(violetcheetah suggested that I title this "Sunday Morning Rambly Bits" with apologies to gnomi, but it is no longer morning.)
- Any fellow Random-ites planning to go to the birthday party? I haven't yet decided.
- A couple of weeks ago, I was driving up I-95 on my way to work and noticed a sudden plume of smoke ahead. The source was a small car -- not a sportscar, but a sporty small model -- perhaps half a mile ahead of me. That car pulled off into the breakdown lane, so I soon passed it ... and about five seconds later, passed the tire merrily rolling its way on down the breakdown lane, maintaining a pretty good clip. I don't know how the car managed to lose what appeared to be a perfectly round tire from around its wheel. I've heard that kids in the old days played with sticks and hoops, but ... somehow I don't think the driver was trying for the modern version of the game.
- As I headed home a more recent evening, I saw an AAA flatbed tow truck moving south down I-95. This wasn't a private garage's truck with a AAA symbol; it was fully painted as being AAA's own vehicle. It was moving down the highway backwards ... because it was itself being towed, by a private-garage big rig tower.
- One recent Thursday, I was working from home and went downstairs for food. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a bird hanging midair below one of the feeders on the deck. Many months ago I had tried to tether that feeder so that the squirrels couldn't tilt it enough to empty it; the long thin string I used did not really work, and I had left it there, blowing in the wind, forgotten. It had snared the bird. To my immense relief the bird did not appear to be injured, but the string had somehow looped around its wings at the join. I reached to try to free it, but it flailed at my approach and I feared it would quickly be injured. I instead went inside and brought out a pair of scissors. I was half convinced the bird would flail at just the wrong time and kill itself on the scissors, so I kept them closed as I slid them down the string. Just above the wings I opened the scissors very slightly and managed to snip across both sides of the string at once. In that moment, it seemed, the bird was already several feet away from me, flying swiftly to the neighbor's big evergreen. The bird seemed fine, so there was apparently no harm done, but I am left to wonder what it is with me and my tendency towards endangering innocent animals by neligence with string.
- The Discovery Channel has a new show called "Smash Lab". I checked out the first episode and won't be watching it again. What I like about "Mythbusters" is that they try to get the science and math right and they try to account for all factors; the explosions and collisions are there to make it "TV-friendly", but to all appearances they are achieved fairly. I know that pilot episodes are not always typical of a full production, but based on that first episode of "Smash Lab", their math and experimental conditions are either insufficiently acknowledged or entirely bad. For example: To test how destructive the collision would be if a freeway car crossed the median and entered opposite-bound traffic, they set up a runway with one freeway-speed moving vehicle (60mph, I think) approaching a double-row of stationary vehicles at a 30-degree angle. It would be on thing if they were testing a 90-degree collision, but the lesser angle would mean that the oncoming traffic's speed would increase the collision force. (They did not indicate that the rogue vehicle was meant to be colliding with a traffic jam.) They could easily have accounted for this in at least a rudimentary fashion by increasing the speed of the moving vehicle by a calculated amount; they didn't even acknowledge the factor. As best I can tell, the show is meant to be explosion/collision porn; if so, just be honest about it, Discovery. Don't demean science by using it as a front.