Wednesday, July 27, 2022

How to find the single mosquito indoors

New tools such as mosquito laser or bug zapper are impressive and efficient in killing mosquitos. But often times the big problem is not killing mosquitos per se, but finding them instead. It's likely you have one or a few mosquitos inside your house. Without finding them, a laser beam is useless and while a bug zapper may be attractive to a fly, it's not so to a mosquito. One way to find the mosquito or mosquitos that secretly sting you is to this. Turn off lights or keep the room somewhat dark. Put a mattress or anything you can comfortably lie on on the floor. Set up a mosquito tent on the mattress. Open the doors of the tent. Lie down on the mattress. Cover yourself with a light sheet and only expose your head. If you want to read on your cell phone or tablet, don't expose too much of your arm. Wait. Eventually the mosquito will come near your head. Once you hear the humming sound, immediately close the tent doors. Turn on the lights. Find the mosquito inside the tent and kill it. Note that to make sure the humming sound comes from the mosquito inside the tent, leave some space between your head and the edge of the tent.

While we're on the topic of mosquitos, here's a trick to kill a mosquito that perches on an edge or a crack of something where clapping your hands may not be able to kill it. When you buy fruits or vegetables at a grocery store, you use a small, usually no-color plastic bag. Use this bag to catch the mosquito (or even a fly, which is very hard to catch cleanly alive otherwise). Hold the opening of the bag wide open. Slowly move the opening toward the mosquito. When very close, suddenly cover the mosquito and its surrounding (edge of furniture, for instance) together, and close the opening. The mosquito (or fly) will be frantically fly around inside the bag.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Easy way to relieve workload on IRS

IRS is constantly under stress. “Our employees have worked hard, long hours during the pandemic to assist taxpayers and successfully modify our systems, despite lacking the funding that we need to adequately serve the American people,” said the IRS Commissioner. But there is a very easy to relieve this heavy workload: significantly raise the limit of tax filing. For example, currently if you are single, under 65, and make $12550 or more a year, you need to file tax returns. Why not raise that to, say, $20000 or $30000? To make up for the decrease in tax revenue of the nation, all or most tax rates can be raised just a little. The total tax revenue will stay the same but the number of tax returns that IRS receives will be much lower. Hasn't IRS been trying to simplify tax returns in the past few years (in spite of the alledge opposite on Turbo Tax's instigation)? Raising the minimum tax filing income works in the same spirit and will meet no or little opposition.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Better way to achieve slower traffic keep right

When I visited Italy, I was amazed at Italian drivers' courteous and considerate driving habit: before you pass a slower car, you're almost always guaranteed to have the left lane available for you to do so, even though before you come close to the point of passing, the slower car is in the left lane, or sometimes even running across both lanes. In the US, we have the Slower Traffic Keep Right sign everywhere on state or inter-state highways and yet far fewer drivers obey this rule than in Italy. One way to achieve the goal of slower traffic staying in the right lane is simple. Just make the pavement of the left lane rougher than the right lane. That way, driving in the left lane for an extended period of time is far noisier and less comfortable. In fact, when the road needs repairs, the government could even care less about the left lane, leaving small potholes alone for a longer time than those in the right lane. But that probably would not be a feasible strategy.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Cell phone pinned to car dashboard

If you don't want to buy or temporarily don't have a cell phone mount or cradle to fasten to the dashboard of your car, you can use a rubber band to pin the cell phone to the dashboard. Spread it so that it catches on the tabs of the two center A/C vents (the tabs that allow you to direct the air flow). Then slide your cell phone under the rubber band. If the distance between the two vent tabs is too big for the rubber band, link multiple rubber bands together. Or if there are two radio knobs (e.g. one for volume the other for tuning), see if the rubber band can be spread to catch on these knobs.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Single-person response speed training for martial arts

Martial arts require quick action, both in attack and defense. While one can train his speed of attack alone, it is almost impossible to train for speed of defense by himself. Two (or more) people have to work together. In sports, agility drill improves the athlete's change of body position and direction of running. But its emphasis is on the change of the body, not on the speed of response, which precedes the body movement and is more critical in any type of martial arts (boxing, Kung-fu, Taekwondo, etc.).

Although two-people training is needed for this training, it is not always convenient to arrange for two people and it inevitably causes injury. Just for the purpose of improving response speed, one-person training has its advantage, except that there is lack of such equipment. A possible design is a machine with a flat front plate. Multiple holes are open on the front. From each hole, a rod made of rubber can quickly pop out. The trainee stands close to the machine and has to quickly respond to the protruding rod by either turning his body to avoid it, or catching it with his hand.

Shopper's guide at store entrance

Unless you go to a store where sales people wait to assist you, a shopper's guide, either a paper map or a computer, may be helpful to guide you to the exact isle and shelf. This is particularly useful for a big store and the products are inherently complicated for selection, such as Home Depot, where there is always a shortage of salesmen and you often hear "Customer assistance is needed at ..." on the speakers. A simple computer that only informs of the isle and shelf for a type of products is helpful, but can be further improved. A sophiscated software program should be able to take voice in addition to keyboard input and answer questions as much as it can, not just "Where do I find air conditioner filters?", but also "Do you carry Pfister faucet side sprayer model 951‑026U?", or even "Does SKU LK1CS fit American Standard model ...?" No software is a replacement for a human. But such programs, which software programmers can develop with relative ease, can solve the problem of not enough in-store employees and, in limited cases, help customers with better accuracy and higher efficiency than humans.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Optimal age for profession

James Gosling, the creator of the Java programming language, wrote on Facebook that "In the time between Sun and LRI I’d get lines like 'We normally don’t hire people your age, but in your case we might make an exception'". Even a world-class computer programmer is not immune from implicit age discrimination during a job interview. (Or should we call it natural selection in a modern society?) For a long time, I've been thinking of the optimal ages for various professions. They are not necessarily the same as the actual mean ages of the workers in their respective occupations, even though for lack of data, the latter can be substituted as an approximation. For example, the 2015 Labor Department statistics shows that "computer and mathematical occupations" have a mean age of 40.8, and "architecture and engineering occupations" 43.6. But as we all know, IT professionals are much less popular after age 40, or even earlier, while most engineers continue to enjoy their seniority well into 50, simply because the engineering technology is not evolving as fast as computer technology and accumulated personal experience matters.

"Optimal" is in the eyes of the beholder. As a result, no objective measurement may be constructed. Instead, a survey among a large number of employers is needed. As of today, I know of no such data available. But I can imagine that athletes take the youngest extreme, doctors probably take the other, and IT professionals are not too far away from athletes. Each category can be further divided. Shooting athletes don't have to be as young as runners. Database administration is a job well sought after by ageing programmers, for job security as well as a better pay. In China, traditional Chinese doctors (TCM practitioners) will undoubtedly be sitting at the oldest extreme of this age-popularity axis, surpassing non-TCM doctors (called xīyī in Chinese). In all countries, old glass blowers are dearly loved grandpas, who would kindly reject the job offer for a happy retirement life, at least before the time 3-D printing catches up with human glass blowing.

How to find the single mosquito indoors

New tools such as mosquito laser or bug zapper are impressive and efficient in killing mosquitos. But often times the big problem is not ...