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Doctors' cars (1) Fri, Sep 24, 2010
My chiropractor owns two very nice German sports cars.  And that's fine; people who earn a living are fully entitled to spend it however they want.  But after I walked out of his office recently, many dollars poorer, I couldn't help but think that his income is directly related to the price he decides to charge people.  I realize that a certain portion of that price is paid for by insurance, but even then, the money he gets is the money he collects from his patients.  And it would be one thing if he had a nice office (he doesn't) or a nice house (I don't know), but instead he has nice cars, which he parks right next to the front door, seemingly as a reminder to all his patients that their medical expenses are paying not only for a mode of transportation, but for a specific declaration of wealth disguised as a mode of transportation.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you own your own business and you set your own prices, it's pretty crappy to flaunt your wealth in front of the people who are providing for you.  But when you crack my neck in just the right way to make all my problems disappear, I'll look past your faults. #travel

Choosing a new TV Thu, Sep 23, 2010
I just completed the purchase of a new HD TV (since you can no longer buy a non-HD TV, I'll henceforth refer to it simply as a TV).  Unlike most of my other big purchases, I couldn't do a product comparison matrix where I list and rank different features and choose the one with the highest rating.  TVs can have the best features in the world, but it all comes down to how good the picture looks.  And the only way to compare how different TVs look is to go to a store and stare with an open mouth at the wall covered in giant TVs, which happens to be one of the most enjoyable shopping experiences imaginable.  TV manufacturers know that consumers like to compare numbers, so they advertise things like screen size and resolution and refresh rate, with the assumption that better numbers equate to a better product.  But in reality, in my experience anyway, two TVs with the exact same features and numbers typically have completely different picture quality.  And I couldn't really rely on online product reviews, because different people see things differently.  So my experience consisted of going to several different stores, watching the sports highlights and animal videos, and choosing the TV that looked the nicest.  By about the third store with the same outcome, my mind was set. #entertainment

Ctrl Wed, Sep 22, 2010
Ctrl is an NBC-produced series of 10 webisodes about a guy in an office who can control life with his computer keyboard.  Each episode is about a major keyboard function involving the control key, e.g. Ctrl-Z (undo), Ctrl-X (cut), etc.  It's extremely nerdy, and I love it.  It's better on Hulu. #technology

Obama is a cactus Wed, Sep 22, 2010
This just in: 
According to a poll released Tuesday, nearly 20 percent of U.S. citizens now believe Barack Obama is a cactus, the most Americans to identify the president as a water-retaining desert plant since he took office.

According to the poll, Obama has lost favor among many voters who supported his candidacy in 2008 but have since come to doubt he is a mammal.
Change one word in this story, and it becomes true. #politics

Bose low battery Tue, Sep 21, 2010
Wendy got me Bose noise-canceling headphones for my birthday.  It's weird buying and receiving gifts from someone with whom you share a bank account, but that's a different story.  The headphones work through some sort of system involving nuclear power and witchcraft.  But what's important is that they're battery-powered.  And the feeling produced by their phase-shifted sound waves is kind of like being underwater.  After you've had them on for a while, it's a shock to the system to turn them off and resume normal noise levels.  And while Bose is famous for making great products, I feel like they messed this one little thing up:  Whenever the battery gets low, the noise-canceling noise clicks on and off in a rapid succession, which is almost enough to give me a seizure.  I'm afraid that one day I'll wake up with my face on the ground in some foreign locale, wearing only underwear and carrying a shovel, unaware that my brain has been under the control of phase-shifted sound waves for hours.  What I'm trying to say is I guess I'm getting to that point in life where I'm afraid of technology. #technology

School zone Fri, Sep 17, 2010
Most roads that pass by schools have a reduced speed limit announced by a sign that says something like "Speed Limit 25 mph When Children Are Present."  This is something that always confuses me.  How specifically is this enforced?  Like is it only during the school year?  And if so, is it in effect on weekends?  What if it's a school day but it's like 6 a.m. when no kids are there yet?  Or what if it's during the school year, on a school day, during normal school hours, but I don't see a single stupid kid?  And at what point are "kids" no longer kids?  Like if I drive by my local high school at 6 p.m. and there are still cars in the student parking lot, should I really be watching out for them?  Finally, what if I don't have kids, so I have no clue when the school year starts or when the school day starts or when these ridiculously lazy kids have vacation days or not?  My point is that there seems to be a lot of wiggle room with this law, but I could envision a cop handing me a $200 ticket just because he can.  In conclusion, I think we should close all schools and fire all cops.  The end. #travel

Dora closeup Fri, Sep 17, 2010

This animal lives in my house. #nature

If it works Fri, Sep 17, 2010
I regularly get phone calls with a recorded cheerful voice that starts out like this:  "Hi, I'm calling about your current credit account."  The caller/robot doesn't identify him/herself, doesn't mention my name specifically, and doesn't mention what "credit account" they're calling about.  It's phone spam, and every time it happens, I hang up and think, who falls for this crap?  Seriously, are there people out there who give out their credit card information and social security numbers over the phone and on the internet whenever asked?  Do people still really fall for stupid scams?  Aren't we smarter than that?  But I guess the fact that I keep getting these calls proves that they're at least mildly successful.  If there was no money to be made, or if there was money to be lost, these things wouldn't happen.  And I guess it's the same with email spam, clothing catalogs (honestly, who on earth orders clothes through the mail?), phone books, internet pop-ups (which are mostly a thing of the past at this point), and those local car dealership TV commercials with the crazy guy screaming at the camera.  If there's money to be made, people will do anything. #technology

Opportunities in problems Thu, Sep 16, 2010
When I got home from work yesterday, one of my bazillion neighbors' bazillion dogs was barking its head off.  For no reason.  Nonstop.  To be fair, I'm not a dog person, so a barking dog is about as appealing to me as a severed foot.  Ok to be honest, I wish all dogs were de-barked as part of a nationwide crackdown on noise pollution.  People would say, "I got my dog de-barked," and I would reply, "Oh, that's a shame; dogs are animals, simply expressing their dog-ness," but in my head I would be cheering because I hate more than anything else in all the world a stupid barking dog, except for those teenagers that used to live next door and throw keggers every Tuesday. 

Well that got out of hand.  My point is that barking dogs are a problem.  But dogs bark; that's what they do.  So really the problem is on my end.  Which is why I think it would be cool to take something that's a perceived problem and turn it into a potential gain.  For example, I'd like to invent a device that would capture the sound waves created by a barking dog, filter them through some sort of piston/compressor assembly, and generate electricity.  Electricity is a good thing.  A barking dog is a bad thing.  But getting electricity from a barking dog is a great thing. #technology

Psychic patronage Thu, Sep 16, 2010
There's a psychic on my way home from work every day (and they knew I'd be writing about them -- they're psychic).  It's a little building on the corner of two fairly busy streets.  It's been there forever.  There's always a car in the parking lot, and the sign is always lit up.  I'm a Christian, and I admit that Christianity has some ridiculous beliefs.  But I'm aware of the existence of more than one Christian.  I know some Jews, some Hindus, maybe a Muslim or two.  The point is that despite the unbelievability of major world religions, there are more than a handful of people who subscribe to each, and even I, as a socially awkward loner, know some of them.  Yet I don't know a single human being who has ever been to a psychic.  So my question is this:  How does this place stay in business?  I guess I could always ask a psychic. #religion

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