I’ve been on something of a mission to crank out posts in an effort to reduce my backlog of drafts and notes. (What’s discouraging is that I just found a pile of notes I’d tucked away and forgotten about. With any luck, most of those ideas will have aged out, and I can trash them.)
Since it’s Friday, I thought I’d burn off a bunch of small ones in a Brain Bubble post. As usual, these are small seeds that never grew into a full post, but I hate to just toss the seedlings.
Today’s theme: Things that annoy me, but only slightly.
I’ve complained about the Season of the Zap before.
It’s part of winter around here due to how the cold freezes the moisture out of the air. The low humidity is the perfect environment for static; it takes very little fabric friction to generate a healthy voltage.
When I was hosting Bentley last February we had a nasty cold snap, and one result is that nearly every time I touched Bentley, she got a zap. Worst of all, often the first thing a dog touches you with… is their nose. Ouch!
I just hope she didn’t think it was deliberate, poor thing.
One nice thing about wireless keyboards, mice, and headphones, is that they’re free-floating electrically. They aren’t grounded, so you don’t get zapped by them. Much more importantly, they don’t send that zap over wires to your computer, TV, or sound system.
Remote controls mean you don’t have to even touch things like sound systems or TVs. (That CDs and DVDs have given way to streaming makes these systems even more touch-free.)
So that’s kind of cool. The damn zap is bad enough (although there’s a trick that removes the sting) but realizing you’re sending thousands of volts into your delicate electronics is one of those heart-sinking feelings.
I always wonder if they’ll even turn on after a zap!
(Wireless devices plugged into the charger are grounded, so touching them can zap you and them. 😮)
Now we’re getting into the Season of the Dripping Glass.
It’s the other side of the “oh, damn” coin, this one hits in summer when the humidity around here is pretty high (August especially).
And iced drink in a glass starts to sweat immediately and generates a good pool of water as the cold is rapidly sucked out of the drink by the humid air. It’s a double-whammy: The drink warms up really fast; and it dribbles water everywhere.
You end up with a big puddle around the glass, or so much clinging to the glass itself that when you disturb it by picking it up, it all drips off onto your leg.
I like drinking out of glasses, so I used to wrap them in paper towels held on with a rubber band. Which rather ruins the aesthetics of using the nice glass in the first place.
I finally got a big thermos mug, which solves both the problem of sweating glasses and losing the drink’s chill.
But I still insist on drinking beer out of a glass, so out come the paper towels in August.
Apple is such a funny combination of amazing and WTF?
The amazing is pretty obvious, but, for example, their keyboards don’t know about delete or escape keys. That right there is a such a huge WTF that I can’t wrap my head around it. It’s as dumb as a one-button mouse.
It seems Apple has a core philosophy of not providing too much functionality because it scares away users. (The extent to which that’s a good business call both terrifies and depresses me.)
An item that’s been on my list since I got my iPhone involves the ear buds included with the phone. I gotta say, the little cardboard carrier they come on is awesome. Apple just loves its clever packaging. Part of the style experience.
But what’s well known about Apple’s ear buds is that they use hard plastic; they don’t mold to conform to your ears. Which apparently works for a lot of people.
It doesn’t work at all for me. I have to keep pressing them back in every few seconds or so. It’s really annoying. (Since Apple eliminated the headphone jack, they’re the only ear buds I have until I find some third party who makes soft plastic ones.)
At home I just use a wireless speaker or wireless headphones, but when I’m on a walk, ear buds work best. Apple makes wireless ear buds, which sounds like a great way to lose ear buds, but those are hard plastic, too.
[Just tying this back to the last topic, to mention again how nice it is having a free-floating phone and free-floating speaker that lets me start up some tunes without any dangerous zaps. (Although, again, ‘ware the charger.)]
I’ve heard Apple’s latest line of wireless ear buds is, or will be, soft plastic, so maybe I can get some good ear buds from them. I’m still using my iPod classic on my walks, so I haven’t been motivated to pursue this.
But, man, those hard plastic ear buds are annoying!
A while back I was browsing the Walmart shoe section for a cheap pair of tennis shoes mainly for short trips outside.
Shoeless Joe has nothing on me: I’m barefoot whenever possible, although I’ll resort to socks if it’s cold. In the summer, it’s sandals pretty much everywhere that doesn’t require real shoes.
But in the winter a trip to the mailbox begs for shoes. Or a quick trip outside with the dog.
Anyway, looking at the collection at Walmart I found these:
The laces were elastic, which was a new trick to me. That sort of seemed like it wouldn’t work very well, and that’s true, it doesn’t.
They feature cord locks for tightening the laces (also new to me). Those are those black plastic assemblies on the far left and right above. They turn out to also be a bad idea.
(Do I need to make a point of mentioning that it’s not cord locks that are new to me, but using them on shoes instead of tying the laces? If so, consider it mentioned.)
What’s even weirder — and much more of a problem — is that the elastic is permanently fixed in, not just one, but two places:
Which, for one thing, means I can never replace the laces. At least not easily.
It also has a bad effect on the cord lock, since that’s one of the two spots the laces are fixed in place. That means the cord locks are fixed in place.
As you can see in the first photo, they’re canted to the outside of the shoe because they’re not fixed in the center. And they can’t be centered because the laces are fixed on the shoe, too.
They work, but the cord lock is way off-center, so there’s a much longer loop flopping around on one side. You can see the large loop especially on the shoe on the left.
Seemed like a cool system, but actually a big disappointment and annoyance. I don’t think the inability to replace the laces is going to be an issue, though:
After just a few weeks of light local use, the soles are seriously worn.
But maybe that’s not surprising when you buy $20 tennis shoes at Walmart. I kinda wondered how such cheap shoes were even possible.
If only all of life’s problems were only this slightly annoying.
But I guess that would be too easy.
Stay unzapped, my friends!