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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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15 May 2010

gratuitous image

No. 3,042 (cartoon)

I’m killing time.

Time’s killing you.

16 May 2010

The Laser at Fifty

Fifty years ago today, Theodore Maiman successfully powered up a laser. That doesn’t sound like a big deal; I do that every day when I use my computer, make a laser print, access the Internet over a fiber optic network, and so on. The difference is that when Maiman used a laser at the Hughes Research Labs in the hills of Malibu, no one had done so before.

The laser is half a century old today, but almost no one celebrates anything that’s taken for granted. Including me. That’s why Sarah’s cat got excited tonight as it chased a laser-generated spot of light, but we didn’t. Well, we did get adrenalized when the frenetic cat sent a vase of flowers crashing to the floor, but that’s another story, and one unrelated to lasers, mostly.

17 May 2010

National Dog Bite Prevention Week

This is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. I think it should be the National Dog Bite Prevention Millennium, but no one asked me.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Washington, D.C., reports, “About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year.” Elsewhere, the government agency warns, “4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and one in five dog bites results in injuries that require medical attention. In 2006, more than 31,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs.”

Hmmm ...

I doubt any of the bureaucratic authors thought twice about using “Americans” as a synonym for “people.” Or maybe, just maybe, dogs only bite Americans.

As part of my celebration of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, I shall quote more government statistics.

As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the incidence of dog bites. Adults [American adults?] with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home.

A partial solution to the canine menace is obvious: keep mongrels out of the home. None of my friends who live in canine-free domiciles have ever been bitten. The plural of “anecdote” is not “data,” but it’s a good place to start.

18 May 2010

The Los Angeles Freeway Dialect

The local radio station is interrupting its programs for weeks with pleas for the public to send money to “support programming.” That’s more than a little disingenuous, since a sizable percentage of the funding will be used to pay the head of the “nonprofit” station some four-hundred thousand dollars a year.

Radio stations are increasingly irrelevant to audio programming; I rarely listen to “radio” stations except over the Internet. And so, I just connected to another Internet radio station in Los Angeles, and now I’m listening to exactly the same syndicated content, but without the mendacious begging.

One feature is different, though: the traffic reports. Highway congestion is almost irrelevant to a cyclist, but I take a perverse pleasure in listening to predictable reports of expressway congestion and gridlock.

I thought regional dialects had all but disappeared from broadcasting, but I was again wrong. Los Angeles broadcasters are surprisingly formal when referring to their beloved and loathed freeways. Reporters are warning about a crash on “the five,” or Interstate 5. Traffic is crawling on the ninety-one, a complete mess on the ten, moving at the speed of Elvis Presley’s digestive tract on the one-eighteen, et cetera.

I feel sorry for the residents of the smog-choked megalopolis, trapped in their cars on a sweltering afternoon, but not very sorry. Most of them are there by choice, have been repeating the same exercise in futility for decades, and will continue to do so in perpetuity.

Their misery is not entirely pointless. The glass of wine I’m sipping during rush hour tastes even better knowing I’m not trapped in a stationary steel box in a toxic waste dump.


19 May 2010

Serendipitous Dyslexia

When I told Deirdre that I couldn’t see her tonight because I was having dinner with Rhonda, she suggested that I “have a good friend with your time.”

I appreciated the serendipitous dyslexia; Rhonda and I enjoyed a pleasant evening. I did indeed have a good friend with my time.

20 May 2010

Moonless Romance

Nancy’s proto-romance with Brett is not going well. Not well at all.

“He promised me the moon,” she complained, “then he told me I had to buy the rocket.”

Ah, extraterrestrial love, what could be finer? And/or more complicated?


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©2010 David Glenn Rinehart

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