Friday Four

Friday, February 06, 2015

1. Whoever at FEMA first realized that Waffle House could serve as a rough gauge of the severity of a disaster certainly deserves credit:

The 24-hour restaurant chain prides itself on serving its customers at all hours of the day, seven days a week. And FEMA caught on to this. They discovered that if a Waffle House was closed after a storm, then that meant things were really bad.
That said, I was more impressed with the restaurant chain, which exemplifies private sector disaster planning. Take a gander at its "Hurricane Menu", whose rationale the article explains.

2. I'll again risk boring my readers by singing my praises of Emacs, which is such a powerful tool that I may have to restrain myself from allowing it to become a time-consuming hobby. One morning this week, the highly customizable text editor saved me from a Firefox bug (that seems to have since been fixed) that was slowing my computer to a crawl. Having successfully installed an interface to the w3m web browser within Emacs, I was able to do without that CPU hog. Although I prefer a regular browser for most purposes, it's nice to be able to check on a link without leaving my editor, and toggle easily between a page's source code and its rendered text.

Oh, and while I'm at it, a post on rare bigrams got me to try Emacs "key chords", which have allowed me to greatly simplify and speed up HTML editing. For example, by typing "XD" at the end of an editing session, I can replace all instances of non-standard characters (e.g., Microsoft "smart quotes") that show up as junk in certain browsers.

This hasn't gone without a hitch: This morning, one ill-advised bigram, "xt" placed everything I wrote up to that point into title case, which I had to clean up. That happened when I rapidly typed in the word "text" (without noticing that I'd selected the rest of the post).

3. John Cook, on leaving academia:
... I hope to never see another grant proposal.
Ditto. I once needed to find some writing samples for a job application, and considered using a training grant proposal, since the job was technical in nature. I found it so boring as to be unusable. (I own some limited culpability for that.) In fact, I regard it as the most tedious thing I have ever written.

4. Way back, an article on "What to Eat After the Apocalypse" caught my eye while I was in a state of idle curiosity. Liking the pine flavors of retsina and some kinds of hops, I was intrigued to learn from the piece that pine needles can make a good tea:
Tea in particular is a relatively easy one to do. Pine needle tea has more than 100 percent of the vitamin C of orange juice. One could actually make pine needle tea from the pine tree in your backyard and get your vitamin C for the day. It's actually a really good superfood. And in some cultures, like [South] Korea, they even have pop that is flavored with pine. That's their drink.
I looked into this a little bit, and learned that some varieties of pine are poisonous, so when I do get around to trying this, I will proceed with caution.

-- CAV

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