Tools Need Training

Lowe’s is using this website as the feature graphic for its “Electrical” section. I’ve been staring at it for a while now, and I’m still not sure whether this is a type of tool with which I am not intimately familiar, or the stock photography has gone awry.

Tools are Hard!

Tools are Hard!

Voter Report Card 2

Literally the day after I got my first Voter Report Card from, I got another one from Colorado Fair Share.

Voter Report Card

Voter Report Card

Amazingly, I’ve now voted in only one of the last four general elections (and if we assume this still counts only my current address, that’s correct) — but now that’s better than the average for my neighborhood. Clearly, public voting records are just made up on the spot.

Voter Report Card has sent me a “Voter Report Card” — and apparently I’m voting at a “Below average” level.

Voter Report Card

Voter Report Card

Of course, I actually voted in all five of the last five elections (plus all five primaries) — and all the elections before that too. But this is “for your current address only”, so my failure is really a data analysis error. But what’s truly confusing is that I’ve only voted once at this address. So when they say I’ve voted in two elections, what exactly are they counting?

Happy or Unhappy?

The City of Longmont sent a survey to 3,000 random residents (including us) with five pages of questions on a wide range of city services. How satisfied are you with weekly trash pick up? Is graffiti a major problem? Weeds? Homelessness? How often do you attend City Council meetings?

And then, out of nowhere, question 20:

Overall, how happy or unhappy are you with your life?

Very happy! Thank you for asking! But some number of people will answer “Very Unhappy” and what I want to know is: will that lessen the value of the rest of their answers? “Well, sure, this guy hates the quality of our tap water, but he also hates his life overall, so let’s just shred his whole survey.”

Accessible Lights

This sign appears at a lot of intersections in the Denver area, and I have absolutely no idea what it’s meant to signify:

Accessible Traffic Light

Accessible Traffic Light

Is the crosswalk wheelchair accessible? If so, why would drivers specifically need to know that? Is the rightmost lane of traffic designated for handicapped drivers? Perhaps the cross street features a wheelchair store? Wheelchairs can only cross the intersection when the rightmost traffic light is green?

Street signs are meant to communicate important information to motorists and pedestrians, and in this case I honestly have no clue what’s being communicated.

Spend Forever With Me… Starting Later

And now may I present: one of the worst ideas ever!

Will You Marry Me... Online?

Will You Marry Me… Online?

This (future) web service promises, “You can propose online with your very own proposal page that is made up of all the great information that you think is necessary.”

Flowers and champagne aren’t right for everyone. I don’t mean belittle someone whose perfect proposal might come riding a horse or sitting in a Chili’s. Proposals mirror the nature of the relationship, and there are a lot of different sorts of relationships. But surely we can all agree that a proposal — the suggestion that two people spend the rest of their lives together — should happen while actually together.

If it’s any consolation, the copyright notice reads 1997 to 2009, I came across this in 2010, and now in 2012 it’s all still “coming soon.” Perhaps traffic to the would-be online proposal service just isn’t what it might have been.



Someone asked on Facebook: “5 + 5 + 5 – 5 + 5 + 5 – 5 + 5 × 0 = ?” Is it: (a) 40  (b) 0  (c) 20  (d) 15?

Take a moment to work it out. It’s not a trick question; it’s just arithmetic. Have you got it?

You will, of course, have seen that the problem could equivalently have been written as “5 + 5 + (5 – 5) + 5 + (5 – 5) + (5 × 0)”, which in turn is “5 + 5 + 0 + 5 + 0 + 0”, which is… 15.

As I write this, the Facebook poll shows these responses:

  • 2,225,250 answered
  • 981,309 people correctly answered 15.
  • 518,062 answered 20
  • 86,759 answered 40

This is sad in so many ways. First and most obvious is that the majority of respondents answered incorrectly. It appears they ignored operator precedence (or “order of operations” rules), did the addition and subtraction first, and then multiplied the final result by zero.

But I’m willing to attribute this in part to the context. This isn’t a scientific survey (in any way), and the question’s title invites poor thinking. After the mathematical expression, the question adds “(I Bet More People Will Answer It Wrong :P) Give A Try !!”

This identifies the question as a trick, so instead of simply computing the answer mathematically many people will just scan for the trick. Spotting the “× 0” at the end, they’ll leap to the conclusion other people would not spot that, and then jump straight to the 0 answer without ever evaluating the rest of the expression. So some of those 2,225,250 wrong answers are not from people who have forgotten about operator precedence, but from people who just didn’t put a lot of thought into a Facebook poll.

I’m more interested in the other two wrong answers. More than half a million people answered “20” which I imagine means they missed the “× 0” entirely and did just the addition and subtraction. Worse, many arrived at 40 which I can only conclude is the result of counting the fives and ignoring the operators (and the 0) entirely — i.e., treating everything as addition.

Let’s just all keep this in mind the next time your local school district asks for more money.

Bridge Road

Google Maps shows here Moretown, Vermont’s “Bridge Road”:

Bridge Road

Bridge Road!

I can’t help but feel that something is missing from Bridge Road, though… Let’s try the same image without the labels:

Bridge Road?

Bridge Road?

This is the stuff GPS-instigated disasters are made of.

For Your Safety

Disneyland used this graphic frequently, including this instance in line for the Dumbo ride. It appears that holding hands is encouraged, but dancing jigs while preparing to leap headfirst from the ride vehicle is discouraged.

For Your Safety

For Your Safety

The safety implications are real and important, but the pictorial version just made me laugh every time.