Thursday, February 28, 2013

Where should I put the keys?

This morning I weighed 215.8 pounds.

While on vacation, we rented a Ford Taurus with Ford Sync. (I enjoyed giving the car voice commands: "Climate: 68 degrees.") The car used those Smart Keys that don’t even have to be inserted into an ignition. The car will start as long as the keys appear to be inside.

For days I had the same problem. I would use the keys to unlock the door (which turned out to be unnecessary), sit down, start the car, and then look at the keys in my hand. Where should I put them? At my weight, in a seat belt, it’s not that easy to reach into a pocket. I wished there was a hole I could shove the keys into.

I solved the problem by hooking the car keys securely to my belt. I only needed to grasp the keys to lock the car (I bet that was unnecessary also), and to unlock the trunk.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Show us your ...:

My diet continues. (I began at 224 pounds on December 3, 2012.) This morning I weighed 215.4 pounds. The additional loss of 4 pounds in the last two weeks seems wonderful, but in fact I have been sick. Usually, when my health recovers, I turn ravenous and eat the pounds back. This time, we shall see.

I was on a wonderful vacation (more about that in future blog entries), so I did not see the Academy Awards number, “Show us your Boobs” until YouTube. People have criticized this number for being very sexist, but I think you should give the Academy a few years to provide a balanced approach. I expect to see “Show us your Junk” on the Academy Awards program within a few years.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

How to write a manual for an automobile:

Every good writer tries to avoid overusing phrases. A phrase that appears again and again, in any writing, is there for effect, or else it is there to annoy.

I have been reading the manual for a modern Ford, and in its 500(!) pages , there is one phrase that appears much, much too often. That prase is: if equipped.

This is a one-manual-fits-all book. There seem to be dozens of optional features. There are options within options. It is clearly hell to try to concentrate on what one has actually got while reading the manual. The worst case, I think, is the keys. There are manual keys, keys that can do a few remote commands, and smart key that don’t need to be plugged in. They behave differently in many ways, requiring more than a dozen “if equipped” alternatives.

For goodness sakes, you car manufacturers! This is the 21st Century! Have you ever heard of “print on demand?” The dealer should print the manual for a specific car after it is equipped and when it is being sold. The car’s computer knows most of the options, so the dealer can copy the options to a USB key. The dealer can feed this info, plus some external option selections, into the printing program. And the buyer will get a book that applies to This Car Only.

Will it be a pleasure to read? Well, not quite. One more writing change is needed. This Ford manual, which I believe is typical, interleaves instructions with all the necessary dumb warnings. The sensor will not work if it is blocked. The HD radio station might disappear if the signal is weak. The rear camera is no substitute for paying attention and looking in the mirror. (This truly important advice appears over and over in the manual.)

Write these warnings all in one place! Then the buyer will have a manual that is a pleasure to understand.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Watch the Retiring Pope:

There's an awful rumor that after Pope Benedict XVI  retires, he will become a consultant for one of those enormous military/tech companies that does business with the Vatican. Buying armaments from the Swiss Guards and such. You know.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Let it Snow, Let it Rain, Let it Snow:

This morning I weighed 219.6 pounds.

Today, we have a really unusual weather forecast for Central New Jersey:
4 a.m.: Snow
7 a.m.: Rain

10 a.m.: Snow
1 p.m.: Rain

4 p.m.: Snow
7 p.m.: Rain

10 p.m.: Snow

I wonder what will REALLY happen.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Taking a break in my Diet:

This morning I weighed 219.4 pounds.

It has been fun posting my weight every day, and I'm sure that's the only reason I have lost some weight. I had hoped to lose 10 pounds by now, but I really seem to have taken five off, and that's gratifying. I shall take a break for a few weeks - blogging less often - and around March 1, I shall pick up the detailed dieting again. I shall be devastated - and frank about it - if I fail to preserve my weight loss in February.

Thanks to all of you who read my blog, for giving me the impetus to lose.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Shelby Lyman Chess: Again:

If you follow the anonymous "Chess" newspaper column that, I believe, is prepared by Shelby Lyman, you may have been puzzled by his diagram of the game Aronian/Anand from the current Steel Tata tournament. The "Chess" column's diagram leaves you wondering why black didn't simply fork king and knight by playing 23. ... Nf2ch.

There is a white rook at f1 (missing in Lyman's diagram), that's why. Anand's actual move is stupendous. 23. ... Bd3 prevents white's queen from protecting h3. Black threatens Qxh3ch, and there's nothing to be done about it.

At this web page, you can play through the game and see the correct finish. The whole game is amazing, in fact. See Kavalek's analysis here, where you can also play through the game step by step, with Kavalek's comments.

Super Bowl: the Ninth Plague:

Today I weight 219.8 pounds. Bouncy, bouncy.

Although I rooted for the Ravens in the Super Bowl, I do think they won because of three terrible calls by the referees. But they might have won anyway if the lights hadn't blinked out for 33 minutes. I've heard that the lights-out delay, plus the long half-time, plus the vagaries of the game, meant that the Ravens' quarterback did not throw a pass for an hour and a half -- a long time to get rusty.

When the lights went out, it was like the Ninth Plague. The Forty-Nineryptians were plunged into darkness, but on the other side of the field, the Ravenites had light.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

This morning I weighed 218.8 pounds. That's exciting: it's my lowest weight on my diet that started at 225.

"Raven's" (that's how many people know me on Facebook) congratulates the Ravens on their superbowl win. Congrats also to Colin Kaepernick for showing so much class in a losing effort.