Wednesday, April 25, 2007

a new planet?

From our local paper:

Newfound planet may sustain life

WASHINGTON - For the first time astronomers have discovered a planet outside our solar system that is potentially habitable, with Earth-like temperatures, a find researchers described Tuesday as a big step in the search for "life in the universe."The planet is just the right size, might have water in liquid form, and in galactic terms is relatively nearby at 120 trillion miles away.

I hope they do find that life is sustainable on that planet. There are a few people I'd like to send there.

Friday, April 20, 2007

syn tax

The challenge: using punctuation and emphasis, how many ways can you make the following phrase have different meanings?

"I don't want to go do another day's work"


1. "I've already spent ONE day doing this for you.
I don't want to go do ANOTHER day's work."

2. "As of today, I am through with this job!
I don't want to go do ANOTHER DAY'S WORK!"

3. "You've already spent a day on this and now you want me to do it.
I don't want to. Go do another day's work."

4. "If I work for one more day, can I stay?"
"I don't want to go."
"Do another day's work!"

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

the virginia tech massacre

My comments inspired by the Virginia Tech massacre can be found here and here.

ladies in, men out

Several years ago when I was on the road, I stopped into a customer's office to perform a service call. I asked to use the restroom and the receptionist stated it was down the hall, to the left. So I went down the hall, and I saw two sets of double doors. The first set said Ladies In and Ladies Out, so I went to the second set. They were labeled Ladies Out and Men Out.

I pondered this for a moment, and then asked myself, "Where do the men go in??" A reasonable question, I thought. So I returned to the reception desk and told her of my dilemma.

She kind of chuckled to herself. I imagined, (or at least hoped,) that she got this kind of question often.

"This warehouse," she began, "staffs 400 women and about eight men. Therefore, most of the bathrooms are for women. On the door is a slider. If it says In, there's someone in there. If it says Out, it's free."

So basically, in this particular case there was a lady in the first room, and the other two ladies rooms and the only mens room in that wing were empty.

Was I embarrassed.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

this call may be monitored

I read an article recently that talked about those messages you get that say, "This call may be monitored for quality assurance." It went on to say that companies do this to ensure agents are courteous and are following protocol. Though they also say the chances of your call being monitored is less than one percent, some institutions retain the recordings for over two years.

But the most striking statement was that the tapes may be running while you're on hold.

So let me get this straight. After we hear the message that our call may be monitored, and while the music's playing through our earpiece, they're recording whatever can be heard into our mouthpiece??

This does not give me a comfortable feeling knowing that as I sit distracted by their crummy music, they're at the other end laughing at what I am saying. Or, they may not be laughing.

How many times over the years have I expounded on the lousy service I was getting from this particular company, or how I swore I'd take my business elsewhere. Maybe that's why they do it - to track their competition. "Gentlemen, last month we had a 30% increase in disgruntled callers on hold swearing to take their business to The Home Depot."

Or worse, what if they've been listening to my yammering while I was waiting? I don't mean humming or whistling to myself, I mean talking to the family, friends, or business associates, while on hold.

If that's the case, these companies may have heard some one-way conversations that have sounded like this:

"Just a little to the left, honey. Down lower. Perfect! The picture's hanging just right."

"It's a hundred and seventy-five a quarter. The most expensive US coin I've ever purchased."

"Say, Bob, why don't you and Carol consider swapping with me and Alice? We won't need the time-share until August."

Let's just say that from now on, I will be much more careful what I say while on hold after hearing the message, "This call may be monitored for quality assurance."


Saturday, April 07, 2007

no screaming allowed

From Sacramento, this story of an amusement park that is trying to enforce a no-screaming policy on one of their rides, ironically called The Screamer.

As passengers are strapped into the two metal baskets, the operator recites this warning: "We are required to remove you from this ride if you make any noise. If you feel you might make a noise, please cover your mouth tightly with you hand, like this. (The operator then covers mouth with hand). If we hear any noise through your hand, we will remove you from the ride. So please remain silent and enjoy the screamer."

This is in response to neighbors who complained of all the noise at the amusement park.

What's next? Banning grunting at the local exercise gym?