Tagged: safety

The Voices in My House

It was two o’clock this morning when I heard the voice. I was lying in bed playing poker on my tablet because – well, for two reasons really. Number one, my red-haired wife is traveling. So I’ve no motivation to go to bed early. And secondly, because I’m insomniac, so there’s rarely any sleep for me these days. And thirdly, because I – wait… I only promised you two. So that’s that. I was, therefore, not awakened by the sound of a voice. But I was startled by it. That’s for sure.

It sounded at first like a woman talking in my kitchen. I was alone in my bedroom with the door closed. So it could have been coming from anywhere. But it sounded about as far away as it could be while still being inside my house and downstairs. The kitchen is the answer to that. I perked up and listened a minute. Then I went back to my poker game. Some people get arrested for taking other people’s money. I get badges. I was well into another good hand when I heard the voice again. And this time it was louder.

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An Open Letter to Adobe

Dear Adobe – and mainly you, Acrobat Reader. Listen here, bub. Your delusions of grandeur have escalated to a whole new level. Well, I guess they did a long time ago. They’ve been at this level for quite some time. But it’s not funny anymore. It used to be kind of cute how you’d show up at the party with the bigger boys acting like you’re one of them. Like you’re the really cool cop who brought the donuts to the Saturday Morning Citation Plus Club meeting. We all used to kind of watch you as you entered and we’d smile and say, “Isn’t that cute?” and “Yeah. Thinks he’s a big boy.”

You are like the high school kid who shows up to a frat party with your older sister and tries to hang with the college kids. The kid who must be reminded that he’s still just a high-schooler, and he shouldn’t try to act so cool while he’s at the party. You can’t drink as much as the big kids, you don’t know the secret handshake, and – no matter what you say – no. You have not been laid near as much as the college kids.

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Bad Design Diary: E-Brake Pedal

This is an example of when bad design can actually be life-threateningly dangerous. When functionality and design aren’t tested properly through usability tests and just plain standing-back-and-looking-at-it, then this is what you end up with. This is from my van – a Honda Odyssey. And every single time I get into the van wearing jeans, I experience this issue. And it’s not only when I get into the van. It’s when I’m driving. I’ll move my foot, and my jeans leg slips right over the e-brake pedal. This keeps me from being able to move my left foot until I reach down and pull up the pant leg.

Of course it would be worse for something to catch your right leg, but I do use my left foot occasionally for braking. Sometimes it’s more practical and a lot less work – especially in traffic. This, friends, is dangerous. Let’s have a look at a collage. Here you’ll see a picture of my foot beside the pedal and then caught on the pedal.

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Walking the Tightrope

So many times my red-haired wife will come home and tell me about news stories she’s read or heard, and I’m always surprised. I don’t read news sites. I don’t watch TV, so I never see the news there. I don’t believe in newspapers. I mean, I’ve seen evidence of them before, but I just really don’t believe in them. Too much like bigfoot. A lot of hearsay and no real proof. And I really don’t listen to any news-bearing stations on the radio. So I guess you could suffice it to say that I don’t really keep up with current events.

I was sitting on the couch today, getting ready for my mid-afternoon nap when I suddenly had the urge to turn on the ole telly. I have one of those real old-school ones that’s not LED or 3D or 4K or any of that. It’s just a simple 1080p LCD. Remember back when those used to be cool? Anyway, I looked through the list of recorded shows – all the Doc McStuffins and Good Luck Charlie and various other Disney crap we record for my daughter – past my Ultimate Treehouses and Treehouse Masters, you know, the good stuff. And I found Nik Wallenda – Walking the Tight Rope.

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Here be Space: Collector of Collections

I’ve been home since Saturday. But I’m still getting used to it. Like I said before, it feels like I’ve been in a different airport (and hotel) every week. And indeed, I pretty much have. It’s nice to get home and know you’ll be staying there for at least a little while. Our next trip isn’t scheduled until August, so I have at least a month here before I have to use a suitcase again. Gah, I’m so tired of putting stuff into suitcases.

But you know what I’ve found about being back in the house? Well, besides the fact that when you’ve been gone for a week you get to see what your house actually smells like. I’ve found that it’s too big. You know, 7500 square feet can just get overwhelming for a guy like me. No, seriously it’s only about 2500 square feet, but when you’re home alone, it feels like a whole helluva bunch of wasted space. Of course, when you’ve been living out of a suitcase in a hotel room every other week, you start realizing that you’re doing just fine without all your big luscious space. And furthermore, all your stuff.

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Do we need a better mouse trap?

What is the best mouse trap? You hear all the time in company meetings and motivational speeches alike, “let’s build a better mouse trap.” It has actually turned into a cliche. But why? Are mouse traps really that bad that someone needs to be thinking about building a better one? Or is it just the perfect item to make a joke about because it really needs no improvement?

I can’t tell. See, I think the absolutely perfect mouse trap would completely disintegrate the mouse. Turn it into energy, or a puff of perfume-laced smoke. Every mouse trap I’ve ever used – though all of them worked effectively – was imperfect in that you still had to deal with the body of the mouse when the deed was done. And that’s the part I think we all dread the most. I mean, who wants to have to touch a nasty, dirty, flea-infested, possible-rabies-carrying carcass? Not I. So let’s take a look at some of the mouse traps available on the market, and discuss the pros and cons of each.

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Bad Design Diary: Tiny Bathroom

My wife and I are in San Antonio for a conference. We’re staying in a relatively nice hotel room. This room is actually a pretty nice suite. It has a living room area with couches and ottoman, a bar area with a special sink and a mini-fridge, and then the bedroom area which includes the vanity, the bathroom and the closet. It’s a pretty nice arrangement. Nothing wrong so far.

Until we enter the bathroom…

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The Year of Travel

When I was a child, my greatest fear was falling. I would dream about falling from a building, or a tight-wire stretched between buildings. I don’t know why I should have these dreams. I would never consider actually walking a tight-wire, but there you are. Now that I’ve grown up, my greatest fear has evolved. It’s no longer a selfish fear – a fear for myself. It’s now a fear for the safety of my children. I guess that’s every good parent’s greatest fear though. It makes me shaky and sick to think of something happening to them. I am, therefore, necessarily opposed to taking my children to New York.

It’s not that I think it’s that much more dangerous than anywhere else. Right now I live in one of the top five safest cities in the United States. So yeah, I feel pretty comfortable where I am. But it’s just that I don’t feel like I have control of anything when I’m in New York. Number one, I don’t drive a car, and probably never would in Manhattan. It seems to me to be a place where you live close to work and either walk or take public transit to get there. There aren’t a lot of parks and playgrounds for the kids. At least not where I was. It just doesn’t seem like a very kid-friendly environment. I guess maybe Queens or The Bronx would be better than Manhattan.

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Second Gun Not Necessary

I was awakened abruptly by the sound of the front door being closed forcefully. You have to slam my front door for it to close all the way. Someone had slammed it. Many times I’ve been awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of something that could have been a door, but this time, I knew. You know how they say when it happens, you’ll know? Well, this time I knew. My eyes had popped open as the sound of the door in the otherwise quiet house echoed in my head.

I jumped out of bed where I had been sleeping hard. I had been asleep for around forty minutes. I slung my headlamp over my shoulder because it was the first light I was able to find in the darkness. I also don’t want to be wearing a target around my forehead when I’m clearing the house. Then I grabbed my pistol and turned on my bedside lamp. As I’m standing there naked by the bed, my red-haired wife rolls over and says, “What’s going on?”

“It’s go-time, babe.”

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Here’s Your Sign

You always hear people asking, “Why do drive-up ATMs have Braille on the buttons? Do they think blind people will be driving? LOL”. But my question is far more simple. Why do ATMs have Braille on them? Do they think blind people will be pulling out cash? The buttons don’t have assigned functions and values, and their purpose changes with every option you select. So how would a blind person know when to hit which button?

It seems we as humans are advancing technologically into areas our parents’ generation only dreamed of. There’s that damn preposition at the end of my sentence again. But at the same time, we’re getting dumber and dumber. Think about it. Do you know any rocket scientists, personally? Do you know anyone who actually has contributed something to the technology revolution? It’s sort of just something that happens when we put our minds together. Yet, I don’t know any single individual who isn’t susceptible to being an idiot sometimes.

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The Dumbest Animals at the Zoo

The Fort Worth zoo is a very big place. It’s full of animals. If your goal is to see every exhibit, you really have to haul ass. If you monkey around at the aquarium, you won’t have time for the elephants. I mean, it’s a zoo out there. But really, I think the dumbest animals in the park are – well, you guessed it: humans.

There should be certain rulesets to which we all adhere when in a public place. For instance, when there’s a path that everyone is to follow, and one direction has, say five feet, then you don’t stretch your party across the entire five-foot path. There are other people who are interested in seeing exhibits, and might possibly be traveling faster than you and your party of hambeasts. Sorry, women, the beached whale exhibit is back by the entrance.

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Bacon Talk: Dream Houses

Good morning, and happy Friday to you all, oh seekers of the bacon! Welcome to another edition of Bacon Talk, the weekly SpaceBrew feature John Goodman mentioned in his recent interview with Conan O’Brien! This week, we’re sitting inside the cozy confines of our office living room, by a crackling fire. It’s cold out there! And after last week’s episode, the new balcony collapsed, killing several birds and a nest of baby kittens. I assure you, this was not Butch’s or Bruno’s fault, though they are on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. We’re just thankful no one was out on the balcony when it collapsed. Well, the window cleaning guy was, but no one will even miss him.
So how do you feel today, Hay Hay? Word around the campfire is that you’ve got your cake site all set up now. Is that so?

Why yes, Space, that is so… thanks to you. I just need to start adding pictures of the crazy cakes I’ve made in the last eight years. I’ve made everything from guitar and drum cakes to a teddy bear pirate cake. Maybe the site will launch my career as a cakist and then I can quit my day job.

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More Great Ideas From Space

We all know I was the one who introduced the world to the idea that we could solve the global warming crisis with National Leave Your Refrigerator Open Today day. So, clearly, I’m a pretty smart guy. Apparently, no one has taken this idea and run with it, but that doesn’t really mean the idea isn’t genius. You know? I think the government is trying to get rid of me so that they can claim the idea for themselves, then we’ll start seeing the idea put into practice. But I just wanted to bring that up – not to rub it in your face that I’m a lot smarter than you, but rather just to remind you that I am, in fact, pretty smart.

So anyway, as I always do, I was sitting around yesterday thinking of more ways I could change the world and make it better for people. Like when I came up with the idea of how to run cars on water… Well, they won’t start using that until we run out of gas. Because you’d put all the gas station employees out of a job. See? But just like that, I came up with a few more ideas that will really help the world become a better place. And I’d like to tell you about a couple of these ideas. You can tell me how awesome they are and how smart I am in the comments section below, because I know you’re going to get your socks blown off.

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You Ruined My Friday

Just so you have a frame of reference, you need to know I am lying in bed right now writing this on my SpaceBook. It is Friday night, 18:05 and I’m lying in bed on my laptop. You’re probably out painting the town, tearing it up, getting some trim, drinking some Cold Ones, and I’m lying here in bed. On my computer. On a Friday night. Have I emphasized that enough yet? Well allow me to pour a little salt in the wound. Even though it’s just after 1800 hours – six for you non-military types – my evening is already set in stone. There won’t be a break. I’ll be doing the same thing in two hours, and in six hours. My night is ruined.

Last night my red-haired wife and I were sitting out on the back patio just enjoying the cool summer breeze and a couple of Ones that were – at least to the best of my recollection – pretty Cold. When all of a sudden, from out of the corner of the backyard, I spotted something terrible and sinister. And before I could gather my senses and react appropriately (which would be to grab my Browning from the deep-conceal holster in the small of my back and put two in dead center mass), it was on me. I’ve never been attacked and overcome with such rapid efficiency or tactical precision in my life. My defenses were useless.

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Shover Robot No Longer Cooks Bacon

It’s funny how you never realize how much you count on your electric appliances until one finally comes alive, says, “PAK CHOOIE” and pushes your grandma down the stairs to protect her from the Terrible Secret of Space. Allow me to explain.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Step, my red-haired wife, had decided that she needed to clean out the microwave oven, which is I guess what red-haired wives all over the world do. I don’t ever really pay much attention to it, so long as it reheats my bacon and my bacon-bacon burgers. Though lately it has begun to take on some of the physical properties of a cave, what with the brown rock stalactites that cling to its ceiling, and the rocky crevasses and stalagmites all over the walls and floor. The plates still fit in there, though they sort of sat at an awkward angle on the rocky surface… But I digress.

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Time for a New Orleans

Yeah, I’d just like to give a quick shout out to all our neighboring countries who’ve jumped right in to help us in this time of crisis. What’s up, Canada? Hey Mexico – how you doing? Hey Germany, how’s it hangin? Remember all them boats full of supplies and food and medicine and doctors and clothes and toys and blankets we sent in the wake of the tsunami last Christmas? Yeah. What’s up?

I’d also like to see some interior congregation of goods and services offering. I’d like to see a hotel chain like Hilton offer up ten thousand rooms all over the country – at cost – for some of the million families to stay in for a while. I’d like to see a Luby’s chain open up and say, “What’s up, New Orleansers, come in here and grab a hot cajun meal.” I’d like to see a Wal Mart or a Ross Dress For Less say, “Hey, chiefs, come in here and get some dry clothes.” I’d like to see gas prices hop up over four dollars a gallon so the oil industry doesn’t have to suffer.

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From Panama With Love

I guess I should talk about this. It’s still the source of bad dreams that wake me up during the night, even eight years after the fact. It happened when I was still in the military. Way in. I was sent to Panama on an MRT (a Maintenance Recovery Team) to repair a bird that went down out there. I had been there for about two and a half weeks when we finally got the parts in and made our repairs on the C-130. Typical procedure is that it flies home immediately and we as a crew hitch a ride on it. Well due to circumstances upon which I cannot comment, I had to stay behind for several more days, and would catch a bus to Costa Rica (ugh) and from there, fly into San Antonio. All good.

I was staying in a cheap shitty motel on the outskirts of Santiago, trying to dodge people wherever and whenever I could, lying low. I’d already had several run-ins with the locals and had almost been arrested for being white. I had sent my uniforms and all evidence of my involvement with the US military back on the plane with my team. All I’d been left with was a sidearm. Once my double-stack magazine was empty (and I hoped to God I wouldn’t have to empty it) I was out. Bare as a naked baby’s ass.

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A Dish Best Served Full of Ashes

I got to her house around seven. I’d come straight from work and was still in my slacks and loafers. Not those nice heavy loafers you get in the military. But the thin, soft leather loafers that feel so good on your feet. She’d called me at five or so, I guess it was, saying he was there. He had come to get his stuff. After a week’s delay he’d finally arrived to collect. I said so what. “Aren’t you glad he’s there?” She’d broken up with him the Friday before, and told him to come get his shit out. He got back from Houston today and seemingly made it top priority. So all should have been well. She said no though. She wasn’t happy he was there. Oh, he’d gotten his stuff all right. But he’d left her some things too. Some bruises.

So now I was on my way. Five o’clock I got the call, five-fifteen I ended the call, and five-seventeen I was tearing up Central Expressway like a burning chariot. There’d be no patient idling this time. She’d dumped him before and I’d stood there on her patio smoking a cigarette, watching them through the sliding door as I leaned against the rail. I’d worn my shades so he couldn’t see the true thoughts in my eyes. She had told me to stand by and make sure he didn’t hit her. I had wondered why this was even a logical threat. But I’d been there for her. And every second it took him to collect his things and throw them in the long red duffel was a second I grew less patient. I could feel anger burning my veins as it pumped through them in place of my already boiled blood.

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Closet Mods 101

I live in a two-story house, and so my safe is downstairs. But what about stuff I want quick access to in the night – upstairs? Well, my closet – being four feet from my bed – is a good place. I can lock up my knife and gun collection and not have to worry about the kids getting to them, but secondly, I can use it as sort of a panic room if the need ever arises. Some of the modifications I’ll discuss here were done for mere practicality and storage solutions, while others were done in the interest of being prepared for the worst.

Firstly, and I think one of the key notes in creating a safe house in the closet is to make sure the light switch is inside the door. If this isn’t the case, you will need to move it. I had to move mine. It’s fairly easy. Just measure the exact distance from the jamb to the edges of the rectangular cutout, and replicate that measurement directly the other side of that wall, inside the closet. Make sure your breaker is tripped before you start messing with the wires! If you make the cut right, you can use that piece of sheetrock to fill in the hole on the outside, so don’t destroy it! Once you’ve got the hole cut on the inside, pry the switch box away from the stud and twist it toward the inside of the closet. On the inside, pull the plastic switchbox into the cutout where it’s nice and snug, and screw your switch back in along with the cover plate.

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