Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hedgehog News--Not penguins, but still cute

McDonalds has redesigned its McFlurry containers. Apparently the old ones were hedgehog death traps. Hedgehogs have a sweet tooth, and the opening to the lid was just big enough to let a hedgehog's head in, but not out. Effective Friday, McFlurry lid openings will be hedgehog-proof. Of course, with a 12-ounce M&M McFlurry weighing in at 620 calories, 20 grams of fat, 1 gram trans fat and 19% of the RDA for cholesterol (based on a 2000 calorie diet), the lid might not be the only thing about this product that is killing off hedgehogs.

An interesting side note: according to Wikipedia, hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. Still, they go for the McFlurry residue, which is definitely a dairy product. So much for Sonic the Hedgehog's "Got Milk?" ad.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Downtown Mansfield hosted the annual car show today. I have never seen so many Chevy Novas in one place. Most of the cars were modified from the original, usually something small like defiling an '82 Delorean with an in-dash CD player with removable faceplate. One mod really stuck out, though: someone installed a ram scoop on a Pinto.

I'm going to repeat that, because there is no way you thought you read that right the first time. Someone installed a ram scoop on a Pinto. A person actually went through the trouble of reconfiguring an engine and refabricating a new hood to add 10-20 horsepower to a car with a tendency to burst into flames in collisions. Henceforth, "souped up Pinto" is my standard measurement of complete wacked-ness.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine --Just Nine, Make that Eight

Human beings have known about planets since shortly after they could stop running away from predators long enough to watch the night sky and realize that some of the specks of light moved with respect to the other specks of light. A few dozen millennia later, Copernicus theorized that the planets, including Earth, revolved around the sun. So, in the grand scope of history, taking another 463 years to decide exactly what a planet is doesn't seem like too long.

Yes, only five millennia after the Sumerians noticed Mercury, astronomers have agreed on what exactly makes a planet. As of today, a planet is something that: (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

For those of you paying close attention, item C eliminates Pluto, which is in an orbit teeming with Kuiper Belt Objects. Pluto, Charon, Xena, and the other round orbiting chunks in the Kuiper Belt will be officially classified as Dwarf Planets. Now, schoolchildren will have only eight planets to memorize--seven if, like my elementary school, their schools leave out Uranus until middle school to avoid the juvenile jokes about rectums.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

David H. Mills, January 9, 1926-August 22, 2006

This morning, for the first time in eight decades, the sun rose on a world without David Mills, yet the sun stubbornly insists on rising anyway. Fourteen hours now since his death, and so far, the world has not shown any signs of coming to a grinding halt. I can only surmise that is because the world has not yet had a chance to realize what it is missing--specifically, my grandpa, a man who loved his family in ways that adjectives cannot capture.

His lingering decline finally reached its inevitable conclusion with him at home with his wife of 58 years and five weeks at his side. That is a bit of mercy that provides the only bit of comfort one can expect today.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

And now for this important message

To the guy in seat 16D on United Airlines flight 419 into PDX last Sunday: your airplane seat is not a BarcaLounger.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Airport Insecurity

The one thing that could get me on an airplane while the TSA is in full freak-out mode has happened, so tomorrow afternoon I will be braving airport security. This liquid ban is about the silliest thing I have heard of in a long time. I suspect it will quietly go away sooner rather than later. There is only so long business travelers--the bulk of airlines' customers--will accept having their makeup and toothpaste wind up in Poughkeepsie when they are in Atlanta. The airlines had such a great track record of keeping track of checked baggage when there were some people not checking bags. I am also reasonably certain that an electronics ban will never catch on here. People can't wait until the plane gets to the gate to turn on their cell phones. No chance they'll accept checking the phones in the bags.

I should return in about a week. Stay tuned for my review of airport freak-out.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Penguins Made into Roadkill in Texas

Twenty-one penguins survived an accident in which their zoo transport overturned on a highway in Texas. One penguin died in the accident, and three others were run down by passing motorists. The exotic fish on the transport also had a bad day, but the octopus was uninjured.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Today's Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Before you dissect a supposedly burned-out 350 watt power supply unit, make sure: a) it is actually burned out, and b) you really don't need it.

On the bright side, I managed to get it reassembled with no parts left over. It remains to be seen whether it works or not.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Before you plan that romantic vacation into Earth orbit, here is an article with a few things to consider. There might be some problems that need worked out with orbital second honeymoons, aside from the obvious issues stemming from Newton's Third Law of Motion.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Penguin News

About 135 penguins missed the left turn at Albuquerque and wound up in Rio de Janeiro instead of Antarctica. I would suspect they were just looking for a good party--let's face it, the Antarctic night life can't hold a candle to Rio--except that being so far out of their normal habitat tends to take a toll on the birds. The Brazilian Navy and Air Force will take the 50 or so penguins who survived the ordeal back out to sea where the ocean currents will put them back on course for their native habitats.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

From the "I couldn't make it up if I tried" file:

Today was my annual medical checkup. Just as the doctor was breaking out the stirrups and the speculum, the muzak started playing "Back in the Saddle Again."

I about died laughing.