ddhr.org | 2011 | 02 (9) about | archives | comments | rss

Tax incentives Fri, Feb 25, 2011
We were thinking about getting a new heating system for our house, and one of the vendors mentioned that we had just missed out on a tax incentive where we could've claimed something like a $5000 deduction.  At first I was disappointed because I'm a big fan of deals, and missing a deal is worse than not knowing there was a deal in the first place.  But then I realized that a deduction on our taxes really isn't much of an incentive.  For some reason my mind equates "tax incentive" with "saving money," and while that's technically what happens, it doesn't mean I pay $5000 less for a home heating system.  It means I pay taxes on $5000 less than what I would normally pay taxes on, which doesn't really mean anything to me.  In other words, tax incentives are hardly incentives at all. #money

Dogs barking at night Thu, Feb 24, 2011
A recent Family Guy episode included a clip of Peter being kept awake all night by his barking dog Brian, except translated from dog language to human language: 
Dog 1:  Hello?  Hello?
Dog 2:  Hello?
Dog 1:  Are you a dog?
Dog 2:  Yes!
Dog 1:  I am also a dog!
Dog 2:  Alright!
I'm pretty sure this is really what happens. #entertainment

Unitool Wed, Feb 23, 2011
I had an apple slicer on my desk at work and one of my co-workers asked, "Why do you have an apple slicer on your desk?"  This is what's known as a "dumb question," because an apple slicer performs one function, and one function alone:  Slicing whole apples (technically it cores them as well, but it's essentially the same thing).  An apple slicer is a great example of what can be called a "unitool" which, as opposed to a multitool (one tool that performs many functions) or a polytool (one tool made up of many tools that all perform the same function), does one thing and does it well.  Another co-worker walked by my desk and commented how a unitool (or "unitasker" as he called it) is pretty uncommon because of the abundance of multitools, and also unnecessary in that the same function can be achieved with a simpler tool like a knife.  While these are valid arguments, I think it's worth the trouble of carting around a tool that's only good for one thing, simply because it performs that function in the best possible way.  Function over form. #products

Schlümpfe Tue, Feb 22, 2011
Die Schlümpfe is German for The Smurfs, thus continuing the stereotype that everything is funnier in German. #language

Students and grades Tue, Feb 22, 2011
I was talking to a part-time college professor recently who was lamenting the fact that his students only cared about grades.  Since I'm a bit younger than him and therefore less removed from school, he asked me if I knew why this was the case.  I didn't have a very good answer for him at the time (I can't think on the spot), but after thinking about it some more, I came up with something. 

Students are obsessed with getting good grades because everything in life depends on getting good grades.  Good grades gain you praise from your teachers and parents.  Good grades get you accepted into college.  Good grades get you free money in the form of scholarships.  Good grades save you money on car insurance.  Good grades get you job interviews.  I know from more than one employer that the first thing they look at when gauging a potential future employee is Grade Point Average.  It would be cool if GPA measured something other than test scores, such as how quickly you learn or how good you are at applying knowledge, but unfortunately that's not the case.  Good grades won't necessarily get you the job, but without a doubt bad grades will prevent an interview from happening at all. 

So the real answer to why students are obsessed with grades is because that's what they're taught.  Chew on that, teachers. #education

Animal greetings Wed, Feb 16, 2011
The pets that live in my house have typical animal-to-animal greeting patterns: 
  1. Fear.  What the hell is that?
  2. Sniff.
  3. Caution.  It smells like a rabbit.
  4. Sniff.
  5. Surprise.  Holy crap, it's a rabbit.
  6. Sniff.
  7. Disdain.  I've lost interest.
That seems to be a pretty tried and true system for the animal kingdom.  The thing that doesn't make sense is why my pets do this not merely every day, but many times every single day.  I guess animals aren't good at facial recognition, or butt recognition, or whatever it is they use to identify other members of their kind.  But they seem to have no problem recognizing the humans, and more specifically, which human feeds them at 5:30 am, and which human kicks them off the bed when they get annoying.  This animal recognition thing was even more weird when there were only two cats living in our house.  How hard can it be to remember the fact that the other cat you see is the same cat you've seen your entire life, the cat you were born next to, the cat you've grown up with, the only other cat you've really ever interacted with. #nature

Extra cell phone minutes Wed, Feb 16, 2011
In order to prevent the hemorrhaging of their dissatisfied customer base, AT&T is giving 1000 rollover minutes to its iPhone users.  As on outside observer, this sounds like the least appealing deal I've ever heard of.  Who uses a cell phone to make calls?  And even if they do, who actually gets close to their maximum minutes per month?  In the 8 years I've had a cell phone, I can't remember a time when I used even 50% of my allotted minutes. #technology

Behind The Onion Tue, Feb 15, 2011
A recent episode of This American Life had a cool segment about the headline-writing process at The Onion.  Very cool behind-the-scenes stuff, similar to that On the Media piece. #entertainment

Lager vs. ale (2) Mon, Feb 07, 2011
This is a topic that comes up regularly in conversations, so hopefully writing (typing) it will help me remember:  What's the difference between a lager and an ale? 

Lagers originated in Germany and are brewed at lower temperatures (40-50°F) and use bottom-fermenting yeast, leading to a mild, crisp, fruity taste. 

Ales originated in England and are brewed at higher temperatures (60-75°F) and use top-fermenting yeast, leading to a nutty, often bitter taste. #food