Thoughts Gallery December 2001
December 1
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This is about as useful as a furbie
Inventor Dean Kamen stands on the two-wheeled, battery powered transportation device, known as the Segway Human Transporter, at a studio in New York.  The device was formerly known by its code-name 'Ginger.'  Capping months of speculation about his mysterious innovation, an inventor unveiled the device - a gyroscope-stabilized,  battery- powered scooter that he hopes will revolutionize short-distance travel. The two-wheeled Segway, which looks like a cross between a hand mower and a Razor scooter, travels at up to 12 mph, said Kamen spokesman Dave Chapman. Kamen, whose Manchester, N.H.-based DEKA Research and Development company will oversee production, said the Segway requires about 10 cents' worth of electricity for a six-hour charge. The Postal Service and the City of Atlanta will be among the first purchasers, buying 80-pound heavy-duty models for $8,000 apiece,  Chapman said. A 65-pound, $3,000 consumer model won't be available for at least a year. 
December 2
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An unidentified US Marine from Charlie 1/1 of the 15th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) carries empty sand bags to the position of a light mortar company on the front lines of the US Marine Corps base in southern Afghanistan near a collection of cardboard signs that marines posted. The signs proclaim the name of the unit's base as "Camp Justice" and is located on the perimiter of the Marines base.
December 3
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Well I'm attempting to get my house passed on inspection again.  The plumber is finishing up the last changes for the water, gas, and wastewater lines.  Hopefully everything will go smoothly.

Whooping cranes follow ultralight aircraift pilot and Operation Migration co-founder Joe Duff over Crystal River, they fly to an undisclosed landing site in the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. This is the first flock of young whooping cranes to be led on a migration by ultralight aircraft.

December 4
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Seems like each inspector must have his own opinion about what needs to be done.  Now a new inspector wants the electrical, and hvac work done before we schedule another framing inspection.

Do you know who this is? 
It's the head member of the United Nations Kofi Annan...

December 5
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Now the U.S. government wants to use similar keystroke-logging- enabled Trojan horses in the war against terrorism, and two U.S. antivirus companies have announced they'll look the other way. So now all the virus people need to do is mask their virus to look like a key-stoking fbi virus and they can spread like wild fire.

      SIMPLY PUT, a keystroke logging program is a memory application that records every keystroke a user makes on a given computer. Most keystroke loggers record the application name, the time and date the application was opened, and the keystrokes associated with that application. For example, when you open Outlook and write an e-mail, the keystroke logger would record your e-mail address, the subject line, and any body text you type.
      THE U.S. GOVERNMENT wants to use these encryption-keystroke loggers to find criminals and terrorists. In a recent and highly publicized loan shark and racketeering case in New York, FBI  agents obtained information using an encryption-keystroke logger placed on computers in suspected mobster Nicodemo Scarfo's New Jersey office. According to MSNBC, agents did so by breaking into the Scarfo office and individually installing the logger on each computer. Should the government should be able to "steal" encryption keys?!?

      Code-named "Magic Lantern," the bureau's new project would essentially create a government-sanctioned Internet worm that would self-install encryption-keystroke loggers on chosen computers. Agents would still need to obtain a court order before "infecting" someone, however the U.S. Patriot Act passed in October requires authorization only from a state or U.S. attorney general at first; a judge's order isn't needed until later. One method of distributing the encryption-keystroke loggers involves having a friend or relative of the person under investigation send him or her an infected e-mail.  Of course, this could only happen if the suspect's antivirus program didn't first detect the FBI's Trojan horse.

      SO FAR, Symantec and Network Associates have said their software will not detect the presence of this FBI Trojan horse. It should be noted that antivirus products already exclude some files from their scans, though none are as powerful as Magic Lantern. No antivirus software vendors outside the U.S have weighed in on this matter yet.

      Shane Coursen, a SecurityFocus columnist and CEO of WildList Organization International, a group that tracks viruses in the wild, predicts that any such collusion with the FBI might begin the downfall of U.S. antivirus software maker's dominance worldwide. I think the real danger lurks in the FBI borrowing a page from a malicious user's notebook. Even if every antivirus vendor in the world agreed to exclude the FBI's Trojan, the shadow Web sites already used by malicious users would start hosting custom Magic

Lantern detection programs. Once such a tool is available, the FBI's magic would be useless.

December 6
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Camel Sparks Alert in Afghanistan
DESERT AIRSTRIP, southern Afghanistan - U.S. Marine trucks armed with anti-tank weapons tore into the desert from a Marine base in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday to chase down an ``unidentified vehicle'' which turned out to be -- a camel. When news of the alert first came through, the Marines on the defensive line around the perimeter put on flak jackets and helmets and realigned their mortars in case they were called to fire on the target two miles (three km) out. The tension in the air subsided when the word came through.  ``How come you can't tell a vehicle from a camel?'' asked one Marine in a company control center, a

hole in the sand.  `One has wheels, the other has legs,'' another Marine threw in. ``I can't believe we're chasing damn  camels around the desert,'' said another. Some of the Marines on the line reported that a camel poked its nose into their fighting hole the previous night and Marine spokesman Captain Stuart Upton said shots had been fired to scare it away from the airstrip.  It was not clear if the camel that sparked the morning alert was the same one. 
December 7
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Here's a extremely RARE Utah State National Bank of Salt Lake City, Series of 1902. Dated April 30, 1912. This note has the signature of Joseph F. Smith, 6th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, signed as president of the bank. This is a true, guranteed signature on the note. It is a $10.00 US currency note, featuring picture of William McKinley, president of the United States. 
December 8
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Man's Ear Becomes Dog's Lunch
STOCKHOLM - A man in southern Sweden scared his neighbor's dog, which then tore off his ear and swallowed it.  The man was taken to hospital and the dog to the vet, who gave it an emetic to retrieve the neighbor's ear, but to no avail.  The dog's owner then agreed to let the vet perform stomach surgery.  The dog survived, but the ear didn't. When it finally reached the hospital four hours after being chewed off, it was no longer in any condition to be stitched back on.  Doctors said the dog's stomach acids had dissolved too much of it. 
December 9
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Must stay warm.  I'm all bundled up to stay warm in my house after a cold front came through town.  Gas heaters work good, now if only my insulation worked a little better.
December 10
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Cat's work good to keep you warm also.  I'm gining Oz and Kitty their daily scratch therapy.  Air conditioners are expensive.  More than I'd like to spend, but it'll get my house out of the 17th century.
December 11
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I found this picture from my earlier adventures to Corpus Christy.  I waited in line for 1.5 hours to cross the ferry to get on to Mustang Island.  It will be interesting to see what will happen once the US withdraws from this important arms treaty.

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is expected to announce plans soon to officially withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Republican congressional sources said.  Administration officials have told U.S. Senate staff members that the administration expects to give formal notice in January of a required six-month withdrawal period from the treaty.  ``That's what our people have been hearing'' -- that the administration plans to formally withdraw from the treaty, one Republican source said.  During a speech earlier on Tuesday, President Bush  reiterated that the United States ``must move beyond the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty'' so that it can vigorously develop a missile defense system. But he stopped short of announcing a formal intent to withdraw.  The Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported separately on Tuesday that the Bush administration will soon officially announce it is leaving the treaty. 

December 12
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I just think of how easily this could be tailored to live off of other animals or humans.  Why not tailor a robot to harness the power of the hydrogen and oxygen in water instead.

A Robot That Thrives on Slugs 
LONDON - For centuries the humble slug has eaten its way through the world's vegetable patches, frustrating farmers and gardeners alike, but thanks to British scientists the great plant muncher is about to be munched. Scientists at Britain's University of West England have developed the ``SlugBot,'' a prototype robot
capable of hunting down more than 100 slugs an hour. It operates after dark when slugs are most active and uses their rotting bodies to generate the electricity it needs to power itself.
       The SlugBot is the brainchild of engineers at the university's Intelligent Autonomous Systems Laboratory who wanted to build the world's first fully autonomous robot. ``Slugs were chosen because they are a major pest, are reasonably plentiful, have no hard shell of skeleton, and are reasonably large,'' Dr. Ian Kelly, SlugBot's creator, said in a statement.  The 2-foot-high machine uses an image censor that beams out red light to pinpoint the slugs, which emit a different infra-red wavelength from worms and snails. It then uses a carbon fiber arm with a three-fingered claw grabber to pick up the slugs and store them in a tank.

        After a hard night of slug busting, the robot returns home and unloads its victims into a fermentation tank. While the SlugBot recharges, the fermentation tank turns the slug sludge into electricity. But the robot, voted one of the best inventions of the year by Time magazine, has attracted some criticism. One Time reader called the invention ``reckless'' in a letter to the magazine. ``To create robots that devour flesh is to step over a line that we would be insane to cross,'' he said.

       Gardeners were more welcoming. Adam Pasco, editor of the BBC Gardener's World magazine, told the Daily Mail: ``Anything that would prove a fool-proof method of destroying slugs would be
fantastic.'' A spokeswoman for the university told Reuters on Wednesday there were no plans to release the SlugBot on the commercial market. ``It was a proof of concept machine only,'' she said. The news will disappoint Britain's farmers who spend an average 20 million pounds a year trying to eradicate the slimy creatures. 

December 13
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This B1 Bomber plane that crashed cost $180million.  Think of all the things that money could be going towards instead of delivering bombs.  Well I'm still in the information gathering stage for air conditioning systems, trying to get the cost under $5000.

The FBI's Magic Lantern project will not have the cooperation of computer antivirus companies, who say creating an FBI-specific "back door" would be both a security risk and detrimental to their business. MSNBC reported last month that Magic Lantern would involve an email-borne virus, or "Trojan horse," that would allow FBI agents to record all the keystrokes on a suspect's computer. However, leaving a hole open for that virus would also let non-FBI hackers into systems running antivirus software, say vendors; foreign governments would not likely accept such a move as well, cutting off potential markets such as China. Symantec, Network Associates, U.K.-based Sophos, and Japan's Trend Micro all report that they would not comply with FBI demands, but add they had not been contacted by the government yet. Trend Micro's Barbara Woolf says, "I've heard reports that the government is upset this got out and is going back to the drawing board."

December 14
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An Afghan anti-Taliban fighter, wearing an I Love New York button on his military jacket, stands among fellow fighters in the White Mountains near Tora Bora, Afghanistan.  Even people from New York wouldn't wear this badge until recently.
December 15
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Looks like I'm not the only one that needs to get a newer car.  At least my car doesn't need as much work as this one pictured.

Abdul Kayum flashes a thumbs-up as he drives his damaged minivan on the road  near the airport in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Kayum said he had stopped on the road linking Herat to Kandahar two weeks ago to pray, when his minivan was hit by an airstrike. Thanking God, he started his minivan, which still worked, and resumed his journey.

December 16
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Now why can't we fix easy things like beach erosion like the Dutch have done for years.

A view of Pisa's Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square) with the famous leaning tower. The tower was reopening to the public after being closed for more than a decade for works to reduce its slant. By using hundreds of tons of lead counterweights at the base and extracting soil from under the foundation, engineers shaved 44 centimeters (17") off the lean and guided the tower back to where it was in 1838. The tower now leans 4.1 meters (13.5 feet) off the perpendicular.

December 17
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What movie is this image from??  If only it really was a movie and not real life...
December 18
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A monkey drinks a Coke during the monkey buffet festival in Lothburi, 85km (53 miles) north of Bangkok  The yearly festival provides various types of food and drink for the local monkey population, which numbers over 2,000.
December 19
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Christmas in Sweden.  Here's comes Santa on a reindeer sleigh. Only a few days left until xmas & still so much shopping to do...
December 20
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A market vendor sells deep fried giant crickets in Phnom Penh's O'Russei Market. Residents in the Cambodian capital are snapping up egg-bearing female crickets which are an annual delicacy in the country's cool month of December. `It's a delicious snack and good for health,'' said Chhiv Heang, devouring a bag of fat crickets at the city's Phsar Thmei (New Market). '`We only get to eat them once a year,'' she said. Cricket vendor Srey Khieng, 38, said business is brisk. With help from her daughter, Srey Khieng can sell up to 44 pounds of crickets on a good day. ``They're selling out. People like to eat crickets carrying eggs because they are good for malaria and colds,'' she said. Insects are a staple snack food for Cambodians who also like to munch on tree ants, silkworms, water beetles and the top local dish -- giant hairy spiders. Cricket hunters sell the egg-bearing insects for $15.30 per kilo in December, vendors said. But the price of crickets plummets to less than a dollar per kilo during the hatching season early the next year. 
December 21
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If only animals stayed this little, we could genetically make midget animals that stay small and sell them as pets to people.
December 22
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Today was a slow day, got to sleep in for the first time in a while, although couches aren't as comfortable as they used to be.  Too many pillows trying to accessorize the couch means then use less padding and stuffing on the couch itself.
December 23
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The death warrant was signed for my navajo vehicle today.  I totaled my car while on the way to look at christmas lights.  As the radiator fluid drained out onto the pavement I stared in disbelief at my wrecked car.  At least this is a good time, I get to take advantage of the 0% financing and dealerships trying to get rid of their cars before the new year.
December 24
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Erin and I opened our presents to each other tonight.  I totally suprised her with the presents I got her, as she was no help in giving out any hints for gifts items for the season. 
December 25
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After driving back to Austin from Houston Erin and I spent the night in the living room of her sister Ashley's place.  We crawled out of bed off the floor and wandered 2 blocks away to her parents place.  After a quick gift unwrapping ceremony, we had a nice christmas lunch with ham, bread, green bean caserol, and veggies.
December 26
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Woman Returns Sister's Ashes to Wal-Mart
OMAHA, Nebraska - A Nebraska woman who received an ornate box for Christmas and returned it to Wal-Mart without looking inside discovered later it contained the ashes of her recently deceased sister.  Judy Money received the box as a gift from her brother who lives in Iowa. But after unwrapping the package on Christmas Eve she saw the box had a broken knob and decided to return it to Wal-Mart without ever looking at the contents inside.

When Money later confessed to her brother that she had returned his gift, he told her the box contained the ashes of their sister, who had died Dec. 11.  Marvin Tippery, Money's brother, told the Herald he was shocked when he found out she had returned the box. ``No, no, you didn't! Your sister was in there!''  Money said she made a mad dash back to Wal-Mart, but the box had already been thrown out with the trash.  Money and her brother finally found the box on Thursday amid trash piles at an area landfill.  ``My prayers have been answered,'' she said,  ``just the thought of having her in the dump was awful.'' 

December 27
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Bob Germany clears snow from a van owned by Tom Burton of Clarence, a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y. Four straight days of unprecedented weather have buried Buffalo under nearly 6 feet of snow, effectively shutting down a city known for coping with massive snowdrift.
December 28
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This is one of the new cars I am looking to purchase.  It's a toss up between several cars though, a Nissan Xterra, Mazda tribute, Isuzu Vehicross, and the pontiac Aztek.  Only interest rates and demand will determine what vehicle I end up with.
December 29
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December 30
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December 31
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