Wednesday, September 26, 2007

So here I am in a place called Reston, VA. What am I here for? Training. .NET training to be exact. So let's start at the top shall we?

The Boss and I signed up for this quite some time ago. The place where we go for the training is made for training. It's their job. They train people in technology for like two grand a week; stuff like databases, code, wireless, networks, all that good, fancy stuff. This company has training locations all over the world: Virginia, Maryland, even Paris and Tokyo. Now, less than a block from this learning center is a Hyatt hotel. And of course that is where the learning center recommends staying. Because then, you know, you can just walk yourself across the street and go to class. Like college but without the hangover. Well, The Boss had stayed in that Hyatt in the past and said it was too fancy for him. So instead, he signed us up for the "comparative," most cost effective Comfort Inn! Now if you've ever stayed in both hotel chains before you know that they really don't compare. Take these personal examples for instance. Hyatt - friendly concierge and helpful staff members: Comfort Inn - Ms. Personality at the front desk doesn't have a clue where you should eat or why the treadmill isn't working. Hyatt - big bathrooms with luxurious showers: Comfort Inn - the shower head dribbles water out slower than a tortoise onBenadrel . Hyatt - floors stacked so high with properly engineered integrity you don't even know there are 15 more floors above you: Comfort Inn - the foreign guests in the room above yours don't know how to use the shower curtain properly when they bathe, turning your bathroom door into a waterfall.

But sorry, I got off topic a little here. What I wanted to talk about was the city of Reston, VA. Let me tell you a little about this supposed "city." Now I thought if something was classified as a city that it had to have a certain population? That's how it was on SimCity anyway (remember that game? I loved building huge metropolises then demolishing them with a Godzilla attack!). Let's see, how can I describe Reston, VA? It's like a modern day ghost town. Picture, if you will, New York City: huge buildings and skyscrapers, little restaurants and shops everywhere, skinny little streets, parking garages, more high rises and construction. Yeah! That's Reston! Except NYC has PEOPLE!!! I'm missing something here because I find no people in this city! The streets are completely bare, there is no one shopping, no one eating, no one driving, heck I don't even see people working! I don't see people! Where are the people?! Before we get to the learning center, we park in a free parking garage. The garage is filled; filled with cars! Where are the people driving them!? Maybe at 5 o' clock the streets become packed with people leaving work and whatnot, but not during the hours of 9AM-4PM. I have no idea how this place employees anybody. In fact, if you can picture this, I literally walk down the streets and yell, "Where are the people!!" Of course after not seeing any speed limit signs either I made the assumption that most of this city must exists on some parallel plane of existence r dimension. Maybe if I can find the door that connects this Reston Dimension with my dimension I may find some housing property back in The Cove that doesn't cost me an arm and a leg to purchase.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I am literally able to bend light! Okay, so maybe it's really not as cool as it sounds. I mean really anybody can bend light. All you need is a lens, or prism, or water, or mirror, or the list could go on and on. I guess really even inanimate objects can bend light. Objects such as black holes, stars and even planets have enough mass to literally bend a ray of light like it were a piece of rubber. What makes me able to do it in a much cooler fashion is the fact that I can only bend blue light and I can do it simply by moving my head and keeping my eyes still. Freaky huh? Here's what's going on.

As you can tell from my pictures, I wear eye-glasses to help me see. I cling to them like a child would a blanket. I'm not sure what your vision has to be for a person to be considered legally blind but I've got to be close. I mean I can't even read the big E on the eye doctor's chart. I'm pretty sure in order to check my vision without glasses would require an entire billboard with letters approximately the size of OJ Simpson's lies. Anywho, since my eye site is so bad, I pay a little extra to have special poly-something-or-other lenses that will not be half an inch thick when cut. These lenses are actually stronger and lighter than the typical plastic lens. Now, if you own a pair of glasses you've probably realized that around the edges of the lenses the lens gets a little thicker. I'm not entirely sure why this is, but it is definitely the case with mine. To top things off, my glasses are more of a rounded rectangle than circular. Put all these things together and my glasses end up bending the blue portion of the visible light spectrum towards the outside of the lenses. This can be most noticeable when staring at purple light made from blue and red light.

Basically what happens is as I look at this type of purple light thru the edges of my glasses the blue and red light will split apart and I'll be able to easily identify both colors. It sort of looks like those red/blue images do before you put the 3D glasses on to make the image pop out at you. Even some halogen white light will magically have the blue light bent away from it. While I'm not entirely thrilled with this effect, it is sort of neat. What's really weird is when staring at pure blue light, such as a blue LED, by merely moving my head I can bend the light right off the emitter so the emitter appears dark and a bright spot of blue light appears floating a couple inches away. Just one more reason why people think I'm a loon and could really care less about reading this blog.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Email forwards. We all get them. Everything from Saving Baby John from Cancer, to raunchy jokes, to hilarious videos to "valuable" information regarding giant-sized Mars in the sky and poisonous spiders. On average I say I get about 5 emails per week that I'd classify as "Stupid Email Forwards." Don't get me wrong, I enjoy some of these. I love watching the funny videos! Did you see the one with the people on the ginormous slingshot? HAHAHA! That was a riot. Some of these, I don't really care for. Now it's well known that I'm very skeptical of "what I hear." I've debunked such stupid things as prune juice in Dr. Pepper, poisonous Daddy Long Legs and balancing eggs on their tips during an equinox. Heck I'm a regular Myth Buster if you ask me.

In fact, just a few weeks ago I had a co-worker forward me an email forward because she knows that I'm skeptical of them and she wanted to know if it was true. The forward stated that in just a few days Mars would be the closest it has been to Earth in the last bajillion years and if you looked outside during the evening the planet would appear in the sky larger than the Moon!! "Wow!" I thought. That's pretty impressive and frankly pretty darn scary. For if Mars actually appeared that size in the sky, our planet would be in serious jeopardy! After some careful research I discovered that just a few years ago Mars was indeed the closest to our globe than it would be for hundreds of years to come, but that was a few years ago (which meant the circulating forward had been forwarding since nearly the dawn of forwards!) and while I'm sure Mars would have looked fantastic in a telescope, to the naked eye, the observer would have noticed nothing more than a puny increase in the planet's magnitude, nothing more.

Then last night I had a friend forward me one about a super-poisonous spider biting people on the caboose after camping out on the underside of toilet seats in a Floridian Olive Garden. A few things spiked my interest on this email. One, the only really poisonous spiders found in The States are the Black Widow and Brown Recluse, and even those would have a hard time killing an adult human. In fact I think the most poisonous spiders, the Brazilian Wandering Spider and the Six Eyed-Sand Spider, reside in Brazil and South Africa respectively, without either one really being small enough to hide under a toilet seat. So you can image I had a hard time even remotely believing the email. I took off on the Internet highway and discovered this email had been started back in 2002 , and it actually mimicked an email dating from 1999! Upon wiping the sweat from my brow I thought, "Whew, another stupid myth debunked."

Really my point here I want to make to my readers is to stop believing everything you hear, er read! Even if it comes from the mouth of your closest friend. Be skeptical of the world! I'm not saying everyone lies, but just put a little thought into what you listen to. If it seems a little far-fetched, it probably is. Don't be afraid to question and investigate! Regardless of what you hear about Wikipedia (pronounced wikee/pee/dee/ah, trust me, I know all about wiki, what it is, how to program with it and how it is pronounced), it is a fantastic tool (go figure huh?). Ask your other friends what they think of the matter. If all your friends believe one thing and you another, odds are you're wrong. Sorry to say that, but it's true. Finally don't trust any email forward! No matter how sympathetic, or pathetic it may sound, or appear, don't have a blind trust in what it says.

Of course I could really say the same goes for blogs and webpages, but then I'd have to make an amendment if the speaker, writer or forwarder is a genius and already a skeptic, like me. Well, let's just make that amendment anyway shall we?

Friday, September 07, 2007

I saw a Bald Eagle while driving to work today. It's been four years since I've seen one of those. Which got me thinking, "Wow! The last time I saw one of those was in Alaska, four years ago." Which then got me thinking to how many of those flippin' things I saw in Alaska. Which then got me thinking about how at that time I thought the Bald Eagle shouldn't be on the Endangered Species List because it was everywhere! Which then got me thinking as to whether the great bird actually is on the Endangered Species List. Which finally made me take some action and check it the heck out!

Here's what I found (just in case you've been curious about our national bird): As of 1992 the Bald Eagle was estimated to number between 110,000 and 115,000 in North America. Of course the bird can only be found in North America (with a few exceptions in Ireland and somewhere else).1 Alaska's population alone numbers in the fifty to seventy thousands.2 Which would explain why they seemed to liter the cities of Juneau and Ketchikan. Anywho, the Bald Eagle was actually removed from the U.S. government's list of endangered species on July 12, 1995 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It was at that time reclassified as a "Threatened" species instead of an "Endangered" one.1 Don't ask me how they do their classifications. I guess that's another investigation all together. Finally as recently as June 28, 2007 the bird was removed from the "Threatened" status all together with an estimated number of nearly 10,000 pairs thriving in the lower 48 states. This up from just over 400 in 1963.2

So what's in store for the Bald Eagle in the future? Hopefully their population will continue to grow because to be quite honest, seeing one of these bad boys (or girls) soaring above the trees could be one of the most impressive sites in the animal kingdom. Can you imagine a bird with an 80 inch wingspan swooping down to grab a small meal of an animal? That wingspan is bigger than me! Even more impressive is the "mating flight" between two birds. As Hitchcock might say, "Bring on the birds!"

1. Bald Eagle. Wikipedia.
2. Bald Eagle Soars Off Endangered Species List. U.S. Department of the Interior.