A Plea For Transparency in Advertising

Panhandlers and bums are becoming more and more honest and trasparent. It’s become fashionable for them to display signs saying something like “Not gonna lie, I need beer”.

Why can’t businesses be more like today’s forward thinking beggars? I’d appreciate the honesty of a commercial stating “We really don’t care about your needs, we just want your money”?

Felix Krautbenschlasser

No one has been more ignored by history than Felix Krautbenschlasser, the inventor of the intermission. Felix never sought to give relief to sedentary opera goers. He was just looking for an excuse to leave boring shows without angering his wife, Hilda.

His first experiment came during a showing of Rigoletto when, during a lull in the singing he made a scene by crying out, “Oh, my thighs ache, I might have a clot!”

It was actually his only experiment because later that night he died from a pulmonary embolism. But after reading his obituary, people started taking breaks during shows.

Excruciating Circumstances

Yesterday I thought it would be funny to sneak up on my unsuspecting teenager and try to scare him. He had on an unzipped hoodie and had pulled the two sides of it up and over his head. Don’t ask why he was doing that. As I said in the first sentence, he’s a teenager. He had no idea I was behind him.

So I quickly wrapped my arms around his waist and said “gotcha”. Well, I scared him so well that he threw himself forward while my arms where still locked around his waist. That move pulled me forward and wrenched something in my back.

Since then I’ve been in terrible pain. It’s been hard to sit, hard to stand and moving is, hard. I’m so uncomfortable that I really didn’t want to to write this post. When my son heard me say this he responded “Just skip it today, you have excruciating circumstances”. 

He thought he was pretty clever with that one. Actually, I thought it was pretty clever too. So I decided to write through the pain and post this, just so I could use his phrase. 

Excruciating Circumstances

Invention 237: X-Ray Toothbrush

Kids hate getting x-rays when they go to the dentist. For that matter adults don’t usually care for it either. You have to have a big sharp piece of plastic shoved into your cheeks and then you’re told to sit in an uncomfortable chair and hold still while the hygienist runs and hides behind a lead wall. I mean, they’re hygienists, are they even qualified to use this kind of equipment?

So I got to thinking, what’s another situation where kids can have pieces of plastic shoved in their mouths where we could take x-rays without the uncomfortable chair? Then it hit me that the toothbrush is the perfect tool for this. I just have to figure out how to miniaturize a machine needing 10,000 volts to work. I’ll probably just make this a hard wired device which will require an electrician (or at least someone who kind of knows what they’re doing). I’m sure it will be very safe.

Every night this toothbrush will image your child’s teeth to check for cavities or hidden knives in their cheeks. As an added bonus your child gets a healthy dose of radiation which I once read in some random blog actually promotes stronger bones!

Just download the free app on your iPhone or Android and the images will be transferred directly to your device. You can then configure it to send updates straight to your kid’s dentist.

Each toothbrush is shipped with a lead lined parent smock.

A 10 Step Guide to a Horribly Inefficient Shopping Trip

Why would anyone want to make sure their shopping trip is inefficient, clumsy and painful? Why not? Don’t be stuck up and think you have to get in and out, only buy what’s on the list and get home quickly to take care of life’s other responsibilities. Whatever! How’s the store supposed to make any money if you don’t buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need?

So, what’s the most inefficient way to do your grocery shopping? Here’s a list of the top ten methods to ensure things don’t go your way:

  1. Go at the busiest time. This one is obvious so I thought I would get it out of the way first. The more people at the store the more crowded the isles. It’s a sure bet that every isle you turn down will be packed and you’ll quickly move on to the next one hoping it will be better. It won’t.
  2. Don’t make a list. Where’s your sense of adventure? Live a little. Don’t go prepared or you’ll be bored and will miss all of the great products that you don’t need or like but are such “great deals”.
  3. Shop at a store you’ve never been to. This way you’ll be totally unfamiliar with the layout or even the product offering. If you’re lucky, this might even cause you to have to go to a different store for the one item this one doesn’t have.
  4. Use a full size cart when a short cart or hand basket will do. The bulk of the cart will slow you down, make navigating isles more difficult and encourage you to buy more than you actually need.
  5. Use a short cart of hand basket when you know you need a full size cart. When your basket is full and you’ve only visited the deli, you’ll have to take the time to go get a bigger cart and transfer all of your items into it. You can also start with the smallest basket available and stair step your way up until you’ve reached what you actually need. See, isn’t this fun?
  6. Don’t ever ask for help finding things. That would be insane. Store clerks typically know where things are located. At the very least they would be able to point you in the general direction. But then you wouldn’t be able to waste ten minutes looking on the other side of the store where you think the item “should” be.
  7. At checkout, choose the longest line. Need I say more? Actually, I do have more to say. If you see a checkout line with only one person in it and every other line has ten, go to that line! The person is either arguing with a manager about being overcharged ten cents for a pineapple or they’re an extreme couponer who has crashed the register. Either way, this will be an excessively inefficient line.8.
  8. Wait in your long line until you’re the second person, then inconveniently forget to have bought a kumquat. Leave the line to go get it. Alternatively, if you have every item from the store in your cart, hop out of line and go to a closed lane muttering “this one looks much better”.
  9. Question the price of everything that’s scanned. Additionally, you can hand the store’s coupon book or ad to the clerk and ask them to find everything that will save you money. Even if the clerk refuses, you can probably spend an inordinate amount of time arguing about it.
  10. Finally, even if you’re a healthy 25 year old male buying only some bananas and bottled water, ask for assistance carrying your groceries to the car. The employee pressed into service to help you will almost assuredly move slowly and hold you up.

So there you have it, a ten step plan to have the most inefficient shopping trip possible. And here’s a bonus tip if you want to go pro. Wait until you’re just pulling into the garage before realizing you forgot the key ingredient for dinner tonight. Happy shopping!

Other People’s Code

I like looking at other people’s code. Said in the right voice, that could sound quite creepy. But I like to see what kind of projects they’re working on, how they implement solutions, what languages they chose to work with and how many other people are using their work. So I’ll keep looking at other people’s code. At night. Through their window. While they work.

Sometimes, I’ll just go to GitHub and search for a language or maybe a keyword having to do with something I’m doing in one of my own projects. This usually gives me a couple hundred pages of repositories to look through. I’ll click on page 99 or 100 of the results just to “randomize” what I’m seeing a little.

Over the last couple of weeks I started realizing that I was only searching for code in languages that I was familiar with. Within those languages I was only really reading code that I already understood or was familiar with. That didn’t set right with me because I wasn’t seeing anything new or interesting.  I felt like I wasn’t growing as a developer. I was staying comfortable and not challenging my skills.

So I decided to do something about it. I wrote a short little Python script (and later created a more convenient JavaScript bookmarklet) that randomly selects a repository and opens it. Ok, Ok, it’s not that exciting or inspiring. Nor is it original or even useful. It has a bug or two and should probably be developed a little more to give the user more options to filter things out.

But the idea was to gain exposure to new coding styles, languages and technologies and on those points it is a success! I have started a weekly habit of searching randomly using the bookmarklet and whatever result I get, I force myself to read through it and try to understand it. If I think the code is interesting enough I will try to implement it locally.

If you’re interested, you can find the repository at https://github.com/RyanDavison/RandomRepo . Feel free to fix bugs, add features or anything else. If you just want to play around with finding random repositories you can drag the link on this page to your bookmarks bar and click away.