Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Jocelyn pointed me to Kingdom Identity Ministries, an incredibly racist and not shy about it group. They say they are a not for profit organization, which I believe gives them tax exempt status. So, apparently, these hate mongers can peddle such wonderful items as this:

and this:

And I won't even get into their portrayal of Jews on the site.
Yes, I know I'm hot linking. I'm doing it on purpose out of spite. I think we should hotlink to their stuff everywhere we can and hose their servers. It just bothers me to think that people can support this hate and get a tax deduction for doing it.

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My Boss is So Cool

I may have mentioned before how much I like my boss. Well, he reaffirmed his coolness this morning. He has been working on a new test tool for exercising the laser at higher communications speeds. Current communications are at 9600 baud and the customer wants to go to 115k. And they want a prototype by the end of June! So, he had to get this tool designed, built, and the PLD coded ASAP. This morning he was ready to give folks a demo. The purpose of the communications is to alter the frequency and duration of the laser firing on the fly and at high speeds. Can you think of an application of technology where modifying frequency and duration might produce an entertaining result. I know I had thought of it in the past, but never got around to doing it. He hooked up his tool, ran a script, and the laser played the Dutch National Anthem!

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Nostalgia: 101 Things...

I found this list recently. Some friends and I created it whilst students at WPI, sitting in the "Wedge". Some of the references are dated. And of course, you could really put just about anything on the list. I think some of the humor comes from the sequencing and some from the items themselves. I disctinctly remember H. and Bull and I think Glenn MgGuire, but I don't remember who else was there doing this with us. In my less enlightened days, I read the list aloud to my fiancee while she had a UTI...

1. the Eiffel Tower
2. a porcupine
3. 700 gallons of Old Spice
4. 200 pounds of rigatoni (uncooked)
5. a calculus book
6. a curling iron
7. rock salt
8. a swarm of hornets
9. an IBM PC
10. a Yugo
11. the USS Wisconsin
12. a row of staples
13. a 2 liter bottle
14. a baby's toy block
15. a cinder block
16. toy jacks
17. China
18. a WWI German helmet (you know, the ones with the spike...)
19. a reactor fuel rod
20. New Order (the band)
21. a CD
22. Napalm
23. a gasoline pump
24. a heavy breasted cow
25. an armidillo
26. Mothra
27. a 15 foot by 8 inch Boa Constrictor
28. Cthulhu
29. Hastur
30. the Quad
31. President Bush
32. a pit bull
33. a Jehovah's Witness
34. 50' Constantina wire
35. The New York subway system
36. Chainmail
37. a bastard sword
38. a yard-shaft
39. an electric cattle prod and the Honda generator it's connected to
40. a brontasaurus
41. a Saturn V rocket
42. Saturn
43. a rhinoceros beetle
44. the national deficit
45. Jesse Helms
46. Ed Meese
47. Tammy Faye Bakker
48. A PC motherboard
49. a running weedwhacker
50. Wyoming
51. Martha Ray's dentures
52. a tasmanian devil
53. the entire Rolling Stones collection on 8-track
54. a little cupcake baked by the devil
55. a 17 piece Zildjian (tm) cymbal set
56. Niel Peart
57. a Massingale douche
58. a class ring
59. a rectal thermometer
60. AT&T
61. The Roman-Catholic Church
62. A Kimodo dragon
63. The Boston Symphony Orchestra
64. Rosanne Barr
65. a Zambonie
66. a Pan flute
67. Zamfir
68. a polar ice cap (either one)
69. Gary Coleman
70. the Voyager II
71. a wire brush
72. super-critical weapons-grade uranium (any amount)
73. a hot branding iron
74. the Persian Gulf (with mines)
75. the Winged Victory of Samonthrace
76. a WWII sea-mine
77. a mountain gorilla
78. Mt. Everest
79. a Lamborghini Countach
80. a Broken Flourescent Bulb
81. a life raft in the process of inflating
82. DAKA
83. a bamboo thicket
84. a giant sequoia
85. a humpback whale
86. a fishhook
87. a meathook
88. an icepick
89. a grappling hook
90. a hydro-electric turbine (not turbin)
91. a wheat combine harvester
92. a drill press
93. the complete works of Nathaniel Hawthorne
94. 700 pounds of fiberglass insulation
95. a discus
96. 12M hydrochloric acid
97. a skinhead
98. a chainsaw
99. Zsa Zsa Gabor
100. the Boston turnpike
101. this list.

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

My First Review!

I'm so excited! The North County Times sent a reviewer out to the show last Sunday. This is what she had to say. The short form is that she liked and recommended the show. The longer form is that I got my own paragraph. :)

Brian Weissman adds more than comic relief with his portrayal of Vernon Hines, the man in charge of timing all of the productivity in the factory. His exaggerated movements add to his musical numbers: "I'll Never Be Jealous Again," "Racing With the Clock," "Think of the Time I Save" and the title tune. Weissman is making his California stage debut in this Patio Playhouse production.

She also had some nice things to say about the movie we did for the dream sequence. Between this and the TV spot we did for the local news show, we ought to be playing to some packed houses!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

People who make you sick

I want to preface this by saying that I am all for fair representation. I believe in innocent until proven guilty. But this guy bugs me. I hear ads for him on the radio all the time. He is a criminal defense attorney who specializes in DUI cases. His site includes a list of 10 tips for avoiding conviction if you are pulled over for drunk driving. Number six gives you an idea of the thrust of his advertising:

6. Choose a urine test if at all possible. It is the most unreliable of the three chemical tests (blood, breath, or urine).

In his commercials, he talks about people he has gotten off who blew a 0.2 on the breathalyzer and he got them their license back. I may be off base, but the impression I get from his ads is "If you're guilty, come see me. I know the tricks to get you back on the road and drinking and driving again."

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Happy Birthday Auntie Sam!

Ok. It's my youngest sister's birthday, today. Not telling you how old she is. But I wanted to wish her a very public Happy Birthday. I especially wanted to do that since her birthday card is sitting right here on my desk, as are the hand made ones from the kids. They were done in plenty of time to be there on time. Some bozo just didn't go to the post office. Three guesses who the bozo is, he said whilst covering up his red nose and floppy shoes.

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Monday, May 23, 2005

I know something!

I'm not sure when it happened. But I know something about the work they pay me to do. In fact, I know several somethings. I solved a problem that had three more senior engineers stumped all last week. I solved it in under two hours. Not because of superior skill, but because of knowledge! I had heard of something similar before and knew how that was fixed. I was also able to point out where some signals were coming from on a circuit diagram and show another member of the team which registers to read them from. And I'll be doing a tools training session later this week. I guess what I'm saying is that I have somehow become a useful member of the company! I've found a role and I like it!

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Back from the abyss!

No, not me. I don't think I've been in the abyss for a while. Unless you count my evening free time because of rehearsals. I've managed to blog through that. I just haven't seen my family much. No, I'm referring to my friend Steve, proprietor of Absit Invidia. Bloglines is mistakenly showing him with no new content. He's been posting again for at least a week. If you like good commentary on the state of our society, this is a good blog to read. Steve's a conservative, but not a right wing ideologue. He's the type of conservative with whom you can engage in a policy debate and never hear things like "Why do you hate America?". If you have a decent point, you may even get a concession out of him.

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Finally! A music quiz I can endorse.

I found this one via my friend Jocelyn. I don't just like it because I did well. After all, compared to my demographic, I only beat 19%! But the subject matter was something I could appreciate...

The Veteran
You scored 86%!

You've picked up the majority of the classic rock basics. You probably have a classic rock collection and can sing along with most of the songs on your local radio station. This is not the highest score, but it is arguably the best: that subtle combination of impressive knowledge and not being a pretentious geek.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 19% on notes

Link: The BASIC classic rock Test written by allmydays on Ok Cupid

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Order of the Stick

My friend Paul has turned me on to a very funny gamer comic. No, I'm not referring to Knights of the Dinner Table. It's great, but many of you already know THAT one. I'm not referring to Dork Tower. Also fabulous, but also not the one of which I speak. It's called The Order of the Stick and is a truly impressive satire on the D20 D&D system and D&D in general. I've added a badge to link to them down in my badges sidebar. There are currently 180-ish strips in the archive. Start at #1. It's worth it. See if you can spot which character Pat Campbell would be.

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Another black eye for the Church

In Montgomery, Alabama, a pregnant senior refuses to bow to an order from her Catholic high school forbidding her from walking across the stage at graduation. They claimed it was for 'safety reasons', but her name was not listed in the program and she was not announced as a graduate. The guy who got her pregnant? He was allowed to participate. Apparently, premarital sex is not a sin, but getting pregnant is.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Pirates - Arrrrr!

So, a long while back, in the coming attractions, I mentioned something about pirates. I didn't offer any other details. Just mentioned it. Well, now is the time for that story to see the light of day. Pretty soon, I'll have written about all the things I said I would. Then, perhaps I'll have to post some new previews... *grin*

As many of you know, I have been practicing to be a storyteller. Eventually, I'd like to do it semi-professionally. A part of that is finding a persona and a style for yourself. I intend to have multiple personae to broaden my appeal, but I think my first one is going to be a pirate. I have a number of friends that work the Rennaissance Faire circuit out here, so I have an *in* as it were to a number of gigs. However, I still need to have an act that fits. For some reason that I cannot fathom, pirate characters are big on the circuit. I mean, I understand that it appeals to kids in particular, but pirate lore and culture has been pretty romanticized over the years. Not to mention the fact that the golden age of piracy was later than the time period of most faires. Regardelss, there are a number of pirate guilds that show up at the faires such as HMS Stranglehold and The Black Gryphon. There is also a very good singing pirate duo, Siler and Clarc.

So, the pirate infrastructure is there. In spite of this, there are no pirate storytellers. There are multiple pirate singing groups, however. This means I'm not horning in on someone else's territory and will likely be able to "gig" with the other pirates while bringing something new to the table. The other local storytellers on the circuit have their own very different themes. My two favorites are The Patchwork Players and A Fool and His Family. They both have their own takes on classic fairy tales that would be different from mine.

Of course, the main reason to do it is it would be fun! That other stuff just means it's doable. All I need are some stripey satin pants in a garish color combination and a long bandana. I have the rest of the outfit, more or less. Maybe a sash to add to the mix. Oh yes. I also need an act. *grin*

I have the format of the act already set. Typically, at a faire, you get a 30-45 minute slot. You spend the first five drumming up the crowd and the last five guilting the patrons into giving you money. The rest is where you do your story.

For the opening, I'm going to tell pirate jokes to draw the crowd in. It will also help me gauge how responsive the crowd is and let me know who my likely audience participants are. I've begun a search for pirate jokes. I've already got a few, but am always on the lookout for more. Send me your pirate jokes! You can do it in the comments or in e-mail. Here are the ones I have so far.

Q: What's a Pirate's favorite letter?
A: Arrrrrrr!

Side note: I tried this joke out on Josh. The exchange went something like this.

Me: I have a joke for you.
Josh: Ok.
Me: What's a Pirate's favorite letter?
Josh: E?
Me: No.
Josh: S?
Me: No.
Josh: Q?
Me: Why would it be Q?!?
Josh: I don't know.
Me: Want me to tell you?
Josh: Yes.
Me: It's Arrrrrrr!
Josh: *giggle* Ok. Ask me again.
Me: Ok. What's a Pirate's favorite letter?
Josh: E?

That's almost funnier than the joke itself. There are variations on that same joke, but I figure that one will reach the widest audience. Here are a few other examples of that theme.

Q: Why couldn't the pirate go to the movie?
A: It was rated Arrrrr!

Q: How does a pirate get to his ship?
A: By carrrrrrrr!

Q: Where does a pirate get a drink when he's on shore?
A: A barrrrrrr!

Q: How does a pirate navigate?
A: By starrrrrrrrr!

You get the idea. Josh did, too. He just thought the game was funny for a while. Here are the others.

Q: How much did the pirate's peg leg and hook cost?
A: An arm and a leg!

Q: How much does it cost a pirate for a piercing?
A: A buck an ear!

Q: Why does a pirate wear an eye patch over one eye?
A: If he wore it over both eyes, he wouldn't be able to see!

* * * * *

A pirate walks into a bar and the bartender says, "Hey, I haven't seen you in a while. What happened, you look terrible!"

"What do you mean?" the pirate replies, "I'm fine."

The bartender says, "But what about that wooden leg? You didn't have that before."

"Well," says the pirate, "We were in a battle at sea and a cannon ball hit my leg but the surgeon fixed me up, and I'm fine, really."

"Yeah," says the bartender, "But what about that hook? Last time I saw you, you had both hands."

"Well," says the pirate, "We were in another battle and we boarded the enemy ship. I was in a sword fight and my hand was cut off but the surgeon fixed me up with this hook, and I feel great, really."

"Oh," says the bartender, "What about that eye patch? Last time you were in here you had both eyes."

"Well," says the pirate, "One day when we were at sea, some birds were flying over the ship. I looked up, and one of them pooped in my eye."

"So?" replied the bartender, "what happened? You couldn't have lost an eye just from some bird poop!"

"Well," says the pirate, "I really wasn't used to the hook yet."

* * * * *

This pirate walks into a bar with a big ship's wheel down his pants. The bartender says, "Excuse me, sir, but do you know you have a ship's wheel down the front of your pants?" And the pirate says, "Aye, and it's driving me nuts!!"

* * * * *

So, I'm planning to tell pirate stories and classic fairy tales recast with pirate characters. The problem is, I'm having a bear of a time finding any pirate stories. I found a Polish/Jewish folktale called "The Pirate Princess" which will make a really good tell, but I need others. So, if any of you know any pirate stories, or have ideas for how to turn classic tales into pirate tales, let me know. I'll probably start a separate pirate page using my ISP account! Arrrrrrrrrrrr!

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Riddle me this...

Some sad news. Frank Gorshin, best known for his portrayal of the Riddler in the campy Batman series will riddle no more.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Finger no longer pointing at Wendy's

It appears there has been a 'Major Development' In the Chili Finger Case. Surprise, surprise. The woman with a history of spurious lawsuits is at it again. They know to whom the finger belongs and he just happens to know Ms. Ayala. Or rather, he is an acquaintance of her husband's. Apparently, this was part of a scheme to *gasp* get money from Wendy's. Wonder if this case is covered in Dubya's tort reform?

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Since when does the government want to be fair?

I recently stumbled across a tax reform proposal that is gaining some traction out there. I've been reading about it and trying to sort out fact from fiction. It's called the Fair Tax. Right out of the gate, the name gives me pause, as does the animated flag flying on the page, but I am trying to be open minded about this...

The short form of the tax is that it is a national sales tax. All new goods are taxed while no used goods are. So, a new house is taxed. A previously owned house is not. The rate of tax is 30%. (They say 23%, but they mean that the tax is 23% of the total after the tax is figured in.) Services also appear to be taxed as well. So, you'd pay an additional 30% to visit the doctor. This is offset by the abolition of the Payroll, Social Security, Medicare, and Federal Income Tax. This will also supposedly lead to the disbanding of the IRS. The piece that makes it interesting and worth actually thinking about is the rebate. Every household gets a rebate equal to tax that would be collected on necessities. This amount is standardized by the number of people in your household. A couple with two children would receive $465 each month, regardless of how much sales tax they paid that month. So, if you are below the poverty level, you get back more than you put in. This is what makes it effectively graduated. The more you spend, the more tax you pay. The more you pay, the smaller the rebate is in comparison.

The site touts many benefits. This is a tax neutral plan, so the government revenues stay the same as under the current system. Since it eliminates payroll taxes and tax compliance costs, manufacturers can sell their goods for less and pay their employees more. This is constantly referred to as beating hidden taxation. Because the goods cost less, there is no real impact on your wallet from the new tax. If something cost $10 before. The price would drop to around 7.70, such that the "fair tax" would bring it back to $10 again. Consumption is also allegedly more stable than income as a tax base. Even when people lose their jobs, they use savings to buy stuff. Other benefits include getting rid of the IRS, tax laawyers, and tax professionals. But even they would not be impacted because they are smart people and would have enough advance notice to retrain.

They also have answers for charitable giving and mortgage interest. Both of these are deductible under income tax, but are not under fair tax. Apparently, this is ok, because the fair tax wll drive interest rates down. This will save you more on your mortgage than you gain by the interest deductions. And you are paying the mortgage with post tax dollars under the income tax. Depending on your income level, you only get a percentage of the interest back. With the "fair tax" you have more dollars to begin with, so you manage a net gain.

As I said, I am skeptical, but have yet to find an unbiased analysis of the proposal. If you read any of the pro fair tax sites out there, you'l find that the fair tax will solve all the country's problems. Since manufacturers can lower prices, our products will be in higher demand overseas. There are a number of things to be skeptical about. And that is going beyond the name, the animated flag, and the ringing endorsement that Tom DeLay is for it and President Bush is considering it. Given the amount of tax dodging these guys do now, how likely is it that they will put forth a plan where their burden is higher?

The whole thrust of this plan is that the rich consume at a higher rate because they can afford to. So, this hits them more. Yet every example they show proves that the fair tax is less than the income tax. If it is less for every individual, and there are no payroll, income, or corporate taxes, how is it revenue neutral. Also, in cases where the fair tax clearly offers no benefit, they seem to be manufacturing one. Take charitable giving, for example. They state that 70% of people don't itemize, so the charitable giving deduction is pointless anyway. Further, with more money in their pockets, people will be as generous if not more so. They don't say what percentage of charitable deductions come from people who don't itemize, yet they conclude that the charity take will increase. Logic dictates that people who don't itemize get a bigger benefit from the standard deduction. I think it is at least as safe an assumption as the one the fair tax people are making to say that the 30% who itemize count for as much, if not more, charitable giving as the 70% who don't.

Moreover, the plan looks like glorified trickle down economics. On Monday, my take home pay goes up. By Wednesday, prices have dropped around the country to reflect the cost savings on goods production. Because a company that suddenly had extra money would NATURALLY pass it on to the consumer, right?

This has rambled and meandered a bit. What I'd like is for someone to either show me unbiased evidence that a national sales tax is a good thing or, failing that, help me to organize the opposition.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I love search terms

I decided to check my blog stats today because I was concerned that I haven't seen many comments of late. I thought perhaps my inconsistency had finally driven my friends away. However, looking at the stats, I saw a huge spike in traffic this week and was curious. Some of it is from familiar faces, but there were also a few first time visitors. I looked at some of the searches and had a good laugh. The combination of the joke I posted and the electricity lesson combined to move me into some bizarre neighborhoods. If you do a google search on "+penis +electricity", I come in at number 8. If you search for "reason for penis is shorting", I'm all the way up to #4! That's my contribution to the blogosphere. Perhaps I should change my name to Richard and rename this to Lightning Dick's Amazing Weblog!

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How's this for a stupid idea? This guy is starting a movement to have people wear red on Fridays as a way of showing support for the troops. As if these non-support fads hadn't invaded my life enough. How many guys over there do you think even stop to think what we're wearing back here? And if you were a soldier, and you saw a bunch of people in red on a Friday, would that make you feel any better about what you had to do or had just done? "I have to leave my newborn child for six months, but those red shirts make it all worth it."

Apparently, the red is to symbolize the blood spilled. Perhaps we should wear green on Tuesdays to symbolize all the money we've sunk into the war. You know. As a way of supporting the troops. Mondays will be blue for dual symbolism. First, it symbolizes the ocean separating us from our loved ones. Second, blue can also mean sad, and we are sad that they are away. Wednesdays will be purple, to symbolize all the purple hearts given out to soldiers maimed in battle. If we all wear purple, it's like we're telling the soldiers, "When you get hurt, WE get hurt." Weekends, you can wear what you want. Nobody wants to support the troops on the weekend. That's OUR time. We can't be thinking of colors while we are out spending and consuming. So, let's recap:

Blue Monday
Green Tuesday
Purple Wednesday
Red Friday
Free nights and weekends

Oh, and if you wear yellow on Thursday, you're a fag.
Edit: Apparently, this was just a Fall River thing. When I was in seventh grade, if you wore anything yellow on a Thursday, you were considered to be a homosexual. Since I didn't want another reason to be ridiculed and abused, I steered clear.

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More Monday Morning Munchies

Well, it was my turn this week. Actually, it wasn't. It was Mike's turn. But he no longer works in our department. So, it is unlikely he would bring us breakfast. We decided to just shift everyone after him back by one week. That meant it was Karma's turn. But she was going to be in training all week. I graciously agreed to swap turns with her so that the breakfast would arrive.

I brought bagels.

And everyone I saw thanked me for them.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Things not to leave on your front seat on a hot day

A stick of butter. 'Nuff said.

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Allergy Friendly Foods

My reporter friend Jenn pointed this website out to me. It's a company devoted to making good tasting foods that are truly free of various allergens. Their mixes are nut free, dairy free, egg free, vegan, and Kosher. The frostings are gluten free. According to Jenn, when she stopped in for the interview, they made her the chocolate chip cookies and they were very tasty. If I can find the link to her story, I'll add it.

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Oh, snap!

There's your daily dose of youth lingo. I've heard it from time to time on TV, but hadn't heard it in real life until this past weekend. In the past, the context I had heard it in made me think it meant something along the lines of "Boy, he/she realy got you good." It usually came on the heels of someone dissing another person with a clever line. the meaning is apparently broader.

So, we were at the beach and Maya and I were headed out to the waves to boogie board. As we stepped into the shallows, I saw what looked to be a lost article of clothing slowly drifiting in. It was a whitish color with purple piping. I thought perhaps some guy had lost his swim trunks. As I got closer, I realized, it wasn't a swim suit. It was a jellyfish larger than my head! And it was mere inches from the foot of a ten-year old boy. I grabbed him and pulled him up, no doubt startling him. I said "There's a HUGE jellyfish right behind you. You almost got stung." He turned around in disbelief and saw it. "Oh, SNAP!" he said as he jumped away from it.

Oh, snap, indeed.

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Pink is for Predator

Here's an interesting article that tests the line between civil liberties and the public good. In Ohio, they have a law that requires convicted drunk drivers to have a special license plate identifying them. They want to do the same for sex offenders...

Opponents argue that once they pay their debt, they should not be further stigmatized with the equivalent of a scarlet A around their necks. To a certain extent, I agree. Add to that the fact that if you had a special plate on your car that said "Sex Offender" and you wanted to go out and commit another offense, you wouldn't take that car. Heck, if you wanted to go to a job interview, you wouldn't take it. It would also set these people up for profiling, I'm sure.

Still, it would make it tougher for them to commit those crimes again. And if you did see a car with a sex offender plate near a playground, you are likely going to pay even closer attention assuming you don't leave. What do you think?

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Cute Jewish Joke

My Dad sent me this joke. Surprisingly, I hadn't heard it before! I especially like it because the protagonist is named Yankel...

Yankel Goldstein, in his late 80s and still gainfully employed as a ribbon salesman, had been trying, unsuccessfully, to sell ribbon to JC Penney's for many years.

Last month, he was making another attempt and was speaking to the buyer, who was a notorious Anti-Semite. "Goldstein," the buyer said, "you've been trying to sell ribbon to me for at least 25 years. Now is your chance. Send me some yellow ribbon, enough to reach from the tip of your nose to the tip of your penis."

Three days later, four tractor trailers full of yellow ribbon drove up to the receiving dock of Penney's. The ribbon buyer went ballistic.

He called Goldstein and said, "I ordered yellow ribbon, enough to reach from the tip of your nose to the tip of your penis, and you sent me four tractor trailers full of ribbon."

Goldstein replied, " Yes, the tip of my penis is in Tel Aviv

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Outsourcing with a twist

Picked up this story a little while back. Seems a company called Sea Code is determined to test the limits of off-shore exploitation by importing a cruise ship full of foreign software professionals for the purposes of outsourcing. By having their "office" in international waters, they are hoping to skirt immigration, taxation, and other payroll laws, all the while screwing the American worked in the name of improving profits and dividends for the participants of the ownership culture. Can't wait to see how this plays out.

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The Dangers of Alligator Clips

Maya has an educational electricity experiment kit. Last night, it was decided that I would give a multi-level lesson on electricity for my wife and both kids. L needs the information for the final part of her teacher credential examination. Maya and Josh need the information on general educational principles. Besides, electricity is cool! So, we started with the first experiment, wherein we learn that electricity travels in a loop...

The materials that come with the set make it pretty scalable and I had gotten them all to catch on to the concept that electricity requires a closed path to travel. I used some of the more technical terms like votage, current, and reisitance for L. Then it was time for the kids to make circuits. Took a nice, low voltage, low danger C cell (not included) and added it to the bulb assembly with two terminals, the rubber band, and two colored wires with alligator clips at either end. The rubber band wraps around the battery and hold the clips in place without draining voltage or shorting the circuit. Then the clips go to the buld. Josh had a lot of fun closing and opening the circuit and observing the light toggle. Then Maya took a turn.

We played with the for a bit. The I swapped out the light for a mini motor and we made a fan, a pinwheel, and a color wheel. While the kids were enjoying that, I showed L visually what series and parallel circuits were and why houses tended to be wired in parallel. It made a lot more sense to her than the book did. After a while, it was time for me to go to rehearsal. I left the kids in the kitchen coloring color wheels while I went into the office to check something for L before I left.

We were in the office for maybe five minutes when we hear a high pitched screaming from the kitchen. Clearly Maya was being hurt and it wasn't a sudden injury that stopped. Fron the panic in her voice, this was continuous. We raced out to the kitchen to save her. L was thinking she was being electrocuted and I was thinking there is NO way she was being electrocuted from a C battery. When we got out there, she was indeed attached to the wire. I did a split second exam and determined that hte circuit was not closed, so I followed the other wire. The alligator clip was on the end of her tongue! And she was not strong enough to open it.

I extricated her from the wire and rushed her over to the sink. Not surprisingly, the clip had drawn a good amount of blood. We finally settled on a popsicle for soothing both the emotional and physical hurt.

Before soothing her, I gave her a lecture on never putting any part of an electricity experiment into her mouth. L informed her that she could have died. I reined her back from that a bit, but emphasized the seriousness of the situation. I mentioned the name. Alligator clip. I asked if she thought something like that might be dangerous and inquired as to what she was doing. "I couldn't get it opened. So I was opening it with my mouth." she told me between sobs. Apparently, it slipped out from between her teeth and caught her tongue. And she couldn't get it undone.

As the adrenaline wore off, I realized she must be in a lot of pain and switched to a more soothing tone. We had a little snuggle and I rubbed her back. I joked with her about the danger a bit and gradually she began to feel better. Hopefully, she has learned her lesson. However, I am going to do a little shock experiment with the clips and her tonge, just so she can understand the danger. :)

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Monday, May 09, 2005

New Sign is Up

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Thanks to Mike for the suggested text! Stay tuned for public reaction.


A confluence of events has made the choice of sign even more interesting. Andy forgot that it was his turn and did not bring anything in. So, the sign is about munchies being banned is hanging over an empty table. Most people aren't reading far enough to see that they have been banned from being banned. They just think the munchies have been banned. :) I love spreading chaos.

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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Thought for the day

When wearing sandals outside all day, you need to sunscreen the tops of your feet. I learned that the hard way today. I mean, I knew it on some level, but forgot because it has been years since I had a pair of sandals worth wearing. However, I just recently acquired a pair of Tevas and thought there was a better than average chance that I would be getting wet during Josh's and my outing. I turned out to be wrong, of course. But I wore the sandals in anticipation. Nice 75 degree sunny day on the California coast plus Tevas equals pink, itchy feet.

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Friday, May 06, 2005

Ban the Gay Books!

I found an interesting article over on Legal Fiction. Apparently, a lawmaker in Alabama wants to prevent Alabama libraries from buying books that are written by or about homosexuals. He doesn't want to reward the lifestyle as it is unacceptable. I'm not going to do a parade of links here, as that is pretty well covered on the post. There's also an amusing piece of fiction over there stemming from this proposal. The title is "MINUTES OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON PUBLIC MORALS - ALABAMA STATE LEGISLATURE" It's funny. Have a look.

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Sign Wars - Update

Well, I've gotten a little more fun out of this. Not sure how far I'll take it, but I think it needs to go at least one more week. Here's what happened. I put up this sign: Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I did it Tuesday morning before anyone got here. So, there were no witnesses. I spent much of the rest of the day in the lab, so I was never really in the area, although I did swing by at one point to glance at the sign from the end of the row. People had already begun graffiti-ing it. The revised sign said something to the effect of "Donuts are FDA approved for Monday Morning Munchies. Donuts are healthy and give me gas."

Karma asked me about the 'donut' sign. "What sign?" I asked innocently. "The sign about the donuts," she told me helpfully. I went over to look and had a laugh. She asked again, "Was that you?" I lied. "Nope." She was flustered. "Then who did it? Gene said it wasn't him." She had asked Gene if he thought it was me. He snorted and said, "Ya think?" He had seen my efforts to match the font the preceding week. Of course he kindly withheld those details. Gene and I helpfully pointed out the other practical jokers in the department. She dutifully went to them all and showed them the sign. They all denied it.

I was quite pleased with this turn of events. The sign was getting far more exposure than it would have if she had just ignored it. There were no donuts left and so, there was no reason for anyone to look there. She gave them a reason. She asked me three more times during the course of the day whether or not I had done it. I repeated my innocence, but not too strongly. I didn't want to arouse suspicion. "I asked 10 people and none of them had done it." "Maybe you just asked the wrong people," I suggested. "No. That's almost half our group." Obviously, if she has asked 10 out of 28 people, and hasn't gotten the answer, it can't be had.

She said that she didn't care, but her zeal to find out suggested otherwise. I live to fight another day. Suggestions for next Monday's sign? My first thought is lacking something: Image hosted by Photobucket.com

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Recent Comments Are Up!

I have finished installing the recent comments hack I was talking about. The hack works great, but my RSS is a little wonky. As such, time and date are not presently available. But as the comments are from most recent to least and there is a snippet there, you ought to be able to tell where you left off. The box is just below my profile. The format is [hyperlink to comment][name] - [comment snippet]. If you pause the mouse over the hyperlink, a tooltip will pop up telling you which post it is connected to. I am hoping to figure it out enough that I can make the post name display and be a link to the post while the comment text is the link to the comment. But, it is done for now. What do you think?

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Software Engineers

Here's an important tip when working with software engineers. See if you can spot my mistake. I am the safety coordinator for our department. (No, volunteering for the post was not the mistake.) As such, I am responsible for conducting a 30 minute safety training once a month for eight months of the year. I don't have to do it, I just have to see that it gets done and that everyone is accounted for. I hunt down the stragglers and such. Of course, I do do it, because it's fun...

Well, these engineers always complain that the topics are lame and contrived and are a waste of our time. The fact is, our accident, injury, and illness rates are extremely low, resulting in good insurance rates, resulting in bonuses. So, all in all, they are not a waste of time. Anyway. Whenever I get after people about one of my meetings, they grouse. I repeatedly ask for feedback. They have none. I sent out a form asking for suggstions. Got 0 back.

So, today, I decided to make it even easier for them. I found a list of all the available topics and sent it out to them. I even put X's next to the topics that had been covered in the last several months. All they had to do is tell me which topic they wanted, or propose a new one so we could develop it.

Here is the list.

X Fire Safety
X Back Injury Prevention
Compressed Gas Safety
X Electrical Safety
X Ergonomics Safety
Freight Elevator
Hand Tool Safety
Hazcom Safety
Hearing Protection
X Heat Stress
X Housekeeping
X Laser Safety
Material Handling
Portable Power Tool Safety
PPE Safety
Pulse Power HV Safety
X Stress Management
Team Up For Safety
Hydrogen Bromide
Workers Comp-Injury Reporting
EAP Tailgate
Respiratory Protection
Injury Illness Prevention Program (IIPP)
Fork-lift Refresher Training
Hand Protection
X Environmental Awareness Training

Did you spot the mistake?

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Feliz Cinco de Mayo a Todos!

That's right, today is Cinco de Mayo, or as my daughter likes to call it, Cinco de Maya! Living on the border of Mexico as we do, this holiday takes on a much greater significance. We weren't ready for it and unfortunately missed a really great festival downtown. There were multiple stages, crafts, and food! Blast! We'll definitely keep our eyes open for next year. There are plenty of events tonight, but I have rehearsal, so we will be holding our own mini-celebration. I already celebrated at work with some carne asada soft tacos with habanero tomatillo salsa! And a churro! Mui delicioso.

By the way, who knows what Cinco de Maya celebrates? And don't say "the 5th of May".

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Recent Comments - WIP

I'm working on implementing a "Recent Comments" section in the sidebar. It is nearly complete, but there is a bug somewhere in my co-opted version of the code. When it works correctly, you will just have a name and date. If you mouse over the comment, it will tell you the name of the post as if it were a tool tip. Stay tuned!

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Monday, May 02, 2005

Sign Wars

And now it's time for more insight into the mind of Karma. I am using the words insight and mind loosely here. Don't worry, Chuck. She hasn't upset or annoyed me in any way. She just reacted to something in her own, inimitable, worst possible way and I decided to tweak her about it indirectly...

First, a little background. We have a program in our department called Monday Morning Munchies. Anyone can participate. All you do is sign up. Signing up entitles you to partake of the breakfast spread brought in by the current week's scheduled participant. In return, on your week, you bring in enough for everybody on Monday morning. Simple enough. However, it needs to be coordinated so that people know when their turn is. Someone has to maintain and post the list. This is Karma's responsibility. Apparently, with great responsibility comes great power.

You see, Karma doesn't like bagels. She'll eat them if someone brings chocolate chip bagels or cinnamon sugar covered bagels. But she won't like it. The problem is, most of the department likes bagels. So bagels have accounted for roughly half the breakfasts of late. Perhaps not that much, but definitely the last two weeks in a row. Not good. Last week was bagels again.

Now, if a reasonable person were in this situation, there are a number of things they might do. See if you can guess how Karma responded. Did she...

a) Drop out of the voluntary program, hand the reigns over to someone else, and take responsibility for her own breakfast since the communal one was no longer meeting her needs?

b) Send a polite request to all the participants that some people don't like bagels and suggest that bringing more than one type of item for breakfast or staggering the frequency of the bagels might be an improvement on the system.

c) Issue a decree banning bagels from the breakfast rotation.

Naturally, the answer is 'c' as I wouldn't feel the need to write about A or B. She made a sign and hung it over the munchies. The sign decreed:

Attention: Bagels are now banned from Monday Morning Munchies.
One of the participants asked her what was wrong with bagels. She complained that she didn't like them and anyway, these weren't good bagels.

That last bit struck me as an odd and insensitive thing to say within earshot of the person who brought the bagels. Especially given how she regularly attacks me for being insensitive and self-centered. I think that was what ultimately compelled me to act. Or perhaps it was the rationalization that allowed me not to feel badly about acting. ;)

My first salvo was benign. I used white out tape to make the "now" into a "not". It was noticeable as I used a blue pen and the rest of the sign was bold, black font. I thought it might amuse the repressed peoples of Munchieland. Karma's response was as swift as it was unimaginative. She pulled the whiteout tape off, restoring the sign to its original pristine quality.

Round two was really more like round 1a. I felt my original mockery had not been given a fair shake. So, I used a marker to change to 'w' to a 't'. Again, it was obvious because, well, a 'w' does not convert to a 't' particularly well. But the sentiment was there and it had a certain graffiti-rebellion aspect to it. I was stickin' it to the man. So to speak.

Again she was afforded an opportunity to keep the conflict entertaining or to submit. Again she failed. In fairness, I doubt she even tried. This time, she crossed out "not" and wrote "now" in above it. The sign read as it originally had, but now was a bit defaced.

Well, I could have been childish and just changed it back again. I might have even been able to make it look unchanged while changing it. But I am not that kind of person. I went in a different childish direction! Since the word "now" was offset, it had space on either side of it. Plenty of room to add letters both fore and aft. This, I though, was a more creative escalation. After some editing, the sign now read:
Attention: Bagels are now not known to be banned from Monday Morning Munchies.
Not the "now" cleverly hidden in the new text.

She had to realize at this point that a simple cross-out was not going to get it done. She had to know she needed to take it to the next level. Didn't she? Sadly, no. I searched my mind for other possibilities. Was she just joking around? I suppose I can't dismiss that, although I strongly doubt it. What is funny about banning bagels? Maybe she was trying to pretend she was a petty tyrant for comedic effect. But she defended her stance so seriously. Well, if she was kidding, or even if she wasn't, this was the ideal opportunity to unleash the "just kidding" defense. Laugh at the rest of us over getting worked up over a joke. End of situation.

Which is, of course, why she didn't.

I wandered by around lunch time to see what had transpired. And to get a bagel. Contrary to Karma's belief, these were actually very good bagels. I glanced up and noticed that all the handwritten edits were gone. There was a new and clean sign. It contained the same information as before, plus an education bit.
Attention: Bagels are now banned from Monday Morning Munchies.

Bagels are unhealthy and fattening.

This was a twist I hadn't seen. A justification for the ban. And such a wise and sensible one, too. Especially when you consider that Karma's preferred breakfast choices are brownies, pastries, donuts, and Costco mega-muffins! All of those are far more healthful fare.

I was torn. I could go a few ways now. Do, I help support the ban and further ban any refined foods? I could post new guidelines under her sign. As a plus, it would have good health and social commentary. It would force her to a position she never meant to take or expose her as an idiot. But, it wouldn't be funny. And really, that's what it was all about for me, entertaining the troops. I opted for satire. And mockery, too. I carefully crafted a new sign. I took great pains to get the same font, sizing, and spacing. I wanted to make as few changes to her text as possible in the hopes of going undetected for longer.
Attention: Whining is now banned from Monday Morning Munchies.

Whining is unhealthy and gets on our nerves.

I was pleased. I showed it to a friend who laughed and said I was going too far. That, to me, meant it was just right. I decided to hang it up the next morning since I get in before most of the team. That way, I could do it undetected and get maximum exposure.

Sadly, the next day, her sign had been taken down. Cooler heads had prevailed. My fun was ruined. Or was it? Today's breakfast was a big box of very tasty looking donuts. I've decided to revive the signage. I'll do it tomorrow when nobody's looking. With any luck, they'll think she was at it again.
Attention: Donuts are now banned from Monday Morning Munchies.

Donuts are unhealthy and give me gas.

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Latest Disturbing Political Trend

Last Thursday, I blogged about a state representative in Virginia who was up in arms about a sex-ed health fair at a local college. My brother-in-law, Dan, informs me that this guy is not really taken seriously around there. He just happened to do a sound bite that played well in the media. Dan (who really ought to have a blog, by the way...) wished that there was more exposure of a local politician who was actually doing bad things as opposed to just shooting his mouth off...

Well, Dan. We here at BriWise aim to please. And family IS family after all. This will ensure that US Rep. Tom Davis gets notoriety from at LEAST seven more people. Read this to see how a member of the U.S. House of Representatives is trying to abuse Congress' control over D.C. to prevent Democrats from moving into his district.

This is just the next evolutionary step to the redistricting fiasco that the Supreme Court of the US upheld in Texas. Apparently, the new trend is that when you have power, you are allowed to rig things to stay in power.

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