November 29, 2005

The Donkey Got Lost

Posted in General at 10:24 pm by Ian

A few weeks ago, I ordered a DVD from a discount internet DVD site. “Free Shipping”, it claimed. And it was a few dollars cheaper than Amazon, besides.

But, now that I read their emails more clearly, I’m beginning to wonder how effective a shipping method strapping a package to an animal is.

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November 22, 2005

Segway of the Warrior

Posted in General at 9:38 pm by Ian

Mom came to visit this weekend, and while we were walking down by the beach, we noticed a sign for a Segway rental place. Disenchanted with the archaic notion of bipedal locomotion, we decided to rent some. After signing and initialing a few dozen pieces of paper to the effect that we really really wouldn’t sue them, we watched a ten minute instructional video about how to get hurt riding a Segway. It was very thorough.

Then it was time for our training. The guy at the Segway rental place, who smiled a lot, gave us helmets and instructed us on how to use the Segway. First, we put them into balance mode, and then we stepped on. I segwobbled at first, but quickly stabilized. We then practiced going forward and backward a bit. It really is just as easy as standing after a few minutes practice.

Turning, on the other hand, is not. I suppose I had always assumed that it was completely directed by your body weight, but that’s not the case. The Segway moves forward and backward to keep under you, but turning is controlled by a little throttle on the left handlebar. This is problematic for two reasons

  • It is easy to forget which way is which.
  • It turns like a tank, not like a car.

The second point caused no end of confusion. Turning on the spot is convenient if you remember it, and cranked up to the maximum, you become quite the little segwhirlwind. But the natural inclination, having used vehicles that have both front and back wheels for most of my life, is to turn the control one way while moving forward and then turn the other way while moving backward. In a car, this does a nice little three point turn. On a Segway, you do a nice little half-turn forward… and then reverse to segwind up right back where you started.

After slaloming around some little orange cones, Smiles was convinced that we probably wouldn’t lead to any serious litigation, so he let us go out into the world.

We segwove our way down State St. and through the crowds of people at the Santa Barbara pier. Several people asked about the Segways, and fun was generally had by all.

At one point, Mom decided to see if the differential would handle one wheel on pavement and one on sand. It segwouldn’t.

Segfault.

Clearly, she wasn’t paying attention to the video.

November 18, 2005

A Very Lindy Birthday

Posted in General at 11:03 am by Ian

Had my first Lindygroove birthday dance ever last night. And it was good. Thanks all for coming.

And, now, if I can just shake off this dance hangover, today will be good as well.

November 7, 2005

Stamp of Disapproval

Posted in General at 7:03 pm by Ian

Every few years the USPS decides that it’s time to raise the prices on stamps by a few cents. And, so what? Inflation is expected, and it really shouldn’t be a big deal.

Except that it is. For months surrounding the change, you have to go get those stupid 3-cent stamps and put two stamps on everything you send. The lines are always longer at the Post Office because of this, finding stamps in the right denomination is a hassle, and, years later, when you can’t find any current stamps and have to send a 2 oz. envelope, you are stuck trying to figure out the most efficient use of 1 34-cent stamp from 1997, 2 13-cent postcard stamps from 1978, 17 4-cent stamps from the last changeover, and an Airmail stamp, which you think is worth around $1.70, but you’re not sure.

This needless waste and mental turmoil tends us all toward early graves, I’m convinced.

On the other hand, along with the 2-cent stamps sold during the changeover, there are stamps sold that just say “First Class” on them. I assume that they have those in reserve for the time they need to ramp up the printing presses to put Elmer Fudd on the stamps with a new value.

But why not just sell those stamps all the time?! Why not just sell “First Class” stamps at whatever the prevailing rate is? No need to change the printing plates every few years. No excessive advertising budget to alert the populace to the fact that stamps are now 4% more expensive. No hassle trying to collect 4 cents of postage due. No absurd(er) lines at the PO for adjustment stamps.

Obviously, they already have the stamps. They can put Elmer Fudd on them, too. I can’t be the first person who’s thought of this, can I? How has it never been implemented?

November 1, 2005

A Matter of Principle

Posted in General at 3:52 pm by Ian

In the kitchen at work, where the toaster oven usually sits, there is a piece of paper with the following written on it

We have the toaster in the kitchen across the way —>

Next to this, someone has posted another piece of paper

We do not negociate with kidnappers.