Monday, March 31, 2008


I read in an issue of The Economist recently that some product development has been given to computers. That computers can simulate evolution and new products are "born" from these iterations.

For example, a computer programmer simulates the mating of two inanimate objects. I think the article referenced the two products being identical: a driver's side mirror on an automobile (as the male) and the same driver's side mirror (as the female). Mate these two mirrors millions of times and there will be mutations. Most of the (children) mirrors... "mirror the parent...ha ha", but some mutations do occur. Some mutations are not helpful; some mutations are more efficient than the parents. So mate two of the identical mutations....and see what other "efficiencies" can be gained. Over time, the computer programmer is able to select an offspring mirror that is more aerodynamic, reduces blind spots, etc. The article referenced that this process has been employed in the auto industry with great success.

What if two similar but not identical inanimate objects are mated?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Psalm 23 Reinterpreted: From Monica Klepac's blog in Romania

I thought this was beautiful.

"...the kids at the center are involved in a project to memorize Psalm 23. Sadly, this psalm has been in my mind so long, it was as carmelized and trite as the airbrush image above. I have been blessed this week to hear this powerful proclamation with new ears as strains of it are heard all around the center. It is so much more than a pastel-hued Jesus or a funeral standby. When seen through the eyes of our children, it is a challenge to the dehumanizing structures all around them and a beacon of our hope in a Love that is greater than evil.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
though my stomach is growling, i have all i need
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
i sleep in warmth and peace in a bed with my 2 siblings
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
the water must be brought in by bucket from the spigot in the yard
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
each day i choose to not walk on the street where the pimps hang out
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
i dont know if my father will be drunk or sober tonight
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
When i hear him yelling, i pray for my and my mom to be safe
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
boys at school cuss at me and spit on me, but i just keep walking
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
my hair gets washed and my mom checks it for lice
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
i want to marry a man that loves me and doesn't beat me
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
God is with me even when i feel alone."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Toot on him Mint

My dad's dad (Papa) was nicknamed Mint by my grandma. I don't know why. I still like the nickname. (His real name was Maynard which I also like).

One time when a car pulled in front of them, she yelled from the driver's side "Toot on him Mint". As in "honk the horn on this discourteous driver".

Friday, March 14, 2008

JC Penney's Part 2

Also while I worked at JC Penney's, a couple in their mid-forties (i'm guessing) came into the store and put a packaged 3-pair of underpants on the counter and asked if they could return them.

At that time, JC Penney's had a pretty liberal return policy if the merchandise was still in its package. However, I noticed that the price on the package of the underpants was $3.50 and we were currently selling the same brand for $8.50 (same 3-pair price; circa 1991-ish).

The underwear were yellow and thread-bare, not from use but seemingly from age and potentially sunlight. I needed to get a manager's approval...this transaction would just be for making the customer happy and not because it helped the store.

I went to the manager and asked if I could have approval for refunding the purchase price. The manager reluctantly said "yes". Said to refund the $3.50 but then mark the underwear down to $1.00 and put them on the clearance table.

When I came back to the couple, they said "great", reached down to the floor to pick up a paper sack and dumped six more underwear packages on the counter; said they wanted to return the rest of their underwear. Said that her father had recently passed away and as they were going through his closets and dressers, had found a lot of unworn clothes. Said they were headed up to catalog after this visit.

I told them that they should have told me about the other underwear from the start and I needed manager approval again. Went to the manager and he graciously told me to refund all the underwear and put them on the clearance table. He also remembered that Penney's hadn't sold their 3-pack of underpants for $3.50 since 1972. This underwear had been sitting in this fellow's dresser for 20 years before it got returned to my store.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

JC Penney's

I used to work at JC Penney' the dress shirt (classy) and underwear (not so classy) department.

I would measure men's sleeve lengths and neck size to help them find the right size collar & sleeve/shirt lengths for dress shirts.

One time a fellow came in hoping to buy some underwear. He said his wife usually bought his underwear but he needed to get some that day. He asked if I had a tape measure....which I did.

We measured him at 54". Unfortunately, we didn't carry that size in our department so I told him the catalog department upstairs would be glad to help him. He said no, he was sure that his wife bought his underwear here and he didn't want to go to catalog.

He turned the inside of his pants and underpants inside out and told me to look at the tag. Peering at his hairy bottom, I told him that in fact, he had on a pair of 42". But I can't be sure.

He was the shape in which there is a big mid-section, but the pants/underwear hangs quite low and the belt doesn't go round his biggest part.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Overheard at the Diner

Overheard at the diner this morning:

Waitress: "And how do you pronounce your first name?"

Patron: "Steve"

Friday, March 7, 2008

Amazing Race

I enjoy watching Amazing Race. I remember watching it weekly with others at the Nehers' house in Wilmore. In fact, there have been several t.v. parties over the years (Survivor, Lost, Amazing Race) and the hosts have always been incredibly gracious.

I have loved the exposure to lots of different countries. My only problem has been how the participants act. Many times they are completely culturally inappropriate: loud, rude, self-absorbed, and dishonoring of important historical landmarks. I still mostly enjoy the show.

My favorite show brings the participants to Hungary. The task is for one team member each to eat this HUGE bowl of Hungarian goulash. The bowl is bigger than anything I've ever seen and the goulash is spicy HOT. (When looking at a Budapest travel site, it says that goulash's consistency is in between a soup and a stew. It has the consistency of a sauce.) To the viewer, it looked like the participants were eating tomato soup.

Except that because it is SO hot, its hard to eat fast. And its starting to make people gag because it is that hot! And there is a loud Hungarian band playing something akin to polka music next to the participants and its making them MAD. If I remember correctly, I think one of the team members wanted to punch out one of band members. Its obviously a miserable experience.

I don't think that I have a gag reflex when I see others gag, but then Amazing Race starts showing short, quick clips of people gagging, with sounds that give me the willies just thinking about it.

So then one of the participants vomits and tries to miss the bowl of goulash he is eating, but doesn't. So he throws up into the bowl of soup. And contest rules mean they must continue to eat the throw-up soup until the end. So he brings the first spoonful over the top of the bowl and the consistency is something like melted cheese with vomit hanging down from the spoon into the bowl.

I almost lost it. By far my favorite Amazing Race moment.

Sunday, March 2, 2008