Dogs, cats, engineers and dodgy emails

IAN’S worried as a long-standing friend has taken to sending him emails some of which are sexist and/or racist in tone. Not majorly so, but enough to cause unease and yes, offence. How does he deal with this without damaging the friendship? He’s working on it. Meanwhile I came across the following which Morag sent me ages ago and which, of course, are not offensive in any way. Unless you’re a particularly sensitive cat with a very high IQ. . . 

EXCERPTS FROM A DOG’S DIARY

8:00 am – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVOURITE!

9:30 am – OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVOURITE!

9:40 am – OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVOURITE!

10:30 am – OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVOURITE!

11:30 am – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVOURITE!

12:00 noon – OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVOURITE!

1:00 PM – OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVOURITE!

1:30 PM – ooooooo. bath. bummer.

4:00 PM – OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVOURITE!

5:00 PM – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVOURITE!

5:30 PM – OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVOURITE!

EXCERPTS FROM A CAT’S DIARY

DAY 752 – My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling  objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.

DAY 761 – Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded; must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favourite chair . . . must try this on their bed.

DAY 765 – Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in an attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was . . . Hmmm. Not working according to plan.

DAY 768 – I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning foamy chemical called “shampoo.” What sick minds could invent such a liquid? My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth.

DAY 771 – There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the foul odour of the glass tubes they call “beer..” More importantly overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of “allergies.” Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

DAY 774 – I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird on the other hand has got to be an  informant, and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room his safety is assured.  But I can wait; it is only a matter of time. . . 

ENGINEERING: AMAZING

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

That is an  exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

Because that’s the way they built them in England, and the U.S.  railroads
were built by English expatriates. Why did the English build them that  way?

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?

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

So why did the wagons have that particular odd 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 was  the spacing of the wheel ruts. So who built those old rutted roads?

The  first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by
Imperial Rome  for their legions.  The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads?

The ruts in the roads, which everyone had to match for fear of  destroying their wagon wheels, were first formed by Roman war  chariots. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were  all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

The U.S. standard railroad gauge of 4 feet-8.5 inches derives from the  original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

Specifications  and bureaucracies live forever.  So the next time you are handed a  specification and wonder what horse’s ass came up with it, you may be  exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back end of two war  horses.

Thus we have the answer to the original question.

Now for  the twist to the story. When we see a space shuttle sitting on its launching  pad, there are two booster rockets attached to the side of the main fuel  tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRB’s. The SRB’s are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah.

The engineers who designed the SRB’s might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRB’s had to be shipped by train from  the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had  to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses’ rumps.

So, a major design feature of what is  arguably the worlds most advanced transportation system was determined over  two thousand years ago by the
width of a horse’s backside.

Don’t you just  love engineering? 

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