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Beeve Fri, Apr 23, 2010
Beef is defined not only as "the flesh of a slaughtered full-grown steer, bull, ox, or cow," but also as "a full-grown steer, bull, ox, or cow, especially one intended for use as meat."  In other words, it can refer to the meat as well as to the animal itself.  The plural of beef seems like it should be "beefs," but it's actually "beeves" because of that whole "plural of words that end with f" thing.  For whatever reason, you can also de-pluralize the plural, i.e. use the term "beeve" in reference to a single beef animal, which is what Michael Pollan did in The Omnivore's Dilemma, which struck me as odd.  But I guess since the term "beeve" can only really refer to the animal itself, it's a little more clear than referring to an animal as "a beef," which just sounds funny. #language

Appointment times (2) Thu, Apr 22, 2010
I went to a doctor yesterday.  My appointment was at 9:30am.  I was on time.  I saw the doctor at 10:40am.  He was not on time.  I personally didn't have too much of a problem with this situation because I had a good book with me.  But honestly, what's the point of setting up an appointment if all parties involved are beyond a shadow of a doubt sure that the appointment will not under any circumstances be kept?  It's an exercise in delusion. 

What ends up happening is essentially a modified first-come-first-served system for patients with an appointment.  If you show up on time, it doesn't mean you'll be seen on time.  You have to wait in line behind the people with appointments earlier than yours, which essentially negates the purpose of an appointment.  I suppose the alternative -- the absence of appointment times -- wouldn't be all that attractive either:  A veritable free-for-all, with long wait times and the possibility of not even getting to see a doctor. 

Perhaps we could adopt a more rigid system involving financial incentives:  One minute accounts for 1% of money exchanged.  So if the patient is ten minutes late, that's 10% more income for the doctor.  If the doctor is an hour and ten minutes late (as in my case), that saves me 70% of the cost of the visit.  Economics solves healthcare. #health

Misread Wed, Apr 21, 2010
I have one of those Life is good shirts.  It says "Life is good" on the front, a slogan with which I usually agree.  And I know this sounds stupid, but every time -- and I mean every single time -- I look at myself in a mirror while wearing this shirt, I think it says, "Life is boog," which of course is what happens to words in mirrors.  Why only part of the phrase is indecipherable, I have no idea.  But I have to reread it a few times and remind myself that "boog" is actually "good" and that yes, my shirt still says "Life is good." 

A similar thing happened while driving a few hours ago.  There was a sign for a dentist, and it said in big block letters, "DENTAL ARTS."  But I have slightly bad eyesight, so I misread it as "DENTAL RATS," even though I knew it couldn't possibly say RATS.  For whatever reason, my impaired vision was sending a stronger signal than the one in my brain that's able to fill in gaps of knowledge.  I'm just glad there's no such thing as dental rats, because I hate the dentist enough as it is. #language

Divorce limit Wed, Apr 21, 2010
CNN talk show host Larry King announced last week that he's filing for his eighth divorce.  I think that should be it for him.  He should throw in the towel on the whole marriage thing.  And I think we as a society should prevent people from getting marriage more than, say, three times.  After that third divorce, if you show up to the town hall and try to get another marriage application, you should simply be rejected on the spot.  Not for any moral reasons, or because you're a bad person.  It's just that, hey, let's face it; you tried, and you failed.  Obviously more trying won't help anyone.  And unless your spouses all died tragically in separate unrelated fiery bus crashes (which would be at least slightly suspicious in the first place if not for the fact that you're a suspect, then at least for the fact that you have incredibly bad luck), maybe you're just not cut out for this "holy matrimony" thing. #lifestyle

Thanks and thanks (2) Fri, Apr 16, 2010
One of my most common responses when somebody thanks me is to thank them back.  It's not because I'm a nice person; it's because the typical response of "You're welcome" just doesn't feel right.  When I buy something from a store, the cashier usually thanks me for shopping at their store.  I never feel comfortable saying, "You're welcome," so I say thanks back, i.e. "Thanks for being a good cashier."  It's the same with the security people at work who check my badge.  They do their thing, then they say thanks, as in "Thanks for stopping at the guard shack and letting me check your badge instead of running me over with your car."  Again, I don't feel a "You're welcome" is appropriate, so I respond with a thanks, i.e. "Thanks for checking my badge."  When TV or radio shows interview a guest and thank them for being on the show, it always sounds awkward when the guest says, "You're welcome."  It's like they're saying, "I took time out of my busy schedule to share my important information with you, and for that, you should be thankful." #psychology

United States of Snow Thu, Apr 15, 2010
On February 12, 2010, there was snow on the ground in 49 out of 50 American states.  The only exception was Hawaii, which actually gets snow on a fairly regular basis. #nature

Bunny ramp (4) Wed, Apr 14, 2010
Last year our household acquired Dora the rabbit.  In an effort to keep her from becoming cat food, we put her cage on a 3-foot-high folding table (not that this prevented the cats from sticking their paws in her cage, but it definitely discouraged them; but after like a week, they lost interest in rabbits as food entirely).  This solved one problem, but created another:  Whenever we wanted to let her out of her cage to run around, we had to wait around until she hopped in a box that we held up to the cage's opening, because she wasn't exactly a fan of being picked up ("prey animals" such as rabbits don't like to be lifted off the ground because it makes them feel like "prey").  The solution?  Use my geekery to build a ramp.  My self-imposed requirements were the following: 
  1. Height:  Able to be folded up and slid under the table.
  2. Width:  Not to stick out from under the table when stored.
  3. Incline:  Steep enough to minimize the number of ramp segments, but not too steep for the bunny to slide off.
I've done enough odd jobs around the house to know that I had the ability to build some sort of wooden contraption that would meet these requirements.  But I also knew that if I didn't make it exactly right, it would fail one or more of my requirements and be a completely useless eyesore.  So I had a plan.  I started with some sketches, moved on to computer modeling, then started fabrication.  Just to clarify, I'm a geek, an engineer, and a perfectionist.  So none of these pictures should be surprising. 

The final product had a few slight structural changes and the addition of carpeting to minimize bunny slippage.  Several months later, with the addition of Max the rabbit, the ramp no longer has a place under the table, though there are no plans to make additional bunny ramp contraptions. 

Overall, this project took an inordinate amount of time and money, but (a) it allowed Dora to safely descend from her perch, (b) it allowed me to exercise my nerd muscle, and (c) it created many funny conversation-starters with guests, such as, "You built this?  You need a hobby." #nature

Emphasized text Tue, Apr 13, 2010
Whenever I read italicized or somehow otherwise emphasized text, I tend to sort of bob my head and almost say the emphasized word or words out loud so I can fully experience the emphasis.  And when I emphasize words I write, I sort of expect the reader to do the same. #language

Abbreviated names Tue, Apr 13, 2010
Some people's first names consist solely of abbreviations, like DJ or AJ or PJ or pretty much anything with J.  One could also make the case for BB, CC, DD, CB, DB, and KC.  This makes sense because those letter combinations seem to roll off the tongue.  Such is not the case with names like MG, RL, and really anything with W.  Maybe you get used to it if you say it on a regular basis, but for some reason, those abbreviations don't happen smoothly for me. #sociology

Lunchtime shave (1) Tue, Apr 13, 2010
Two times in the past few weeks, I've walked into the bathroom at work and seen the same guy shaving at the sink.  This puzzles me.  I can understand not shaving at home in the morning because you just want to leave the house on time.  And I can see the benefit of shaving before an important meeting or something like that.  Heck, I can even sort of understand shaving towards the end of the day because of a five-o'clock shadow.  But shaving in the middle of the day makes no sense to me.  If I was this guy's boss, I'd fire him simply because I don't understand him.  This is one of the reasons I'm not a boss. #lifestyle

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