Monthly Archives: May 2005

A nasty little car

This morning, we headed off to Hertz to rent a car to hold us through the duration. Since we’re paying for the car out of our own pockets, I wanted to get something inexpensive, and $23/day seemed like a tolerable price, even if the car was a Chevy Cavalier.


I’m not sure I’ve ever driven such an unpleasant car — the seat doesn’t quite go up all the way, the steering wheel seems to be at a slight angle, the seatback is lumpy — in short, the car is a piece of junk. I don’t know if this is a typical Cavalier or if it’s been specially mistreated by previous renters, but I’m getting rid of it as quickly as I can (with any luck, tomorrow morning). Paying a few bucks more every day will be worth it, though I hope it won’t be for very long.

On a different note, I also called Toyota to ask why the side airbag didn’t inflate; they said that it’s basically there to protect against impact into the B-pillar (the one between the doors). The door itself is reinforced and foam-filled so that it’s able to absorb the impact of a vehicle hitting directly on the door, which is what happened in our case.

I haven’t heard from the insurance adjuster yet; I hope to hear tomorrow.

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Swab, ye hearties!

Diane and I have just finished collecting DNA samples to send to the Genographic Project. I found it very strange that the only information required when you send in a sample is a form stating what sex you are — I’d expect that to be obvious from the DNA. (The form is also the consent form to allow one’s DNA to be analyzed — it is an anonymous consent form, which, itself, is an interesting concept.)

The collection process is very simple — you use a swab to take a little tissue from your cheek. And then eight or more hours later, you do it again (I chose to use the other cheek :-)) to make it more likely to get a good sample.

Then you put the samples in the mail, and in a few weeks, you check the website, input your random id (Diane’s and mine differ significantly, even though our kits arrived in the same mailing box, so there is a good deal of randomness in the assignment), get the results, and the opportunity to contribute your data in the aggregated results the project is creating.

The most painful part was paying for the kit!

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Suddenly, I need a disclaimer — and that's good news

“The postings on this site are my own and donít necessarily represent IBMís positions, strategies or opinions.”

This has been the case ever since I started blogging, so why am I saying it now? Because IBM is now encouraging IBMers to join the conversations in the blogosphere, and so it’s a good idea to make it clear that I represent myself here, not the company.

Sixteen years ago, I was heavily involved in bringing Usenet into IBM (for purely selfish reasons — I wanted realtime access to, and the easiest way to do it let me gateway Usenet to our internal conferencing system as trivial extension), and that made a big difference in opening the company to the rest of the world, and an even bigger difference in helping IBMers understand what was happening on the other side of the Blue Curtain. I don’t now if encouraging blogging will make as much of a difference, but it won’t hurt!

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Good timing

Diane wanted to go to the doctor this morning to be checked out after yesterday’s accident. The office opened at 9, and we showed up at 9:02, just barely walking in ahead of another person. It took the receptionist a few minutes to deal with us (they’re not very efficient, I’m afraid), and then we had to wait a while before Diane got called. While Diane was being seen, I heard the receptionist tell callers that they’d have to wait till 1pm — so it was a good thing that we hurried to be there right at the opening bell.

The word from the doctor was about what we expected — take ibuprofen as required, expect some soreness, call back if you’re not recovered in a week, and don’t sign off that you’re completely OK for the insurance company for a month. Well, the last bit was a surprise, but I guess it’s good advice.

Next steps: rent a car on Monday, and wait for the insurance company to tell us what they’re going to do about the Prius.

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Definitely Friday the 13th

Let’s start with the good news: Diane is OK, just shaken and a bit sore.

I was supposed to make dinner tonight (my variation on “How to Boil Water”‘s chicken stir-fry recipe), but I didn’t get out of the office on time because I was having too much fun fighting a technical problem. So when my phone rang at 6:12, I wasn’t surprised to hear Diane, nor was I surprised when she asked where I was.

The next thing she said did surprise me, though: she was at the Y, and had been in an accident, was OK, but wasn’t sure she could drive the car home. I asked if she wanted me to pick Jeff up on my way, but she asked me to come directly to the Y, so I did. I suggested she call the police, too, in case there was more than $750 worth of damage.

There was. When I got to the Y, I saw her car parked, with the driver’s side door badly bent in. Diane was on the sidewalk, talking with one of the cops. I parked and came over and saw the rest of the damage (I didn’t think to use my cameraphone to take a picture) — there was no way that anyone was driving the car any time soon.

The police had called AAA, who showed up just as they were finishing taking the reports, so we took out stuff from the car (things like CDs, minus the one that was stuck in the player) and headed home to call the insurance agent.

With any luck, we’ll hear from the insurance company on Monday (but they said it might not be that quickly); in the meantime, we’ll go rent a replacement car to tide us over for a bit. I don’t know if they’ll choose to fix the car or not; if not, I guess we’ll get on line for another Prius. This one stood up to a Chevy Tahoe and kept Diane safe, which is all I can ask of a car.

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One of my colleagues and I have written a series of articles about “Needless Complexity”, and the last one was finally published today on IBM’s Think Research website.

The four articles are:

[Updated, November 12, 2014: The articles on Think Research have vanished; I’ve reposted them here.]

And the nice folks at Magnolia Audio-Video just called to let me know that the TV is fixed and wanting to arrange a delivery time. I’m afraid it’s going to take longer to arrange the delivery than it took them to repair the TV, since I’m stuck in all-day meetings at work for the next few days.

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50 is better

Magnolia showed up on time this afternoon and took our TV away; they left us a Samsung HLN507 as a loaner. It’s slightly smaller than our TV, but it’s very nice to have a big screen again.

It took me a while to get the Harmony 688 remote set up for the loaner, but I’ve mostly got it behaving.

Passover is over, and as if in celebration, a new KrispyKreme has opened in Saratoga, a mile or so from the YMCA. If I were to walk from the Y to the KrispyKreme, I’d probably break even on the calories, too.

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