Today’s Detritus

A guy from my group at work is going back home to Croatia for four weeks' vacation. After he left today, we got into a discussion of things we could do in his absence: assign all of our bugs to him, or fill up his office with cigarettes (he's a pretty heavy smoker, often to be found down in the parking garage on a cigarette break). Thinking about it a bit more, we realized it would take a lot of cigarettes. In fact, doing out the Fermi-problem calculations, we decided a complete office-ful of smokes would cost about half a million dollars, which put it kind of out of our prank price range. Steve said he understood now why the cigarette companies are able to reach hundred-billion dollar settlements and still stay in business. I said I understood now why people hijack cigarette trucks.

Justin sent along this editorial cartoon from the Los Angeles Times. He's writing to the cartoonist and the editor. I think I will, too, once I have something more articulate to say than the spluttered screams that are all I can come up with right now.

Also available on the web today, Garrison Keillor penned a very nice paean to Seattle in his "Mr. Blue" column for Salon (yes, I've broken my vow and gone back to reading it). "Delightful and inspiring," he calls it, and he says of us Seattleites that we're "a book-reading, mountain-hiking, theatergoing, salmon-fishing bunch, and they strike me as salt of the earth and good to be around." Smile.

Kid A has been placed on once-a-day rationing. It's reached that point; if I were to listen to it more often, bad things might happen.

The state of New Jersey sent me a nasty letter, claiming that I'd run a 35-cent toll on the Garden State Turnpike on the 9th of June, and demanding payment of the toll, plus a twenty-five dollar administrative fee. In order to impress upon me the quality of their airtight case, they included the automated photograph from which they identified me as the toll-runner. The only problem: while I am indeed the owner of the car that had the New Jersey license plate named in the letter, that license plate number wasn't the one shown in the photo. They enclosed three forms I could use to dispute the charges, none of which technically applies to my case. Section A, "Certification of Non-Liability," would let me claim that I'm not the owner of the car whose plate number they give. But I am. Section B, "Certification of Inadvertent Toll Violation," would let me claim that I tried to pay the toll. But I didn't (this is one of those "have you stopped beating your wife" situations). And Section C, "E-ZPass Customer Certification" would let me claim that I had an E-ZPass transponder in the car at the time of the violation. But they don't have E-ZPass out here, so I didn't. Ah, someone else's tax dollars at work.