Archive for September, 2015

Vehicle Safety Features

We are gradually approaching the self-driving car. Progress is being made incrementally, by introducing certain features that will pave the way for more autonomy and less driver input.

Some of these features are:
– collision mitigation : if the vehicle detects a crash is likely, it will take action (tighten seat belts, close windows, etc.) The newer versions will even apply brakes. The future version would need to steer also.
– virtual bumper : while backing up, the vehicle will warn the driver of close objects. Newer versions will apply the brakes, preventing damage.
– Lane keep / blind spot assist : if the vehicle detects an object (usually another vehicle) in the blind spot, it will warn the driver. Fancier versions will counteract the steering wheel so that the driver can’t move into the occupied lane.
– Adaptive Cruise Control : the vehicle maintains a set distance between itself and the vehicle in front of it. Fancier versions prevent driver acceleration into the forward vehicle by overriding the gas pedal input.

As these feature mature and become more integrated with each other, and as vehicle-to-vehicle communications become established so that vehicles can react based on what the other vehicles are trying to do, the role of the driver will be reduced and maybe eventually eliminted.

There is the one major concern with all this – if cars are preventing collisions by themselves, overriding the driver, how will we have demolition derbies?

I sense the future of the demolition derby is shaky at best.

I mean, really, how are you going to be entertained by a field of driverless cars?

When he raises himself up, the mighty fear; Because of the crashing they are bewildered.

Job 41:25

Customer Service Answers

We have been having trouble with our trash service. I figured it was because we moved and I didn’t know exactly where to put the trash can so the garbage truck could find it.

When I called to start the service, the person on the phone said to put it at the driveway. But our neighbor said they wouldn’t pick it up there so I had to place it out by the main road.

I put the trash can where the company said, not where the neighbor said.

The first week, they did not pick up the trash, so I called and notified them like one is supposed to.

The second week, I emailed the company a question. “Our garbage was not picked up today. Where am I supposed to put the trash can so that it will get picked up – by the driveway or by the main road?”

By this point, I figured the neighbor was right – the garbage men wouldn’t pick up the trash at the driveway. But I wanted an official answer from the trash company. Where do I put my trash?

They replied right away.

“We are sorry for this problem. We will send someone out to get your garbage collected today.”

That’s good to know – and they did come get the garbage – but they did not answer the question.

Maybe they don’t want to go on the record.
Maybe it’s supposed to be a secret.
Or maybe they are trained to assure the customer the problem will be fixed. Any questions are secondary.

But it’s kind of annoying. I want to make sure I am doing my part correctly. How can I do that if they won’t verify what my part is?

Maybe that’s the answer…

But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.”

2 Kings 18:36

Cold Water

I like my drinking water cold. Very cold.

If you were to ask me what temperature I want my water, I would say “32 degrees”. With the understanding that we’re talking in Fahrenheit.

Some people might laugh and say that I would be drinking an ice cube, since it would be frozen then.

But it would not be frozen. It would be freezing. I would drink the water at the beginning of the phase change, so it would be 32 degrees but still liquid. It’s the freezing point, not the frozen point.

I’ve been thinking of ways to lower the temperature even further so that my drink could be even more refreshing. I’ve come up with two so far.

1. Add something, so it’s not pure water. Like when you make ice cream and you add rock salt to the ice. But adding salt to the water would defeat the purpose of making the water refreshing, so skip this one.

2. Add pressure. 32 degrees is the freezing point of water at normal pressure (1 atmosphere). If we added some pressure to the water bottle, the freezing point of the water should be reduced. Unfortunately, the pressure would have to be about 2000 atmospheres to make much of a difference, so I don’t think that would be feasible. Plus we would have to pressurize the entire kitchen, so that I could open the bottle to drink the water without it freezing instantly upon depressurization.

3. Keep the water moving. It is common knowledge that moving water freezes at a lower temperature than standing water. Or sitting water. Or water that is lying down. Maybe if I get a refrigerated drinking fountain and kept the button constantly pressed, I could turn the temperature down a few degrees below the normal freezing point. The only drawback to this is that when I capture the water in my mouth, it will have stopped moving. And that may cause it to freeze up and make it hard to actually drink.

Maybe I’ll just have to be satisfied with the standard 32 degrees.

Does the snow of Lebanon forsake the rock of the open country? Or is the cold flowing water from a foreign land ever snatched away?

Jeremiah 18:14

Kids and Moms – Communication

Note: In case you think this sounds familiar, this is a variation of a post I did a while back on communication between husbands and wives.

A mom’s questions can have very different meanings to her son than they do to her. Here are some examples:

Mom’s Words: “Would you like to set the table?

Mom’s Meaning Child’s Answer
You, set the table. Not really.

Mom’s Words: “Where are you?

Mom’s Meaning Child’s Answer
Come here. Over here.

Mom’s Words: “Are you wearing that?

Mom’s Meaning Child’s Answer
Go change into something more appropriate. Yes, I just put it on.

Those were, of course, random examples from anonymous people.

Here’s my tip for moms: Don’t ask your son a question if you want him to do (or stop doing) something. Direct commands are best.

Here’s my tip for kids: Chances are good that your mom will ask a question that requires an action, not an answer. But you still need to answer her so that she knows you got the message. But don’t answer the question as it was phrased, answer by saying what you’re going to do.

I approached one of those who were standing by and began asking him the exact meaning of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things:

Daniel 7:16

Pop Quiz

Now that school has started, here are a couple questions. One math question and one grammar question.

1. What is the value of twelveteen?
A : 120
B : 112
C : 22

2. What is the past tense of snowblow?
A : snowblew
B : snowblowed
C : snewblow

Time’s up. Pencils down.

Hand your paper to your left and we’ll being grading.


1. Your guess is as good as mine.
2. Trick question. “Ran the snowblower” is the right answer.

all the oxen for the burnt offering twelve bulls, all the rams twelve, the male lambs one year old with their grain offering twelve, and the male goats for a sin offering twelve;

Numbers 7:87

Photo Finish

One of the recurring events in a child’s life is the family photo. Sometimes it’s immediate family, sometimes it’s extended family, and sometimes it’s just the child by himself.

I had opportunities to be involved in various family photos this year, and I observed something:

Family photos are like a race.

No, not to see who can get done first. It’s like a race in that the finish line must be set – a fixed destination.

You know the drill –

“Okay, we’ll do this group.”
“Now put the grandparents in.”
“Okay, now everybody together.”

By this point, some nerves are getting frazzled.

Invariably, someone now says “You kids are doing such a good job, let’s get pictures with you and [insert family grouping here]”

But the longer the photo shoot goes on, the worse the kids get. Why?

Because you’ve moved the finish line.

The kids thought they were going to be done after the everybody-together shot. But then they weren’t done, they had a couple more poses to do.

Think about a race. You enter a race knowing the finish line is a certain distance away. You pace yourself accordingly and have just enough energy to kick it into high gear near the finish line.

How would you feel if someone saw you running at that point and said, “You are doing so well, and you look so fast right now, we are going to move the finish line another mile down the road!”? And they said it in a cheery voice to encourage you.

You would feel annoyed, betrayed, dismayed, or something along those lines. And you would not do very well for that last mile, since your racing energy was used up for the expected course.

That’s how kids feel when you just keep adding groupings to the family photo and extending the whole session.

My two recommendations for family photos:

1. Get the most important photos first. The more photos you take, the worse the kids behave. Unless you like pictures of crying and frowny kids, plan your photo priorities.

There are some cultures that believe photographs steal your soul. I don’t believe that, but I would be open to the theory that each photograph steals part of your smile. After a long photo shoot, you might not be able to smile for a time until your smile can recover.

2. Tell the kids the plan, and establish the finish line. They can pace themselves if they know where the finish line is. “We’ll take just you kids, then you kids with your cousins, then everybody together, and then we’ll be done.”

And then don’t move the finish line.

P.S. If you are worried that it was you who inspired this post – it wasn’t you, it was the other side of the family.

What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should endure?

Job 6:11

Happy Labor Day

I have dozens of topics and ideas noted as possible blog posts, but today I am just going to phone it in, as they say, and wish everyone a happy labor day.

Happy Labor Day!

I realize that you won’t be reading this until after Labor Day, unless you wait almost a year, or unless you are in a different country and happen to not read this until that day. But whatever. I spent the day doing various house projects and spending time with the family, rather than research and write blog posts.

And we spent some time getting ready for the kids to go back to school.
And getting ready for the start of AWANA.
And getting ready for the start of BSF.
And getting ready for piano lessons to resume.
And so on.

The summer was fairly relaxed as far as schedules go. Now we switch gears and become a little more regimented.

In case you’re wondering, my next house project is finding out where the TV antenna is connected. We haven’t hooked up the TV since we moved and football season is about to start.

When he saw that a resting place was good
And that the land was pleasant,
He bowed his shoulder to bear burdens,
And became a slave at forced labor.

Genesis 49:15