Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Windows for Warships

This editorial/article is in regards to the UK Navy adopting Windows on its Naval vessels. The piece is amusing and a bit daunting for those of us who view Windows with suspicion:

Windows for Warships

Here is my favorite quote from the piece:
"Most of us have stared in helpless despair at the dreaded blue screen; how much worse would you feel if that wasn't just your desktop gone but your combat display, and it really was the screen of death?"

Monday, February 26, 2007

Four bit workout

I watched an amusing scenario play out yesterday morning at the gym.

The cardio vascular area has a row of recumbent bikes in front of a row of eliptical machines. About five minutes into my eliptical machine work out, I noticed that someone had left two quarters on the seat of one of the bikes.

A woman, about my age, sat on the bike without noticing the coins under her bottom. My first gigglesome thoughts were of "The Princess and the Pea". The woman also amused me in that she was wearing pretty large (appx. 1.25") silver hoop earrings. How serious could someone be about their workout if they don't take off their dangling jewelry? Obviously she was not that serious since her ride lasted about ten minutes.

She then went to the paper towel machine and spritzed a towel with disinfectant and brought it back to the bike area. She then noticed the quarters on the bike seat. This seemed to confuse her. She couldn't possibly have been riding THAT bike! After all, she would have noticed the coins under her bottom, right? So, since the bikes to either side were also vacant, she wiped down both of those, but not the bike with the coins.

I began to think that maybe I would pick up the coins when I was done with my workout. I also considered that this might make me look like a big time desperate loser, to be picking up two quarters that someone left on a bike seat. I didn't give it too much thought though, since I had another fifteen minutes to go with the eliptical machine. I figured it would work itself out one way or the other.

About five minutes later, a geeky looking man, a few years older than me, approached the bikes. He nearly sat on the coin-bike when he noticed the coins on the seat. He did not look around. He stared at them for a few seconds, but then picked them up. He realized that he didn't have pockets in his shorts, so he ended up slipping the coins into his shoe. Then he mounted the bike. He too was done on the bike before I finished my eliptal time.

People watching at the gym can be entertaining and distracting. Maybe I'll put some coins on a bike another time, just to see what happens.

Friday, February 16, 2007

No fun like snow fun

On Wednesday, we were graced with the first significant snow storm of the season. One of the benefits of living in a condominium is someone else deals with snow removal. Typically, our landscaping firm plows the streets and shovels the porches and sidewalks. They do a fair, but not stellar job.

This morning, when I turned out of my court onto the downward sloping street that leads out of our development, I ran into a patch of ice just as I was starting to brake for a speed bump. Unfortunately, I do not possess the best winter driving reflexes. I did not turn into the spin like you are supposed to. So my car ended up embedded in a snow bank to the side of the road, up past the front axle.

I was so pumped up from the terror of losing control of the car. Just before I lost control I noticed our resident state trooper walking his dog about thirty feet down the hill from where I ultimately stopped. I had mixed feelings about his presence. Part of me was embarrassed that I hadn't reacted the way I should have to prevent my snow-boundness. The other part of me hoped that maybe he would help get me out of the snow bank. After all, police officers live by the edict of "to protect and to serve".

My mixed feelings quickly changed. As soon as I got out of the car to assess the situation, he looked me in the face and said, "Not for nothing, but what if my dog and I had been standing right there?" Not knowing how to respond to this unexpected statement, I merely gaped at him. He then said, "There are no accidents on the road, only crashes." Again, I could think of nothing to say to this lecture I was receiving after I had scared myself so severely. After another minute he stoically asked if I needed any help. At this point I was kind of angry with the guy for lecturing me, so I replied shortly, "No, thank you." He then asked me if he could call anyone for me. I again replied shortly, "No, thank you, I have a cell phone."

He then continued up the hill with his dog, and I tried to back my car out of the snow bank. When it wouldn't budge, I walked back up to my house and retrieved my snow shovel. As I dug a trench around the front and side of my car, I noticed the trooper watching me from the top of the hill.

After I thought I had moved enough snow away from my wheels, I tried again to back out my car. It barely moved. As I sat there, the trooper returned, sans dog, and knocked on my window. I rolled the window down and he said, "Pass me your shovel and I'll help dig you out."

My pride got in the way momentarily and I said, "That's O.K. I can manage."

He then graciously offered, "I apologize for my tone earlier. I get a lot of vehicles headed at me at highway speeds, and I overreacted."

I was still a little sore, so I still resisted, "I really don't want to delay you."

He said, "It's not a problem. I'm just coming off my shift."

Great. That also may explain his initial lack of concern. The guy was probably tired from working all night, and knee jerked his initial reaction. So, I backed down and accepted the help, handing him my shovel.

The trooper dug some more snow from under my car, and then directed me when to come forward and when to back up. He also pushed the car as I backed up several times. He really was a big help in the end.

After the car was free, he introduced himself. And I reciprocated. I thanked him and offered him a handshake. He sent me off with a trooperly, "Drive safely."

I was still keyed up and annoyed. However, I may not have gotten out of that mess anytime soon without his help. Hopefully, we both learned something from the situation. I learned to be more careful when driving on snow covered roads. And maybe he learned not to lecture someone in a bad spot, even if they may have contributed to putting themselves there.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Too bad TJMX wasn't an ISP

According to SANS: "US Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has introduced the Safety Act, which
would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to retain all customers' web surfing, IM conversations and email traffic indefinitely. ISPs failing to comply would face fines and a one-year prison term."
See: News story.

The point of the legislation is to facilitate investigations by law enforcement. However, this is potentially another slap in the face of privacy.

But on another note, have Smith and his supporters not been paying attention to what's been going on in the financial industry? TJ Maxx is in trouble for holding onto data that it did not need, and that it was legally bound not to. Holding on to masses of private data "just in case" is a recipe for disaster. Rarely will that data be utilized for the "just in case" scenario that it was intended to be kept for. It is more likely that such data will fall into the wrong hands and be utilized for nefarious purposes.

Representatives Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) do get it. Last week they introduced the Data Accountability and Trust Act, which would authorize the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish data privacy requirements for businesses. Companies would be required to conduct vulnerability assessments and develop and implement policies for eliminating data they no longer need.

Mr Smith's family obviously did not have any dealings with TJ Maxx. Or maybe he's just a narrow minded idiot. ... Or MAYBE it really wasn't Smith who sponsered this bill, but someone who stole his identity and is promoting this ridiculous legislation in his name to ruin his reputation!

Monday, February 12, 2007

A new weighty challenge

Sadly, I haven't really lost any weight since autumn. When I began my quest on 1/2/2006, I hoped to lose about seventy pounds. I have actually lost just over fifty. My friend BriWei was one of the inspirations for my journey, after he lost around thirty five pounds. He too found himself stalled on his quest.

Today, he informed me that he has renewed his quest and is back to Weight Watchers. He and I have virtually the same goal weight going. Though I'm fifteen pounds closer to the goal than he is. To encourage me on my stalled journey, he threw down a gauntlet: "Let's see who can get there first!"

I initially balked. First off, I don't know that I can get there or maintain it if I do, since I have been comfortably maintaining my current weight for about five months now. But B egged me own. Then I pointed out that it might be a somewhat unfair challenge since I am fifteen pounds closer to the goal than he is already. He then pointed out that people at the beginning of a diet often lose weight more quickly than people who've been on one for a while. I took the bait, even though I know he's already lost around ten pounds in the last couple of weeks, and may have already burned up his 'beginning' bonus points. If B is magnanimous enough to allow me the head start, who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth.

The next issue was what to wager with. Neither of us is so impoverished that we don't ocassionally give into our consumerist whims. But, after several hours of cogitation, I offered a wager that was heartily accepted.

B and I are both creative types, of a sort. He gets to exercise his creative juices pretty regularly on stage in amateur theater. But, we are both frustrated writers. Neither of us gives the time to our creative writing that we wish we could. So, here's the meat of the wager:

The first of us to reach the goal weight and hold on to the loss for at least a month gets a 1000 word short story from the less-successful-loser. The story will either begin with a sentence supplied by the winner, or will revolve around a theme suggested by four words chosen by the winner. (Example: girl, chocolate, bathtub, alligator ... Just imagine the story wear those four words guide the theme.)

So, even if I am not "the biggest loser", I get to challenge myself on another unmet goal: creative writing. In my mind, everybody wins this one.

If I have to write the story, I will post it here. Hopefully, B will see fit to do the same on his blog if he is the one who has to deliver the fiction.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Paranoid delusion or creature of habit?

I walked past an odd sight in a parking lot today. Bear in mind that the parking lot is on a military base, less than fifty yards from an guard post.

The owner of an older model Honda Civic had attached a Club to his steering wheel.

Reality check:

  1. Vehicle is at least seven years old
  2. Vehicle is redish orange with several faded bumperstickers on the rear bumper
  3. Vehicle is parked less than fifty yards from armed men
  4. Parking lot can only be entered by passing through a guard gate with proper identification

Maybe the owner of the Honda really doesn't believe that there is a risk of vehicle loss while the vehicle is parked on base. However, maybe they are just in the habbit of partking with the protection of The Club. Maybe they live in a bad neighborhood.

Maybe Santa gave them the club and they don't want to offend the giver by not using the device in every situation. Or maybe, they know that they have really poor memory, so they just secure the steering wheel every time they park, regardless of the condition of the area being parked in.

Or maybe, the owner is just an air head.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

While I did not watch even 30 seconds of the Super Bowl, or its infamous halftime show, I did hear that Prince's performance was pretty cool. Now, bloggers are claiming that his shadowy performance of his hit "Purple Rain" contained phalic symbolism.

Give me a break!

I totally agree with NFL spokesman Greg Aiello: "We respect other opinions, but it takes quite a leap of the imagination to make a controversy of his performance. It's a guitar."

Folks??? Get a grip!!! (OK. Don't let anyone see you do it. Especially not when backlit behind a white sheet.)