Category Archives: A Day In The Life…

The Age of Age

Scientists are furiously working to try and figure out how to hack aging. Yesterday on the ride home from work I was chatting with Sander and we mused about what might happen if Scientists succeeded. Let’s presume it was pretty instant success. For example, they discover that with a small amount of gene therapy life could easily be extended to 250years with scalable health.

Things would get weird. Fast.

Class wars for treatment prioritization on the short term
Political craziness as long-term problems suddenly effect everybody
Workforce migration as people re-evaluate their jobs and the retired re-apply
Overpopulation concerns and strange family dynamics, great^8 grandparents?
A widening of the wealth gap as the market leaders lead longer
Punishment re-evaluation
Driving adjustments
Le Creuset’s lifetime warranty speculation

It’s fun thinking of how things might get weird.

Laugh Tracks

This weekend I got into a heated discussion with a friend about Laugh Tracks. I hate them. For me, they ruin a viewing experience. Take the acclaimed ‘Big Bang Theory’. Even though technically it’s not a track since they have a live studio audience, the laughter feels like an emotional crutch. It’s as if the jokes aren’t good enough on their own, so they cue everyone: “hey! this is where you’re suppose to laugh!”

The result is awkward pauses in flow of the script as the group waits for the laughter to subside. Through the magic of technology others have skillfully edited out laugh tracks in such shows as the Big Bang Theory. The result is awkward.

“But Wait!” you interject, “That’s a tendentious example, it’s not always awkward!”

Actually you’re right. This article does a good job at making the argument that laugh tracks aren’t the problem: The attempt at saving a failed joke is the problem. When laugh tracks or laugh cues are used when there isn’t actually anything funny… perhaps that is where it fails. In fact, I get that same distaste from stand-up comedy when I have a disagreement with the crowd’s appreciation for a joke. It makes me pause and wonder why the crowd guffaws. Ultimately, I become detached from the show. Maybe it’s the show’s resulting lack of sincerity from mistimed laughter that causes my distaste.

To me a laugh track seems as bizarre of an idea as a sob track for a sad film or a fear track (the crowd gasps!) for a horror film. These ideas seem so ridiculous; but conceptually they don’t differ at all from the idea of a laugh track.

But perhaps if laugh tracks or sob tracks were used in perfect harmony with the viewer’s genuinely experienced emotion, they would enhance the viewing experience. Perhaps people who love shows with laugh tracks just have a more welcoming sense of humor.

Maybe I’m just a dud.

A Surplus of Wonderful

There seem to be way too many seven wonders of the world.

From a quick internet search:
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (AW)
Seven Natural Wonders of the World (NW)
Seven Wonders of the Underwater World (UW)
Seven Wonders of the Industrial World (IW)
New Seven Wonders of the World (N7)
USA New Seven Wonders of the World (UN7)
The New Seven Natural Wonders of the World (NN7)
Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages (MA – weirdly there are more than seven here)

Let’s list out all the wonders from the lists above and see if we can filter out the best of the best.

The list!

Great Pyramid of Giza (AW & N7)
Hanging Gardens of Babylon (AW)
Temple of Artemis (AW)
Statue of Zeus at Olympia (AW)
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (AW)
Colossus of Rhodes (AW)
Lighthouse of Alexandria (AW)
SS Great Eastern (IW)
Bell Rock Lighthouse (IW)
London Sewerage System (IW)
Brooklyn Bridge (IW)
First Transcontinental Railroad (IW)
Panama Canal (IW & MW)
Hoover Dam (IW)
Palau (UW)
Beliz Barrier Reef (UW)
Great Barrier Reef (UW & NW)
Deep-Sea Vents (UW)
Galapagos Islands (UW)
Lake Vaikal (UW)
Northern REd Sea (UW)
Iguazu Falls (NN7)
Jeju Island (NN7)
Komodo Island (NN7)
Puerto Princesa Underground River (NN7)
Table Mountain (NN7)
Halong Bay (NN7)
Amazon Rainforest (NN7)
Grand Canyon (NW & UN7)
Harbor of Rio de Janeiro (NW)
Mount Everest (NW)
Aurora (NW)
Paricutin volcano (NW)
Victoria Falls (NW)
Potala Palace (UN7)
Old City of Jerusalem (UN7)
Polar Ice caps (UN7)
Papahanaumokaukea (UN7)
The Internet (UN7)
Mayan Ruins (UN7)
Great Migration of Serengeti (UN7)
Channel Tunnel (MW)
CN Tower (MW)
Empire State Building (MW)
Golden Gate Bridge (MW)
Itaipu Dam (MW)
Delta Works (MW)
Great Wall of China (N7 & MA)
Petra (N7)
Christ the Redeemer (N7)
Machu Picchu (N7)
Chichen Itza (N7)
Colosseum (N7)
Taj Mahal (N7 & MA)
Stonehenge (MA)
Colosseum (MA)
Catacombs (MA)
Porcelain Tower of Nanjin (MA)
Hagia Sophia (MA)
Leaning Tower of Pisa (MA)
Cairo Citadel (MA)
Ely Cathedral (MA)
Cluny Abbey (MA)

Some of the wonders above appear on multiple lists. Let’s consider this a vote of confidence for these wonders. I wish my filter had naturally worked out to a list of seven, but alas… only six. So I hereby present to you…

MIKE D’s SIX WONDERS OF THE WONDERS

Great Pyramid of Giza
Panama Canal
Great Barrier Reef
Grand Canyon
Great Wall of China
Taj Majal

I love that five of the six items on this list have adjectives of grandeur (taj means ‘crown’)! How wonderful!

A Question of Social Acceptability

In early Novemeber I was at a work event and someone casually asked how old I was. I promptly replied “Thirty Three.” When the person left moments later I was struck with confusion. “Wait a minute, I’m not 33,” my brain befuddled, “I’m 32.” It was bizarre.

Reminder: This was in November.

Yesterday, I was thinking about age and I suddenly realized that I AM 33. For a solid month I had wrongly believed I was a year younger than I am.

I submit to you that perhaps the impoliteness of asking someone his or her age is not at all a social faux pas because of age stereotype or capability stereotype, but instead it puts someone on the spot and challenges them to do calendar math (the most annoying type of math).

Utility Expenses: Power

Jen and I have been moved into our new home for 8 months now and I couldn’t be happier with the setup. It’s open, homey, and secluded enough to offer a pleasant release from the sounds of traffic. Unfortunately, we are secluded enough to be too far away from natural gas pricing to have that option available to use for heating; I’m expecting a high heating bill for the winter. In preparation for increased expenditure I figured I’d take some time to try and minimize our utility usage. First place to look? electricity.

Lightbulbs:

Our home is overabundantly lit. I suspected a surplus when I noticed there were three bulbs in a single fixture. Three bulbs in one fixture? Extravagance!

This past weekend I went to each fixture and reduced the quantity of bulbs down to one per fixture. The surplus? 17 BULBS!

Holy cow!

Holy cow!

SEVENTEEN! After the extraction the only obvious area where we noticed a dimmer atmosphere was in our mud room closet. Hardly worth the extra bulbage.

We also found the half dozen most used areas in our home and replaced those with LED bulbs. Now we’re talking! There are a lot of data websites out there that provide analysis on whether or not LEDs are worth the investment. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to come to their own conclusion. Still… lighting is small peanuts compared to the larger power consumers like appliances.

I touched base with our electric company. Fun fact! I thought that all houses were on variable pricing (with on and off peak hours). This is not the case. The default for residential is a fixed rate plan. You can switch if you want but the advantages are mixed at best.

For Connecticut Light and Power the fixed rate is ~$0.10/kwHr. Switching to variable rates drops the off-peak rate (8pm-noon) to 9 cents a kwhr… BUT! the on-peak rate skyrockets to $0.12/kwHr. Yikes! Making the decision even harder, I’m told you have to switch for a year resulting in risk of high monthly bills due to AC usage in the summertime. I’m going to take a look at energy analysis tools to see if I can determine what our usage rate is across various hours of each day and for each appliance.

Business Travel and an Unexpected Guest

Business Travel:
This week I’m in Atlanta on business. Just a quick jaunt, I expect to be back on Friday.

An Unexpected Guest:
This past weekend in chatting with the neighbors we learned that there are some river otters living in the pond in our backyard. Sure enough, this morning as we ate our cereal (JIf cereal – surprisingly tasty) some splashing caught our eye and a little river otter could be seen swimming along the shore.

What a treat!

Phoebe

State Birds

My newfound appreciation for bird watching has been a fascinating walk down a feathered path of fun. Perhaps unsurprisingly, with my bird appreciation came bird judgement.

I can’t help it! Some birds are beautiful rare sights, others are everywhere and not exciting. The Mourning Dove is the perfect example. While I will forever love their sorrowful call, we’ve nicknamed them pig-birds. Mom D is famous for describing them as being so fat they have no option but to squeak every time their feathers squeeze their bodies in flight.

So it was with trepidation that I looked up the state bird of Connecticut. I secretly hoped for the feisty American Kestrel or the predatory Northern Harrier. Perhaps the shimmering ruby-throated hummingbird or the adorable Eastern Phoebe (a scraggly little Phoebe is shown as the feature image to this post)!

Nope. It’s the American Robin.

Okay okay, American Robin. Not the worst choice. We didn’t choose the Mourning Dove. Now let me see what other state birds are out there…

(note: to view chart below you’ll have to ‘read more’ of this post)

StateBirds

WHOA REPETITION! WHAT?!

Two other states have the American Robin! 29 of the 50 states have shared birds! 26% of all states are either the Northern Cardinal or the Western Meadowlark.

HOW CAN THIS BE?!? There are TENS OF THOUSANDS of birds to choose from. Why would any state ever duplicate a choice?! I agree that most people are drawn to the popular birds but what a travesty that so many states lose a chance for distinction. I think it would be far better to choose a bird that personifies the state than to choose an obvious name that all will immediately recognize.

American Robin? At first it was a weak choice. But knowing that it’s a duplicated choice makes it worse. Come on Connecticut! You can do better!