Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I recently took a quickie work trip up to Toronto, Canada, and while sitting on the plane observing the stewardesses, err, flight attendants, I couldn't help but notice how incredibly anal they are about seat belts. They are so concerned with it, it has its own special light-up indicator above every seat and its own special little ding.

"Please keep your seat belt fastened during take-off until the indicator is turned off." "Please keep your seat belt fastened until the plane is through taxiing and at a complete stop." "Ooh, turbulence...everyone back in their seats immediately and fasten seat belt, NOW!"

I'm convinced there is some ulterior motive for the seat belt nazism. Because I mean let's face it...whilst on a flight one of two things is going to happen. A) The flight will go normally with the possibility of a little turbulence, none of which warrants actually wearing a seat belt. Or B) the plane crashes in a fiery blaze and everyone dies, seat belt or no. That's it. That's all that ever happens. So why the absolutely colossal waste of time with all the lights and dings and announcements? It just doesn't add up...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I was listening to the radio the other morning and heard an add for something known as the International Star Registry. I decided to write about it because I would like to shake the hand of the guy who came up with this scam. Nice work, my man...pure genius. For only $54 you get a freaking star named after you! How great is that?

I'm devising a copycat endeavor as I write. For only $29.95, a steal compared to that expensive star stuff, you can get a grain of sand named after you, complete with certificate of authenicity and a photo of the beach where your grain resides. Or for $19.95, an H2O molecule in the ocean of your choice. This is gonna be HUGE!

As a sidenote...I wonder if you get a discount if your star goes supernova? :)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Whenever I watch a video about Iraq I inevitably hear a soldier or some other military type mispronounce the word "cache" as "cashay" instead of just plain ol' "cash". As in, "We found the insurgent's weapons cashay." I've looked it up at least a half dozen times to verify that cashay is not some obscure alternate pronunciation that I was unaware of. And you know what I found? It's not.

So how does this happen? What is the explanation for this spontaneous mass mispronunciation phenomenon? My theory is that dumb-guy-A listens to prone-to-mispronounce-guy-B and then questions his own way of pronouncing a given word. Rather than look it up, dumb-guy-A starts to say it the wrong way, and then dumb-guy-C hears. And it snowballs from there until easily-annoyed-guy-D (me) hears it on CNN and is bothered enough to write a blog entry about it. :) I would love to hear alternative theories...

One other thing has been bothering me. It's December now and the stores are bombarding us with "seasonal" candy. Seasonal is a nice way of saying "only sells because of perceived affiliation with Christmas". A perfect example of a seasonal candy - the Candy Cane.

It's not a coincidence that the cane of candy is nowhere to be found in July. It's not that the candy cane is an uninspiring shaft of sugar, however, that I've chosen to write about it. What irks me most is the way they've chosen to package it. Innovative, year-round candies are constantly giving us new and exciting ways to minimize the "inside package" to "inside mouth" time. Simply pull this nifty red tab and watch as the packaging unravels effortlessly to reveal the now readily accessible goodies inside. That's technology at work, ladies and gentlemen...that's progress!

Alas, the candy cane makers have opted to remain in the packaging stone-age. You'll find no convenient pull-tab on these beasts, no reclosable slot/tab combo, no high-tech zip lock action, but rather a simple shrink-wrapping so tight that a wrapped cane and an unwrapped cane are virtually indistinguishable. Once you start the unwrapping process you'll find that seasonal candy must be mandated to use cheap cellophane that has this bizarre impossibly strong, incredibly weak characteristic duality which is somehow able to manifest itself at precisely the most inopportune times.

For example, the stuff is kevlar-esque when you first get a mind to break into it...but rather than just slip off the cane with one pull, it quickly loses all prior strength and you end up peeling it rather like a banana...only with an invisible peel. It's only once you begin to eat the candy cane and discover the cellophane shrapnel in your mouth that you realize that your peeling job was not thorough.

The real irony to this, however, is that there really are no fruits resulting from your labors, so to speak. Candy canes just aren't good. But I will leave the infamous cane's taste leaving something to be desired for a different post. :)

Friday, December 02, 2005

I'm sure you've heard the quote "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics." Listening to the radio this morning I heard a seat belt statistic that made me think of this quote and about how you really need to think about what a statistic means. Here's what they said:

"53% of car accident fatalities were not wearing their seat belt." Your first reaction might be, "oooh, 53%, that's a pretty big chunk, they should have been wearing their seat belt!" But think about it a little more. 53%, with a +/- 3% margin of error, which is pretty standard, is for all intents and purposes the same as 50%. So in other words, 50% of car accident fatalities WERE wearing their seat belt. So what does that tell us? If half of fatalities were wearing a seat belt and half were not, then what that tells me is that wearing a seat belt has a NEGLIGIBLE effect on your survivability in a serious traffic accident.

As it turns out I happen to be a fan of the seat belt as it probably saved me from injury about a year ago when I had a head-on collision, but I just thought this was an interesting example of a misleading statistic, whether they meant it to be or not.