Saturday, June 29, 2013
  Extremely random stuff

(1) Edward Snowden's father has been appearing in the news. For some stupid reason he looks highly familiar to me, but I can't spot the connection. Reminds me of people I knew in Manhattan. Maybe the father of one of my old buddies, or maybe one of my old friends in adult form. This doesn't make sense; far as I can tell, Snowden has never lived in Kansas, and I've never known anyone named Snowden.

Later: Think I've pinned it down. (Writing these things always helps to organize them.) Snowden reminds me of a guy named Danskin who lived down the street from us in the late '50s. Most of the K-State profs were vaguely liberalish, but the Danskin family was seriously political. The kids called the parents by first name instead of Mom and Dad, and the kids never played with the rest of us. Seemed like the Danskins didn't want their kids to pick up Midwestern cooties from us.


(2) As a pure introvert, I rarely use the telephone. It's no fun. Might pick it up 5 times a year to reach bureaucrats or plumbers or doctors who can't be contacted by email. I turn on the bell even more rarely, maybe 3 times a year, when a contact involves waiting for someone to return a message. (I started putting a bell switch on my phone in the '70s, before you could legally buy phones with bell switches.)

Yet every single time I turn on the bell, a telemarketer or robocall comes in almost immediately. Think about that.... Sampling a stream for just three hours per year, with no pattern to the samples. At each sample, a telemarketer is there. This means that shit calls must be coming into my (unlisted) number CONSTANTLY. That's an impressive amount of wasted labor! If nothing else, it verifies my decision to keep the bell off.


(3) The telemarketer thing happened again yesterday while I was playing phone tag with my courseware publisher. They are "phone-centered" people who have to do everything via conference calls, even when it involves technical data that would be better sent by email. We've been having this particular conference call at intervals for two years now. Each time it's the same: several new people have been hired, and most of the hour is spent bringing the new hires up to speed on the project. Each time I try to get clear instructions so I can start work, and each time the call ends with a wide-ranging discussion of basic questions and an indication that instructions will be coming. Yesterday's call may finally be different, since they seem to have settled on a specific system and format. Remains to be seen.

[Update 7/25: Today they actually sent me the actual link and actual password to actually get started learning the actual system! Only a month after the promise! Oh well. Now I know they've been distracted by their bankruptcy and reorganization, which makes these delays more understandable.]

Needless to say, Parkinson understood these people. It's sort of amusing to observe these predictable patterns at a distance. If nothing else, it verifies my decision to stop working in offices 10 years ago. When you're stuck in the middle of the patterns, they're more annoying than amusing.


(4) I typically hit the grocery store between 7 and 8 AM. Most customers at that hour are getting ready for work: some are picking up sandwiches and bottled drinks for lunch, some are clearly the Daily Designated Dozen Donut Donor for their office. The donut gatherers exhibit a couple of consistent patterns. First, though the donut case contains more round items than rectangular items, the gatherers choose only rectangular items. This would make sense if the deal was "all you can fit in the box", but the price is for a dozen items. Do they intuitively feel that they're getting more because the rectangular items fit more easily? Or is it just less trouble?

Second consistency: The type of item depends strictly on the weight of the gatherer. Donut donors of normal weight pick up a variety of rectangular items, with and without frosting of various colors. Hefty gatherers always pick the maximum amount of chocolate frosting.


(5) We had a thunder this morning. No storm, just a whole lot of lightning and thunder. Sorta backwards... normally when the radar shows red, we get the storm (heavy downpours, graupel and wind) but not the thunder.

Before the storm, the sky showed all sorts of strange colors and backlighting effects:


Later: Bleah. The morning thunder presaged an all-day rain. Twelve hours so far, and still going. Not a whole lot of rain, but constant. Thunder in the distance, thunder up close, some rain. Thunder in the distance, thunder up close, some rain. Rinse and rinse and rinse and repeat and repeat and repeat. Power has been blinking and surging, transformers popping, computer rebooting. The only good part is that the rain might postpone the urban heat accumulation, cutting a few degrees from the 104 predicted for Tuesday. Today was supposed to hit 90, and it's stuck at 70.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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