Time in a Cell

 I was reading the New York Times review of the new Star Trek movie, and saw this comment in the readers’ area:

“this movie was awesome. not a huge old school ST fan but knew of it…this one blew the others away, i found myself looking at my phone hoping there would be more time left than there was and it would keep going…”

Did you get that?  He looked at his PHONE to see the time.  Not his watch.  This reminds me of back in 1996 when I bought my first cell phone, for my wife.  We were out for a walk and she asked me if I knew what time it was.  Now, I haven’t worn a watch for years – there’s something toxic about my perspiration that corrodes most metal (and leather) at an alarming rate.  The only element I can wear next to my skin is Au.  Anyway, I said, “No, but have you got your phone on you?”  She replied, “You want to CALL someone and ask them the time?”

So back then, many people still hadn’t cottoned on to the idea that cell phones are much more than simply telecommunication devices.  Of course, these 13 years on, that’s more true than ever.  Now “phones” are Web browsers, GPSs, music players, video cameras, and, of course, clocks.  Scott Adams muses in his blog about what they will probably become in the future.

Of course, I can’t fight progress, but I hope that when Scott’s predictions come true, they (the ubiquitous “they”) will have figured out how to make the user interface simple enough for the average idiot like me.  I’m not quite so bad that my DVD still flashes “12:00,” but that’s only because it reads the time from the cable signal and adjusts ITSELF.


Elevator Defaults

I am genuinely curious about the behaviour of the elevators in the building where I work.  As I am frequently in on the weekends, and often the only person in the structure at that time, I have noticed a peculiar phenomenon that others probably miss.

Some background:  the building has seven floors, plus a basement.  There are two elevators – the one on the left serves the main (ground) floor through 7; the one on the right goes to the basement as well.

When either elevator drops you off, it doesn’t stay where it left you.  The one on the left always goes to rest at the 4th floor; and the one one the right always goes to park at the fifth.  ALWAYS.

It would seem to be a waste of energy to move the cars for no reason, especially since if it has just discharged a load on the ground floor, that’s the highest probability for the next rider to summon it to.  Why not just stay there?

I considered the fact that they may go to some mid-point where they can respond most quickly to a request from ANY floor, but that doesn’t make sense – if they were trying for rapid response, the one on the left (which services 7 floors only) should indeed hang out at 3½ (so we’ll say 4 is OK), but the one on the right (which also handles the basement should be at 3, not 5.  AND, when I am calling a car to the ground floor from their default resting places, the one from 5 always comes to get me, not the closer one.

Is it possible that it takes more energy to hold a car at G than at 4 or 5?  Is that why they always return to those floors?  Does anyone know anything about elevator efficiency algorithms? 

As an aside, I wonder about the naming conventions of “floors” and “stories.”  In Europe, the main (ground) floor is usually called “Main” or “Ground” or “Lobby” or something like that.  And the level directly above that is called “1.”  In North America, the floor immediately above the ground level is called “2.”  Do you think it’s because when the first two-story structures were built, the upper level was the only one with a “floor,” since the main level would have dirt or mats or thrushes or something other than a floor?  So the second STORY had the first FLOOR.

What the Heck is That? Part 4

mascotContinuing in the series (1, 2, 3) of inexplicable marketing images, here we have a variation: an inexplicable marketing lifeform.  This is the official mascot for the 2010 IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships here in Moncton.  You can read all about it here.

It has no name yet; there is a city-wide contest to decide that.  I’m hoping that when it is eventually named, the moniker will give me a hint as to what it’s supposed to BE.

Let’s consider the elements.  The basic body shape appears to be a carrot.  Then there are the bunny ears, a quite shocking sky-blue hue.  Next, the face, which features Bonhomme Carnaval‘s eyes and nose, cheeks that look very chipmunky, a gaping maw reminiscent of the Joker from the Batman comics (not the movies), and a suspiciously lascivious tongue peeking out (but no teeth!)  And there’s an odd strap-like thing that appears to be hold the face to the head.  The appendages appear to be whale flukes, and are the same shade as the ears – it’s odd to see such an abrupt change of color in an animal’s coat, so I guess there is clothing implied.

There is a tonne of great stuff going on in Moncton these days.  We have a mayor who is committed to the promotion of arts, culture and heritage.  We have so far avoided the international economic turmoil.  We stand a good chance of being named the world’s most intelligent community in New York this week.  We have all kinds of regional, national, and international events on the horizon.  And yet the best we can come up with to greet the world’s athletes next year is this mutant vegetable-animal clothes-wearing sexual deviant.


Three String Bass

Hey, you with the short attention span!  Pop a Ritalin and invest 4½ minutes to watch this cool video.

Mixed Message

ttThis post will start as another jab at the editorial and proof-reading capabilities of the Moncton Times & Transcript, but it gets much more philosophical towards the end.  (This is one of the rare entries of mine where I actually know where I’m going to end up as I start to write.)

This is from the financial section (ha!  more like the financial 6 sq in.) of a recent T&T.  Many people nervously track the financial markets these days, wondering if they’re going to retire to Florida or live out their lives in a van down by the river.  So when they glance at the headline of the “At the Bell” corner of their paper, it’s not exactly reassuring to see that the markets are “mixed.”  I guess it’s better than “down,” but not as cheery as “up.”

But look closer – it seems that Murray Guy’s definition of the word “mixed” is different from, say, everybody else’s.  Mssrs Merriam and Webster think that “mixed” means, “combining characteristics of more than one kind.”  So there should be more than one kind of status for the financial markets covered in this report.  Yet the states of all of them are identical!

I’m not accusing the T&T of deliberately trying to frighten the populace; I’m sure this was just an oversight.  But it did draw my line of thought back to the topic of the last post.  The media, in general, prefer to report on bad, sensational, scary stuff, and even spin stories that might not otherwise be so, in that manner.  Not that I’m blaming them, either – they just, in the words of The Kinks, “Give the People What They Want.”  (Full lyrics appended.)

So why are we, “the people” like this?  Why do we prefer to hear about bad stuff over good stuff?  Is it some latent evolutionary thing where we are at our highest level of excitement when we are afraid?  In the book, Life of Pi, Yann Martel writes about how, despite the ideas of PETA, animals are actually happier in zoos because they’re not at risk of being eaten every single minute.  I’m wondering if this is true – perhaps people, and animals, PREFER to be constantly on edge.


Give the people what they want

Well, its been said before, the world is a stage
A different performance with every age.
Open the history book to any old page
Bring on the lions and open the cage.

Give the people what they want
You gotta give the people what they want
The more they get, the more they need
And every time they get harder and harder to please

The roman promoters really did things right.
They needed a show that would clearly excite.
The attendance was sparse so they put on a fight
Threw the christians to the lions, sold out every night

Give the people what they want
You gotta give the people what they want
The more they get, the more they need
And every time they get harder and harder to please

Give em lots of sex, perversion and rape
Give em lots of violence, and plenty to hate
Give the people what they want
Give the people what they want

When olswald shot kennedy, he was insane
But still we watch the re-runs again and again
We all sit glued while the killer takes aim
Hey mom, there goes a piece of the presidents brain!

Give the people what they want
You gotta give the people what they want
Blow out your brains, and do it right
Make sure its prime time and on a saturday night.
You gotta give the people what they want
You gotta give the people what they want
Give the people what they want
Give the people what they want
Give the people what they want

When Pigs Fly…

pig1… I will start to get worried about the Swine Flu.  Until then, I will merely suffer from the constant bombardment of Swine Flu updates from our staunch protectors, the fourth estate.

I stand a better chance of being killed by lightning than by H1N1, but CBC isn’t telling me to stay inside during thunderstorms.  I’m more likely to be killed driving to the airport than by the flu, but the Vice President of the United States is telling me to avoid planes, not cars.

The situation in Darfur is past critical.  The world’s economy is in the shitter.  20,000 people die every day because of lack of clean water.  It’s GUARANTEED that people will die today from the regular flu, which could have been prevented with a vaccine.

Yet the media can think of nothing better to report on than a disease that has so far infected 0.0000036% of North America’s population.

I looked up “terrorism” and it means “the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion.”  “Terror” is defined as, “a frightening aspect;  a cause of anxiety.”  So right now, if you believe that:

a) the average person is more afraid of catching the Swine Flu that they are of an airplane flying into their building; and

b) the media use sensationalization as a means to attract readers/viewers/listeners; then:

the New York Times is more of a terrorist than Osama bin Laden.