Archive for the ‘Mishaps’ Category

Scaffolding

Some of you may recall that we recently moved. Part of the move process involved getting furniture from the 2nd story down to the moving van.

This was a complicated process, as some of the furniture was too big (queen box spring, long dresser) to fit down the stairs, as the stairway makes a turn at the bottom and larger items can’t make the corner. We knew it would be a problem getting those items out, as we had a problem getting them in.

Back then, we borrowed a scaffolding and used that to load the furniture in through the upstairs window. This time, we went to borrow the scaffolding and someone else was already borrowing it.

Not to be deterred, I went to the nearby store and bought 2 sheets of plywood and 3 dozen 2x4s. And some nails.

A few hours later, and with some help from friends and relatives, we had a scaffolding:

image of a makeshift scaffolding built out of 2x4s

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Not-So-Confusing Concepts

Due to my engineer-like traits of wanting to follow specifications, I do well at grammar. It’s relatively easy – there are rules, and you follow them. The rules are many, and sometimes may be vague or conflicting, but they are there. All one has to do is remember them and use them.

And likewise for the meanings of words. Words have specific meanings. When people are sloppy with their word choices and say things they didn’t mean, it annoys me. “You know what I meant” is a common excuse, but the reason we have a language is so that you can say the words that match what you mean and then everyone is clear on what you meant. If you can’t be bothered to say what you mean, why should I be the one to put forth effort in order to understand what you mean? Maybe that’s a valid excuse for a 3-year-old who is still learning words, but not for an adult who has completed his schooling.

There, now the groundwork for this post is out of the way, and I can get to the list of sayings that I’ve noticed people are having a hard time with. These are concepts more than spelling and grammar. Items in the spelling and grammar categories are things like lie/lay and effect/affect. Those are not hard either, people, but that’s a different topic.

  • Wrong vs. Lying
    “Are you saying I’m lying?” is a common retort one might hear when one corrects another. But most of the time, one is not accusing the other of fraud. In order for someone to be lying, he must know the truth but present something other than the truth. Presenting something that he believes to be the truth but is not the truth is not lying, simply an error.

    I’ve noticed this more in politics than other areas of life – Senator So-and-so lied to us about such-and-such. Maybe he didn’t lie – maybe he was just wrong.

  • Original vs. Unique
    “That’s not original” is an accusation that is made against something that one has seen before. But original doesn’t mean no one else has made a similar item – that’s what unique means. Original means that one thought it up by oneself. Multiple people can think of the same thing independently and they would all be original but none would be unique.
  • Flush Out vs. Flesh Out
    I never thought much about this one, because it seemed obvious enough to me. But I’ve been noticing it more and more. And when I was in England recently, I noticed they always got it right.

    Flush out is when you are trying to find something – think about the hunting dog who goes into the reeds to flush out the fowl.
    Flesh out is when you are trying to fill in gaps – like adding flesh to a skeleton to get a complete body. Apply this to things like a writing outline – the outline is the skeleton and you flesh out the details of the story.

  • Forward Slash vs. Back Slash
    Can you not see which way the slash is leaning? If the slash is leaning to the right, it’s a forward slash. Because that’s the direction the text is going. And if the top of the slash is left of the bottom, it’s a back slash. The only valid excuse I can think of for getting this one wrong is if your native language is written right-to-left.

    If you’re not sure, just say “slash” and people will type the right one.

  • Try To vs. Try And
    Trying to do something implies effort that may or may not be successful.
    Trying and doing something implies effort and then success.

    Why bother trying something and then doing something? Why not just do it? Yoda up – don’t try, just do.

    Try to verb means one action – an attempt at verb.
    Try and verb means two actions – an attempt first and then the verb.

    The only time this is acceptable is if you really intend on a practice round of whatever it is you’re doing.

Alright, I’m stepping off my soapbox now.

To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding,

Proverbs 1:2

Try to Dry

Ah, the old riddle: what gets wetter the more it dries?

Before answering that question, allow me to show you a photo from a hotel at which we stayed during a recent trip.

image of a sign at a hotel pool

Here’s a closer shot so you can read it.

image of a sign at a hotel pool that says to towel dry before leaving pool

It says

Please towel dry before leaving pool.
Thank you.

My wife pointed it out to me, as she correctly knew I would appreciate it.

The sign should have said to towel dry before leaving the pool room or before entering the hallway or courtyard.

To comply with the sign as written would have required over 100,000 towels (according to a topic I saw on Reddit about how many towels it would take to dry a pool. They assumed a larger pool, but they also assumed larger towels so it’s close enough).

Not only would the pool users waste a lot of time drying off while in the pool, they would need a pool-sized space to discard the wet towels.

We did not comply with the letter of the law, but I do believe we followed the spirit of the law.

Now back to the original question. The answer is, of course, a Hampton Inn pool room.

The waters from the sea will dry up, And the river will be parched and dry.

Isaiah 19:5

Customer Service

Our recent trip to Cedar Point was our second trip this year. The first one did not go so well. Let’s back up about 3 weeks before our successful trip…

I had planned a special father-son trip with Alpha, our oldest. He had never been to Cedar Point. I hadn’t been in over a decade. And I had never stayed at the on-site hotel. Since I was planning the trip, I decided to splurge and stay in the hotel. (Tickets are cheaper that way, and you get into the park 1 hour early. That part is key to this story).


Friday afternoon, June 6 – the big day. He gets home from school and I get home from work. We eat dinner, with the rest of the family of course, then load up the car and head out to Cedar Point. A couple hours later, we are there. We check into the hotel, walk along the shore of Lake Erie, and look into the park from the edge. We go back into the room, watch an episode of Treehouse Masters, see what we can of the Luminosity show (i.e. fireworks) from our window, and go to bed.

Everything’s going fine.

In the morning, we wake up, go downstairs for breakfast, and finish around 9:15. The park opened for early entry at 9:00, so we figure we will check out and go into the park. Back up to our room we go. One last potty break before embarking on our amusement park adventure… and the toilet doesn’t flush. And the sink doesn’t work.

I call the front desk, asking if it’s just our room. She replies that it is the whole hotel. So we check out, put our luggage in the car, and go into the park.

The water in the park isn’t working either. Toilets aren’t flushing. Drinking fountains aren’t fountaining.

But we are there, so we walk around.

I show the rides to Alpha, and he ponders them. He is interested in the water rides, but they aren’t going.

We eventually make our way to the Sky Ride. Alpha hasn’t wanted to ride anything up to that point, so I tell him that we are going to ride the Sky Ride.

So we do.

And that takes us to the front gate.
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Gas Cleaning

Due to a small mishap, I ended up with gasoline on my hands for a few minutes before I could clean them. Since I didn’t want to handle anything lest I contaminate it, my wife looked up “how to clean gasoline off hands” on her phone while I did whatever steps she read off. Those steps are listed here, in order.

  • Wash with soap and warm water. So that’s what I did. And scrub, it said. So I did. Helped a little, but not much.
  • Lemon juice. And scrub. Not much effect.
  • White vinegar. Just added a slight vinegar smell to my skin, which soon went away (the vinegar smell, not my skin).

That was it for the official suggestions, so we starting ad-libbing it here.

  • More soap and water. Still no effect.
  • Thieves oil, which my wife loves to use for a variety of things. This one had the most noticeable effect. After the thieves oil, my hands smelled like cloves and gasoline for a while.
  • A little while later, I took a shower before going to bed. In the shower, I scrubbed my hands with shampoo. Just in case.
  • Right after my shower, I shaved. So I figured “why not?” and scrubbed my hands with shaving cream.

I forgot to smell my hands before going to sleep. But in the morning, the gasoline smell was gone. So I don’t know which step did it, but if I ever spill gasoline on my hands again I’ll start with shaving cream and work my way backwards through the list.

If I should wash myself with snow And cleanse my hands with lye,

Job 9:30

Fire Exit

image of sign saying the fire exit for the second floor is on the first floor

If there’s a fire on the first floor, too bad. Stay on the second floor.

And don’t use the elevator if there’s a fire.

You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the sabbath day.

Exodus 35:3

Printing Copies

At work, our printers are set to default to 2-sided printing. This is supposed to save the company money because we will, in theory, use half as much paper and printing costs will decline.

But no one likes the 2-sided printing.

For example, last week I was printing just a 1-page document for review. A coworker was also to review the document, so he asked me for a copy. I, thinking ahead, selected 2 for the number of copies when I clicked print. My coworker and I walked to the printer and were surprised to see only one paper there.

“I thought you printed 2 copies.”
“I did.”

Then we noticed there was printing on the other side.

That’s right – when I asked for 2 copies the default setting of the printer made it 2-sided printing, so my copy was on one side of the paper and my coworkers copy was on the other side.

We thought about holding it up and looking at the opposite sides concurrently, but I just made another copy instead and handed it to him.

So for that example, the paper costs were the same as before, but the ink/toner costs have increased by 50%. The policy has backfired.

And that has happened other times too, and not just to me. I now find it easier just to increase the number of copies when I print multiple copies, rather than click through 3 or 4 options and settings to turn off the default of 2-sided printing.

An Open Letter to Whoever Sets Company Policies for the Printer

Dear Companies:

Setting the printer default to double-sided accomplishes only frustrating your employees and not much cost savings. It’s not worth it.

Sincerely,

Your employees

He wrote there on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written, in the presence of the sons of Israel.

Joshua 8:32