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Archive for February, 2006

nigerian 419 scam

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006 by admin

It looks like the Nigerians have learned English, fixed the broken caps lock key, and begun appealing to people’s sense of righteousness instead of their sense of greed.

Dear !

Our noncommercial enterprise has been engaging in
organization and maintenance of shelters for stray
dogs and cats for more than 12 years in one of the
countries of the former Soviet Union. For the time
weve constructed 18 shelters which maintenance, as
you see, costs much. The more so we constantly
increase the quantity of such shelters in different
cities. And we have a lot of sponsors among
businessmen and ordinary people who render us
feasible material support.

But the legislation of our country does not attribute
our work to charitable kinds of activity. Therefore
any our sponsor wishing to transfer the money to our
account is exposed to the barbarous taxation which
size makes up 48 % of the transferred sum. And it
doesnt include taxes to which our enterprise
undergoes when using these funds. It is quite clear
that suffering animals reach a mere trifle of these
donations. And it besides that our cities are full
of the sick and hungry animals eating garbage on
cesspits that our legislators do not care a fig.

Therefore we have come to a decision to engage people
who could fulfill not complicated work of short
duration as our financial agents. Our sponsors could
transfer means for us to your bank account and you,
in your turn, could send the means to our agents
addresses to Russia. The mediation doesnt require any
investments on your part. Moreover we are ready to
pay to you for this work not less than 8 % of the sum
sent by you and, naturally, to cover all your expenses
bound up with sending the money to our address.

Our requirements are simple: you should be over 20 year
of age and you should love animals very much. Thus we
can avoid the barbarous taxation of our country and
above all help poor animals. If you are ready to work
together with us and have some spare time fill in the
resume stated below. If you satisfy our conditions we
send you our employment agreement with gratitude and
explain all circumstances of your future work with us
in details.

Your company name:
First name:
Last name:
Land phone:
Cell phone:
Hours available for telephone interviews:


Best wishes,

Bolotina Valeria,
Noncommercial Enterprise “Freshet”

wicked cool fact of the day

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006 by admin

Today’s wicked cool fact of the day is about Sand Tiger Sharks’ reproductive systems:

Initially, only one egg is found in each oviduct. Others follow and many are fertilized and even develop. A small percentage of the developing embryos form teeth and sensory organs prematurely (lateral line canal) and then devour the other unfertilized eggs and embryos until, in each case only one embryo per uterus, namely the strongest, remain. The young animals who eat the eggs and their siblings are extremely active in the uterus and snap at everything that crosses their path, even the hand of the researcher. There is every reason to talk about cannibalism in the uterus.

And from another site:

The sand tiger sharks are born through a rather strange way. They are Oviphagous. During Sand tiger sharksreproduction, several embryos develop in the mother at different rates and females have two uterine chambers. Developing embryos are cannibalistic and the strongest/biggest one eats its siblings while inside the womb in order to survive. So inspite of reproduction of many embryos, a Sandtiger shark gives birth to only two pups at a time through separate chambers after a gestation period of 8-9 months. Pups are roughly 3.3 feet (1 m) long at birth.

eagle nebula

Sunday, February 26th, 2006 by admin
I have nothing worthwhile to say right now, so instead I’m just going to post a breathtaking picture of the Eagle Nebula.
(click for full image)


Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006 by admin

There are Star Trek fans, and then there are those who need help:

Star Trek actor William Shatner has sold his kidney stone for $25,000


Tuesday, February 21st, 2006 by admin

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner. I’m proud to announce that Fred Phelps has officially won the award for “World’s biggest, stupidest, and most insensitive jackass of the millenium” contest. (Note, Mr. Phelps’ recent activities have allowed us to call the contest 1,994 years early).

On a related note, well done Patriot Guard. If I were a motorcyclist I would totally join you.

my day

Monday, February 20th, 2006 by admin

So I’ve discovered that VMWare + metasploit = fun fun fun!

(If anyone happens to have old installation CDs from older obsolete OSes they don’t mind throwing my way, let me know).

terrorism fighting

Saturday, February 18th, 2006 by admin

I’ve made up my mind. I’m entirely in favor of Bush’s wiretapping plan.

rocket bike

Friday, February 17th, 2006 by admin

I’m swelling with pride after discovering this gem of a man from my alma matter, Washington University in St. Louis.

From studlife (registration required, fake information usually provided).

WU engineer creates rocket bike

Senior John Brueck combines love of biking and rockets and gains a cult following

The Boise, Idaho native has done something that few others can say they have done – he has successfully engineered ar “rocket bike,” a synthesis of his two favorite things, bicycles and rockets.

“I already had a battery on the bike that powers my custom lighting system, so I went and bought rocket kits and motors at a hobby store. Then it was just a matter of rewiring the bike, constructing the rockets, and strapping them on,” he said.

Already had a battery on his bike for a custom light system. sniff. I don’t think I’ve ever been this proud to be a Wash U graduate.

Complete pictures and videos can of course be found on his website.


Friday, February 17th, 2006 by admin

After spending an hour in a Sprint store with some very incompetent and slow employees, I finally have a phone again. The number is the same, so feel free to call me, knowing that if I don’t pick up now it’s probably because I don’t feel like it, and not cause my phone is broken. (I’ll be honest – I kind of liked having a broken phone because it made it harder for people to find me).

February resolutions

Friday, February 17th, 2006 by admin

I feel like last year (2005) I made some new year’s resolutions, but I don’t entirely remember what they were. I think one of them was to finally be able to bench press a full set at 200 lbs, a goal which I finally acomplished earlier this week, but I don’t remember what the rest of them were. When I was in college i would occasionally make myself semester goals and tape them to the wall next to my computer. Having them always there as a permanent record helped to keep me from forgetting what they were. I looked through my posts from around new year 05 to see if I had blogged my resolutions but I hadn’t. This year, I resolved to do better (albeit a little later). I didn’t have any new year’s resolutions either until this past week (it was a very bad week), however I’ve decided to make some resolutions, so for the sake of posterity (and just for my own records), I’m recording my new year’sFebruary resolutions below:

  • Spend less time at the friggin office. 7:30 is too late, 8 is way out. 6:45 is my new limit. I don’t care if I’m done what I’m working on or not – at 6:45 I stand up, take my bag, and walk out the door.
  • Make it to shachrit at least twice a week when I’m in town. My boss may not like this, but she can suck it.
  • Quit current job, find a new one. (not necesarily in that order, see above for reasons why).
  • Finish learning Pesachim
  • Find a book on Jewish history in the Babylonian era. Read it. More importantly: understand it. (Note: This was originally going to be this book, but some friends of mine informed me this morning that it is not historically accurate, so I’ve dispatched Dan Renna to the YU book sale to find me something better).
  • Finish at least 3 other books on my bookshelf that have been collecting dust for far too long without being read.
  • Do my taxes. (deadline: April 15).
  • At least once a month, call or email an old friend who I haven’t spoken to in the previous 30 days. (I’m really bad at keeping in touch with people).
  • I don’t have as many specific fitness goals as I sometimes used to (I used to set weight targets I wanted to hit for various times), but just make it to the gym a couple times a week and stay in some semblance of good shape.
  • Keep my resting pulse below 70. (There – a specific and quantitative goal).

    There we go – now that they’ve been written in stone I have to follow them.

  • snow

    Wednesday, February 15th, 2006 by admin

    As promised, the story of my harrowing near death experience.

    The backstory
    Last weekend we were in Connecticut for Rebecca’s gradfather’s funeral. Rebecca and I and her two sisters all drove up together and were going to come down together on Sunday. After shabbat we looked at the weather report and saw a nor’easter heading our way. It had already started snowing south of us, and was moving up the coast. If we waited till Sunday we were going to ger about 2 feet of snow in Connecticut, and it wasn’t going to stop till late in the evening. If we waiting around there was no way we’d get to DC Sunday night. We decided instead to drive to Philly and stay at my parents house outside of Philly where it would only be a 3 hour drive to DC the next day (and the snow was supposed to end by 4 or 5).

    The early drive
    The first part of the drive was fine. We hit the George Washington Bridge around 10:30 and that was when we first started to hit bad weather. (I have also never seen the GW bridge as empty as I did that night, nor do I think I ever will again).

    The Turnpike
    The second half of the drive was the NJ Turnpike, and I made the mistake of volunteering to drive it. It was, without a single doubt in my mind, the worst drive in my entire life. NJ wasn’t plowing yet, and the main stretch of the turnpike that’s far away from both NY and Philly was barely traveled. (It being late at night on a weekend in the middle of a storm I can’t say I was surprised by how light traffic was). The turnpike is also unlit for the most part, and the blinding snow made it impossible to use the high beams. (High beams reflect off the snow and actually make visibility worse). I can’t possibly tell you how poor the visibility was – the blizzard combined with no lights on the turnpike limited visibility to a few feet. The entire highway (and everything on both sides) was all white and I couldn’t see the lines on the road. The accumulated snow also didn’t make for the smoothest of drives. When I was driving with other cars, we pretty much all went single file in the middle lane (or what we thought was the middle lane) at about 30 MPH and I just prayed that the taillights in front of me didn’t go off the road. I can’t even tell you how tense I was when I was trying to drive alone with no visibility and no idea where the road was. (To give an indication, I noticed after a while that my shoulders and back were extremely sore just from tension.)

    The melodramatic near death experience (The part you’ve all been waiting for)
    After somehow surviving NJ and making it to Philly, I discovered that while I-95 was plowed, I-676 and I-76 (roads I need to take to get to my parent’s place) were not. The entrance ramp from 676 to 76 goes slightly downhill and curves to the right. I braked slightly and turned the wheel to the right, however the car decided to go to the left. I tried to turn into the skid, but there was a large cement wall to my left so all I ended up doing was hitting the wall, and then spinning out into the road. When I stopped I was sitting in the road completely perpendicular to the lane of traffic. Worst of all I was just past the crest in the road, so no one would see me till they crested the top of the road and were about 20 feet away. 20 feet may be stopping distance in good conditions, but going downhill in the snow it’s not. I quickly turned on my blinkers and looked to the left and saw a pair of headlights cresting the hill. I had a moment of panic where I was almost certain the car was going to hit me until I noticed that the pair of headlights belonged to a police car. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a pair of red and blue flashing lights coming up behind me on the highway before in my life. The car was fine (a few minor paint chips, but no dents at all). The police officer helped halt traffic so we could reverse the car and get going.

    The end
    After digging out of 20 or so inches of snow on Sunday morning we made it back relatively uneventfully.

    kosher restaurants

    Sunday, February 12th, 2006 by admin

    OKay, I’ll post later about the harrowing near-death experience of driving from Connecticut to Washington DC through the biggest storm of the year, for now I have a post with happy news.

    Mama’s vegetarian has apparently discovered the secret of being a good kosher restaurant that stays open and (presumably) makes money outside of NY City. It was opened about a year ago by some Israelis and sold felafel. (And for those of you who know what mean when I say this, they were were selling true Israeli felafel, complete with pickles, french fries, and harif). They’ve expanded their menu slightly, but their main focus is still felafel.

    When I was there on Thursday around 1PM the place was packed. They had expanded the number of people behind the counter from 2 to 6 just to keep up with the crush. Their service (the most common complaint about kosher restaurants) was fantastic. The total time from when you walked in the door to the time you got your food was about 5 minutes. I should also mention that the food has been consistently good. (And I mean seriously good – in fact they’re kicking but in the Philly city best poll for vegetarian restaurants). They’re located in the business district downtown (comparable to the area by farragut north in DC), and get a lot of walk in lunch business. They have a lunch counter and some small tables, and a lot of people took sandwiches to go. There was also only one other orthodox Jew in the place – a true sign that they’re good enough to compete beyond the traditional niche market kosher restaurants usually aspire to. By offering good food at decent prices with fast service in a good location they’re actually competitive with other non-kosher restaurants, and are doing fantastic business. It’s not that difficult a business model to replicate either – it could definitely work in DC, or at least a half dozen other cities I know. Who knows – maybe it’ll become a chain.