Sunday, February 17, 2013

A History Lesson - The Story of the Railway Tracks

All makes sense in the end as you soon will clearly see.


Railroad Tracks

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails is 4 feet, 8.5 inches.

That's an exceedingly odd number.


Why is that gauge used?


Because that's the way they built them in England and English expatriates designed the US railroads.


Why did the English build them like that? 

Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did 'they' use that gauge then?

Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?


Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

 
So who built those old rutted roads?


Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.


And the ruts in the roads?

Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels.

Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore, the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

In other words, bureaucracies live forever.


So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process, and wonder, 'What horse's ass came up with this?' you may be exactly right.





Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses.





Now, the twist to the story:


When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, you will notice that there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank.


These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah .

The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit larger, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.




The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.




So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass.


And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important?

So, Horse's Asses control almost everything...

...Explains a whole lot of things, doesn't it? 

Thank you Cousin Mel

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A sad bit of truth

An Obituary printed in the London Times.....Absolutely Brilliant !!!

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, whohas been with us for many years.
No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair; and
- Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.
Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;

I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
If you still remember him, pass this on.
If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Special Moment !! - Dramatic Luangwa elephant rescue.....

Most conservationists believe that man should not meddle with the natural order and that we should allow nature to run her course however cruel or grim it seems to be. Generally it's agreed that on the whole, unless a wildlife problem has been created by man (for instance in the case of snaring or being trapped in a fence, in which case it's justifiable to intervene) then nature should be left to her own devices. She has a plan.   However - every rule has an exception and the dreadful plight of a baby elephant trapped in the mud of the Kapani Lagoon and her mother, who had also got stuck trying to save her yesterday created a frenzy of activity. South Luangwa Conservation Society together with their neighbours - ZAWA - the wildlife authority simply could not stand by and watch them struggle and slowly die, so it was agreed and they all joined forces to try and save the mum and baby.  

The family herd desperately trying to help the screaming Mum and baby escape  but they were completely stuck in the deep, rapidly drying mud with no chance of getting out   
The brave and skilled SLCS team manages to slip a rope under the baby, narrowly avoiding mums thrashing trunk  -  and starts to haul her out .....
Nearly there - the whole team is hauling as hard as they can.....    
But the baby is terribly frightened and won't leave mum's side
Again - she's out and they think they're almost there......   But despite frantic waving and shouting - she won't leave her mum
 
One more try - the team pull her further away from mum this time.....  They unwrap the ropes and help her to her feet
This time - thanks to a young herd cousin calling her to safety..... she makes a dash for it as the rest of the herd scream for her to come to them.
 
Then it's back to mum who is dehydrated and exhausted - the team have been pouring water over her to try to protect her from the scorching midday sun. SLCS staff carefully slip a rope under her....
 
and the tractor starts to pull and pull - inching her out of what would have been a muddy grave  - she seems to sense that there's a chance of escape and begins to struggle for her life...
 
With everyone shouting encouragement and just willing her to keep going "come on Mama, come on Mama"....... to the delight of everyone - she makes it! Weak and wobbly she drags herself out
 
and runs to find her baby and the rest of her waiting herd! The happiest possible ending!          

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Computers - Male or Female?

A SpanishTeacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.

'House' for instance, is feminine: 'la casa.'
'Pencil,' however, is masculine: 'el lapiz.'

A student asked, 'What gender is 'computer'?'

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether computer' should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men's group decided that 'computer' should definitely be of the feminine gender ('la computadora'), because:

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;

2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;

3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and

4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

(THIS GETS BETTER!)

The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be Masculine ('el computador'), because:

1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;

2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves;

3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and

4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

The women won.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The span of life.

On the first day, God created the dog and said, "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."


The dog said, "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"


So God agreed.....


On the second day, God created the monkey and said, "Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span."


The monkey said, "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?"

And God agreed......

On the third day, God created the cow and said, "You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years"


The cow said, "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"


And God agreed again......

On the fourth day, God created humans and said, "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years."


But the human said, "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"


"Okay," said God. "You asked for it."

So that is why for our first twenty years, we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.


Life has now been explained to you.
There is no need to thank me for this valuable information. I'm doing it as a public service.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Short Quiz


This is a quiz for people who think they are quite bright. These are not trick questions. They are straight questions with straight answers

 
1. Name the one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends.



2. What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?



3. Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year. What are the only two perennial vegetables?



4. What fruit has its seeds on the outside?



5. In many liquor stores you can buy pear brandy, with a real pear inside the bottle. The pear is whole and ripe, and the bottle is genuine; it hasn't been cut in any way. How did the pear get inside the bottle?



6. Only three words in standard English begin with the letters 'dw' and they are all common words. Name two of them.



7. There are 14 punctuation marks in English grammar. Can you name at least half of them?



8. Name the only vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form except fresh.



9. Name 6 or more things that you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter 'S.'


Scroll for answers































Answers To Quiz:



1. The one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends ... Boxing



2. North American landmark constantly moving backward is . Niagara Falls (The rim is worn down about two and a half feet each year because of the millions of gallons of water that rush over it every minute.)



3. Only two vegetables that can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons ... Asparagus and rhubarb ..



4. The fruit with its seeds on the outside .... Strawberry.



5. How did the pear get inside the brandy bottle? It grew inside the bottle. (The bottles are placed over pear buds when they are small, and are wired in place on the tree. The bottle is left in place for the entire growing season. When the pears are ripe, they are snipped off at the stems.)



6. Three English words beginning with 'dw' Dwarf, dwell and dwindle .



7. Fourteen punctuation marks in English grammar ... Period, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, apostrophe, question mark, exclamation point, quotation marks, brackets, parenthesis, braces, and ellipses.



8.. The only vegetable or fruit never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form but fresh Lettuce.



9. Six or more things you can wear on your feet beginning with 'S' Shoes, socks, sandals, sneakers, slippers, skis, skates, snowshoes, stockings, stilts.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Season's Greetings

Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
Oren Arnold

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eggcellent!!!





Sunday, July 18, 2010

Work again.

This is the new location for work, it's a return to Park Lane in London. Having been there a year ago when the job was suspended it's nice to go back and finish it.
Life... is not simply a series of exciting new ventures. The future is not always a whole new ball game. There tends to be unfinished business. One trails all sorts of things around with one, things that simply won't be got rid of.
Anita Brookner