Royalty

One person’s junk is another person’s gems. I have my Grandfather’s old manual Royal typewriter and I love it. It’s a portable typewriter, and I remember playing with this thing when I was just a little kid. It needs to be cleaned up a bit and it needs a new ribbon, but one day, I am going to write a story on this typewriter. I haven’t quite decided where to put it yet. Somewhere in my office, I’m thinking, but I’m not sure where. Maybe I can find some kind of old typewriter stand to go along with it?

Goodbye Siestas?

A friend told me that the tradition of “siestas” in Europe may be waning, and I checked online, and sure enough that appears to be the case, at least in Spain. According to a BBC news article:

But the country’s corporate culture now spurns the idea of daytime dozing as being unproductive, and the siesta is fast becoming an endangered institution.

I have a siesta of sorts. Every day, during my lunch break, I close the door to my office, eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, read for 20 minutes, and the spend the rest of my lunch hour, napping. I’ve been doing it for a while now, and it is amazingly refreshing. I usually fall into a deep sleep within a few minutes and wake up 29 minutes later. It’s great. I can see how the folks in Spain would be upset about losing their siestas. I’d hate to lose mine.

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Goodbye Siestas?

A friend told me that the tradition of “siestas” in Europe may be waning, and I checked online, and sure enough that appears to be the case, at least in Spain. According to a BBC news article:

But the country’s corporate culture now spurns the idea of daytime dozing as being unproductive, and the siesta is fast becoming an endangered institution.

I have a siesta of sorts. Every day, during my lunch break, I close the door to my office, eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, read for 20 minutes, and the spend the rest of my lunch hour, napping. I’ve been doing it for a while now, and it is amazingly refreshing. I usually fall into a deep sleep within a few minutes and wake up 29 minutes later. It’s great. I can see how the folks in Spain would be upset about losing their siestas. I’d hate to lose mine.

You gotta start off each day with a song…

There is a great bit by Bing Crosby and Jimmy Durante called, “You’ve Gotta Start Off Each Day with a Song”, which is one of the funniest things I’ve heard. It’s a song-and-banter kind of thing that was common back in the golden age of radio, but it’s great. There’s another bit with Bing and George Burns singing “It Might As Well Be Spring”, but I’ve got to say that the Bing and Jimmy bit is funnier.

I came across the song on a Bing Crosby collection I have–a 2-disc set of his “Radio Years”.

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You gotta start off each day with a song…

There is a great bit by Bing Crosby and Jimmy Durante called, “You’ve Gotta Start Off Each Day with a Song”, which is one of the funniest things I’ve heard. It’s a song-and-banter kind of thing that was common back in the golden age of radio, but it’s great. There’s another bit with Bing and George Burns singing “It Might As Well Be Spring”, but I’ve got to say that the Bing and Jimmy bit is funnier.

I came across the song on a Bing Crosby collection I have–a 2-disc set of his “Radio Years”.

Why are razor blades so expensive?

I’ve wondered this for a long time, but never really thought to look into it. Until tonight, after shaving. Apparently, I’m not the only one who has asked this question. My search came up with several blogs asking essentially the same question, but with no good answer.

As best as I can figure from the available information, it goes back to Gillette’s “Razor Blade Business Model”, which involved the notion of a “loss leader”–namely, disposable razors. But I’m not sure I understand that. It just raises more questions in my mind. If disposable razors are so cheap where are razor blades so expensive. Disposable razors have a blade, don’t they? Maybe the quality is not as good. Good razors have thin blades and the thinner the better. Maybe it’s more expensive to make them thinner. Also, good razors have more than one blade–sometimes 4 or 5.

There’s nothing conclusive. When it gets down to it, I suspect that a 5-pack of Mach-3 razor blades cost $20+ because people are willing to pay $20+. Especially if you are like me and hate electric razors.

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Why are razor blades so expensive?

I’ve wondered this for a long time, but never really thought to look into it. Until tonight, after shaving. Apparently, I’m not the only one who has asked this question. My search came up with several blogs asking essentially the same question, but with no good answer.

As best as I can figure from the available information, it goes back to Gillette’s “Razor Blade Business Model”, which involved the notion of a “loss leader”–namely, disposable razors. But I’m not sure I understand that. It just raises more questions in my mind. If disposable razors are so cheap where are razor blades so expensive. Disposable razors have a blade, don’t they? Maybe the quality is not as good. Good razors have thin blades and the thinner the better. Maybe it’s more expensive to make them thinner. Also, good razors have more than one blade–sometimes 4 or 5.

There’s nothing conclusive. When it gets down to it, I suspect that a 5-pack of Mach-3 razor blades cost $20+ because people are willing to pay $20+. Especially if you are like me and hate electric razors.

New story idea: “The Graveyard Shift”

Sitting in a meeting this afternoon, I got a great idea for a story, and it immediately caught fire with me. When I got back to my office, I jotted down the idea so I wouldn’t forget. I even have a working title, “The Graveyard Shift”. So enthusiastic am I about this story, that I decided to hold off on writing “If By Reason of Strength…” so that I could work on this story instead. I have rarely, if ever, done a detailed outline for a story I’ve written. Usually, I think up a problem and solution (so I have something to work toward) and go from there. Tonight, however, I just finished writing a 2,800 word ”outline” of the story. It covers the whole story beginning to end. I won’t say much about it other than that it is a murder mystery that takes place a few thousand years in the future, in a very cool (and complex) social environment.

I’ll probably start the actual writing of it tomorow evening. With a detailed outline to work from, I don’t think it will take too long to write the story, although it could end up being longer (in terms of words) than any story I’ve written in a while. What with the outline being nearly 3,000 words, I could easily see this story at 12-15,000 words long. But it’s got good pacing and lots of characters (which is unusual for me–my stories typically deal with 2 or 3 main characters. This story has 5 or 6.)

Best of all, I’m really excited about it, which always makes it fun to write. It will be a good experiment to see how much the outline helps the writing process, and the quality of the story.

Now I’m packing my lunch and then off to bed.

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New story idea: “The Graveyard Shift”

Sitting in a meeting this afternoon, I got a great idea for a story, and it immediately caught fire with me. When I got back to my office, I jotted down the idea so I wouldn’t forget. I even have a working title, “The Graveyard Shift”. So enthusiastic am I about this story, that I decided to hold off on writing “If By Reason of Strength…” so that I could work on this story instead. I have rarely, if ever, done a detailed outline for a story I’ve written. Usually, I think up a problem and solution (so I have something to work toward) and go from there. Tonight, however, I just finished writing a 2,800 word ”outline” of the story. It covers the whole story beginning to end. I won’t say much about it other than that it is a murder mystery that takes place a few thousand years in the future, in a very cool (and complex) social environment.

I’ll probably start the actual writing of it tomorow evening. With a detailed outline to work from, I don’t think it will take too long to write the story, although it could end up being longer (in terms of words) than any story I’ve written in a while. What with the outline being nearly 3,000 words, I could easily see this story at 12-15,000 words long. But it’s got good pacing and lots of characters (which is unusual for me–my stories typically deal with 2 or 3 main characters. This story has 5 or 6.)

Best of all, I’m really excited about it, which always makes it fun to write. It will be a good experiment to see how much the outline helps the writing process, and the quality of the story.

Now I’m packing my lunch and then off to bed.

Good news/bad news

I woke up around 1 AM and got up to get a drink of water. I wandered into the office and checked the latest headlines, and was happy to see that 12 of the 13 miners trapped by a mine explosion in West Virgina were found alive. Good news!

I went back to bed.

When I got up for work 5 hours later, I checked the headlines again, as I always do, while brushing my teeth, and found out that there was some miscommunication. 12 of the 13 miners were found dead. Bad news. Awful, actually, since the families were told only hours before that the miners had been found alive.

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Good news/bad news

I woke up around 1 AM and got up to get a drink of water. I wandered into the office and checked the latest headlines, and was happy to see that 12 of the 13 miners trapped by a mine explosion in West Virgina were found alive. Good news!

I went back to bed.

When I got up for work 5 hours later, I checked the headlines again, as I always do, while brushing my teeth, and found out that there was some miscommunication. 12 of the 13 miners were found dead. Bad news. Awful, actually, since the families were told only hours before that the miners had been found alive.

Laughing Outloud: from “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

I was reading this book shortly after getting back from vacation in November. There is a lot of funny stuff in this book, but one passage in particular made me burst out laughing, mainly due to the nature of the subject. I received a few strange glances, laughing so hard at something contained within a physicists autobiography. Here’s the passage:

I often liked to play tricks on people when I was at MIT. One time, in mechanical drawing class, some joker picked up a French curve (a piece of plastic for drawing smooth curves–a curly, funny-looking thing) and said, “I wonder if the curves on this thing have some special formula?”

I thought for a moment and said, “Sure they do. The curves are very special curves. Lemme show ya,” and I picked up the French curve and began to turn it slowly. “The French curve is made so that at the lowest point on each curve, no matter how you turn it, the tangent is horizontal.”

All the guys in the class were holding their French curve up at different angles, holding their pencil up to it at the lowest point and laying it along, and discovering that, sure enough, the tangent is horizontal. They were all excited by this “discovery”–even though they had already “learned” that the derivative (tangent) of the minimum (lowest point) of any curve is zero (horizontal). They didn’t put two and two together. They didn’t even know what they “knew.”

From “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” by Richard P. Feynman.

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