Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Trucks Bring It

I think I’ve finally come to a startling conclusion – something I never thought I’d say since I was first issued my first driver’s license: I really dislike driving. I love the freedom of being able to go where I wish without worrying about someone else’s schedule, but the actual act of operating a vehicle is really wearing on me lately.

My job has me logging an average of 200 to 250 miles per day. I know for professional drivers, 200 a day is just a drop in the bucket. The difference is that I’m not paid to be a professional driver, though I harbor a tremendous respect for those who are. I admire the unsung long-haul drivers of America not only because they are the mistreated and unappreciated backbone of the economy, but because I have no idea how they are able to operate their vehicles safely for such long periods of time, under such strenuous conditions.

Trucks bring it

My biggest shortcoming is that driving by myself gets really boring really quickly. No amount of custom-burned music CDs, audiobooks, radio programs, or mental gymnastics stand against the relentlessness of endless stretches of asphalt for very long. I do enjoy the time I get to spend thinking about things (something I also enjoyed when I worked in a factory), but I find myself drifting in and out of flow, which is actually a very dangerous state of mind for a driver.

So after a while, I start amusing yourself with the finer details. Like the license plates that read things like “404 HTM” and “133 BPM,” which technically aren’t vanity plates, but carry meaning to some, nonetheless. I start to count the animal corpses, viewing their steady decay in a day-by-day time lapse. I start to notice that after a while, those 5 dead skunks on Highway 94 smell almost like a cup of fresh dark roast coffee straight out of the grinder (or maybe that’s just a personal coping mechanism of mine).

coffee poster

Unfortunately, another thing I notice is all the trash lining every highway. As I’ve said before on this blog, you’re never gonna catch me sailing with Greenpeace, but I respect this beautiful planet that God gave us, and do the best I can to take care of it without going to extremes like trying to recycle my fingernails. The trash itself, however, is not what I find so remarkable. It’s the composition of it.

It has been said countless times that the human brain is a relentless pattern recognition device. I imagine this functionality is amplified when boredom sets in. I don’t know if I’m the only one that catches this, but my brain recognizes over and over again that most of the fast food trash is generally from one source: McDonald’s. I’ve even formulated a few theories as to why this might be.

Theory One: Sheer Volume

This theory hinges on the possibility that McDonald’s serves more take-out customers per day than any other restaurant. Due to the sheer volume of food that goes out the window each day versus other restaurants, the McDonald’s litter is a testament to their sales. This theory assumes that McDonald’s customers tend to litter just as much as other restaurant customers. This leads us to Theory Two.

Theory Two: Littering Patrons

This theory hinges on the possibility that a higher percentage of McDonald’s customers versus customers of other restaurants tend to throw their garbage onto the highway rather than a proper receptacle. I won’t go into particulars on this theory, because it can lead to to stereotyping, prejudice, and unfair assumptions. Kinda like how people think of truck drivers. Let’s just say that this is likely another case where a few bad apples spoil the bunch.

Theory Three: Conspicuousness

McDonald’s packaging is quite distinct from most other chains. It is quite possible that the only reason I’m noticing more McDonald’s litter is because the litter itself is more noticeable. Maybe I’m only seeing what I want to see so that I have a reason to post some more inane drivel on here so you guys won’t yell at me anymore to write something.

Who knows, maybe it’s all three theories combined, or maybe I’m just making a big deal out of nothing. I’m just curious if anyone else notices similarly irrelevant patterns in their daily lives. They tell me it’s a good thing to notice small stuff such as this. Maybe they’re right, or maybe they’re just agreeing with me out of fear. They never know what this crazy guy is gonna do next.

I will close with one more pet peeve of mine relating to all this. More of a PSA.

Your truck bed is not a trash receptacle.

It’s funny how people never make the connection of how they can throw all kinds of garbage in the back of their truck, yet they rarely have to clean it out. It’s like it empties itself! I wonder where it all goes? It’s still littering, whether they mean for it to blow out or not. Seriously, what did they think was going to happen once they got up to 60MPH?

[18-Jun-2009 Edit:  I followed a SUV into New Concord today that sums up the first part of this post nicely: “641 FML.” Almost poetic.]

The Undeading

Well it seems I have found myself in the process of bringing this place back to life and up to date. Unfortunately, most of my time today has been spent upgrading WordPress to the most current version.

WL8509_skeletonClosetI began the restoration process by snagging myself a shiny new domain name, calculating8.com, and redirecting it to the appropriate subdomain on synthetik.org, calculating8.synthetik.org. I plan to eventually have the .com domain hosted instead of redirecting to a subdomain, but I need to upgrade my hosting plan in order to do so. We’ll be saving that for another day.

In addition, I have consolidated all my posts between my two blogs and placed them all back on KodyMyers.NET. I’m planning on taking C8 in a different direction – as soon as I figure out what it is.

Anyway, I suppose the software wanted to teach me a lesson for neglecting it so long. Upgrading has never taken me more than 10 minutes, but this time I ended up spending at least 5 hours trying to figure out why my redirect wasn’t operating correctly. I couldn’t tell if it was a bad .htaccess file, an invalid database entry, or problem with the DNS not propagating itself. After eliminating the culprit down to WordPress, I found that a canonical URL feature had been implemented in version 2.3 that had apparently wreaked havoc on several peoples’ blogs that used redirects or customized permalink structures.

At any rate, it’s behind me now, though I’ve lost half a day getting it all configured. I’m starting to remember why I burned out maintaining this site. Maintenance is a menial chore if there ever was one.

More to come soon, I hope.

Losing the Name Game

name-tagIt’s hard to believe that I’m such a geek that I’m actually agonizing over the names of my computers. I don’t know why, but it seems like naming a computer is almost as important to me as naming a child. I just can’t seem to settle on a theme. Here’s what I’ve considered so far:

  • Japanese names
  • Character and mythology names from Final Fantasy
  • Famous wizards
  • Famous dragons
  • Famous mathematicians
  • Famous computer scientists
  • Constellations, moons, and other such galactic entities
  • Non-themed (as in, whatever pops in my head)

This really shouldn’t be driving me as crazy as it is. Something must be wrong with me. I’ve even gone as far as searching for articles on naming themes that others have chosen or considered, but nothing I’ve seen seems to stick out.

/sigh

Hopefully These Results Aren’t “Reproducible”

So apparently Indiana University has conducted a study and concluded that having children significantly lowers parents’ IQs. The study recorded the IQs of people before having children, then again afterward, and found on average a 20 point decrease. What’s more interesting is that it doesn’t just happen to the mothers – the same average IQ deficit was found in the fathers as well. Check out the article for one scary read.

And of course, I just had to throw this in here: 10 things you never knew about frogs.

Lefty Loosey

On a whim, I started Googling around for “left handedness.” I found that there are actually entire stores that sell everyday products redesigned for left-handed use. I even found that there is an international holiday for left-handedness, celebrated on August 13th since 1976.

I can’t say that I’ve ever found left-handedness to be so debilitating that it hindered my ability to complete any given task. I’ve always been able to adapt by either finding a way to use right-handed tools with my left hand or just using my right hand the best I can. What’s most interesting to me is that I don’t ever realize that I’m adapting – I just pick up a pair of scissors and use them. I certainly can’t justify spending $30 on a pair of left-handed scissors or $75 on a left-handed keyboard.

The Silver Surfer's true original story

The Silver Surfer’s true origin story

Approximately 15% of the world’s population is left-handed. To quote from one left-hander’s website:

Being left-handed… gives me a razor-thin view of what it’s like to be a minority. As a left-hander, I’m discriminated against all the time. Not for serious things: I am not denied housing, medical care, a job, a seat on the bus. But I experience anti-lefty bias in the form of school desks that are unusable, carrot peelers that are useless, power tools (such as skill saws) that are dangerous or even life-threatening, pens that smear and make my writing illegible, computer mice that cause hand cramps.

It’s absolutely astounding how many of our modern-day tools are designed for right-handed people. Most of them don’t expressly discourage use by left-handers, but they are ergonomically optimized for right-handers.

At least I can always fall back on the old aphorism: Only left-handed people are in their right minds.

Save a Tree: Ruin Your Credit

I used to think that having bad credit was a bad thing. Since I got my first credit card at age 18, I’ve always done my best to make timely payments and never exceed my limit. At times I even purposefully purchased things with credit just to build up my rating. It wasn’t long until I noticed that the frequency of credit card offers I was receiving began to increase at a frightening pace.

I adapted by learning to handle unsolicited credit card offers with extreme prejudice, usually ripping the envelopes apart without even opening them. I could spot junk mail from 20 feet and eventually caught on to their tactics of not printing anything on the outside of the envelopes so that unsuspecting recipients were forced to open them in case they might for some reason be important.

One day, though, while ripping through the day’s waste of virgin rainforest, I happened upon an envelope that contained a very special surprise. What’s this? A fake card? That’s right, they had sent a cardboard replica of their card in hopes of getting me excited enough to want the real thing. Endless possibilities were forming in my twisted mind until I flipped it over and saw the big, bold print: “This is not a valid credit card.” Crap, what a way to burst a man’s bubble. Ah well, I kept the card anyway. How little I knew what I had set in motion.

Not even a week later, I get the same offer in the mail again with yet another spiffy card! Then other companies followed suit, fueling my collection of little fake credit cards. I began to wish for more. That’s right, I wanted more credit card offers. It was like a sickness.

My meager collection of fake credit cards.

My meager collection of fake credit cards.

Perhaps my hoarding of fake cards is some strange coping mechanism. It’s difficult to describe how tempted I am to place those “Business Reply” envelopes back in the mailbox empty. As funny as it would be to make them pay even more postage for their garbage, I harbor a certain amount of paranoia that several men in black suits would eventually find their way to my house, throw me into a black helicopter, and fly me out someplace where they can lock me away and pretend I never existed.

My stack continues to grow steadily, each new card adding to the absurdity of the whole notion. I can’t help but think how much money and resources are wasted on this stuff. I’m not exactly sailing around with Greenpeace every chance I get, but I sometimes find myself wanting bad credit just so I can help out the environment a little.

Of course then I can starting getting a whole new kind of paper treatment: Reams of paper touting, “Bad credit? We can help!”

Software Shift

I’m trying out a new weblog script called WordPress. Instead of using flat files like Blogger (which I was using), it indexes everything into a MySQL database. This makes publishing new entries faster and also allows for searching. So far it looks very solid.

Now I just have to find a theme I can stick with.