My Life At Penetrode or Is It Good For The Company?

Every morning the metal handle of the hallway door at work gives me a good ‘ol dose of static shock. This has been happening for the last four years. And only now I realize how “Office Space” this is.

There must be hundreds of other people on my floor who get that same static shock every morning. I wonder how wide spread is it. Do you get a daily dose of static shock from a door handle where you work?

Maybe it’s some form of thought control. Or maybe they generate electricity that way. Who knows..

I am so ordering my red Swingline

I am thinking about starting a protest website GAA – “Geeks Against Annoyances”. The top 4 things on the agenda will be:
1) Wall warts
2) Cheap Ass Go Off Every 10 Minutes Car Alarms
3) Fluorescent Lamps Of Death
4) Door handles that shock you at work.

TT : Homer Shrugged

1) The trilogy that I actually care about is complete. The Golden Transcendence : Or, The Last of the Masquerade is here, and it doesn’t dissapoint. I’ll write my review soon.

Is it just me, or did the book jacket’s designer rip off Zhaan from Farscape?

(image from

2) Ebay auction: The Simpsons Homer as Atlas A La Carte Statue

Very impressive.

3) How a google search for video drivers helped ‘s mom grow her vocabulary.
Isn’t technology wonderfull?

4) Learned about this in “This Old House Magazine”. There’s a company that makes a table saw that senses the change in capacitance between wood and human (and as this demo shows, pigeon) flesh and stops momentarily.

Watch the videos here. would probably get a kick out of that.

5) There was an article in the Bulletin about Atoms for Peace.
Dammit, where’s my Ford Nucleon?

(image from


There was an article in the New York Post today about a kid who attempted to “subway surf” to impress his friends and died. What exactly happened is rather unclear. The police say that he hit a girder with his head and died instantly. His “friends” say that the train hit a bump and he fell off. The morons didn’t even notify the conductor (they waited until the next stop) and the next train ran over the poor dude.

There is an article about the “sport” at Village Voice with some photos:

Of course that often leads to horrible heartbreak: a photo from the Post of the boy’s mother being comforted by an NYPD police officer and a captain (the captain has gold insignia on the shoulder) after a collapse.

I think I know who the captain is (the picture in the paper was a bit clearer). It’s probably Karin Azadian, the commander of the Central Park Precinct precinct. I think she’s the only female captain in Manhattan Borough Command.

Soviet Voodoo

Oooof. Finally fixed a rather nasty bug that was depressing me most of last week. This and a nice little poem by reminded me about a few superstitions of my childhood.

There was no subway in Odessa, but we had buses, trolley buses and trams. Poorly printed pieces of bad quality paper served as tickets. The system was somewhat interesting: the driver wouldn’t check the tickets. You had to board with your own ticket and perforate it in a weird looking wall mounted press inside. If during a spot check you didn’t have a perforated ticket, you’d theoretically be fined. In reality everybody except the few unlucky loosers would perforate their ticket in the nick of time.

So, back to superstitions and luck bringing rituals. Every ticket had a serial number. A lucky ticket was considered to be one, in which the sum of the first three numbers of the serial would be equal to the sum of the last there. If you found a lucky ticket, to gain some good luck, germ or no germs, you had to eat it. Here’s what one (actually this is an even more special palindromic lucky ticket.) would like:

(image from

Then there was the “Chicken God”. That was a name for a beach pebble with a hole in it. The hole was supposed to be of a natural origin. A chicken god could be worn on a necklace. To wish on it, you would look through the hole at the sun (getting half blind in the process) and speak your wish.

Update: tells me that they are called “Holey Stones” in the US and the tradition is somewhat similar.

(picture from

Oh, and the black Volga. In the Soviet Union a black Volga GAZ 24 was a car of choice for various party functionaries and other important people. A kid who’d spot one would usually mutter a little rhyme “black Volga my luck, which nobody can pluck” (“чернаÑ? Волга, моÑ? удача, никому не передача”). Hey, I am no poet.

(image from

Fish Feel Pain When Hooked, Scientists in Britain Say

This NYT article presents a good candidate for the Ig® Nobel Prize:

“By injecting bee venom and acetic acid into the lips of captive rainbow trout, the Royal Society said, Dr. Sneddon and other scientists at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh discovered that the fish displayed “profound behavioral and physiological changes” over a period of time, “comparable to those observed in higher mammals.””

This reminded me something from “Friends“:
[Scene: Tattoo parlor. Rachel is showing Phoebe her tattoo.]
Phoebe: Oh that looks so good, oh I love it.
Rachel: I know, so do I. Oh Phoebe, I’m so glad you made me do this. OK, lemme se yours.
Phoebe: Ahh. OK, let’s see yours again.
Rachel: Phoebe we just saw mine, let me see yours.
Phoebe: Oh OK. [pulls over her shirt and shows a bare shoulder] Oh no, oh it’s gone, that’s so weird, I don’t know how-where it went.
Rachel: You didn’t get it?
Phoebe: No.
Rachel: Why didn’t you get it?
Phoebe: I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
Rachel: Phoebe, how would you do this to me? This was all your idea.
Phoebe: I know, I know, and I was gonna get it but then he came in with this needle and uh, di-, did you know they do this with needles?
Rachel: Really? You don’t say, because mine was licked on by kittens.

Of course game fishes feel pain. And so do smaller fishes and mussels and worms they eat. Game fishes don’t care at all about the pain of the smaller things that they eat. Such is life.


Ok, here is something that I can’t find an answer for on the Internet.

NYPD cops wear a badge. And badge identification is no mystery to me. It’s somewhat easy. Silver shield – uniform cop. Gold star shaped shield – detective. Spiky gold shield – captain. The one with an eagle and the word sergeant – you get the idea. Five stars on the shield? That’s the police commissioner himself. The one with Magen David on top – that’s the NYPD Rabbi.

See the full list of badges here.

Now, what I have trouble identifying is the so called citation bars.
For instance, here is a picture of my home precinct commanding officer, Captain William McClellan.

See the little color bars above his badge? Those are his awards.
They are kind of hard to decipher on the picture, but here is a list of them all.
The medals are easy to identify: they are detailed here. Service bars are no mystery as well.
But what I don’t understand is the flag bars, like the American Flag Bar, which I see most often.

Is that an award, or a commemorative bar, like the WTC bar? Is the same true about Afro – American Flag Bar, German Flag Bar, Italian Flag Bar and Irish Flag Bar? What is the EMS Delivery Bar? Is it given to cops, who helped deliver babies? What is “Aux” and what is “Aux Commendation” given for? What do those cool golden wings mean?

Questions, questions. I am afraid, I’ll have to ask a librarian to help me.

Live, From New York (actually Brooklyn) It’s

Weekend Update With Michael!

I spent most of Friday night upgrading my Tivo with a new 120 meg drive, which should give me 30 hours of recording capacity at best quality. I copied the data from my old dual drives onto one big one and tested the drive in Tivo. Everything’s ok, but I still need to install TivoWeb.

On Saturday I was finishing up what I call my Great Fight With The Wall Warts and Holy Insurgency Against Wire Mayhem. I’ll write about that later, it might be useful to you.

I also went shopping for fishing gear and spent a buttload of money.
Among the things I bought:
Seeker BA 30 7′ rod
Newell S 338 – 3.6 reel
Guy Cotten SuperKodiak Pullover
Buncha other fishing paraphenelia.

The pullover is really, really nice. It’s the kind professional fishermen wear. It has neoprene cuffs, very warm fleece on the top and fleece covered by PVC on the bottom and sleeves. Just what the doctor ordered for winter fishing.

Interesting thing is, the size of it is pretty much inflated. I am an XL, but in no way am I an XXL. The sizes were probably selected just to stroke the ego of commercial fishermen.

Ok, gotta go sleep, the boat is leaving at 7, and it’s already 2, no, wait, 1:15. Cool, daylight savings dealy is working it’s magic!