Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Planet to Destroy - Hurrah!

one out, one in. i wrote before about the declassification of the planet Pluto in our solar system. now scientists have found a new planet, though not in our solar system. quite far away actually, 20.5 light years away. it is in the goldilocks zone of it's nearest star, which purportedly has the ideal conditions for human life to flourish. the boffins have given this earth 2.0 the rather catchy name Gliese 581 C.

Computer models predict Gliese 581 C is either a rocky planet like Earth or a waterworld covered entirely by oceans.

“We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius [32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit], and water would thus be liquid,” Udry said.

so, really rocky, or really wet? those scientists dudes sure do like to give themselves a wide margin of error. ashamed as i am to admit it, i liked waterworld the movie when it came out. the shots of the sea were lovely, plus Kevin had a cool boat, and a boat is what we all might need soon if things continue the way they are. artist couple Kozyndan on their travels in Japan this year came across a lake which for the first time in living memory failed to freeze over completely.

Scott Adams on his Dilbert blog asked his readers:

1. Do we have the technology to seed that planet with life?

2. How do we know the Gliese 581 Csians didn’t seed life on Earth?

the Gliese 581 system has been looked at by the SETI folks before for signs of intelligent life, but they didn't find any. maybe that's a good thing, if we ever get a hyperdrive to work once we have used up this planet's resources, we'll have a nice new place to leap to.

maybe that day won't be too long coming. so many things get wasted in the shop where i work. we have a department that tries to fix various items that are damaged or returned by customers, but unfortunately most lights go in the trash. companies are there to make money but at the expense of the planet seems a little short sighted. fair enough if a faulty item that is not repairable is returned, give the customer a new one. i've lost count of the number of times lights have come back and the customer had said it has stopped working and they tried changing the fuse. the return department take back the light, and now and again when i have been around at the right time, just out of interest i'll try changing the fuse. the light will often work, so i don't know whether people either:
  • lie to get a different model or
  • don't know how to change a fuse.
a lot of perfectly functioning items ( returns & ex-display) go in the bin. it isn't economically viable, apparently, to get a Portable Appliance Tester in, or to train one instore. even worse is when a coworker comes round to pickup a £40 light to give the lightbulbs to a customer who didn't get them in their box. what happens to the light? often trashed because "we can't sell it, it's against rules". we actually do sell the bulbs so it is easier to give the customer a packet of bulbs and not chuck a whole light in the bin.

another example of silliness would be taking another £40 uplighter and give away the metal "doodah" (diagram above) that holds the glass shade onto the stem of the uplighter when the metal doodah is usually hidden inside the stem itself. result:

trashed light~one, number of doodahs customer has~two.

sometimes i feel like i live in a Dilbert cartoon. some people just don't get Scott Adams' humour but the cartoonist seems to have an intimate understanding of how companies work. often individuals don't care about the products just because they don't belong to that individual. i'd like to think of the bigger picture not because it's good for a company, but because throwing less things away means less unecessary waste, and more recycling.

an organisation (terrified of legal reprisals) would prefer to throw away boxes of fuses because someone gave out a wrong fuse, rather than train their staff to give out the correct fused. "it says 3 amp on the plug so replace it with a 3 amp fuse". not rocket science. but maybe using rocket science (mixed with a spot of terraforming) to get to Mars or Gliese 581 C, or wherever, will be easier than saving this one.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Finger Pointing

when shopping for lights (or anything else for that matter) customers often bring along a relative or friend to bounce ideas off. usually the relative isn't too bothered about shopping and wants to get out of there asap, so quickly finds a shop assisstant to help their wavering friend. they will point at you and say in a loud confident manner: he's over there, or there's a guy that'll help you with bulbs. if the shopper is moving away from the friend they dragged along on their shopping expedition, the friend's voice is not always as loud and confident and will sometimes tail off as they say there's a guy... but the pointing is usually there.

a lady today pointed at me, i wouldn't have minded at all, if she wasn't right next to me!
there's a guy...

and she looked away at her faraway friend, but the finger stayed up. some people say that it is rude to point. a friend a few years back said that she thought that pointing at someone was quite a violent gesture, and it was mostly men that did it. i don't know about that but there i was, face to face with a female pointer.

what did i do? well just for the hell of it i pointed right back at her with a blank expression. her locus of attention shifted back to me and we stood there in our mexican standoff for what seemed like 2 seconds. there was look of absolute bafflement on her face, before i broke into a smile and saying only kidding! :D

i was tempted to quote Bruce Lee, in enter the dragon:
don't concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all the heavenly glory.

but the poor woman didn't deserve that. it's just too bad that my hands didn't have fingers that light up.