Univac Lighter

I recently bought this beauty on eBay. When I arrived I was a bit disapointed to see that the hinge that makes that click-clack sound was not operating properly. I really hate the stupid eBay feedback system which makes minor complaints not worthwhile (nobody wants a negative comment in retaliation for reporting an incomplete or dishonest description, right?). Hmmm, maybe that’s the point. Uh well, still, it was a good deal for $15.

What is super cool is that it appears that zippo lighters come with a warrantee that goes something like this:
“Any Zippo metal product, when returned to our factory will be put in first class condition free of charge, for we have yet to charge a cent for the repair of a Zippo metal product, regardless of age or condition.”.

So, theoretically all I have to do is send the lighter to the factory and they will fix it. I’ll let you know how good a job the’ll do.

“Top Secret / Majik Eyes Only” or Learn To Spell, You Spooks.

Today after work I was vegging, watching a stupid UFO show on Sci-phi channel. They mentioned the Majestic 12. Then they showed this document from the FBI website, although I think they removed the giant scribble that says “BOGUS” from the page.

Ha! It turns out Dr. Bush is so much cooler than I thought! He was one of the heads of the Majestic 12 and the inspiration behind the Cigarette Smoking Man (although he smoked pipes).

Uhhh, Ummm, Technically, God ….

This morning I was looking into ways to customize Ultraedit and came up upon this interesting piece of Ultraedit trivia:

… On March 18th 1996, we had received 11 “registrations'” for UltraEdit. This was a good day, and of course was an encouragement to us – But will it stop – is one product enough? This was tough, I didn’t have time to generate more products.

As I went to bed that night, I was praying about the situation, and I just felt like saying to God “If you give me 20 registrations tomorrow I will KNOW that I should quit my full time job, that it is your will”. As soon as I said this, I was excited, I felt sure it was going to happen. I also prayed for forgiveness if I was wrong to ask – I don’t like to try and make deals with God but really wanted his confirmation.

I got home later that day and checked the mail – No registrations! I was disappointed. I checked the fax machine, there was an order for 10! I couldn’t wait to log on and found additional registrations – a total of 21!!!

I am embarrassed to admit, at this point, being a technical person, I mentally noted that 21 was not 20 – I had asked for 20

Escape From Petland

It’s well known that Disney is well known for popularizing certain animals. It actually benefits some of these animals, as for instance many kids would not let their fathers hunt “Bambi”. But if there is a potential for the animal to become a pet, then it’s a different story.

My wife told me that there was a huge demand for spotted dogs after “1001 Dalmatians” hit the big screen. And apparently Dalmatians are not low maintenance pets. So after a while there was a whole surplus of abandoned Dalmatians in dog shelters.

And now requests for the “Finding Nemo fish” are driving a pet store employee posting in nuts. Remember, saltwater fish are a maintenance nightmare (as the owners of the Amazing Netscape Fishcam which was once near the Tent of Doom would definitely tell you).

In any case, there will me a massive number of clown fish deaths in the following months. This is doubly ironic because in the cartoon the fish wants to escape from an aquarium.

They Are Out of Business I Guess

My phone number at work is very similar to a phone number of some medical office. I used to get phone calls from patients all the time. But this morning I’ve got a message on my answering machine from a doctor, who inquired about a New York Times ad for medical office space (I don’t think he listened to my very professional answering machine message). My guess is that the med office with that phone number is either out of business or moving.

has a phone number at work that is similar to some bank’s. I egged him on to ask people calling him for their bank card passwords, but he is smarter than that. I do not indulge in phone pranks with people who misdialed numbers either. Although I could have offered that doctor to sublet a part of my cubicle. I have a big cubicle.

Mind Like Water

Amazon suggested the following book to me : “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity“.

Who wouldn’t want to get organized? But let’s see some reviews first:


Freedom of a “mind like water”, January 2, 2003
Reviewer: Maxim Masiutin (see more about me) from Chisinau, Republic of Moldova
Five Stars
“Getting Things Done” is a road map to achieve the positive, relaxed focus that characterizes your most productive state. It will help you to get everything done with the freedom of a “mind like water”.


Side note: in Soviet jokes Moldovans played a role similar to that of Polacks in American jokes.


Who writes these 5 star reviews??, December 8, 2002
One Star
Reviewer: A reader from Wheeling, WV United States
The author is likeable and the book is an easy read. It confirmed what I already knew – get all of your to do’s consolidated into one list so you can prioritize. Beyond that it didn’t really add much value to my life or work.

WML: the Arch-Importance of Buckets and Lightbulbs

Hello, and welcome to the first edition of WML: What Michael Learned!

Today’s topic: aquariums. I am not going to talk here about not listening to the guy in the pet shop, about “cycling” the aquarium before adding the fish, about not overstocking the aquarium and overfeeding the fish. Everybody knows that, right? Well, I hope so.

What I am going to talk about two common problems.

Problem number A: water changes are hard.

Solution:
Get a good big bucket. A 5-gallon bucket is perfect. First of all, you will know how many gallons there are in it. Unlike that tiny bucket you got in a drugstore, you will know it’s volume, so it will help you dose salt, chlorine remover, bacteria culture and medicine. Also you will make fewer trips to pour out and bring in new water.

Where to get a good bucket like that? I’ve got mine at my tackle shop, Bernie’s. It cost me $3. You can probably get it for free if you ask a manager in your local supermarket, but make sure that it held nothing toxic before.

Problem number B: Aquarium plants die.

If it’s not the fishes that do the dirty deed, it’s probably your lighting fixture. The one that came with your aquarium hood is crap. Go out and buy a new lamp, but leave the hood itself. What you need is a full spectrum, natural light fixture. I use Coralife Marine Aquarium 50/50 Daylight Bulb and it works like a charm, even though my aquarium is freshwater.

Sex, Lies and Higher Education

On Sunday I finished reading an awesome book about college pranks, “If at all Possible, Involve a Cow”. Even though it was published in 1992, it’s currently out of print and somewhat hard to find. At abebooks.com prices range from $26.50 to $42.50 and there are only 5 books listed. Luckily, I was able to find a copy for $7 thanks to abebooks wishlist service.

I think that the rarity of the books is due to some influence of embarrassed college brass. The book tells stories about students making fun of narrow mindedness and idiocy of administrators and professors in some very prestigious colleges and universities.

Here is an example. If you’ve been to Harvard, you probably have seen the statue of John Harvard. You were also probably told a touching story about students, who rub his boot for luck on the exams (they really don’t, the boot is shined by hordes of visitors). Well, what the guide probably didn’t tell you, is that the statue is commonly known as “Statue of Three Lies”. Why? Because there is an inscription on the pedestal that says:

John Harvard

Founder

1638

Lie #1 : John Harvard was a financial contributor, not the founder.
Lie #2 : Foundation date was 1636, not 1638
Lie #3 : Depicted is not John Harvard, of whom no pictures exist, but a friend of the sculptor. To add insult to injury, both the sculptor and his friend graduated from .. You guessed it – MIT!

This makes one of the pranks in the book especially ironic: MIT students created a huge bronze copy of MIT class ring and epoxied it to John Harvard statue’s finger!

Other notable pranks: Harvard Lampoon’s editors hoisting Soviet flag on a flagpole in front of the Supreme Court during McCarthy era, Caltech Rose Bowl hack.