have rarely been high enough to require reduction. Anyway, I grew up being offered Tylenol for headaches, and there was never any relief. I may as well have swallowed dirt. I didn't believe that headache medicine really worked. Acetaminophen, you're nothing to me. You're often called non-apirin because — ha! — your only distinction is that which you aspire to be but are so not! Stupid drug — or non-drug.

Ibuprofen decided to come meowing at my doorstep tonight in hopes of being my new pet. As I wrote below, I have shingles right now, and the mild pain interferes with my sleep, so I am interested in getting rid of that pain in order to sleep, which is a major interest of old people that one day I'll benefit from having a little practice in. (A preposition is what I ended that sentence with. And that one.) I tried it for the first time tonight, and I must immediately say that ibuprofen is totally amazing. I don't feel anything, which means I can sleep on my stomach now if I want to. I hardly even feel it when I pop my neck bones.

But wait, I wanted to sleep. Ibuprofen has done the complete opposite of help me sleep. It is totally keeping me awake. I am so freaking awake that when I was trying to sleep I actually felt and heard myself beginning to snore. Yes, at that point of relaxation I am usually asleep, so that was weird. It was so weird I had to blog about it — right now!

Tiger, Georgia 30576

Tiger is a small mountain town along Highway 441. The population within the corporate limits is around 320. On the Internet the only information I can find about it is something about a bed and breakfast, and I did see a statement that the place was named for a Cherokee chief. OK, why would a Cherokee chief be named Tiger when there are no tigers in Georgia? Is it a Cherokee word? I would like to know more about this. Maybe I should visit a dang library sometime if I'm so curious.

They grow a lot of tiger lilies along the roadway in Tiger, Georgia. The roads are very curvy and twisty, and there is no question about whether you're in the mountains because you certainly are, even if they are small mountains. Quaint is probably a good word for my first impression of the place. The nearby big town is Clayton, if that tells you much about how remote and quaint it may be. Based on the abundance of cottages and chalets, people probably enjoy living there.

How specific is a city name?

Location is often given by a city name, but how useful is this? If your location is named as Baldwin, Georgia, you are referring to a very small town in Habersham county, a county that has a boatload of small towns. This whole county has 278 square miles, and there are a lot of town names to pinpoint locations. However, if your location is named as Los Angeles, California, then you are talking about a city with 469 square miles, which is larger than our example county (and Los Angeles County is twice the size of Delaware).

So you cannot be sure how specific a city name is, and a county name can be more specific than a state name in pinpointing locations. You normally think of the hierarchy in pinpointing locations as state then county then city, but this is not necessarily true.

The loudness

Drag racing cars are extremely loud. We are treated to their sound at our house from the Atlanta Dragway a number of miles away in the next county. It is preferable to lawn mowers in the neighborhood, though. If you actually watch them at the strip, the whole world vibrates as they go by. Putting all available technology into driving a quarter mile as fast as possible is a very weird sport. They don't carry enough fuel to go three-eighths of a mile and they need maintenance every quarter mile.

I have actually been on the Atlanta Dragway — as a passenger in Ford Bronco racing against a Ford F-150. We won on a technicality with maybe 18 seconds if I remember right.


Checking the mail

It gets annoying to go on that long walk to check my mail every day because I rarely receive anything important, and those random bank statements can wait. And the junk mail is always aggravating. Of course, the whole point of me having this post office box is so that I don't have to wait until I go home at night to check my mail. Did I tell you I like post office boxes for the security and permanence of address? But over time I've actually used five box addresses in Georgia, and I used to have anxious dreams about driving around and checking my mail and trying to remember where all my boxes were.

P. O. Box numbers that I've used over time: 526, 1114, 1764, 2474, 2751, and 7168.

Dice-roll hiring decisions

The electronic world now replaces the traditional capricious hiring decisions with job application software dice rolls. Job applications offered online ask multiple-choice questions about your work style and customer attitudes. Now I realize that many employers have always given personality tests on paper, but they were detailed and perhaps halfway scientific. What I've seen online recently from BellSouth asked a very short series of questions. Now, I don't really need a job from BellSouth because that would conflict with my law school plans, but here is what happened:

I applied for a number of recently posted positions, and there were important questions like whether you can distinguish different colors. But there were dumb questions about how independently you make decisions and how you view customer service. It is ridiculous to screen applications with those kinds of questions because people are very flexible in their work procedures and can adapt to the needs of the job. Which are the right answers for the particular job? You may as well be telling a group of people to guess what a dice roll is going to be and then only consider those that guessed correctly.

The stupid result? All my responses to my applications said I was not qualified for the jobs. That is total bullshit because I have worked for BellSouth before and was completely qualified for two of those jobs through their own testing procedures, and this was after having a successful work record in my position that proved I was qualified for what they originally hired me for. These current job postings were made after my two-year recall period, so BellSouth is no longer contractually obligated to rehire me for those positions I qualified for. At least I have other plans.

Cooking mysteries

I'm trying to go through a recipe for brownies. I want to make the Wifey some brownies for her birthday, which was yesterday (I couldn't get out of work yesterday).

First of all, even though I don't consider myself a connoisseur of anything related to cooking, The Joy of Cooking is an amazing book. It tells you all about food, including cuts of meat, types of beans, and the subtleties of brewing coffee. You learn a lot about the mysteries of cooking, such as the issues of how fast something cooks or how its fat content affects it.

However, other mysteries remain. After melting the butter and chocolate for brownies, it says, “Set aside to cool completely,” before stirring in sugar and vanilla. Why must it cool completely? It's just all going to be heated up again. Then the other details are amazing. How to find out when the recipe is done? “Bake until the center is almost firm when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, but still moist at the bottom...” So you need a discerning touch, and you need an eye for detail when analyzing a toothpick. Wow.

I'm curious about the level of my own cooking talent. Though I cannot understand how someone comes to the level of cooking knowledge that can determine all these details, I can appreciate the detailed instructions. I seem to have a better intuition about foods and cooking than the Wifey when it comes to certain issues, such as predicting what will happen to certain things when they're cooked or confidently determining by smell whether meat is fresh or spoiled. Of course, she knows a whole lot more about dishes and ingredients than I'll ever care to. Maybe we would make a good cooking team.


Machine cuisine

I'm often working and can't get to an open restaurant or snack bar, so I go to a vending machine.

Breads/cereal group: Snyder's pretzels. Fruits and vegetables group: Welch's Fruit Snacks. Dairy group: Milky Way. Meat group: beef jerky.

So when I can't eat a normal dinner, I eat machine cuisine.

Basement reflection

In my first year of college at another college, basements became the mysterious location for cool electronic fun. The broadcast radio station was located in the basement of one of the dormitories. The amateur radio station was located in another dormitory basement. Finally, in yet another dormitory basement, there was the cable television station.

Besides this experience, basements are simply fascinating. They are mysterious places where people often do not go and interesting things are kept there. In Peabody Hall at UGA, they keep graduate assistants in the basement. (Well, it's a daylight basement, so it's not like a dungeon or anything. They also keep the University System of Georgia Applicant Clearinghouse there, as well as the switch for the campus phone system.) Basements can secretly contain storage space for various purposes. The most titillating of all, of course, is a sub-basement. Even more mysterious, hidden, and dungeon-like than a basement is a sub-basement. Whenever I use an elevator with buttons labelled "B" and "SB", I have the mischievous thought of pressing "SB" and going exploring, but I never do becaue I may never come back.


The future of lighting is here

In case you haven't noticed, the future is here in light technology. The 19th-century concept of incandescent bulbs continues to be phased out. The use of LEDs has become prevalent in traffic lights and in vehicles for brake lights and turn signals. To a small degree LEDs are replacing halogen bulbs and xenon flash tubes used in emergency lighting on vehicles. Of course, LEDs have long replaced incandescent lights used as indicators on things like electronic control panels. Will we ever have LEDs lighting up our houses? We already have LED flashlights. I wonder where they will appear next.

Sink philosophy

Two different philosophies clash in the bathroom. The philosophy of water conservation says, make a faucet that only runs as it is pressed upon, meaning that you can only rinse one hand at a time. The Americans with Disabilities Act philosophy says, make a sink with a normal faucet except with long handles to control the hot and cold water. The result is a counter with two sinks that have very different faucets. Guess who wins? The sink with the faucet that can be left on so you can rub your hands together under running water. In one particular bathroom it seems that no one uses the funny water-saving sink. Disabilities sink wins -- flawless victory.


Talk

I read that Alexander Graham Bell suggested using “ahoy” as a standard telephone greeting, yet in our country we settled on saying “hello.” I've also read that Spanish speakers around the world say “dígame” (tell me) or “bueno?” (well?).

I used to answer the phone with a “good morning/evening,” and once someone calling the wrong number asked if she had reached a business upon hearing this greeting. I have an uncle that answers the phone this way but I haven't asked him why.

Caller ID has changed the way I answer the phone. At home, if I see an unfamiliar number I answer with “Pritchett residence.” On my mobile phone I say, “This is Adrian.” If I see the number of a relative then I say “hello” with a friendly flourish. Since I watched Fight Club, I'll answer with just my street number if my wife calls the home phone.

I have occasionally tried the command “talk,” but it is unexpected and people don't understand the word. You should never, ever answer the phone in too friendly or crazy a manner since you have no guarantee of the actual caller or whether this caller has another party conferenced or transferred, and likewise you should never ignore a call from an unfamiliar number because someone you know could be calling from it for some unexpected reason.

Is “hello” boring? How do you answer the phone?

Underground anthropology

I wonder what anthropologists would come up with if asked the question, What would humans be like if they lived underground?

Here is my though experiment of sorts: Humans build underground caves and dwellings and go to live in them permanently with whatever advanced technology they could take with them. They plan to live for generations and end up living there for thousands of years. If you want a reason, let's just say that the Earth's surface becomes uninhabitable for some reason. Either there is a slow process of moving underground as conditions on the surface worsen or it is done quickly as if colonizing a new world with little chance to return back.

What would the social structure of these people be like? I imagine that if Americans built some sort of residential cave, dwelling areas would look like small apartments with traditional floor plans and locks on the doors and all that. But if humans lived in such close proximity permanently, how would community and family relations change? We know of many cultures today that are less individualistic than American culture, and they have large households that contain extended families that relate to each other through strong community ties. Would this sort of society necessarily develop over the centuries? After all, individuals could live in their own closets underground if they wanted, but it might only be practical to be more communal.

What would the technology and infrastructure be like? Let's say that nuclear power is used to generate electricity since burning coal underground is mostly impossible. Let's also say that the technology makes it relatively easy to build new caves and tunnels. How different would tools and machines be if humans were limited to having factories underground? The civilization would probably produce no more than necessary for survival, and a certain amount of machinery and engineering would be necessary to live permanently in caves.

Think about maintaining a food supply. Would brightly lit caves be used to grow basic crops? Would algae be raised? Would it ever be useful for chemical engineering to advance to the point where food could be chemically extracted from the earth instead of growing it? Also, within these small enclosed spaces could there be enough plant life (supported by nuclear-powered lighting) to maintain a good oxygen level, or would there be a need to produce oxygen artificially?

How would human personality and behavior change over time? Perhaps those that would be the most sick or depressed underground would eventually be weeded out of the gene pool by natural selection. Would these people be smaller and paler? Humans have adapted to extreme environments on the surface, so I'm simply wondering what adaptation to some sort of underground living might be like.

Horoscope

This is the stupidest horoscope I've ever read: 'This is one of those days when you may be walking along, dear Libra, and all of a sudden there is a street performer on the sidewalk playing music. Suddenly your normal footwear turns into a pair of dancing shoes and you find yourself boogying down the rest of the road. It won't take much to get you groovin', and once you start, it may be hard for you to stop.'

I'm always called 'Dear Libra' like I'm reading a letter or something. If you see a bunch of people dancing on the sidewalk, then you'll know they're Libras (specifically of the dear variety).

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