This is my attempt to create some interesting musings, uberservations and, perhaps, insights on both my personal and professional life.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Looking for a Good Comedy?

I was listening to the radio on the way to work this morning and Bay Area movie critic, Jan Wahl, was talking about her favorite all-time comedies. By the response of the listeners and the people on the morning show, it would seem to me that these should be solid rentals. Here's a partial list of movies she suggested and some listeners suggested:
So, if you're looking for a good comedy rental, look no further than the KroBlog.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More on Trains (and Horse's Arses)

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet,8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US Railroads. Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used. Why did "they" use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and toolsthat they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels wouldbreak on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads?Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England)for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads?Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had tomatch for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots weremade for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. And bureaucracies live on forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses. Now the twist to the story...

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These ares olid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at theirfactory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fitthrough that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Places to Stay in London

I am heading to London next week for some work meetings. A friend of mine has traveled to London many-a-time and gave me a nice list of places to stay while in London. Apparently the hotel industry in London is very fragmented and it's tough to know exactly what your dollar (pound) will get you. $300 can get you a decent place with wireless access or it can also buy you a small hole in the wall on the out skirts of town with mold in the shower. Here are Hemant's recommendations:
  • In Knightsbridge: The Chelsea Hotel or The Basil Street Hotel
  • Near the Liverpool Station (tube): Great Eastern Hotel
  • In Bloomsburry: MyHotel (this is where I am staying next week- Hem says it's hip, funky, cool and near shows, shopping and good food). About $220/night.
  • In the center of town, in the financial district: Grange City Hotel
  • Lastly, there's St. Martin's Lane which Hem said is pricey and very nice, but I don't know exactly where it is... I looked it up and it's "only" $330.

I will let you know how it all goes upon my return.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Discover Music You Didn't Even Know You Liked

If you love music and you're looking for some new stuff to listen to, look no further than Tim Westergren's company, (formally The Savage Beast). Simply submit a few of your favorite bands or songs and Pandora will create a personalized radio station for you. The idea comes from its Music Genome Project. Tim's belief is that all music has over 400 attributes and by uncovering the music you like (or the bands you like) Pandora can actually suggest lots of other music that will like - this music will share many of the same attributes (like mood, tempo, etc) as your "hub" song(s) or band(s).

You may recognize Tim's name from his popular SF band, Yellow Wood Junction.

Check it out!

Monday, February 06, 2006

The KroBlog Can Save Lives

Here's a little story which should help you learn how to identify a stroke:

During a BBQ (not mine, but "someone's") a friend of the host stumbled and took a little fall. The host offered to call paramedics but the person who stumbled assured everyone that she was fine, that she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. Her friends got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food - while she appeared a bit shaken up "Sunny" went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening.

Sunny's husband called later telling everyone that she had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00pm, Ingrid passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ - had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke perhaps Ingrid would be alive today.

A neurologists says that if he/she can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he/she can totally Reverse the effects of a stroke...totally.

He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed and getting to the patient within 3 hours, which can be tough.

Thank God for the sense to remember the "3" steps. Unfortunately, the lack of stroke awareness spells disaster.

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:
1. *Ask the individual to SMILE.
2. *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
3. *Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently, i.e. . It is sunny out today) If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

After discovering that a group of non-medical volunteers could identify facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, researchers urged the general public to learn the three questions. They presented their conclusions at the American Stroke Association's Annual meeting last February. Widespread use of this test could result in Prompt diagnosis and treatment of the stroke and prevent brain damage.