Saturday, July 16, 2005

You just became a Microsoft Certified Programmer! What are you going to do?

I'm going to Disneyland! But first I'm going to see Bill Gates.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Quote of the Day - July 14, 2005

Fear can sometimes be a useful emotion. For instance, let's say you're an astronaut on the moon and you fear that your partner has been turned into Dracula. The next time he goes out for the moon pieces, wham!, you just slam the door behind him and blast off. He might call you on the radio and say he's not Dracula, but you just say, "Think again, bat man."

- from Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Fuel Gauge Stuck

Well, that's pretty much what caused the Discovery's launch to get scrubbed. A sensor in the fuel tank said it was empty when they had just filled it. Darn sensors.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

July 13, 3:51 pm

That's when Discovery launches, assuming the weather cooperates and they can replace the tiles that got damaged when that protective cover fell earlier. It looks like Emily will be taking a much more southerly route, which gives Discovery more of a cushion should a delay occur.

T - 17:34:00


Those who know me in RL (real life) know that I have quite a few T-shirts with interesting little expressions on them. At the end of the semester in my Intro to Computer Engineering class many (um, 6?) years ago, someone actually turned to me and said that she would miss my T-shirts.

But as many T-shirts as I have, there are still quite a few expressions I would love to have on a T-shirt. I actually had a custom T made that was suppose to say "WEIRD ... and proud of it...", but the person who made it couldn't remember how to spell "weird", so it came out "WIERD ...and proud of it..." Diana calls it my “wired” shirt. I've considered starting my own line of "wierd" shirts with those expressions I've been looking for printed on them. I could trademark it by making Kip the dot over the "i". Something like this:

Image hosted by

All of the T’s would probably be black. Of course, I don’t really know how to go about starting a T-shirt business, especially since I would do it on the side as a hobby-like thing, kind of like this blog. Except there would hopefully be some exchange of funds. But that would mean taxes. Yuck. So, now that I’ve revealed most of my plans for a T-shirt business and how it will never happen, how’s about some of those expressions? Some of them might only work for me, but others might have slightly broader appeal (possibly as many as ten people). Some of them may already exist (I’m not including phrases that I know exist. For most of those, go to ThinkGeek). Some would also need some artwork to go with them, but, as evidenced by Kip, I can’t draw.

Wierd and Proud of it! – the trademark T
Freak of Nature
Space Cadet
Believe it or Else
Healthy people make me sick.
I do what my Palm Pilot tells me to.
If I’m normal, the standard deviation must be HUGE!
Paranoid? I’m not paranoid! Who says I’m paranoid?!
Instead of traditions, we have trends. Instead of laws, we have lawsuits. And instead of philosophies, we have T-shirts.
Martian Exchange Student
Black goes with everything
No one understands me because I speak my own language.
Raised by Computers
I'm a pedestrian. This is a sidewalk. I have the right of way. (worn on the back with a "walking man" sign)
Feel the buzz! (with a picture of a hand holding a buzzer)

Updated to add:
So much for that theory...
Moving on...
Yeah, buddy!
Are we having fun yet?
Are we there yet?

I am pretty sure I'm forgetting some. "Mine, not yours" works better as a sticker than as a t-shirt. At least half of these probably require some explaination. Um... Maybe later.

Mmmmm. Ribs.

I got up early (for me) this morning to prep some baby-back ribs for the crockpot. I cut them up, broiled them on one side for 12 minutes, burned a new scar into my thumb (right above another one that I have no idea what it's from, and on the same hand attached to the wrist I burned with a cookie sheet about ten years ago. Perhaps I should just leave my left hand out of the cooking process all together), broiled them on the other side for 12 more minutes, then placed them into the crockpot with a full bottle of honey bbq sauce. All that, and I got to work 15 minutes earlier than usual.

So I got home from the gym this evening, walked right up to the crockpot, pulled out a couple of ribs, and started eating. No prep. Just straight to eating. Was it worth the sleep deprivation and inch-long burn scar? Did I mention "Mmmmm. Ribs"?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Contemplating Infinity

For some reason that escapes me, I was thinking about replacing one divided by zero with "u" in much the same way we replace the square root of negative one with "i". We could call them "unfathomable numbers" and they could very well contribute to the development of the Infinite Improbablility Drive.

And then my brain jumped sideways, because when I think of infinity, I think of a story from my parents' college days. My mother was doing her math homework and asked my father what an Aleph was. He hadn't a clue, so he made up a story about a white elephant with wings. Many years later (so much later that I was around and old enough to retain the memory for my current recollection), he actually found a stuffed animal that fit his description and bought it for her.

My brain is so random. But, obviously, that's my parents' fault.

Emily Updates

Okay, I'm going to do the same thing I did with Dennis. All Emily updates in this post.

7/11/05 11:00 pm - Emily is officially a tropical storm. Here's the projected path. Cuba's just not having a good month, although if the storm passes north of the island, it will be much better than passing south. She's not terribly organized at the moment, but she's over warmer waters now, which will provide more fuel for the slowly-growing fire. If Emily does, in fact, go just north of Cuba, she'll be more likely to head up the Atlantic coast than into the Gulf. Hopefully, Discovery's launch on Wednesday won't get delayed, because Emily will almost certainly effect the launch site by the beginning of next week. If they can't launch prior to Emily's arrival, they'll have to take Discovery off the launch pad to protect it.

7/12/05 11:00 pm - Uh, yeah. Emily is veering toward South America, except the forcast has her turning north into the Caribbean. And normally systems this far south break apart once they enter the Caribbean, but some meteorologists appear to have given up on precident this year. It's Hurricane Season 2005! Anything goes! Hurricanes could form in the southern hemisphere for all we know! New York? I do believe you're due for a major hurricane. New Foundland? You too. This season is just getting started.

7/13/05 11:30 pm - Emily finally pulled her act together and formed into a hurricane and... woah! 90 mph already. After days of holding to tropical storm strength out in the Atlantic, she seems to like the warm waters just north of South America where tropical systems usually... break up. I did say we were throwing out the rule book this season, right? The GFDL model, which has apparently been the most accurate this year, has Emily passing just north of the Yucatan Penninsula. The official forcast has it hitting the penninsula. Either way, it has a pretty clear path that will allow it to intensify to a major hurricane before it hits any large land masses.

7/14/05 11:30 pm - Emily is now a strong category 3 with sustained winds of 125 mph and frighteningly high gusts up to 155 mph. The current minimum pressure suggests that Emily is not eager to strengthen any further, though it will still probably become a Cat 4. Though an eye was apparent in earlier satellite imagery, it seems to have disappeared again. The official forcast has it skimming the Yucatan as a Cat 3 before moving on the northern Mexico/southern Texas. Depending on how much time it spends on the penninsula, Emily could just be a tropical storm by the time it effects any part of the U.S., or it could still be a major hurricane. My biggest concern is the patch of very warm water in the Caribbean between the Yucatan and Texas. Even if Emily is weakened by a period of landfall, she could strengthen very rapidly over these waters (assuming no atmospheric obstacles such as shear).

7/16/05 10:22 am - Emily peaked at a category 4 storm yesterday, weakened to a category 2, hovered between strong Cat 2 and weak Cat 3, weakened down to a Cat 1, and now today she's back up to a Cat 4 with her strongest winds yet at 140 mph. That's quite a bit of fluctuation. She's entering warming waters now and pulling away from any large land masses that might interfere with formation. The eye is clearly visible on satellite. She's a rather small-looking hurricane, very compact. Given her somewhat tempermental history, we can only hope this means she is libel to break apart quickly once she hits land. Unfortunately, she has some much time and warm water in which to grow, she may be a category 5 by the time she hits the Yucatan. Depending on where she hits, even if she breaks apart relatively quickly, she may still be a hurricane when she re-emerges into the Gulf. According to the five day forcast, she will hit near the TexMex boarder on Wednesday. That's too far out for the intensity forcast, but intensity forcasts are notoriously bad anyway. I wouldn't be surprised if she came off the Yucatan and restrengthened to a Cat 4 before hitting the mainland. (Actually, given the season so far, I would be surprised if she didn't restrengthen to a Cat 4).

7/16/05 11:00 am - The latest updates show that Emily's maximum sustained winds have reached 145 mph and the central pressure has dropped 7 mb in three hours to 943 mb. Wind gusts are up to 180 mph. That pressure drop means she is still strengthening, and rapidly. She's gunning for Dennis' record as the strongest July hurricane ever. Dennis peaked at 150 mph sustained winds and a central pressure of 930 mb. Emily has just 5 mph and 13 mb to go for a tie.

Jamaica is feeling tropical storm force winds now, but the winds should not get up to hurricane strength. The biggest concern for them at this point would be rain. The same will probably go for Grand Cayman when Emily passes south of it tomorrow.

7/16/05 2:18 pm - Well, Emily officially has Dennis beat for wind speed. Her maximum sustained winds are up to 155 mph, beating out Dennis' peak and putting her about 1 mph below Cat 5. In terms of central pressure, she still has a little ways to go to beat Dennis. Currently, the pressure is 937 mb. That's a 6 mb drop from the 11 o'clock advisory, and that's after a 7 mb drop from the 8 am to the 11 am advisory this morning. There is a good chance she will continue to strengthen, though an eyewall replacement cycle could interfere.

7/16/05 8:17 pm - Emily has now surpassed Dennis both in terms of wind speed (still 155 mph) and central pressure (now 929 mb). The eye is a nice semetrical black hole in the center of the cloud formation. Grand Cayman should start feeling the effects of Emily soon if it isn't already. Landfall in the Yucatan should be around early Monday morning, most likely as a category 4. It looks like it will be over the penninsula longer and over the Gulf for less time than earlier forcasts predicted. However, that warm patch between the Yucatan and Texas as grown, giving Emily plenty of opportunity to restrengthen.

7/17/05 5:00 pm - Emily is weakening a little, which is good news for the Yucatan. However, she is still a powerful category 4 storm with sustained winds of 145 mph, so she is still capable of causing considerable damage. Current predictions are that she will hit south of the TexMex boarder as a Cat 3, but again, intensity forcasts are notoriously inaccurate. She could start to break up before making landfall as Dennis did on the mainland, or she could make one last go at strengthening.

7/17/05 11:00 pm - Emily's pressure is still rising and the maximum sustained winds are down to 135 mph. Landfall on the Yucatan Penninsula should come in the next couple of hours.

7/18/05 8:42 pm - Emily is just barely a hurricane now, but she is approaching warm waters. I don't think she'll regain category 4 status, but she may still manage to become a major hurricane again by the time she makes her second and final landfall in northeast Mexico on Wednesday. Southern Texas will probably just get a rain event out of this.

7/19/05 11:00 pm - Emily is once again a category 3 hurricane as it approaches Mexico, with the potential to reach category 4 before landfall. Tropical storm force winds have already reached land. Evidentally, the storm stalled for a little while earlier today, and is now moving slowly toward land. Unfortunately, this means high winds will be affecting Mexico and Texas for a long time before the storm finally makes landfall and starts to weaken.

7/20/05 11:17 pm - Emily made landfall in Mexico early Wednesday morning as a category 3 with winds of 125 mph. She has now weakened to a tropical storm with winds of 50 mph. Soon, it will be little more than a rain event, which I believe they actually need in that area right now. Think the rain will make it to Phoenix?

Oh, no. Not again.

Tropical Depression 5 just formed in the Atlantic. She will be named Emily if(when) she becomes a tropical storm. This is madness!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Grocery Cart Security

I went grocery shopping at a new Shoppers in Laurel today. One of the great things about shopping at a new store is that all of the carts still function properly. But I noticed a sign inside my cart as I was leaving. It said "This cart locks up outside the boundaries of the parking lot." I looked at the wheels and, sure enough, the front right wheel was different from the others. It must have some kind of breaking mechanism inside it that's trigger when it crosses the boundary, much like those dog collars that shock the dog when he tries to leave the yard. It's rather sad that this security feature is necessary, but perhaps too many drunks were tempted to use them as modes of transportation.

Communication Breakdown

I generally disagree with people who claim that this or that is contributing to the downfall of the English language. Part of what's so great about English is that it is incredibly flexible. The variety of words and expressions allows you to be more precise or at least poetic in your descriptions. Words and phrases we use more often will get shortened so that we can communicate the concept more quickly and move on. That's why "television" gets shortened to "tellie" or "tv" and "personal computer" becomes just "computer" or "P.C.". Or, if you're dealing with a certain type of computer, you refer only to their adjectives ("laptop" or "desktop"). So long as the idea gets across, the language is doing its job of communicating information. Which is why I actually agree with this. Corporate jargon does the opposite of what the natural progression of language accomplishes. Rather than making communication faster and/or more precise, it takes much longer to communicate and, once the words have been said, their meaning tends to be vague. Phrases like "person of interest" could mean a variety of things even within the context of police investigations. Some things make even less sense when taken out of context. Is a "conveyor of knowledge" a teacher, a mentor, a book, or an educational program? These words have come into existance for a reason. Why are they so readily discarded for longer, less clear expressions?

Maybe there will be a backlash soon where using "big words" actually makes you sound stupid and using "small words" demonstrates an expanded vocabulary.