Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rolling It Downhill

At the checkout counter at Home depot -- an elderly gent ahead of me is finishing up a huge purchase. It looks like the makings of a deck. Most of the purchase is racked up on a flat-bed cart, manned by two sturdy-looking young guys. The gent has a shopping cart full of smaller bits with him

The gent completes his transaction and starts off with his cart. The cashier spots an unscanned box of screws in the back of the cart, partially concealed under short lengths of 2" x 4", and calls back the gent. The gent immediately, without a split-second's hesitation, says to the cashier, "I thought you'd checked for everything!".


I'll give the gent the benefit of the doubt -- that he wasn't purposely trying to snag a free box of screws.

What makes an impression on me is the gent's quickness at foisting blame onto an 'underling' -- quicker than a scalded cat.

The gent was evidently well-practised at it -- a life-long boss-man, no doubt.

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Corporate Fealty -- Fobbing Off The Broken Box

I was at the Home Depot recently to get some 5/16" steel washers, among other things.

I had located the galvanized washers, but I was after the ordinary bright-plated version. A nearby store 'associate' noticed my puzzlement, and asked if he could help. I explained what I was looking for. He led me to the correct bin.

The bins of common hardware items at the Home Depot typically have two sections -- in front are loose pieces of an item for those who only need one or a few; in back are boxes of some quantity of the item. I was after a 1 lb. box of washers, so the associate pulled out one box from about half a dozen boxes that were in the back of the bin. The box he handed me was a damaged one; its side seam was broken open, and the box was only holding together by way of its tucked-in end flaps. The remaining boxes in the bin all looked to be sound. Not wanting to seem whiny, I took the damaged box from the associate, thanked him for his assistance and went on my way.

Now, what to make of the associate's action? He deliberately fobbed off substandard goods on me, when he could have handed me a sound box of washers at no real cost to him or the store. He could have dumped the contents of the broken box into the front of the bin for subsequent loose-piece sales, discarded the box and given me an unbroken box. Instead, he chose the sleaziest course of action possible in the circumstances. Why?

I put it down to corporate fealty -- that giving-over of one's soul to the interests of a grand, corporate entity that many, if not all, of us are prone to. Corporate fealty is a powerful force, and its effects range from the trivial (fobbing off a broken box of washers) to the outrageous (poisoning a river). Corporate fealty is a force to be both reckoned with and shunned.

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I returned a bit later to the washers bin, and 'traded in' my broken box of washers for a whole one. Bleep corporate fealty.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ontario Election Prediction

I have no dog in this fight; I didn't vote. I couldn't care less what the outcome might be.

I figure that makes me at least as qualified as anyone to offer a prediction, so here goes: Liberal minority.

We'll soon see how my prediction pans out.

* * *

FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2014

Oh well, so much for that prediction.

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A Most Unfortunate Gastropod

Mercifully, I don't have a photograph to go with this post.

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Earlier today, I was closing the outside door to my workshop to go to lunch, and as the door neared closure, I heard a crunching sound.

"That doesn't sound right.", I thought. "Peeling paint?"

I took a look at where the sound seemed to be coming from. There, on the door frame, was a fleshy, oozing grey lump with bits of shell stuck to it. It became obvious what had happened.

A common garden snail had crept up the door frame and got itself right where the hinge-side edge of the door tucks up against the frame when the door is closed. It's a heavy, solid door, and its leverage is considerable as it's swung shut. I didn't feel a thing; I only heard the crunching sound.

- - -

'Sorry about that, snail. I never meant to snuff you, but stuff happens.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

And Their Feet Evolved To Fit Into Ice Skates

Well, what have we here?

Men's faces evolved to be punched, study suggests

An article on evolution, courtesy of the CBC's website.

From the article we have this:

"He suggested that australopiths evolved thicker, sturdier bones in those places to protect themselves from blows to the face, which were likely becoming more powerful and dangerous at that point in their evolution."


Note the implication of volition on the part of evolution. Evolution has no volition.

Utter rubbish.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I had to scrounge up a toggle switch for use as a 'kill' switch on a lawnmower engine's ignition system. I found a suitable switch, and set about checking for its ON position, so I'd be sure to get it physically in place the right way round.

The normal condition for a switch's ON state is with the switch's contacts closed, so of course I went with that, and marked the switch as "ON" with its contacts closed.

Luckily, I realized my fallacy before installing the switch. For an ignition kill switch, the engine's ON state is with the switch's contacts open -- i.e. a switch's usual OFF state.

- - -

That's a good example of a counter-intuitive bit of electrical wiring. I've no doubt but that such things arise in any field of endeavour you'd care to name, and lead to unexpected outcomes -- sometimes, possibly, to disastrously unexpected outcomes.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

The Efficiency Of The Private Sector

Pictured below is an assembly instructions sheet from an assemble-it-yourself picnic table that my son bought.

Can't make it out? Neither can I. I suspect that it's at least a third-generation photocopy that was needlessly reduced in size.

One gazes upon such a thing and wonders, "What was the point of even bothering with it?" To answer that question, we have to delve into the mindset(s) at work behind profit-making private sector enterprises.

First off, the powers that be (PsTB) at the picnic table manufacturing firm did acknowledge the need for an assembly instructions sheet, and they did endeavour to furnish one. That was a concession to convention that, while no doubt grudgingly made, was at least made. Understand that private sector PsTB loathe documentation. They loathe it for two reasons:

1) There's a cost, however small, associated with producing documentation. That cost comes off of profitability; hence, the cause of the cost is a loathsome thing.

2) Documentation can be referred back to, and errors can be pointed out; i.e. documentation can be held to account. Accountability is not an attribute that's much favoured by the PsTB. (Unless, of course, employee accountability is at issue. That's a different sort of accountability entirely.)

All that aside, the manufacturer did arrange for an assembly instructions sheet to be produced and included with the picnic table kit.

Now, someone had to produce copies of the sheet. That someone could not possibly have produced them without noticing that what was being produced was worthless. But the worth of what was being produced was not for that someone to judge, or to act on -- it was merely that someone's job to produce something that could be said to be an assembly instructions sheet. Adjustments to the quality of the sheet were not that someone's job. Hence, we have a worthless, illegible assembly instructions sheet produced with no qualms on the producer's part.

And someone had to include a copy of the sheet with each picnic table kit that was boxed up for shipment. That someone may not even have glanced at what he or she was handling; it was merely a sheet of paper that he or she was required to include with each kit. What was on the sheet was of no concern to him or her whatsoever.

So, we have the kits boxed up and shipped to a store, where my son bought one. He took it home and opened it up and saw the assembly instructions sheet. Fortunately for all involved, my son is quite resourceful and capable, and he proceeded to assemble the picnic table without the aid of legible instructions.

Consider the efficiency of all that's gone on there -- it's remarkable.

The manufacturing firm fulfilled the requirement for an assembly instructions sheet with only one sheet of paper per kit, and an absolute minimum amount of toner.

The producer of the sheet wasted no time or other resources at all in pursuing an improvement to the sheet.

The packer wasted no time inspecting the sheet for acceptable quality.

My son didn't take the kit back to the store; he went ahead and assembled the table quite nicely without a legible instructions sheet.

And there you have a glowing example of the efficiency of the private sector -- it's a thing of beauty is what it is. The public sector could learn a thing or two from it.

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