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Friday, August 22, 2014

Gee, Doesn't this Sound Familiar?

More great news from the land I escaped...

Boston Puts Brakes On Haystack Parking App
A new app that allows people to find parking spaces in Boston is being shut down in response to a vote by the city council.

A new ordinance outlaws services that allow people to sell or save public parking spaces.
Got that? The app helped people find parking spaces, so what was the response from Boston? BAN IT. Smell that? It smells like Massachusetts. It gets better, though:
“They are dealing in hypotheticals. We’ve had no reported issues. We’ve heard this rhetoric, ‘There’s going to be blood in the streets,’ and that hasn’t happened. We’ve had over 1,000 successful transactions, and we haven’t seen any of that.”
Ah, yes, blood in the streets. We've never heard that prediction before. Ever. And even if we had, it certainly came true, right?

It's pretty interesting, really. Parking in Boston has a long, storied history of defying the powers-that-be in MA in that the market rules. "Saving" spaces, parking spaces near Fenway being sold for $50 - $100, and now this app. It's rather humorous that the Boston City Council felt so strongly about Boston drivers being able to pay money to get a parking spot that they declared it illegal.

I mean, go figure. Parking sucks ass. Folks have figured out that they can make a buck "selling" their space through this app. Obviously there's a market for it, as the app works. Naturally, this being the Volksrepublik of Massachusetts, the response from the city of Boston was to... ban the app. Because in MA, whatever isn't mandatory is prohibited.

Blood in the streets over parking spaces. Glad to see that little chestnut hasn't gone away despite being completely unproven...

That is all.

Friday Car Pr0n #44

Keeping with a numerical theme, let's see if you can follow this one...

This is #44. What goes with 44? Magnum, of course! Dodge Magnum, that is - the first iteration. Only made for two years ('78 and '79), it was sibling to the Chrysler Cordoba and Plymouth Fury. Three 8 cylinder motors were available, the 318, 360, and a 400; all of which were mated to a three-speed automatic transmission.

I'd argue that more people are familiar with this Dodge Magnum:

That's the station wagon that first hit American streets a decade ago, which was noteworthy for two reasons. First, the American station wagon had pretty much disappeared; by the turn of the millennium, no wagon was offered by the Big Three (and no, the re-badged Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe doesn't count). Secondly, the crazy, wonderful bastards at Mopar stuffed the Ram's 5.7L Hemi V8 under the hood - and later, the 6.1L Hemi. A station wagon that could go 0-60 in 5.1 seconds? 'MURICA!

Leave it to Dodge to produce the coolest wagon since the Nomad...

That is all.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

WTH, Blogger?

Every time I read the comments here, I get this message:
This page is asking you to confirm that you want to leave - data you have entered may not be saved.
Whether or not I've actually written anything. Previously that message would only pop up if I'd started to write a comment and then tried to close the comment box. It's a great failsafe against accidentally the whole thing, in that you have a prompt that essentially says, hey, dummy, you really want to delete all that stuff you just wrote?

It is much less useful if the box pops up every single time, regardless of whether you've actually written anything.

And that's the problem with safety-related things and warnings. As was pointed out in my post about the couple that plunged to their deaths taking cliff-selfies, it is quite possible that we have tried to "lawyer up" to the point where we're over-exposed to warning labels. We've so thoroughly cluttered the landscape with danger signs that they all fade into the background.

There's a lesson there; unfortunately the people that desperately need to learn that lesson won't get it...

That is all.

Ten Days...

In ten short days, the Fourth Annual Kilted to Kick Cancer Fundraiser begins. A whole month of kilty goodness, yay! (and it finally kicks me in the behind to FINALLY make good on some photos I am woefully remiss in providing. Mea culpa!)

The big news is that KTKC is now its own non-profit organization, so that tax-deductible donations can be made directly to KTKC itself. No more middlemen, every cent you donate goes directly to prostate cancer research through the good folks at Kilted to Kick Cancer. I know some folks have been reluctant to donate, given the practices of some companies that accept donations and all, so this year there's no questions.

Ambulance Driver is seeking donations for the top fundraisers, so if anyone has any leads, give him a holler and help him out. 

That is all.

What's Missing Here?

Robb sent this in, thinking (rightly) that I'd be interested.

Renovo Motors

Now, I'll give them credit for a few things here. They've capitalized on one of the big strengths of the electric motor, that power is available instantly. It's no surprise that a reasonably light car with a powerful electric motor is fast off the line. Bully on them for using that as a selling point. Also, they've obviously modeled the Renovo Coupe after the Shelby Daytona (and the second generation Dodge Viper...). Well done in the design department.

But what's missing from that glossy spec sheet? There's two things that jump out at me. First is price. Not even an estimate. Given that the Tesla's sedan runs about $90+ or so, I'm guessing the Roadster is at least the same ballpark. Six figures - or close to it, at least - puts the electric sports car firmly in the realm of "toy for the rich and/or famous."

The other missing spec, and this is a big one, is range. All that power doesn't mean squat if the car's got a 30 mile range between charges. They're quick to point out the 30 minute fast charge, yet curiously omit how far you can travel before needing that quick charge. I suspect if the car had a 200+ mile range, that'd be a big selling point.

Again, I want to clear up a misconception. I have nothing against electric cars, not even silly boutique ones like this. I would love a reasonably priced electric sedan/coupe/hatchback that could travel 250 - 300 miles on a charge and be recharged in 15 minutes or less. Unfortunately, what we're seeing is that the only way companies can recoup the very large investment in electric cars is by marketing them to the "more environmental than thou" crowd who don't have to worry about mundane things like running out of power on the way home from work.

Unless and until electric cars start rolling 250+ miles on a single charge - including in the winter with the heater on full blast and in the summer with A/C cranked - they're going to be little more than playthings for the idle rich. That's not necessarily a bad thing, except it's unlikely to advance the concept of an all-electric car to the greater majority of people.

Really, though, I love electric cars - I love seeing the cognitive dissonance on a hippie's face when I remind him his "green" car runs on nuclear power...

That is all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Here's A Good One...

Brought up in Facebook last night was this old '80s hit:

This is one of those songs that is just ripe for bad lyrics. "Rat poison in wine." "Fat women in line." Between Klaus Meine's fractured English, German accent, and rapid-fire singing, it's no wonder this one is frequently misquoted.

So, what's your favorite misquote, either from the Scorps or elsewhere?

That is all.

Not Sure About This One...

#1 Blogdaughter sends this one in. I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Senior surprised by $315 bill for calling 911
"I got up, and I was dizzy and feeling kind of nauseous, and I thought, 'This isn't right,'" Shorewood resident Lois Sarrel said.

Sarrel had a rude awakening in early May.

"I guess I was panicking a little bit because women don't have the same symptoms as men for heart attack," Sarrel said.
She called 911, Emergency Services came out and triaged her, finding that she was not in fact having a heart attack. She declined transport to the hospital, and because of that, she received a bill for the services rendered. Apparently she is on Medicare, and they only cover emergency calls that result in trips to the hospital.

Now, on the one hand, I'm of the opinion that if your symptoms are so bad that you have to call 9-1-1, you should take the trip to the hospital to get checked out anyways. Something is going on that is causing you enough discomfort to brave modern medical care - it might not be a heart attack, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be something else serious.

On the other hand, I can see where this might cause some folks to forgo emergency care, and that's never a good thing. I can also totally understand that someone might not realize that a 9-1-1 call would result in a big charge like that. You think you have insurance, and that it will be covered, only to find out later that it's not.

Again, though, I come back to the whole "this was serious enough to call 9-1-1 but not go to the hospital" part. If it was so serious that you couldn't drive yourself to the hospital, you probably should have gone just to be on the safe side. Just because it's not a heart attack doesn't mean that it's not something serious. I can kinda see the charge if it's to discourage people from using EMS as a way of getting medical care at home (i.e. rather than going to their doctor).

Also, not for nothing, but $315 for an EMS call to the home is pretty cheap. I've seen several medical insurance plans where an ER visit is a $200 co-pay. Add in another charge for the EKG, and it's not too far off what she ended up getting billed. Throw in that she didn't have to drive to the ER, and it's starting to see pretty reasonable.

I still don't know how I feel about this one...

That is all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

There's Gotta Be More To This One...

#1 Blogdaughter sends this one in. I really, really hope there's more to this story, because if not, there is something seriously wrong...

Woman dies after police shooting in San Jose
A 19-year-old San Jose woman was shot and killed by police Thursday morning after it appeared she was advancing at officers with a weapon. The incident happened along busy Blossom Hill Road in San Jose.

Police tried to negotiate with the woman as she remained inside a duplex unit on the 700 block of Blossom Hill Road near Playa del Rey. The caller who contacted police said the woman had an Uzi and was threatening to kill family members.
Looking at the video, it's pretty obvious that she is not holding a firearm of any kind. However, I am also very cognizant that a) I am not a responding police officer who has been told by dispatch that this is potentially a mentally unstable person with an Uzi, and b) I have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight from behind the safety of my monitor. I've never had to make a split-second decision as to whether the person facing me has a weapon or not.

I do wish the media would stop making s**t up, though. "The object in the woman's hand landed in the road. It was later determined to be a cordless drill painted flat black." - sure sounds like they're trying to paint the picture that the woman painted the drill. Looking at pictures from the link, though, it looks like, well, pretty much any Black and Decker drill from the past, well, 30 or so years. If she altered the drill, state she altered the drill. If you don't know, shut the hell up.

I wonder how many of these crises have been at least in part the media's making?

That is all.

Paging Colonel Sanders...

...y'all need to be looking into this s**t. Joseph in IL sends in YAGESS (Yet Another Green Energy Success Story).

Emerging solar plants scorch birds in mid-air
Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant's concentrated sun rays — "streamers," for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.

Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one "streamer" every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator's application to build a still-bigger version.
These powerful solar panels are literally frying birds right out of the air. If they could just ratchet the heat up another hundred degrees or so, they could open the world's freshest poultry restaurant. So, we have windmills that turn bald eagles and condor into chicken of the plains, and now we have the Great Migratory Bird Microwave solar power.

Yeah, green energy. Lots of thought went into saving the environment, didn't it? 28,000 birds a year, that's the high estimate of the number killed by this one facility. I wonder how this compares to, say, KFC? I mean, I'm sure KFC uses more animals, but they're *using* the animals, not causing thousands of deaths a year as a byproduct.

I guess the old saying really is true: You *do* need to break a few eggs to make an omelet...

That is all.

Seen Locally...

Caught this on the ride home from WalMart (in my regular, fruitless search for .22 LR):

Ferrari 308 something, late 1980s vintage. I've always had a special spot in my heart for Ferraris (or maybe it's a soft spot in my head...) Oh, sure, some of it was from Miami Vice, because, really, what was cooler than Don Johnson in the Daytona or the Testarossa? Some it, almost certainly, was the Italian influence. Maybe some of it was from Magnum, P.I. or even Cannonball Run? I mean, good enough for Dean Martin, right?

Obviously Magnum lives in my 'hood...

That is all.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Everything - Especially This - Is Awesome

Sent in by an alert reader is this awesome story for the day...

Someone Found A Way To Make Lego Blocks Even More Awesome. OMG.
For many years, Lego blocks have been thought of as a boy's toy only. As generations have grown up, the gender roles have changed a little bit, but you still typically see more young boys asking for Legos rather than girls. A brilliant inventor is about to change all of that.

Illustrator and designer Akihiro Mizuuchi created a new and improved Lego that is designed to delight all children, and adults, of any age.
Chocolate Legos. PURE. GENIUS. There's a couple of pics in the article that I suspect are chocolate-colored plastic Legos, but this one certainly could be chocolate:

The potential for hilarity with these is great. Think about having a Lego house sitting on the table, with extra bricks strewn about. When someone comes in, exclaim dramatically that you're sick of your kids leaving their toys around, so you're going to teach them a lesson, and take a big bit out of the house.

Or, alternate, inform someone of the chocolate Legos. Consume a handful to show, and offer a couple. Then, slip in a few plastic Legos just to be a jerk...

Oh, I am certain I will misuse this information...

That is all.

I Am A Bad, Bad Person...

...because my first response to this story was raucous laughter...

Couple falls to their death while trying to take selfie
A Polish couple has fallen to their death in Portugal while trying to take a selfie near a cliff, according to local media reports.

The bodies of the couple – who were not identified – have been recovered after initial attempts to rescue them on Saturday were hampered by rough conditions in the waters off Cabo da Raca, Polish Radio reports.
Now, there's a sad part to this, as the couple left behind two children - who watched their idiot parents fall to their deaths. I feel bad for those kids - they didn't ask to be born to people that don't have the common sense that G-d gave gravel. Perhaps they will be raised by someone with a better sense of self-preservation, like a lion tamer.

I just don't get the daredevil stuff, I really don't. Sky diving, bungee jumping; all of that just makes me scratch my head. I ride a motorcycle, and that's enough risk for me; I don't need to go out actively seeking ways to get myself killed. I have to think that it's thrill-seeking at work here, because the alternative is TSTL - they just didn't give the cliff enough credence and forgot that gravity isn't just a good idea, it's the law.

Reading this account, I have even less sympathy for the recently deceased. They apparently went around a safety barrier to get their picture - when you actively circumvent items intended to keep you from doing unsafe things, it's hard to move the "give-a-s**t-meter". It's one thing to misjudge the edge and slip. It's entirely another (dumber) thing to go around the perimeter set up for safety.

At least that's a mistake they won't make again...

That is all.

Worthless Without Pics...

#1 Blogdaughter sends in this interesting (meaning stupid) story out of my former state...

Massachusetts police charge man with officer impersonation for Maserati looking like a cop car
Police patrol cars are usually Fords or Chryslers, not Maseratis. So when a patrolman in Braintree, Massachusetts, spotted a Maserati resembling a police cruiser over the weekend, he pulled it over.

Deputy Chief Wayne Foster tells The Patriot Ledger the luxury Italian vehicle's body was painted black and white with a police-style shield on the doors, and police-related decals.
Completely and utterly worthless without pics. There's a wide gulf between an exotic Italian sports car with a black-and-white paintjob and a someone attempting to impersonate a police office. Maserati does make a sedan, though, and perhaps that's what's at play here.

I mean, there's a world of difference between this:

and this:

painted up in black and white. It would have made the article much clearer, even, had they identified the model of Maserati, especially considering that the marque is more known for the former, rather than the latter. Apparently there was enough similarity with a cruiser to charge the dude, however I suspect anyone that can afford a Maserati can also afford a lawyer that will make this all go away...

Especially when I have a sneaking suspicion that the "shield" on the door was most likely a "Transformers" logo...

That is all.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Guilty Pleasures...

I'm sorry. I freakin' love this tune.

Life is funny as hell, you know that? One minute, you're a carefree college student with not a worry in the world beyond a big test next week and who are you going to find to buy a case of beer for you this weekend. The next minute you've got two kids, a mortgage, and a job staring at a computer screen all day long. Dreams change. No kid ever exclaims "I want to work in sales and marketing". You want to be a doctor, or a football player, or a truck driver, or an astronaut. Then life takes you in whatever direction it's going to take you, and you realize that dreams change.

You dream big, and then life happens. You go to school, you earn a degree, you earn another degree, then you get a job. Just when you think life is done happening, it happens again and then some. I never thought in a million years I'd wind up where I am now, but here I am. It's crazy, it's absolutely nothing like I planned, but I could not be happier if I were twins.

Have a great weekend everyone!

That is all.

Now There's a Kick In the Teeth...

Joseph in IL sends in this delicious little "oopsie"...

Australian hospital accidentally declares 200 patients dead
An Australian hospital apologized on Thursday after mistakenly sending out death notices for 200 of its - very much alive - patients.

Austin Hospital, in Australia's second most populous city of Melbourne, erroneously killed off the patients when it faxed death notices to their family doctors.
Now, it sounds like this only went to the primary care physician, and not to the newspapers, state, etc., so it really does sound like it was just embarrassing. It's not like 200 people were legally declared dead so they've got a legalistic nightmare to contend with. It's not even all that hard to see what happened: there was a change in the software that sent out notices when a patient was discharged. I'd wager someone clicked the wrong box so that when [patient] is discharged, sent notice to [doctor] changed the word "discharged" to "deceased"...

I wonder, though... How many of those people thought, even for a second, "hey, this could be a good thing"? That does depend on whether the doctor told them about the mistake, more than likely after a rather embarrassing phone call. "I'm so sorry to hear of your loved one's passing". "What do you mean, he's sitting right here!" After a laugh - or perhaps uncomfortable silence, once the doctor explained what happened I wonder how many folks asked if this meant they were legally deceased...

Mental note, though, to avoid getting sick if I travel to Oz...

That is all.