Joie and I racked up quite a few miles last weekend, picking up her car from the dealership in Laramie. The dealer claimed that the shaking problem was due to bald tires in the front, themselves due to a lack of rotation. This despite the fact that there are only 13K miles on her car, total, and that she's had them rotated and balanced at least once (when the tires were certainly good), and the problem persisted.
Neither of us remember the tires having been that bald before, but I'm still puzzled as to how they could have gotten that bad without any notice being taken. Not that I'm one to point fingers; the alignment was off in my car and I didn't notice until the outside edge of the right rear tire was bald. I decided to splurge a little and get some nicer wheels while I was at it. Luckily I've been able to assemble a good enough imitation of financial discipline that I was able to scrape together the funding on short notice.
We were planning to leave on Thursday morning and get the tires taken care of that afternoon, but my boss decided it would be fun to only schedule me for 1 day off that week, and leave it to me and the guy who works my weekends to fix it up. Finally got ahold of him at 17:30 and left at 18:00 or so. So we didn't get to my parents' house until about 21:00.
Friday morning we dashed over to the Discount Tire, had the guy try upselling me to the $1200 wheel/tire package (after I had told him several times I didn't have anywhere near that much to spend), found out that the ones I wanted were only in stock at a different store, grabbed them, and got everything installed. Elapsed time: ~3hrs for the appointment I was told would take ~1.5hrs.
We then drove up to Cheyenne, dropped my car off at the Brakes Plus, and found out that my 30min appointment had stretched to 1.5hrs. So we browsed around the local overpriced binder store, then picked up the car and headed onward.
We got to Laramie, picked up the car without incident, then took her bald-tire-equipped vehicle slowly back through the torrential rainstorm which had appeared. I stopped at the Brakes Plus once more to find out that the off-center steering I had noticed on I-80 was due to improper caster alignment which would require a $100 kit to fix.
Saturday morning we went back to Discount Tire to get Joie's tires. They're much nicer tires, even the bargain-basement ones she got, than what came with her car; she told me it hydroplanes a lot less now. It still shakes a little bit, though. I've heard rumors that misalignment can cause this occasionally, and she has yet to get the alignment checked. I'm hoping that solves the problem. If not, it's time to start checking bearings, axles, etc. (and bill it all back to Kia, of course!).
I'm pretty happy with the deal I got. I had the rusty stock 14"×5.5" wheels with scratched up wheel covers, and I upgraded to MB Motoring machined aluminum 15"×6.5" wheels with Kumho Ecsta 711 P205/50R15 tires. I've already gotten several positive comments from coworkers about the wheels (for once I wasn't the one using the word "shiny") and I love the look of the lower aspect ratio. My steering seems much more responsive as well, which is nice, although it will take a little getting used to; this is probably also a result of the alignment I had done.
Last night at work I found a discussion on ADHD in the workplace. As is standard with any social issue mentioned on Slashdot, it sparked a massive flamewar, this one made the more vitriolic by the relative commonality of such symptoms among the geek population. I found several good posts, among them this humorous one.
I seem to hold a mix of the views represented in that discussion. I feel that the various "disorders" often drugged so readily are merely different ends of the spectrum of mental sedation/excitability on which we all find ourselves. The characteristics presented can cause real difficulties and pain — myself, I am prone to distractability, procrastination, and bursts of often unrealized creativity, and have lost out on some opportunities for personal advancement due to these traits — but in most cases the "disorder" is merely the catalyst in society's lockstep march toward enforced normalcy and mediocrity. Ultimately, the decision as to whether these traits are desirable must be left to the one possessing them, as well the choice of what action, if any, to take.
At one point I and a coworker of similar personality seriously considered getting prescriptions for Ritalin, both to semi-scientifically evaluate the horror stories given by angsty teens forced onto the stuff, and to attempt to force some order and productivity onto our lives. We ended up calling off the plan because of concerns about the side effects, and I personally didn't want to become dependant on anything external for my mental state. I always seem to keep a "desert island" scenario in the back of my mind.
Over time, usually as one consequence or another of inattention presented itself, I've been able to train myself to complete required tasks. The trick seems to be, since the "attention deficit" mind is usually considered to be understimulated (and therefore, to need chemical supplements), to take great pride in sustained accomplishment. "My bank accounts have been reconciled for months now!" "I keep my bedroom so tidy I can actually see the floor!" "I haven't been late to work in weeks!" Humorous to an outsider, but far preferable to popping pills, as I see it. The other trick, of course, is to get used to forcing unpleasant things on oneself.
Serendipitously, this morning I found Natasha's in-depth article on related subjects. I found it enlightening to see various traits and symptoms discussed with the personal insight of someone I know personally. I haven't done any allergy tests, as she has, but I know that I see a marked improvement in my abilities when I force myself to eat protein- and iron-heavy foods (eggs, nuts, beans, …) instead of carbohydrates (sugar, breads, cereals, …) and even more when I get outside and exercise. Interestingly, my latest jump in productivity seems to have arrived as I found myself consuming less and less caffeine. Perhaps external stimulants can confuse as well as replace the dispensers of internal ones?
One parting thought that I just had, after reading the comments by coolgeek and Poppa regarding the hunter/gatherer difference: The protein- and iron-rich foods and daily exercise that seem to make me more productive are the kinds of things that would be experienced by, well, a hunter. Perhaps the brains of "hunters" require these things more noticeably than gatherers in order to be productive? Which is ironic, if true, as I don't even eat meat…
The war is over, and yet the US military is encountering increasing resistance and
casualties as they attempt to crush various villages loyal to the old
regime that they bypassed on their grand hop to Baghdad. As I
expected, although I imagined the events in reverse order.
Meanwhile, it appears that there wasn't much proof for the strangely difficult-to-find WMDs other than the by-now famous plagiarized student paper, and the calls for impeachment have started. If a preliminary investigation shows that deception was, in fact, intended, then I would support Bush's impeachment for the same reason I supported Clinton's. If an elected official is not permitted to dissemble in as trivial a matter as testimony under oath, how much more serious is the callous manipulation of public emotion, using invented facts to start a war? Constitutional balances and procedures must be respected, no matter how ignoble the opponent.
[Sorry, but it appears the WSJ has decided to expire links after 7 days. It's worth a subscription, but otherwise just enjoy it while you can...]
Here are some thoughts on double-checking an Asperger's diagnosis.
I found this article discussing modern racism. Largely thought-provoking; I've spent some time considering my own workplace, which seems quite egalitarian: a female GM, until recently a black female housekeeping manager, employees from all races and sexes. Until you notice that the front desk and office staff are 100% white, and the housekeeping staff is 90% African and Hispanic.
The Africans being present entirely in behind-the-scenes positions I can understand; they're all recent immigrants and don't have a great command of the language. But I know several of my Hispanic coworkers personally, and I can testify to the fact that they're extremely hard-working and personable. Were they shunted into those jobs? Did they even think of applying for more public-facing positions? Do they prefer that type of work? Unanswerable and personal questions. But something to think about.
Where I think the article goes wrong is in the following paragraph:
I agree with critics who say that just having "friends" of a different color doesn't necessarily make you a more open-minded person. I know plenty of people who pull the "I have a black/Chinese/Cherokee friend" card when the cocktail party discussion turns to race, yet their circle of close friends and their history of dating reveals they've never ventured outside of their own kind in their most intimate relationships (see blackpeopleloveus.com for more on this topic). Tokenism is never a pretty sight, particularly when you're the token. On the other hand, you have to start somewhere, and taking the risk of getting to know someone of a different race or ethnicity is at least a step in the right direction.
So now it seems that unless a person is attracted — not only that, but ends up with a long-term relationship — to someone of a different race, that person is a racist. Since when is sexual attraction a required component of racial fairness? I find it difficult to believe that out of all the subconscious factors that attract one person to another, loathing of miscegenation can always be the defining one. At least no one's instituted affirmative action for relationships.
nekronslovesong believes in equal-opportunity slurs:
Almost without exception, every post which refers to customers of any OTHER race than white is prefaced with all kinds of apologies and disclaimers such as, "Now don't get me wrong, I love Mexicans/Asians/Blacks/whatever, and I don't mean any disrespect, but...", or "I'm not a racist, and I don't mean to offend anyone, but...". So why do we never see such apologies/disclaimers when someone talks about white customers in a "racist" way? It's just accepted and overlooked, leading one to suppose that this is considered perfectly acceptable in this community.
And The Redneck Manifesto explains how hillbillies, hicks, and white trash became America's scapegoats:
The trailer park has become the media's cultural toilet, the only acceptable place to dump one's racist inclinations.
I would love the chance to work on one of these projects:
Overlay networks distribute software in Web sites and server rooms around the Internet to monitor and manage events better. An experimental project called Netbait, running on Planet Lab's facilities, is watching the Internet for the spread of destructive programs such as viruses and worms. By matching the distinctive digital characteristics of each dangerous program with messages being sent from various locations, machines that have been infected with the code can be isolated from infecting others, organizers of the Netbait experiment say.
Not everyone thinks that RFID is the greatest thing since sliced bread, endorsed by Wal-Mart or not:
They started out with individual repsonsibility and only elected sheriffs that everyone local knew and you could go talk to them, and if you didn't like them, you could vote the bum out and with the vote you could LOOK into the ballot box and see yes/no if it was stuffed or not.. Now they have mostly non elected helmeted black ski masked anonymous darth vader clones kicking in peoples doors and throwing in "humane grenades",no matter what ya get popped for it's gona cost you your house almost to even think about fighting it in court, juries have been castrated to nothinghood, and when you go vote some machine announces who won with absolutely zero way to check and see if you are being lied to.
Did AdBusters just perform a hostile takeover of Europe?
Under the proposed legislation, retailers no longer would be able to use the expression "liquidation sale" when they aren't going out of business. "Advertorials" promoting a product would be banned if they don't make it clear that the media coverage was paid for. Companies would be forbidden from persistent phone-sales calls, targeting consumers who have just suffered a death or serious illness in their families, or advertising to children "in a way which implies that their acceptance by their peers is dependent on their parents buying them a particular product," Mr. Byrne said.
Meanwhile, not every scapegoat of the corporate accounting fracas was in favor of unbridled greed. I still say that once you have a title like "accountant", your job is to raise issues like this no matter what, but what happens when your manager assures you he's done the research and it's perfectly legal?