Friday, January 30, 2009

Musical Stickers

This morning I saw the following bumper sticker, which kind of sums-up my feeling about some of the music I hear these days. It was funny, and thought it should be passed along... (by the way, the photo comes from stickergiant.com, who I think deserves some credit for coming up with the exact one I saw today!)

(PS: The South Park-style lettering is a neat touch as well!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shocking

Today I read an article that made me say, "Too bad you didn't ask me..."

Our local cable TV news service (News 8 Austin) reported the results of an audit by the City of Austin auditors indicating city electrical inspections that were not done properly.

Well, duh. I could have told you that. Back in 2004, I spent about a week replacing all the light switches in my house because the housings were cracked. The electrician who wired the house forced wire that was too large into the "plug-in" holes on the back, then when inserting them into the box the plastic cracked from the stress. It was a fire waiting to happen. In addition to that, they were using both the plug-in connection at the back of the switch and the screw on the side in order to daisy-chain the circuit. This caused a fair amount of current to be carried through the bad connection. But that's not all. There were instances of connections where the screw wasn't even tightened (the wire was just curled around the screw. I also found the transformer (power supply) for the doorbell hanging by its wires from the emergency shut-off switch for the heating/air conditioning system. In the circuit panel, multiple wires are connected to single screw terminals on the buss strips (a clear code violation).

Now I'm not an electrician, but I know enough about electricity and have enough common sense to know when something is simply fouled-up, and this is clearly one of those instances. I've seen some really stupid and dangerous do-it-yourself wiring jobs in my and my friends' homes. In my case, this mess was clearly done by the original (licensed) electrical contractor.

Back to the News 8 article and the City of Austin audit, though. The article goes on to say...
To begin with, the audit revealed that at least two inspectors conducted inspections of work performed by family members who are electrical contractors.
This was the one that had me kind of laughing. Why? Well, I managed to find the original construction permit online for my house, and noted that the electrical contractor had the same last name as the city inspector who signed-off on the inspection. Too bad the city auditor didn't have my case to look at. That inspector and the electrician should be brought-up on criminal charges. The article continues...
In addition, the report reveals that some electrical inspectors admitted to passing inspections without actually conducting the physical inspections.

"I know the report implied that there were several situations like that, but I haven't been able to pin those situations down," building inspector manager for the City of Austin, Dan McNabb said.
Well, Mr. McNabb, I've got one for you. Unfortunately, I can't actually tell you about it because the repairs I did to the light switches, the bell transformer, and a couple of other doozies, technically requires the work to be done by a licensed electrician, and a permit for my work would have been required, and an inspection done afterward. Given how things were in my home beforehand, I don't really feel I would sleep any better at night knowing that a so-called "licensed electrician" did the work and the city supposedly inspected it.

Worse still, when I bought my home, the home inspector was supposed to find this kind of thing. Now I seriously didn't expect the home inspector to remove every switch plate and inspect every switch box, but maybe he should have. He certainly didn't catch the bell transformer (in kind-of plain view in the attic) or the stuff in the sub-panel (he did remove the cover on that). It makes one wonder whether a home inspection is really worthwhile sometimes (I guess if you get a good home inspector, it is).

What really bugs me, though, about my story and the results of the audit is the lack of craftsmanship and pride in the work that is being done. While I understand some of the circumstances placed on contractors in new home construction, what I can't understand is how these people can do this kind of work and sleep with a clear conscience at night. You don't see electrical wiring unless something is wrong with it (or you need to change it). That shouldn't matter though. What has caused this lack of craftsmanship in the work being done? Why do people simply not do their job? Are people really that irresponsible today? Every time I hear about a home burning down from an electrical problem, I think about whether the circumstances surrounding that wiring were the same as mine. I think about someone who has probably lost everything they had, possibly even their life, because some contractor felt cutting corners on a wiring job was okay, and the city inspector (safety, code inspection) didn't feel it was important enough to check the contractor's work. What a sad commentary on life.

I leave you with one final picture of the wiring in my house...here is an example of the screw holding the wire not having been tightened...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Home Theater System - Part 2

The home-theater-in-a-box came via UPS yesterday at 6:00pm. The UPS guy was relieved that I was there so he could drop-off the 104 lb. box the size of a small refrigerator at the garage rather than my front door (which is much more difficult to get to.

Everything that people said about the Onkyo HT-S7100 is absolutely true. On the negative side, everyone said the wire was too thin and lousy and they were all correct. It looks like 20 gauge wire, and that's just too thin. The surround cables were also 30' and the runs to my surround speakers was 50'. The night before the unit came, I ran 200' of 16 gauge speaker wire through the attic (which was a herculean effort in and of itself). All this said, the color-coded, much-too-thin wire was ample to connect everything up and test to make sure that everything worked.

The receiver is complex. You can hook your components to it, turn it on, and sound will start coming out, but it won't be working quite right. I also forgot to set my TiVo HD to output Dolby Digital audio, and that also created some initial confusion. Moral of the story: Read the manual. There's some good stuff in there. The Audyssey automatic speaker set-up system is truly amazing. The system comes with a microphone that plugs into the front of the receiver. You place the microphone in three different locations when instructed to do so by the receiver, and it makes whoooop-whoooop noises from each speaker to measure the room acoustics and speaker position. It then makes a bunch of calculations for about 5 minutes, after which the system is balanced and adjusted properly. I happened to know (from running my speaker wire) that the front speakers were 30' from the sofa, and the system had it right on target. What Audyssey does is save having to make a lot of manual measurements and subjective settings. With everything adjusted and the receiver set in the proper decoding mode, sound came from all the speakers. I put on an episode of Planet Earth I recorded from The Discovery Channel, and Smokey perked-up and thought the animal on TV was real. The only trouble I experienced is that the audio and video were quite obviously out-of-sync. I enabled "Lip Sync" mode and set the delay, and it turned out that the maximum delay (100ms) was needed to synchronize the video and audio. This was a little disappointing, but thankfully the function exists. I'm kind of wondering if I missed something (because I didn't read the instruction manual in detail yet) that will make me say, "Ah-ha...that's why that happened!"

A really cool feature that has saved me (in the short-term anyway) $150 and additional complexity is the receiver's ability to communicate with my Sony TV over the HDMI cable (the mode needs to be turned-on in the receiver's set-up menu). Now if I turn the TV off or on, the receiver's power turns on and off accordingly. The receiver tells the TV to turn off the TV's built-in speakers and send volume commands to the receiver. When I use my TiVo remote to adjust the TV volume, the TV says "Audio System: VOL +" (or minus) and tells the receiver to raise or lower the volume. So this means I don't need a universal remote right now (that's the $150 savings).

My subjective opinion of the sound is that it is pretty amazing. For the right source material, it truly feels as though you're in a movie theater. Much of the material on TV (particularly anything in high-def) is 5.1 audio, so you get the audio experience that was truly intended. For music, I find the audio processing to make the sound come out of all the speakers to be somewhat distracting. I put the system in "Music: Stereo" mode when I listen to Music Choice so only the front speakers and subwoofer are active. The sound is good, although I have to admit that my old stereo system (about a quarter of the price) sounds similar in this mode, although the subwoofer helps fill-in the lows my old system was missing.

So for the nuts and bolts (almost quite literally) of putting the speakers up and the system together... The speakers are in their final locations but not necessarily installed as I intended yet, mainly because I am having some second thoughts about speaker orientation. In the front I had the center speaker on the included stand in front of the TV on the TV stand. I moved it above the TV because the sound coming from that location when the other speakers were higher didn't sound natural. I decided to try to bolting it to the wall above the TV, and that seems to sound better. If I decide to leave it in that location permanently, I will run the wire through the wall instead of on the outside of the wall as shown in the photo. I am also considering getting a set of Bose desktop speaker stands because they look like they'll work with these speakers and it will allow me to have the speakers horizontal instead of vertical (a stand is needed because the sides of these speakers are curved). Using the desktop stand would also allow the speakers to be positioned lower in the bookshelves and be closer to ear-level as recommended in most home theater guides. Personally, because the surround speakers are high, having these high as well doesn't hurt the sound as much as they claim it does.


I made a last-minute decision to mount the speakers vertically instead of horizontally at the windows (note that the speakers are both straight - the camera's distortion and viewing angle makes one speaker look crooked). Looking carefully you can see the wires go up into the ceiling just above the speaker, but it really looks fine.


I am still not sure where, exactly, these speakers should go, so I put them on the shelf area next to the (fake) plants. There are two problems with this as a permanent location: The first is that they are much too high, and definitely higher than the speakers at the window side of the room. The second reason is that the rear of the speakers and wires are clearly visible when walking-in the front door. In other words, while the appearance is nice from the living room, it isn't from the other side. My gut feeling is to mount one speaker vertically on each post with the top of the speaker just below the top of the plant shelf level. An alternative (if I decide to mount the speakers at the windows horizontally instead of how they are now) would be to put them horizontally just below the shelf.

Suffice to say that everything works, and that it is obvious that there is still some work left to do. I had to start somewhere. I'll also say that while I am overall happy with this system it seems as though I have killed the proverbial mosquito with a hand grenade. I think I would have been more than happy with a good-quality system that provided two front speakers and a subwoofer, as in a "2.1" stereo system. However since the last time I purchased an audio system was 25 years ago, I think buying something that will last at least that long was a good decision. I can see this system working for me well-into retirement. My old stereo receiver has problems with the volume control and all the contacts on the controls making poor contact and sound crackles and channels go dead. This receiver doesn't have any mechanical contacts in the audio path, and the only thing I can see happening over the long-term is that the technology changes beyond what the receiver can support.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Home Theater System - Part 1

Q: What's harder than deciding what home theater audio receiver to buy?
A: Figuring out where to put it all, and how to hook it all up.

I finally decided on a home theater "in-a-box" system to get: It's the Onkyo HT-S7100. Yes, Tristin, it's the same as your's. After looking at similar models, one which was almost identical, I found a $100-off-sale at Newegg: $100 off, no tax, free shipping. How cool is that? It took 2 weeks (at least) of looking at systems and their operating manuals (with specifications) and trying to decide if each would do what I wanted. I ordered it today, so I can probably expect to be seeing the big box at my front door in the next 5 days or so.

Anyway, my house has a very open floorplan, with the "great room" being open to the kitchen and a large entry in front of the dining area. The "great room" ceilings are vaulted, and are 10' high. Finding a place to put 2 sets of surround speakers was challenging, to say the least. So my plan is now to mount them to the walls. They will be a little high, and slightly higher on one end of the room than the other, but I don't think that will matter a whole lot. Unless you have a room to dedicate to a home theater, there is no practical way to mount these things in a real room.

I spent all afternoon preparing the wiring routes for the "big plan"...which goes like this: On one side of the room is this sloping ("vaulted") ceiling above the back windows. I plan on putting the speakers right before the ceiling slopes -- one between the back door and first window, and one between the first and second window, as shown in the photo below:


If you look carefully, you can see the strings hanging out of the ceiling that will be used to pull the wiring into the attic. You'll also see the patch I had to make because of a mistake on that string on the right (what was above that section of the roof was not something I could fish a wire through). A close-up of this is below:


The wire will come down from above and behind the speaker (I had to fish the wire on the sloping part of the ceiling because of the house's framing).

Then there's the other side, which sports an interesting "beam" arrangement to separate the entry area from the great room:


I'm planning on mounting the speakers to the horzontal beam, one just left of the vertical "post" to the left of the ladder and the other just left of the one to the right of the ladder (essentially, above the ladder). How do we get the wires there though without them being visible? Well, I was able to drill a hole from the attic into the middle of that post to the left of the ladder. Hidden from view (see, it worked) is a hole on each side just above that horizontal beam that, again, has a string fished into the attic for the wire. It looks like this:
(the bolt attached to the string is to prevent frustration and obscenities that would occur should the string get pulled back into the attic without the wire being attached first) What I'm planning to do is staple the wire out-of-sight up on that beam, and then come down to the speaker, so very little of the wire will be visible.

Easy, huh? Well, no. Working in my attic is like trying to do acrobatics in an booby-trapped obstacle course. The activity today took place in this area near the air conditioning unit, and next to a huge skylight (that insulated "wall" on the right):
In that space right below the air conditioning ducts in the front is where the string from the post got pulled through (was thankfully able to get my drill, wood boring bit, and an extension there without too much trouble). Finished product looks like this:
(the white pipe is the air conditioner drain line...) The strings from the area above the windows came up along the roofline, and I have them tied to a pseudo-truss, again to avoid an "oh, sh*t" moment... You can kind of see the strings in the first attic photo. What I'm doing another day, because I already pretty much know what I'm in for with that, is getting it back down to the TV. Getting it there means going through this mess:

See where the big ducts drop off and go down way off in the distance? About 3' below that is where I have to bring my drill and all the wires. Oh, joy. I'm already feeling the effects of breathing fiberglass insulation and boric acid dust (from the over-zealous exterminator) and this was all I dared do today.

The front speakers? That is a whole nother story. Basically I was looking at my set-up, and thought that I'd just rearrange the shelves so they could hold the new 14" tall speakers (instead of on top where the existing speakers are):
After spending the evening rearranging everything, I realized what a pointless idea this had become, particularly in terms of having enough space to keep everything. So I basically undid the shelf changes, and the new speakers will go on top of the shelving units like the existing speakers are. Yes, the audiophiles among us will cringe but again I present to you a real room. There is no room to put the speakers anywhere else - not even on floor stands (the subwoofer is going to the right of the rightmost set of shelves - I made space there). The good news is that all the work I did allowed me to rearrange things and ultimately clean things up a little. It looks better now.

So all afternoon and all night, to get ready for the upcoming home theater in a box. If I had speaker wire all run it would feel like I accomplished something. Right now, I have lots of strings coming out of various places in the room, and having to look forward to running 4 wires down the wall behind the TV.

Because I had the camera out, I'd like to wrap-up a couple of loose-ends from other comments I've made. First, here's a close-up of the TiVo HD with the tuning adapter on top. It still works well.

I am going to refrain from talking about my recent conversations with TiVo about my letter explaining the frustrations you've read about here, or with TW about my completely fsck'd-up bill (they made it better, but it's still a mystery where they got the numbers from).

The other is a completely off-topic remark. There is a stray cat in the neighborhood that is so friendly that we pretty much consider him a "community cat." One of the neighbors has pretty much adopted the guy and he stays at (in?) their home most of the time, and they feed him now. They called him "Riff Raff" and he's such a great guy I had to include him in one of these postings. What you don't realize is how hard it was to take this picture. Riff Raff is so friendly and is so excited to get attention that it is very hard to get him to sit still long enough to take his picture. This cat is funny - as soon as he sees me pull into the garage, he just strolls across the street, meowing all the way across, until he gets to me.

Yes, obviously I have a soft spot for cats. You'd never know that though, would you? :-)

Well, at 5am, it is now time for bed. Okay, past time for bed. Tomorrow is another day (by tomorrow, I mean today).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Marriage

Tonight I got distracted - as many of us do - on RoadRunner's help portal while trying to find out the maximum size e-mail message I can send. The best I could tell is that it's about 1MB, and the file I want to send to my parents is about 250MB. Yes, I know that I have no business sending a file that large in e-mail, but that is the easiest for my parents. So please don't give me a public flogging about considering sending a 250MB message through e-mail. Seriously, I didn't want to, and it looks like I won't. I think the answer is to find someplace who'll give me some free space and account and give my parents the URL.

Oh, yes, the distraction.

RoadRunner had a link on their portal to an eHarmony article/discussion titled, "Reasons you Shouldn't Marry." The subject sounded interesting, so I read the article. The article wasn't nearly as interesting as the follow-up discussion about the article on their forums. Reading the discussion brought to light a very good question: Why should I get married? After all, this was one of the key issues with Marianne and I over 20 years ago (recall I wanted marriage, she didn't).

I will begin by saying that since I do not worship a god nor do I have any religious reasons to marry, any reference to bonding in holy matrimony can be discarded immediately. If you're religious and feel that marriage is a union under God, then we need to agree to disagree. As soon as marriage had any kind of legal implication, it made the transition away from a solely spiritual bond. If you want it to be governed by religious doctrine, then please remove any secular privileges of marriage. I'll save the larger implications of this comment for another discussion. Separation of church and state - it isn't just a good idea, it's in the U.S. Constitution.

Since I also do not plan to ever have children, nor do I want to rear someone else's children, the concept of marrying to create a loving environment to raise kids is not applicable here. I'm not saying that this is a bad reason to marry - in fact, it's one excellent reason to marry - it simply would not apply to me, so it is outside the scope of this discsussion.

So the two key reasons for marriage out of the way, we're left with a pair of individuals, in love with each other, and looking to....what? What I'd usually say at this point is that I want to marry as an ultimate expression of my love and commitment to spend the rest of my life with another person. "To love, honor, and cherish, till death do us part." I'll add "to give physical, emotional, and financial support in time of need" to the list. What about sex? Sure, that's part of it. If you're in a good marriage then you're not worried about your spouse sleeping with someone else and passing their diseases onto you, as marriage is supposed to imply an exclusive relationship with another.

Legally, marriage provides a couple with the ability to help provide for the other in times of need (the "financial" part of the previous paragraph is included in this). Marriage allows legal privilege in terms of being able to participate in employer group health plans, to have certain power-of-attorney should the spouse be unable to make a decision due to an accident or illness, to have a lower income tax rate, etc. Interestingly the reason for many of these legal privileges originated from the concept of a wife as mother staying at home to care for the children while the father worked to provide for the family. Since a housewife doesn't receive income or health benefits, the idea was that the family (and marriage) was treated as a single unit. This concept of a family has become a relic of the past, but the privileges associated with it remain. Again, I will refrain from a discussion of whether this is appropriate or not - fact is that they are as they are, and marriage entitles one to certain privileges.

Another legal aspect of marriage is divorce. Because of the structure of the "traditional family," it was felt that resources acquired during the formation of a family had to be equitably divided among the marriage partners when they separated, particularly since the housewife had no earnings of her own. Alimony was one way to handle this division. Since the children were reared by the wife, the law typically awarded custody of the children to the wife, and the husband (still working) would continue to provide for the children (a continued shared responsibility) through child support. Fast-forward to the year 2009, and many of these aspects of divorce remain even though the structure of a family is not the same as the traditional family of the past. So for a childfree couple with two incomes (so-called "DINKs"), the equal division of assets can result in unfair inequities, particularly if one partner had significantly more assets prior to entering the marriage. While nobody likes to look at divorce prior to marriage, it is a very real and distressingly common occurrence these days.

All these things considered, why get married? I can't answer this. Except for the legal aspects of marriage, there is no good reason for two people to marry if their relationship is on a firm foundation. For a marriage to be successful, there would have to be a relationship on a firm foundation anyway. Except in the case where one partner voluntarily chooses not to work (or has a job without health benefits, for example), most of the legal benefits given to married couples can be handled by contractual or written directives. In the case of a dual-income marriage, the lower tax rate can be offset by a higher tax bracket (since income tax is not a constant rate, but rather higher rates are assigned as higher income "brackets" are entered). This is the so-called "marriage penalty" which really isn't a penalty (see my discussion above about housewives).

Would it not be much more straightforward and far less stressful for a couple to declare their relationship to be exclusive in front of their friends and family in a casual gathering? Really, this tends to happen anyway, but the gathering and declaration gives the occasion sentimental and romantic value. Rings on fingers can (and probably should, to prevent confusion) continue to be symbolic of the exclusive relationship. The result of this non-marriage, as it should probably be called, is that a couple can experience all of the emotional bonds that are ideally present in a true marriage, without the legal complications that occur should the relationship dissolve.

I'm not sure if I'm missing something in this analysis. For now, I'm considering this a "thought experiment." One of the reasons I wrote this is because I have been asked to think about it by several people over the past few years, in addition to Marianne (who tended to make snap judgements rather than elaborate on her thoughts as I have here). If any attorneys out there (Matt? you there?) could verify my thinking on the legal impact of a non-marriage (can one really assign certain rights usually reserved for married couples through written directives?), that would be helpful as well. The truth is that I really am looking for a woman to be a life-long partner, in an exclusive relationship, which is the cornerstone of marriage as I see it. While I refuse to blame marriage for my inability to find said partner, I sometimes feel that the goal of marriage is preventing a truly special relationship from forming. My (our?) concentration should be on the partnership and the emotional bond, cemented by trust. Those need to happen without the pressure of marriage looming overhead. Maybe the person I'm looking for wants to keep her own house, and/or maintain separate savings accounts. I don't know. As time goes on, though, I grow more and more frustrated in my search for my partner, and in watching so many friends' and acquaintances' marriages fail, I am starting to wonder if Marianne was once again, right (her first "right" thing was her decision not to have children).

Addition on 2/11/2009:
Interestingly enough, my employer (a local university) has the following rules regarding the use of sick leave:
When to use sick leave:
  • for your own medical condition
  • an absence required for medical, dental or visual exams or treatment
  • physical therapy
  • laboratory work or tests ordered by a licensed practitioner
  • parent-teacher conferences, up to eight hours per calendar year
  • When you must provide care to the following people because of sickness, injury or confinement due to pregnancy:
    • your spouse
    • your child
    • your parent
    • another immediate family member who lives in your household and is related by kinship, adoption or marriage
    • a foster child who is certified by the Texas Department of Child Protective and Regulatory Services
Notice in no place here does it specify that one can take sick leave to care for another adult living in the same household, or someone in a civil union/partnership, etc. So, while the discussion above has a lot of merit, this is an excellent example showing why a legal marriage is necessary.

It is also safe to say that this is one very good reason why the gay/lesbian community takes issue with the government's unwillingness to recognize homosexual marriage.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Blatant Stupidity - Part 1

This new series of entries chronicles items that make me (and should make you) start to wonder how human existence ever came to being. So without further discussion...

I'll Tumble 4 Ya

A nineteen-year-old Louisiana babysitter has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of a 5-month-old baby. Apparently the children under her care were "being rambunctious and interfering with her television watching" so she put the baby into the clothes dryer and ran the cycle for three minutes. The baby died of skull fractures and burns suffered in the dryer.
(source: AP Online News, local radio news report)

Regardless of how you feel about kids, one really has to wonder (1) what possesses a person to put a baby into a dryer because it was interfering with TV watching, (2) why any person would take a babysitting job when they clearly can't handle being around young children, and (3) how could someone be so heartless. Nineteen is well-into old enough to know better. When they lock this bitch up and throw away the key, I think a suitable punishment would be to superimpose screaming kids over the audio and video of the TV in her jail cell for the rest of her life.

Yes We Can?

According to The New York Times (Jan 8, 2009) US President-elect Barack Obama is asking Congress to delay the deadline (once again) for all television stations to turn off analog signals and broadcast only digital TV. Why is he doing this? Because as the deadline of February 17 quickly approaches, people who have had their heads up their ass for the past 9 months have finally decided they need to get their digital TV converter box. A little over a month before the change and the government-sponsored $40 discount coupon program for the converter boxes is now out of money, forcing allegedly poverty-stricken individuals to have to pay the full $60 for the box. The president of PBS, Paula Kerger, in a move to give legitimacy to people keeping their heads in their ass, "
said she’s especially concerned that children in less-affluent homes that rely on free television might lose access to PBS educational shows for kids."

I'm pretty sure that having access to television is not something that is required for survival. The affected children don't need Sesame Street to become educated, productive members of society. It is time that people start becoming responsible for their own actions ... or inaction in this case. So you forgot to get your government converter box coupon? Here's a suggestion: Why don't you and two other of your belly-aching neighbors pool your money together to purchase the $60 converter box. Then get together as a community and share the box by watching the programs together. This will not only foster a spirit of community, but it will allow children to actually interact with other children while watching Sesame Street...and the adults can discuss the latest episodes of Jerry Springer or Judge Judy. Here is a perfect example of an opportunity to make lemonade from lemons....all it needs is for the people involved to spare a little sugar.

So the second part of the stupidity is our president-to-be getting involved with the decision to extend the DTV transition (BTW: it has been extended twice already and is already several years overdue!). I cannot believe that with all the problems this country faces, it seems that opposition to gay marriage and subsidies for DTV converter boxes are of such vital importance that it has to involve the President of our country. Politicians should not make technical decisions. It is time for analog TV to go away. We can handle it. Yes, we can!

I realize that I just spent a lot of my own time fighting over how to get TV signals and such. The difference here is that a few people who decided to wait until the last minute to get their converter boxes, and TV stations who want to look like they're helping the poor, are demanding that the rest of the country stop and wait for them to catch-up. If this were a matter of public safety I would be a little less rigid, but with TV you have a choice. If you make the wrong choice, then the worst that happens is that you don't get to watch TV for a while. Lesson learned.

I really hope this isn't a sign of things to come with our new leader...

Pissed-Off

I work in a place where people are at least 18 years old, and a majority of them are college-graduates who are considered talented scientists in their field. About a year ago, I went to do #2 in the rest room and sat in someone else's piss. I was annoyed, but figured it was an isolated incident and brushed it off (quite literally, I may add). Over the course of a year, I noticed the urine on the toilet seat happening on a regular basis, nearly every time I used the toilet. Somewhere in the course of duty (doodie?) I discovered the dick who was doing it - he would walk into the toilet area and piss standing-up (rather than use the urinal) and when I checked the toilet after he was finished, there was the piss on the seat. I discovered this week that I was not the only person who had become pissed-off by this guy...as a message at the toilet was anonymously posted that said, "Here to pee? You know what to do! Now, lift that seat you filthy grue!" Now this obviously has given way to several ad-hoc modifications to the paper posted at the toilet, but suffice to say that the discussion surrounding the incidents has given way to a new level of unity among (most of) the male coworkers in this section of the building!

What's really stupid, here, is how a bright young man can be so inconsiderate or just plain dimwitted that he cannot properly use the toilet. Maybe he didn't watch enough Sesame Street...

Certainly, a good example of the cliche, "it's better to be pissed-off than pissed on."

This concludes this episode of Blatant Stupidity.