Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category
A few weeks ago, I was stopped by one of our local policemen for going 47 miles an hour in a 25 mph zone. I seriously want to believe that he meant 37, because I drive on this street regularly and although I do sometimes see the needle hanging around the 35 point, I don’t ever recall seeing it cross the line into the 40’s. Still 37 is a problem since the street divides two very active parks. The officer gave me a warning, which I appreciated. About 15 years ago, I received two tickets in two days on an intersecting street for “failing to come to a complete stop” at a stop sign. Today, on my way home, I observed two of the most flagrant bits of driving I’ve seen lately. One was a man in a truck who blew through a red light without slowing down more than was necessary to make the turn, even though the intersection was marked with a “No Turn on Red” sign. Later, a second driver continued through a stop sign on the same street where I received my warning, without so much as tapping his brakes. Adding insult to ignorance, he tossed a cigarette out the window at about the same time.
I’m not quite sure why I am outraged by some offenses more than others. I drive at around 70 mph on the highway to work. I’m not really bothered by the folks who are probably going over 80, unless they are screaming behind me, as I approach one of CT’s notorious left-hand exits. The people who, like I twice did, roll through a stop sign without having the car settle backwards, but clearly after making sure the intersection was empty, don’t bother me. The guy who cruises through without a thought seems like an idiot. The people who turn right on red without stopping first don’t bother me, unless I have to slow down to avoid hitting them, or when they are behind me and apparently expect me not to stop.
I don’t like people who think “yield” is French for “speed up now” and I don’t like people who refuse to move over to let someone enter the highway, when doing so would cause no problems. I don’t like people who block intersections so that they can turn left after the light has turned red, and I really don’t like people who encourage me to move up into that position. I think it comes down to the fact that I don’t like people who act like they are special, and I really don’t like people who want to make me complicit in obtaining their special treatment. I also don’t like rude people – anywhere.
When our daughter was learning to drive, I had her take me to the local hardware store. The route includes an intersection with a busy 4 lane road where the cross street enters at an obtuse angle. While you are allowed to turn right on red at this light, it is very hard to see if it is safe to do so without twisting your neck around. Faith was uncomfortable gauging the traffic, so I pointed out that:
“You’re allowed to turn right on red, but you don’t have to.”
Clearly the man behind us felt otherwise. When it turned out that he was going to the same store that we were, I took the opportunity to approach him and explain just what a jerk he had been. That probably wasn’t a wise move, but he felt bad when he realized that his actions might have intimidated a young driver into making a potentially fatal mistake. He didn’t apologize to my daughter, probably because of the gesture she had made.
If you find yourself behind me, you should know that I’m the guy who:
- Almost always stops at stop signs
- Understands the meaning of “yield”
- Lets UPS, FedEx, US Mail and other delivery drivers go ahead of me at 4-way stop signs
- Will not honk at the person in front of me unless they are clearly asleep at the switch
- Stops at the light before turning right on red and waits for the light to turn green if I can’t see the traffic coming from the left. And no, I’m not going to accept your honk as a signal that it’s safe to turn
- Stops for pedestrians
- Will not pass a person on a bicycle unless I can give them a lot of room (I also ride my bicycle on the road, and I very much appreciate your giving me enough room to avoid being hit by your mirror).
Yeah, I’m that guy. If you are frustrated because I am making you late, get up earlier tomorrow and think about switching to decaf.
When we were growing up, vacations were to two places and travel was of two types. My mother would load my brother, me and her parents into the car for a leisurely drive to a cabin on Lake Erie that began at what normal people would call early. My father would load my mother, me and my brother and our maternal grandmother in the car for an 8-hour ride to Virginia, at whatever time he happened to be done for the day. He said “driving at night helps you beat the traffic” but I think he just wanted to use of every hour of his vacation. When I was six, we left for Virginia at 2:00 am, after he finished bowling in a tournament; he tossed me in the back of our station wagon with a pillow and packed the luggage around me. He would probably be arrested for traveling like that today, but I remember it as being a pretty sweet ride. Remembering this helps me to understand why my brother and I chose to move my mother to Iowa in a rental truck, towing her car behind us, and why we decided to leave right after packing-up her apartment – it’s in our genes.
Making things more complicated than they need to be is also in our genes; for this trip, the complication was a snow blower. I had one (a big one), my brother didn’t and I am planning on getting a new one later this year. The math on airfares and truck rentals worked out so that renting the truck and trailer in CT and driving it and the snow blower to Pittsburgh didn’t cost much more money, it just added 10 hours to the road-trip. In the future, I should remember that
“when you get to the point where adding difficult things to an already complex project seems like ‘no-big-deal’, you’ve passed the point where what you’re doing can be called a good idea.”
We never tried putting this move into the “good idea” bucket; this was always in the “something that has to be done” bucket. My mother had to be near one of her children and my brother was the better choice. These are the things you do with family and close friends while telling other people who do them that they are crazy.
While I can report that the move “went according to plan,” that is mainly because we had set the bar pretty low on that particular metric. We didn’t expect that our 88 year-old mother would have packed her entire apartment, even with a lot of help. We didn’t think she would have thrown enough stuff away, even with a visit from my niece and the help of a few friends. Every single thing in her apartment could invoke a memory, a story, and sometimes a tear. No, the final cleaning, sorting and tossing was left to the cold calculating minds of the sons who had to schlep this stuff half way across the country. We were also driven by geometry; that truck (not to mention her new apartment) only had so much room. We were aided by the decision to fly mom to Iowa early on the day of the move. With her gone, decisions about what to toss lost their emotional content. We were also aided by three wonderful helpers. These women were friends of my mother and knew her well enough to know what she could eventually “get over” not having and what had to be in that truck at the other end, even if it would be tossed out in Iowa. One woman worked at a thrift shop, so she took anything that could be resold. We felt better telling ourselves “someone can use this,” not to mention how good we felt about throwing something away that a thrift shop wouldn’t want. Other euphemistic phrases included “she deserves a better chair than this” and “she shouldn’t have to arrange her new apartment around this” as well as our favorite: “this has been (behind the couch, in this closet, under the bed…) for so long that she probably doesn’t even remember owning it.”
We finished packing about 5:00 pm, and had the car loaded by 6:00. My brother said that leaving at night would help us beat the traffic. He’s made the trip dozens of times, so he should know, but our rig wasn’t likely to be “beating” anything and I knew exactly why we were leaving. In addition to the genes passed down from our father, putting that last box in the truck and cinching her car to the trailer provided a huge energy boost; we were truly ready to roll and we just wanted to be in Iowa.
There are several pictures from this adventure on my Flickr site, but I’ve included a few interesting ones here. Note, if you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip the last one.
Dark O’clock (above) – Another big gulp for this truck. I think we are in Indiana. It’s late, it’s dark and it was beginning to rain. The Midwest is a lonely place at night, but I guess it was better than weaving this train through traffic during the light of day.
Ready to roll. – Snow blower, tools, moving supplies we can leave in Iowa and snacks are all in the truck. The trailer will ride empty to Pittsburgh, but it was nice knowing that we would have it when we needed it.
So Long Pittsburgh – Now the truck is loaded, the car is hitched up and we are Iowa bound.
Penske – These guys moved over to let us get on I-79. That was a good thing because the on-ramp was up hill and we were looking at 0-60 in about a minute and a half.
Truck fire – Of course we realized that we needed to get out of the way, but merging over 30 feet of vehicle isn’t the easiest thing to do. Fortunately, we had some nice neighbors on the road.
You have got to be kidding! – This was so not what we wanted to see after pouring $91 worth of gas into our truck. The rest of this story is best left to your imagination.
During the last year or so, I listened to several speakers at content management and social media conferences suggest that business email will soon be a technology of the past. Judging by my inbox, and recognizing that people are still sending faxes, I think it’s safe to say that I will be getting email throughout what remains of my career. If that’s the case, I would appreciate it if the people who send me business email would take it upon themselves to improve the quality of the email that they send. If I thought everyone would give this topic the thought it deserves, and change their behavior accordingly, I’d stop writing after making the following statement:
Consider that regular business email, the stuff that I will read simply because you sent it, comes with an implied contract based on mutual respect. Then remember that once my respect for you has been earned, that you have to prevent me from losing it.
Since I get so much email, from so many sources, let me offer a few general guidelines to make those emails better:
Size matters – I had a chemistry professor who required written lab reports but thought they should be factual. In warning against long explanations in lieu of facts – he used to say “remember, the longer the wronger!” It’s the same with email. A single paragraph business communication will be appreciated. A couple of paragraphs will be tolerated and a multi-page monologue will probably be ignored.
Don’t be a jerk – This sounds like so much common sense, but it’s easy to look like a jerk in email. Unless you want to look like a jerk, reread your message before you click send. Think about whether what you wrote will be understood in the absence of facial expressions, tone of voice and that precious act of reaching out to touch my shoulder. By the way, if you don’t want to reread it because it’s so long, refer to the previous paragraph.
I have an inbox – After you send your email, continue not being a jerk by not calling me, texting me or visiting me to ask me: “Did you get the email I just sent?”
Some subjects are better left out of the inbox – If you are dancing around a sensitive issue, delete the email, walk down to hall, or pick up the phone and make personal contact.
Stop crying wolf – Remember that I can sort my email by sender, so I can see if there are patterns in the email that you send. If 2/3’s of your subject lines include “Important” or “Must read” maybe you need to think about the way you organize, schedule and prioritize your work/day/life.
If you find yourself saying “this is good advice for most people, but it doesn’t work in my situation,” maybe you need to think a little harder about your situation and about the nature of email.
One subject – one thought – I know it’s not a text message, but email shouldn’t be a sermon and it absolutely shouldn’t be a lecture. If you have three complex points to make about a subject, schedule a meeting to discuss your thoughts. This works better because I can communicate my boredom with my facial expression and I can point out when your first assumption is wrong and therefore you should stop blathering.
Email is not a presentation – Forget the “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them” mantra that is supposed to set you up to make a great speech. Just tell me what you want me to know in short, grammatically correct sentences – preferably less than 5. If you are thinking about including graphics, drop the “s” – limit yourself to one graphic.
Note: I added this next rule in response to Microsoft’s addition of the Screen Clipping tool into Outlook.
Remain in media – If you are reading my document, reviewing my presentation or testing my spreadsheet, use the features built into Office on the Review Ribbon instead of artfully crafting a treasure map of arrows and text boxes for me to follow. This should also help you comply with the ‘one graphic’ rule.
Oh, one last thought, particularly if you are still clinging to the notion that you or your emails are somehow special and should be exempt from these rules: If I wouldn’t need to be in the room when you told somebody this critical information in person, please leave me off the CC line.
Of all the things that technology has all but removed from our lives, the giving and receiving of directions is the one I have the most trouble getting used to. I’m good with not needing to write letters, look numbers up in a phone book, or lug a bunch of 8-tracks, cassettes or CD’s around in my car. I love my GPS (her name is Greta), but I miss the distinctly human practice of giving directions. I knew that at some point, I would be writing a “back in my day” post, and I guess that point is now.
I am like my father, who would always give you directions by landmark instead of highway exits and route numbers. Instead of “take I-79 to Rt-50,” he would say “go down (Interstate) 79 and get off like you’re going to Bobby’s gas station.” Making matters worse, he didn’t limit himself to existing landmarks; he once gave me directions that included the phrase “…and keep going until you get to where old-man Bedner’s barn used to be, then turn left” (the barn had burned down years before).
If you have ever looked at the ‘About’ page, you know that this blog gets its name from a stretch of the as yet unimproved I-79 near Morgantown, West Virginia where I went to college. Of course, “unimproved” is relative; in 1973, the West Virginia Turnpike was a two-lane undivided highway separated by a common passing lane in some sections. It wasn’t necessary to get on I-79 to get to my apartment; but on the day that I was moving in, the directions the landlord had given me began with “you’ll come into town on 19, then get on the new highway” and proceeded from there. “19” referred to US-19, a piece of torturous highway that wound its way through the Allegheny Mountains and remained the road of choice for my father long after I-79 made it unnecessary. My trip began without a map; stay on Rt-19 until you cross into WV, get on I-79 and then follow the directions.
I probably wouldn’t have been able to find a map in Pittsburgh that included street level detail of Morgantown, WV even if I had tried. Maps were generally available (for free with a few gallons of gas) for the area you were in, and the highways in between you and your next likely destination; once you got there, you would get another map. I drove across the US and back across Canada using that system, and it worked pretty well. One of my favorite “map moments” occurred when my wife and I were still dating. We had gotten lost and as we thought about heading home, she somewhat sarcastically said “I don’t suppose you even have a map in this car.” I seized the moment to surprise her with my Exxon Map of the Eastern United States. Of course, that map, showing the US from the Mississippi River east, included the dozen or so major highways in CT, none of which we knew how to get to.
Getting lost has never been panic inducing event for me, partly because I get lost a lot, and partly because the act of getting lost has so often resulted in a surprising new find. After my wife and I drove around a while, we followed a stream of traffic and ended up at the Haddam Neck Fair. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we have returned to that fair many times on Labor Day weekends. On another occasion, when returning to our house from a friend’s in central CT, we took the wrong turn near Riverton, CT and ended up circumnavigating the Barkhamsted reservoir. We were lost for sure, but we enjoyed the ride. With the advent of GPS, driving has become a transaction, not an adventure – although I am still capable of making it an adventure as my family and friends will attest to. I have the ability to misunderstand the GPS directions, especially on Rt-128 near Waltham, MA.
…continue ¾ of a mile, then turn left where the barn used to be
My wife still prefers paper maps, and she has a small collection of detailed books of street maps. She is a route-number traveler, something I will never understand. She prefers having a sense of the entire journey before we start driving. She’s not fond of my GPS, and less fond of the fact that I listen to Greta but I don’t always listen to her. The fact that I manage to get lost while using the GPS isn’t helping the adoption process. I look forward to the day when my GPS will be so sophisticated and have so much memory that I will be able to choose Landmark Style instructions and hear the female British voice say: “continue ¾ of a mile, then turn left where the barn used to be.”
When I was growing up, my father was pretty clear when explaining what you should and shouldn’t say about yourself. For instance, you didn’t say you were a hard worker, you worked hard. You didn’t say you were honest, you were honest and you didn’t say you were a good friend; you just tried to be a good friend. He would remind me that: “those are things you want others to say about you.” As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been purging a few dead, dying and infected branches in my social media network. I am being careful not to delete people I might still want to follow, so I’ve been checking profiles and recent tweets. I’ve noticed something about the people I am deleting – they didn’t know my father.
Below is a list of words and expressions I have found in the profiles of some of the people I have selected to stop following on Twitter. Some of these words are acceptable some times, but they always seem to cause an alarm bell to go off when I read them. Here’s my list of words my father might have told you to avoid:
Author – Really? I follow some authors, but if you pen a blog, a couple of blogs or write a company newsletter, I don’t consider you to be an author. If you are currently working with an editor, a publisher or if you have self-published something that wasn’t on WordPress, Blogger, Tmblr or other such platforms, maybe you’re an author. If the word author is preceded by “published” or “best-selling” or if you regularly have articles in magazines, newspapers or other press, then you’re an author. The act of writing doesn’t make you an author any more than the act of cooking dinner makes you a chef.
Thought leader – Nope, sorry, this is not something you can say about yourself, and don’t even think about dropping the word “thought” and trying that again. You can use the word “leader” in conjunction with a Scout Troop, a Platoon, a group of firemen, or in any other context in which you have been appointed to lead, but you cannot apply this word to yourself.
Creative – Well, you weren’t very creative in your use of 140 characters. Tell me what you do, point me to your work and let me decide if you’re creative. You can say “I enjoy finding creative solutions” or “I am part of a creative process…” but as for being creative I don’t think that’s for you to decide.
Innovator – What’s the last thing you introduced to the world? Why haven’t I heard about you before you started following me and why can’t I find any of your innovations when I search on your name?
Entrepreneur – OK, this one is tricky but in general, I don’t think owning your own business, being self-employed or being unemployed qualifies you to be called an entrepreneur.
Actualizer –This is just stupid.
Evangelist – I’m not going to be too hard on the people who refer to themselves as a (insert technology here) evangelist, as I know it has become an actual title in some companies. I’m guessing that the people who started using this word for this purpose have never been to a real revival with a real evangelist. I have and I would never waste this word or the level of passion it implies on a Microsoft product, and I would never elevate any technology or product to the level of the subject of true evangelism.
Expert – This word always gives me pause. Maybe you are an expert, maybe it’s important for your customers to know that, but as soon as I see the word, those bells start ringing. Do you really need to tell me that? You have 140 characters to use; I think you could pick something else that you want me to know about you?
Critical Thinker – Yeah, see if you were a critical thinker, I think you would have thought about how pompous this would sound in your profile and you might have just said that you try to be serious and thoughtful.
Third Person – Profiles written in the third person are just creepy – “Dan has been writing this blog since 2011” – see, creepy.
Inspiring – The sunrise is inspiring, you can’t use this word without prefacing it with “trying to be”, “hope to be”, or “I wish I was”. You might be inspiring, but you shouldn’t be the one to tell me.
Amazing – Mostly I’ve been focusing on words I don’t think people should use. This is one that companies shouldn’t use either. If your products are amazing, point me to a place where your customers are saying that.
That’s my list for now, your mileage may vary.
When I am traveling alone, I normally look for a restaurant where I can eat at the bar. Sitting, eating and drinking at a bar isn’t rocket-science, but there are certain expectations and a person who disregards one of these, stands out very quickly. I added one to my list last night and I realized that I have 8. Since this is the second time I’m posting a list of 8-Things, I should give credit to John Mancini for the concept; thanks John!
Respect what you don’t appreciate – I think the first time I started taking note of these violations was in Boston, while eating dinner at Jacob Wirth’s. I like Sam Adams, and Jacob Wirth’s has a variety of Sam brews along with about 40 other great beers on tap. While I was sitting at the bar, this guy and his girlfriend squeeze in next to me and the guy orders a Miller Lite. The bartender explained that they only have Bud Light on tap. The guy nudged me on the shoulder and said, in a condescending tone: “someone told me they had a good beer selection here”.
Understand that the home team / home sport rules – I have lived by this rule since my father refused to serve an Oakland Raiders fan in the bar that he worked in near Pittsburgh. This was in the 1970’s, and the back wall of the bar was a large print picture of the Steel Curtain. After ordering a beer, this guy started talking about how good the Raiders were. My father dumped the beer down the drain and when the guy complained, he pointed to the sign allowing them to refuse service to anyone. He said “if this is how you talk when you’re sober, I don’t want to see you drunk in this bar because it won’t end well.”
I add “home sport” because my favorite bar in NY is the Molly Wee Pub, and there’s always a soccer game on and a few soccer fans in the room. I know better than to ask them to switch to baseball.
Don’t get me wrong, wear your team gear; root for your team if the game is on, even if they are playing the local favorite. Just don’t start trash-talking without reason.
If you sit at the bar, be prepared to talk – One of the best things about sitting at the bar, is the chance conversations you are likely to have. I have met some of the nicest people at bars. Memorable conversations include a political discussion with a man who had been on Bobby Kennedy’s campaign staff, a discussion of automotive fasteners with a mechanical engineer; war stories from a consultant in my field and a conversation with a truck driver from Pittsburgh that kept us at the hotel bar long enough for me to forget what room I was in. People who refuse to talk at a bar should be made to sit alone at a table.
Take a chance, buy a round – If you sit at a bar often enough, you will develop a sense about who to buy a drink for. Note: I’m not talking about picking up men/women, just conversation. The best person I ever bought a round for was Brad Lewis, author of “Celebrity Gangster” among other great books. Brad and the bartender were discussing how much/little scotch the guy had poured when I offered to pay for the scotch if they would shut up. $14 later, Brad had his Macallan’s and I had begun an interesting friendship.
This rule also applies to bartenders. The Molly Wee, Jacob Wirth’s and my favorite bar, Tunxis Grill are all places where you might be treated to a round on the house.
Quick patron rule – Bar stools are like urinals. Unless the bar is crowded, leave some space.
Quick bartender rule – If you aren’t one of those great bartenders who just knows what I want, wait for me to tell you that I’m ready for another or that I’m ready for the check. This was inspired by a hotel bartender who kept asking me, starting with my first beer: “will that be all sir?”
Crowed bar etiquette – Don’t spread out 2 of last 3 stools and then put your pocketbooks on the 3rd one. That’s what the hook is for. If you don’t want someone sitting next to you, sit at a table.
3-Part Karaoke rule – I wasn’t at this dinner but the story inspired the rule the moment I heard it from a friend. 1) Don’t go to a bar that features Karaoke. 2) Don’t volunteer to sing. 3) If you’re male and you broke parts one and two, don’t sing “Dancing Queen by Abba”
Feel free to add your own rules below.
I was at a meeting recently where the conversation drifted back and forth between innovation and history. Several of the speakers were talking about innovation, including Tom Soderstrom, CTO, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Jill Singer, CIO, National Reconnaissance Office. The memorable statements included Tom identifying his “favorite satellite” and Jill pointing out that “in the 80’s our enemies were easy to find and hard to kill. Today they are hard to find but easy to kill.” She added that “kill” doesn’t always mean, you know, kill. Statements like this prompted discussions and it was easy to determine those of us that remember the Soviet Union launching Sputnik and the dark days of the cold war when “killing” our enemies more than likely also meant destroying the Earth.
Innovation, invention and progress in general are happening so fast, that the spectrum of experience is very broad and reactions vary from “wow!” to “what good is that without…?” I wanted to capture some of the things that came up in conversation and a few others that just seem to be important to me. I can’t cover the entire list in one blog post, hence the title, but I have to start somewhere.
Automotive Electronics – I’m not talking about heated car seats (which apparently aren’t new) or satellite radio or my car’s ability to play songs from my iPhone via Bluetooth. I could live without all of those. I might even hope that one of our enemies would target the Sirius satellite(s). I am talking about electronic ignition and electronic fuel injection. I remember the days when pitted or improperly gapped points meant that you weren’t going anywhere without lifting the hood and owning a small file. I also remember my Dodge Coronet that had such a chronic choke problem that I had to carry an alligator clip in the glove compartment to pin the choke plate on the carburetor open.
Variable Speed Drills – I could have easily gone with Cordless Drills, which have become one of my favorite tools, but without variable speed, you can’t use a drill to drive a fastener. The ability to vary the speed of hand-held power tools not only lets us drive screws, it also lets us start holes without wandering all over, and ruining the surface, and when adapted to jig saws, to start cuts in material that we would have previously avoided without first drilling a pilot hole.
Scientific Calculators – I was around when the basic add-subtract-multiply-divide calculators hit the market. In fact, I had a friend who received one for Christmas when they were selling for $110! I could handle basic math in my head well enough to live without one of those devices, but the ability to perform trig functions, calculate square and cube roots and to convert between Base-10 and Hex are greatly appreciated. I most recently used the OpenStack scientific calculator on my iPhone to square up the 16’ stringers for a ramp I was building – the square root of (1922 + 44.6252) not being something I am comfortable doing in my head. Of course, my first scientific calculator replaced my slide rule, but it went way beyond that; it put the power of memory in my pocket. Granted, it was only the ability to remember one number [MC] for use later [MR], but that made it much easier to use the calculator without also using a pad and pencil.
Instant Replay – I don’t know that I would go as far as this article and say that:
“Prior to instant replay, it was almost impossible to portray the essence of a football game on television”
but I can’t imagine watching a game without it. This feature came into our living room when TV was a choice between ABC, NBC, CBS and WQED (PBS before Big Bird), and if you didn’t see it live, you didn’t see it. Cable TV brought more choices, and eliminated having to adjust the antennae, VCR’s introduced time shifting, remote control eliminated having to move, but none of those compare to Instant Replay.
Digital Photography – Along the same lines as Instant Replay, digital photography saved the day for me by allowing me to get the picture I wanted. Not only can I afford to take 10 shots to get one good one, I can avoid altogether the chance that I will take 10 bad pictures. If you haven’t had the experience of throwing away the pictures from an entire roll of film, you don’t love your digital camera enough.
What’s your favorite? – I hope you see the trend here. These aren’t just inventions, automotive electronics stems from the same inventions that later brought us laptops and cell phones. These are the uses of innovation and inventions that made a significant difference (between going and not going) in my life. Please add anything you feel this way about as a comment. I’ll include it in subsequent versions of this list or into the eventual separate page this is bound to turn into.
One of the gifts we always exchange at Christmas is calendars. Two staples in our house are an Irish Setter calendar and a Tuxedo Cat calendar. In addition to that are page-a-day calendars featuring Dilbert, Pearls Before Swine and, of course, the Pittsburgh Steelers. If we are to take the advice of researchers at Johns Hopkins, we could stop buying calendars forever – my, what a dumb idea!
What really amazes me about this idea is the pure juxtaposition of technology and time. Over 400 years, ago, people figured out how to adapt the calendar to match the passage of time as the Earth orbits the Sun. Today, armed with devices that are actually capable of doing date-math, we are advocating reducing accuracy in favor of something that, allegedly, is “far more convenient.”
“Everybody has to redo their calendars,” … “For sports schedules, for schools, for every damn thing. It’s completely unnecessary.”
That quote found in the article in Scientific American reminds me of the commercials for those oddball devices for washing your feet, or stirring your soup or grating cheese, more than anything that resembles scientific research. Seriously, how hard is it to “redo your calendar?” My Outlook calendar lets me schedule events on the same day, the same weekday, the same frequency between days, every other Tuesday, and any number of odd combinations I can dream up. In fact, I don’t do anything on a regular basis that my calendar hasn’t been able to accommodate. Further, I can’t begin to count the ways that their argument, that it would somehow be better if events always fell on the same day (“Christmas would always be on a Sunday”), is stupid. Even if you ignore the Christian bias in making our holiday always fall on a Sunday, and the impact that would have on every other faith’s calendar driven events, who wants Christmas to always be on a Sunday? I love it when Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on a Thursday or a Tuesday and we get back-to-back 4-day weekends. Also, if Christmas is always on a Sunday, then my birthday will always be on a Monday – that’s just dandy.
The other thing that amazes me about this article is the notion that a calendar that is always the same would somehow be more business friendly. In the article the author talks about having to “update lecture dates and syllabi” every year, a task that seems relatively trivial to me, as being part of the inspiration for this cockamamie notion. Well, that might be useful to college professors, but most businesses don’t seem to be calendar-challenged in that particular way. We have month-end’s, quarter-end’s, year-end’s, but we don’t publish a syllabus. Since 30 and 31, the only number of days in the months in this new calendar, are not evenly divisible by 7, it’s not like month-end would always be on a Monday or a Friday. The truly weird part of this idea, when considering business impact, is proposed way of handling the loss of Leap Day.
“To account for extra time, (the professors) drop leap years and instead create a “leap week” at the end of December every five or six years. This extra week, dubbed “Xtr”…”
First off, these guys are pretty bad at math. We have a Leap Day every four years, with the added complication of century years being evenly divisible by 400, but I digress. A week’s worth of extra days wouldn’t be necessary for 28 years by my calculation, not every five or six. The big question for business would be “do we have to pay our employees during Xtr week?” If yes, what fiscal year would that fall into, what tax year, what benefit year. If I am about to use up my allotment of 20 Physical Therapy visits, do I have to skip that week or can we start the new counter? Does that week fall into the fourth-quarter numbers? Will shareholders understand the increase/decrease in quarter-to-quarter sales or year-to-year comparisons? Since that week will fall between Christmas and New Year’s Day, are we extending the holiday vacation for school children? That might be a nice idea for a college professor, but what about the millions of people paying for daycare?
I think the thing that truly repulses me about this concept is that, despite being armed with modern day technology, we would advocate convenience over accuracy. Changing from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar required losing 10 days from the calendar and took hundreds of years to be adopted to the degree that it is adopted today – hard work, to say the least. Today, with a gazillion appliances telling us what day it is, and atomic clocks telling us the time with accuracy down to one one-millionth of a second, why we would opt to be out of sync with our orbit by fractions of a week for years at a time? Why don’t we just get a few geeks together in a room and write an App for generating syllabi?
The following are all adaptations of statements in news conferences, articles, text messages and web-based responses to the power outage that followed Storm Alfred by CT’s largest electric utility.
Our goal is to pay 99% of our bills on time. This does not mean that your bill will be paid on time. Your bill may be paid before it is due or it may be paid after the due date. We are doing everything we can to expedite the paying of our bills.
We have asked some of our out-of-state relatives to help us pay our bills this month. They have promised to help by sending us any money that is left over after they help other relatives in other states. We are disappointed in the response by our relatives. Some say it’s because we never repaid them the previous loans they have made, but they should understand that we fully intend to pay them.
Please understand that the electric bill we haven’t paid is much larger than we expected it to be. We knew the bill was coming, and we were here while all the electricity was being used, and my wife said “we sure are using a lot of electricity” but we still never expected that the bill would be this high.
We are currently assessing the status of all the bills we have received, along with that of our bank account.
We have deployed all of the funds that are available to us for paying bills.
We are aware of unpaid bills from your company. At this time, estimates as to when your bill will be paid are not available.
Non-payments are currently affecting 35 vendor(s) that service this household. We are working to pay these bills safely and quickly. Thank you for your patience.
This month’s electric bill is the largest such bill to arrive at this household since the 1600’s. This is unprecedented and we are doing everything we can to deal with this situation.
We are confident that we normally have the right amount of funds on hand to handle our monthly bills. To always have more funds available to pay bills would mean that those funds would often be idle, when they could be doing things like taking us on vacation, buying meals at restaurants and buying new clothes. However, we do need to do a better job of finding people to help us pay our bills when, as in this case, the amount of the bill is totally unexpected.
Please take a look at this video on our YouTube site that illustrates how hard it is for us to pay our monthly bills.
There are no reported unpaid bills for your company at this time. If other customers in our area have paid their bills, but we have not, please send a text with UNPAID and we will do our best to restore payment to your bill.