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Journal: My Reality Invaded By the Real World 7

Journal by Billosaur

So I am at work yesterday afternoon and I get a panicked phone call from my wife because neither of our sons (my stepsons) have shown up from school. Now one has an after-school program he goes to and she is supposed to pick him up at school, but our other son is nowhere to be found. She drives frantically to the school and upon arriving sees no buses anywhere, and more importantly the school is surrounded by police and fire department vehicles. She asks a police officer what is going on and he explains that all the kids were evacuated from the middle school to the high school (which is down the road about 3/4s of a mile), but has no information as to why.

The kids make it home all right, but they were forced to evacuate without being able to at least bring their coats, and yesterday was cold and rainy, which made neither of us happy.

When I got home, I went on the school district web site and sure enough, my guess as to what happened had been accurate: someone had made a bomb threat to the school. Now, we live in central NJ, basically out in the middle of nowhere important, midway between NYC and Philly. We're a fairly diverse, more upscale community, and up until yesterday, peaceful.

This was a middle school, for crying out loud! 4th through 8th graders! 1000+ kids! And someone, some moron, thought it would be funny (or perhaps mean, or even psychotic) to call in a bomb threat to the school about five minutes before dismissal.

I hope it was not a kid in the school, because if it was, I want the the child to watch their parents be flayed alive. Yes, I'm that mad right now. I suspect when I calm down, I will only want them stoned to the point of unconsciousness. If it was an adult, they better have a horrible mental illness, because that's the only thing that would keep me from finding them myself and stringing them up in the center of town. Again, when I calm down, I'll probably be human enough to allow them to live, but horribly crippled. I can't say.

I may be in this state owing to the 9/11 flashback I had when I read it was a bomb threat, for on that day, as I sat in my office, stunned and pretty much incoherent to the disaster going on around me, a higher up came through and told each person still there (there were only a handful of us at the time) that someone had called in a bomb threat against our building in Midtown. It didn't move me to leave, because I knew this was more idle threat than actuality, but it pissed me off that someone thought now was the chance to get in their licks while the lower end of Manhattan was smoking and burning. I don't know if they ever found out who did it, and that person should probably be glad I don't know who they are.

I've watched Oklahoma City, 9/11, Columbine, Virginia Tech... seen them come and go and promised myself I would do everything in my power to keep my kids away from those types of events, full well knowing it's impossible to predict the actions of madmen. And now I'm just so pissed off that it's hard to articulate. The world is so full of problems and we live with enough fear of the unknown now that something like this is unconscionable.

I only hope I calm down.

Windows

Journal: Interesting Quote

Journal by Billosaur

From the Quote of the Day widget on my iGoogle page:

If you put tomfoolery into a computer, nothing comes out of it but tomfoolery. But this tomfoolery, having passed through a very expensive machine, is somehow ennobled and no-one dares criticize it. - Pierre Gallois

I want to start a software company just so I can make that our motto.

United States

Journal: Interesting Anniversary 1

Journal by Billosaur
Today marks the 67th anniversary of one of the most famous engineering disasters of the 20th Century: the failure of the Tacoma-Narrows bridge. "Galloping Gertie", as the bridge was referred to because of its propensity to move, was subjected to 35-40 mile per hour winds this day in 1940, causing the center span to begin a harmonic oscillation that eventually led to structural failure. It was a unique event for the time in that the collapse was filmed, allowing engineers a spectacular view of the bridge's failure.
User Journal

Journal: The Best Obsolete Technologies

Journal by Billosaur
Given the nature of the world today, where it seems a technology, application, or piece of equipment is rendered obsolete 15 minutes after it becomes available, Wired has gone back and looked at some of the best obsolete technologies. What's interesting about the list is that despite many of the items having been superseded by more modern technologies, several of them (like the Sundial or the Slide Rule) could still be useful and others have found new life (the Stock Ticker no longer relies on paper, but can be seen on CNBC, CNN, etc. as a crawl at the bottom of the screen).
User Journal

Journal: RIP, Paul Tibbets

Journal by Billosaur

Paul Tibbets, the man who flew the B-29 bomber Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb, has died at the age of 92. The following is probably the best insight into his life:

Tibbets, then a 30-year-old colonel, never expressed regret over his role. It was, he said, his patriotic duty -- the right thing to do.

"I'm not proud that I killed 80,000 people, but I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did," he said in a 1975 interview.

User Journal

Journal: Recruiters suck (RANT)

Journal by Billosaur

Now happily ensconced in a new job, I still get a raft of emails from recruiters. No matter how you try to shut down a job search, their are always recruiters who have somehow not gotten the hint or have dredged up a copy of your résumé from 5 years ago and think you're still looking for a job. What cheeses e off most? Glad you didn't ask, but I'm going to tell you anyway:

  1. Farmers - recruiters so lazy that they simply do a bulk search, grab your info without reading it, and send you a job that you are clearly not qualified for
  2. Tech-ignorant - nowhere on my res does it say that I work with Java, but I get requests to look at Java jobs all the time. The only place Java appears on my résumé is in the word "JavaScript"
  3. Job-ignorant - I suspect a lot of recruiters simply use on-line tools to match jobs to résumés, because it's clear they don't read their own job copy. If I live in NJ, and a job is in Michigan, and they are looking for only local applicants, do I qualify?
  4. Used-car salesman - yes, the canned patter recruiting email... how I love them so.
  5. Do my job for me - of course, since you've done such a lousy job is sending me a job description that clearly doesn't fit me, I'd be more than happy to pass on the job description to my good friends in the tech business. I realize referrals are a great way to drum up business (I made the mistake of trying to sell life insurance), but I really don't think much of passing around jobs unless there's someone I know who is out of work and could use the help, which happens very rarely.
User Journal

Journal: An eventful weekend

Journal by Billosaur

So, it was not your typical weekend:

  1. Went to Boston to see my first ever Red Sox playoff game (got the tickets from a Yankee fan who mysteriously did not want to use them). So of course I get a pretty good game which goes extra innings and sees the BoSox get hammered in the 11th. On the up side, my boys got Steven King's autograph on their tickets, and they met John Kerry (for whatever that's worth these days)
  2. Saw the aftermath of two pretty bad accidents - one going up to MA, and one coming back. Second one closed I-84 in Connecticut for a while; I suspect they had to bring in a helicopter. One burned out pickup, one car with the roof torn off (no doubt by the jaws of life), and then one wrecked SUV.
  3. Went to Salem to see the Witch museum and of course, Halloween season was in full swing there. Strangely, I saw quite a few people missing front teeth -- must be where they congregate.

And to top it off, on my way to work this morning I saw a white Dept. of Homeland Security van crusing down the highway and watched a hawk swoop down and kill something by the side of the road. Autumn has definitely arrived.

Optimization hinders evolution.

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