Thursday, July 31, 2008

How hard could it be...

As my mother documented, last Sunday we moved. However, before we moved, as I noted last week, we were having FiOS installed.
Before installation, the FiOS propaganda informed me, I needed to be sure that I had, among other things, a three-prong outlet available for plugging in the Optical Network Interface (ONT). Our basement had a total of three outlets in it at the time. One for the sump pump, and two on a wall which splits the basement in half. So, clearly, we needed to get a new outlet installed. But, the thing is, I didn't know where to install it, as the ONT was not yet in the house. So I called Verizon. (Here we go....)
I asked them where the ONT would be installed, in order to run an outlet. This is a basic summary of the call:
Me: There are no free outlets in my basement, where should I put a new one so I can plug in the ONT.
Verizon: Oh, we don't know that before they run the fiber to your house.
Me: But I'm supposed to have an outlet ready for it beforehand...?
Verizon: Yes.
Me: So you're telling me I need to guess where the ONT will go?
Verizon: Oh, no, of course not. You just need to have an outlet ready.
Me: Yes, but there are NO outlets.
Verizon: So make sure you have an electrician install one where the ONT will go before your FiOS installation.
Me: And you don't see a problem here...
[...]
Verizon: Also, be sure you have an electrician run a network cable from the ONT to your computer, since we don't fish the walls anymore. [It turns out, they do, but I didn't know that at the time.]
Me: So I not only need to have an outlet run to an unknown location, I also need to have a network cable run from an unknown location to my computer.
Verizon: No, not from an unknown location, from the ONT!
Me: Which isn't installed anywhere yet!
Verizon: Yes, but you need to be sure to have a power outlet and network cable for it before installation.
Me: AARRRRGH!!!
It wasn't until the third service rep that anyone realized this line of reasoning wouldn't work. Anyway, eventually we decided that the ONT would share the plug with the sump pump. Of course, that wasn't where the fiber eventually came into the house, so now we have phone and internet service courtesy of 2 extension cords plugged into a ceiling lamp with a 2 prong to three prong adaptor.

But we're not done yet. Cutting out a lengthy (and mildly amusing) story involving not having enough fiber, I'll skip to the best part. The guy goes up in the cherry picker to hook the fiber to the first pole, and on his way down, the boom gets stuck:
He couldn't go up or down, and was stuck there until a mobile tow truck/crane came about an hour or two later:
Meanwhile, the other install technician, continued doing what he did most of the day:
Verizon claims that the installation would take anywhere between 4-6 hours. It took them 9 hours, 15 minutes. Had they not screwed things up in advance, and had the truck not broken, and had cellphone dude been mildly motivated or intelligent, it would have taken them under 4 hours.

In any case, it was installed in the end, and I even got back to our apartment barely in time for Shabbat. Then on Sunday we moved:
Before:

After:

Thank you VERY much to everyone who helped us out!(missing from the picture: Jesse A.)

I think this picture of Aryeh sums up how we all felt by the end of the day:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Urinals and Restrooms of the World

We at the Lanseybrothers blog absolutely love restrooms, we just can't talk enough about them. It began two years ago with a simple attempt by Aryeh to explain the concept of a urinal to a our mother. The same week that Aryeh went public about his "Great Urinal Hunt" (which was more of a safari) Eli began to scientifically classify them with more discussion of phylogenies in "Further Studies of the American Urinal." We then expanded the restroom tag with the South American Mysterious Bathroom Implement, urinal placement, strange flushing mechanisms, fixing toilets, and even restroom graphitti.
I would like to continue the tradition now with my research. Not surprisingly I specialize in foreign urinals and restrooms.
We see here the modern French urinal (galoas urinalas)

It is quite different from the common americanas urinalas but rather similar to dominant English urinals (Brittanius urinalas).

Perhaps the taller French version evloved to accommodate lesser aiming ability or possibly just larger variation in heights.

I spotted this rare and old breed of urinals in the basement of an English university building. It belongs to the water closet family of the porcelainas kingdom known as (aquas super.) They are charachterised by the water tank being raised high above the bowl level.


This species, and the whole family of aquas super are almost extinct in America, England and most of Europe but still thriving quite nicely in some other countries; notably Egypt.



More interesting though is the phenotypical differences in the bowl. Observe the small spout of water, controlled by the faucet on the left side of the toliet (or the side of your right hand if you are sitting). This is indeed for wiping . . .
Notice the non-working version of what looks awfully similar to a toilet paper roll holder. I think it is actually a precurser for the more evolved version with toilet paper and no spouty thing.



I'm not sure what to call this species with the spout, please comment if you have any ideas.

Also, I have a graphic photo, of a toilet that is basically a hole in a tiled floor, with no seat to speak of. I would say its too graphic for this blog though I will email the photo to anyone upon request.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

We have no Interwebs

Verizon was kind enough to cancel our Internet service a week early, so my planned post will need to wait until after we move (this Sunday). That's assuming, of course, that Verizon manages to install FiOS tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Every day that I come home from Rutgers I see a sign. Immediately you think oh great a boring post about some sign. Well this is not a normal sign, this is one of those flashing signs that remind me that the speed limit is 25 mph in a school zone. Here is a picture.

You may have notice that half the sign is blocked by a speed hump sign, you may have also noticed that it is a bit dark out. In fact I took this picture at around 2:30 AM on my way home after a late night last week. All this together means that the sign is blocked, and on at 2:30 in the morning over the summer. At least I know my taxes are being used well.

In other news happy Pi approximation day!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wikimania 2008 and the Pyramids

Wikimania this year was in The Library of Alexandria Egypt. Thats pretty close to Israel so we figured we would just skip over there and join in (about a 12 hour journey).





From left to right, Dror, Jordan, Joel and Me.


Jordan and Joel paying close attention.


Pretty self explanatory.



Some guy there sold us the pyramids for 5 Egyptian Pounds so Jordan and I attempted to take it with us.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Not Photoshop

I recently came across a rather nifty optical device. Here is a demonstration:
    1) First take a polarizer and place it in front of an LCD monitor so that the monitor looks black:

    2) Then put the mystery device between the polarizer and the monitor, and behold:
    In case you can't tell from the pictures, the mystery device allows you to see the bit of LCD it's covering (and no, this has not been Photoshopped).

    This is what the monitor looks like through the thing:
    The difference between the two pictures is from rotating the device. There is no angle where the screen is completely blacked out - just a variation from yellowish to blueish color.

    I think I know what it is, but I'm not sure. Perhaps someone knows what it is?

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Mickey Mouse ate Rodgers and Hammerstein

    (I know it's Wednesday. But I missed blogging last week [moving-related lack of any spare time], so I figured I'd make up for it today.)
    As part of the moving process, we need to transfer our phone and high-speed Internet service. We've been using Verizon's cheap DSL for a while, however it is not available in Teaneck. Only FiOS. Expensive FiOS. While attempting to see if I could get a price reduction in FiOS since I'm currently paying less for Verizon DSL, I clicked on the "Chat with a live person" link. The canned responses, essential uselessness and lack of emoticons of this chat made the Verizon service person ('Lisa' - they even include the quotes) seem more like a robot than an actual robot. But I figured I'd check if perhaps they have a box where they're allowed to type something on their own volition. Below is an exerpt from the chat transcript:
    me: I have another question
    Lisa: Please proceed with your question. I am here to assist you.
    me: Can you please send me a message consisting of the text "Mickey Mouse ate Rodgers and Hammerstein"
    Lisa: I am sorry we do not have information on that.
    me: OK, that's what I figured
    Lisa: You just need to call local office for get more information on that.
    me: Excellent, I will ask the local office to tell me that "Mickey Mouse ate Rodgers and Hammerstein"
    What's weird, is that somehow the options they have to choose from do not always guarantee perfect grammar: "for get more information..." rather than "to get..." Maybe they have a list of options to construct sentences, but not full freedom to speak as they might normally?
    In any case, I think when I do call the local office, I'll try the "OK, I'll call Comcast, then" method of bargaining. Thank goodness for at least a little smidgen of competition.

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Full of Holes

    This past Sunday I decided to make bagels. I got the recipe out my culinary institute recipe book which contains over 4400 recipes (including a whole section on recipes for the microwave), which I bought for one dollar at a library that was selling peoples old donated books for money. basically you make the dough, you shape it, then you boil it then you bake it. They where delicious, they weren't totally perfect but hopefully next time they will be even better.

    Here is a picture of the whole process you ca see the plain dough on the right the boiled dough in the middle and the cooking dough in the back.


    Here are what the bagels look like after you shape them and let them rise.


    Here is what they look like in the pot of simmering water.

    What they look like after they are simmered (note the three onion bagels).

    and what they looked like before they all got eaten.

    Monday, July 14, 2008

    The West Bank

    Breaking News!
    The Lansey Brother's Mom (Lill) has gotten inspired to make a blog of her very own, as of the first two posts it remains highly reccomended by at least this Lansey brother; its so far enterntaining and especially usefull for keeping up with the parental units:
    http://keepingupwiththeparentalunits.blogspot.com/

    Here is a very telling Map from wikipedia

    In case you can't tell, this is a map of all the provinces in the Arab League. Notice that Israel is not among them . . . its the little white dot you need the full version of the picture so see clearly.


    Anyway: This Shabbat I went to my friend Sammy from home who lives in Mitzpe Yericho which is right outside Jerusalem. It was great because Etan was also there visiting his cousins.


    Its right outside of Jerusalem, but they still have relatively tight security on the perimiter.


    Friday afternoon Sammy showed me a neat spring and canyon, thats where this picture is from.

    Part of the trail went under the bushes as you can see here.


    What do you think this skull is from? Sammy found it a while back. We think its probably from a camel but don't have any evidence that it isn't of extra-terrestrial origin.


    This is the view from Sammy's front yard.


    This is the sort of newish highway going from Jerusalem to the cities west of Jerusalem.

    Thursday, July 03, 2008

    Letters from a Nut

    There's a great book called Letters from a Nut where a guy writes these fairly amusing letters to various places. In any case, I've been listening to 1010WINS on my commute and found certain things annoying about their broadcast, so I sent them my very own Letter from a Nut:
    Dear 1010WINS,
    I am very confused. Your channel announcer claims that 1010WINS is "All News, All the Time," and the logo on your website supports this statement. Yet, often the announcer states that 1010WINS has "News, Weather, Traffic, and More!" These are clearly contradictory claims! From listening to your broadcasts on my drive to and from work, I've determined that the latter statement is true, with "More" clearly referring to "Commercials." Then why do you persist in claiming "All News, All the Time" - you should really change your logo and sound bite to say "Some News, Every Now and Then," or perhaps "Almost all Commercials, Almost all of the Time." I would even accept, “Day old news, repeated verbatim every thirty minutes, interspersed with traffic reports and commercials all of the time.” But this is not the major reason for emailing you.
    You see, I have a complaint regarding the oft-repeated claim "You give us 22 minutes, we'll give you the world." Since you have a news cycle that repeats every 10 minutes (“Traffic and Weather on the Tens”), as well as every 30 minutes (“Sports news at 15 and 45 past the hour”), I figure that although it feels like your broadcast is mostly commercials, there must be only 8 minutes of ads for every 30 minutes of broadcast, or else the 22 minutes claim is completely nonsensical. In that case, since there’s no way to fast-forward through the commercials, I feel you should change your slogan to “You give us (and our advertisers) half an hour, we’ll give you the world.” But that is still not the main complaint.
    My main complaint is that I’ve given you 22 minutes (actually, 30 minutes). In fact, I’ve given you my whole hour-and-a-half commute (that’s over 4 times 22 minutes, or 3 times 30 minutes), each way, for a few weeks and you have yet to give me the World. I was expecting a package in the mail or something, declaring me Owner and Supreme Ruler of The World, but I’ve received nothing. You didn’t even email me a tracking number! But then, I thought, you might not have my email address. So I figured I’d contact you so you’d know where to send it, so now you have it: ~~~~@gmail.com Eagerly awaiting the world, ~~~~~ ~~~~~~
    I'll be sure to post any response I get.

    Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    NO!!! That is Not a Door

    I was walking around the Hill Center Building (Rutgers Mathematics), when I discovered this sign. I had just walked through a door while heading for the exit, and there was this (the actual exit was just to the left of it). I wonder how many peopl smacked right into it before they put up this sign.

    For the up close.