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Manure lagoon bubbles Wed, Mar 31, 2010
I learned a lot from this Wall Street Journal article (via Neatorama).  So apparently dairy farmers store cow manure in giant pools, or lagoons, where it stays for a while before being trucked away and used as fertilizer.  But as it sits there, it decomposes and releases some methane.  As an environmental precaution, farmers are usually required to limit ground seepage by lining the lagoons with a sort of plastic, like a pool liner.  But this Indiana farmer's liner didn't work quite right, so manure was able to seep into the ground and release methane from underneath the lagoon, causing giant methane bubbles to form.  The problem with this is that as the bubbles grow, they could cause the lagoon to overflow, essentially creating a flood of liquid manure.  The farmer's solution is to cut the bubbles open with a knife from a boat used to paddle out into the lagoon, but the neighbors are afraid of either an "explosive decompression" (i.e. giant fart) or a fiery explosion.  Either way, this is one of the greatest news articles I've ever read. 

Related:  Antarctic Methane #science

Small web annoyances Wed, Mar 31, 2010
This applies to people who publish content on the internet: 
  1. Underlined text.  Underlines are the international identifier of links.  So unless your text is linked, it shouldn't be underlined.  Otherwise people will try to click on it and then wind up hating you when it doesn't link to anything.  If you need to emphasize something, use bold, italics, or quotes.
  2. Spaces in links.  (I wrote about this a while ago.)  Or I should say "spaces at the beginning or end of links."  Many web publishing tools allow you to create links by double-clicking on your text and clicking the "Insert Link" button.  But when you double-click on a word, it automatically selects the space immediately after the word or string of words.  And links like this or this look stupid.
In other news, I'm a perfectionist, and not in a good way. #technology

Clutch and shake Wed, Mar 31, 2010
There's a baby toy called the Fisher Price Clutch N Shake Turtle Toy.  From what I know about babies, this directly satisfies two main baby requirements:  (1) Can I grab it and squeeze it to death? and (2) Can I shake it to death?  I'm pretty sure the perfect baby toy would include these two attributes plus a third one:  (3) Can I put it in my mouth and gum it to death?  As you can see, I believe babies are out to kill us. #products

Non-user iPhone complaints Mon, Mar 29, 2010
I don't have an iPhone.  I'm not opposed to owning one in the future, but I refuse to switch cell phone providers just to get a cool phone.  Many billions of people apparently feel differently and are more than happy to fork over their $120/month to use a great phone on a crappy network.  Anyway, as an iPhone outsider, I have a few complaints about this silly little device: 
  1. Apps.  I understand what an iPhone App is, and I realize there are a lot of other people who also understand this, and there's some sort of exchange of money involved, which has a positive impact on our nation's economy.  That's great and all, but there are like eleventy jillion people who, like me, don't own an iPhone, so all this talk of Apps and App Stores and whatnot is simply meaningless.  It's one thing to have a mobile version of your website so non-iPhoners can play along.  But as soon as you create an App, you've just alienated approximately eleventy jillion people.
  2. SMS character limit.  Apparently the iPhone lets you send text messages that are longer than the industry standard 160 characters, which is fine and all because the messages are simply broken up into 160-character chunks, but which is pretty stupid for the countless (I've heard it's around eleventy jillion) people without iPhones, where these chunked text messages show up as separate (and often numerous) chunks, sent by some stupid iPhone user who doesn't understand how text messages work.  But this isn't a user issue; it's a software issue.  One simple workaround would be to show the user when their message is going to be split up, which would hopefully encourage them to be more concise.
  3. "Sent from my iPhone."  First of all, I don't care where your email comes from.  That goes for you too, Blackberry weirdos.  But I'll concede that there's occasionally value in knowing why an email doesn't contain complete sentences and sounds like you're mad at me.  But at least Blackberries are used by working folk.  Yes, iPhones can work with corporate email too, but honestly, who on earth has a work iPhone?  Like four people in Silicon Valley.  The rest of you are simply flaunting the fact that you own a coveted piece of technology.  Yes, I'm jealous.
Eleventy jillion and shrinking. #technology

Short pants Mon, Mar 29, 2010
I work with a guy who's about 6'3".  He's fairly tall, and his tallness is noticeable.  He also happens to be an executive, so he gets paid well for doing relatively little.  But he has a fairly significant wardrobe problem:  His pants are too short.  They barely extend to his shoes and frequently get stuck at the top of his man boots (another problem, but one that I'll overlook in this case).  Every day, he looks like a kid that grew out of his kid clothes, i.e., he looks like an adult idiot.  And since he's an executive, there's no question he can afford clothes that fit.  I have to go out of my way to avoid this guy for fear that I might eventually say something to him and lose my job.  Or get beat up by some man boots. #lifestyle

Public pets (2) Fri, Mar 26, 2010
People often bring their dogs out in public, and passersby walk up to them and say things like, "Oh, you're such a beautiful dog," or "What breed is he?"  Dogs are good like that.  They act as companions and facilitate conversation.  But I don't have dogs.  I have cats.  And cats are all pretty much the same.  They're all roughly the same size and shape.  Besides that breed with the smooshed face, the only trait that's different among cats is color.  There's no such thing as a Shetland sheep-cat, or a Rhodesian ridge-cat.  Cats are pretty much either black, white, gray, orange, or some pattern or mixture of those.  So a cat isn't really a good conversation starter.  I think it would be fun to bring one of my cats in public, preferably on a leash.  Cats hate everything, and leashes are no exception.  The few stupid times I've tried to leash my cats, they just fell over and pretended their legs don't work.  (As an aside, cats are jerks.)  Also, cats are lazy.  They would much rather be doing nothing than something.  And cats don't like people.  They tolerate.  So if I brought my cat out in public, I would drag it down the road because it would pretend its legs didn't work, it would be completely uninterested in whatever was going on, whether there were people around or things to sniff, and it would get mad if anybody got near it.  I can just imagine a person coming up to me while "walking" my cat, and after a brief attempt at pleasantries, simply walking in the other direction with a disgusted look on their face.  "Why did you even bring your cat out in public?"  Maybe that's why I have cats.  If I wanted more friends, I'd get a dog. #nature

Repeated language Fri, Mar 26, 2010
I tend to write and speak in mimic of what I read and hear, and some of my sources are quite a bit smarter than me, giving the impression that I'm more intelligent and more eloquent than I really am.  This is a good thing because I'm actually quite dumb.  But really, isn't that what all speech essentially boils down to?  Regurgitated words and phrases heard in one context and passed off as original in another? #language

Affording loss Thu, Mar 25, 2010
There's an article from the St. Petersburg Times (FL) about strawberry farmers being forced to let fruit rot because harvesting them isn't worth the cost of selling them.  That's bad and all, and waa waa we all cry for farmers and whatever, but that's not the point.  The writer of the article chose to use the following sentence towards the end: 
It might seem wasteful, but they explain that if they pick for such low profits, they'll lose money. They can't afford to do that -- especially after such a bad season.
The question is, when can anyone "afford" to lose money? #money

I hate birds Thu, Mar 25, 2010
I walked out to my car for lunch the other day, unlocked the door, got in, and looked up to find my windshield *covered* in bird poop.  I've parked in that exact same spot before, but apparently this was the day that every bird on earth sat on the light post above my parking spot, turned their feathered butts in the direction of my car and explosively let loose.  I just couldn't believe how much poop was on my windshield.  Just unfathomable.  Gallons of poop.  This is why I hate birds. 

Some birds are cool.  This past weekend I saw a beautiful blue jay fly across my yard, then I watched with interest as a red-headed woodpecker pecked away at a tree.  I'm a fan of hummingbirds and pelicans and even pigeons sometimes.  I don't hate specific birds.  I hate birds in general.  And here's why: 
  1. Birds poop
    1. on me
    2. on my car
  2. Birds make noise
  3. Birds poop and make noise
And that pretty much sums it up.  My neighbors used to have some sort of parrot as a pet, and all it did all damn day was scream like it was being held against its will (which it was), which is fine, except that a bird "scream" is different than a bird "song."  And one of my friends in high school had a little parakeet as a pet, and it was the dirtiest, most disgusting animal I've ever encountered. 

I know birds are useful animals and some people follow them around with binoculars because they're rare or awesome or something.  I'm not saying we should kill all birds.  I'm just saying I hate them.  Mostly because they pooped on my car. 

Update:  Here's a related Brevity comic. #nature

Cemetery real estate Thu, Mar 25, 2010
Most times I drive past a cemetery, I can't help but think what a waste of real estate it is to store carved stoned and skeletons in boxes.  I'm cynical, obviously, and I apparently don't have much respect for the dead, so I guess I'm sorry if that's offensive.  But honestly, if we really want to cherish the physical remains of our loved ones, why don't we just build a tall building and put them in it, kind of like a filing cabinet?  It's not like they care either way; they're dead.  Option number two (which is inclusive of option number one) is to cremate.  I can't think of a valid reason why we don't cremate the dead.  I'm a Christian, and if the whole idea of death is to wait around until Christ's second coming, I doubt he really cares whether we're a pile of bones or a pile of dust.  Either way, he's gonna have a lot of work cut out for himself in putting us all back together. 

I would stop there, but there's more.  While I admit that it's kind of cool to walk through an old cemetery and look at the gravestones of people who died hundreds of years ago, I could honestly live without that small pleasure in life, for the simple reason that graveyards are essentially sanctioned littering.  Bodies decompose over time, so basically all that's left is either a heap of bones or a box that contains a heap of bones.  So really, we're just filling the ground with ornate boxes of bones and marking these locations with inscribed rocks.  Pretty stupid if you think about it. 

Finally, once a cemetery, always a cemetery.  No one will ever buy a house on land that used to be a graveyard.  You can't put a park there, because no one would go.  Pretty much the only viable alternative for post-cemetery land is to build a store that sells Halloween decorations, and we all know how poorly seasonal stores perform.  My point is that as more and more people die (as they tend to do), we'll need more room for our silly custom of storing bodies indefinitely, which will use up more and more valuable real estate, until there's nowhere else to live except on the moon.  Conclusion:  Cremate, and let the wind take care of the rest. #sociology

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