12/5/13 Terry Tips for Breakfast
French Toast: A frying pan is round. Bread is sort-of square-ish. To fit more in the pan at once cut the bread slices in half. The pan will take two full slices or six half slices (three full slices).
Bagel: Pre-sliced bagels are often 95% cut through with a little sliver holding the halves together. To separate without a knife, hold the top in one hand, the bottom in the other and twist the halves apart.
Home-made Egg McMuffin: Scramble one egg in nobr> diameter ramekin. Nuke the egg for about a minute and ten seconds (your time may vary). Presto, a round scrambled egg that fits perfectly in a split English muffin.
Waffles: There is no easy way to make waffles. They're a pain. Make pancakes or French toast instead.
Cereal: I got nothing. Cereal is pretty hard to make easier. Pretty hard to make harder, too.
11/3/13 Were we Railroaded into DST?
Daylight saving time is over for 2013. How much daylight did you save? Where is it now? Seems to me spring and summer have more than enough daylight. It's fall and winter when daylight is in short supply. Shouldn't we have daylight saving now?
Who came up with the term, anyhow? Why 'daylight saving' and not 'daylight shifting' or something more accurate? There's no actual saving involved. The government must have come up with it. You know, like how 'affordable housing' meant easy loans so prices rise and house are then less affordable. At any rate, I don't think the railroads were behind daylight saving time like they were behind time zones.
Now that we've reset the clocks back and sunset is an hour earlier, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, it's going to get late early out there.
10/9/13 It Ain’t Rocket Science
In 2005 NASA sent the spacecraft Deep Impact to study comet Tempel 1 up close. While there were many surprises for the Deep Impact team, a bonus surprise was the explanation for one of the surprises.
A probe fired from Deep Impact blasted a hole so scientists could see inside the comet. The impact crater was much smaller than anticipated. NASA scientists said the crater appeared to have partially healed itself. How? "A lot of material was blown up and fell back into the crater."
Things fall by gravity. The comet has very little mass, so very little gravity. Escape velocity is about walking speed, anything going away from the comet faster than that isn't going to fall back. The probe's impact blasted out material at over a thousand miles an hour. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure NASA's explanation is dubious. Actually, it takes a rocket scientist to believe it's not dubious.
The way astrophysics work these days, when they can't explain something they just invent (hypothesize) something undetectable like dark matter and dark energy. Maybe there's undetectable bungee energy on a comet that makes matter return. Could be a Nobel Prize in that.
An alternative view of the Deep Impact mission: comets aren't dirty snowballs, they're electric.
8/24/13 Say Bye-bye to Cams
In the last few decades some of the standard mechanical bits and bobs on a car engine have gone the way of the dodo. Carburetor, push rods, points. All gone. What's next to head for the auto grave yard? If this promising innovation from Sweden pans out, the next thing to join inner tubes and bulb horns on the trash pile will be camshafts. In their place: electronic, air activated valves. A development that would have a big impact on engine size, weight, and efficiency. All together that's better fuel mileage.
Now then, if only someone could devise a practical way to capture and use the wasted heat energy of an internal combustion engine... 150 mpg?
8/15/13 Did Architects Bankrupt Detroit?
Folks have their favorite villans to flog for the Motor City going belly up. I'll not get into listing the various black hats suggested. I have my own theory. I blame architects. This, of course, needs a little explaining.
To begin we ask why does anyone or anything go bankrupt. Simple, expenses exceeded income. We'll not even attempt to explain the spending of Detroit. Who can? Let's talk instead about income, which mostly amounts to taxes paid by local businesses and residents. Detroit has lost over half its businesses and residents in the last 50 years. Needless to say it lost a lot of its income in the bargain.
Now we come to the nub of the issue, why did the businesses and people leave. My answer, architecture. It's not the only reason, but I suggest a very important one.
Detroit was mostly built up prior to WWII. Factories were multi-stories, as were downtown stores and office buildings. Houses were packed close together on small lots. Contrast this with post-war building. Factories are single-floor structures. As are stores in the form of shopping malls. Houses are built on bigger lots with a garage or at least driveway parking.
In other words, they went from building vertically and close together to building horizontally and spaced apart. So ask yourself, where in Detroit could they locate these new sprawling types of buildings. The city was pretty much fully packed. Well, they built on mostly empty farmland and the like outside of town.
So auto manufacturing vacated inefficient, old, multi-story factories in Detroit for modern facilities in the suburbs. The ancillary businesses supplying them went along. As did workers. It wasn't some kind of nefarious plot, it all made sense. There's something else all the new sprawling manufacturing, shopping, and living spaces had that was missing in the city: lots of parking. And free parking at that.
In a way the success of the auto industry built Detroit and also lead to its decline. Affordable cars meant everyone had one. So life changed to accomodate the car. The car-friendly suburbs rose and the city declined. Why Detroit didn't reduce its spending enough in the face of declining revenue is another question. Flog the whipping boy of your choice. (Or should I say whipping child to be properly gender neutral?)
4/22/13 Maybe There’s an App for That
How often have you been doing some chore and think, "There's got to be a better way"? You're not alone. Gadgets and gizmos are everywhere for doing all sorts of things. Gadget freaks love them, others find them of dubious value. Some work well, others are what you might call a bad improvement. Then there's the Japanese chindogu, the unuseless idea.
Chindogu is an invention that works, more-or-less, but which there really isn't any practical need for. Like cat mittens that are little dust mops so the cat cleans the floor as it walks around. Or a big curved hairbrush so you can comb your hair in one stroke. Then there's an apron with hooks so you can wear all your kitchen tools. Very handy. Or is it?
These inventions aren't quite Rube Goldbergian, they are not needlessly complex, they're just plain needless. Chindogu, inventions without necessity. If necessity is the mother of invention, these inventions are motherless. Which makes me wonder what the father of invention is and whether that can explain any of this nonsense.
4/13/13 Things to Come
We like to think technology will keep improving. Modernity will get moderner. Things will get better, cheaper, faster. But in some cases we've already reached the practical limit.
Take speed of communication. With cell phones, satellites and whatnot we can talk to someone on the other side of the globe almost instantaneously. Can't see how it could get any faster than that.
Take speed of travel. Air travel maxed out with the jet. Jet travel is actually slower today than it was 40 years ago. For one thing, the SST has been retired. Also, jet airliners fly slower today than in the 60s to save fuel. We build cars that go 100 mph, but but we don't commute that fast, do we?
For reasons other than technology things in the future might be different than imagined.
The old future looks less popular than before. The Star Trek future looks less likely than ever. The new future looks a lot like the 19th century. The future ain't what it used to be.
3/29/13 What's the Color?
Below are rows and columns of words, red, green, blue, in various colors, red, green, blue. Starting at the top left, say the color of the type of each word. In other words, don't read the word, read the color.
Did you find it gets harder as you go down? Did you hesitate more toward the bottom? That's because the words agree with their color at the top and less and less as you go down. At the bottom the words and colors don't match at all. Which is to say they are congruent at the top and incongruent at the bottom. This throws us off. We see both the word and the color. When they match there's no problem. When they don't we have to pause and think a little to ignore the word and think of the color. Not as easy as it might seem, eh?
3/14/13 You Can’t be Wrong
I have this page-a-day calendar called The Brain Game. Each day is a little quiz or puzzle. Here's one:
Which is the odd one out?
The answer given was, C. Sagittarius because it's the only person, the others being animals. Yet here's the thing, any answer could be right for various reasons. Pisces is the only fish, the others are mammals. Leo is the only one that doesn't end in the letter S. Taurus is the only one that's also a car model, Ford Taurus.
Which only goes to show... uh, I dunno. But it does bring to mind a story, or a joke since I question whether it actually happened.
One day when Albert Einstein was presiding over a physics final exam, a student asked him, "Dr. Einstein, aren't these the same questions as last year's exam?" Einstein replied, "Yes, but this year the answers are different."
Which only goes to show sometimes the facts change. Or rather, what was accepted as true once might not be accepted as true now. By the same token, what is accepted as true today might not be accepted as true in the future. What might that be?
Just as folks today sometimes look at past ideas and laugh, so will people of the future. Only the past foolishness they laugh at is our present truth. Then again, who's to say who got it right? The past, the present, or the future? Just saying.
3/5/13 Getting Kicks
Then again, maybe it's all a matter of perspective.
2/6/13 Where's my Personal Robot Servant?
I remember way back when as a lad back in the 1960s, there was the notion that automation and robotics would give us extra leisure time. What happened to that? The standard work week is still forty hours. True, our leisure time is jam-packed with lots of ultra-modern gadgets, gizmos and whatnot, but we don't have any more actual leisure.
Come to think of it, what with the two income household, many families have less. On the other hand, what with the shrinking workforce it seems we have more leisure in aggregate, just some people have full-time leisure whether they want it or not. Leisure, unemployment, same thing.
Maybe we should have a full-time part-time workforce. That is, the work week goes to 3 days. Half the people work monday, tuesday, wednesday. The other half work thursday, friday, saturday. Bingo, full employment and everyone has extra leisure time. Heck, there'd be a labor shortage. We'd have to raise the retirement age to 75 or something. Then again, maybe everybody would just have two jobs.
2/4/13 No Brag, Just Fact
The newest iteration of The Dish with illustrations by yours truly is up and running. Yep, I'm crowing. Even though the picture shows howling. But then, that's one of Andrew's beagles and not me.
1/23/13 Pay Attention!
There's an old gag about paying attention. It works better verbally than in writing, but here it is nonetheless.
An empty bus makes a stop and five people get on. At the next stop two people get off and four people get on. At the next stop six people get off and three people get on. At the next stop three people get off and seven people get on. At the next stop five people get off and two people get on. At the next stop three people get off and eight people get on. At the next stop two people get off and four people get on.
Now then, without rereading, how many stops did the bus make? So then, how well did you pay attention? To the right thing? Here's a one and a half minute video to test your ability to pay attention.
1/12/13 A Gift that Keeps on Gifting
Often folks wish certain words and buzz-phrases would just go away and die, already. To that end, the Unicorn Hunters of Lake Superior State University nominate words and phrases that should be banished from the English language. This sentiment crops up for a few reasons: people are sick to death of hearing it, the word or phrase has grown stale, a cliché; people use them in the wrong place, or at the wrong time, or to mean the wrong thing; the word or phrase was stupid, wrong, misleading, inaccurate from the gitgo.
Take the word gifted. Please. Not gifted meaning blessed with talent, but gifted meaning the past tense of gift. As in, "My aunt gifted this jewelry to me." I hear this usage on Antiques Roadshow a lot. But gift isn't a noun to have a past tense. She gave a gift. A gift was given. A gift was gifted? Was the gift somehow blessed with talent?
Perhaps the Unicorn Hunters are stalking this one as I write. If not, I gift it to them forthwith.
1/8/13 We Ride to the Rescue
To bolster the slow economy the staff at TerryColon.com have forwarded our complete plan to Congress, the Full Employment Act of 2013. This comprehensive well-laid-out bill promises to end unemployment permanently, jumpstart the economy and raise needed tax revenue. The genius of the bill is it simply reclassifies anyone without a paying job as self-self-employed.
As our chief executive acting editor pro tem, John Kainz explained, "Just because you don't have a job doesn't mean you aren't working. Chores are work, right? You simply pay yourself for this work. This keeps the money in the family which is good for the personal economy. To increase income homeowners could simply dig holes, fill them in, then pay themselves for both."
While this aspect of the bill alone would drive unemployment to zero, there are added extras. First is the maximum wage provision which would require all self-self-employed persons to pay themselves prevailing wages for jobs done around the house. Combined with the Grecian formula of paying yourself 14 monthly checks a year the self-self-employed can bootstrap themselves to higher income in no time at all.
As the formerly unemployed are now gainfully self-self-employed, the tax stimulus multiplier kicks in as these wages will be subject to income taxes and the hefty 3/4 FICA payments familiar to the self-employed. The estimated added taxable income from dish washing and laundry alone will close budget shortfalls and keep America spic-and-span to boot.
These self-payments will greatly increase GDP by adding an entirely new category to the equation, a combined consumption-investment called onantion. (C+I+G+O=GDP) This addition promises to grow the economy out of the recession into unprecedented boom times overnight turning Gross Domestic Product into Grosser Domestic Product. Full employment, higher income, deficit reduction, and increased GDP at a single stroke. It's a win-win-win-win.
You can thank us later.
1/2/13 You Heard it Here First
According to unnamed reliable sources the European Union will soon announce the formation of the Ministry of "Quotations" to oversee media citations of all EU announcements and denials of previous announcements. In future, all media citations must fit within strictly defined classifications: unnamed, well-placed, unnamed well-placed, un-quoted, official, unofficial, official unnamed, official un-quoted, official well-placed, reliable, unnamed reliable, well-placed reliable, official unnamed well-placed, and unofficial un-quoted unnamed well-placed reliable.
The Ministry of "Quotations" has set up a website to help the media and the reading public understand what the new classifications mean. A well-placed reliable source said the site will be user-friendly, featuring a cute feline mascot named Miss Information to lead readers through the many details.
An unnamed well-placed source didn't clarify whether when spoken the new entity should be said as "Ministry of quote Quotations unquote" or simply stated as "Ministry of Quotations" with air quotes given at the appropriate moment. A second well-placed reliable source claimed air quotes should not be used so as not to offend the satirically challenged. When contacted, a third unofficial un-quoted unnamed well-placed reliable source denied everything.