Monday, March 26, 2007

Random Flickr-Blogging: img_6236

Originally uploaded by rawkmom.
Random Flickr-blogging explained.
Suzie the Electrical Safety Elf says: "Check those circuit breakers first, kids!"

Originally uploaded by zephir_350d.
"Do these taillights make my butt look big?"

Originally uploaded by flybutter.
"Thanks for smoking! Now get out of my face or Nicotine Santa won't leave any coffin nails in your stocking this Christmas."

Originally uploaded by mpieracci.
My instructor will be so proud of me when I tell him what I found out:

You can see the runway so much better if you turn off the spinning thingie on the front of the airplane.

Originally uploaded by cbonsig.
Having lost the fight over early childhood standardized testing, opponents were reduced to quibbling over how the grades would be handed out.

Originally uploaded by Kurt Naks.
A little-known provision in Bush's immigration bill would require the Statue of Liberty to be dismantled and returned to the French.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Random Flickr Blogging: img_0088

Originally uploaded by mackenzieist.
Random Flickr-blogging explained.
Beatrice moved out to the country and started a business, leaving her life as a prostitute behind her.

Originally uploaded by jonnystiles.
"I'll wreak vengance on your headlights, or my name is not El mensajero enmascarado de la bicicleta*!"

Originally uploaded by Lucian Teo.
In infants, a certain fascination with bellybuttons is considered normal...

Originally uploaded by Rolandsquest. thirtysomethings -- not so much.

Originally uploaded by fabienr.
Alberto Gonzalez' latest proposal for punishing suspected terrorists -- painting their bodies and forcing them to ride naked through the streets on bicycles -- ignited a firestorm of controversy and vehement protests from the ACLU and Amnesty International.

Originally uploaded by swanky.
Japan implements its own version of "The Final Solution".

Originally uploaded by paula.hatch.
The fashion world has been reluctant to give designers from the former Soviet Union the recognition they feel they deserve.

Originally uploaded by SwansonFamily.
"I know this is my first lesson, but is that attitude indicator thingie supposed to be spinning around like that?"

Originally uploaded by conrado4.
If you think getting the genie back in the bottle is hard, try getting Gene back in his keg!

*Translation: The Masked Bicycle Messenger.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tuesday Odometer Blogging

originally uploaded by shiltone.

2002 Honda Civic LX

Thought it might turn over on the way home, but that's the way it read when I pulled into the driveway tonight, and that's where it sits.

So tonight I'm going to party like it's 99,999.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Random Flickr-Blogging: img_6534

Originally uploaded by Elgar.
Random Flickr-blogging explained.
"Hmm...lost marbles again, eh? This time, let's save ourselves a lot of legwork and call Ann Coulter first."

Originally uploaded by brasherphotos.
"C'mon, buddy, move it along, will ya? This is the non-smoking lot."

Originally uploaded by huckerbunny.
"No zipper!? Now you tell me!"

Originally uploaded by matt2002ny.
"C'mon, Larry, quit horsing around so I can get all five of you in the picture. Um...Larry?"

Originally uploaded by iVan Wong.
Frank Sinatra, during what is now known as his "Asian Period".

And the first joker to say "Ruck Be A Rady Tonight" gets his legs broken.

Originally uploaded by AngeNose.
"Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I'm not afraid."

Originally uploaded by un_owen.
"Twenty years...Twenty long years, and I'm finally getting out tomorrow. Hey, wait, how long has this cell door been open?"

Originally uploaded by passionfruitea.
Another satisfied CPAC participant.

Originally uploaded by tantek.
"Attention...your attention, please...the Summer of Love is over. Please clear the streets and return to your homes and places of business and carry on as you did before. And would whoever keeps stealing the street sign at the corner of Haight and Ashbury please put it back?"

Friday, March 09, 2007

Daylight Saving Time - Plague or Miracle?

I like Ed Markey. He was even my U.S. Rep after I was redistricted out of Joe Kennedy's district into his. It isn't entirely his fault that the next few weeks have the potential to fall somewhere between annoying frustration and total chaos, but he is responsible for the part of the 2005 energy legislation that lengthened the Daylight Saving Time part of the year.

Why is this a problem? Computers have been programmed to automatically switch from Standard to Daylight Saving Time, and have been doing it relatively smoothly for a while. All the computer has to know is when. And that's the problem. It seems there were a few lazy or unimaginative programmers who apparently thought that the rules for when DST would begin and end were handed to Moses on the original stone tablets, so they hard-coded them in operating systems, calendar applications, etc., instead of making the assumption that they could change and that it should be easy to adjust to any changes.

And apparently, many of these short-sighted programmers work in Redmond, Washington, for a little software company that happens to own the major market share for PC operating systems and office-suite applications.

There's been some tinkering with DST over the years; changes have been made in the name of wartime energy savings and for several other rationales. So there's no suggestion that it would never change again, and it just adds to the list of examples critics can cite of Microsoft's monumental arrogance. I run the core business system for a medium-sized company, and that computer uses an industrial-strength operating system found primarily in hospitals, lottery systems, financial institutions -- industries where you don't even joke about running the business on a Microsoft platform. There was a patch to this operating system available months ago to implement the new rule; Microsoft responded to the changes passed in 2005 three weeks ago by sending out updates for Windows.

One of the arguments against breaking Microsoft into an operating-system company and an application company is that there would be better integration between things like Windows and Outlook. How's that working out for ya? My company's MS Exchange/Outlook e-mail system was down for 18 hours after it was patched for the DST change several days ago. Without going into any more detail, I'll just tell you what IT professionals already know -- it's not going well in Microsoft shops, and it could get ugly in the few weeks between the new start (this weekend) and what would have been the old start of DST.

Where Y2K was happily anticlimactic, this has the potential for enough unpleasant surprises to make grown men weep. The good news is that Microsoft feels so bad about the situation that it's going to drop the entry-level price of Windows Vista from $100 to $19.

Just kidding. In fact, there have been complaints that MS is charging customers thousands of dollars to fix a problem that they designed into the product to begin with. I'm sure it's because they need the money.

But enough about Microsoft. I'm really interested in the question of whether we need to tinker with the clocks at all. To me it seems like a cheesy mind game, like setting your clock ahead five minutes because you're always five minutes late for everything. To tie the concept of time to the rotation of the earth and the relative position of the sun in the sky, and then to play games with it -- that never made sense to me. In fact, the whole concept of time zones could be considered more of a problem than a solution to anything, especially in the age of globalization. Do you realize that not only is Indiana split between two time zones, but up until recently, whether you observed DST depended on what county you live in?

I like the idea that's been adopted in aviation, the military, and other disciplines: UTC, or Coordinated Universal Time (the acronym is derived from the French version), once known as Greenwich Mean Time, is used. I fly light airplanes as a hobby, and from the time I get to the airport until I get back in my car to go home, there is no Eastern Standard Time, Daylight Saving Time, Happy Shiny Energy Savings Time, or anything else but Zulu (UTC), which is how time is expressed in your dealings with the weather service and the air traffic control system.

I know this will never be widely accepted enough to change at a national level (for all the bluster about how a free-market economy accelerates progress, the list of good ideas that have been adopted in the name of progress in every other industrialized nation besides ours grows longer every year), but it would make a lot of sense to me if we dispensed with DST and time zones altogether. For one thing, individuals and corporations would be free to adjust hours on the basis of need, and not according to national edict. If it made sense in the summertime to close up shop at 2100 UTC instead of 2200, that could be implemented on a case-by-case basis. International customers would know without consulting a chart when your business hours were.

Yes, I know, people don't like change, and it would be something folks would have to adjust to and get used to. For example, when I started my flight training it took me about three weeks to get used to expressing and understanding time in Zulu.

In other words, in the three weeks we're about to spend in computer calendar scheduling limbo, where some computers are going to know what time it is and some aren't, we could have switched to a simpler, better way of handling it, got used to it, and moved on.

I'm just sayin'.

Cross-posted at Blue Mass Group

Monday, March 05, 2007

Random Flickr-Blogging: img_5259

Originally uploaded by Jie and Yi.
Random Flickr-blogging explained.
These John and Yoko bobbleheads went for $1,500 on eBay last week.

Originally uploaded by nowling13.
"It says here that you were optometrist to the Royal Family...can you elaborate a little?"

Originally uploaded by Raymond Yue.
"Bachelor Number One, if you could be any Power Ranger in the world, which one would you be?"

Originally uploaded by conrado4.
A proud, newly-inducted member of the Tasteless Hawaiian Shirt Enforcement Squad prepares to make his first arrest.

Originally uploaded by nickmuldoon.
" say you cleaned that oil drum before you brewed this beer in it?"

Originally uploaded by RobJenga.
Surprise! I'm not really a gynecologist, and you're on Candid Camera!"

Originally uploaded by icanteachyouhowtodoit.
Another hapless victim of the "Put your ear up to my armpit; you can hear the ocean" gag.

Originally uploaded by orayzio.
"Ahhh...west and wewaxation at wong wast...dat wascawy wabbit will nevew find me in hewe."

Originally uploaded by sarahpiest.
It's a tree...go ahead and hug know you want to.