Archive for May, 2007

Lunch at a Downtown Crossing food cart

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Because it was such a nice day, and because I tend to be such a lazy slug, I decided walk to Downtown Crossing for lunch rather than just go to the metro which is probably less than 100ft from the office.

While I was there, I noticed that Strawberries had a sign for $9.99 CDs, and stopped in to see what they had. Not much, unfortunately. The deal was that anything that was marked $10-$12.99 was on sale for $9.99. That meant a lot of lesser songs from older artists. (For example, they’ll have Edgar Winter, but not the album “They Only Come Out at Night”) I wound up buying the Clash’s London Calling, Carol King’s Tapestry, and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black.

The cashier complemented me on the purchases, for whatever that is worth. She is only of those kids that says that she was born too late and was much more of a Carol King sort of person than a lot of the stuff out now. (to which I replied “There is plenty of good music from any time period. No need to focus on now or any other period.”) She also made an aside during her “membership card” spiel that “you understand, since you’ve worked in retail. You didn’t say so, but I can tell since you’re being so polite and since you understand the reasons for the member club’s restrictions. (when she said that the discount didn’t apply to gift certificates, I replied that it it would be double dipping if someone bought a gift card at a discount and then bought the merchandise with a discount too.) I don’t know. I did work in retail nearly a half a lifetime ago, but I don’t think that explains my behavior. I was polite because if you just face it, life is hard and it isn’t worth adding to someone’s problems, even slightly, by being rude. I think my comment about the gift cards was just my geeky interest in figuring out how things fail.

Then I walked to the Italian sausage cart and ordered a sausage. I wound up bartering with the guy over the soda. That seems so unlike me, I sort of wound up doing it by accident. I asked him the price, and he told me $1.75. then thought that I might as well wait until I get back to the office, where the soda machine is only $1.15 and said “No thanks. I can do better.” He then countered with $1.25 and I accepted. I didn’t think that anyone bartered anymore.

Make up your own Good Morning song

Friday, May 11th, 2007

This morning when driving Abbie to school, I was overhearing her singing a song. Since I didn’t recognize it, I asked her what it was. It was her own song she was just making up, she told me. She described it as, “a good morning song. Not good morning as in what people say to each other, but a good morning as in nature and stuff.”

She was right. It was a good morning, and it probably deserved a song to be made on its behalf.

Confusing news reporting

Friday, May 11th, 2007

I hope things will be cleared up a bit later, but Boston.com’s initial article Community service for defendants in Cartoon Network case doesn’t quite add up to me.

It said Prosecutors today dropped charges against two men whose guerrilla marketing unleashed a regionwide wave of bomb scares after the defendants performed up to two weeks of community service. (and a “Breaking News” email said something similar.) I thought that community service was something that one could be sentenced to when convicted of a crime. Does this mean that because they started serving their sentence before they were convicted the district attorneys essentially got a sentence for something that they might not have been able to convict.

Of course, the defendants had to agreed to this deal. Since court can be such a crapshoot, I can see why 80 hours of work and no record (and no parole, etc.) is a good deal for them. It seems a shame though that the DA can use the threat of punishment to get a punishment out of a case that they claim to be dropping. I see this as being different than making a deal for a lighter sentence and pleading guilty. At least in that case both the DA and the defendant are agreeing on guilt and agreeing on a sentence.

Intro to physics lesson

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

During our Disney vacation, Sam was at the age that she wanted to go on some of the more exciting rides, but Abbie was too small to be on them. That led us to have to split up frequently, and I took Sam on the roller coasters while Michelle took Abbie some place else. (Usually Abbie was OK with whatever she got to do, but DisneyQuest was a bit difficult for her. Apparently she threw a tantrum in front of one ride that had a minimum height 44″ sign. “Why are you doing this. You’re no fair.” etc.) When I got back to work, I told my co-workers that my vacation pretty much consisted of roller coasters and air hockey. (which they all agreed would be a good vacation.)

On the last day we were in the Disney parks, after going on one roller coaster,Sam and I sat for a second. I told her that every time we headed up a hill on a roller coaster, there was something I wanted to explain to her, and kept forgetting once we were done. (I couldn’t explain it at the point I remembered, since we were seconds away from going down the hill of the roller coaster.) and now would be a good time.

My lesson was this:

There is a section of physics that deals with kinetic energy, the energy of moving things. I don’t want to get much into the details, but energy can’t be created or destroyed, it just gets converted into different things. (you can make a refrigerator cold, but it winds up blowing hot air out the back.) When a roller coaster is being pulled up a hill by a motor and a chain, when you hear the clunk, clunk, clunk pulling the car up, the energy is being transferred into car. That energy gets used to whip the car down and around turns really fast. So when you hear that clunk, clunk, clunk, just think to yourself. “Hey, that’s a lot of potential energy”.

(when I relayed this story to a co-worker, he summarized it as “for a roller coaster, the increase in potential energy is proportional to the increase in fun.”)

As I was finishing describing this, I look up and see a Disney employee looking at us. He was part of the Disney Dream Squad in charge of giving prizes to guests. He noticed my description of roller coasters and asked if I was a teacher.

“No, just a geek.”, I replied.

He asked us what we had done so far, and we described our week. We explained that we had gone to most of the parks and were leaving for the plane in a couple of hours. He then gave us a couple of pins and stickers and then left. I sort of have the feeling that we would have received some really neat prize if we weren’t just about to leave.

Michelle says that the guy was interested in us because he felt sorry for Sam for getting subject to a Physics lecture while in the middle of the Magic Kingdom. Sam and I both don’t see it that way, but I can understand her point.

From there, we headed to Space Mountain for one more time. As the car was being worked up to the top of the first hill, Sam yelled back to me. “That’s a lot of potential energy, and its got to go somewhere.”

The application of the Conservation of Magic

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

A month or so ago, I wrote a post called The Conservation of Magic that talking about how things that seem to be magic require work by someone, somewhere, at some point in time. Well, when I came back from a trip to DisneyWorld, and considered that they call their Magic Kingdom “the most magical place on earth”, they may be right if you keep the Conservation of Magic into account. It was a wonderful vacation and we all had a great time, but you know its only because a large group of other people are exerting a huge amount of effort to make it so.