Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not

I've decided that my least favorite human trait is wastefulness. That's right, I find it more reprehensible than lying and stealing.

Lying and stealing seem to be generally motivated by some self-serving plan geared toward personal gain.  At least that shows an engaged mind and a sense of purpose.  Wasting shows me that you are blind to the disproportionate scattering of wealth and resources in the world, and oblivious to the good fortune of plentifulness.

I have learned to tolerate thieves and liars because most fall into one of two categories.  They are either desperate, in which case I have no right to judge them from my relatively privileged lot in life, or they are still on the path to learning that lying and stealing do not bring happiness.  This is a path we all travel, as we are not born with an understanding of the consequences wrought by dishonesty within a cooperative social structure.  Most of us travel this path as children, some as young adults, but for the most part, we all arrive at the final destination eventually.

That vast majority of people I know, me included, are wasteful to a shameful degree.  Our cars burn too much fuel and we drive them too much.  We throw away food that is not prepared to our liking, replace perfectly functional clothing as style preferences shift.  We manipulate the climates within our homes and work settings to maintain a ridiculously narrow range of comfortable temperature and humidity levels.  For some of us, the amount of clean water that runs down our drains and toilets on a given day is nothing short of criminal. 

I'm not casting stones here.  As I've been known to say, "we most easily see the flaws in others that we have already recognized in ourselves".  I am wasteful too.  But I am aware of it; I don't like it; and I am actively moving in the right direction.  Are you?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gotta Love Phillies Fans - Again

This ad hoc series on fan behavior continues.  We wrote in the past about about Met's fans, and then about Phillies fans, and now, Phillies fans again.

Yesterday, our Philadelphia brethren added to their legacy of irreverence.  On Science day, an event conjured to imbue intellectual curiosity into our impressionable youth, the Phillies organization partnered with the University of Pennsylvania and arranged to have a robot throw out the first pitch.  Seemed like a interesting approach, and in another city, probably would have been a stellar success.

In Philly however, the land where fans have booed Santa and cheered when opposing players were injured, the robot failed to impress.  Perhaps they were expecting 90 mph on the black, but the engineers toned down the velocity to protect the team mascot at the receiving end of the pitch.  The robot unleashed a soft one-hopper and was resoundingly booed.

You can read more and see the video of the first pitch here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Travel Notes

As per my earlier post on this topic, the disturbing trend of barefoot flying has shown no sign of abating. According to my non-scientific study, the propensity to remove footwear in flight is highest among those with the gnarliest toes. On my most recent flight, two out of four people in my row removed their shoes and socks for the trip.

So a chunky lady with a large stain on her shirt forced her way past me in the security line. I was not late, so I didn’t really care. After we passed through the scanner, with her directly in front of me, she was randomly selected for a complete luggage search. As I strolled by the search scene, she glanced my way, and I uttered a one-word greeting, “karma”. She gave me the finger.

Do adults really need to carry a full-sized, foam pillow into the airport, through security, and onto the plane? Since the typical airplane seat cannot accommodate a full-sized person and such a pillow, those who carry them aboard must hold their pillows in their laps. Doesn’t look all that comofrtable to me.

Overhead bags 
There is constant tension between the airlines, who would like passengers to carry less luggage aboard their flights, and the public, who like to carry as much as possible with them. I contend that the root of this problem is the airline industry’s inability to handle luggage with respect. If we passengers could check bags and have them arrive in good condition, we might consider doing so more often.

Kids on Planes 
Screaming kids who kick my seat used to bother me. Then I procreated three times and added to the world’s population of screaming seat-kickers. A couple of years ago, one of my progeny vomited on a fellow passenger during a trans-Atlantic flight, so I am now running a deficit in my annoyance “delivered-received” account. We’re about to take off on a long flight and I have a screamer right behind me, good chance to work down my remaining balance.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Earth Eclipsing the Sun

Here's something you don's see everyday, a view of the sun, with the earth partially blocking your view.  This was taken from the Solar Dynamics observatory, orbiting the earth at about 22,000 miles above the surface.