Friday, January 25, 2008

Today is Official "Read the Terms and Conditions" Day!


WHEREAS, as of September 30, 2007, 1.244 billion people use the Internet according to Internet World Stats; and

WHEREAS, E-commerce product sales totaled $146.4 billion in the United States in 2006, representing about 6% of retail product sales in the country (; and

WHEREAS, credit cards are the most common form of payment for Internet shopping; and

WHEREAS, if you enter your credit card number, your billing address, and your security code online, it is highly likely that you will be charged for the service that you are registering for; and

WHEREAS, most websites have posted terms and conditions that you must agree to in order to use the services of the websites or make purchases; and

WHEREAS, the purpose of having people agree to the terms and conditions is so that people are aware of the terms and conditions; and

WHEREAS, you cannot claim "unauthorized charges" and have fees reversed for items that you have actually ordered simply because you didn't read or remember what you agreed to; and

WHEREAS, not reading the "terms and conditions", especially when you are entering personal information online is a very very bad idea; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the Writer of this Blog, That the twenty-fifth day of January, in 2008 and in each succeeding year, be designated as “Official 'Read The Terms and Conditions' Day" everywhere; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Writer of this Blog hereby recognizes the importance of reading contracts before you agree to them; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Writer of this Blog calls upon all readers of the blog to reflect upon the significant roles and many contributions of Terms and Conditions to the nation and all people throughout history and today, and to celebrate this day with appropriate activities and events that honor this rich legacy, like reading Terms and Conditions; and, be it

RESOLVED FINALLY, That the Writer of this Blog will post the designation of this day on her own blog.

There you have it! Go nuts, everyone. I challenge each of you to read the terms and conditions for anything that you register for today.

Extra Credit Assignment: Read all bold writing on the pages of your registration. (Hint: bold writing will often contain important information about what you are registering for!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Second CERT Class

One time, when I worked at the little Italian restaurant, our big extinguisher exploded and coated EVERYTHING in the kitchen and food prep rooms in the white powder. The restaurant was closed for two days while the mess was cleaned. Those days happened to be days that I didn't have work. So I only heard about it. Before CERT, this was my only experience (if that can even count at all) with fire extinguishers. I was definitely excited for last night's class, for which we had been instructed to wear appropriate clothing, and bring eye protection and leather gloves for putting out fires.
I have been extremely busy over the past two weeks. Most days I'm getting 4-6 hours of sleep, because I've been working a lot of overtime. Jess and Mitch stopped by, and I asked them to pretty-please go purchase gloves for me. And they did, and it was funny because Jess brought the gloves back, and we looked at them, and I tried one on, and set it aside when I got a call for work. And then I picked up the gloves again after the call, to realize that even though Jess and I had really looked at the gloves, there were actually three instead of two! They were rubber banded together as a triplet instead of a pair. Excellent. I was extra prepared to put out fires, because if anything happened to my left glove I had a spare (I had one left? ha ha.).

And it ended up being all for nothing, because when we got to our class, the fire marshall started by telling us that the weather created a hazard and we would be unable to use the fire extinguishers today. Too bad.

He promised that we would definitely get to do the activity before our class finishes in March, though.

Here are some interesting things that I learned during my class, anyway:

- In fires, some hazardous materials deflagrate and some detonate. "It's not something we're going to sit around and figure it out," the fire marshall said. "Wow, is this going to deflagrate or detonate? One changes four zip codes, the other changes eight. " (He said that when he teaches police and fire people, he tells them one means you could possibly have an open casket funeral, and the other means they'll never find you.)

- It is unlawful to store more than 1 gallon of gasoline in an enclosed building. Sooo, even if you had a ton of money and wanted to be super emergency prepared, the most gas you can have in your garage in case of an emergency is 1 gallon.

- Pine and gas burn at the same heat - about 600 degrees.

- "Something about going into Meth labs... Tweakers are funny people. If it says 'go to Albertsons and get Red Devil Lye', will they go to Smiths? No way."

- Latex paint is a hazard when it's wet, but not when it's dry. So you can let it dry and then just throw it away with normal trash. With oil paint, you should paint a board and let it dry, repeatedly, and then just throw the board away with normal trash.

- Multi cord adapters are often illegal. ("You go to the discount store, get some multi-cord adapters in a bag, we call those 'fire in a bag.' Go somewhere nicer and it comes in a box, we call that 'fire in a box.'")

- 90% of all kitchen fires happen when the cook is away from the kitchen.

- NEVER pour flour on a fire. It is extremely flammable and will not put out the fire.

- When you walk into a building, know where the exits are. The closest exit is not always the one that you came in.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

All fire is is rapid decomposition.

I'm still busy with things. It seems these days I'm going back and forth between being pleased about certain things and quite frustrated about other things.
For example, I'm done with winter. I've had my fun, and I'm ready for spring. I hate the snow, I hate the cold. And I'm not exaggerating, either. I do exaggerate some times, but last night I waited an hour for my stupid bus, and spent it taking inventory of all of me that was frozen. (My ears were frozen. My legs were frozen. My arms were frozen. My eyeball fluid was frozen. My cells were frozen, etc.) And that was when I decided I've had enough of this weather.

I've had enough of walking, too. I've walked so many miles this week.

There's a light at the end of the tunnel, though. Qwest said they would have my phone line connected at my new apartment today. I can work from home again. I hope it doesn't bother my roommates. Guess I'll find out soon enough.

Also positive news, I started my CERT classes last night. I feel really good about doing that. Our class has about thirty people participating. It's a stake thing for a stake near the Provo temple. They do these trainings in groups of like 25-40 people, and it turns out that the reason is so that they can have pockets of like...prepared people that can work as a team to do a bunch of stuff to respond to a disaster before the real emergency people can come.

So I'm becoming a team with a group of people that I don't really live by. AND! They're from like, two family wards, so everyone knows everyone (or half of everyone). But it's still definitely worthwhile training. We're going to come up with team assignments, though, and that's going to be interesting, because I probably won't be anywhere near here the next time I'm in a disaster. But I guess with disasters probably a few people from the group would die or be unable to help anyway...

It makes me want to get everyone around me all emergency prepared. I want my ward to do CERT. I want my workplace to have us all do CERT. Ah well.

Here are some nice tips for you:

- When you go into buildings (especially ones you work in, or spend a lot of time in), notice where the breakers and shut off valves are, and where the fire extinguishers are. It turns out to be kind of important.
- If you're in an emergency, they used to fish for your driver license and haul you off to the hospital trying to figure out who you were. Now, they'll look in your cellphone to see who you've spoken with recently. If you label people in your phone as ICE (which is for "In Case of Emergency"), they'll call them first.
- Presented with the choice, stack your firewood uphill from your house instead of next to your house. Fire burns uphill. It'll take a lot longer for the fire to get to your house if the wood catches fire.

And then, as part of our homework assignment for this week, our book says:

"Wear appropriate clothes to the next session (no shorts or open-toed shoes), because you will practice putting out a small fire with an extinguisher."


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Eavesdropper Extraordinaire

In a previous post I mentioned that I recently passed the test and got my ham radio license. Having been assigned my callsign, the FCC now lets me use certain frequencies to talk to people. Neat. In order to pass the test, I needed to know how to use a ham radio, so I should be fine and having conversations with people all over the world, right? Right?

I finally decided to buy a ham radio. A nice thing about them is that you can get ham radios that do different things and cost different amounts of money. So if you want the best of the best, you can spend your $6000 or whatever, and get yourself a station that is really good. And you can transmit on lots of different frequencies and your signal is clear so people can hear you, and all that.

Or, back in the day, people used to make their own radios. Really, it's all just electronics, so if you know what you're doing, you can. And that works too. I just listened to a conversation about guys who used to make their own 160m antennas out of stacked beer cans. (You just drink the beer, stack the cans, and solder them together...) They said the reception wasn't excellent, but hey, it worked.

And then, if you're like me and just getting started, you can get a little handheld thing that looks like an intense walkie-talkie, and still talk to people but mostly nearby-ish. And not have to solder anything. Or pay thousands.

I had my eye on the IC-T90A, which has 3 bands for transmitting instead of just 1 or 2, and still looks supercute. Well, cute for a radio.

I'd been watching them online, and knew about what they were going for (about $200 on eBay), and was ready to buy one. I was watching the auction near closing and at 7 minutes before, I decided it was time to bid. I decided my first bid would be $185, and typed that in while I was talking to a customer on the phone for work. And I confirmed my bid, only to notice that I had absent-mindedly bid up to $785 for it. Because I had entered the 7 because of the 7 minutes left. I think my heart about stopped beating when I realized what I'd entered. If anyone tried to outbid me at all, I would automatically outbid them. I was buying the radio at ANY cost. The seven minutes ticked away, and someone made a wild bid to beat me. The price jumped about $100, but I definitely thwarted the guy's efforts to steal my auction during the last 6 seconds. I'm sure the other guy was surprised to lose. In the end, I got an average to not-excellent deal, and I was very thankful to not be paying $785.

So I won my radio.

And they shipped it quickly, and now I have my radio. And at first I couldn't find anything to listen to, except the Provo Airport and some TV stations.

Buuut I figured it out. Now, a few times a day, I scan the 2 meter band and listen to random people's conversations. The thing is, having never seen anyone else ever use a ham radio, I'm sort of afraid of messing up. Even though I have my license, I feel kind of like someone had handed me a book, Surgery for Dummies, and then after I'd shown reasonable proficiency they handed me a white coat and scalpel and pointed me to the emergency room. Obviously this radio stuff isn't a matter of life and death, but I'm just not quite sure about the practical application of everything.

So for now, I'm listening. I think that after I hear someone actually initiate a conversation then I'll try. So far I've just found middles and ends of conversations.

And with ham radio, everyone knows that people are listening. There are rules about what you can say on the radio because everyone knows that people are listening. (Like, you can't say someone's medical condition, even in an emergency, etc.) Also, I sometimes hear conversations where partway through someone else joins in, and they're like "I'm here listening too" and their friends are happy about it. So eavesdropping is normal with this stuff.

Here are some things that I've heard people talking about:
- Issues with wood from forests.
- Issues with routers. (Actually, this was funny. It was two old guys, and one was like, "We bought my wife a laptop to use for writing. And she hasn't touched it in six months. So I started using it and she said "I was going to use that." And I said "Well! Use it!" She hadn't touched it in six months and then when I pull it out that's when she wants to use it...")
- Discussion about third degree burns.
- An interesting club officer meeting where they talked about trips they were thinking of doing and fundraising activities, among other things.
- Several conversations about weather or driving conditions.
- Many morse code transmissions, which I definitely don't understand.

But my favorite thing I've listened to so far, absolutely was something I found Sunday evening. It was called "This week in Amateur Radio" and it was a 1 hour news program with different reports and stories and stuff. It was awesome. I felt like I was back in the 1940s or whenever, sitting in front of the radio, listening to the program.

Anyway, The End. (I'll share exciting stories of people that I talk to when I actually start talking to people.)