Thursday, May 31, 2007

Father-in-law Knows Best?

So, they found the guy who flew out of the country and back in all while carrying a particularly drug-resistant strain of TB. Actually, if I read the story right, he flew out and snuck back in by way of Canada, figuring (rightly) that in our current state of Holy Crap Mode vis a vis airline passengers, he would not manage to get on a plane with his passport tagging him as a potential biohazard. Lucky for him, Homeland Security can't be in Holy Crap Mode in all places at all times. Since so far, no terrorists have mounted a successful attack by automobile from Canada, there is still a way to sneak a virulent pathogen into the country.

In all fairness, the TB patient said he didn't know he had the extra-dangerous variety of TB until he was already in Greece for his wedding. He thought he only had the normal tuberculosis. When he was told otherwise, he thought he would die without treatment back in the U.S. The obvious course of action when one thinks one has an infectious disease that will require some of the better health care available on the planet is to seal oneself into the cabin of an aircraft and share your recycled exhalations with a couple hundred people for hours on end.

Anyway, it didn't take long for someone to figure out who TB Guy was once a few details were made public in the effort to find people he might have breathed on. Turns out that this man is pretty near the top of the list of People Who Really Ought To Have Known Better. He's a personal injury lawyer. But wait. It gets better. Remember how I said he was in Greece for his wedding? Turns out, he was marrying the daughter of a CDC microbiologist who specializes in TB (who, unlike this guy, know how to keep their drug-resistant TB under wraps). I'm guessing that is going to be a bit of an awkward visit with the in-laws once he gets out of quarantine.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

'Splain this...

A while back, our old 23-inch CRT television set spontaneously decided to remove red from the spectrum. Since there is a reason TV in shades of green never took off, and I like to take things apart to see how they work, I dissected the TV, leaving me with a plastic case and a TV picture tube with a few random TV guts attached. The latter item is somewhat tricky to dispose of, since it contains non-trivial amounts of lead and is under a vacuum that tends to make it go BOOM when the glass breaks. I left the tube in the utility room and conveniently forgot to call the trash company for several months about getting rid of it.

Well, tonight, I finally got around to calling them to see what sort of precautions I might need to take to dispose of it. Turns out, they can't dispose of a CRT tube alone, and couldn't find anywhere on the hazardous materials dropoff calendar that would fit that particular item. However, they can dispose of CRT television sets. So--and I asked specifically to clarify this--if I leave the dangerous part out at the curb, they can't do anything about it, but if I put the dangerous part back into the inert case, they will be happy to take it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stuck in my Craw

If the US Postal Service wants to increase revenue, or at least remain a relevant service for items other than applications for pre-approved credit cards that no sane bank would actually issue to me, they may want to consider the merits of not making the new postal rates completely incomprehensible.

The old rates were easy: 39 cents for the first ounce, and slap on a 24 cent stamp for each additional ounce up to 16 ounces, and if you can stick a full pound of paper into an envelope, more power to you. I spent half an hour this morning trying to figure out the new rates for multi-ounce #10 business sized envelopes. Near as I can figure, it is 41 cents for the first ounce, 17 additional cents for the second, third, and third-and-a-half ounces, then after 3.5 ounces, one must switch to the "retail flat" table, that starts at 80 cents for the first ounce and 17 cents for each additional, so that a 3 ounce letter is $1.14, four ounces is $1.31. I'm still not entirely clear on how much a 3.75 ounce package costs.

If the post office spent as much time sorting the actual mail as they do sorting out rate regulations, I might not get my neighbor's Visa bill every other month.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Life Imitates Warner Brothers Cartoon

In spite of it being released on DVD at least three times, Warner Brothers' 1950 classic cartoon "8-Ball Bunny" is not available on YouTube for me to link to, but you know the plot. Bugs finds a penguin far outside normal penguin range, and hilarity ensues when Bugs tries to return the penguin to his native Antarctica. Well, once again, the penguins have managed to re-enact their mid-century celluloid antics, albeit without the Humphrey Bogart impressions. A Magellanic penguin strayed 3,000 miles off course and ended up in Peru.

Thanks to SuperDad for the link.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pass The Stuffing

We spent Mother's Day at Emp. Peng.'s grandmother's house, which backs up to an area home to several wild turkeys. One particularly handsome tom took exception to the "other" turkey that apparently lives in the front bumper of our rental car. The above is a photograph of him beaking the crap out of a rented Pontiac. We did not get a photo of me spit-buffing beak marks out of the paint, shortly after I threatened him with a pot of boiling water and some bread crumbs. Lucky for me, the folks at Alamo return counter at Logan were backed up and didn't notice a bit of turkey damage. I have posted the picture so you all won't think I've been getting a little too far into the Wild Turkey.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I'm trying my hand at homemade pecan pie. I really hope it comes out of the oven looking better than it went in, because it went in filled with what looked like nuts floating in beige phlegm.