Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Call Of The Wild

I noticed some odd behavior today.  The fact that it happened TWICE means I had to blog about it.

Have we, as a collective society, forgotten that voicemail exists anymore?

I was in the bathroom today at work -- admittedly, a fairly private place where conversations are usually short and awkward.  At least for guys; I can't speak for women.  Nobody really wants to have (or feels comfortable having) a detailed conversation when ... well, you get the idea.

So today, I was washing my hands, when some guy's cell phone rang while he was on the toilet.

The guy answered his cell phone.  While on the can.  And then he had a brief, exceedingly awkward conversation that went something like, "Hey, Joe ...  Yeah, I'm, uh, indisposed ... Look, I can't talk right now.  Can I call you back in 2 or 3 minutes?"

A few hours later, I was back in the bathroom -- a different one this time -- and some guy is standing at the urinal, when HIS phone rings.  And he answers his cell phone.  This is particularly frightening because at least one hand is already engaged in a fairly important activity.  "Jerry, I'm gonna have to call you back, OK?"

Twice?  In the bathroom?  On the same day?  Really?

Given the existence, reliability, and price (free) of voicemail, AND the existence of Caller ID on almost every cell phone in the world today, I find this behavior completely illogical.  I've noticed hundreds of people doing while in line in Starbucks, or in a crowded hallway, or paying for something at the checkout line, or while driving, or in a meeting, or while engaging in a whole host of other activities when it's not really appropriate or convenient to talk.  BUT THAT'S WHY THEY INVENTED VOICEMAIL!!!

And now with Google Voice, which will send you a text message or e-mail of your transcribed voice message, it is that much easier to just hit the "ignore" button to silence your phone if you don't want it to keep ringing.  And with caller ID, you already know who's calling you.  And yet -- people still feel compelled to answer the phone and be their own voicemail.

I just don't get it.  Does anyone out there have a rational explanation for this behavior?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Geography Quiz Answers

So, I posed questions a few days ago.

1.  If you go due east from Seattle, where do you hit the East Coast?

ANSWER: New Brunswick.  Canada.

Yep, that's right: Seattle is further north than all of Maine.

I didn't believe it at first, either, and thought that maybe the Mercator projection was playing some non-Euclidian tricks on me or something.  Nope.

Seattle, Washington: 47° 36' N
Estcourt Station, Maine: 47° 28' N

2.  If you go due south from Atlanta, where do you hit South America?

ANSWER: You don't.  All of South America is east of Atlanta.

3.  The northernmost point in the United States is determined by some really weird metrics.  Technically, it's the northwestern most point of the Lake Of the Woods.  While that sounds simple, in practice, it's a little complicated and makes for one heck of a squiggle in the northern border of the United States.  It also makes for an orphaned section of land that technically belongs to the US.  How weird is this?

According to wikipedia, the Lake of the Woods was supposed to be divided up such that the "northwestern most corner of the Lake" defined the northern border of Minnesota.  And look -- you can obviously see what they meant: that edge of Buffalo Bay would make a lot more sense.  But, no, upon detailed evaluation, there's some crazy inlet that's just slightly more northwest than the Buffalo Bay.  And hence, there's that slice of land that technically belongs to the US but is clearly connected to Canada.

And people live and vacation on that slice!!  There's an elementary school, there are a couple of resorts (some open year round), and even a golf course.  For the record, these hardy souls live at 49.345 degrees North.  Wow.  Brrr.

So, there's your geography quiz for the week.  All from a little poking around with Google Maps.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Geography Quiz

There's a chance I'll be making a trip to a small, northern Canadian town for work in the next year or so.  I looked it up on Google maps but -- just like looking up words in a dictionary -- I got distracted in looking at other things and finding where some things lie in relation to other things.

So, here's your Geography Quiz for the week.  Take a guess at the answers WITHOUT referring to a map, atlas, or other site on the internet.  The answers might surprise the heck out of you.  I'll post the answers in another day or so.

1.  If you draw a line due east from Seattle, where do you hit the East Coast?

2.  If you draw a line due south from Atlanta, where do you hit South America?

3.  Why do you need a passport to drive to the northern most part of the continental United States?

Answers in a few days.