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Pointless remarks - Paul's blog

Archive for the ‘Pointless remarks’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Name that Thing

I’m always fascinated by the Arizona landscape, when we fly over it on our annual trip to Las Vegas.
This year, however, was the first time that I noticed a big crater, a little south of where we were flying, to my feeling not too far from Flagstaff.
I knew there was a big meteor crater in Arizona somewhere and figured this had to be the one.
I just looked it up, and yes, it was the one!
.. learned some interesting facts about it.
I was also intrigued by its official name. Guess what it’s called?
Its official name is:

Meteor Crater.

You may think that this makes sense: calling ‘a’ meteor crater: Meteor Crater.
As it turns out, it is NOT called Meteor Crater, because it is, well, a meteor crater.
Names of natural features are determined by the “US Department of the Interior Division of Names”.
And the “US Department of the Interior Division of Names” has a simple formula for deriving such names: they simply use the name of the post office closest to the natural feature in question.
So, if this post office’s name would have been, say, “Canyon Diablo”, then the crater would now officially have been called “Canyon Diablo Crater”.
Which wouldn’t have been such a bad thing, because that’s exactly what the crater WAS called, before the “US Department of the Interior Division of Names” felt it necessary to change its name to the name of a nearby post office.
And, as it so happened, the name of the post office nearest to this meteor crater was, you guessed it: “Meteor”. Why this post office, located right next to a meteor crater, was called Meteor, is not hard to guess.

So, here we are, with a crater called after a post office, which derived its name from that very same crater.
A bit of a chicken-or-egg situation, although, unlike THAT proverbial problem, we DO know what came first. And even WHEN: some 50,000 years ago, and it wasn’t the post office.

So, what did I learn from all this?
That, apparently, post offices have names.

PostHeaderIcon Not EVERYONE is giving up their horses

PostHeaderIcon Announcement

My long anticipated class “dealing with disappointments” has been canceled.

PostHeaderIcon Quote

‚ÄúAll my faults are stress related‚ÄĚ

— Plate Tectonics, 2009



PostHeaderIcon A Spousal Conversation (3)

Saturday morning; my wife and her daughter are leaving the house to hit the stores.

She (in Schwarzenegger/Terminator voice): “I’ll be back.”

Me (standard response): “Then I’ll be Beethoven.”

Me (Nosy): “Where are you going?”

She: “To Sam’s and Dillards.”

Me: *The Look*

She: “We’re NOT gonna buy anything! We’re just gonna look. BYE”

1 minute later. She’s back.

She: “I forgot something.”

Me (nosy): “What did you forget?”

She: “My wallet.”

Me (insufferable smarty pants): “You don’t need a wallet if you’re not gonna buy anything!”

She (lovingly dealing with smarty-pant-ism): *smack*

PostHeaderIcon Panic

Tomorrow I’ll be headed to San Antonio, Texas, to join my wife who’s there for business, and to visit some good friends.
I know that there are rumors that the one and only true reason for my trip to San Antonio is an opportunity to raid the various local Half Price Book stores, but I, of course, have to deny these slanderous and vile rumors: the fact that I travel with a ridiculously large, yet almost empty suitcase for just four days is merely incidental.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to meeting my friends.

What I’m most certainly NOT looking forward to, is the actual flight.

I have always been fascinated by flying and airplanes.

However, ever since my maiden flight, in 1973, in an old tail dragger over the skies of that sorry excuse for a North Sea resort town, Skegness, Lincolnshire, England, flown by a seemingly deaf, blind and dumb WWI veteran, complete with stuttering engine, to the more comfortable trips in Boeing ‘Jumbo’ 747’s¬†of such respectable companies like KLM, Quantas. Garuda en Singapore Airlines, I have been ambivalent about being the actual subject of transportation in these otherwise fascinating flying machines.

Yes, while at different times at different levels of intensity, I suffer from fear of flying.

Unlike most people with phobias, I don’t think my fear is particularly unreasonable or irrational!

Let’s face it: these things DO crash from time to time!

Sometimes I wonder about all those tens of thousands of people who, on any given day, voluntarily board an airplane.
Don’t they see the risk?

Are ALL those people of the mistaken but extremely popular opinion, that, yes, planes DO crash, but this, as by a law of nature, always happens exclusively to ‘other people’?

While this statement has been true, especially for me, so far … am I the only one who sees the fallacy in such a notion?
Don’t they see that there IS a risk that THEY will die in a crash?
True, the odds are firmly against it, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Do they simply dismiss the risk based on its low odds?

But don’t these same people buy lottery tickets, hoping to become overnight millionaires on even worse odds?

Okay, admitted, that’s maybe not a good example: the ‘bad’ outcomes of each ‘bet’ aren’t really in the same ball park: losing a few bucks by ‘not winning the lottery’ isn’t nearly as life altering as dying in a fiery plane crash.

And here I am, pondering all this, knowing full well, come tomorrow, that I’ll take a deep breath, drive to the airport, park my car, check in, buy a Scientific American, eat the traditional hot dog at the food stand between gates 123 and 125 in Terminal A, and finally board that plane… accepting my fate, “playing the odds”…

PostHeaderIcon … Another spousal conversation


… just not one of mine …

… but it certainly and easily could have been one!

The following is a quote from a book I just finished (and recommended earlier: this is how chapter 21 starts in “The Black Hole War” by the renowned theoretical (theoradical!) physicist Leonard Susskind).

I post it here, because this is a perfect example of the type of conversations my wife and I sometimes have.

One morning, when I went down to breakfast, my wife Anne, remarked that my T-shirt was on backwards; the V shape woven into the fabric was in the back. Later in the day, when I came home from a jog, she laughed and said: “Now it’s inside out.” That set me to thinking: how many ways are there to wear a T-shirt? Anne mockingly said, “That’s the sort of stupid thing you physicists are always thinking about.” Just to prove my superior cleverness, I quickly declared that there are 24 ways to wear a T-shirt. You can stick your head through any of 4 holes. That leaves 3 holes for your torso. Having picked a neck hole and a torso hole, that leaves 2 possibilities for your left arm. Once you decide where your left arm goes, there is only one choice for your¬† right arm. So that means 4 x 3 x 2 = 12 ways to choose from. But then you can turn the shirt inside out, giving another 12, so I proudly announced that I had solved the problem: 24 ways to wear a T-shirt. Anne was not impressed. She replied, “No, there are 25 ways. You forgot one.” Puzzled I asked, “What did I miss?” With a look that would freeze hell, she said, “You can roll it in a ball and shove it …” You get the idea 1.

1. Since writing this, Anne has discovered at least 10 more ways to wear a T-shirt.

Sometimes … you just can’t win.

PostHeaderIcon It was 40 years ago to day …

Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play …¬†¬†

Anyway, I promised to post here a picture of myself with long hair, if and when my bluddy Rob would post a picture of his recent, partly self-administered and self-maintained, crew cut.

He kept his side of the deal here: http://lagesse.org/the-crew-cut-photo/

So, here’s my part of the deal … (This was when I was a teenager and thought I knew it all … oh wait, I still do!).


PostHeaderIcon Inspired by some spam I just received

If you can’t read this, click here

PostHeaderIcon Drugs

Propofol sedation colonoscopyHave you ever ‘done’ ‘Penquin Milk’ also known as ‘White Out’, which, like the typo removal stuff is white and takes you ‘out’ fast?

I’m talking about C12H18O.

It’s better known as Propofol, and it’s amazing stuff.

“… This was the most unpleasant part of the day”, said she after she inserted the needle in my vein.

I was skeptical.

I still had a rather vague, yet distinct memory of the last time I got brutally invaded .. and it was far more ‘unpleasant’ than a simple needle being stuck in my arm.

And the prospect of someone potentially (and, as it turned out, in reality!) snipping and burning stuff from deep inside my body only fuelled my skepticism.

Soon I was wheeled into an operating room of sorts, nurses covered me with¬†a warm blanket, the anesthesiologist came running in and asked me to ‘jump’ on my side and did his thing out of my sight.

“The doctor will be here soon” a nurse told me. Here we go, I thought, another long wait (last time I underwent¬†this procedure I had been laying like this for 45 minutes, waiting for a doctor who got stuck in traffic). But no, not this time, almost immediately after that a nurse tapped me on the arm. “Doctor is here”, I expected her to say.

But no, instead, she said “You’re all done and fine. You’re in the recovery room now. Do you want some water?”

It was pretty amazing! I have had no sense of falling asleep. Maybe getting close to dozing off, and for a split second it was a bit disorientating to realize a full hour had gone by without my having had the sense of falling asleep.

A full hour. Gone. And unaccounted for.

But I swear, I don’t want it back. They can keep it. Along with¬†the three polyps they snipped and burned off.