Random Thoughts

Thought #25

Well, I'm already on my third set of headphones for the year. No idea what killed the last ones — they just started getting staticky and then totally crapped out. Not sure the new headphones will last, though. I bought a set of in-ear earbuds because they were on sale, but I feel like I've got swimmer's ear when I have them in. And if I loosen them to get rid of that sensation, the sound quality goes to crap and then they fall right out. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and get one of those huge sets of stereo headphones, the ones that make you look like you've just robbed an audiologist. Then again, those would probably crap out on me too.

Thought #26

At the beginning of the year, Allegheny County instituted a 10% sales tax on poured alcoholic beverages to help fund the Port Authority (which, despite its name, is responsible for public transportation). Needless to say, this hasn't been very popular with bar and restaurant owners, who are currently trying to put a referendum on November's ballot to reduce the drink tax. Now, the drink tax has been pulling in millions more than its architects dreamed of, which seems like a good argument for reducing it to me, but I can see how reasonable people could disagree on this point.

The response of the drink tax's proponents on the Allegheny County Council has been to add a competing referendum on the ballot, which offers voters a chance to repeal the drink tax in favor of higher property taxes. (Though first they met in secret to unilaterally grant themselves the right to put referenda on the ballot — convenient but quite possibly a violation of the state's Sunshine Laws.) This strikes me as the most disingenuous move the Council could have made. There's absolutely no reason that a lower or repealed drink tax would lead to higher property taxes. Sure, those are some of the only sources of revenue the Council has — but the Council had no authority to levy a drink tax before 2007, and what's to stop them from getting the state legislature to authorize new taxes?

And none of this solves the main problem, which is that the Port Authority drastically needs to restructure its costs (especially their labor and pension costs, which are ridiculous) and throwing more money at it is pointless until they do.

Interestingly, local print reporters have been presenting a balanced take on the battle (though maddeningly short on specifics), though the opinion writers and TV news have basically decided to parrot the County Council's line.

However this turns out, I think I'll stick to drinking at home. Paying $4 for a drink in a restaurant is just silly when I can get a case for $20. Especially when there's still no charge for water.

Thought #27

Aryas Tobacco

Every day I walk by this convenience store on the way home. And every day it drives me nuts, because the kerning on that "s" is way off.

Of course, the kerning is way off because this store used to be called Aryan Tobacco. (It's run by two Indians who weren't thinking about the other potential implications of the word.) Still, the sign painters could have situated that "S" a few inches to the left and saved me a lot of aggrivation.

This isn't the only time that bad kerning has set me off. My company recently created an ad for the video monitors at PNC Park, which involved rearranging a square logo into a long skinny logo. The problem is that the logo has three sections, one of which is kerned differently from the other two. When the elements are stacked vertically, everything looks fine. But when they're lined up horizontally, the differently-kerned section is right in the middle and it doesn't read right.

This is probably just another sign that I spend too much time sweating the small stuff.

Thought #28

Make that my fourth set of headphones. The last set had these little "ear gel" things that you could swap out in order to get the best fit for your ears. Thing is, they also have an annoying tendency to pop off and then roll away somewhere you'll never, ever find them. A set of replacement ear gels costs half as much as a new set of headphones, and sticking the un-gelled buds in your ear isn't an option unless you like ruptured eardrums for some reason.

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