This is getting way too confusing. All along, someone said “Georgia” and I thought of the southern state. And then there was a war in Georgia with Russia, and I was just geographically-astute enough to know that they meant the country.

So that raged on for a while, and now, whenever I hear about something happening in Georgia, I think of the country.

So now, people in Georgia claim to have found Bigfoot. And I was thinking, their country is kind of insane-sounding. Like, one day most people have never heard of them. And then one day President Bush visits and someone hurls a grenade at him. But it’s apparently a dud, and no one notices until afterwards anyway… (Talk about failing at terrorism.) And then we all forget about the country again. And then Russia invades them, confusing everyone who both assumed that the news was talking about the US state, and that Russia was a nice country that wouldn’t go starting wars. And then their war ends. And then like the next day they find Bigfoot.

But it seems that it’s actually our Georgia that found Bigfoot.

*proud to be an American*

Dentist, Part II

Astute readers may remember my last trip to the dentist and how it was a less-than-enjoyable experience. I went for another filling today; at my cleaning a few weeks ago, they told me that my usual dentist was out, and asked if I’d mind if some other dentist did the final once-over for the cleaning. I said I didn’t mind (what if I’d said I did?), and when I went to book the fillings, they told me that it’d be a six-month wait for my usual dentist, but only a couple weeks for the random dentist. So I booked an appointment with her.

Today took only two Novacaine shots (delivered about 30 minutes apart in different areas, versus three all in the same place), neither of which was jabbed into any nerves. She tested to make sure I didn’t have feeling in my tooth before drilling, and did not insert metal pipes into my mouth while I had my eyes closed. The most painful part was them pulling on my lips (they needed to drill my back-most tooth), and that wasn’t really painful. She took a minute before starting to tell me that, if I was in pain and needed her to stop, I should raise my left hand, something she and her assistant would watch for. My usual dentist has never discussed what to do when she begins drilling into a non-numb tooth, or when her Novacaine needle impinges veins or nerves. My “scream out in horrible pain” rarely brought a cessation to the activities, just a, “Oh, does that hurt? I’ll just be another minute…”

What did concern me, though, was how the visit started, with the nurse (hygienist?) that brought me in.

Scene the First
[A dentist’s office waiting room. As Matt is seated, two guys in their late teens enter and are seated. Guy 1 fills out paperwork, while Guy 2 reads a magazine.]
Guy 1: “How do you spell ‘tennis?’ T-e-n-n-e-s?”
Guy 2: “I think so.”
[Matt furrows his brow in dismay.]
Guy 1: “I’m going to run out to the car for a minute.”
Guy 2: “Okay.”
[Enter Nurse]
Nurse: “Matt?”
Matt: “Aye!”
[Matt and Nurse exit stage left via doorway.]

Scene the Second
[A hallway, with a room, left, outfitted as a standard dentist’s office, and a room, right, equipped with an X-ray machine.]
Nurse: “I just need to get a couple X-Rays before we begin…”
Matt: “Okay.”
Nurse: “…just before we start your cleaning.”
Matt: “You mean my filling?”
Nurse: “No, you’re just here for a cleaning today.”
Matt: “I was here for a cleaning about two weeks ago. I’m here for a filling.”
Nurse: “Well your chart says it’s just a cleaning.”
[Matt furrows brow, cringing, about to interject, “Well, I really don’t need another one.”]
Nurse: “You are Matt Vincent, right?”
Matt: “No… Actually, I’m not.”
Nurse: “Oh… Let me take you back to the waiting room.”
Matt: “Alright. You may want to find Matt Vincent before they start to drill?”
[End scene.]

Perhaps the worst, though, is that I could have dismissed this as kind of funny, except that my new nurse/hygienist went on at length about how that mistake happens all the time, suggesting that they’ve done nothing to mitigate the risk?

Main Ideas

Do you remember standardized tests, especially in grade school and middle school, where they’d have you read a passage of text and you’d have to identify the “main idea” of the writing? Most of the choices were things that were in the passage, but only one of them was plausibly the main idea, whereas the rest were trivial details.

My takeaway from this WaPo* article? Phthalates is a really funny word, but virtually impossible to pronounce. You can make the “Ffff” sound, and the “Thhhh” sound, but there needs to be a vowel in between. The two sounds can’t be put together. It’d be like starting a word with “qb”—a bunch of valid letters strung together to form something nonsensical. (Realistically, I imagine it’s pronounced “Fih-thal-ates,” but note that the pronunciation adds in a vowel sound that’s not actually there.) If you attempt to pronounce the word, be careful that you don’t spit on anyone.

So what is the main idea of the article?

(a) Congress is considering banning phthalates, a toxic chemical in children’s toys.
(b) The move is seen as evidence of a shifting tide, swinging to the side of consumers and away from manufacturers.
(c) Phthalates is a really funny word.
(d) President Bush has said he opposes the bill banning poisonous children’s toys.

Hint: remember the old “When in doubt, guess C” adage about multiple-choice questions? They say that for a very good reason.

* I spent 5 whole days in Washington. I’m allowed to use the “WaPo” abbreviation, because I’m an insider now.

Strange Antenna Challenge

You know those times when you decide to let yourself surf aimlessly? And an hour later, you have absolutely no idea how you got to where you did?

I found the K0S Strange Antenna Contest page from 2003, where some ham radio operators started using, well, strange things as antennas. Who’d think that a ladder works well? (No no, not ladder line, but an actual ladder.) In fact, after working some people off of a ladder, they got an even better idea, and stood several ladders up, using them to support a pair of extension ladders laid horizontally, forming a ladder dipole, with impressive results. Sadly, they report that combining two shopping carts to make a dipole did not get them any contacts, nor did a basketball hoop.

This has me wondering what else would work… An aluminum chain link fence? A railing? Train tracks? Power lines? (Kidding on that one. Please do not try to attach anything to power lines.) Curtain rods? A couple of cars? A section of guardrail? A metal lamppost?

I poked around the site some more, to see if they did it in subsequent years. And they did. 2004, for example, saw my joke about using two cars come to fruition. (Okay, so they beat me to it by four years.) 2005 saw someone use a bronze statue, and, the next year, he was at it again with railroad tracks, albeit not full ones, but some sort of art exhibit / monument. (Aside: I’m pretty certain that trying to hook up a bunch of wires to train tracks may arouse a bit of suspicion by the police?) 2006 also saw a pair of exercise machines being used, with a comment about how they weren’t very effective, but the apt comment, “On the other hand, we did in fact make two contacts with a pair of exercise machines standing only a few inches above the earth!” And, confusing everything I know about antennas, someone used a tree. And a football stadium (which includes a commentary about how the university police were initially slightly suspicious about someone getting out of their car and hooking wires up to the stadium for some reason). 2007 saw a bridge as an antenna.

And 2008? Well, see, here’s the best thing. The 2008 Challenge is this weekend!

Of course, as a Technician-class license, I don’t have many HF privileges… The Technician license was (before all license classes saw it eliminated) the only class that didn’t require a Morse code exam, so it’s somewhat ironic that almost all of the new HF privileges Techs were given are in the CW portions of various bands. I do get 28.3-28.5 MHz now, allowing SSB on HF…

Time to hit the books, I think. (I think mine–and that one–might be outdated, actually. Looks like the question pool got revised in 2007.) There are always sample exams online, and the feedback can be helpful. Study a bit and take an exam a day, and then review your answers. (Theoretically, actually, you could just learn the answers to each question without understanding the concepts, though that’s really missing the spirit and point of ham radio.)

That Wacky State

Can you guess the state?

  • Recently had about 100 students arrested, and several fraternties banned, after a massive drug dealing operation was busted at a state university.
  • Recently became the second state in the nation to give homosexuals equal rights.
  • Recently had 2 arrested at another school for selling body parts on the black market.

Okay, so the link gives it away. But this wasn’t really meant to stump people anyway.


I’m now (essentially) graduated, with a Bachelor’s of Science.

As I was walking across the stage, there were five different people who shook my hand. A few congratulated me; the President beamed with joy as she shook my hand (given that I’m a W-name, her facial muscles must have been aching?). But the last guy’s words of wisdom, imparted with a serious, dignified tone?

“Do not.

Fall down.

The steps.”

Words to live by!


I’ve always been a little creeped out by some of the stuff on Craigslist. There’s pretty obvious prostitution and drugs going on, in addition to people seeking affairs. And if you read through the “personals” section (which is pretty entertaining), watch out for ones with pictures… Something they’re, uhh, graphic.

So I went through about 20 recent postings, merged them into a textfile, and used my old Markov chain code to “learn” the text and then spit out text based on it… Some of the stuff on Craigslist is so bizarre that it’s hard to tell what’s nonsense the script spits out, and what’s real. (I’ve omitted anything wildly obscene.)

I love to read, movies, anything to do my hair today medium length i need a new look today im off from work hit me up I have a personality that is a cheater because whats is the beginning of something possibly beautiful and long term.

I love to have a great day! A little about me…I am very mature. I am a very comfortable passenger seat. I may or may not have a degree

Good stimulating companionship and conversation is the point of being with someone if your going to cheat on them. I’m new to this online service and hoping to make new friends.Hope it works…

I love to read, movies, anything to do my hair today medium length i need a new look today im off from work hit me up

I have a personality that is a cheater because whats is the beginning of something possibly beautiful and long term.

If you are Interested to have a big black cruiser with a good place for drinks dancing live music with a rumble between her legs, for occasional rides. Feel the rumble as we hit the open road…wrap your arms around me, and press in close.

meet you, after some phone conversations, in public places only unless of course it is business related or anohter type of function, in which case I would meet you, after some phone conversations, in public places only unless of course it is business related or anohter type of function, in which case I would meet you, after some phone conversations, in public places only unless of course it is business related or anohter type of

normal and fun people, between 30-40 years of age, who are looking to meet some new people to hang out today and maybee 420 a bit. I love being out in the rewards you crave. Where you do not. Once a week, I will visit you. We will go over the goals you set yourself and your mobile number and let’s start texting!

I’m looking for someone to be a hypocrite.

Anyone know of a good place for drinks dancing live music with a lot of chrome, and a very open, spontaneous, and down to earth person.

I’m not looking for a coffee and a very comfortable passenger seat. I may or may not have a great companion. My friends think Im mischievious and I hate writing, so that’s it for me.

I have all camping gears. I am burned out of shape so don’t be shy, just be sensual.

Interested in normal and fun people, between 30-40 years of age, who are looking to make new text message with on a regular basis…what are we going to cheat on them.

I’m looking for someone to play with soon, because the weather is getting to be a marathoner!!!

I’ve heard about Cuddle Parties on the back of a good bar to watch the Celtics where they actually put the sound on the radio and internet but there are none

I’m certainly not someone who puts a twinkle in my stomache

hey im a leo male looking for possible another mom who is self motivated

I am open to a totally awesome 2-year-old boy. My problem is that I am looking to spend some time with an older 30-50.

so please be mature and not very interested in going out at night.

I consider diversity to be really nice !

If you’re not interested in talking through emails because, honestly, I can respond to anyone with a picutre

Good stimulating companionship and conversation is the point of being a hard worker. It’s simply that you have one? Reply now for flirty fun on the TV.

I have always tried to be on the radio and internet but there are none in the Boston area.

I am thankful for every day that I feel like I have no friends!!

this poing in my eyes and butterflies in my eyes and butterflies in my stomache

Please be a real person, please be open-minded and if you would like to get to know me, please just hit a back button, don’t reply.

Anyone know of a good listener and would love to go out and paint the town with.

I look forward to talking to a loser

I work 2 jobs and do not allow myself to be really nice !

my friends are married, and not very interested in talking to a totally awesome 2-year-old boy.

I can occasionally get a sitter but sometimes those are hard to come by so I need a new look today im off from work hit me up I have problems in life.

I am open to speaking to people of all races.

Quick clarification, since I was horrified at first… “Black cruiser” is a guy referring to his motorcycle; he was looking for other motorcycle enthusiasts. As was the “rumble” bit. It just happens to come up in the most inappropriate places. Also, the “2-year-old” thing comes from someone discussing that they have a child.

A Little Irony?

This falls into the category of things very few people would notice, but….

Microsoft provides, a public NTP server, operating in stratum 2.

I just came across NTPmonitor, a novel Windows app to monitor a handful of NTP servers. (Sadly, it doesn’t offer the option to sync to any of them, probably because most peoples’ computers let them configure it… Mine syncs to a domain controller which seems to want to give me the time, but not with too much accuracy.)

As with most full-featured NTP clients, it shows you what the remote timeserver reports as its reference clock. I’ve got my server in there,, showing that it’s currently synced to The “pool” server is; whichever of the many machines I connected to is synced to On the right we have, synced to “ACTS,” a NIST protocol.

On the left is, the Microsoft NTP server. Its upstream timeserver?

Screenshot attached, since I wouldn’t believe it without one. gets its time from

Micky D’s

I stopped at McDonald’s on my way home today, since I was starving and otherwise would have gotten on 128 at around 5:30 on a Friday, which is just asking for a headache. So I took a leisurely dinner. I’m fairly certain that, as long as I was there, not a single normal thing happened. I’m copying-and-pasting an e-mail I sent to Rusty while I was there, hence a little shorthand/terseness:

Lady sitting across from me, after dialing cell phone: “Hello, this is (name). You’ve called this number twice. Who is this?”
“Oh, I didn’t recognize your voice.”

Her little kid: “Who was that?”
“That was Daddy. He had someone on the other line.”

*phone rings*

“Yeah, well, I didn’t recognize the number or your voice.”

I’m inferring that they’re divorced/separated, but I’d like to think that if I fathered a child with someone, she might at least recognize my voice when I called.

Some guy on crutches came in and I overheard him ask her to tell the manager that the handicapped door button doesn’t work. She yelled for
the manager, who came over and said, “Ya, the manager is working on it.”

“She’s working on it, huh?”


So then the guy at the French fry station went over and started pounding on the button?

And this surly lady sprawled out in one of the booths, with no food, yells to him, “Doesn’t work!”

I went back up to order dessert, and customers are just standing around by the register. So I asked the guy in front of me if he was waiting to order. He said yes, but made a, “No, I’m all set” motion, leaving me totally unsure?

So I finally approached the register, and the cashier was just *glaring* at Surly Lady? But kind of in jest, maybe? And after like 30 seconds of me awkwardly standing there and being ignored, she took my order. I got my ice cream and went to where the straws are, where I expected the spoons to be. But there were no utensils.

So I went back up to the counter, and asked. The cashier—who spoke perfect English—handed me a fork and knife.

And as I write this, Surly Lady is staring at me?

And then a cop with his lights on pulled into the parking lot, came in, used the restroom, and left with the blue lights still on?

I sent that, expecting an end to insanity. No such luck:

So I’m sitting here looking out the window, and some guy at the stop sign to leave the parking lot opens his door and… I think he threw up?

Surly Lady’s twin sister (!) just walked in and talked to Surly Lady. She’s talking VERY loudly about how she just spent $200 at the supermarket, and she pulled out a receipt as long as she is tall to prove her point?