Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekend Trip, Cute Story, Search Wars

My parents were going away for the weekend, and I had a choice: Go with them or stay home and have the house to myself. For the first time in a good while, I decided to go with them. So I didn't get laid this weekend, (though there was some eye candy tanning by the pool, and another cute boy working at the pizza shop). But it was a nice weekend. Good to spend some time with the family. Relaxing atmosphere.

I got a ride back with a family I didn't know. They were determined to avoid traffic at all costs. So they avoided NYS Route 17 and drove through Pennsylvania, taking something like U.S Route 209 to U.S. Route 206 to NJ Route 15, etc. It seemed absurd, but if they had done it right Google says it should only add about 3 miles and 25 minutes. If it avoided potentially hours of traffic on the 17 it could have been a smart move. However, all that fails to account for the difficulty of driving on dark, winding, country roads in the fog and heavy rain, making wrong turns and generally not knowing where you're going. In the end, the trip took a "respectable" four hours or


Crazy question: Why is West Milford, PA east of Milford, PA?


My grandfather told a cute story, a "chassidishe ma'aseh": There was a Rebbe (Grand Rabbi) who had a custom to toss apples into the crowd of his followers who would gather at the close of the Festival of Tabernacles. The men would eagerly grab for the apples, as there was a tradition that anyone who catches one would be assured a year of wealth. Over the years, the crowd grew and men would fight and push to get the blessed apples. The Rebbe's assistants warned their master that the situation was becoming out of control and with all the shoving, people might get hurt. The Rebbe sent a message to the people, "There should be no more pushing to catch the apples."

The next year, the pushing was even worse. Now, as each man shoved his neighbor out of the way, he would taunt him, "Have you not heard the words of the Holy Rebbe? He said not to push, and still you push for the apples!" The Rebbe's assistants returned to him with the news. The Rebbe responded by issuing a stern warning, "Whoever pushes to catch the apples will be cursed with five years of poverty."

The next year, there was no pushing. The crowd was smaller than usual, and everyone who came stood rigid, afraid to push for fear of the Rebbe's curse. As the Rebbe began tossing the apples, however, one frail elderly man ran frantically through the crowd grabbing as many apples as he could. After the event, people came over to the old man, incredulous. "Is it not foolish to risk five years of poverty for the chance of a single year of wealth?" they asked.

"Ah, but where else can I receive the Holy Rebbe's guarantee that I'll live out the next five years!" responded the old man, a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his lips.


In other news, Microsoft's much-touted Bing search engine, well, sucks. Just as a random example: I was searching for information about the world's largest green-energy project, DESERTEC. So I typed Desrtec [sic] into Bing (actually into the Firefox search box, which happened to be set to Bing at the time). What I got was this page asking if I perhaps meant to search for Bachelorette News or maybe Shooting in Pittsburgh or Vanessa Hudgens Nude. Google's first result was Even spelled correctly, Bing gave the $500 Billion pan-European consortium's plan one link, and then listed results for "Deserted".

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