Category Archives: Life

Getting creeped out on the road…

So, last night was the first time I’ve ever been creeped out by something on the road. I’ve only been doing this 3 years, so I don’t know if I’m ahead or behind the curve on this.

Last night, had an uneventful flight from Chicago O’Hare to Richmond, VA. Guy next to me in first (737 with 20 first class seats on a 9:30pm arrival into Richmond, VA. Everyone got upgraded) came on at the end of boarding, out of breath after clearly running through the airport. We exchange pleasantries, we settle into our headphones-and-TV shows (Top Gear, Season 21, Episodes 2 and 3 for those playing at home). As we get ready to land, he leans over and comments on the two “gentlemen” that had talked over the security demonstration by borderline screaming at each other and talked the whole flight. We both agree they’re giant douchebags. We land, wish each other safe travel, and go our separate ways.

Get to the Richmond Marriott around 10:15pm, which is good time considering Richmond got 4 inches of snow that day. Hit the room, lounge is closed for the night, so I head down to the hotel restaurant. Now, I’m not a real social butterfly. I’m an introvert by nature, so as much as I like to chat with people I know, I find meeting new people exhausting. I’m not a “sit at the bar and nurse a beer and talk about the kids with Bob the insurance salesman from Kansas” kind of guy. So, I ask for a table rather than sitting at the bar.

I’m seated, waitress brings a glass of water, and I’m looking at the Vanilla Porter they have on tap and a burger (it’d been 10 hours since lunch, leave me alone). I’m on my iPad reading Twitter or whatever, and happen to notice someone walk in, and sit at the table next to mine (2 tops, half booth, 2 tables on this wall). It strikes me as odd, as there was a “please wait to be seated” sign, and no one took him to his table.

“Hey buddy, how’s it going?” Some random guy in a grey hoodie has sat next to me. “Hi.” Back to the iPad. “Whatcha drinking?” I look in front of me at the glass of water and say “Just a water.” And go back to the iPad. “I was going to offer to buy you a drink.”

At this point, I’m uncomfortable. The guy has exceeded being friendly and is now genuinely annoying me. “Thanks, but I’m good.” And I go back to the iPad. He motions for me to lean in, and he points to a group of people about 20 feet away. “Ten guys and one girl. How’s that happen?” It’s worth noting that the guy is about as white skinned as me (I’m just this side of transparent) and the group of people are all dark skinned. “Dunno,” I say and go back to the iPad.

“How old are you? You can’t be but maybe 23, am I right?” Alarms start sounding internally at this point. “I’m in my thirties.” “No way! Damn man, you must have great genes.” “Thanks” and I go back to the iPad.

“Are you staying nearby?”

Okay, now, I’m playing scenarios in my head. Is he trying to pick me up? That’d be a first, so not likely. So, being a nerd working for a information security company, I jump to social engineering/recon. Is he trying to get info about me so he can try and get into my room? To steal from me? Not sure. I say “Here, actually” (bad answer! Damn it!) and get out my iPhone. I text my wife “Call me right now.” And go back to the iPad. He orders a drink (vodka and coke?)

“What do you do for a living?” “I’m an IT consultant” “Oh man, that’s awesome” and holds out his fist for a fistbump. What can I do? I return it. “I’m an electrical engineer. I love working on computers. Do you know anyone who is hiring?” “No, unfortunately, I don’t. My company just let some people go not too long ago.” “Oh man, is the economy still that bad?” “It ebbs and flows.” Get out the iPhone and text my wife again “There’s a guy bugging me and won’t leave me alone, please save me.”

“What’s good here?” “Not sure.” “Man, those ribs sound good. You want to split a rack of ribs?”

My phone rings. Salvation!! “No, thanks for the offer” and I answer the phone, holding it so that my hand and the phone blocks my entire view of this weirdo. We spent 3 minutes or so playing charades as she tries to guess what’s going on. “You ran into him at the airport bathroom and he followed you to the hotel.” etc. The guy then taps me on the shoulder, interrupting my phone call to ask if I knew where the restrooms were. I say “Not sure” and resume my faux conversation with my wife. He didn’t get the hint. It’s time to do something more drastic. As I tell my wife “The guy next to me interrupted us to ask where the bathroom was.” She responds with some profanity asking if I was joking. I notice he has now turned towards the aforementioned group of 10 people. He proceeds to raise his hand with his index finger extended into the air and says “Excuse me! Do y’all know where the bathroom is?” They don’t acknowledge his existence.

He gets up and as soon as he’s more than 5 feet away, I get up and beeline towards the bar where the waitresses are milling around. I’m explaining to my wife what’s going on, getting my food to go and heading to the room. Just as I get near the waitress, I hear someone say “Hey!” and I turn. It’s the guy I sat next to on the flight, sitting at the bar eating dinner. “Dude, there’s some nutjob who won’t leave me alone. Can I sit next to you?” “Sure man, what’s going on?”

Shortly after I explain the situation to the waitresses, a 6’6” 400 pound linebacker dude in a suit introduces himself as hotel security and asks me to tell him what was going on. He got escorted from the premises.

I have a nice dinner chatting with Matt (he sells linear accelerators for radiation treatments), before retiring to the hotel room and explaining the whole thing to my wife. Pretty sure she said “WTF” about thirty times. We came to the conclusion that he was trying to stick someone with his food bill by being all “sure it can be on one check, we’ll split it” type thing. I still keep playing in my head that it could have been an attempt to scope me for theft of some sort. Then I enjoyed some of the 50ml bottle of Balvenie 12 Year Doublewood I brought along in my suitcase.

Anyway, that’s my first serious “what in the fucking fuck is going on” I’ve had in quite a while. Stay safe out there, kids.

Local Coffeeshops

In the Starbucks world, its hard to find local coffeeshops. At least in Indianapolis it was. Here in New Jersey, its a different story. Chains are not anywhere as plentiful here. The “Mom and Pop” reigns.

We have been exploring some of the local eateries. We found two good diners. Still looking for the perfect pizza, though. This morning, I went out by myself in search for breakfast. I tried a diner that we had driven past, but it was lackluster. There isn’t a lot one can do to make bacon and eggs spectacular, but they didn’t really try. I was a little disappointed. I decided to stop at a local coffee shop called Brewed Awakenings. Nice people, the food looks and smells awesome. It has more customers in a much smaller area. The coffee is good. I think we have a winner.

I will have to come back here, for sure.

Make a trail on the ground, get charged with a felony.

A man and his sister made a trail through an IKEA parking lot with flour for a running club. Someone thought it was “the terrorist” and called 911. The two face felony charges.

Mayoral spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said the city plans to seek restitution from the Salchows, who are due in court Sept. 14.

“You see powder connected by arrows and chalk, you never know,” she said. “It could be a terrorist, it could be something more serious. We’re thankful it wasn’t, but there were a lot of resources that went into figuring that out.”

What is wrong with people? Terrorist? Yes, the terrorists are going to sprinkle anthrax around IKEA because that’s how they roll. If they had sprinkled anthrax on the road, you’d have to get on the ground and sniff it like cocaine to catch it.

(via MSNBC)

Maybe our currency won’t be ugly forever?

As I had written about before, American money is ugly compared to foreign currency. The Bank of England website shows off the Brit’s colourful currency. The Euro is also loaded with colors. Here, we get drab, ugly banknotes.

The US Treasury has started to add “splashes” of colour to help deter counterfeiting. But, maybe big changes are on the way?

A US Federal Court judge has ordered the Treasury to make changes to the currency to help visually impaired people distinguish between bills. Other countries (including those mentioned above) use colour, size, and texture to distinguish denominations. The judge didn’t tell the government how to comply, but they needed to start working on it ((Some of the batshit insaneTM right wing blogs out there are incorrectly relaying that the Treasury has 10 days to start working on a solution. The news stories I’ve read from news sites says the government has 10 days to appeal. Funny how a few words make a difference.)). Maybe there is hope yet…

Random Updates

The NAS document is coming along, but not as quickly as I’d like. I find that I sit down and load it… and nothing makes its way from my brain to my fingers. I can say that my NAS implementation has been rock solid since I put in the new USB 2.0 controller card that uses the NEC controller chip. The Wife found a 1280VA UPS at Staples for $30 (She can smell the deals as we pass the stores in the car… kinda like a sale bloodhound ). So, we’re all set now with 30 minutes of power backup for the NAS server and the network infrastructure (the cable modem and router).

Classes are coming along. I’m taking a Systems Administration course and a PHP/MySQL web programming course. The Sysadmin class looks like it’ll be a slide as I’ve done most of this stuff already (thus, writing a document on how to build a homegrown NAS). The PHP class is going to be challenging.

For those who know about the “new job,” I haven’t heard anything more. They’re still doing whatever it is they do.