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Handkerchief Tue, Mar 31, 2009
Hey listen, buddy.  I know you think you're being discrete and polite by blowing your nose into your reusable handkerchief, but let's get one thing straight:  It's disgusting.  You can't possibly think you're being even remotely health conscious, can you?  I mean not only are your snots all over this cloth, but now your pocket is full of snots too, which means every time you put your hand in your pocket, you're getting more snots on your hand.  God forbid you shake anyone's hand or, hell, even touch a doorknob.  Because although you might feel fine today, you're spreading your disgusting nose goblin snot germs all over the place, all the while thinking you're conserving tissues and being civilized. 

If you use handkerchiefs, you support terrorism. #health

Dream gadget revisited Tue, Mar 31, 2009
A few years ago I wrote that I'd like a GPS-enabled camera-phone-ipod-gaming-system to satisfy all my gadget needs in one device.  The more I think about it and experience various attempts at such, the less I like my idea.  The problem with all-in-one devices is that they do everything, but they don't do anything well.  A great example is my current smartphone/PDA/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.  It's a phone with a camera and a mini computer, which means it can also play music and store lots of information.  The thing is, it really only does about two of those things well.  The camera is dismal, and the music-playing capability was essentially an afterthought.  I guess these things will get better as technology matures.  It's just hard to get past the fact that single-purpose devices like iPods and digital cameras do one thing very well, but when combined with other devices tend to get much worse. #technology

Wedding ring Tue, Mar 31, 2009
I've never been a fan of gold jewelry, so I knew I wanted a silver-colored wedding band when I got married.  A few months before the wedding, I went to a jewelry store and was appalled and disgusted at the price of platinum rings (I honestly can't justify spending tons of money on a metallic material whose price is artificially determined by the people who decide to mine it -- it's that whole problem with price vs. value).  I wasn't all that impressed by white gold because it's soft, or titanium because it's too lightweight.  Plus, I heard that if a titanium ring gets stuck on your finger, they have to cut off your finger because the material is too hard to cut (this turned out to be false, but it's still fun to think about).  I instead went with stainless steel, which was both cheap and heavy.  Heavy enough that if I punched a person, it would leave a dent in their forehead.  Something about that idea resonated with me, so I bought it.  I went to a different jewelry store just to see if they had a better selection or better prices, but when I asked the sales guy if they had any stainless steel rings, he said, "What, you mean like I used to build my deck?"  Something about his tone made me want to try out my new ring's dent-producing capabilities. 

The one problem with stainless steel, as with many jewelry metals, is that it's soft enough to get scratched.  This isn't that much of an issue, especially since I'm a guy, and especially since my ring is made of stainless steel.  It would be worse if it was shiny and pretty.  But either way, I kept my eyes open for something different, and I recently found what I was looking for:  Tungsten carbide.  Not only it is more dense than stainless steel (and hence, heavier), it's also harder (even harder than titanium), so it doesn't get scratched.  Now I can leave dents in people's foreheads while keeping the symbol of my marriage free from scuffs.  Double win! #products

TV was free (3) Mon, Mar 30, 2009
I learned recently from an older person that TV programming used to be free.  He was talking about how he was opposed to satellite radio because he couldn't imagine paying for something he used to get for free, but then he remembered that he once said the same thing about TV.  I never realized there was a time when cable companies didn't exist and when anyone with a television received free programming over the air.  Sure, there were significantly fewer channels, less variety, and TV stations only broadcast during certain hours of the day, but it was all free for the taking.  Sort of like radio is today.  I wonder when that will change?  And I wonder what other currently free things will later be un-free? #entertainment

Follow directions Mon, Mar 30, 2009
As a hypothetical situation, let's assume I'm throwing a party at my house where the theme will be fruit juice tasting.  Each person will bring a different flavor or style of fruit juice, and then we'll all drink 'em up and vote for the best one.  The entire night hinges on the fact that each person must bring a different flavor, otherwise we'll all be stuck drinking store brand apple juice because it's the cheapest and easiest to find, and as such, the invitations specifically ask each person to reply with which fruit juice they'll be bringing.  Lo and behold, about one-third of the people follow these directions, with the remaining people either bringing duplicates or calling me from the store right before the party to see if their choice is ok.  Cursed be ye who fail to follow my directions. 

This reminds me of another direction following failure that occurs on a fairly regular basis.  I manage a group email list and occasionally send out an opt-in email, i.e. I ask people to respond if they want to continue receiving my emails, that way the people who would like to opt-out don't have to do anything.  Without fail, I'll see group members in person later who will verbally tell me they'd like to remain on the list.  I'll ask them why they didn't just respond to the email, since they had already received it and gone through the trouble of reading it and comprehending what it said.  They'll say it was easier to tell me in person.  Part of me dies each time this happens. #sociology

Podcasting revisited Fri, Mar 27, 2009
I changed my mind on podcasts, largely because I recently received a pre-owned iPod (my first Apple device; yes I'm late to the game), and also because I discovered some high-quality podcasts in internetland.  Instead of some dorks talking about their websites, the podcasts I've been listening to are like pre-recorded talk radio segments.  There are news podcasts, opinion podcasts, and a bunch of in-depth reporting on unusual topics (yes, these are all NPR-related).  Either way, it's a good alternative to radio since it died a few weeks ago. #technology

AIG bonuses (3) Thu, Mar 26, 2009
AIG paid its employees $165 million in bonuses after receiving $170 billion in charity from the government.  As xkcd pointed out, that's a misleading way to look at it.  It's more accurately $165,000,000 of $170,000,000,000, or a little under 0.1%.  That's like lending your friend $10 and then getting mad because he gave someone else a penny.  And then when he tried to "recoup" that penny, he only managed to get half a penny, but that still made you happy. #money

Food vessels Wed, Mar 25, 2009
I've been noticing recently that certain foods serve the sole purpose of transporting a messy food from a container to my mouth.  Of course that's the case with ice cream cones, but it's also the case with chips, wraps, and pretty much any type of bread.  With chips, I'm usually trying to ingest salsa or chili, but the chip vessel is an additional bonus.  But even just chips by themselves are essentially transporting a flavor, whether it's salt or BBQ sauce or the dreaded ranch/onion/why-don't-you-just-eat-a-dead-animal.  The flavor is really what I'm after, not the bland, crunchy thing in between it and me.  It's the same with bread.  Sure it holds my sandwich together, but even when I eat bread on its own, it's got butter or garlic or salt or butter/garlic/salt or some other flavorful condiment that would be socially unacceptable to eat directly from the container, forcing me to use a vessel to transport it into my mouth. #food

Flathead (2) Tue, Mar 24, 2009
Attention screwers of the world (if there's a better way to say that, I couldn't think of it):  Please stop using flathead/slotted screws.  They serve no purpose that Phillips-head screws can't, and they're stupidly difficult to both install and remove.  Death to flathead screws! #products

Rabbit trap Tue, Mar 24, 2009

With a carefully placed trap, this fine specimen was photographed in my living room.  Weighing in at around three pounds, Dora the Explora-Bunny has a voracious appetite for carrots, cardboard, and wires, and gets along relatively peacefully with the other wildlife in the house.  Her typical activities include "bunnying" around, hiding under the couch, and sniffing the cats when they're not looking. #nature

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