Tag: curiosities

Rotten tomatoes

Here is something I’ve noticed recently in light of the salmonella problems with tomatoes:

Many restaurants and fast food chains are temporarily not serving tomatoes to keep their consumers safe. Nice of them. But they haven’t altered the price of the food to reflect the lack of tomatoes. This may not seem like a big deal, but go to one of these places and ask for extra cheese and they’ll charge you $0.35 – 0.50. So why can they get away with charging extra for cheese, but not cutting the price of their tomato-containing food items that lack tomatoes? And why are people willing to pay the same amount for a burger that lacks a tomato as they would for one that had one?

The Golden Age

The Golden Age of life is alwaysfive to ten years behind you. At least, that’s how it seems to me, and I’ll explain what I mean.

I don’t remember exactly when it started, but when I was in high school, I can remember thinking fondly of my long lost youth, and casting my mind’s eye back to those halcyon days of junior high school (ninth grade, in particular).

Of course, when I was in college, those bright days of junior high school had shifted to the brighter days of high school. In fact, during college, I can recall thinking that the two week period in 11th grade when the L.A. school teachers were on strike was a true “golden age”. (Honestly, it’s true to this day that I look fondly upon those two weeks now some 17 years in the past.) Many of the friends I made back then are still my best friends to this day.

After college, I can recall looking back fondly on my college years, in particular my first year at UCR, living on The Hall, where I made more life-long friends.

And now? The camera lens has slipped forward a few frames and The Golden age now rests firmly upon a period of time between 1997-1999 when I lived in Studio City, on Tujunga just north of Ventura Blvd. Life seemed carefree. Everything was going well. There were little or no worries. It was a time that I was truly happy living in L.A.

So why is the Golden Age always behind you? Clearly its because you mentally evaluate the times of your life, and the only way you can do that in any objective sense, is when enough time has passed to compare it to other times. Still, that doesn’t explain why the past is always golden, and not the future. Why does it seem that we don’t look to the future as eagerly as we look at the past? The future provides endless possibility while the past is already written. And yet we latch onto that past as though it were some kind of security blanket.

I don’t know the answer to this, but I will be exploring it this weekend; it is the main theme in the next short story that I will be writing, a story about a boy who discovers the future, who is fascinated by it, and who works very, very hard to invent a machine that will take him there. It’s a very unusual time-travel story, not what you might expect. But it’s really caught fire with me and I might be able to finish the whole thing this weekend.

That’s what’s great about science fiction. While it has been said that the Golden Age of science fiction is 13, I don’t buy it for a second. The Golden Age of science fiction lasts a life time if you let it.

How fast does Acela go: an experiment

I frequently take the high-speed Acela train between Washington, D.C. and New York. The train makes the trip in 2 hours and 50 minutes, and I’ve frequently wondered what speeds the train reaches. It’s easy to calculate the average speed, assuming a distance of 200 miles: just over 70 MPH. But I want to know it’s peak speed.

As it happens, I’m bringing my handheld GPS with me to NYC this weekend and I figured that provided an opportunity to get an answer to the question. Sicne the GPS can track ground speed, I can use that to track the trip and capture not only our average speed, but our maximum speed.

Once the experiment is complete, I’ll post the results.

No animals were harmed during this blog

I was wondering something this evening. In some movies, toward the end of the credits, there is a notice that “No animals were harmed during the filming of this movie.” With all of the animals used in movies, however, there is bound to be some kind of accident. I mean, a horse might sprain an ankle, a dog might break a leg. Not intentionally, of course, purely by accident.

But if an animal is harmed, what then? Do the credits read: “One animal harmed during the filming of this movie”? Has anyone out there ever seen credits that indicated that animals were, in fact, harmed?

You’ve got to wonder.

New music Tuesdays?

Why Tuesday? Why are new books and music (and DVDs) almost always released on a Tuesday? I’m sure there is an answer to this, but while I’m curious enough to ask the question, I’m just lazy enough to avoid searching for an answer. Besides, I suspect the answer is precisely what an old math teacher of mine used to say about why things were done a certain way in mathematics: by convention.

Constabulary Notes From All Over

I was skimming through the Jan 9 New Yorker this evening (reading “This Is No Game” by Jack Handy) and came accross this little item at the very bottom of the page in small print. For some reason, this amused me more than the Jack Handy item:

From the Lewisboro (N.Y.) Ledger

A Flintclock Ridge Road man said he saw a bear in his backyard. Police could not find a bear when the officer arrived. Police said it was possible the man saw two turtles.

How can you not love it?

Page 123 Meme

I read about this in The Slush God’s blog.

Here are the rules:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentense in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don’t search around and look for the coolest book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

Here is mine, as geeky as it is:

$query_pieces is used to hold a query string for prepared statements and parameter binding.

If anyone I know ends up guessing what book this is from, I’ll buy ya lunch!

Why are razor blades so expensive?

I’ve wondered this for a long time, but never really thought to look into it. Until tonight, after shaving. Apparently, I’m not the only one who has asked this question. My search came up with several blogs asking essentially the same question, but with no good answer.

As best as I can figure from the available information, it goes back to Gillette’s “Razor Blade Business Model”, which involved the notion of a “loss leader”–namely, disposable razors. But I’m not sure I understand that. It just raises more questions in my mind. If disposable razors are so cheap where are razor blades so expensive. Disposable razors have a blade, don’t they? Maybe the quality is not as good. Good razors have thin blades and the thinner the better. Maybe it’s more expensive to make them thinner. Also, good razors have more than one blade–sometimes 4 or 5.

There’s nothing conclusive. When it gets down to it, I suspect that a 5-pack of Mach-3 razor blades cost $20+ because people are willing to pay $20+. Especially if you are like me and hate electric razors.