Monday, July 31, 2006

Hello Darth

A photoshopped Hello Kitty Darth Vader.

An obscure and unexpected job

The International Badminton Federation has an official bird flu spokesman, according to this article about the dire effect of the Bird Flu on production of badminton birdies.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

junior varsity airlines

there are some major airlines i won't fly because i think their operations are poorly conducted and/or their customer service is abysmal: US airways, alaska airlines, america west, ata, frontier. i will happily fly jet blue, america airlines, united, delta, continental or southwest. i prefer not to fly northwest, but i'm not adamant about it.

recently i bought a plane ticket to a remote location across the country, necessitating travel on two airlines: american airlines and a podunk one. i bought the ticket through expedia, and they had to issue me a paper ticket, since Podunk Air doesn't do e-tickets. when i unexpectedly had to change the return date, i found out that my ticket had been issued by a third airline, US airways (note its inclusion on the above list of airlines i don't patronize). because there isn't time for me to return the tickets to expedia by mail, they told me i had to go to the airline ticket counter. expedia customer service gave a confirmation number for american. i called american, who told me i needed to call US airways. US airways told me i had to go to the ticket counter and the closest one is at LAX. after stewing over the hassle of getting to LAX, i called US airways back to ask if they could tell me the cost of changing my ticket when i get to the airport. they couldn't even find my ticket from the information on my paper ticket, my credit card, my flights, anything. exasperated, i called expedia back to complain about having to deal with a company i hate. they told me two things.

one, you can't know in advance who is issuing your ticket when you buy it through expedia. if you fly on one airline, usually that airline issues your ticket. if you fly on two, there is a chance that a third will be the issuer. dude, how much does that suck?

two, i can change my ticket when i get to the airport for my departure. five calls is too much. i'm sure i'm in for more hassle when i get to the airport and have to go to the US airways counter before i depart on american airlines.

the levels of customer service met my expectations: for my two calls to expedia, one service person was competent and helpful and the other was not; my call to american was handled well; and both my calls to US airways were handled badly, curtly and incompetently.

in the future, i don't know what to do. this is a route i fly at least once per year. i could buy two separate tickets directly from the airlines, but then i couldn't change them together, they wouldn't coordinate delayed flights for me, and i couldn't check my baggage through. there used to be a major airline that flew to Podunk; maybe next year one will be back. or maybe i'll fly into the nearest metropolis and take surface transport, which would take at least four hours.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Angelenos love exercise

HC left me a voice mail to report sighting an exercise video being played in a minivan. All occupants appeared to be seated.

On proprietary reagents

I tell authors that 'proprietary' is another term for 'not fit for serious scientific work'
Clifford B. Saper, Harvard Medical School, writing in Nature 442, 353(27 July 2006)

Saturday, July 22, 2006


"Mommies are boring"

This conversation has been around a few bends, from here (where you can find a link to the original if you wish) to harri3t via rs. It inspired this following rant of mine, originally written as a comment to harri3t.

I agree with what harri3t said:
"But I don't think it's stay-at-home moms who are to blame. It's people in general. And it's not really that they're boring, but that you are bored because there is not enough of a connection."
It's certainly been true in my scores of jobs-that-were-not-callings, where I wasn't inherently interested in the subject of my work. In each type of job I was thrown in with a different group. With lawyers and people who work at law firms, I often had one set of things in common; with people who worked in construction, another. As harri3t suggests, unless we had something in common that we both cared about, the interactions tended toward the insipid. Of course, if you ask someone something outside of strollers, billable hours or subcontractors, sometimes you find something of interest you didn't know you both cared about. The construction workers were, as a rule, more fun and more interesting than the law firm people. Of course, the construction crowd were also better people, but that doesn't say anything in particular about construction workers.*

*Lawyer-bashing is an easy bandwagon to jump on. I gave years of my life to working with lawyers, and I'm confident that my assessment reflects my experience. There are, of course, exceptions. Similarly, I am aware of the historically patronizing glorification of the working class, but again I stand by my perceptions.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

from the "i was drunk at the time" archive

what does it say that I have to be drunk to read myself?
-mimi smartypants

Monday, July 17, 2006

Friday, July 14, 2006

Why I hate LA, reason # 4,823,230

"L.A.'s way too crazy and wild a place to be pulling people over for talking on their phones," said Charles "C.J." Jacobson of Sherman Oaks, a producer of TV commercials. "Maybe there should be a permit system. There's a slew of professionals who need to use cellphones in cars. But soccer moms don't need to be doing it.",0,4543915.story?coll=la-home-headlines

promoted from comment:
"People who do important shit, like me, should be able to use them. People whose children just got hit in the face by a soccer ball during a game have their damn nerve," said Mr. Pompous (PA) Asshat.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

upstaged by pieces of wood

Last weekend, I went to see Pirates of the Carribean. It was preceded by surpassingly* bad service at a pho restaurant that served reasonably good food. I enjoyed the movie, although I think it would have done better to have a more cohesive overall plot and at least a semi-ending. Here's a wonderful sentence from a review of the film that embodies a sentiment that had been lurking below the surface of my consciousness:
Mr. Bloom, as is his custom, leaps about, trying to overcome his incurable blandness, and is upstaged by special effects, musical cues, octopus tentacles and pieces of wood.
* RS prefers "exceptionally."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Formerly Anusol

Anusol! This cracked me up at the store the other day.

(Picture from flickr)

Clever/sad: jury-rigged wheelchair

the other day I saw a grey haired man pushing a white haired woman in a supermarket shopping cart that had been modified to serve as a wheelchair.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

uniquely human mental powers are due to...

There is no shortage of one-line theories of human nature.
-Paul Bloom, reviewing Changing Our Minds by Bruce E. Wexlerin Nature 442, 27-28 (6 July 2006)

This resonates with me, because we all love reduction. Complex ideas, even among scientists, are unpopular.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006