I’m Not Making This Up, Either

According to Adweek, CNN claims ISIS is using Nutella and kittens to recruit women.

How sexist is that? Why are ISIS and CNN assuming that only women will be attracted to a violent, repressive regime by kittens? I know plenty of men who would be quite susceptible to kitten-oriented recruitment techniques.

Then there’s the whole Nutella question. Does anyone like chocolate hazelnut spread enough to leave their comfortable life in search of a jar? It’s not like you can’t find it on the local convenience store shelves if you have an irrational craving.

As a writer, I shouldn’t admit it, but I really couldn’t make up anything this ridiculous. And even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to sell it.

Moving on.

Elevators have been around for more than two thousand years. The modern safety elevator was introduced in 1852. I had assumed that by now the elevator was well-understood technology. Apparently not at Caltrans.

Yup, more problems on the Bay Bridge.

There’s a service elevator on the bridge. It was installed for a very sensible reason: workers need a way to get to the top of the tower to do inspections and maintenance. Once the original elevator design was introduced, bridge officials requested changes to support an additional use: tourism. No, they weren’t thinking of making the top of the Bay Bridge tower into a popular destination on a par with Coit Tower. They wanted to use it as a tool to sell bonds to pay for the bridge.

I’m unsure how they thought that would work. Given my own feelings about heights, I suspect the most successful technique would be to take prospects to the top of the tower and then refuse to let them leave until they signed a purchase request. But that would probably violate a few dozen laws.

Anyway, the design was changed to include large windows to improve the view. In the focus on scope creep in the elevator cab, though, apparently nobody reviewed the design of the system as a whole.

Elevators move in straight lines. Usually, but not always vertical lines. They can cope with diagonals if the shaft is properly built: some of the cab’s weight rests on guide rails, instead of placing all of the weight on the cables. What they can’t handle well are changes of direction.

Remember why the bridge design was chosen? The selection committee wanted something unique. We all know how that turned out. Now we know that, not only is the bridge unique, so is its elevator. The lower half of the ascent is angled inward (toward the tower) and halfway up it changes to an angle out away from the tower. According to the manufacturer, no other elevator has a similar multi-angled path. Lovely.

In practice, the elevator lasted just over a month–from December 5 to January 8–before its drive shaft failed. Actually, the elevator was only in operation for a couple of weeks, thanks to a door failure that idled it from December 7 to 23.

At least bridge commuters won’t have to pay for the repairs. The elevator is still under warranty.

You know, I tried to turn the tale of the Bay Bridge Bolt Botch into a short story. I couldn’t rationalize all of the problems believably enough to make a coherent narrative.

Moving on.

On Tuesday, “School closings” was the third most popular search on Google. Not surprising, given the sub-arctic conditions covering most of the US.

Wednesday, Vanilla Ice was arrested on charges of burglary and grand theft.

Today, Niagara Falls is frozen.

Clearly this is a very bad week for ice.

And if I wrote something like this into a book, reviewers would slam me for “lack of realism” and use of “convenient coincidence”.