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Winter Sux

Posted 2010.12.14 11.49 in Pointless Blather

It’s crazy. It’s not even winter here yet. And I already hate it.

In fact it feels like I’m hating winter more and faster than I remember in previous years. It hasn’t really snowed much here yet, but don’t care so much about snow. It’s the cold. And it’s the way so many people forget how to drive when there’s white stuff blowing around.

Cold – it seems like it’s damn cold out, and in. Like, Suddenly: Deep Freeze! Yet it’s not really that cold, when you look at a thermometer. It’s only mid-December.. what am I going to feel like when we get to February and the -40’s? Actually, I don’t want to know. I want to hibernate.

Then there’s the way people drive… Oh my Gods.

We get this white shit every year. Why is it always a shock to people? Why don’t people learn to fucking drive on snow? “Oh christ there’s snow on the ground – I better go into panic mode and act like I’ve forgotten how to use a car!”

One thing I’ve made a point of doing every year since I got my license, is when we get some snowy/icy/slippy weather, I’ll find an empty road or parking-lot, and practice driving in bad conditions. It’s not magic. You can learn this stuff. It varies from car to car, and it’s good to stay in practice. All you need to do is first, learn what your vehicle feels like as it is losing traction or just starting to slide. Then you learn how to deal with it. Most of it is common sense. I’m sure there’s even places you can go, to specifically learn how to drive in poor conditions.

So here’s the deal: If driving in the snow makes you feel so scared and tense that you have to go at 10km/h with your four-way blinkers on, if you’re on the verge of panicing when another vehicle goes past you, if you can’t stop at a stop-sign that you can see 250 meters away, then stay the fuck home. If you don’t know how to drive in the winter, then just don’t do it.

Stupid Math Question

Posted 2009.04.10 11.00 in Pointless Blather

Train “A” leaves the station in Honolulu heading north-east at 125 miles per hour. Train “B” leaves Anchorage at exactly the same time, travelling south-west at 150 miles per hour. The two trains are on the same single-track line, but this track has sidings every 250 miles to allow trains to pass.┬áThe crew of train “A” has been drinking heavily, while the crew of train “B” has not slept in two days.

Can you tell how many sidings both trains will pass before one of them must pull over so they can cross?

Use the comments section to answer. Answers must be phrased in the form of an answer.

How Computer Programming Works

Posted 2007.09.19 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Writing a computer program is kind of like trying to explain a complicated task to a gifted three-year old who only speaks Esperanto.

What do I mean by this? Well computers are usually very fast, and they usually have a very good memory, but they are not very smart. They need you to explain things in detail, and the fancier the task, the harder it is to explain exactly what you want done. And in Esperanto, because no matter what your native tongue is, the computer speaks something different. Unlike three-year-olds, however, computers always do exactly what you tell them.

Example: Tell the computer to pick up your dry cleaning:

If you’re using a high-level computer language, then there might be lots of built-in functions or routines that you can use, such as getNextDryCleanTicket, accessCar, and driveCar. You still have to program the actual map to the drycleaners, so how many meters on what bearing. You’ll want to include some event-handling processes to respond to other traffic and so on. High-level languages work because someone else has done the low-level work of creating those various functions / routines.

If you’re using a low-level computer language then you have to build your own functions and routines, so instead of just accessCar you need to define how to access it (where’s the key, where’s the car, what the key does, how to turn the key, etc.)

At the assembly language level – the lowest level language – you have to tell the computer everything – not just what’s a key, and what’s a car, but what’s a noun. Then work your way up from there.

The bottom line is, computers always do exactly what you tell them; they just don’t always do what you want, or what you expect.

Another Late-Night Critique of Stoopid Commercials

Posted 2007.01.24 1.00 in Music/Movies/TV

So this commercial, I’ve seen it a few times. It’s been running a while so you might have seen it too.

The gist of it is there’s some guy, a white guy, wearing robes, walking through some quiet peaceful soundstudio. And he comes upon a poor little baby turtle that’s on its back, so robe guy – maybe he’s supposed to be a monk – stops and puts the turtle on its feet.

Then a few steps along, robe-guy stops at the edge of a little pond, where some poor goldfish is flopping about on the astroturf. He stops and picks the goldfish up, putting it back in the water.

There’s more to the commercial, but this is as far as I get. Every time I watch it, by this point I am wondering: When do we get to see robe-guy’s arch nemesis? Really, who is the jackass that’s always just 10 steps ahead, tipping over baby turtles and catching the fish and dumping them on the ground?

That’s what I want to know about.

Personally I think robe-guy has an evil twin. They were separated at birth (or maybe breakfast. Whatever.) and robe-guy thinks he just lives in an area populated with very, very stupid animals. But really it’s robe-guy’s evil twin, sneaking about endangering all the cutesy little critters. Robe-guy’s evil twin dresses the same, so he’s also a robe-guy, but he wears shades instead of glasses. It’s a subtle difference but that’s how we know he’s evil.

Not that there’s anything inherently evil about wearing shades. They only denote evil when you have an identical twin who dresses exactly the same except they don’t wear shades.

Anyhow, so robe-guy’s evil twin, anti-robe-guy, is maybe an anti-monk — if robe-guy is actually a monk and not just a confused mid-life-crisis guy. So robe-guy and the anti-monk…

That actually sounds like a good name for a tv show or comic book. Robe Guy and the Anti-Monk! Coming to a theatre / tv screen / comic book near you! Real soon! Maybe!

Anyways robe-guy and the anti-monk never meet, robe-guy doesn’t even know anti-monk exists, but he has no choice but to follow along, following the trail of upturned baby turtles, landed goldfish, and who knows what else. It’s not much of an existance — for either of them — but then, such is the life of a one-dimensional character stuck in a tv commercial.

Sometimes, it’s good to babble nonsensically.

Morons + Power Tools = Darwin at Work?

Posted 2006.12.05 1.00 in Music/Movies/TV

So this commercial comes on the tv. It’s some klutz who doesn’t understand how to make a hand saw work. Let me repeat that: Doesn’t Understand How To Make A Hand Saw Work. That’s right. Not talking about anything fancy. Not a coping saw, nor a back saw, nor a keyhole saw, nor a swiss saw, nor a bow saw, nor a hacksaw, nor a Japanese flush-cut saw. Just a plain old ordinary standard-purpose hand saw. And this stooge can’t make it go.

So what’s Black and Decker’s solution for this fool? They want to give him a power tool! Yeah! Here’s a putz that can’t drive a single piece of metal with no moving parts that you simply move backwards and forwards, and they figure the answer is to give him a motorized plug-in cutting device that can go through human flesh and bone at 2 inches per second.

Now, my first reaction is to think these guys at Black and Decker are nuts! I mean, great, you want to sell product, make money, but this is crazy. Some of these morons might have kids, unlikely as it may seem.

Then, after a moment, I realized that maybe it’s not such a bad idea. I mean, anyone as thick as this fellow on the commercial, is going to get himself killed sooner or later anyhow. Might as well cut the suspense and make sure when he screws up, it’s over fast and decisively. Otherwise he might end up dropping his keys, getting in his car and accidentally locking himself inside the vehicle, and slowly starving to death – or suffocating, if the windows are rolled up. Compared to that, a power-saw mishap is going to be positively merciful.

It reminds me of a commercial for a screwdriver for handymorons. They showed a bunch of people opening multi-bit screwdrivers upside-down, so all the bits fell out. How’d these people even survive into adulthood? How can you be so stupid as to open any enclosure upside-down, be it a multi-bit screwdriver, or a carton of milk, or jar of jelly? Why didn’t these people starve to death? And if they’re too thick to know how to open the screwdriver, what makes anyone think they’ll know what to do with it when they get it open?

It almost makes me curious to see what these dunderheads are going to build. TV is telling the hapless that now matter how clumsy and clueless you are, the answer is to use powertools. Maybe in 6 months the Discovery Channel can do a special – Power Tool Tradgedies, and the Things They Tried to Build.

Without Warning

Posted 2006.06.28 0.00 in Pointless Blather

You know that expression ‘without warning’, as in ‘without warning, the tornado struck’ or ‘without warning, the truck tire came through their car window’?

I hate that expression. It is just really, really stupid.

I mean, in general terms, every time I have heard that expression used, it was just plain wrong. Either there was plenty of warning and the foolish people just chose to ignore it, or the situation was one that did not lend itself to warning. I mean, the phrase is always used in a way that implies that there is some shock or feeling of injustice about the lack of warning. Like, oh, if only we were warned that was about to happen, maybe so many people wouldn’t have gotten hurt or the property wouldn’t have got damaged.

Seriously.

The tornado gave plenty of warning – there was a big storm, it was tornado season, the storm was a meso-cyclone, there was a lowering, a rotating wall cloud descended at the inflow/outflow boundary; how much more warning could the storm have given? A big neon-light that said “Grab your camcorder, there’s a tornado a-coming!”?

The truck tire came through the windshield ‘without warning’ — well what did you expect? “Ding!” “Oh look dear, the ‘danger truck tire’ light on the dashboard just came on. Better pull over and let it roll on by.” “Ok Ethel.”

Oh, or “without warning, lightning struck the young man” — as he was out videotaping a thunder storm, standing next to a freaking radio antenna tower! There was plenty of warning! IT’S CALLED THUNDER YOU MORON!

I feel that the expression “Without Warning” should be stricken from common usage. Seriously. You know when it’s really applicable? When the warning mechanism failed.

Like, “without warning, my hard drive crashed.” “Bummer! Didn’t the S.M.A.R.T. drive status mechanism give you any warning at all?” “No, that’s the really wierd thing, it went from passing all tests, to failure, without any warning.” “Wierd.”

Or how about “Damn, my engine siezed up. Turned out I was out of oil!” “What? What about the ‘check engine’ light? Or the oil pressure gauge?” “Nope, nothing. No warning at all.” “Bummer.”

“Without warning, Stephanie snapped.” “Well what kind of warning were you looking for?” “Well, last time she said ‘I’m going to snap’ first. Then she snapped.” “Huh.”