Saved by the iPhone

This past weekend I headed down to NYC to visit with friends and attend a Cards/Mets..  On the way back in the wee hours of the morning, I stopped in Milford, CT to get gas. I stopped at a red light and waited… and waited.. I tried moving up and back to trip the sensor, but it never changed. After at least 3 minutes and there wasn’t another car in sight, so I ran the red light.

Sure enough, I get pulled over… The officer asked for my documents, but my insurance card is expired. Oh no! I quickly go to, login and have my proof of insurance document emailed to me. A minute later, I have a PDF attachment which I showed to the officer. He and another officer puzzled over it for a minute or so and decided it was good enough.

I ended up only getting a written warning for the red light (because the cop said he watched the whole ordeal from his “hiding spot” and saw me jockeying trying to trip the sensor).

Posted in Friends, People, Places, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

State budget deficits and State “color”

My curiosity hit again this afternoon after looking at the numbers on state budget deficits presented by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

I put these numbers in the spreadsheet I put together for my last post and looked at these numbers in the context of the presidential election results.  Of the 37 states with budget deficits, 25 of them were blue and the remaining 12 were red.  Of the 13 states that are running budget surpluses, 3 are blue and 10 are red.  So, 90% of blue states are “in the red,” while only 55% of the red states are coming up short.

Unfortunately, that page doesn’t include the amounts of the surpluses…  numbers which I’m sure would be telling.

Posted in politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Unemployment:Liberalism as Chicken:Egg?

The other day I heard on the local news that Rhode Island had the highest unemployment rate of the 50 states in the most recent report (Oct. 08).  I also remembered seeing that Little Rhody was one of the states in which Obama faired the best.   I was curious, so I looked up the stats on unemployment across the country and saw that many of the highest unemployment rates were in “blue” states and some most of the lowest rates were in “red” states.  Of course there are some red states that are relatively worse and some blue states that are relatively better off, so I wanted to see how it really played out.

The easiest numbers to get were presidential election results by state.  I assume that these states don’t just vote for liberal politicians in Presidential elections, they also vote for Democrats in most races.  I pulled some numbers together into Excel, plotted them, and added a trendline.  Below is the result for the 2008 election:


October 2008 Unemployment vs. Presidential Voting

October 2008 Unemployment vs. 2008 Presidential Voting


I am not a statistician, and I recognize that the correlation isn’t the strongest (R^2 was around .1), but it sure looks like more than a coincidence.  For the math-challenged, that equation basically says that unemployment goes up by nearly half a percent for every 10 percent of people that voted for Obama.

Does this shows me that the more liberal voters you have the higher your unemployment will be, or does it show the opposite?   The higher the unemployment rate is, the more likely people will be to vote liberal.  I realize that the 2008 presidential voting occurred after the time frame for which these unemployment numbers are valid.  Some might argue that the high unemployment was the cause of the number of votes for Obama,  so I pulled in the 2004 presidential election results and did the same “analysis.”


October 2008 Unemployment vs. 2004 Presidential

October 2008 Unemployment vs. 2004 Presidential


Here the relationship is even stronger, and the correlation tighter.  The states that voted for the Democrat 4 years ago are the states with the highest current unemployment.

I realize that I’m comparing 2004 election results with unemployment stats from 4 years later, but this shows me that the states that voted Democratic 4 years ago have high unemployment now.  If I was really interested and had the resources I would like to dig deeper into this, but for now I am going to take this as at least a small affirmation of my suspicions…

Posted in politics | 6 Comments

Certifiable 2.0

I took the Mac OS X Server Essentials v10.5 this morning, again at Parkland’s Prometric testing center.  Things went much more smoothly for this test and I was in and out in less than an hour.I bought the Peachpit prep book for the exam and I have to say it was pretty comprehensive (at least in terms of preparation for the exam).

I got a 97.22% on the exam so I can now officially declare myself an Apple Certified Technical Coordinator. You only need a 69% to pass the exam, so you could miss 27 questions and still pass.  I’m certain I could have passed the exam based on experience, without the prep book, but I know I would’ve been making a lot of educated guesses on portions of the OS  in which I have limited/no experience.

Now I have to decide if I want to fork over another $600 to Prometric to take the remaining three exams to get the Apple Certified System Administrator certification.

Posted in Apple, Computer, OS X | 1 Comment


I took the Mac OS X Support Essentials v10.5 exam yesterday at Parkland’s Prometric testing center. After waiting an hour and a half for them to get the testing workstation set up, I cranked through the 90 questions in 40 minutes. The test was pretty fair, but a couple of questions were ambiguous and one I SWEAR had two correct answers. I’m somewhat embarrassed that I missed 8, but you only need 73% to pass, so my 91% was more than enough. I’m still trying to get the details from Apple, but its safe to say that I’m now an Apple Certified Support Professional

Posted in Apple, Computer, OS X | 6 Comments

Scrabble babble

Scott convinced me to go to a Scrabble tournament in Indianapolis on Sunday, so we got up at 5:00AM to make it over in time for the first game. I was supposed to be in the bottom division, since my NSA rating before the tournament was a lowly at a lowly 899. However, a few people from upper divisions couldn’t make it, so the divisions were rearranged. I ended up the bottom seed in the next division up.

My first game was against the top player in my division.  I opened the game with FORMATS for 82pts., but she quickly countered with PARAfFIN. Her next play was OUTLOADS (which was a phoney, but I didn’t challenge) and I then thought I was sunk. My luck changed and I went on a roll and ended up also playing DICKENS, VIBRATEs, and ERINGOES (to a triple to end the game). Final score 599-343. I ended up winning a couple more pretty handily, then lost a painful game right after lunch. I won the next three and ended up 6-1 (+518).

The worst part of the tournament for me was that I was the low seed, so my expected wins were only 2.8. Winning 6 gave me an excess of 3.2. Since I’m still in my first 50 games, my multiplier is 30, so my rating should increase by 96pts. But wait…. since I exceeded the acceptable threshold of 5pts./game, I’m subject to an acceleration provision.  This rule says that if you increase by more than 5pts./game in any tournament, any gain over that threshold is doubled.


(96-35)*2+35= 157

First prize was $160, and I also won an auxiliary $10 prize for having the high game in my division.   So, I walked away with almost as many ratings points as dollars and a rekindled interest in Scrabble tournaments.

Posted in scrabble | 3 Comments

Fun in the snow

We got a few inches of snow overnight Thursday-Friday and I was sitting around bored on Saturday, so I went out and had some fun.  After seeing pictures of my snow wall and igloo from last year, my sister Leah gave me a snow brick maker for Christmas.  After I rolled up a big snow ball for the base, I started stacking up snow bricks into a snow chimney.

Once it got too tall for me to reach the top, I had to climb on the snow ball and eventually I knocked it off balance and the whole thing came tumbling down a few minutes later.

Posted in image | 3 Comments

Quest for cold

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a fascination with weather and an obsession with extremes. So it should come as no surprise that I trekked up to Minnesota to experience what the northland had to offer. I left work early on Friday and was on the road by 4:00. After an unscheduled stop to talk with a police officer just south of Eau Claire, WI, I was back on my way and arrived in Duluth around 12:30 AM. I had stopped for gas in Portage, WI and the temperature was 1°F and by the time I got to Duluth it had dropped to -15°F.

After spending Saturday in the Twin Cities area, Steve, Amy and I headed back to Duluth. Steve and I got up after just a couple hours and headed down to the shores of Lake Superior to see the sunrise to experience the coldest time of the day.The sunrise was amazing… Most of the lake was still ice-free, so the water was at least 32°F, which was more than 50°F warmer than the air above it. This dramatic difference creates a fog that looks like the waters are steaming, about ready to boil.

I had my camera and was excited to capture this developing scene. I got a handful of cool shots, then realized that a shot with the sun shining behind the lighthouse would be the best. I didn’t bring a tripod, but a lady was “Minnesota nice” and offered to let me use hers. I had to take my quick-release foot off my camera, then put the foot from her tripod on. Fingers don’t work very well after a couple of minutes of exposure at -20°F. I got my shots, then had to have Steve take her quick release mount off my camera, because I couldn’t feel my fingers.

Duluth Lighthouse

Sunday afternoon we headed to Lester river and back down by the lake. The river had a waterfall which was frozen, but the snow had covered up most of the ice, so it wasn’t going to make much of a picture. After some photo ops with a dead duck, we headed to the beach and had a blast breaking ice.

Posted in image, Places | 4 Comments

Fire in the dumpster

So, we were sitting in my office on the 3rd floor when we started smelling burning paper…  After following our noses we found the source in the dumpster outside our building.  The best part is that the building’s air intake is near the dumpster, so the building ventilation system sucked in a bunch of fumes from burning plastic and styrofoam.  Oh so pleasant.  It still smells like a bonfire on the 3rd floor nearly 36 hours later.   

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Chase requires insecure passwords?

I went to change my password for my credit card the other day and found that my credit card company has some pretty silly requirements.

  •  Must contain 7-32 characters
  •  Must include at least one number and one letter
  •  Cannot include special characters (&, %, *, etc.)
  •  Cannot be the same as your User ID
  • Cannot be the same as any of the last five Passwords you’ve used 
  •  No special characters?!   Doesn’t pretty much every password selection guide tell you to use special characters? 

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