Thursday, December 22, 2005

Why don't Ice storms have names?

Ice Storm
In some ways we are still recovering from this ice storm. We went 4 and a half days without power and then there was still cleanup. We did get some of the tree cut up and carried to the front of the yard for removal by the County. It will be weeks before they get it. Every yard in our neighborhood looked like ours. Every yard had parts of large, old trees lying in them. I seem to remember that 350,000 homes were without power due to the storm.

What bothers me is that the storm doesn't even have a name. Hurricanes get names when they are still tropical depressions. They might never even inconvenience a single person, but still they get a name. My home county was attacked by nameless ice storm 20051215. (I gave it a prisoner number.) People died, millions of dollars of damage were caused, and local officials are trying to qualify the area for disaster relief, but the storm had no name.

qv: Photos

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Real Santa -- caught in the act!

Santa bestows gifts on magiAlready, we are getting some "behind the scenes" pictures of this year holiday story. I asked some kid the other day what Santa was bringing him and he informed me that "Santa isn't real!" Huh? Santa isn't real? Who was that guy called Saint Nicholas in Turkey? Are you sure it wasn't Santa who gave the magi their gifts? Sure, they lived 500 years apart, but that doesn't mean it couldn't have happened.

Secret Knowledge -- Santa uses VoIP

I just got an email from Vonage letting me know that I can call Santa for free using my Vonage phone line. They say to have the "little ones" dial *101 and they can hear Santa's voice and leave him a message. Not that I need anything from the big guy, but I thought I'd give it a try just to make sure it was on the up and up. I'd hate for YOU to be disappointed. Sure enough, a Santa like voice answered. He began by letting me know that he was out back working with the elves, but that I should feel free to leave him a message with my holiday requests. He was very polite, too. He even thanked me for using Vonage! I guess he finds retrieving his messages on Vonage's web based integrated console a lot more convenient than the TUI he used previously.

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Jesus, Santa and Elvis - together at last!

2005 creche castEvery year we try to do something a little bit special with our creche. I guess this started when I was a kid. We would set up the Holy Family along with the shepherds, angels and magi in a lovely little shed. As I remember, the set was old, porcelain, and a little bit elegant. My brother and I would then come in and dress up the set by adding a Spiderman or Batman action figure that happened to be about the right size for the scene. We'd have spidey swinging from the top of the shed and perhaps stand Batman in conversation with the three wise men.

Since then, I have continued the tradition and try each year to add a bit of irony to the scene. This year, prior to the launch of the creche, I assembled the majority of the creche cast for a photo and present it here for your enjoyment.

Note the stately Elvis (the fourth king) looking on from above. I think he approves.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

yt? A "life-like" worm passes the Turing test

A story on NPR talks about a new internet worm that is luring AOL users into clicking on a link that allows the virus to spread by chatting with them. It seems that the program is such a good chatter that some people can't tell the difference between the piece of software and their real live friends. It sounds like it passes the Turing test... at least for AOL users.

qv: NPR: Clever Worm Lures Victims with Chat-Slang