Quiz Question

One of a continuing series



The top photo shows a river in Asia. It rises in the Tibetan Plateau and passes through two more countries before emptying into the ocean. The bottom photo is from a famous automobile race. How are the two connected?

Post your answer in the comments section below.





Je n’ai pas la clé

Now I really don’t have the key.

The correct key for the correct lock.

See the previous post:

OK, now I really do have the key. But it is an interesting story.

In the previous post I poked fun at business that do not really have a handle on day to day operations. The state of business-customer relations also came up. I noted that when my new house was completed in 2010 the builder gave me the keys to the garage door, said keys having been given to him by the company that installed the garage door. Said company being Parrish & Company, Inc., 26995 Highway 281 N, San Antonio, Texas, (830-980-9595). I also mentioned that Parrish and Company had provided a lock for the garage door and had provided keys to yet a different lock. I also mentioned that when I informed Parrish and Company of their error more than two and a half years after the fact they graciously offered to make good on their error. They, at no expense to me, offered to provide me with the correct key. They would hold the key for me at the front desk of their offices at 26995 Highway 281 N, San Antonio, Texas, and would exchange the correct key for the wrong keys when I arrived. It was the kind of customer outreach that traditionally warms the cockles of my heart. I guarantee you that on this occasion their generosity did just that.

And now the key is gone. Not only is the key gone, but the lock is gone, as well. And not only the lock, but the entire garage door. It happened this way.

On a Tuesday night last month came a terrible pounding on the roof. I was upstairs at the time, and I was sure it was the fist of God. Turned out to be only the fist of hail, but that was enough. The roof is history, according to my insurance adjuster. Likewise the garage door. Hail dimples reduced the door’s real estate value to zero, and today they replaced it.

But not the lock. And not the key. The new door came without a key lock—the man said they don’t do that anymore. I’m guessing they don’t do that anymore when the insurance company is paying for a new door and not me.

Hey! Mike phoned a little after nine this morning. Said the crew would be there within 15 minutes. Just time for me to park the cars down the street. They came. They had the door panels loaded on the truck, already the proper color. See the photo. And no lock. And no key. The key I drove twice on 281 to the northern limits of San Antonio is now surplus.

The good part is, these people appear to do this sort of thing for a living. In and out in 30 minutes while I watched. They’re Mission Overhead Door Service, contracted by Blackmon Mooring, contracted by USAA insurance.

And now I’m wondering what I’m going to lose when the contractors come next week to do the roof. Stay tuned.

Odd Moments


In college I didn’t go for a degree in electrical engineering, because I considered the EE equations to be very messy, dealing with various harmonics and such. But I did take one EE course and obtained a degree in Engineering Science. Eventually I got a job as a mechanical engineer for a company that made optical character recognition equipment and document processing systems.

This was about 40 years ago, and we hired this guy Bill. Bill was an ex-Air Force electronics technician, and he was a sharp guy. He didn’t have a college degree, but he knew how all that stuff worked. I talked to Bill a lot and picked up some good knowledge from him.

I had this team of engineers, and we were designing a system to go in banks and process checks that people brought to the counter. And there was this other guy, Bob, and he wasn’t in our group, but he was an EE, and he was really sharp. He worked on some of the cutting edge stuff the company was developing, and one of the things he was working on was ASICs. ASIC is just a short term for Application Specific Integrated Circuit, and the idea was that companies that made them had a set of prepared designs, and you told them what you wanted your circuit to do, and they would produce a photo mask for the die. They would then produce short production runs of the die. A die is the proper term for an integrated circuit chip, and these could be quite large and complex.

Anyhow, Bob was a real whiz, and he got a lot of respect wherever he went. When he walked through the area people tended to just step back and let him pass.

Anyhow, Bob was working on a new concept, and he stopped by my desk and asked me about the problem he was having. I listened to him for about a minute, and it dawned on me what the problem was. I explained it to Bob, and he said something like, “Oh, yeah.” And he went away happy.

Then I looked up, and some of the guys on my team were looking at me, and it was a kind of strange look. I got back to working on what I was supposed to be doing, but I thought I could feel eyes on my back. For a few minutes it was a weird situation, and I thought about it again earlier this week. It was one of those odd moments.

Death Explained


Have you ever gone to a big time sporting event of great importance, one that featured the top players, one that decided a critical championship? The competition was intense, and the outcome was in doubt. Interest was high.

Then something unexpected came up, and you had to leave the game before it was over. And later you never could learn the outcome of the game. Maybe people you asked would not tell you, but more likely you could never find anybody who had attended the game or possibly anybody who ever heard of the game. And you never found out how the game ended, and it always remained a mystery to you.

Death is not like that.

The big time sporting event is the Universe and everything that happens in it from way before you were born until way after you are gone. All you can ever learn about the Universe, the world, is what happened right up until the time you die. And when you die, for all purposes, the Universe ceases to exist. What happens in the Universe after you die is of no consequence to you, because you no longer exist. In any form.

It’s not like this, either:

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

People get the wrong idea. They get many wrong ideas. “After you die you go to another place.” No. You don’t go to another place. Then, if you don’t go to another place, you spend the rest of eternity in complete darkness, devoid of any stimulus, any interaction with others or with any thing. No. You don’t.

So, what’s it like when you die? You ask that question, but you already know. You know the answer, because you’ve been dead before. You may ask me when was it you ever dead before. I respond, “Where were you in the year 1753?” You say you weren’t even born then. I say that’s true. You were dead. How did it feel? You don’t know, because you weren’t there then. I tell you it’s going to be like that again after you die.

Do you think I’m telling you that you should not fear death? Yes. Do you think I’m telling you that you should not respect your own life? No. You should not be careless with your life, and you should not forfeit it casually. Think of the consequences.

If you allow yourself to die needlessly, you will not suffer. Others will. You are part of a society of people. You have friends and family. You have other members of the community that may depend on having you around. Generally, if you die you will be sorely missed. If you give up your life for little profit you will disappoint people you care about.

But, you now conclude, once you are dead the effect on others will be of no concern to you. Nothing will be of any concern to you. You will be dead. You will not exist. You will not feel anguish for the pain of others.

Think again. Right up until the moment you die you have an empathy for others in your life. During this time you will feel concern for the consequences of your death, even if not after. Even if you carry rational thinking to the extreme, this concern will prevent you from deliberately moving toward your death.

Concerning suicide, the needless killing of yourself. Of what consequence is this? Those who care for you will be sorely disappointed in your action. They will fell hurt that you have chosen to reject their company and to leave it permanently. They may think bad thoughts of you. But you will not feel anguish over this, because you will be dead. In many instances it is the contemplation of these consequences that keeps many from ending their lives needlessly. It’s frightening to consider that faulty thinking is what’s keeping so many of us alive.

Concluding that all of the foregoing is true or even makes sense, what is it that keeps people alive? What installs in a person the desire to preserve his own life? There are a number of explanations, only one of them has any basis in fact.

The primal motivation to preserve life is that death is fearful. Burned into our brains is a dread of dying. Where does this come from? It comes from millions of years of biological evolution. Members of a population that have little regard for preserving their lives tend not to reproduce. This is often up to the point where the individual exits the gene pool. Consider the black widow spider. The male mates with the female at the sacrifice of his own life. Up until that point the male works to preserve his own life, avoiding predators to the best of his ability.

Animals, to the best of their ability, generally strive to avoid predation. See a bird pecking at seeds in your back yard feeder. Try to approach and grab the bird, and it will fly away. Birds lacking this reflex soon disappear from the gene pool. The converse is observed. Birds that evolved on remote islands, such as the Galapagos, do not suffer predation from other animals. There is nothing there that eats them. They have lost this reflex. Researchers studying the famous finches can reach out and pick one up to put a band on its leg.

So that explains our lust for life in terms of the natural Universe. What about in terms of the mystical Universe? People have made up explanations. Catholic priests will remind followers that suicide is a sin. If you kill yourself you will be damned to Hell. People who kill themselves are denied a Catholic funeral service. It works the other way around. Some religious followers believe that killing oneself to further a cause earns rewards in another life. Supposedly 72 virginal young women is one such prize. So, the religious view of death can cut both ways.

If death is inevitable and not all that unpleasant, then what’s the purpose of life? This may not be a Douglas Adams quote, but it should be: “Your job is to have a good time.” If you actually have a duty in life that duty is to enjoy it while you can. You’re not coming this way again.

This should not be construed as a prescription for launching upon a hedonistic lifestyle. To the contrary, I add naively, a hedonistic life may not be all that enjoyable. If it’s the admiration, respect and the good company of your fellow beings that you crave, your best fit will be as a cooperative member of society. Before this gets too far along the road, please be reminded that religion is not the answer. For affirmation take a few minutes today to switch on the television news.

Anyhow, you’re alive, which goes without saying. Where do you go from here? Allow me to be the most recent to inform you that you are going to die. What until then? Advice is free.

Be productive. Do good things for other people. Your life will be more enjoyable as a consequence. You regret not being able to live forever? You can to the next best thing. You can prolong your existence. Produce some lasting works. Have a child. Give good advice. Invent something. Post something on the Internet. Posting something on the Internet is like carving it in stone. Or at least writing it in ink:

Erica Albright: It didn’t stop you from writing it. As if every thought that tumbles through your head was so clever it would be a crime for it not to be shared. The Internet’s not written in pencil, Mark, it’s written in ink.

In the mean time, stick around. The game’s not over yet.

Rachel Rachel


I get these phone calls. I don’t mind them to much. I’m an old man, retired. Not much going on these days. Sometimes it’s nice to have somebody to talk to. So the phone rings. It’s a cell phone, but I have practically unlimited minutes. And, like I said, sometimes it’s nice to have somebody to talk to:

This is Rachel with Cardholder Services.

Rachel goes on to explain that the rules have changed. It is now possible for me to reduce the interest I pay on my credit card balance to as little as 6%. This is great news. I know, because this is about the 50th time I have received this call from Rachel.

Rachel advises that if I want to learn how to reduce my interest rate I must press 1 on my phone pad. This I eagerly do, because, like I said, I’m an old man and retired. If Rachel didn’t phone me several times a week I would’t get any phone calls at all.

After pressing 1, I wait for a moment to be connected to a live operator. He starts by asking some questions:

  • How much is my credit card debt?
  • What interest rate am I currently paying?
  • How many accounts is this debt spread over?

Regarding the first, I step neatly out of character. I lie. See, if I told the truth the live operator will immediately hang up. They are only interested in people who have massive debt. $500 is too small potatoes for them to bother with. If you want to talk to the live operator you’re going to have to tell him you owe $11,000 or something like that. Just lie. Jesus will forgive you.

Next there’s the matter of the interest rate. Rachel’s live operators only want to deal with people paying high interest rates. Again I lie. I say something like 11%. Truth is, I really don’t know what rate I pay, because I never pay it. The good wife and I charge so little on our cards we just pay off the bill when it comes due, and there’s never any interest. Again, I think Jesus will forgive you if you tell Rachel’s live operator you’re paying 11%. 18% and you may have to answer to the Big Guy after you die.

I tell Rachel’s live operator the debt is only on one account. This isn’t much of a lie, and it keeps the dialog simple. Who wants to get involved with talking about multiple accounts when all you want to do is have a conversation with somebody in Pakistan.

About this point, things are going to get sticky. Rachel’s live operator is going to ask you for your credit card number. Do not, I repeat, do not give Rachel’s live operator, or for that matter anybody who calls you up on the telephone, your credit card number. What I do at this point is say that I need to look at my credit card. This is true, and Jesus would approve. I have no idea what my credit card number is. I tell Rachel’s live operator I need to go get my credit card. I ask him to hold on for just a minute. I tell him my credit card is in another room. What I do not tell him is that the other room is in another state.

I make sure Rachel’s live operator is going to wait for me. Then I put down the phone so I can go into another room and look for my credit card. Then I hunt for the cable remote to find out what’s on The History Channel, while Rachel’s live operator cools his heels waiting for me to get back to the phone.

This may sound cruel, but it’s not. What is really cruel is when I come back to phone periodically and ask Rachel’s live operator to hold on a little longer while I hunt for my credit card. There really are some good programs on The History Channel.

Think that’s cruel? Please be advised.

What I like to do before asking Rachel’s live operator to hold the phone is to get him to explain as much as possible about the kind of deal he’s going to give me. How’s this going to reduce my interest rate? Is it going to cost me anything? What does he think about the new Republican administration. At this point it’s important to be careful. You do not want Rachel’s live operator to get the idea you’re stalling just to keep him on the line. This takes some skill. You need to practice this several times to get it right. I’ve had the practice.

All of this would not be so much fun if Rachel owith Cardholder Services were the only game in town. Fortunately for me (old, retired, lonely man) there are more. For instance, there’s Life Alert. I’ve had the most fun with Life Alert. It went like this.

How does this work?

You have an emergency (fallen and can’t get up), and you press a button. The system alerts the proper authorities.

What if I’m not at home?

No problem. Your remote device can contact the system from just about anywhere.

Sometimes I’m up in the mountains in Utah.

Can’t do that.

What if I’m just out on the street somewhere?

It can do that.

How does it know where I am?

It uses GPS.

Really. How does that work?

The GPS sends your location to the proper authorities.

If I’m in a car?


I don’t think the GPS signal will penetrate the metal body of a car.

Sure. We’ve tested it. It works.

What if I’m in a tunnel? I don’t think the GPS unit will receive satellite signals inside a tunnel.

I don’t know about that. I can check.

Who there can tell me?

Over-reach! The Life Alert operator must have had an egg timer running, because something told him he needed to get on to a live body. He disconnected the call. He didn’t even tell me to have a nice day. Or say goodbye. They’re so cruel.

I think maybe I overdid it that time with Life Alert. Thereafter I would get a call that said, “Hello, seniors.” And then the caller would tell me that I was qualified for a Life Alert system that wouldn’t cost me anything and that I should press 1 to speak to an operator. Now when I press 1 I am informed that is not a working number, and the call is disconnected. They don’t even tell me to have a nice day. Or say goodbye.

Rachel with Cardholder Services appears to be getting tired of me, as well. Not too tired of me to quit calling me on the telephone. I just a few minutes ago received another call from Rachel, advising me, as always, to press 1. I pressed 1, and the call was immediately disconnected. They didn’t even tell me to have a nice day. Or say goodbye.

A little research shows what I’m missing:

If you are one of the legions of consumers who suffered through those annoying robocalls from “Rachel with Cardholder Services,” you could have money coming your way.

That’s right. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer watchdog, has reached a settlement with a collection of companies it says used that ploy. And now a special administrator is preparing to mail out checks to victims.

The total amount available to repay consumers is $700,000. The FTC says it is mailing out 16,590 checks this week. Each check will be for $42.95 and must be cashed within 60 days.

Here’s how the scheme worked: Robo-Rachel called you and claimed she could help with your credit card interest rate. If you asked to be connected with a real operator, the company then claimed it could get your credit card interest rate reduced for a fee. Credit companies are not supposed to guarantee you credit or a particular interest rate in exchange for an up front fee.

So… does this mean Rachel is dead and gone and you won’t be hearing from her again? Maybe. When a robocalling scheme works, other companies often copy it. In fact, after the FTC took its first action against “Rachel,” investigators were frustrated when the calls continued, likely placed by other sketchy companies.

If Rachel is gone, other robo-calling schemes will probably take her place. So report them! Robocalls are now illegal without your written consent and the same is true with political robocalls to your cell phones. As these payments prove, the FTC does investigate them.

See what I missed. This could have been so much fun.

Goodbye, Rachel. Though we were destined never to meet, keep thinking of me. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Adventures in Car Shopping

I had this old car.


And that led to a blog post several months ago:

I don’t recall if the second man ever came back, but a third man, wearing a red shirt, came and explained they were having trouble locating the car. Gary later told me, and I firmly believe, a dealership always knows at all times the location of all its inventory. I remarked that if Barbara Jean were running this operation there would be a computer spread sheet and a relational database identifying the location and status of all high-priced inventory such as automobiles costing many thousands of dollars each. We were long past concluding the dealership no longer had the car or else never had the car to begin with. Their aim was to keep us around until some kind of business could be conducted.

As the story panned out, we ended up not replacing the old car. In the mean time we stopped by a dealership in Boerne, Texas. They didn’t have the car either. And they told us they didn’t have the car. I found that so refreshing. But we did consider getting a car for Barbara, instead. But first we drove down the road a ways to another dealership, just to see what they had. What they had was a better deal. Barbara came home with a new car:

So it was that Chambers and Barbara Jean arrived at our house shortly after me about 10 p.m. Wednesday night. Barbara Jean sat at the dining table and signed over her old car and gave Mr. Chambers a check for the new car.

All together, it was a very pleasant car shopping experience. People, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

And Barbara drove her new car, and we took a trip to Pflugerville and back. And she parked her new car in the garage. And we went on vacation for three weeks while her new car sat in the garage. And we came back. We still didn’t have a new car for me.

So we went again to San Marcos, Texas. We needed to replace the furniture upstairs we had gotten rid of. The place in San Marcos had a good deal, so we ordered the furniture. And we left. We went back to the dealership where the previous month we had gotten Barbara’s new car, which was still sitting in the garage back home.

Did they have the car I wanted? Not quite. But they did have these three models. Only new cars. We told them we did not want a white car. No white car. And no black car, either. Black cars tend to get hot when outside on summer days. At night on the freeway they tend to disappear. Most dangerous. We did not want a black car.

So Michael Chambers said he had three models to show us. We went to look.

The first was black. No way. He had a green one. Green was fine. We walked over and looked at it. It was dark dark green. May as well have been a black car. He had one more. We liked the color, and it was not too dark either.


Only, Barbara didn’t like the interior colors. Did it come in any other colors? Chambers said it didn’t. I said I liked the colors.


We got the car. I gave up the keys to my old car, and we drove home in the new car.

Let me tell you, since the last time I got a new car back in the previous century cars have gotten high tech. My old car was completely computer controlled. It had fuel injection, and the computer monitored fuel and air mixture and ensured the correct mixture all the time. The computer also monitored air temperature inside the car and maintained whatever temperature you wanted. Another computer monitored the brakes and made sure none of the wheels locked up while braking in the slick. The new car has all of that. And more.





Looking at the control panel (don’t call it a dashboard anymore) I got the impression of the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet. It has about everything a pilot, rather a driver, needs.

It has a CD player, just like the old car, but who needs that. I loaded up all our music on a 64 GB USB drive and plugged it in. The display shows me what’s on the drive and plays whatever I select. Not interested in what’s playing? Switch to the engine monitor. How fast are you going? What’s your average speed for the current trip? Fuel consumption in miles per gallon for the current trip? It’s all there. And more.

When I switch the transmission into reverse, the display goes to a rear view camera image that lets me know when I’m about to back over a skate board. That is so cheesy.

What Barbara Jean did not notice and what I did not point out to her until after we got the car home is that my new car has alloy wheels, just like the old car. Wahoo! It also has climate control, just like the old car and which Barbara Jean’s new car does not have. It may be a Corolla, but it’s not your grandfather’s Corolla.

When I first met Barbara Jean she was driving a 70s version of the Corolla, and it was a lift back, and it was a little box on wheels. The new Corolla is a century on down the line, but it is still compact, which was essential for me. My old car I could park in my garage in the spot that has the work bench with the radial arm saw up against the back wall. The new car fits just fine, which we verified by measuring before going off to buy it.

We are thinking this is the last car that we’re ever going to get. I kept the Infiniti for nearly 15 years. Fifteen years from now I may be thinking about a walker instead of a new car. This may be the last of the Adventures in Car Shopping.

Adventures in Car Shopping

Earlier this year I had, what can best be called, an interesting car shopping experience, and I posted a small item of interest.

I’ve had this car since the previous century, and when I retired over a year ago Barbara Jean and I agreed to sell the car and just keep hers. I mean, with nobody working what need had we of more than one car? I negotiated with a buyer, and that went nowhere, and in the end we agreed that we can still use two cars. We might not both always want to go to the same place at the same time.

I’m retired, and new car ownership is not in my game plan. However, a local dealership was advertising pre-owned Toyota Corrolas that seemed to fit my budget.


That would have been just fine with me, and Barbara Jean and I were prepared to make the deal for this car. If only the car had actually existed.

That experience put us off car buying for the near future. I was growing to love my old car all the more. Still, Barbara Jean had this notion. Driving a 15-year-old car was maybe not the wisest thing.

So it was Wednesday. It was the long awaited day. We were heading off to Boerne for lunch at Centinela Mexican Restaurant & Bar with FACT, the Freethinkers Association of Central Texas. On the way out (what was I thinking?) I casually mentioned to Barbara Jean, maybe we should check out the Toyota dealership in Boerne.

Lunch at Centinela was just great, as usual, and the conversation was lively and enlightening. Piling back into my old car after lunch, Barbara Jean fired up the Garmin navigator, and searched for the local dealership. It was right back south on the interstate.

What a refreshing difference. We were actually treated like adults. We told the salesman what we wanted. He did not have what I was looking for in a used Corolla. He told us he didn’t have it. What a grown up concept! He did show us what he did have. We decided to wait until they did have what I wanted and made a note to come back in maybe November.

But Barbara Jean saw what she wanted. Barbara Jean had this Camry she had bought used from the Plano dealer six years ago. Miles were piling up on it (66,000 and counting). Toyota of Boerne had some fresher stock. Would Barbara Jean like a new or newer car? Barbara Jean would.

We looked at several, and Barbara Jean decided she liked the demo model with 5100 miles on it at a reduced price. It had alloy wheels and a moon roof. Snazzy. And it was the right color.

One problem. Barbara Jean left home without her check book. And we needed to trade in her old car. We had ridden to Boerne in my old car. Barbara Jean’s old car was back in the garage in San Antonio. The title was in the file cabinet back in San Antonio. We couldn’t close the deal that day. We got ready to leave.

The salesman asked if we would like to leave a check to hold the car. I said I did not want to do that. It was maybe five p.m. I figured there was no way they were going to sell a floor model before they closed the doors that day. We made an appointment to return at ten a.m. Thursday morning with Barbara Jean’s old car, but I advised the salesman that if anybody wanted to buy the floor model before we got back, then he should not hesitate on our account. In total it was a very pleasant car shopping experience.

And we piled back into my old car.

In the mean time I had mentioned to Barbara Jean a conversation with a previous wife. She had purchased her car at San Marcos Toyota. Barbara Jean punched the San Marcos dealership into the navigator, and we headed out over back roads to San Marcos. 6:30 p.m. and we were there.


Another pleasant shopping experience. A salesman named Chambers took care of us. We were only looking for a Camry for Barbara Jean. The dealership in Boerne had given us turn-key price for the floor model, taking into account the trade-in they were prepared to give for Barbara Jean’s old car.

Unfortunately, Mr. Chambers informed us looking over his list of inventory, he did not have any pre-owned cars with Barbara Jean’s mileage limitations. And he told us so. How refreshing!

But the new inventory was most acceptable. Chambers invited Barbara Jean to drive the car. Barbara Jean and I said we did not need to drive the car. We had driven Barbara Jean’s Camry from Texas to Seattle to Key West and back to Texas, where it was now parked in the garage in San Antonio. We knew what it was like to drive a Camry. You push down on the gas, and you go forward. Chambers insisted, and I knew why. When you drive a car you bond with it. So Barbara Jean drove all three of us around San Marcos Toyota’s expansive lot. I told Chambers we would not really know how the car performed until we got it up to 85 mph on Texas 130.

We told Chambers we needed to trade in Barbara Jean’s old car. We told him it was in top shape with at least 64,000 miles. He gave us a trade in value. It was completely satisfactory. He gave us a turn-key price. Again quite acceptable. We decided to buy the car.

Problem was, Barbara Jean left home earlier that day without her check book. Also without her old car and the car title. No problem, Mr. Chambers, assured us. He would drive the new car to our house in San Antonio that night (it was by now closing time at the dealership), and he would take ownership of the old car and also pick up the check from Barbara Jean.

So it was that Chambers and Barbara Jean arrived at our house shortly after me about 10 p.m. Wednesday night. Barbara Jean sat at the dining table and signed over her old car and gave Mr. Chambers a check for the new car.

All together, it was a very pleasant car shopping experience. People, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

People Unclear on the Concept

I live in a large city in Texas, and, like most, mine has a number of codes of construction to prevent the creation of safety hazards. Here is one:

See, the steel barricades installed into the sidewalk keep pedestrians from accidentally stepping off or falling into the storm drains on either side. Pretty neat, eh?

Here’s another:

See, the steel barricades keep pedestrians from stepping falling off the sidewalk into the storm drains on either side. However, in this case I do believe the builder missed a key point. Am I the only one who thinks there is too much a thing of following strictly the letter of the code?

By the way, there are multiple instances like this.