Engineer

 

I was WAY older than I should have been when I learned that an “engineer” didn’t exclusively mean someone who drove trains for a living. Curiously, in the field of trains there’s a second synonym profession title: a conductor. There’s also dual meaning between train like a locomotive and train like to teach.

There’s gotta be some clever joke where an engineer and a conductor walk into a train car… but I’ve only had one cup of coffee today and can’t come up with anything clever enough.

Trying to measure inconvenience

I have a question: What two places in the United States are the most inconvenient to travel between?

Saunter down this path with me for a minute.

First, let’s set some constraints. We’re talking transport via road. Start and End destinations must be on a road. We don’t have helicopters, boats, or jetpacks. We also don’t have ferries  – we’re going to assume you must travel on your own time schedule – you can’t depend on a ferry or a train because one might not be there when you need to travel. Lastly, we’re going to travel via GoogleMaps; this makes examples testable.

Let’s define inconvenience as distance of travel required divided by the distance it would take if you could go direct.

How far apart the locations are in driven mile / How far the two destinations are apart as the crow flies

Here are some of the ones I have found so far:

Grand Canyon
210 : 10.18
Inconvenience = 20.63

Long Island
191 : 8.78
Inconvenience = 21.75

Chesapeake Bay
131 : 5.46
Inconvenience = 23.99

Near Seattle
218 : 3.95
Inconvenience = 55.19

So… it’s pretty obvious by targeting Ferry routes you can nail inefficient locations. I’d be interested to see if there’s a way to do this with the inclusions of Ferries.

ASIDE – don’t you think the inconvenience equation should have some sort of scale? Doesn’t it seem less impressive at greater distances? If I’m 1 mile from where I need to go, but it takes me 10 miles of travel, that seems more impressive than if I’m 10 miles apart and it takes me 100 miles to get from A to B… I’m not sure. I think there should be some sort of logarithmic scaling, but I’m not sure the best way to do this.

As for targetting locations on the map, this is something I imagine Patrick being really good at.
Any recommendations for even more inconvenient destinations Patrick?

Today’s Five Links

Here we go!

  1. RadioLab’s “Playing God” – A painful but fascinating look at the complexities behind triage – Length 1 hour
  2. Do your Job – A documentary on the Patriot’s 2014-15 season. I love witnessing the unseen professionalism behind a passion. This documentary did a great job at opening my eyes to the strategy and thought behind what, to the uninitiatied, looks fairly straightforward. Length 43 minutes
  3. Making a Guitar – More unseen professionalism behind a passion (From Sander) Length 1 hour
  4. Tsukamoto Isao – a guitarist with a unique raw style (from Kevin O) Length 4.5 minutes
  5. Brass band multitasker – Bizarre short video of a brass slapstick band (from Dad D) Length 3 minutes

Little Guy Update

 

jatlas4mo

J.Atlas continues to be awesome. His most recent skills include shoulder rides, poking his parents in the face, and concerted efforts to consume all handheld electronic devices.

NFL

The most frustrating thing about watching football: Advertisements.

The second most frustrating thing about watching football: When there’s a fumble and all the members of both teams confidently point their arms as if they had recovered the ball, long before the pile of bodies has been deconstructed.

Although I suppose it’s not that different from when I’m bowling and despite the pending fall of my ball into the gutter, I desperately twist and flail my body to will some miraculous alternative.

Baby books and the seven deadly sins

There does seem to be a strange correlation between Eric Carle baby books and the seven deadly sins. Let’s take a look:

The Grouchy Ladybug – Wrath

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Gluttony

“Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” said the Sloth – Sloth

The Greedy Python – Greed

The Tiny Seed – Pride

The Very Lonely Firefly/The Mixed-Up Chameleon – Envy

The Very Busy Spider – Lust

Actually, I think the Very Busy Spider might be about a hardworking spider that builds a beautiful web. But the other comparisons are pretty dead on.

Handkerchiefs

I’ve started using Handkerchiefs. Apart from the trivial uniqueness surrounding their fairly rare “DK” letter combination*, Handkerchiefs provide a service that is vastly underappreciated.

Here’s what you need to know.

  1. Handkerchiefs are not gross – there are some simple but clever folding patterns which allow 30+ clean surfaces (62 if you’re conservative) for nose blowing while still maintaining a clean outside so that your pocket doesn’t get gross.
  2. Handkerchiefs are affordable and environmentally sound – most pocket tissues contain 10 tissues. They run about $0.50 a pack. A $5 handkerchief more than pays itself back with one full usage of 60 blows – with 0% of the trash!
  3. Handkerchiefs are SOFT – much less harsh on your nose than tissues (except maybe the lotion tissues, those things are mint)
  4. Handkerchiefs are convenient – I’ve got into the habit of keeping one in my back pocket at all times. Color me prepared.
  5. Handkerchiefs are stylish – they don’t have to be white! But let’s not confuse handkerchiefs and pocket squares. Handkerchiefs are cotton – Pocket squares are silk

*Vodka, Roadkill, Grandkids… maybe one or two others?

 

Woodpeckers

You’re probably familiar with the Downy Woodpecker. It’s a little black and white bird that frequents pretty much the entire United States year round. It’s about the same size as a tufted titmouse.

The Downy Woodpecker has a lesser known doppelgänger: The Hairy Woodpecker. These birds look virtually identical, except the Hairy Woodpecker is bigger. How much bigger?

Well, we happened to have both land on our feeder the other day. Here’s a photograph. Downy on the right, Hairy on the left.

hairybird

Fun fact for the bird ignorant: The Male of both the Downy and Hairy varieties has a little tuft of red feathers on the back of its head.