Leave a little room

Sometimes the smallest, most unexpected things give me pause for thought.

The most recent was a visit from a door-to-door salesperson from Bell. Yes, I detest companies who try to sell me things on the phone or at my door, and I make an effort to avoid patronizing them. Bell in particular has a laundry-list of reasons we all should avoid any dealings with them, but this wasn’t the reason for my continuing to ponder this brief interaction.

The reason is I entirely misjudged the saleswoman. And yea, I hear you already, smartasses… it’s not because she was a woman!

One personality trait that I have always admired is the ability to put someone immediately at ease and talk to them when you’ve just met. I like to think I’m a good communicator, but I don’t I don’t have this gift when first approaching someone. This woman certainly had the gift.

She wanted me to sign up with Bell’s Fibe television service. My Mom has cable, and not only is she perfectly happy with it, but it would be an ordeal for her to learn to navigate a new remote control, and an entirely renumbered sequence of channels. My television viewing is via over-the-air antenna and a lesser quality, more expensive service isn’t about to sway me. I can’t imagine anyone walking the Earth could talk me into signing up with Bell.

Once she knew she wasn’t going to make a sale, I thought we were done, but she surprised me by asking me if she could have a glass of water. She pointed out, almost apologetically, that it was warm and sunny, and she was wearing mostly black. I saw no harm in it, so I asked her to wait a moment. On my way to get the water, I realized that I’d been had. Once she had the glass in her hands, she could continue to regale me about how great Fibe was and I’d be captive for as long as the water lasted.

What surprised me, and this is the part that has me continuing to ponder the event, is she made no further mention of Bell or Fibe. The remaining few minutes of our interaction was regular small talk. When she finished, she thanked me for the water, and went on to the neighbour’s house.

I prejudged her and I was wrong. I like to think that I give people the benefit of the doubt, and leave them room to disappoint me. In fact, this event tells me that I’ve grown more cynical than I’d like, and often fail to give people the benefit of the doubt, leaving only the smallest margin for people to surprise me in a good way.

I’m glad she came by.

Sweet ride!

I’m not a big fan of convertibles because of the climate in which I live. A car that I could only drive for six months seems like a waste. That said, I’d make an exception for this one:

Say hello to the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider.

Ferrari made only ten, so you’ll be a member of an exclusive group. The problem is it’s not easy to become a member of this exclusive group. The 275 pictured here sold at auction on Saturday for 27.5 million US dollars, making it not only the most expensive Ferrari, but also the most expensive road car ever sold.

Eddie Smith, Sr. paid $14,000 for the car and took delivery in 1968. According to the LA Times, it was no garage queen.

Smith enjoyed using the car for its intended purpose: driving it. He was known throughout the small town of Lexington, N.C., for giving kids a ride in the car so they should share the experience.

Six years after his death, his family decided to sell the car at auction.

Smith Jr. said the family decided to sell the car because it’s been “kept in a prison” without being driven as much as their father would have liked. In keeping with Smith Sr.’s emphasis on philanthropy, the money from Saturday’s sale will go to various local charities in Lexington, as well as the family foundation

What a nice story. Also, I’ve heard the buyer is a Canadian, so keep your eyes open!

Ferrari or not, it doesn’t look like a beast from the outside, but it is.

This limited run of 275 N.A.R.T. Spiders boast a 3.2-liter V-12 with six Weber carburetors, making 300 horsepower. The engine is paired with a five-speed manual transmission and four-wheel independent suspension. The car also has taller gear ratios than other 275s, to accommodate the longer straightaways of U.S. tracks.

Not only is it beautiful, but it has the goods, too.

As much as I like the 275, if anyone is stuck wondering what to get me for Christmas, I’d still prefer a 250 GTO.


Photos courtesy of RM Auctions.

Hard drive strangeness

When I bought my NAS device, I bought a few Western Digital Green drives to use with it. I wasn’t about to pay the price-premium required for enterprise-class drives! Then, within two weeks, Western Digital released their series of Red drives, which are designed specifically for home and small-office NAS systems. It figures. I bought the Green drives and I was going to use them, damn it!

Except I didn’t. There are a few things that make me uneasy about using the Green drives for my NAS, including that they’re not designed for a 24/7 duty-cycle. So I replaced them with Red drives.

The Green drives sat around until recently when I decided that I’d retire a pair of 1.5 TB Green drives and use two 3.0 TB Green drives in their place. They still had the NAS formatting but I thought that would be simple to remove. I was wrong! No matter what I did, both the PC and the Mac reported a maximum size of 746 GB. I spent half a day troubleshooting the issue. I even wrote to the NAS manufacturer and asked how the heck to undo their device’s formatting. It had to be the formatting because it’s only these drives have this issue, and surely, if my drive dock supported 2 TB drives and no larger, I’d see 2 TB capacity.

Things started to fall into place when I corrected one of them directly to my Windows machine via the internal SATA cable. The PC recognized the drive as being 3 TB in size, and formatted it just fine. So I thought I’d format them that way, and they’d be fine in the dock. It turns out that I never got that far. I did note that I had eliminated the dock as a variable so maybe it was the issue. While the second drive was formatting, I decided to have a look at the Western Digital message board. It couldn’t be the USB dock, but I’d satisfy my curiosity.

As you may have already guessed, it was the dock. Why does it report 764 GB? Older and cheaper drive docks that do not support anything larger than 2 TB are limited to 32 bit logical block addresses. Support for 3 TB drives requires more than 32 bits … so when the computer queries the drive about its maximum size, the dock can’t handle the entire answer and strips the first digit of the number of blocks (in hex). The result, when converted to base-ten is 746.5 GB.

Sure, now it makes sense!

I bought a new hard drive dock and everything works as it should.

Oktoberfest vignette

Saturday evening, I attended the Barrhaven Oktoberfest celebration. Grant suggested we go and he bought 2-for-1 tickets in advance. Right from the start, it was good!

While I haven’t been to many Oktoberfest parties, I have to imagine it had all the important components. There was beer, food, live music, and lots of people. What more do you want?! What made it more interesting to me is that Strongbow was one of the sponsors so there was also cider. I’m not a big beer-drinker so this was a far more interesting option for me.

20121001_poker-chipsWe found that the alcohol was not directly sold for money. Rather, each beer, cider, or glass of wine was available in exchange for a token, and the tokens cost $5 each, or 4 for $20. Yes, I know that’s still $5 each, but those were the two options listed on the sign. Putting the illogic aside, I bought four tokens and started in on a Strongbow.

A few days before, I’d heard an interview on CBC Radio One with a man from Spud’s Potato Bar and Poutinerie. Since they were one of the food vendors, they created an Oktoberfest-themed poutine. I’m not sure what, if anything, it had to do with Oktoberfest besides the mini-bratwurst placed on top, but I still liked it a great deal. I hadn’t eaten dinner in preparation for the poutine, so I enjoyed every bit of it.

I didn’t plan to drink a lot, but I enjoyed my cider-induced happiness. We walked around, ate, talked, people-watched, and drank. It was a fun evening. We joked about the approach of old age because by about 10:30, we were cold, tired, and ready to go.

I had one token left and Lori took Rustin’s last token and gave it to Grant. She said that we should find some women to give them to on our way out. I was already thinking the same thought. The token wasn’t worth keeping, and if I was going to give it to someone, it would be a woman. No rocket science there.

My choice didn’t take nearly as long as I let on, because Rustin was increasingly cold and his crotchetiness was entertaining!

Earlier in the evening, I noticed two women walk by. One stood out because she had a classic look about her. She wore tall boots, dark cotton pants, a light-coloured wool coat, and a knitted hat. Her attire was a far cry from the typical attire. I was also envious because she had the foresight to wear gloves. Nothing bulky, but rather just enough to keep warm with a cold drink in your hand, and my drink-hand was cold. Her friend wasn’t as much an immediate stand-out, but she looked good all the same. She had a very nice black jacket that Lori told me was a very fashionable brand … that I can’t remember, of course. While I don’t know if her jeans were of a similarly fashionable brand, I had no trouble recognizing that her figure did very nice things to them.

I asked Grant for his token, got up, and approached the two women. I held the tokens between my thumb and forefinger, and slid them apart, making it clear that I was holding two. I held them in front of me as I approached from the side, letting the tokens introduce me. They looked at the tokens, and then at me. I said, “we’ve got to go, so….” They smiled, and plucked the tokens from my hand. The woman wearing the wool coat said, “You are a handsome man. A very, very handsome man,” and it was my turn to smile. I tipped my head with a slight nod and withdrew, still smiling.

It was a lovely ending to an enjoyable evening.


Token graphic © 2012 Oktoberfest Ottawa.

Buzz Aldrin

I have absolutely no patience for snake oil. It’s even worse when people like me are then accused of being closed-minded as a result. The fact is that we’re on this Earth for a limited time. We simply don’t have the time to believe everything and try everything. The skeptical mind applies the scientific method and dismisses unworthy claims. As Carl Sagan said,

extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Faith isn’t enough.

I apply the same thought process to conspiracy theories. Some may be true, but the odds of some others being true are just too long. Take the ‘fake moon landing.’ There were 400,000 people involved in making it happen. Do you really believe that a secret among so many could be kept for so long? That alone makes the claim easily to discard.

Have I ever mentioned how much I like Buzz Aldrin? Probably not. He was the second man to plant his feet on the lunar surface. Unlike Neil Armstrong, Aldrin is quite outspoken. Having risked his life to make the journey to the moon and back, he doesn’t hold back when he’s accused of being a part of the conspiracy. Sometimes it goes beyond simply not holding back.

Ten years ago, Aldrin was invited to a hotel to be interviewed for a Japanese children’s program. When he arrived, he discovered that he’d been duped. Instead of an interview, a film crew recorded Bart Sibrel demanding that Aldrin swear on a bible that the moon landing was not faked. The confrontation ended in the most poetic manner that I can imagine.

Aldrin punched Sibrel in the face.

The police determined that his actions were a reasonable reaction to the provocation and no charges were filed.

Go Buzz!