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My Race to the Race for the Cure

My Race to the Race for the Cure

I found myself in Portland this weekend visiting with family. While reading the Saturday paper I discovered that the Susan G. Komen Portland Race for the Cure was on Sunday. Having never run a 5k before, I decided to sign up.

The race was scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m. Last night I got prepared. I pinned my number to my t-shirt, set my alarm for 6:00 a.m., and reviewed the schedules for Max. I planned to walk to the station and ride Max to the starting line, but things never go as planned.

I awoke at 4:30 a.m. full of anticipation for the race. since I was planning on getting up in 90 minutes, I decided to go back to sleep. Unfortunately I awoke to morning light forcing its way into my room. Crap… I checked my clock and found it was 7:00 a.m.

How in the world was I going to make it to a 7:30 a.m. race?

I was dressed and out the door at 7:10 a.m. The left no time for a walk to Max. I could drive and be there in 10 minutes, but what about parking? The crowd was expected to be 40,000. No time to chance it. So I did what came naturally, I ran.

I ran to the starting line and as I approached the starting area I heard the countdown “10, 9, 8,7…”. I could not figure out how to get around the barriers so I jumped a barrier and ended up in the middle of the pack at the starting line. I peeled off my long sleeve shirt revealing my “Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure” t-shirt and number ‘10355’.

I don’t know how far back I was, probably less than a minute back. I made pretty good time, finishing at 27:02. Not bad for my first 5k. At least now I have a benchmark.

I decided to map my crazy journey to the race. Turns out I ran 4.31k before my 5k run. If I ever run another 9.31k, my unofficial time for 9.31k is 47:02.

Volvo “Immobilizer See Manual” Fix

Volvo “Immobilizer See Manual” Fix

At the worst time immaginable, totally paralized

I had my 2001 Volvo XC70 parked in the hospital’s garage while my son was being born. On one of my many trips to the car over those 3 days I found a set of keys I had lost and replaced long ago. Since it cost me $300 to replace them, I was happy to have a spare. I wondered if the remote would still work and tried it out. Doors locked just fine! Immobilizer doesn’t warn you when you’ve tripped it; it waits till you try to start your car.

The day we were sent home I went to the car so I could pull up front and load my wife and son. Car would not start. “Immobilizer. See Manual,” read the message board. I didn’t have a 2001 Volvo XC70 manual with me. I jumped to the conclusion that I had triggered some sort of anti-theft device by using the long lost, disabled remote, so I called my dealer. (I’ve since found a trustworthy Volvo mechanic!)

Immobilizer. See Manual.

“Have it towed to us. We’ll have you back up and running in a couple of days.” This was not an option, so I searched the internet. Lots of questions, lots of “try this” responses about this, but no answers and I needed to get my family home. So I’m posting my answer here in hopes that it will get good Google placement and inform the next poor guy who doesn’t have time to have his car towed to the dealership.

I ended up calling a friend for a ride and had the car towed. At the dealership the guy took my keys and locked/unlocked the door 5 times in a row with the remote. This reset the immobilizer and I was on my way. Obviously they couldn’t just tell me that over the phone, but good god. I hope this info can help someone else.

Volvo: Imobiliser. See Manual.

A slight difference in spelling between the American Volvo XC70 dashboard and the rest of the world, including Europeans. It is pronounced the same way, so I’m sure this post might find a few European Volvo owners who are looking to get their newborn son and his mommy home from the hospital.

Are all Doctors this Retarded?

Are all Doctors this Retarded?

A Tennessee doctor was arrested in Seattle on July 25, 2007 for calling 911 from a pay phone at the Sea-Tac Airport to say “Flight 980 Memphis. There may be a bomb on board”.

After his arrest, Kou Wei Chiu, 31, of Bellevue, Tenn., admitted to calling 911 3 times in an attempt to stop his flight from leaving without him. Apparently, he was not seeing results from his calls so he kept calling 911.

From the AP article on Forbes.com:

“After his first phone call, he looked outside at the plane and saw that his call had had ‘no effect,'” FBI agent Gary France wrote. “He made a second phone call and noticed that this call too had no effect. This led to the third call.

“Chiu stated that he made the calls thinking that the airline ‘would ground the plane for a couple of hours,’ because bomb threats are taken seriously. When asked how he thought other passengers might react when they overheard his calls, he conceded that he thought ‘they would be traumatized,'” the affidavit said.

I have missed several flights do to poor timing, but for some reason the thought of calling in a bomb threat has never crossed my mind.

So, what the hell was this guy thinking?

Blow up JFK, Sniper Attack on Ft Dix, Liquid Explosives on Jetliners, etc.

Blow up JFK, Sniper Attack on Ft Dix, Liquid Explosives on Jetliners, etc.

When will it stop? The Huffington Post has a great article on the government’s use of terror threats to keep us all afraid (wouldn’t that make them terrorists by definition?). It’s very well written and concise as it points out the lack of feasibility in each of these alert-level-enhancing events and the government’s careful concoction of fact and surmise that gets picked up by the media and blown completely out of proportion in exact concordance with the War President’s ultimate desire: a citizenry frozen by fright, so completely dependent on the government for the simple ability to drive their car on the public streets that they’ll cede their constitutional rights and entrust the executive branch with more and more power.

Tell me again, what is a terrorist?

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

What are you thankful for?

Me?

I am most thankful that my dog Lucy made it back home from her wild adventure yesterday.

Yesterday, Seattle was surprised by a midafternoon thunderstorm. Lucy hates thunder and lightning even more than than taking a bath. I only heard a couple of thunder claps and was comfortable knowing that Lucy was safe at home, probably sleeping on my bed.

Upon arriving home I discovered that she was not in the house.  At first I thought that I had forgotten to lock up the dog door that goes into the backyard (the door was on the floor) and that she was in the yard.   When I went to reinsert the door, I found that it was binding on the runners.  At that point I knew that Lucy must have been quite scared, as she somehow ripped the locking dog door out of the runners.  (I have since tried to pull it out of the runners, myself, and can not.)

After getting out of the house, she found herself in the backyard and broke through the fence (a first) to the front of the house. She must have been totally terrified…

Lucy was running down the middle of the street when a very nice woman, Pam, saw her and stopped. Pam had never seen Lucy before, but knew that Lucy was scared and needed her help. Lucy did not have her collar and tags (remember, she was locked in my house on the bed when I left), so Pam stopped by the vet and had her scanned for a chip. Bingo… She now knew Lucy’s name and my name. But she was only able to get that far, as I am not listed and my personal information related to the chip was out of date (my bad).

After running errands with Pam for a couple of hours (Lucy loves hanging out in cars), Lucy found her way to the pet walking/sitting services of Furhead Riviera. A massive thanks goes out to Amy at Furhead Riviera for keeping Lucy safe for a few hours until I could get her back home.

These two women, who did not know Lucy or me before yesterday really made my year.

Thanks for making this a great year!

lucy_wine2.jpg

After a long day Lucy loves a nice Pinot.

Mile High Club membership getting too expensive

Mile High Club membership getting too expensive

It looks like it is now too expensive to join the Mile High Club.

But isn’t membership free? Yes, so long as a flight attendant does not ask you to stop.

If a flight attendant asks you to stop your ‘activities’ and you don’t, you are now committing a felony.

From Section 46504 of Title 49 of the US Code:

An individual on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States who, by assaulting or intimidating a flight crew member or flight attendant of the aircraft, interferes with the performance of the duties of the member or attendant or lessens the ability of the member or attendant to perform those duties, or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both. However, if a dangerous weapon is used in assaulting or intimidating the member or attendant, the individual shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

Jesus, I wonder what could be considered a ‘dangerous weapon’?

Seem far fetched? Totally, but not for two lovebirds who were arrested upon landing and have been indicted.

From the indictment:

…the defendants, CARL WARREN PERSING and DAWN ELIZABETH SEWELL, did by intimidation, knowingly interfere with the performance of the duties of an aircraft flight attendant and lessen the ability of the attendant to perform his duties….

The FBI agent’s affidavit, attached to the indictment, explains the suspect ‘activity’ witnessed by the flight attendants. Below is a key page:
uspersing91806cmp4.gif

Sounds like cuddling to me. I don’t think this rises to the level of a felony, but I am no lawyer. I wish I could be on the jury for this case.

Thank god there wasn’t an Air Marshall on the flight, or these two would probably be dead.

Creator of the fake boarding pass generator appears to be in big trouble

Creator of the fake boarding pass generator appears to be in big trouble

Ever wonder if the security at airports is sufficient to stop a trained terrorist? Is the ban on liquids over 3 oz. really keeping us safe? Do I really need to take off my shoes to have them xrayed?

A friend of mine accidentally attempted to go through airport security in Seattle last weekend, with a knife. I don’t know all of the details, but if you normally carry a knife, I would be sure to double check everything before going through security. The TSA seems to be quite serious about these sorts of things.

Meanwhile, in a different city, my girlfriend and I were trying to fly back to Seattle. TSA was announcing every few minutes that “All liquids and gels must be less than 3oz in volume and all must be placed in a quart size ziplock bag. If you do not have a ziplock bag, they are for sale at the gift shop in Concourse 1.” Although I was curious as to how much a single ziplock bag from a gift shop would set me back, I did not have the desire to walk a half mile to the other concourse. Fortunately, I was able to get one from the ticket counter. What if I had 6-3oz. containers?

This really doesn’t make sense. But we are a nation living in fear, so it is not surprising. If a terrorist or anyone else for that matter really wanted to do harm, the TSA is not going to stop them. There are of course many people, like myself, who believe that airline security is more about perception than security.

One such person is Christopher Soghoian , a Ph.d. student who spends alot of his time traveling and thinking about airport security. One, funny at the time, idea that he came up with was the creation of a “fake boarding pass generator”. I discovered his tale on the Wired.com blog of 27B Stroke 6.
His theory appears to capitalize upon a weakness that Senator Charles Schumer of NY first spoke about in this February 2005 press release:

Schumer today laid out the following scenario in which someone on the terrorist watch list can get through airline security undetected:

1. Joe Terror (whose name is on the terrorist watch list) buys a ticket online in the name of Joe Thompson using a stolen credit card. Joe Thompson is not listed on the terrorist watch list.

2. Joe Terror then prints his “Joe Thompson” boarding pass at home, and then electronically alters it (either by scanning or altering the original image, depending on the airline system and the technology he uses at home) to create a second almost identical boarding pass under the name Joe Terror, his name.

3. Joe Terror then goes to the airport and goes through security with his real ID and the FAKE boarding pass. The name and face match his real drivers license. The airport employee matches the name and face to the real ID.

4. The TSA guard at the magnetometer checks to make sure that the boarding pass looks legitimate as Joe Terror goes through. He/she does not scan it into the system, so there is still no hint that the name on the fake boarding pass is not the same as the name on the reservation.

5. Joe Terror then goes through the gate into his plane using the real Joe Thompson boarding pass for the gate’s computer scanner. He is not asked for ID again to match the name on the scanner, so the fact that he does not have an ID with that name does not matter. [Since Joe Thompson doesn’t actually exist it does not coincide with a name on the terrorist watch list] Joe Terror boards the plane, no questions asked.

Chris figured that the best way to change the system would be to call attention to this weakness. He did this by creating a fake boarding pass generator. This generator would create an authentic looking Northwest Airline boarding pass in any name. A sample boarding pass is below. The Washington Post has a screen shot of the generator before the site was taken down and further discussion on their blog.

osama.jpg
While I can see the humor in this and the fact that he most certainly did not intend to actually use this for illegal purposes, I doubt he had any idea who was outside when there was a knock a couple days ago…

As reported on BoingBoing, he was visited by the FBI who “had a few questions” for him.

After the interview he was quite shaken and decided to spend the night at an undisclosed location. This morning, upon returning home, he found his apartment totally ransacked with a search warrant on the table.

On Chris’ blog at slightparanoia.blogspot.com recounts the tale:

I came back today, to find the glass on the front door smashed.

Inside, is a rather ransacked home, a search warrant taped to my kitchen table, a total absence of computers – and various other important things. I have no idea what time they actually performed the search, but the warrant was approved at 2AM. I’m sincerely glad I wasn’t in bed when they raided the house. That would have been even more scary.

And he posted a copy of the warrant.

search-warrant-page1.pngsearch-warrant-page-2.png

I wonder how this will all turn out. Will the government make an ‘example’ out of him? And even if they do attempt to make an example out of him, chances are his case would crumble like so many other cases before him.

NYC Subway smell map

NYC Subway smell map

Gawker.com has a map of all the subway stations in New York City complete with a key that helps you discern the distinct aromas present at each station.

Possible smells one might encounter include alcohol, body odor, chemicals, feces, food, mold & wet, perfumes, sewage, urine and vomit. Sounds a lot like Seattle’s public transportation to me.

The maps are updated with the input of readers who document and submit the smells to Gawker.com . I can’t wait to use this on my next trip to NYC.

Airport security saves Seattle flyers from man speaking foreign language

Airport security saves Seattle flyers from man speaking foreign language

A Chicago man was briefly detained on Saturday after he spoke on his cell phone in a foreign language.
According to the Seattle P-I:

The man was speaking Tamil, a language largely used in India, Sri Lanka and Singapore, on his cell phone at the departure gate and on the aircraft. An off-duty airline employee heard the conversation and informed the flight crew.

The man also apparently said something in English about a sporting rivalry at his alma mater.

It’s refreshing to see that racism is alive and well here in the Northwest.  I hope they follow up with the airline employee who started this whole thing.

Is life in America really so scary that a man speaking in a foreign language on a cell phone would prompt such a reaction?

UFO Sighting

UFO Sighting

Last Sunday night (August 27, 2006) at approximately 11pm I experienced my first UFO sighting.

My girlfriend and I were driving back to Seattle from Portland and somewhere outside of Federal Way (around mile marker 149) we saw something falling from the sky leaving a long brilliant green trail behind it that light up the sky to the north/northwest.

At first we thought it was a meteor / shooting star. But it appeared to be dropping straight out of the sky and not shooting across the sky as the meteors and shooting stars I have seen. (I don’t know what they look like or how they appear to travel right before impact…)

I got out my digital crayons today and made a quick sketch to illustrate what we saw.

UFO

The green trail on the left shows how the object fell off in the distance. We did not see any impact, etc. Perhaps it fell into Puget Sound.

As we were near the airport, there is the possibility that we saw something related to an aircraft, but it sure didn’t look like it, or appear to be that close.

If you saw this or any other unidentified flying object, I would love to hear about it. So would the National UFO Reporting Center based out of a former ICBM missile base in eastern Washington.