Utterly Meaningless

LAPTOP DEAL OF THE DAY

Filed on July 19, 2014 at 6:36 am under by dcobranchi

NOTE: SALE ENDS at 1 a.m. EDT 7/20/2014

I’ve been searching for weeks for a laptop for Chelsea to take with her to college. I had narrowed the search down to just a couple of processors: the Intel Core i7-4500 series, the Core i5-4200 family, or the AMD A10-5750. With 8 – 12 GB of RAM these were running in the $700-$900 range. I caught a coupon earlier this week and got this Dell for $630. It had all of the features Chelsea wanted (no touch screen, backlit keyboard, at least 8 GB of RAM). And then, this morning, my RSS feed for Woot! showed they’re selling a very similar refurbed HP machine for $485 shipped! The HP beats the Dell on memory (12 GB vs. the Dell’s 8GB) but loses out on wireless (“n” vs. the Dell’s “ac”). The HP has a touch screen if you (or your kids) are into that. I think it’s a waste on a laptop. I have a touch screen Lenovo ultrabook upstairs. I never use the Windows 8 tiles, but boot directly to the Win 7 look-alike desktop. Touch is not needed if you’re not using the Microsoft “Modern Interface.”

If you’re willing to take a gamble on a refurb with a 90 day warranty, this laptop has the oomph (that’s a technical IT term) to take an HEK through their college years.

GO WEST, YOUNG(?) MAN

Filed on July 15, 2014 at 9:21 am under by dcobranchi

Adam O’Neal is wasting his time marching to DC. He should have hiked to Raleigh. That’s where it would get fixed.

I’D HAVE STUCK IT IN THE MICROWAVE

Filed on July 12, 2014 at 9:32 am under by dcobranchi

Electronics (including FBI tracking devices) really don’t do well in microwave ovens. Which reminds me, I’ll need to nuke my passport when it comes due for renewal in a couple of years. I still don’t trust RFID.

SEPTUPLE YOUR MONEY OVERNIGHT

Filed on June 7, 2014 at 6:38 am under by dcobranchi

I missed a real financial opportunity here. I own a few (and I mean very few) shares of AAPL in my IRA. I just checked the balance and my AAPL holdings have magically increased in value by 7x. Of course, AAPL is splitting 7:1 on Monday and Scottrade already has figured that in. But the value is based on Friday’s pre-split close. If I’d have known that, I’d have put my entire port into AAPL on Thursday. It’d have been fun seeing a 7-figure balance, even if only for a day.

THE NEXT BIG THING

Filed on June 2, 2014 at 7:24 pm under by dcobranchi

I want some Tech guru to invent anti-social media. Facebook has a billion members. That means there are 6 billion who’ve resisted the call to be “social.” There’s the market.

FIDELITY’S 401(k) SUCKS

Filed on May 31, 2014 at 6:43 pm under by dcobranchi

Here are all my options for stock mutual funds with reasonable fees (defined as < 0.51% per year):

Capture

Woohoo! Three funds! Nirvana!!!

THOSE SAFE SCHOOLS

Filed on May 25, 2014 at 5:58 pm under by dcobranchi

Man! Why did I never think of this? What a great fundraising idea!

Last week, two Vancouver, Wash. third graders said they wet their pants after their teacher would not let them use the bathroom. The students, both girls, said the reason for the denial was that they hadn’t accumulated enough pretend classroom money to pay for privilege…

The pretend money is designed to teach students about the value of money. Students earn the fictional funds by doing their homework, for example, or by being nice to others. They can spend it to buy pizza or pointless crap like a squirt gun. Students say they must also use the fake cash to pay for bathroom breaks.

The unidentified teacher exacts a seemingly high imaginary price for toilet time: $50.

Of course, I’d have charged my kids real money. Let’s see: $50 x 4 kids x 5 flushes/day = $365,000/yr. I could have retired years ago.

A TOUCH OF SANITY

Filed on May 14, 2014 at 12:34 pm under by dcobranchi

In a relatively insane town:

PARKERSBURG – The Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority’s Easy Rider bus levy, which will provide funding for fiscal 2016 and 2017, was approved by a large margin in Tuesday’s primary election, according to the unofficial tally from the Wood County Clerk.

Parkersburg citizens voted 2,323 for and 679 against renewing the Easy Rider levy. This was an approval of 77.38 percent of the vote.

Yes, we voted against a tax cut in order to fund public transit. What would the tea partiers think?

We have a surprisingly good bus system here in tiny Parkersburg. It runs only between here and the next town over (Vienna, WV), but the routes go through all of the major shopping and professional centers. You could pretty much get anywhere you need to for 50¢ (25¢ for students).

WIRELESS BLEG

Filed on May 10, 2014 at 10:54 am under by dcobranchi

I hope someone sees this who can help. Chelsea will be going away to school in Huntington, WV in August. We need to find a cell service provider who has decent coverage in I-77 between Charleston and the Ohio River. And also in Huntington, of course. This is for safety when she’s driving back to Parkersburg.

Does anyone know who has the best cell phone coverage along I-77 in WV (north of Charleston)?

ICE CREAM BLECCH

Filed on April 29, 2014 at 8:55 pm under by dcobranchi

After I wrote that post extolling the virtues of the mascarpone ice cream we got a call from Kroger’s informing us it had been recalled. Something about eggs.

Of course, I’d already eaten the whole thing.

ICE CREAM BLOG

Filed on April 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm under by dcobranchi

Kroger’s Private Collection Chocolate Hazelnut Mascarpone may be the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. Super smooth. Not too sweet. And loaded with crunchy hazelnuts.

I think I’m in love.

TIME TO HIKE TUITION

Filed on April 25, 2014 at 1:17 pm under by dcobranchi

Total college enrollment is starting to trend down after decades of consistent growth. With fewer students, colleges will have no choice but to hike tuitions since their revenues will go down otherwise. It’s a great scam. When demand is up, tuition goes up. When demand is down, tuition goes up.

You think I’m kidding?

Tying in the need students currently face to fund their education, the Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase for next school year, citing issues related to a drop in enrollment that colleges across the state are facing.

“It’s something we don’t like to do, but it keeps the college financially healthy,” said WSCC President Bradley Ebersole.

WSCC Treasurer Jess Raines explained that the college’s revenue is down by eight percent from the previous year, citing enrollment as one of the primary factors.

SAME AS THE OLD BOSS

Filed on at 8:54 am under by dcobranchi

My division of DuPont is being sold to Kuraray, the #4 worldwide manufacturer of PVB films (DuPont is #3). We got our official job offers yesterday. Hopefully, The Who were right.

1ST AMENDMENT THROWDOWN

Filed on April 19, 2014 at 8:56 am under by dcobranchi

The local high school here finds itself in a bit of a jam:

Parkersburg South’s wrestling season is over.

But now the wrestling team is pinned over its tee shirts.

South’s wrestling team has tee shirts that have a Bible verse on the back.

It says “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” – Philippians 4:13.

The wrestlers wore those shirts during their most recent season.

“Him” is usually translated “Christ.” If the kids were wearing the shirts as part of their uniforms, this would clearly be a violation of the Establishment Clause. And even if they’re just wearing them around school, it’s questionable since the front reads “Parkersburg South Wrestling.” The Superintendent made the right call to ban the shirts, but now a family has retained a lawyer because, they claim, their 1st Amendment free speech rights are being infringed.

Sorry, I’m not buying it. The wrestling team has been wearing shirts with that same verse for 15+ years. That seems, to me, to make it something of an unoffical team motto. And, therefore, forbidden.

A MINIMUM WAGE PROPOSAL

Filed on April 18, 2014 at 12:53 pm under by dcobranchi

Let’s set Congressional salaries at 10x the federal minimum wage, annualized to 2080 hours. Right now, that’d require a pay cut from $174k to $150k/yr. If they raise the minimum wage to $10.10/hr, they’d get a hike to $210k/yr. I’d gladly make that trade.

CRASS COMMERCIALISM

Filed on April 12, 2014 at 4:10 pm under by dcobranchi

Eastern Analytical Symposium

THOSE INSCRUTABLE SPAMMERS

Filed on at 12:20 pm under by dcobranchi

I’m not sure if this is a Google Translation error, or the Chinese spammer who sent it is just nuts:

When you see of pork chop, it means that roller coaster about grand piano trembles.

A FREEZER FULL OF WMDs

Filed on April 8, 2014 at 5:54 pm under by dcobranchi

A few habaneros were enough to cause the evacuation of a school and the deployment of a HazMat team. Freakin’ wimpy habaneros. I have a huge bag of Trinidad Moruga Scorpions and Bhut Jolokias in my freezer. Those would devastate an entire county, I guess.

Police cars and fire trucks surrounded Jefferson County Open School in Colorado Monday, as hazmat crews decontaminated students outside — spraying them down, fully clothed, in cordoned-off sections under a blue tent…

Six habanero chili peppers caused this hot mess.

Don’t tell Homeland Security, okay?

LIFE IN PARKERSBURG, WV

Filed on March 22, 2014 at 7:13 am under by dcobranchi

Where hundreds of bigots rally in support of a bigoted high school teacher. You think I’m kidding?

Hundreds of supporters rallied in front of Parkersburg South High School on Friday, calling for a suspended teacher to return to the classroom.

About 200 students and adults lined up along Blizzard Drive, holding signs supporting David Foggin, a science teacher who was suspended Tuesday for remarks he made online about a student group.

In a post last week, Foggin appeared to make fun of the Gay-Straight Alliance club, comparing the group to deer poaching and illegal street racing and saying it opened the door to similar groups, such as drunk-sober students…

Sandra Walker, a vocal proponent of Foggin, organized and attended Friday’s rally.

“Mr. Foggin should be allowed to go on his private Facebook page and have the freedom of speech that men fought and died for,” Walker said. “God gave us the right to take a stand on our beliefs. Christ died to give us the right to free speech.”

Walker said Foggin’s post and subsequent suspension have brought up issues of free speech, religion and whether a club like the Gay-Straight Alliance should be in schools. Walker dismissed rumors of GSA students being targeted for harassment and bullying by Foggin supporters.

“South has had bullying for years. The club members are not the only ones who have been singled out for bullying. When they set up the club they singled themselves out for bullying,” she said…

At least one student said she has been the target of bullying, shouted slurs and intimidation, by Foggin’s supporters because she is gay and because she is a member of the GSA.

This is just plain sickening! Obviously, none of my kids attend Parkersburg South High School. But if they did, I hope they would have stood shoulder to shoulder with the counter protesters and brought their friends, gay or straight, along with them.

PSA: FOR WEST VIRGINA HOMESCHOOLERS APPLYING FOR THE PROMISE SCHOLARSHIP

Filed on March 15, 2014 at 8:20 am under by dcobranchi

These are the known facts as of 3/15/2014:

1. You do not need to “un-enroll” from homeschooling status or from any classes that you are taking prior to taking the TASC pre-test. If anyone at the Adult Education centers tells you differently, have them contact the state Board of Education.

2. You do not have to not be homeschooling for 30 days prior to registering.

3. You do have to take the pre-test prior to registering for the TASC. The pre-test runs 3.5 hours.

4. You should go to the local Board of Education office to pick up a TASC registration form. That form, when signed by school officials, will allow you to take the TASC for free. Otherwise, it’ll cost you somewhere around $100. You’ll need to bring the letter from the local BoE showing that you’re homeschooling.

5. The state Board of Education has not yet determined the TASC cut scores for PROMISE eligibility. Since the test is still not ready, the state BoE told me that they will “definitely have to extend the July 1st deadline.” That being said, it is still strongly suggested that you try to get your scores in by June 30th, just to be safe.

End of facts. Now, my opinions:

Apparently, some (all?) local Adult Education centers have been interpreting the state requirement that someone must have quit high school for 30 days prior to taking the GED as a requirement that homeschoolers must do the same. That’s silly, of course. How do you un-enroll from homeschool? Homeschoolers take the GED (and now the TASC) solely in order to qualify for the PROMISE scholarship. It has nothing to do with graduating. So, although the test is the same, the different reasons for taking it should have clued the Adult Education centers/local Boards of Education that the rules for registering were likely to be different. In at least some counties, that has not been the case for many, many years. As of yesterday, it ought to be in Wood County. I spoke to the local Adult Education Center, the PROMISE scholarship foundation, and the state Board of Education yesterday. And they spoke to each other, so that at the end of the day, we reached an understanding that graduating homeschoolers can register for the TASC as outlined in the “facts” section, above.

WELCOME TO THE 1990s

Filed on March 5, 2014 at 7:30 am under by dcobranchi

The WV legislature appears set to pass a law making breastfeeding in public legal.

ARMED AND DANGEROUS?

Filed on March 4, 2014 at 6:46 pm under by dcobranchi

A 10-year-old in OH got a 3-day suspension for making his fingers into the shape of a gun. Seriously.

According to his father, Paul Entingh, one moment the boy was “goofing off” with his friends in fifth grade science class, and the next the teacher was taking him out of the classroom invoking Ohio’s zero-tolerance policy.

The offense? Nathan was “making his fingers look like a gun, having the thumb up and the pointed finger sticking out,” said Entingh, describing the February 26 incident.

“He was pointing it at a friend’s head and he said ‘boom.’ The kid didn’t see it. No other kids saw it. But the teacher saw it,” he said. “It wasn’t threatening. It wasn’t hostile. It was a 10-year-old kid playing.”

The next morning Paul Entingh escorted his son Nathan to the principal’s office, where they met with Devonshire Alternative Elementary School Principal Patricia Price.

“She said if it happened again the suspension would be longer, if not permanent,” said Entingh, who also received a letter explaining the reason for Nathan’s suspension as a “level 2 look alike firearm.”

This may be the dumbest zero tolerance case in the last decade. This is what the Columbus City Schools “Guide to Positive Student Behavior” has to say about “firearm look-alikes”:

Firearm Look-a-Likes
A firearm look-a-like is any item that resembles a firearm but does not have the explosive
characteristics of a firearm but may use a spring loaded devise or air pressure by which to propel an
object or substance (i.e., toy guns, cap guns, bb guns, pellet guns, air guns and paint ball guns). A
student shall not possess, handle, or transmit any firearm look-a-like, the use of which is unrelated to
the educational process. Included in this prohibition are those students who assist, are present, or in
any way participate in the violation of this rule.

I’m pretty sure a finger and a thumb doesn’t fit the legal definition.

LIFE IN PARKERSBURG, WV

Filed on February 24, 2014 at 7:05 am under by dcobranchi

There’s an interesting LttE in my local paper. He’s responding to an earlier letter that endorsed allowing soldiers to wear certain religious garb as part of their uniforms (like turbans for a Sikh soldier).

Mr. Nichols and Mr. Harpool apparently have never served in the U.S. military. Their displayed lack of knowledge and comments and, obviously, their lack of being an informed voter, are quite evidently displayed. I am currently writing a book, and I will gladly send them a free copy of it when I am done and try to educate them a little more. Uniform in the dictionary: “adj. 1. unvaried, regular, constant. n. 1. sameness, consistency, identical with others (as in police uniforms and military).”

I served in the first Gulf War, and a kid in my platoon was from Jordan (Muslim) and was a great kid to work with. He became a translator for Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf. Another kid was a black man who was also Muslim, good kid, but when it came to war time, he questioned whether or not he could kill his “brother” Muslims. Perhaps if they wore turbans their enemy of us “Infidels” could be distinguished.

People are good, no matter where they may be from if they choose to be. Christians are being killed on a daily basis in the Middle East and parts of Africa. What tolerance of other religions do the Muslims really portray. Yes, there are peaceful ones, but where are they to stop the progression of Islamic militants? Kuwait is one of our few allies left in the Middle East and may God bless any of the Middle Eastern people who stand against tyranny.

As far as wearing of the military uniform, since “Devil Worship” is considered a form of religion by the U.S. government, does that mean they could wear red hats with horns and carry a pitchfork instead of a rifle? I think not, and any such change makes us all look like idiots. I rest my case.

Brian R. Dent

Parkersburg

I didn’t realize that Satanists wore red hats with horns and carried pitchforks. You learn something new every day, I guess. As for looking like an idiot, Mr. Dent, I heartily agree.

Case closed!

ALMOST HEAVEN

Filed on February 15, 2014 at 8:03 am under by dcobranchi

This has to be the definition of a no good very bad day:

A rush-hour wreck Friday at the Interstate 77 Williamstown-Marietta Bridge involved a lost couch and a tractor-trailer, sent two to the hospital and closed the southbound lanes of the bridge for more than an hour, officials said.

Around 5 p.m., an unknown motorist carrying a load of furniture and traveling southbound across the I-77 Williamstown-Marietta Bridge lost control of the load and deposited a couch on the bridge behind the vehicle, said Deputy M.C. Hupp with the Wood County Sheriff’s Office.

Behind the unidentified motorist, Tracy West, 41, of Orma, W.Va., and his wife Melissa West, 36, of Orma, W.Va., were test-driving a Dodge Ram pickup from a local dealership, Hupp said.

Tracy West was unable to stop in time to avoid striking the couch, Hupp said. The couch was hit, and ended up beneath the Ram’s undercarriage, Hupp said. The test-driven Ram was forced to stop in the center of the I-77 Williamstown-Marietta Bridge due to being hung up on the couch, said Hupp.

Unable to stop on the slick bridge surface, a tractor-trailer from Broughtons Dairy then struck the Ram from behind, Hupp said. The tractor-trailer was driven by George Mosser Jr., 54, of Marietta.

At least the couch wasn’t on fire.

PSA: AT -8 °F…

Filed on January 29, 2014 at 6:25 am under by dcobranchi

the hairs inside your nose freeze solid in one breath. It is a very strange sensation.

We now return you to our regular schedule of non-blogging.

FIRST WINGNUT LUNACY OF THE YEAR

Filed on January 1, 2014 at 3:08 pm under by dcobranchi

This just crossed my desk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlazQYHodX0#t=12

No, Obamacare does not require us to be chipped.

No, Walmart is not in cahoots with Obama to have everyone chipped.

Yes, wingnuts are idjits.

I’M DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS (EVE DAY)

Filed on December 24, 2013 at 10:08 am under by dcobranchi

An unexpected squall left our street covered in white. And since the temperature is 27 °F and falling, we’ll have snow on the ground tomorrow morning.

P1110567

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Filed on at 9:18 am under by dcobranchi

A bit of holiday cheer…

I stopped in at one of the local churches here to pay for luminaries that they’re putting out on my street tonight. As I was leaving I wished the secretary “Merry Christmas” and she wished me “Happy Holidays.” I appreciated the gesture. I’m (obviously) not a member of that church, and she had no idea what, if any, religion I follow. So “Happy Holidays” was, indeed, the appropriate choice. I just never expected to hear it from a church employee in this rather conservative town.

MUST READ OF THE WEEK

Filed on December 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm under by dcobranchi

Kathleen Geier does a terrific job explaining just how wrong are the GOP policies that seek to punish poor people for the “sin” of being poor.

NO BLACK THURSDAY FOR ME

Filed on November 27, 2013 at 7:01 pm under by dcobranchi

And any store that opens on Thursday will see zero of my dollars on Friday, too.

BOO!

Filed on November 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm under by dcobranchi

Yes, it’s a little late for Trick or Treat. And these peppers are definitely on the “Trick” end of the scale.

P1110562

I’m a chili-head. The hotter, the better. I use Dave’s Insanity sauce by the spoonful. I’ve taken, and beaten, the Phaal Challenge. And these Moruga Scorpion peppers are just ridiculously hot. Almost too hot for me.

“H” IS FOR “HUNGARY”

Filed on November 1, 2013 at 10:36 am under by dcobranchi

We have a Thanksgiving tradition in our home of not having the traditional turkey, dressing, and all the fixings dinner. Boring! Instead, we roll a 26-sided alphabet die. Whatever letter turns up, we look at the list of countries that start with that letter and pick one. I rolled an “H” this morning. We’ll be having chicken paprikash and Hungarian goulash for T’giving. Woot!!!

IDIOTS!

Filed on October 21, 2013 at 6:00 am under by dcobranchi

Once again, we look like a bunch of mouth breathers. This time, it’s all about the Common Core:

Walker’s resolution is substantially similar to the resolution approved by an overwhelming majority in the House, but inserts a provision explicitly exempting home-schooled students.

“Parents who choose to educate their children at home … retain their independence and control over their children’s education and are not subject to Common Core State Standards or the Smarter Balanced Assessment,” the text of the resolution reads.

State school law already exempts students who are educated at home from complying with the department’s education standards and testing requirements, and the adoption of Common Core by the Michigan State Board of Education did not require religious schools or parents who home school to use the standards…

Several home-schooling groups, however, have spoken at legislative hearings on the standards over the summer, alleging that keeping the standards in place would effectively outlaw non-public education, as college admissions tests like the SAT and ACT will be based on Common Core.

Anyone want to guess how many initials those “home-schooling groups” have in their name?

As for the claim that the SAT and ACT will be based on the Common Core, boo fuckin’ hoo! If you choose to homeschool, you cannot expect the rest of the world to match their assessments to your personal curriculum. Having to do extra work for SAT prep is the price that you and your kids will have to pay if you choose not to teach (or they choose not to self-teach) the concepts on the Common Core. The math standards are, for the most part, “common” sense. The only thing that seems new to me is the Modeling section. You don’t want your kids to learn algebra, geometry, and statistics? Well, don’t count on that academic scholarship to MIT. And the English Common Core standards are all based around literacy. That is, reading comprehension. Breaking News: The SAT test currently includes major sections on “Passage Based Reading.” So, once again, if our kids are doing all right on the SAT now, chances are they’ll be fine when the Common Core is fully implemented.

Why do these home educators continually fall for the hype put out by certain “home-schooling groups” that the latest legislative initiative represents the end of homeschooling as we know it? Are they just too dumb to see that it’s all about the money (IAATM)? Tell those “home-schooling groups” to pound sand. Either teach your kids at least as much of the Common Core so that they can continue to do well on the SAT or quit whining!

AMERICA HELD HOSTAGE: DAY 9

Filed on October 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm under by dcobranchi

Hey, Boehner! Just a reminder: Obama doesn’t have to run for re-election in ’14. You and the other idiots Republicans do.

AMERICA HELD HOSTAGE: DAY 8

Filed on October 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm under by dcobranchi

NASDAQ down another 2% today. Thanks, Boehner!

AMERICA HELD HOSTAGE: DAY 5

Filed on October 5, 2013 at 6:14 am under by dcobranchi

And the assholes wingnuts morans TEA partiers take the shutdown into the weekend.

Where is Ted Koppel when we need him?

AMERICA HELD HOSTAGE: DAY 4

Filed on October 4, 2013 at 7:59 am under by dcobranchi

Must read of the day: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/10/shutdown-debt-ceiling-explained

AMERICA HELD HOSTAGE: DAY 3

Filed on October 3, 2013 at 8:52 am under by dcobranchi

I wish there were a Hell so that Ted Cruz and the rest of the TEA Party could rot in it.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

Filed on at 7:28 am under by dcobranchi

What not to do with a Ghost pepper:

1) Take a bite to see if they really are as hot as “they” say. Trust me. They are.

2) Fry one up without first opening all the windows, turning on some fans, and donning a gas mask.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

DEFECTIVE PRIUS WINDSHIELD UPDATE

Filed on October 1, 2013 at 8:31 am under by dcobranchi

Toyota replaced the windshield with a special order one that they promised would fix the problem (which they continue to pretend doesn’t exist). The fix worked. Now they need to acknowledge that there are many, many bad windshields out there (2010 – 2013, at least) and recall them.

HAPPY 123rd BIRTHDAY, YOSEMITE!

Filed on at 5:48 am under by dcobranchi

Too bad you’re closed. Thanks, morans Tea Partiers.

CHICKEN SANDWICH RECIPE

Filed on September 22, 2013 at 7:47 am under by dcobranchi

This is for the hearty souls among you.

To a hamburger bun, add one smallish boneless chicken breast, grilled. Douse liberally with B-Dubs “Blazin’” sauce. Add 1 chopped up Thai chili and 1/2 of a chopped up Trinidad Moruga chili. Eat . . . but . . . very carefully . . .

SOME PEOPLE ARE MORANS

Filed on September 20, 2013 at 4:41 pm under by dcobranchi

Read this and then realize that all of the folks described have probably graduated high school in the US.

AYE, MATEY

Filed on September 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm under by dcobranchi

Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day.

UPDATE: In honor of TLaPD, I’m wearing Bay Rum aftershave. Pirates were pretty stinky after months aboard ship.

EASTERN ANALYTICAL SYMPOSIUM — PRICE CUT

Filed on September 14, 2013 at 8:59 am under by dcobranchi

Well, sort of. We’ve never had a clear policy on whether grad students were eligible for the student rate of $25 or had to pay the full conferee rate of $195. If you are a grad student, the correct rate to register for the meeting is $25. The website will be updated to make this clear.

Hope to see lots of new analytical chemists-in-training at the meeting.

HEY, TOYOTA!

Filed on September 9, 2013 at 5:58 am under by dcobranchi

Fix the damn defective Prius windshield.

QOTD

Filed on September 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm under by dcobranchi

Guess who said this:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.

That was Ronald Reagan in 1980. And the sentence that preceded the quote above?

Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.

Happy Labor Day!

WEST VIRGINIA– WHERE ALL HEKs ARE ABOVE AVERAGE

Filed on August 31, 2013 at 2:30 pm under by dcobranchi

I had forgotten this bit of WV homeschooling law:

West Virginia requires homeschoolers to score at or above the 50th percentile on certain standardized tests or to show improvement upon last year’s results in order to demonstrate “acceptable progress.” While this may be an unreasonable requirement (most states that require tests do not require such results: New Hampshire is 40%, Minnesota is 30%, Ohio is 25% and Colorado is 14%), the law does provide alternative options for homeschooling families such as an end-of-year narrative and a review by a certified teacher.

400 CARNIVALS!

Filed on August 28, 2013 at 7:33 pm under by dcobranchi

That is a lot of posts about home education. Congrats to the dedicated gang who has kept it going. Especially Henry Cate.

AN OPEN LETTER TO TOYOTA

Filed on at 3:48 pm under by dcobranchi

Fix the damn windshield!

**************************************

August 28, 2013

Defective windshield in 2013 Prius 2– Safety issue

I purchased the vehicle new from Bert Wolfe Toyota on 8/2/2013. It was purchased for my wife and she is the principal driver. On 8/18/2013 I drove the car for the first time in the dark. I immediately noticed that headlights of cars approaching me appeared to be distorted. They were tripled with dimmer copies of the lights above and below. These copies showed a distinct rainbow effect. This is very distracting for the driver. I also noticed that the further away the oncoming car was, the larger the spread between the two copies. Basically, the angle between the main light and the copies was constant. Further distance meant a larger spread. Upon reaching my destination I contacted the original salesperson via email to detail the problem. The email is dated 8/18 and is included below:

“There’s a problem with the car that you WILL want to notify corporate about. Technical problem with the windshield. The vinyl is defective. Anisotropic refraction causes “sundogs” at about +/- 5 deg from the vertical on any bright point source of light. This problem likely affects many many vehicles made with vinyl from the affected rolls. The windshield will need to be replaced. There is no repair possible. Please feel free to forward this to Toyota corporate. They’ll understand the jargon. And feel free to call me @ 910.635.2502.”

Further emails led to the decision to contact Toyota corporate’s complaint line. That call was made on Monday 8/26 and was assigned case #1308260215. Toyota corporate suggested I visit my local dealer (Superior Toyota) for service. This service visit was attempted today, 8/28/2013. While waiting to catch up with the service manager, I did a bit of internet research and discovered complaints about this same phenomenon going back several years. Replacement OEM windshields do not fix the problem. And this makes sense if there really is something wrong with the plastic polyvinylbutryal interlayer. As long as the manufacturer of the plastic has not changed their process, there is a significant chance that replacement windshields will exhibit the same effect.

As the evidence supports the notion that the manufacturer of the vinyl interlayer has had an ongoing problem for several years, I do not want an OEM replacement windshield employing vinyl from that manufacturer. Instead, I would like the windshield replaced with an aftermarket replacement glass (ARG) windshield from Safelite®. Safelite® does not use polvinylbutyral interlayer sourced from Japan, so it seems unlikely their windshield would suffer the same problem. I am willing to make the arrangements with Safelite® to have my windshield replaced if Toyota will reimburse me for the out-of-pocket expenses. Alternatively, if Toyota wishes to remove and replace my windshield with an ARG windshield at Superior Toyota, that would be equally acceptable. From the point-of-view of troubleshooting, Toyota corporate may wish to have access to this defective windshield.

At this point my wife will not drive the vehicle at night due to this distortion. As this is a brand new vehicle with a known and demonstrable defect, I expect Toyota to make it right. Toyota has had, in the past, the reputation for making some of the best and most reliable cars on the market. The last few years have tarnished that reputation somewhat. How it handles this safety issue will speak volumes about whether they are serious about addressing their shortcomings or are a company on the decline.

Sincerely,

Daryl Cobranchi, Ph.D.

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