Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Small Improvement for Google Mail:

As Google works on integrating all of its apps, it has changed the Gmail and blogging interfaces to a much more "clean" format. I would like to see Google take this progression one step further: in Gmail, The large SEND button should turn green when the text that I am writing is ready to send.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Frozen Dried Plums (oh, well ... Prunes):

Are you a regular reader of my blog? If so, I’m sure you appreciate the terrific food tips I’ve given you from year to year. Today’s tip derives from stupidity. Last Wednesday, I just couldn’t find my container of Sun Maid Prunes anywhere. Late that night, I opened the refrigerator freezer and there they were. I can’t imagine what I was thinking when I misfiled them.

I was curious whether they had frozen rock solid. They hadn’t so I ate one. It was delicious, chilly on the tongue, its flavor concentrated by the cold. I left them in the freezer to determine whether they would freeze solid in another day or two. They didn’t, and I’m still enjoying my cold, cold prunes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why the ‘1’?

Since we upgraded to FIOS, we can no longer make 7-digit phone calls. We always have to specify the area code. (The phone companies have a reason for enforcing this new practice. But they would do much better to let us each specify, and change at will, whatever 3-digit prefix we wanted to use by default.)

At first, I felt that FIOS had dropped a drudgery on me. Why should I have to always type those extra three keys? But then I decided I was breaking even, or coming out ahead. True, I have to type ten digits instead of seven, but I also get to type ten digits instead of eleven! The ‘1’ before the area code is now totally unnecessary for me, and for many of you as well.

And then I started to feel superior: to all those web sites, ads, and print items that tell you to dial numbers like 1-800-555-5555 and so on. Every time I see them, I imagine myself sending an eText to their webmaster, publisher, etc., to say: Why the ‘1’? Get rid of the ‘1’, we don’t need it any more.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stop SOPA! Stop PIPA!

                                                           STOP SOPA!  STOP PIPA!                                               

About Those Ba%#*&rds Who Caused our Financial Collapse in 2008:

I suspect you get a sour feeling when you think about the irresponsible masterminds whose financial dealings almost destroyed our economy in 2008. Perhaps it aggravates you that they haven't had to take responsibility. Few of them have been charged with a criminal offense. And hardly any of them will serve prison time.

Well now I know exactly why that is. It's very simple. They are: Too Big To Jail.

Think about it: Too Big To Jail.

This insight gives me peace. Now I understand, and I’m sure you do.

I thought up this phrase by myself today, but many others invented it before me. Please pass this phrase on to your closest friends. You, and they, deserve to feel as calm and accepting as I.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thanks, - Toby

Email has always been bedeviled by a pair of minor problems: the Salutation and the Signoff.
I have no useful advice about the salutation. Often, it's really hard to guess what sort of person or people you are addressing. When I'm in the dark, I usually begin my Email like this:
{Etc. ...}

I believe I have solved the signoff issue. It is always good, unless you are touching a loved one, to end your email like this:
- Toby

I think that this signoff feels especially nice in emails that criticize the recipient. No matter how nasty your email gets, you can assume that your polite signoff will disarm them.
- me

Monday, January 09, 2012

Kitchen Problem Solved!

Super markets, gourmet stores, and megastores like Target and all have gadget walls with kitchen gimmicks and gimcracks that are lots of fun to conjure with. I love to look at these walls. Some of the gadgets are so expensive that I can't justify the cost; I just dream about them. Others are so practical that I'm happy to buy them. But what I really like is to find a gadget the solves a problem that I never knew I had.

I found one of those gadgets tonigh,t and I'm more than glad to share it with you. Just imagine: you're roasting a turkey, and of course you want it to stay moist so you cover it with cheese cloth. Every 30 minutes, you to take it out of the oven, and you grab your handy baster. You suck up the pan juice and use the baster to spray the pan juice all over the turkey.

Wouldn't it be awful if you had to deal with an imperfect baster? Wouldn’t that drive you nuts? Well fear no more. Now you can have the Dripless Baster. You can be sure that when you suck up all those pan juices, your baster will not spill a drop into the pan before you spill every drop onto your turkey (and thus into the pan).

Problem solved. And you didn’t even know you had it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Lottery Logic:

I strongly disapprove of any state-sponsored gambling. Not lotteries, not off-track betting, nothing. I won’t go into the many reasons here, but I want to note my fascination with the way state-sponsored gambling is advertized. The ads must draw in bettors without making claims that are too outrageous or false. A good example is New York’s focus on the value of winning. Could you win? Hey, you never know. (But if you had to, you could make a pretty good guess.)

The multistate Power Ball Lottery (of course I won’t give you a link) is doubling its ticket price, and they are plastering the air with ads that justify this move. They point out that there are lots of things right now whose price is going up, even as the value goes down. But not Power Ball! You pay twice as much for your ticket, but the minimum win doubles also, from twenty$ million$ to forty$$ million$$$.

Now just think of that: you pay twice as much, but you win twice as much; if you win, that is. The other 43,278,956 Power Ball players (my silly estimate) are paying twice as much for nothing.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Completely Confusled:

In New Jersey, and probably where you live, it's illegal to operate the windshield wipers on your car without turning your lights on. I had a problem with this law, but only because I was completely confused.

A light rain was falling, and the windshield wipers on our car make a horrible scraping sound when there isn’t enough moisture. I turned the windshield wipers to their lowest setting. The car lights helped me to see, but the wipers still made the awful scraping sounds. In order to achieve a little peace and quiet, I operated the wipers manually, keeping them off, but turning them on briefly every twenty seconds or so.

I was sure I was breaking the law. I imagined being stopped by a policeman. He would say, “You were running without your windshield wipers.”

I would say, “Well, I had them on manual.”

“I didn’t see them move,” the policeman would say. “It must be forty seconds since you turned them on. I’m writing you a ticket.”

Finally, I came to my senses. There’s no law against using my lights without using my windshield wipers! I had everything backwards. Silly me.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Jim Romenesko is a thoughtful journalist who, for years, ran a web page about weird news stories. He recently abandoned that site to start up . He describes his new website as about: Media and Other things he is interested in. One of his interests, which he follows with patient agony, is the shrinking of the newspaper and print businesses. When you check our his site, you'll see a lot of words. Persevere, they are worth reading.