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The Secret Lives of Elevators

Twelve

The New Yorker has a piece on elevators, perhaps the world's most commonly used and most commonly taken-for-granted mode of transportation. It also recounted the story of a man who was stuck in an elevator for 41 hours after coming back from a smoke break (of which there's a disturbing time-lapse security video). The aftermath of the ordeal ended up costing him his job, his apartment, his money, and all contact with his friends. Remember, kids, smoking will ruin your life.

My favorite passage of the essay was the following, on elevator etiquette:

Passengers seem to know instinctively how to arrange themselves in an elevator. Two strangers will gravitate to the back corners, a third will stand by the door, at an isosceles remove, until a fourth comes in, at which point passengers three and four will spread toward the front corners, making room, in the center, for a fifth, and so on, like the dots on a die. With each additional passenger, the bodies shift, slotting into the open spaces. The goal, of course, is to maintain (but not too conspicuously) maximum distance and to counteract unwanted intimacies—a code familiar (to half the population) from the urinal bank and (to them and all the rest) from the subway. One should face front. Look up, down, or, if you must, straight ahead. Mirrors compound the unease. Generally, no one should speak a word to anyone else in an elevator. Most people make allowances for the continuation of generic small talk already under way, or, in residential buildings, for neighborly amenities. The orthodox enforcers of silence—the elevator Quakers—must suffer the moderates or the serial abusers, as they cram in exchanges about the night, the game, the weekend, or the meal.

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Coke Light Sango

Coca-Cola Light Sango

On my latest trip to South Africa I flew through Paris where I discovered the best variation on Diet Coke (Coca-Cola Light in most other countries) I've ever had - Coke Light Sango. It's Coke with blood orange flavor (sango as in sang, the French word for blood) and much better than the Diet Coke with Lemon or Lime we have here in the States. A little bit of Googling revealed the Wikipedia page for the drink which states that Sango was the first variation on Coke developed outside of the company's Atlanta headquarters, in Belgium, the country with the largest Coke Light/Diet Coke consumption per capita. If a half-liter bottle didn't cost me €3.80, I would have brought some back with me. For now all I can do is hope that Coca-Cola decides to bring this over to the states.

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The More You Know: Amazon and "obidos"

Almost every Amazon page has it (correction: had it), but not many actually know what "obidos" really means. Luckily for the curious, the now defunct Google Answers has the answer.

According to someone who supposedly worked at Amazon:

Obidos is the area where the Amazon is "concentrated" - it narrows to
a point about a mile wide and a couple hundred feet deep. It's the
chokepoint of the Amazon. A wry sense of humor turned that to the
naming scheme.

Amazon wrote their own web serving environment because the selection
of scripting/webcontrol languages when they got started was so lousy.
They had to call it something, so obidos it was. :)

So there you have it…

TMYK

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The More You Know: Microsoft and "1033"

I've seen the number in various install directories for Microsoft products. This shot of a Windows Vista retail box shows the very special number in the URL in the 2nd paragraph and my interest was suddenly rekindled.

According to this MSDN blog, the number is the local identifier for "English (United States)" based on a formula described in the post.

So there you have it…

TMYK

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He's Done: From Red Paperclip to Farmhouse

About a year after he started, Kyle McDonald of One Red Paperclip fame is finally finished. His goal was to trade up for a house starting with a paper clip and he's done just that. The keys to the Kipling, Saskatchewan farmhouse will be given to him next Wednesday.

While there were transportation and transaction costs involved, this little exercise proves how different people value things differently. This is a perfect example of something I learned in my Negotiations class last fall: bartering is not a zero-sum game; it is definitely possible for both parties to come out ahead in an exchange.

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Web 2.0 or Star Wars Quiz

I got a 40/43 on the Web 2.0 or Star Wars Quiz, which means that I'm three points below being Mike Arrington, writer for TechCrunch. I gotta say though, the way I did it was by recognizing the ones that were Star Wars characters and marking the rest "Web 2.0".

(The purpose of this post was mainly to try out the Performancing Firefox extension)

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Ligers Are Real

Up until now, I had thought ligers were fantasy creatures made up by the title character of last years' Napoleon Dynamite. Well, it turns out they are real (though not found in the wild) and here's a National Geographic article on them. Noteworthy is the fact that mixing species is frowned upon by the American Zoo and Acquarium Association and the survival rate of the hybrids probably has something to do with it. According to the article, the ten ligers at Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain, Georgia, are the only ones that have survived of the 24 they've bred since 1999.

I can't say that I particularly liked Napoleon Dynamite, but "discovering" a new species that's not a giant squid or mosquito or something is always cool.

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"GTA made me do it," a no-go

(Slightly) Long(er) story short: a 20 year old was taken into a police station to be booked on a stolen auto charge when he grabbed an officer's gun and killed two officers and a radio dispatcher. He claims GTA made him do it and told an officer after his arrest that, "Life is a video game; everybody has to die sometime."

Thank goodness the jury convicted him. Yes, GTA is a violent game, but the claim that one can't tell the difference between real life and video games is preposterous. If anything, being able to take out one's anger in a virtual world should lower real world violence.

GTA and its creator, Rockstar, seem to be society's latest scapegoat. You've got a controversial video game and a small, non-influential developer, what more could looking for an easy fight want?

(via Joystiq)

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Stuck In Time



Copper Kettle Restaurant Sign

Originally uploaded by Martin Gordon.

My dad and I took the car in for service this morning and we went to the nearest restaurant to grab some lunch while we waited for them to finish up the car. The first restaurant we came across was the Copper Kettle Restaurant, a diner-style place which seems like it was stuck in time. The tables, decor, and even the staff seem frozen in the 70s. Though the menu does look like it was updated fairly recently (clipart and prices seemed current), the daily specials were handwritten and posted by the bar. The food was nothing out of the ordinary, but it felt home-cooked and that's a welcome change from the line-cooked grease-laden excuses for entrées you find at a lot of places. It was quite a sight to see and a great change from the shitty service common at chain restaurants that are all-too-convenient around here. There are a couple of pictures of the dining room in my Flickr photostream.

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kcurT

kcurT
kcurT,
originally uploaded by Martin Gordon.

Saw this on the way to work today. It was a bit scary seeing the front of a truck a few hundred feet ahead of me. As I got closer, I discovered the truth.