Thursday, March 30, 2006

alternate identity

I've been hiding it all these years, but I'll now expose my true identity. I am not Paul Ip. I am....

Alan Jones

OK. Seriously. I'm not Alan Jones, but apparently that what they *thought* my name was when I ordered this part at Murray's. I love Murray's, and I'll still shop there again, but this just doesn't make any sense.

So here's the story. I called into Murray's on Monday to check the price they had for a part. They had the lowest price by a few dollars, so I ordered the part by giving my credit card number to the guy. The part usually gets in overnight, but I didn't drop by till tonight (Thursday night).

When I got in the store, I went to the bin to see if the part that I ordered was there. It wasn't. It wouldn't have been there anyway, since that isn't where they put those parts (probably a good thing), but either way, I couldn't find what I was looking for. So I ask the guy working there, RJ.

After helping a couple of people that got there before I did, RJ went to the back of the store to look for it. He couldn't find it. It didn't make sense to either of us. He then checked the logs of parts that have been ordered. He couldn't find me. After asking what the part was, he did find the same part ordered for Alan Jones. It wasn't clear if it was for the same car though. Probably just coincedence.

I then mentioned that perhaps I ordered it at another store by mistake, and RJ went to check to see if there were any parts being held for me at all the Murray's stores in Ohio. Again, nothing. Disappointed, I asked him if he could just order me another part. He advised me against that since if I gave my credit card number, chances are it was charged, and I wouldn't want to be charged twice. I left empty handed.

Getting home, I checked my credit card statement. Sure enough, my card was charged for the part. Not only that, but it was charged to the store that I had just visited. Great. What the heck is going on... I call them up.

I talk to another fellow on the phone. I ask him to double check to see if my part is in. I did explain the prior difficulty, so he goes straight to the logs. "Are you Alan Jones?" he asks. Of course not, I reply. The funny thing is, Alan Jones also has a 1993 Honda Accord, just like mine. I volunteer the last 4 digits of my credit card number. Bingo! That bastard used my credit card!

It would have been simple if that was all. But he wanted to see if the other info matched up. Daytime phone number? I forget what he said it was, but it sure wasn't my phone number. I think the credit card, part, order date, and car were enough to convince him though. He told me that he wrote my name on the order so I should be able to come and pick it up the next time I drop in. At this time I ask if the part will be in the bin at the door, or if it would be behind the desk. He replies by telling me that these parts are always held behind the desk so that they are given to the right person. But what if Alan Jones comes in? "There is no Alan Jones," he replies. I'm not totally convinced. But if Alan Jones comes in and takes my rear left brake caliper bracket, I'm going to be a little pissed.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

site of the day

Ever wonder how the big water treatment plant at the top of Fairhill (er... Stokes Blvd.) was built?

Answer: With horses and steam shovels. Heck yeah!


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

random link of the day

You know, everyone does it...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

branding,part deux

Samson brand hair care products. Why? Because what's more important to Samson than his beautiful hair?

Of course, I'm not the first person to think of this.

Friday, March 24, 2006


I can't take this anymore. This movie with Sandra Bullock and Emilio Estevez is terrible.

Spy Game is crap too. No one would be so foolish to mess with China. Plus it's an "encore," meaning I just saw it once already.

Monday, March 20, 2006

fun with insurance

To date... still haven't gotten the bill for the followup exam.

Cost after insurance: $436.58
Cost before insurance: $4060.00 ($935 for anesthesia... who needs that?)
Savings to date: $3623.42

Total cost of insurance: $782.34/year before tax... or about $460/year after tax. Deal?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

news from iraq

At least for me, the most interesting, non-biased source of news from Iraq is from the Digital Journalist.


Friday, March 17, 2006

car payment

I am saddened to report that I will need to make my first car payment of the year. I have *yet another* bad anti-lock brake sensor, a fouled oxygen sensor, and also a busted exhaust.

ABS Sensor:
It appears that these just die on my car. This is the third one that needs to be replaced. Granted, it's the rear one that is very easy to replace. Total cost of the repair: $111.92. Total savings from doing it myself: ~$200-$300 (extra $45 parts, plus an hour of labor).

Oxygen Sensor:
I replaced this recently, but it died because of a design flaw. Bosch makes the replacement parts come with a wire that's about 3" too long. What happens is that the wire is so long it bends up towards the oil filter. Consequently, some oil got on it the last time I did an oil change, likely damaging the sensor. I considered buying an authentic Honda part this time, but I couldn't bear paying the extra $100 for the part. Total cost of the repair: about $60. Total savings from doing it myself: ~$260-$360 (extra $160 parts, plus an hour of labor).

This was replaced 2 years ago by the shady folks at Midas by Golden Gate. Not only do they coerce me to do extra work, but then they didn't connect the exhaust right, denied it, then eventually fixed it because they saw that they really did manage to screw it up. Now the pipe towards the rear has completely broken, with a 2" gap between main line and the muffler's pipe. The break is on the muffler side, which makes me wonder if this is covered under warranty...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Yay! I have been authorized to borrow up to $40,611 for next year! Oh wait... borrow, not free money. Well, here's to being debt free!

And did I ever mention that I didn't like the recent changes to the federal student aid programs?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

interesting conversations

Excerpt from what I heard on the way up the elevator just now... (and when I say excerpt, I mean everything that was said).

Girl 1 -- Late teens, early twenties female, dyed blonde hair. Presumably the elder sister of girl 2
Girl 2 -- 10 year old gir. Brown hair. Wearing a shirt that read "Blondes have more fun."

Girl 1 leans against the side of the elevator, with hand to her mouth. In her hand is her mobile phone.

Girl 2: Why are you always biting your cell phone?
Girl 1: (Annoyed) I'm not biting it.
Girl 2: Then why do you always have it in your mouth?
Girl 1: Because I'm in love with it.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


You know how in ads they often have beautiful photos of random places? I was dorking around Canon's site and wanted to take a look at a night shot from the camera to see how it compares to the ones I've taken with the same camera. Oh right, the photo.

While look at this photo, my first reaction was that my night photo came out just as well, of not better. With a 30s exposure, I found that the stars move quite a bit (ok... enough to be noticeable on this kick-ass camera). Sure, most of my night shots sucked. But thankfully I was mindful enough to take a number of shots at varying ISO speeds and shutter timings. My best shot was at 30s too, but at 100 ISO so that you can tell what's stars vs. what's graininess in the photo. This shot was taken on Mt. Fuji in the middle of the night. It was incredible how many stars there were (though not as many as in the southern hemisphere).

But back to the point... I was taking a close look at the photo on Canon's site, and I realized that it looked vaguely familiar. No, not because I looked at the photo earlier in the year when I was deciding if I should buy the camera. What caught my attention was the odd windows on the church. I've seen those somewhere before. On The Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo in New Zealand to be precise. I looked up the church, and yep, it was the same one in the Canon photo. Heh... and I remember thinking the first time I saw the photo how it must be some random place in Scotland or something. Little did I know...

You may be wondering if I have my own photo of the church. I don't. I *do* have a photo looking towards the lake from the rear of the church. d=

radioactive fun!

Recently my mom decided to pass on to me some of her photography equipment that she has when she was a student. Included in it was a Staticmaster brush. It came in a oversized clear plastic case, but more importantly, it has a caution label proudly declaring the following:

caution Radiation from polonimum is dangerous if the solid material is ingested or inhaled. Do not touch strip under grid. Keep away from children. See instructions. Guar. until:
SEP 74 B
MODEL NO. 1C 200

Nice. Needless to say, I was a bit curious as to how radioactive the thing was. After a quick google search, I found that the element Polonium has a half life of 138 days. Since it's been about 33 years since the manufacture of this brush, that calculates to about 87 half lives.

Remaining Polonium? How about 6.46 x 10^-27 percent of the original amount. For those not familiar with scientific notation, that would be:


Does that make the brush worthless? Absolutely not. It's still a nice camel hair brush, useful for cleaning all sorts of stuff (like my fancy screen). Does the radioactivity help? Maybe. But also consider that this product was first created in the glory days of radioactivity... similar to how today is the glory days of trans-fat, carbs, the letter X (Xtreme!!), and the letter i (iPod, iTunes, iRobot???). Want an example? How about some sweet radioactive spark plugs? Sure, deionizing air in the combustion chamber may help a spark travel through the air/fuel mixture, but probably not. And just ignore the fact that the Polonium would be 75% gone in less than a year after production (not installation). Isn't marketing fun?

Friday, March 10, 2006

mmm.... beer....

Came across this randomly. I would totally rent a car from this company (not)...

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Apparently Yale has some pretty insane athletic facilities. What's up with having a pool on the 3rd floor of a building? Or a totally enormous weight room? Sure, I can continue to question why, but to be honest, I have no issues with it... unlike the major issues I had with CMU's total lack of greenspace.

And thanks for littering the overused intramural fields with rocks. As if the fact that we only has a field the size of a baseball diamond for the entire university wasn't bad enough...

Monday, March 06, 2006


I just filled out a loooong survey for CMU where I got to express some of my discontent with the school. Yes, I know I'm in the minority, but I was also in CS. Isn't that enough of a reason?

I guess to sum it up, my beef is that once you're in CS, it's like a trap. You can't get out. You think you can, and you see ways to do it, but there are surprises at every corner to hold you back and put you in your place.

Yes, I met a ton of cool people at CMU, but you know what? I didn't really get a chance to meet many of you till Junior and Senior year. And yes, I still feel cheated. Cheated that the way the curriculum is structured I got to hang out with the same dull CS crowd 80% of the time. It wasn't till senior year when I was taking almost all HCI classes (as my CS electives), that I actually met some cool people in class (who coincidentally weren't CS major. funny, eh?).

Then there's the fact that even with those HCI classes, it seemed like the school was more interested in cranking out hard core CS students and less interested in crafting the curriculum around the students. Yes, I am a computer science major. Yes, I can program like a star if I wanted to. But guess what? I signed up for HCI so that I could learn more about the design and pyschology aspects of creating computing solutions. I didn't sign up so that I could be thrown into some bullshit class to learn how to make my own Java classes. I learned how to do that in my CS classes. And if I wanted to learn how to program some more, then I guess I would have taken another straight CS class. Let me take the prototyping class if I want to dammit. (they did change this policy, but only after I had to take the class) Oh, and not only was the class "teaching" us to use Java, but it also seemed ridiculous what we were doing. Creating a UI set using an existing UI library. Brilliant!

OK. I'm done. Perhaps when I get my other degree I can stop venting. And I didn't even get into school spirit...

HCI - Human Computer Interaction
CS - Computer Science
CMU - Carnegie Mellon University. No hard feelings, Central Mich

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Me delivering the news to Laz, the one person from Chicken Bowl I that voted KFC's fried chicken superior to Popeye's.

paulip88: From the New Haven Restaurant Guide on Popeye's
paulip88: "They serve much better chicken than KFC"...
RedhawkLAZ: fucking biased whores
paulip88: On KFC:
paulip88: "A standard fast-food place... that loses the fast-food fried-chicken battle to Popeye's"
RedhawkLAZ: you are a bitch
RedhawkLAZ: stop ruining the colonel for me