...is apparently a girl.
Observations by and for the vaguely disenchanted.
Risking the wrath of the whatever
from high atop the thing.
I swear there's a person at Hamilton Beach whose sole function is to review products before they're manufactured to make certain each contains at least one maddeningly stupid design flaw.
The last Brewmaster® I owned had the dispensing spout so close to the side of the coffeemaker that you could only use "regular" thin-walled coffee cups. Have an insulated cup or one with a slight lip? Watch the amazing Brewmaster® as the coffee pours down the outside walls of your cup!
When I saw this model in the store, I thought... aha! An aluminium pot with a hole in the side! How can you possibly screw this up?
Oh, Hamilton Beach, you adorable knuckleheads... I underestimated you.
At ten cups, the flow slows to a trickle. At six cups, it's below the spout opening. But don't tip the pot, because safety!
This coffee is what's left below the spout opening. It exists to remind you that perfection is a goal to be attempted, not achieved.
As the photos show, at the ten cup mark (60 ounces, using the six-ounce coffee cup standard), the coffee level reaches the top of the spout and the flow slows to a maddening trickle. At four cups (24 ounces), the coffee level drops below the spout. Since the instructions admonish the user not to tip the pot, this means you're waiting forever for the last six accessible cups, and throwing away the remaining four.
So, you may ask, why buy this sterling example of a badly-engineered consumer product and recommend it to others?
Well, it's cheap. It's well-made. It brews ok. It keeps the coffee hot. Its irritating behavior doesn't begin until the bottom of the pot, at which point you should be sufficiently caffeinated to deal with it without flying into a seething rage or collapsing, sobbing uncontrollably, into a fetal position on the kitchen floor.
If your household drinks a lot of coffee, it's more convenient than making several 10-12 cup pots.
And in some perverse way, the fact each Hamilton Beach coffeemaker I've ever owned has had some dumb design element is somewhat endearing.
I picture a decent, dedicated guy in Ohio somewhere working feverishly to come up with the Next Great Thing and, just like Wile E. Coyote, being crushed when the first manufacturing run from China comes in and he realizes he just designed a coffee pot capable of dispensing only 90% of what it produces.
And then some middle manager-type, like Lumbergh in Office Space, saunters over to his cubicle and says, "Ah. Yeah. So I guess we should probably go ahead and have a little talk. Hmm?"
Hey guy, it happens. Hang in there. I'm rooting for you.
Which is why I keep buying HB coffeemakers. It gives me something to anticipate in my advancing years. I used to say I hope I live to see my grandchildren. Now I say I hope I live to see HB produce the perfect coffeemaker.
Who knows? Perhaps when I buy my next unit in two years (the average HB coffeemaker lifespan; about a nickel a day, which isn't bad), they'll have a 16 cup unit with a programmable timer, a spout design that accommodates cups of all sizes, and a pot that fully empties.
And, just for old times' sake, a power cord that's only three inches long.
It's surprising what pops up on Google...
It's U.S. Patent #7,249,057 B2, issued July 24, 2007: "Product Information Supplying Method, Product Information Acquiring Method, Product Information Registering Method And Recording Medium," and the description is equally enlightening:
"There is provided a product information supply method for supplying a user who desires to purchase a product with proper information about a related product that could be bought in combination with the product, so that the user is assisted in purchasing products. Registration of combination information to be supplied to the user is made with a database managed by a service provider server by a person who has bought the above product by means of a registration page so that a lot of combination information is accumulated in the database. The registered information includes not only information specifying a combinable product but also information about the effects of the combination and the ways of using products in combination. The database is searched in response to inquiry information from the user who makes reference to a page of products. Thus, corresponding combination information is extracted from the database and is sent to the user."
I'm no expert in intellectual property law, but- this is something patentable? A database of related products, with the added twist of returning information on "effects of the combination and the ways of using products in combination." You mean like peanut butter and jelly? Gin and tonic? Water and Alka-Seltzer tablets?
Even more puzzling is the reference to one of my old DEC Professional DCL Dialogue columns. It deals with referrals and recommendations for computer hardware and software, but its relevance to this patent eludes me. You can read the column here.
Other stuff that passed across the desktop this week:
I was watching a report on the Weather Channel this morning. The anchor was displaying the front pages of newspapers in communities hit by yesterday's storms. One banner headline read, "Storm Strafes City." The anchor said, "I looked up the word 'strafe,' because I didn't know what it meant. It means to attack something with machine guns or cannons from low-flying airplanes."
I guess that it goes without saying that if you don't know the definition of "strafe," you probably don't know what "metaphor" means, either.
How can someone attend college for four years, obtain a degree in atmospheric science or meteorology, and not know what strafe means?
"On August 15, a resident from the 6300 Block of Crestview Drive found a
chameleon in his front yard. If any resident has lost a chameleon,
please call the South Park Police Department..."
-Park News, September 6, 2013
South Park Police.
Hi, I'm calling about that lost chameleon.
Yes, sir. Can you describe it?
Can you describe it? You know, like what color is it?"
I clean off my computer desktop. Into your eyes.
Apparently this drug gives you a stuporous, frozen expression and the ability to see pharmaceutical company mascots.
The Big Mac was introduced in 1968. It cost 45 cents.
The federal minimum wage was $1.60 an hour.
Excluding taxes, a McDonald's worker could buy 3.5 Big Macs for one hour of work.
The price varies by location, but today a Big Mac is about $3.99.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
One hour of work now equals only 1.8 Big Macs.
Now do you see the problem?
Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the NTSB, said the intern was a student volunteering his time who answered phones but was supposed to pass on questions to official media representatives at the agency. She declined to say if the intern was fired, but the NTSB said in its statement that "appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated."
I'm sorry, but you can't blame this on the NTSB. My guess is someone at the station called the intern, read the names, and the intern rolled his or her eyes, said "yeah, right," and hung up.
Batman has apparently downsized, lacks collision insurance, and works the early morning shift at a 7-Eleven south of Pittsburgh.
While getting a dish of Breyers ice cream last night, I noticed something odd... the package didn't say "ice cream."
Instead, in the lower right hand corner was the title "Frozen Dairy Dessert."
I visited the Breyers web site. The front page makes several references to ice cream, but no mention of frozen dairy dessert.
I eventually found what I was seeking, about halfway down the FAQ page:
Frozen Dairy Dessert products are made with many of the same high-quality ingredients that are commonly found in Ice Cream– like fresh milk, cream and sugar– and offer a great taste and even smoother texture. According to the FDA, in order for a product to be labeled ice cream, it needs to meet two key requirements:
· Not less than 10% dairy fat
· A percentage of overrun that results in a finished product weighing more than 4.5 pounds per gallon
Anything that does not meet both of those requirements is not considered ice cream.
5) Why did Breyers make the change to Frozen Dairy Dessert?
Our consumers are at the center of every recipe decision we make. We work hard to understand what people want most and work to give them the best possible product experience. People have told us they have various flavor or texture preferences. For example, some tell us that they want a smoother texture, which is what we’re able to deliver with our Frozen Dairy Dessert products.
Yeah, in addition to milk, cream, and sugar, I'd like five different types of gums and stabilizing agents.
And don't forget the corn syrup. Yum.
(New York Times article, "Ice Cream's Identity Crisis": "You might ask what the difference is between ice cream and a frozen dairy dessert, and I might answer that it is the same as the difference between a slice of American cheese and a slice of Kraft Singles American Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product.")
And there's this, and also this:
Nerd outfitter extraordinaire ThinkGeek is unsurpassed when it comes to clever advertising and customer communications:
Which makes me wonder if the instructions for their R/C Quadcopter is the just the manufacturer's twisted Chinese to English translation, or a literary parody unequalled in the annals of mail-order retail sales:
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Chinese instructions were badly translated from English?
All kidding aside, you have to marvel that technology has progressed to the point where you can buy a four-channel, radio controlled flying device with an integrated, microprocessor-controlled six-axis electronic gyroscope for under $25.
But I still don't have my jetpack.
I just had the most bizarre, vivid dream of my life. Seriously.
Sufficiently vivid to send me catapulting out of bed to the keyboard- wide awake, 100% alert, and without an intervening stop at the bathroom and coffeemaker- and sufficiently bizarre that I really can't write about it in detail.
It involves a trip to a Los Angeles barber shop, a dead celebrity, hospital waiting rooms, appearing on a television show, cab rides, botched airline reservations- a sequence of events as lucid as any I've experienced in real life, but that are, upon reflection, a spectacular collection of somnambular non-sequiturs.
I usually don't have dreams of such preternatural quality. I also don't subscribe to the belief that dreams have any deep meaning. Still, when you're wide awake at four a.m., asking yourself "Where the hell did that come from?", you find yourself replaying the previous day's events in your memory, looking for potential triggers.
Right before going to bed, we watched the last episode of the second season of The West Wing, in which a major character dies. Although the dream wasn't about that character or actor, it did involve a deceased performer I greatly admired. Los Angeles? That's where the series was filmed and the celebrity lived. Barber shop? I need a haircut and have been trying to work out the logistics of getting to the barber within the next week. Hospital waiting rooms- clearing out some old files yesterday, I encountered the discharge instructions from my inpatient treatment for pneumonia last year. Appearing on television and cab rides- the last time I was in New York, I stopped by ABC World News Now in the middle of the night, and when leaving the city to go to my next stop, a business trip to Germany, my cabbie nearly got into a fistfight with a driver who cut him off. During that trip to Germany, Jimmy Doohan- the actor who played Scotty on Star Trek- passed away. Not the celebrity in my dream, but another dead performer. Botched airline reservations- checked the balance information on an airline-branded credit card account yesterday.
I guess there is a loose thread connecting the events in my dream; the weirdness comes from my subconscious mind shoehorning them into a narrative that makes about as much sense as the script to Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Oh well. It's 5 am and I'm up. I'll get a head start on the day.
Maybe I can squeeze in that haircut.
I never paid much attention to the insurance policy on my cell phone. But recent events make me wonder whether I'm adequately covered:
This insurance does not apply to loss or damage caused directly or
indirectly by any of the following:
a. Governmental Authority Seizure or destruction of property by order of governmental authority.
b. Nuclear Hazard Nuclear reaction or radiation , or radioactive contamination, however caused. If physical loss or damage by fire ensues, we will pay only for such ensuing loss or damage.
What's the difference between a nuclear holocaust that melts your phone instead of causing it to burst into flame? And who's going to be around to process the claim?
(1) War, including undeclared or civil war;
(2) Warlike action by a military force; or
(3) Insurrection, rebellion, revolution, usurped power or action taken by governmental authority in hindering or defending against any of these.
Technically, the United States hasn't been in a declared war since World War II, so this is a bit fuzzy. Who, precisely, determines what's a "warlike action by a military force?" As for "insurrection," etc., does that mean if someone steps on my phone at a Tea Party or ACLU rally that I'm out of luck?
Then there's this:
IMPORTANT NOTICE TO POLICYHOLDERS-
TERRORISM RISK INSURANCE ACT OF 2002
You are hereby notified that, under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, as amended, we must make terrorism coverage available if your policy covers commercial property. However, the actual coverage provided by your policy for acts of terrorism, as is true for all coverages, is limited by the terms, conditions, exclusions, limits, other provision of your policy, any endorsements to the policy and generally applicable rules of law. Any terrorism coverage provided by this policy may be partially reimbursed by the United States Government under a formula established by Federal Law. If applicable, under this formula, the United States Government will pay 85% of covered terrorism losses exceeding a statutorily established deductible paid by insurers until such time as insured losses reach the $100 billion cap that limits U.S. Government reimbursement as well as insurers' liability for losses. If that occurs, your coverage may be reduced. You will not be required to pay a premium for terrorism coverage at this time. If a premium is going to be charged for terrorism coverage, we will provide you with advance notification of what that premium will be.
Oh, what the hell. The cellular network will have collapsed, anyway.
Have a great Monday.
(THE GIST) Multi-billionaire software pioneer, philanthropist, and current No. 2 on Forbes Magazine's "World's Richest People" List Bill Gates is putting some of his considerable largess to the task of making sex more enjoyable by funding the creation of a next generation condom.
Gates is offering $100,000 in grant money for ideas that will make condoms- already effective at preventing STDs- less effective at preventing male orgasm.
(He's not doing it himself because Windows showed he wasn't really very good at designing friendly or satisfying user interfaces.)
In related news, reports are surfacing that the largest crater resulting from the Russian meteorite strike contained a spaceship, and that a childless, middle-aged couple rescued a toddler wrapped in red and blue blankets...
News Headline: "Walmart promises to hire 100,000 veterans."
News Headline: "Bill would give homeless veterans unclaimed clothing from airports."
A lot of thought has gone into honoring our veterans.
Now they will have secondhand clothing to wear when they start their underpaid jobs with no benefits.
-Zay N. Smith, Quick Takes
It's also probably not safe. Scrape the gray matter off the wall behind you, go back out to the kitchen, and get yourself another cup of coffee. Then go check out Reddit. I hear there's some good stuff over there.
KGB Report welcomes you to 2013: May this arbitrary, transient point in your solipsistic sense of the space-time continuum delineate the initiation of a series of random events which trend in a manner which you perceive to be favorable.
Hey, t-shirt person.
If the "loving" god who demands your worship isn't bright enough to correctly interpret the establishment clause of the United States Constitution, and is so petty and vindictive as to turn his back and allow the slaughter of 20 innocent babies, then I have no use for either of you.
If you don't think teachers should be unionized but they should be
armed, cancel basic cable.
If more guns made things safer America would have the lowest murder rate
The NRA reminds you their right to shoot more clay pigeons without reloading is just a bit more important than your life.
Welcome to America, where some of you will have an easier time buying an assault rifle than marrying who you love.
Once, millions of Americans correctly argued the Constitution gave them
the right to own other human beings, too. We changed.
If the reason to have a thing is to protect yourself against people with
the same thing, maybe that thing is a bad thing.
It took two minutes, between 9:36am to 9:38am to kill 26 children and
their teachers. How many hunters encounter 26 deer in two minutes?
Too many conservatives refuse to regulate assault rifles, but they're
fine with regulating the female reproductive organs. Because liberty.
Sorry, but prayers and giving your kids hugs fix nothing; only having
the balls to stand up to our insane selfish gun culture will.
Forget 12/21. The end of the world as we know it may begin today at 7:12 pm Eastern Standard Time.
That's when December 12, 2012, 12:12:12 arrives in American Samoa on the International Date Line.
Those with a less than altruistic streak are hoping the world's computer systems will implode in the great cascading failure Y2K was supposed to have been.
Enhancing the absurdity of the situation is the knowledge the potential disruption will be due not to obscure defects in the design of mind-numbingly complex hardware and software. Blame for the collapse can instead be squarely pinned to the banal bleatings of billions of blithering idiots.
They will be simultaneously e-mailing, posting, tweeting and blogging in a frenetic attempt to have their pointless communications endowed with that rarest of time stamps, 12/12/12 12:12:12. The load to computer and communications systems could be overwhelming.
While the chaos could proceed in an orderly, domino-like fashion as the earth spins through each time zone, it's more likely the most notable disturbance in the Force will be felt tomorrow morning at 7:12:12 am Eastern Standard Time.
That corresponds to 12/12/12 12:12:12 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). All systems containing intrinsic timekeeping functions are synchronized to UTC and display local time as an offset from the UTC base time. Nerds know this, and to make certain their messages are precisely timestamped, they'll post using the non-offset UTC, the planet's "official" time.
To paraphrase Padmé Amidala:
So this is how civilization dies... with your crazy Aunt Betty posting a cat picture to her Timeline.
(Thanks to Dave Dustin, whose musings on Twitter reminded me of the 12/12 business)
There's an unconfirmed report that NASA has scheduled a 9 am press conference at its Washington, DC headquarters to confirm that the agency has made contact and has been communicating for some time with sentient extraterrestrials.
The same report states emissaries of the as yet unidentified race have provided key NASA experts with startling revelations in the fields of physics, quantum mechanics and biochemistry- knowledge that will forever change humanity's perspective and, possibly, its very role in the universe.
The report is unconfirmed because I made it up. But it was a neat thrill there for a second, huh?