Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Daylight Savings Time II

     I noticed the other day, Company, that something was amiss in the Worldwide Headquarters.  We had just turned the furnace back on after a period of unseasonably warm weather and I noticed that something was just not right.  See, we have one of those fancy pants programmable thermostats, and the place seemed to be colder at some times of day than it used to be, and hotter at others.  I couldn't quite figure out what was going on until I looked at said fancy pants programmable thermostat and realized that the clock was off an hour.  I realized that I had forgotten to adjust the time when Daylight Savings Time began in mid-March, so I flipped open the fancy pants lid on the fancy pants thermostat and pushed the "Daylight Savings Time" button that was conveniently provided.  Now everything is back on schedule.
       That got me thinking about Daylight Savings Time.  I know that we have talked about this before, Company, but I just don't care.  I want to talk about it some more.  First of all, I am confused as to why we are "saving" daylight in the summertime.  See, where I come from - ensconsed deep in the middle of the Northern Hemisphere - summer is the time when we have the most daylight.  It will be light out enough to read an old fashioned book (none of that Kindle Fire bullshit for me) outside or maybe near a large window from about 6 AM until sometimes as late as 10 PM.  For those of you who are good at math or even just counting, you will note that means we get like 16 hour of usable daylight each day, give or take.  So why are we needing to save that.  Shouldn't we be trying to save up all the daylight we can in the winter when lots of people I know both go to work AND come home in the dark?  It seems to me that would make much more sense.  I don't want to have to be saving in the summer when there is light to go around.  It is not like I can put it in a jar and use it in the wintertime.
     And people hate Daylight Savings Time (or DST as I want to call it).  They don't use it in a bunch of places because it just doesn't make sense.  Hawai'i doesn't use it because the length of their days don't fluctuate all that much, so it just doesn't make sense.  Arizona doesn't use it because it would cause them to have to run their air conditioners an extra hour of the day and it would actually cost them extra energy and money.  Apparently they never reasoned that the 112° summer temperatures was God's way of telling them that they shouldn't live there.  So instead they just don't do DST, which I am sure is fine with the people up in the mountains who aren't really affected by it but are happy about not having to change the clocks.
      That is the other thing.  Lots of people are pissed off about having to change their clocks twice a year, which I just don't understand.  I mean, sure sometimes it can mess with a person, like it did with me and my fancy pants thermostat.  But I seem to remember a couple of weeks ago that changing all the clocks in the Worldwide Headquarters - including the two in my car (why the hell are there two clocks in my car? what's with that?) - took me a whole ten minutes or so.  Big freaking deal.  Now when I worked at a hotel and the time shift came and the place was mostly empty and I had to go around and change three clocks in every room for the whole hotel, yeah, I was a little annoyed, but at least I was getting paid to do it.
     Still, it is apparently the biggest hassle in the history of ever to some people.  A columnist in Colorado Springs was so agitated by this simple event that he wrote a bunch of columns that convinced a Colorado state Senator to introduce a bill to exempt the state from DST.  It failed in committee, as it should have.  The same thing is occurring Florida, where DST is less useful because it is so far south and they figure - Why bother?  ENTIRE STATES ARE TRYING TO CHANGE THEIR LAWS BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO BE BOTHERED WITH CHANGING THEIR CLOCKS!  That is just ridiculous.
     I think that the wort thing about DST is that it is just confusing.  Different locales do or don't observe it, and just when everyone seemed to get used to it they went and changed the dates when it is effective.  I don't dig that part.  Otherwise, it is really not so bad once you get used to it.  All you have to do is turn the clocks, and hope that you aren't late for work in the spring.  Or fall.  I can never remember which one makes you late for work...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Celebrity Justice

     Why would anyone ever want to go on Judge Judy?
     Or The People's Court.  Or any of those judicial shows.  I just don't understand it.  Lots of people are obviously clamoring to go on those shows, or at least they were at one point when there were like fifty of those shows on.  So why is it that they do this?
      You can't go on a court show without consent, right?  That makes sense.  All of those shows work the same way.  The judges on these shows aren't really judges - or at least they aren't anymore.  They are officially arbitrators.  The cases that we see on the shows come out of small claims court, and instead of going through the court system the parties agree to what is called binding arbitration.  So what the "judge" says is the final word.  So all of the cases are real, and all the outcomes are real, and so on and so forth.
       But you wouldn't catch me doing it.  I have no idea how the particular cases that make it on TV get from small claims court in Utica, New York to the courtroom at Judge Judy, but I am guessing that someone has to go online or call someone and offer up their case.  Which means that someone has to float the idea.  I am betting that it is usually the plaintiff who thinks it is a bright idea to go to arbitration on nationally syndicated television.  I can't imagine someone who is being sued who wants to go on TV.
       That is the whole point here, Company.  You generally aren't in small claims court unless you have done something stupid, especially if you are the defendant.  And if you are the plaintiff - unless you are business suing someone for an unpaid bill or maybe you were involved in an accident somehow - you have probably done something stupid as well.  Maybe not something as stupid as the defendant, but you have probably made a bad decision somewhere along the way, or you didn't protect your own interests very well, or something like that.  Either way - whether I am the defendant of the plaintiff - I don't want the entire world knowing about my business.  Especially if it is business that went sour.
        I don't care if you actually make money by going on the show.  Or if they pay off your debts or whatever, I am not going to do it.  I am just not.  I like to watch those shows - for sure - but you won't catch me on there to save my life.  Besides, I am sure that the judge - whomever he or she is - will probably just yell at me anyway.  And who want's that?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

     We learned an awful lot - as the general public - about earthquakes the last ten years or so.  Earthquakes happen all the damn time, but when giant, violent earthquakes and their associated tsunamis ripped apart Indonesia and Japan, the worldwide media rounded up some science correspondents and experts and taught us a lot about how the earth works when it shakes.  One of the neat things that they taught us was just how scientists - resplendent in their lab coats - determine where the epicenter of an earthquake lies.  See, the funny thing about earthquakes is that they actually cause rippled in the ground, seabed, Main St, your floorboards, etc, but these ripples generally travel at a constant rate.  So, what these scientists do is look at the results of seismographs all around the world, the more the better, to see how fast the waves were traveling and from what direction they came.  Then they bust out their TI-83's to figure out where all the directions meet and BOOM! (pardon the pun) that is where the epicenter is.
     The important part of this Bill Nye the Science Guy moment is that the seismographs that these scientists use can detect earthquakes from thousands and thousands of miles away.  Thousands of miles away.  The recent earthquake in Japan was picked up by seismographs in Hawai'i and California and Russia and the African Rift Valley.  Look at a map and see where those places are in relation to the Tokyo Dome.  And these seismographs are super sensitive.  So I am wondering why no one seemed to be able to pick up the earthquakes that were happening under Clintonville, Wisconsin last week.

This did not happen in Clintonville
       I don't know if you have been following what has been going on in the relatively sleepy farming and manufacturing community of about 4500 in central Wisconsin, but I will go ahead and lay it out for you.  A couple of days ago, calls started coming in to the friendly 911 operators about strange sounds and vibrations centered on a six-square block area on the northeast side of Clintonville.  Some of the early calls was recently released to the media and the caller described a series of loud bangs that sounded almost like a car door slamming or fireworks going off, but he was unable to pinpoint the direction from where it was coming.  Other calls descibed a shaking.  City officials did exactly what city officials should have done.  They sent their sewer and water guys out to check the system.  They called up the natural gas folks and they came out and checked their system.  They had a big public meeting at the local high school a couple of times to keep people informed.  After three or four pretty much sleepless nights the city went out and hired an engineering firm to place instruments in the ground to try and pinpoint where the bangs were coming from.
     Enter the United States Geological Survey, a day late and a dollar short.  They called up the Clintonville City officials and confirmed to them that the city had experienced a series of very small earthquakes, and they confirmed the one that they bothered to measure was a 1.5 on the Richter scale.  So it turns out that all of those sensitive siesmographs DID pick up whatever was shaking, rattling, and rolling approximately 3.1 miles beneath Clintonville, Wisconsin.
US earthquakes during the past week, as of 9:04 AM CDT, Friday, March 23, 2012.  Most of the earthquakes depicted on this map would not have been strong enough to be felt by human beings.
        Now...1.5 magnitude earthquakes happen all the time.  In the last week there have been earthquakes roughly the same size in South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, New Mexico, and Montana.  And there have been dozens of the same size in California and Alaksa.  And nobody bats an eyelash.  Human people generally don't have sensitive enough natural equipment to pick that size earthquake up, and most buildings don't even rattle.  So why all the freaking out in Clintonville.  What is with that business?  The lab coats at the USGS - now that they are paying attention to the situation - had a handy explanation for that too.  They said that there is a lot of solid, hard granite under the fertile soils of the town.  You might know it as bedrock.  Because of the nature of the granite, it amplified the shaking and motion and sound of the earthquake into something that all those people could hear and feel.  As to why it was only in a small area, no one knows.  But at least the town has some releif.  And it got its fifteen minutes of fame in the national spotlight.  Maybe that's the way to get the USGS to notice your situation...


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cops: Behind the Scenes

     Almost every night I sit down in my comfortable recliner and I watch the greatest of all American television traditions: Cops.  This is why I seem to write about it so often.  Or at least it seems like I talk about it so often.  Anyway, I got to thinking about the show when I was sitting around yesterday and waiting for my ride to pick me up. That's when a friendly local sheriff's deputy pulled into the parking lot of the Worldwide Headquarters to attend to a motorist who had hit a deer on the highway.
      He came cruising in for really no reason.  The man who hit the deer had called the police, but he probably didn't need to.  His car was fine.  It was running fine, or so it seemed.  All the lights and safety devices were working properly.  The deputy came in, looked at the hood, checked the lights, talked to the guy for a couple of minutes and they both went on their merry ways.  I watched this whole encounted go down and the first thought that popped into my mind as it was over was "Wow, it must be boring as hell to be a Cops cameraman."
A cameraman probably rode around with Albuquerque police
for days before this guy finally stumbled into his lens.
     Just think about it, Company.  I know that at first glance it looks awfully exciting, right?  Tooling around in squad cars or undercover vehicles, chasing police chasing criminals through dangerous urban neighborhoods.  Begging recently arrested people to sign consent forms.  But that is just the highlights.  For every exciting call that a Cops cameraman or camerawoman goes on they have to go on like a thousand that are boring as shit.  Time after time after time they have to get out of the car, hoist up the camera, and go film Deputy Dawg doing a routine traffic stop where the guy has a valid license, no drugs or paraphanalia are found in the car, and he gets off with a warning.  And that never makes the show.
See..this certainly looks super exciting.  Oh wait, no it doesn't.
      How boring would that be?  I mean, I know that you've generally got to go through a lot of shit before you find a diamond, buthow many S-10's with a burnt out taillight do you think the Cops camerapeople have to pull over before someone gets out all hopped up on methamphetamines with no pants on and goes running into someone's backyard?  Tons.  That is why you sometimes get REALLY BORING episodes of Cops, like when they roll up to a domestic dispute at an apartment they've been to a million times and the girl and the guy were just arguing and they obviously don't like each other much but they won't split and they won't press charges.  That is because they rode around Amarillo ALL DAY LONG and nothing else of note happened.
      And that happens day after day after day.  It cannot be glamourous.  It is probably not very fun.  And it most certainly not super exciting.  Think about all the police movies that you have ever seen where the characters are having a stakeout, and there is always that star witness that has to be along on the stakeout with them, and all you ever hear the witness complaining about is the fact that the stakeout is boring.  Street patrol is just like a moving stakeout.  It is not that fun.  So you know it has to be boring as shit.  And you will agree once you think about it.  Bitch.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

     Strange things are happening around the country today, Company.  In Chicago, the river is turning green.  In Boston, men are wearing skirts.  Every little person in the nation has a job for the day.  In bars, beer is flowing green from the taps.  Partly because of poor sanitation and cleaning, but mostly because it is St. Patrick's Day.
    I have never been into St. Patrick's Day, to be totally honest with you.  I have nothing against the Irish, or Irish Americans, or drinking heavily, but for some reason all of that stuff combined with a sickening amount of green just never did it for me, no matter how many versions of the Irish Spring girl go wandering by.  I will, however, wear green because truth be told I just don't want to be pinched by everyone that I meet on the street or in the house or whatever.
     If you ARE into the St. Patrick's Day thing, go ahead and let 'er snap, but please do so responsibly.  A few years ago when The Boys where visiting and we went downtown on St. Patrick's Day, we saw a chubbly guy in full green regalia sort of trying to stumble up the sidewalk on a giant hill at eleven in the morning.  He might have had a good St. Patrick's Morning, but he just wasn't going to have a good St. Patrick's Day.  So don't be that guy, and most definitely don't drive drunk.  That is bad juju.  But have fun, and may the Luck of the Irish be with you!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Can't See the Forest for the Trees

     So I spent a short amount of time yesterday afternoon - about an hour and a half - raking a portion of the yard at my palatial country estate.  I just recently purchased "The Bluff" as I have named it (in the classical tradition) and I think that the previous owners neglected to do a lot of simple maintenance.  Scratch that, I know that the previous owners neglected to do a lot of simple maintenance.  The point is that there was like 5 years of accumulated crap in the yard - mostly in the form of pine needles.  I actually cleared approximately 7 wheelbarrows full of needles from like a 20x30 foot area.  This is because there is nothing but large firs and jackpines on the property.  Keep that in mind when I tell you what I did yesterday morning.

These are just going to fall all over the damn place
so I have to rake them up every spring and fall.
      Yesterday morning I was all excited to fill out a survey from the Arbor Day Foundation.  It was asking mostly about trees, as would be expected, but if offered all sorts of neat prizes for filling it out and sending it in, and even more for sending in a small contribution.  So I filled out the survey and wrote a $10 check so that I could get a coupon for 10 free Colorado Blue Spruce trees.
      What the hell did I do that for?  Hmmmm?  Somebody out there explain that to me please, will you, Company?  I had to go later in the day and spend God knows how long raking my ass off to clear giant mounds of pine trees off the property, but here I am forking over for a free coupon to get TEN MORE FUCKING PINE TREES!  What the hell is up with that?  I can't even begin to handle that shit.
      What am I going to do with ten more pine trees?  First of all, I don't have room on The Bluff for ten more pine trees.  All that planting of spruce trees would really just cover up the small amount of existing grass that I have on the property, which I guess would really cut down on my lawn mowing.  But there just aren't places to put them.  Secondly, all I would be doing is adding an unGodly amount to my pine needle woes.  That much more raking, and that much more acidity in the soil to kill off that little bit of grass that we were talking about.
      So why would I do that?  Why would I apply for such a thing?  It says an awful lot about the mindset of modern American society when I will make a donation so I can get ten free things that I don't really want or need.  I should have just politely said no thank you, but instead here I am filling out a check (Arbor Day, in my book, is a good cause so I don't mind giving them a small donation, but really I did it for the trees) and putting in the envelope coupons for free trees and lilac bushes and Arbor Day magazines and an entry into a drawing for a year's worth of coffee. I have brewed coffee in my house once in the last three months and we have two - not one but TWO - cans of coffee at my house right now.  So that year's supply will last me for approximately a lifetime and a half.  The magazines will be leafed through and put into the recycling bin - just one more thing to be hauled to the transfer site.  The lilacs would actually work well on The Bluff, but to be honest I can get lilacs from other places for totally free.  And we have already been over the spruce trees.  DUMB, DUMB, DUMB.

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Second Coming...Hopefully

     Oh how I have missed this.  I know, I have been very, very bad.  I don't know what happened.  But something did.  I am not going to lie...I was ready to pull the plug on this whole thing.  1157 posts into this little endeavor and I was ready to call it quits and just flush the whole thing.  I actually went so far as to begin composing a goodbye, let's call it quits post in my head.  And it is still there.  I had it all worked up, but then something happened.
      I was checking my e-mail.  I have been having a lot of trouble with my e-mail of late, especially at work.  For some reason my work computer and my e-mail program just don't jive.  Sometimes I erase e-mails and it just doesn't get the hint, so it continues to tell me that I have unread e-mails when I clearly should not.  So when I went through and erased the twenty or so ridiculous spam and advertisement e-mails (admittedly, most for sites or products that I have frequented or signed up for) and it still told me that I had two unread I was confused and a little bit angry.  But when I went and checked my inbox and saw nothing showing up unread all of that emotion flowed over towards the confused side.
     As it turns out, a long time ago on a day when I felt like getting things organized, I created some filters and a number of other folders to sort of handle the e-mail that I had coming in.  One of the those was a separate folder for all the e-mail I get pertaining to this blog.  And lo and behold there was an e-mail in there.  Not a real e-mail but a comment that someone posted on a post that I wrote way back in September of 2011.  And it just came in on Monday.  So that means someone out there is actually still reading this thing on occasion.
     Well that was it.  That was the spark.  It was like when you are totally disinterested with the motorcycle that you bought, and you haven't ridden it in like a year, and you are ready to just put it up on Craigslist, and then suddenly you trip over your helmet in the garage and suddenly you just want to ride, you HAVE to ride, and you want to make the commitment.  So here I am.  I am not going to pull the plug, because I sort of miss this.  Scratch that, I really miss this.  And I am also a little ashamed that there have only been three posts since the New Year.  Unacceptable.  So here I am.  I promise nothing but effort.  But if all goes according to plan this will hopefully be something of a second coming.  And I am excited.