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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Driverless Cars

Driver-less Cars
A cranky opinion for
The following is the opinion of a cranky old man who has no knowledge on the topic opined.  Opposing opinions are welcome, ok not welcome, but will be tolerated…maybe.  As always, no name calling, and that means you, you big stupid-head!
Never in my life would I have envisioned such a thing as a driver-less car.  Personally, I think they are a very bad idea, but then I am old.  I thought ATM’s were a bad idea.  I hate self-checkouts, and downloading a book onto an electronic reading device still boggles my mind.
Very smart people are investing tons of money on driver-less cars, so even though I think they are a bad idea, I suspect they will someday be common.
Recently Uber has been testing driver-less cars.  Last week one hit a lady who was walking her bike across the street, not in a crosswalk.  There was a person behind the wheel of the Uber car, but a video shows he was dosing off, I assume from boredom.
The video also shows the accident.  Sadly, the woman was killed.  I have read that driver-less cars are possibly safer and more reliable than a manually operated car. 
Perhaps, but there will be accidents and law suits might be the demise of the technology.
This recent accident has put the Uber test on hold at least temporarily.  As much as I don’t like the idea of driver-less cars, from the video I saw, the accident was not the fault of the car.
This woman was casually walking her bike across a street at night.  There was almost no traffic.  The lady was looking straight ahead as it seems to me is common with pedestrians today.  Had she looked both ways like they used to teach in first grade, she would have either safely jogged across the street or waited five seconds for the Uber to pass and then crossed.
Based on the video, if the man behind the wheel was alert he still probably would not have seen the pedestrian in time. 
I thought the driver-less technology could detect a sudden obstacle in the dark, but it did not.  Perhaps it was a malfunction or maybe the car was only programmed to detect crosswalk activity. 
If the technology needs tweaking to improve, this accident is a sad way to find out, however I think perhaps we also need pedestrian technology. 
If pedestrians no longer have the skill to cross a street, if the old-look-both-ways technology is no longer in use, perhaps we need a mindless-pedestrian app.  Cell phones should scan the area when a pedestrian is walking and if the pedestrian is about to walk into a lamppost it would sound an alert, or if crossing a street, the app will give the walker a shock if it detects a car coming in the direction the pedestrian is going.
Technology is great, but with it we lose certain abilities.  Calculators have made doing math in your head obsolete.  Since using a keyboard almost exclusively, I can barely write my own name on a check. 
Driver-less cars might be great, but if the GPS system is down, future riders will not have a clue how to operate a car.
I don’t know what technology has caused pedestrians to no longer know how to cross a street, maybe this skill should be taught again in the first grade.
This accident was sad, and I do feel for this lady and her loved ones, but Holy Hannah, how difficult is it to cross a street?
The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.   

Thursday, March 22, 2018

My Brother vs The Antipennyite

My Brother vs The Antipennyite

That retired teacher from Missouri, Val the Dictorian@, is a collector of pennies.  She often complains of antipennyites who do not appreciate the value of a penny. 

It reminds me of a story of my brother, an event I am quite sure he thought nothing of and will not remember.

My older brother was a lawyer and was quite successful.  He was later a Clinton appointee Federal Judge.  He retired a few years ago.

Besides being incredibly smart, (he graduated from Harvard Law) and hardworking, my brother is probably the most honest person I have ever known.  He is very competitive but would never think of gaining an advantage by cheating. 

The law came natural to him as the law is the only way to fairly settle disputes.  Without our legal system there would be chaos, and without honest people in that system there would be anarchy.


A few years ago, I was visiting and we stopped for a few items at a pharmacy, probably ibuprofen and some gum, before playing golf.  My brother paid with a fiver and when he got his change back calculated he was short one penny.  He told the cashier that he was short a penny, and the mathematical calculations were discussed.

Behind us was a lady who was clearly in a hurry.  She was exasperated over my brothers taking time to resolve the penny deficiency.

“Oh, for crying out loud, what is the difference?  It is only a penny.”

Now my brother, who I know for certainty would have also argued to return the penny had it been incorrectly dispersed to him, responded calmly in a manner which I feel defines his judicial personality and his honesty.

He turned and said calmly but firmly,

“The difference is, it is my penny.”

Of many experiences with my brother, of the things he has taught me, and the things he has accomplished that makes me admire him, this simple comment that made me laugh, somehow defines his value system and reverence to the law.

Whenever I hear someone complain about something they may think is inconsequential, I think,

“The difference is, it is my penny.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Our townhome is heated by forced hot air.  Forced hot air is a very efficient system to install and works quite well except for one flaw.  Forced hot air sucks humidity from the home.  In order to keep a comfortable environment with this system you either need a million house plants, or a humidifier.
We have a humidifier in our bedroom.  I run it every night.  Without it my skin gets dry and itchy and my nasal cavity gets so dry I becomes susceptible to germs and colds.
The humidifier seems very simple.  Fill it with water, turn it on. 
Except it is not simple. 
I cannot work this machine. 
It is so NOT simple that I can’t even explain what it is that I do wrong, but when I fill it up and then turn it on, it will put out a mist for maybe three minutes and then just shut down.
Mrs. C knows how to fill it and make it work, so it is her job.  I do not touch the humidifier and all is well in the Cranky Home.
This week Mrs. C is away working at a Ballroom Dance Competition that the studio she works for is hosting. 
She did not want me to touch the humidifier. 
I complained that I would dry like a prune without it.
She relented and carefully demonstrated the process to me.
“Turn this knob to the arrow.  Remove the mister.  Do not let it touch anything and be gentle.  Then lift the water receptacle out and be very careful not to drop or bump it into anything.  Move it carefully to the bathroom to fill it up.  If the tiny fremenger gets jostled, the machine will shut down.”
“I’m pretty sure I can remove, fill and replace the receptacle all by my big boy self!”
No, I don’t know what the fremenger is or what it does or looks like.
Last night I had to refill the humidifier.  I carefully removed the mister.  I then lifted the receptacle up.  It did not budge.  I jiggled it.  It did not budge.  I yanked it and it did not budge.
I may have been about to lose my temper when I noticed a piece of tape was holding the receptacle to the machine.  I ripped the tape off and yanked the receptacle out with perhaps a bit too much effort as perhaps I was a bit annoyed about the tape.
I dropped the receptacle.
I filled it anyway and placed back on the machine, screwed in the mister and turned it on. 
It worked just fine, for maybe three minutes, when a red light came on and the misting stopped,
I fiddled and fuddled again and again with the same result.
“I hate this friggin machine!! Why do I need an engineering degree to work a friggin humidifier?”
Besides my eminent prunification, I dreaded having to tell Mrs. C that I couldn’t make the damn thing work.  On the other hand, I wanted to cuss her out for taping the thing together, because of course this issue was her fault
After about my fifteenth try at getting this piece of crap to work I may have lost my temper a bit and gave the dang thing a whack.
I heard a “Whirr” and the mister did its thing.
Who said I can’t fix stuff?
Later that night when Mrs. C called to make sure I was surviving without her, I questioned why the tape.
“That was to keep you from turning it too high and to preserve water.”
“Oh, ok.”
I left it at that and said nothing of my trials and tribulations caused by her tape. 
I only would have been called a jerk.