Monthly Archives: March 2009

Because it’s Monday

and we need this:

A Kansas farm wife called the local phone company to report her telephone  failed to ring when her friends called – and that on the few occasions, when  it did ring, her dog always moaned right before the phone rang.

The telephone repairman proceeded to the scene, curious to see this psychic  dog or senile lady. He climbed a telephone pole, hooked in his test set, and  dialed the subscriber’s house.

Turns out the farm lady was right!  The phone didn’t ring right away, but then the dog moaned and the telephone  began to ring. Climbing down from the pole, the telephone repairman found:

  1. The dog was tied to the telephone system’s ground wire with a steel chain and collar.
  2. The wire connection to the ground rod was loose.
  3. The dog was receiving 90 volts of signaling current when the number was called.
  4. After a couple of jolts, the dog would start moaning and then urinate.
  5. The wet ground would complete the circuit, thus causing the phone to ring

Which demonstrates that some problems CAN be fixed by pissing and moaning.

The 2010 cars are here already

You used to have to wait until around September for next year’s car models to hit the dealerships. However, with the carpocalypse going on these days, manufacturers are looking for any way possible to sell more cars. Honda dealers in the U.S. reportedly now have the new 2010 Honda Insight. Like the first Insight, it’s a hybrid, but unlike the first one, it’s a sedan, not a two-seater. The first Insight was a little odd looking and rode on thin tires that made it a little wind-sensitive on the interstates in a big wind (or when you got passed by a semi) but with mileage from anywhere over 55 mpg up to 70, you had a hard time finding any out there.

Initially, at least, you’ll still have a hard time finding any. Only 478 have reportedly made it to the U.S. so far. Prices range from the base model’s $19,800 starting price all the way up to $25,678 for  one with probably everything on it. Honda is expecting demand to be very high and they’re rolling them out of the factories as fast as they can make them, so you can expect inventories to grow pretty quickly. What do they look like, you ask? Pretty much almost exactly like a Prius, except for the H logo and a different smile on the front. Both have those vertical rear windows as part of the hatchback and those odd little triangular windows in front of the rear view mirrors. (There must be some sort of design law that says higher mileage cars must have window idiosyncrasies, or something.)

The latest on GM and Chrysler

It seems that neither company’s plan for reinvigorating life to the point that they were profitable was realistic or believable. As a result, the Obama administration asked Rick Waggoner, CEO at GM to step down and some members of the Board of Directors will also reportedly be asked to leave. They have 60 days to come up with a real plan. My bets are that the bureaucracy that is GM will fail at that too, making bankruptcy the only remaining alternative.

Chrysler only has 30 days to come up with a real plan. Chrysler is investigating (and the government is apparently pushing) an alliance with Fiat. They both have a lot in common. I’ve owned both brands and their quality levels aren’t worth shit but their cars are fun to drive. Maybe Fiat will come back to the U.S. with their new Fiat 500 model. It’s extremely economical, cute, and fun to drive.

Little Red Riding Hood as an infographic

I’ve always admired designers and artists that create infographics – everything from ones in the NY Times to exploded diagrams of cruise ships – it’s a wonderful skill. This video is a retelling of the classic little red riding hood tale as done as a series of infographics, including animal density for the 100 acre wood and nutrition information for grandma. Priceless.

Slagsmålsklubben – Sponsored by destiny from Tomas Nilsson on Vimeo.

DNA is absolute proof, right?

Well, or not, it seems from a recent report. A Q-tip may be the most wanted criminal in Europe. For years, the police forces of most countries across southeastern Europe have hunted a cop-killing eastern European woman whose DNA turned up at 17 crime scenes. There was no standard MO, no pattern, no consistency but there was one single link that connected them together – DNA from the mastermind criminal responsible for amateurish break-ins, carjackings, two murders and a bullet fired during a marital dispute? Huh? Oops, maybe not.

It’s now believed that the DNA was introduced to the forensic swabs at the factory, and that cops have been hunting someone who probably sticks q-tips in baggies all day and has never committed a crime.

All the swabs used in the forensics works were sourced from the same supplier, a company in northern Germany that employs several eastern-European women that would fit the profile. Even more incriminating, the state of Bavaria lies right in the center of the crimes’ locations, without ever finding matching DNA in crimes on its territory. Guess what: they get their cotton swabs from a different supplier.

The smoking gun apparently was a case where they tried to match a burned (male) corpse to DNA collected from fingerprint samples an asylum-seeker had given a few months earlier. The first test showed a match between those fingerprints and the Phantom’s DNA while a second test did not.

It seems that sterilizing q-tip type swabs is relatively easy to do, and prevents the possibility of infection, but that doesn’t actually remove all the DNA from the swabs.

Dear at&t,

There is a company out there called m-Qube, Inc. A simple Google search will tell you what they do for a living. They seem to specialize in charging people for text messaging services that your customers never request and never authorize. They make money by hoping that the end users won’t notice the charges on their bills for a while and they’ll get several months worth of $9.99 charges in their bank account. And, in return for that fee, they apparently promise to send you stupid crap that isn’t even good enough to go in a fortune cookie.

This process of charging someone for something they neither want to ask for is generally referred to in one of two ways. If the services are performed by the government, this is called taxation and it’s legal. However, what m-Qube, Inc. does is referred to by me as stealing – taking money from people through deceptive or misleading means. When you simply add their charges to your bills as some sort of mobile purchase/download, you become an accomplice to their theft. As far as I am concerned, you become an enabler of their theft.

I know, you find it difficult to keep up with what charges might or might not be valid, particularly when these new kids use cell phones for damn near everything – even sexting. Life’s a bitch these days, isn’t it? Maybe you need to do what the banks that issue credit cards do – I mean, after all, the cell phone technology now does tie into banks now. Banks have teams of people (and specialized software) that monitor my expenses. They realize that when strange charges hit my card, they need to call and make sure they’re valid – cutting the rustlers off at the pass, so to speak.

You need to get with that roundup, sweetheart (just to keep with the cowperson metaphor), because I don’t like you stealing from me. It’s not about you making money and it never has been. It’s about you providing me what I consider a good service. Stealing is not good. There seems to be a misunderstanding there. Let’s fix this, m-kay? Now.

Good weekend

I love it now that the weather is nice enough to work outside. A friend who raises grapes came over and pruned the grapevines this week. Although I’d read about how to prune them I didn’t want to do it myself. I knew nobody would believe that much pruning was necessary, so having an independent third party was helpful. He also mentioned that all the apple trees desperately needed drastic pruning too.  Since we’d already done some, we blew that one off for now. Maybe next year.

We’d made a trip on Friday to the in-laws farmstead and instead of cleaning up from the ice storm, wiser minds decided we’d dig up some daffodils and liriope. So first thing Saturday morning, I was revving up the little tiller and clearing out weeds for planting what we’d brought back.

Then there was the trip to buy pear trees. We don’t have any here and had three at the old house, so obviously we needed pear trees. Since we also had a coupon for Home Depot, I set off in search of pear trees. Home Depot had them. I couldn’t recall if you need different varieties of pears to ensure blossoms and didn’t look it up before I left, so I got two varieties. We also wanted to plant raspberries and I got a few of them but at $10 a bucket, I think I’ll go Burpee for any more. Naturally, Home Depot didn’t have raspberries, so I also had to go  to Lowes. Now all I have to do is clean out along the fence row and remove the blackberries where we want raspberries.