For better or worse, I have an active brain. I was starkly reminded of this when I received an email this morning:
These rocket scientists are concreting solid steel pillars to stop vehicles from parking on the pavement outside a sports bar downtown Bugtustle, KY. They are cleaning up at the end of the day.
How long do you think it will be before they realize where THEIR vehicle is parked?
First of all, this is email spam hilarity at it’s finest! Most people would read the witty comment, look at the picture and have a nice chuckle whilst they merrily carry on with their morning. Not me!
First I wondered if this picture was real and I immediately set out on snopes.com to do some sleuthing. Not finding anything there I started looking for signs of Photoshopping…do the shadows look right, are there any off-colored pixels? Convinced that the photo was probably real, I began to wonder about the construction and installation of the pillars. Maybe they were removable or maybe they were on hydraulics and could retract into the ground (I saw that in a really cool movie once).
In the end, I decided to do what any self-respecting geek would do, fire up Photoshop, move the van, see if it would fit between the 2 pillars in the foreground. Sure enough:
They may have to pull their side mirrors in, but they’re far from helplessly trapped.
UPDATE (which really makes things worse): I failed to account for the viewing angle in my original analysis. Because I am viewing the image in perspective, I need to account for the difference in size between objects in the background and objects in the foreground. With that said, I measured the width of a sidewalk tile at the front of the van and one at the back of the van. I averaged the two and came up with my van position base scale (VPBS). I then measured the width of a sidewalk tile between the 2 pillars. The foreground tiles were 119% the size of the VPBS tiles so I increased the width of the van proportionally and came up with this:
Now we’re talking about a seriously tight squeeze, but I still believe the van was able to escape without incident.
In the end, the joke seemed less funny. Maybe I should have glanced at it, chuckled and went on about my business like everyone else did.