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30 April 2007

CFL: Compact Flourenscent Lightbulbs - Are They Dangerous?

Some interesting articles for your reading pleasure relating to this blog entry.

Someone sent me an interesting article called The CFL Mercury Nightmare, about a woman from Ellsworth, Maine, and her recent ordeal.

Essentially, she broke one of those new fangled "compact flourescent lightbulbs" (CFL) in her daughters bedroom.  She'd heard they contained hazardous materials and called Home Depot (where I assume she got it).  They told her that the CFLs contain mercury, and advised her to call Poison Control, who in turn recommended that she contact Maine's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  The DEP sent out a specialist who took some measurements in the bedroom and discovered "mercury levels in the bedroom in excess of six times the state's "safe" level for mercury contamination".  The DEP agent suggested she contact an environmental cleanup firm, who gave her a cleanup estimate of $2,000.


These bulbs are supposed to save you money.  But they're DANGEROUS!  Damn, I don't want a bulb in my house that can cost me $2,000 to clean up if I break one - or pose serious health risks if I don't clean up a broken bulb properly.

Worst case scenario for a broken light bulb should be a few cuts on your feet or hands, not birth defects.

Posted by rickroot at 12:21 PM | Link | 1 comment

Brian Vander Ark - The redBrick Interview

I wanted to share some more about Brian Vander Ark, and I found the following on YouTube... there's quite a bit more where it came from too....

Posted by rickroot at 10:16 AM | Link | 2 comments

Diet Update

245.0:  -22.2 pounds

Well, I haven't posted one of these in a while! To be honest, I haven't really been dieting or exercising.  Well, I started dieting again last Monday, and I lost 5.5 pounds this week.  I could've done better but we had a cookout Saturday night, at which I had a burger with a bun, macaroni salad, chips, and cookies..

I did go see the podiatrist on Friday, and since I wasn't actually experiencing any pain she was unable to diagnose anything.  She suggested that REAL walking would probably be less stressful than doing the treadmill.  Well, yesterday Emily and Adrienne went for a 3-1/2 mile bike ride (not bad for a 5 year old on a 16" bike with training wheels!).  I tagged along on foot, walking and jogging when necessary. 

And my foot hurts.

I really like the trail though.  I'm going to have Adrienne's co-worker Al keep an eye out for a good bike for me.  He got Adrienne's bike at a garage sale for $50 or so, and I think she's got a bike that retailed for over $500.  He's got a good eye for finding good bikes at garage sales.  I don't want to pay $500 for a bike, but $50 might not be too bad!

so anyway, I'm going to continue the low-carb, no soda thing this week.

Posted by rickroot at 6:18 AM | Link | 1 comment
29 April 2007

Brian Vander Ark Meets the Best Ribs in Raleigh

This isn't really a restaurant review.  But Karen and I went to a place in Raleigh tonight called Hideaway BBQ to see one of my favorite musicians perform - Brian Vander Ark (myspace). 

But since I did have some food, and I was very impressed, I'll talk about it first.  I actually already haddinner this evening - cajun baked tilapia, steamed brocolli and a small serving of leftover macronia salad - so I wasn't real hungry.  But this was a cool looking restaurant that specializes in all things barbequed, and since I'm a lover of ribs, I couldn't resist.

Since I'm low-carbing, and I didn't want to totally blow it, I did manage to avoid the basket of fresh hushpuppies placed on our table shortly after we sat down.  I probably would've eaten all of them.  Anyway, I ordered an appetizer plate of ribs, and that was it.  Well, that and a couple shots of Patron Tequila).  The ribs were awesome - easily the best I've had around here!  I had some of Karen's cole slaw too, it was pretty good.  I look forward to eating at Hideaway BBQ sometime, although it's up on the north side of Raleigh off Capital, a good half hour drive, and we don't get up there much.

Now, onto the show.

As I said, Brian Vander Ark was performing, along with his musical friend Randy Sly on the digital piano.  His lovely wife Lux and his 20 month old daughter were there too, mostly hanging out in the Airstream parked outside.

The crowd was small, but the sound was fantastic.  I mean REALLY good.   Brian played a bunch of songs from his two studio albums, and at my request he played "Out Like A Lamb" from Pop Smear (The Verve Pipe's second album).  He also played "Whiter Shade of Pale" and Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road", which I personally think Brian sings better, but then I've never been a big Springsteen fan.  Thunder Road is a great song though.  He also played "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", and the original lyrical version of "Local Boys Done Good" from Underneath.  I can see why the record label made him change the lyrics, although when I asked him why they bothered to ask him to change the lyrics when they (the label) had no intention of marketing the album...well, Brian said "Good Question!"

Really enjoyed the show as always, and we might go see him Saturday (May 5) at The Laundro-Lounge in historic downtown Wilmington.  (Those of you who aren't familiar with the area, I think we're required by law to use the word "historic" whenever referring to downtown Wilm... er.. historic Downtown WIlmington)

Posted by rickroot at 9:29 PM | Link | 0 comments
27 April 2007

The Daddy Dance

One of the consequences of having a daughter in dance class is the apparent requirement that I make a complete fool of myself from time to time.

In this case, it's at her annual dance recital.  they have a "Daddy-Daughter" dance in which I will dance with Emily on stage in front of several hundred other parents.  There will probably be 10 daddies on stage with me.

Posted by rickroot at 7:24 AM | Link | 2 comments
26 April 2007

What Women Look for in a Man

Recently, a popular womens magazine polled its readership and asked "What do you want in a man?"  They then organized the results and published the common themes based on age groups, and here's what they found.

Women in their early 20s:

  1. Handsome
  2. Charming
  3. Financially successful
  4. A caring listener
  5. Witty
  6. In good shape
  7. Dresses with style
  8. Appreciates finer thing
  9. Full of thoughtful surprises
  10. An imaginative, romantic lover

Women in their early 30s:

  1. Nice looking
  2. Opens car doors, holds chairs
  3. Has enough money for a nice dinner
  4. Listens more than talks
  5. Laughs at my jokes
  6. Carries bags of groceries with ease
  7. Owns at least one tie
  8. Appreciates a good home-cooked meal
  9. Remembers birthdays and anniversaries
  10. Seeks romance at least once a week

Women in their early 40s:

  1. Not too ugly
  2. Doesn't drive off until I'm in the car
  3. Works steady - splurges on dinner out occasionally
  4. Nods head when I'm talking
  5. Usually remembers punch lines of jokes
  6. Is in good enough shape to rearrange the furniture
  7. Wears a shirt that covers his stomach
  8. Knows not to buy champagne with screw-top lids
  9. Remembers to put the toilet seat down
  10. Shaves most weekends

Women in their early 50s:

  1. Keeps hair in nose and ears trimmed
  2. Doesn't belch or scratch in public
  3. Doesn't borrow money too often
  4. Doesn't nod off to sleep when I'm venting
  5. Doesn't retell the same joke too many times
  6. Is in good enough shape to get off couch on weekends
  7. Usually wears matching socks and fresh underwear
  8. Appreciates a good TV dinner
  9. Remembers your name on occasion
  10. Shaves some weekends

Women in their early 60s:

  1. Doesn't scare small children
  2. Remembers where bathroom is
  3. Doesn't require much money for upkeep
  4. Only snores lightly when asleep
  5. Remembers why he's laughing
  6. Is in good enough shape to stand up by himself
  7. Usually wears some clothes
  8. Likes soft foods
  9. Remembers where he left his teeth
  10. Remembers that it's the weekend

Women in their early 70s:

  1. Breathing
  2. Doesn't miss the toilet.
Posted by rickroot at 12:33 PM | Link | 0 comments
25 April 2007

Charlie, a Magical Leoplurodon (Liopleurodon) and Candy Mountain

I don't know what it is about this stupid video that makes me want to watch it every couple of days.

Click to watch Candy Mountain

What is a leoplurodon?  I did find one definition on the internet:  "A possibly fictional reptile creature" (answers.com).

Urbin Dictionary just taught me that it's actually spelled "Liopleurodon" which is a real dinosaur that lived 155 million years ago.  Wikipedia even has an article about it, which mentions "Charlie the Unicorn" (see above)

Anyway, I think I've wasted enough of my time.  And yours.

Posted by rickroot at 1:31 PM | Link | 3 comments

Back to Low Carb for a cuople of weeks

I've been sort of stagnating on the diet and exercise program for a while, and my weight had increased a few pounds because I got out of the general healthy eating habit too.

I need to kick-start my weight loss again, so I'm low carbing for 2 weeks.  Not only that, I'm going cold turkey on soda.  No more coke zero, no more diet rootbeer or diet sunkist.

That's tought because I was probably drinking 24-32 ounces of Coke Zero every day, along with probably a similar amount of other diet NON-caffeinated soda.

Well, I'm into my third day now.  I've been sucking down water and the occasional Crystal Light like you wouldn't believe!  Plus, I'm having a cup of green tea each day.  Green tea has caffeine in it I guess, but rumor has it that it also acts as a carb blocker.

I'm doing the hard-core phase 1 this week, which means I'm avoiding even the sugar-alcohol carbs I would normally find in those South  Beach meal replacement bars that I like so much.

And it's working.  I've lost 5-1/2 pounds in the first two days.  I'm sure it's all water weight, but it's a good kick start.  I'm not going to set a goal for this 2 week period other than to "be good".

My foot injury has kept me out of the gym because the only thing I like to do is the treadmill, and I've determined that I really need to go see a podiatrist about the pain in my left foot.  The urgent care doctor I saw back in January said it was probably an inflamed nerve, and I needed to stay off it for 3 weeks.  Well, I pretty much ignored that advice, but it's obviously not going to heal on its own.

Bowling is over now so I can rest the foot from that activity too, but I'm still going to go see a podiatrist.
Posted by rickroot at 9:45 AM | Link | 0 comments
21 April 2007

Saturday Soccer Update

We just got back from Emily's second soccer game.  It's the first one Adrienne and I have been to because we were on vacation last week!

Emily's team sponsor is Biltmore Homes.  I think it's a little funny that we missed her first game because we were at the Biltmore Estate.

Anyway, I just published a few pictures to our Picasa photo album online.

Emily's really improving, she's much more involved in the game now, running after the ball and today she kicked the ball four times!  Biltmore Homes won again, I think the score was 4-0.  They won 6-0 last week.

Now I have to go out and do some planting.  I picked up a pair of nice fig trees at the farmer's market this morning, along with a confederate jasmine to plant by the mailbox.

Posted by rickroot at 9:38 AM | Link | 0 comments
20 April 2007

I Just Won $500,000!

Well, I wish.  I was playing Deal or No Deal on my web site.  I was down to only two cases...$500,000 and $750,000.. the dealer offered me $625,000 and I said "no".  I mean really, what's the difference?  I only "lost" $125,000.

Got a busy weekend planned!  The neighborhood garage sale is tomorrow from 7am to 11am, so Emily and I are going to get up early and go shopping for treasures.  She's got her second soccer game tomorrow morning too, and tomorrow evening we're having a family gathering at my mom's house.  Our old neighbor Terri and her husband are coming to visit from Georgia (Terri was my neighbor from birth until maybe age 10).  I haven't seen her in quite a few years!

Sunday night we're going to see the Durham Bulls take on the Toledo Mud Hens.  I secured a couple of front row seats for me and Adrienne and Emily out by the visitors bullpen, so maybe I'll get to see a few future Tigers.

I enjoy going to the Bulls games.  It's nice to be at the ball park.  The Bulls have a really nice park, and it's pretty inexpensive (our tix were $8 each).  Should be fun, and it's supposed to be sunny and 82 tomorrow!  Great baseball weather!

Posted by rickroot at 7:42 PM | Link | 0 comments
19 April 2007

Regarding your recent submission to the Smithsonian Institute...


Paleoanthropology Division
Smithsonian Institute
207 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20078

Dear Sir:

Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled "211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post. Hominid skull." We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents "conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago." Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the "Malibu Barbie".

It is evident that you have given a great deal of thought to the analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain that those of us who are familiar with your prior work in the field were loathe to come to contradiction with your findings. However, we do feel that there are a number of physical attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you off to its modern origin:

  1. The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid remains are typically fossilized bone.
  2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9 cubic centimeters, well below the threshold of even the earliest identified proto-hominids.
  3. The dentition pattern evident on the "skull" is more consistent with the common domesticated dog than it is with the "ravenous man-eating Pliocene clams" you speculate roamed the wetlands during that time. This latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing hypotheses you have submitted in your history with this institution, but the evidence seems to weigh rather heavily against it. Without going into too much detail, let us say that:
    1. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a dog has chewed on.
    2. Clams don't have teeth.

It is with feelings tinged with melancholy that we must deny your request to have the specimen carbon dated. This is partially due to the heavy load our lab must bear in its normal operation, and partly due to carbon dating's notorious inaccuracy in fossils of recent geologic record. To the best of our knowledge, no Barbie dolls were produced prior to 1956 AD, and carbon dating is likely to produce wildly inaccurate results. Sadly, we must also deny your request that we approach the National Science Foundation's Phylogeny Department with the concept of assigning your specimen the scientific name "Australopithecus spiff-arino." Speaking personally, I, for one, fought tenaciously for the acceptance of your proposed taxonomy, but was ultimately voted down because the species name you selected was hyphenated, and didn't really sound like it might be Latin.

However, we gladly accept your generous donation of this fascinating specimen to the museum. While it is undoubtedly not a hominid fossil, it is, nonetheless, yet another riveting example of the great body of work you seem to accumulate here so effortlessly. You should know that our Director has reserved a special shelf in his own office for the display of the specimens you have previously submitted to the Institution, and the entire staff speculates daily on what you will happen upon next in your digs at the site you have discovered in your back yard.

We eagerly anticipate your trip to our nation's capital that you proposed in your last letter, and several of us are pressing the Director to pay for it. We are particularly interested in hearing you expand on your theories surrounding the "trans-positating fillifitation of ferrous ions in a structural matrix" that makes the excellent juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex femur you recently discovered take on the deceptive appearance of a rusty 9-mm Sears Craftsman automotive crescent wrench.

Yours in Science,
Harvey Rowe
Curator, Antiquities

Posted by rickroot at 6:21 PM | Link | 1 comment
17 April 2007

What if it happened at Duke?

Okay, sorry for two blog entries one right after the other about the same event... but this is a different topic.

I work on campus at Duke University, and I was talking with some coworkers this morning about the Virginia Tech shooting, and we were wondering.. what if it happend at Duke?

Virginia Tech, from what I've heard, has a campus wide PA system that went unused during this tragedy.  I know the powers that be at Duke must be contemplating what they would do if something like this happened. 

We have emergency call boxes all over campus, in the parking lots and such - but of course those don't help at all when the tragedy is occuring inside the building.

Like disaster recovery, it's hard to plan for something like this, because you don't think it'll ever happen.

Our building will never be blown up, and there will never be a mass shooting on campus.

Or will there?

Hopefully, people will have learned at the very least that emailing the student body in an emergency situation is not an option.  I mean c'mon.  We know that tech geeks like myself check email every 3 minutes during the day, but I don't think that's common.  If you've got a real emergency situation, there's got to be SOME OTHER PLAN in place to disseminate that information.

Here's an example, on a much smaller scale and not an emergency:

Yesterday, a tree fell part way in the Campus Drive lot, endangering a number of cars in the lot.  The lot is shared by people who work in a variety of locations on campus - mostly in 6-7 buildings right on Campus Drive, but others work down in the Perkins Library or in other locations down on west campus.

These 7 endangered cars needed to be moved... but how to contact their owners?  In theory, Duke Police could contact the vehicles owners by looking up the parking permits in the parking database, and contacting the owners of the vehicles individually.  That never happened though.  My co-worker went out to see if one of the cars was his, and it wasn't.  But he had the sense to write down the licence plate numbers of the other cars and gave them to someine in our office, who emailed everyone the licence plate numbers.

I don't know how it all worked out, but I don't think any cars were damaged.

But it still makes me wonder... what would we do if a tragedy struck?

Posted by rickroot at 8:54 PM | Link | 2 comments

Virginia Tech and the Bystander Effect

I was listening to Neil Boortz tonight on my way home from bowling.  Normally I don't because he's a hater of democrats and liberals, which I generally align with.  But I do like some of the ideas he supports, like the Fair Tax.  Read up on it.

Anyway, Neil mentioned something called the Bystander Effect, a pyschological phenomenon where bystanders to a violent crime are less likely to do anything about it if there are more people witnessing the crime.

He brought up the case of the murder of Kitty Genovese - a woman who was attacked and murdered on the street outside her New York apartment building in 1964.  The attack lasted 30 minutes, and nobody called the police until AFTER the murder was completed and the murderer had fled the scene.  A police investigation determined that 38 people heard he call for help, and not one of them did anything about it.  Some of them WATCHED the attack from their windows high above the street.

So how does this relate to the tragedy at Virginia Tech?

I don't know.  I wasn't there, thank god.  But the gunman shot over 50 people, and over 30 of them died.  He obviously unloaded a lot of bullets, and probably had to reload multiple times.  Maybe he was quick.  I wonder if anyone attempted to subdue him - putting their own lives at risk to do so, of course.

What would I do?  Honesty compels me to tell you that I'd probably run and hide.

I don't know if the Bystander Effect really applies here, because there were no bystanders.  There wree only victims.

I'd wager that the police were notified pretty quickly once the second shooting started.  But did anyone try to stop the guy?

BTW, this is not about gun control.  I don't want to hear anyone tell me that gun control could've prevented this, and I don't want to hear anyone tell me how the liberal media wants it to be all about gun control.  It's not, and they don't.  A few people might bring it up, but it's not "the media."

Posted by rickroot at 8:43 PM | Link | 0 comments
16 April 2007

Prayer Request for the Hokie Family

By now, you've probably all heard about the shooting at Virginia Tech, which has left somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 students dead and more injured.

Take a moment out of your day when you read this to say a prayer for the all the members of the Virginia Tech family who've been affected by this terrible tragedy.

Posted by rickroot at 2:38 PM | Link | 0 comments
15 April 2007

Our visit to Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, and the Biltmore Estate

Well, we're back!  It was a short vacation, but very enjoyable.

We left Friday morning as soon as my mom and dad picked up Emily.  The were taking her to the NC Zoo in Asheboro.  We headed west and after about 4-1/2 hours, arrived at our destination - the Fairfield Mountains Resort in Lake Lure, NC.  We checked into our somewhat dated 2 bedroom villa.  It was nice, but definately built in the late 70s!  It had at least been somewhat remodeled since then.  The master bath had a gigantic jacuzzi tub.

From our balcony, we had a gorgeous view of nearby Bald Mountain, the golf course fairways, and Lake Lure was visible in the distance.

After having lunch at the little bar-n-grill at the golf course, we headed down the windy road around Lake Lure over to Chimney Rock for a quick visit.  We then checked out the menus at a couple nearby "fine dining" establishments, including the 1927 Lake Lure Inn, and the Point of View Restaurant.  Both looked good, but we decided on the Lake View Restaurant back at the resort.  But it wasn't dinner yet, so we headed to the little village of Chimney Rock for about an hour of shopping in the various stores.  Adrienne and Lin picked up these cool magnetic bracelet / necklace things.

Dinner at the Lake View was awesome.  We had a table at a window overlooking the lake.  The food and service were fabulous.  I had baked stuffed shrimp.  Adrienne and Lin had the Halibut special, while Bill got a seafood platter.

We got up Saturday morning, had breakfast at Legend's (the bar-n-grill at the golf course), then headed up the road to Asheville for our visit to the Biltmore Estate.  None of us had ever been there.  We parked and got to the house around 10:45 am, just in time for our "rooftop tour", which Adrienne had scheduled for us.  It was a guided tour consisting of about 20 patrons and a guide.  We saw several parts of the house on the way up to the roof that aren't part of the normal 62 room tour, and I got a few cool photographs from the various balconies and rooftops that we went on.  The rooftop tour took about an hour, and then we had lunch near the Stables.

Around 1 o'clock, we did our audio tour of the house, which was really cool.  The main tour - that you get with your daily admission - is 62 rooms.  I think we paid an additional $8 for the audio tour, but it was definately worthwhile.  The Biltmore Estate is really an amazing house.  Fully electrified when it opened in 1895, every room had lightbulbs, and it even had its own telephone system.  Heck, even some of the closets had lights that came on automatically when you opened the doors!  Yes, even back in 1895.

The most amazing things to me were the two lane bowling alley and the indoor pool - complete with underwater lights.  In an age when few people had electric lights in their house, George Washington Vanderbilt had a 70,000 allon indoor pool with underwater lights.

After we completed our audio tour, it was a visit to the winery for a wine tasting.  I don't like wine, but I had a glass of exceptionally tasty grape juice.  I don't believe it was Welch's.

Around 4:30 we headed back to the parking lot and our feet were killing us, so we headed home.

Dinner Saturday night was at Larkin's on the Lake, another fine dining establishment.  We had stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer.  Adrienne and Lin both had the crabcakes for dinner, while I had the prime rib, and Bill got a rack of baby back ribs.  Again, we had a beautiful view of the lake while we ate.

Sunday we headed home, and I'm freaking exhausted!  Yet here I am blogging.

Here's the link to the photo album online:  http://picasaweb.google.com/rick.root/Spring2007TripToLakeLure

Posted by rickroot at 9:00 PM | Link | 0 comments
12 April 2007

Off to Lake Lure for the weekend!

So, Adrienne and I, along with her dad and step-mom, are going to the mountains this weekend.  We're leaving bright and early in the morning, after mom picks up Emily - yes that's right, a vacation with only adults!  YAY!

We're actually going to Lake Lure, a recreational lake in the mountains just south of Asheville, and we're staying at the Fairfield Mountains resort.  Much of the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing was filmed at Lake Lure, so if you've seen the movie, you've seen Lake Lure.

Anyway, I think we're going to visit Chimney Rock tomorrow, then check into the resort, and head out to Larkins on the Lake for dinner.  Saturday we're going to the Biltmore Estate, then Sunday we're coming home - though if we get the chance I might look into stoppping to see my cousin Jennifer in Charlotte - she just had a baby boy!

It's unlikely that I'll do any blogging until I we get back!

Posted by rickroot at 8:51 PM | Link | 0 comments
11 April 2007

Sanity regarding Don Imus

I found this article on KansasCity.com by a reporter - Jason Whitlock - that I mostly agree with regarding his summary of the Don Imus situation.  I sent him an email about it, and I thought I'd share it here.  Read the article first!

Mr. Whitlock,

I appreciate your completely sane point of view on the Don Imus "situation" and I mostly agree with your point of view, though far be it for me to determine what problems blacks do or do not face.

However, I wouldn't say that Imus is "irrelevant."   I don't really consider him to be a "shock jock"... Imus in the morning is a comedy / news show, and the fact that he has so many legitimate guests and tackles real issues makes him far more relevant than someone like Howard Stern.

If you talked to any of the number of people and charities who've been helped by Don Imus' numerous charity efforts, I think you'd find that he's far from irrelevant.

Personally, I found what he said to be offensive, but Don Imus says offensive things on a daily basis, and those that listen to the show take it for what it is.

Mr. Imus does a lot of good in this world, I think, and he's able to do so because of his radio show.  It'd be a shame if he were to lose his job over this.


Posted by rickroot at 7:20 PM | Link | 2 comments

Google offers driving directions from Raleigh to London

Google offers driving directions from Raleigh to London, England.

Check this out.  Pay particularly close attention to step 29.

Posted by rickroot at 1:16 PM | Link | 1 comment
10 April 2007

Bill Richardson to talk about Iraq tonight

I'm not a huge fan of MoveOn.org.  I may be a liberal, but I don't like the wacko-liberals, and I think MoveOn.org is a bit radical left for my tastes.

That doesn't mean they don't do some good things, and one of those good things is hosting a national "town hall" meeting with Governor Bill Richardson tonight about the Iraq War.

You can attend a local MoveOn.org event in your area tonight, just use the following link to find one.


Here's the full text of the email I got today from the Richardson Campaign.

Posted by rickroot at 1:11 PM | Link | 0 comments

Is your wireless secure? Not with WEP...

Chances are, if you've got a wireless router and you've "properly" secured your router so that your neighbors can't hijack your internet connection, you're using the Wired Equiavalent Privacy encryption method to secure your wireless network.  That's WEP for short.   Don't worry, I didn't know what it stood for either until today, I always assumed "Wireless Encryption Protocol"

Anyway, this weekend, some german security analysts figured out how to crack this encryption method - and not only that, it can be done by a standard PC in under 60 seconds.


So, if you've got a wireless router secured with WEP encryption - change it to something else.  WPA, for example.

If you've got a wireless router without security... well, get some.  Otherwise you're opening yourself up to someone sitting on the curb by your house and accessing your private data.
Posted by rickroot at 12:06 PM | Link | 4 comments
08 April 2007

Saving a young banana tree from a late freeze

So, I have a banana tree in my front yard.  I can do this in North Carolina because the winters aren't cold enough to freeze the ground.  Banana trees aren't very tolerant of freezing - in fact, they're not at all tolerant.  The slightest frost will kill all the leaves, and a good freeze will kill the entire tree right down to the ground.

I wouldn't have thought about growing a banana tree here in North Carolina, except that there's a large grove of banana trees in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens up on campus.  I asked my coworker George, who has what you might call a green thumb, and he has some in his yard, and kindly gave me a sproute last spring.

Anyway, last night's low was going to be in the mid 20s.  A record by a long shot - the previous record was 28, and it was supposed to be 24 last night.  My little banana tree had sprouted several leaves and was a good 18-24" tall already, as we've had lovely spring weather, and no frost for over a month I'd say.

Well, I don't want it to have to start over - from the ground up, so to speak - so here's what I did.

I have an unused halogen desk lamp in my garage.  It gets quite hot when it's on, though the bulb is only like 10 watts or something.  Anyway, I ran an extension cord out to the banana tree, and plugged in the halogen lamp and sit in right next to the banana.  Then I mounded up some mulch around the base of the banana, as high as I could get it, and covered the tree and lamp with a 30 gallon plastic garbage can.  Finally, I mounded more mulch around the base of the trash can to keep the warm air inside.

This morning - about a half hour ago actually - I went out to remove the garbage can.  Success!  Not only was the banana tree nice and warm, but the inside of the garbage can was wet.  I think I created a miniature rain forest!  Hah.

Tonight the low is supposed to be in the low 30s, but then after that I think we'll be safe from future frosts.

Posted by rickroot at 8:33 AM | Link | 2 comments
05 April 2007

Tax Day = Free Ice Cream Day

Ben & Jerry's ice cream shops are doing their part to make tax day a little less stressful.

On Tuesday April 17th from 12pm until 8pm participating Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops around the world will be hosting Ben & Jerry’s Annual Free Cone Day.
Posted by rickroot at 2:34 PM | Link | 0 comments

Guess The Cup Size


If this doesn't put a smile in your heart, nothing else will!

Guess what cup size?

Okay, what did you guess?

Posted by rickroot at 7:28 AM | Link | 0 comments
03 April 2007

Hillary for President? I don't think so!

I found the following image here.

Hillary Clinton

This is practically the facial equivalent of the Howard Dean scream!

I'm Rick Root, and I approved this message!

Posted by rickroot at 6:49 AM | Link | 12 comments
02 April 2007

Free Wii Update!

I got credit for another referral today!  That's two out of six!  I have to get 4 more by June 18.

Want to help?  Click here.

Posted by rickroot at 4:35 PM | Link | 0 comments
01 April 2007

Kermit does Nine Inch Nails

Okay, this is kind of disturbing.

It's Kermit the Frog, sitting on a chair - MTV Unplugged style - singing "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails.

Without further comment...

If that doesn't load, click here.

Posted by rickroot at 7:42 PM | Link | 0 comments