Things that make me feel dumb: CAPTCHAs



With the prominence of bots registering account and posting “comments” with the sole purpose of hawking their master’s shady online market, many websites have implemented a step to impede this unwanted behavior – the CAPTCHA, or Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. The purpose of this little image is in effect, to use your superior pattern recognition skills to prove your human status by entering the displayed characters.

On more occasions than I care to admit I have actually failed this simple test of my carbon-based composition, causing myself to be grouped with numerous specimens of silicon-based bretheren in the Pool of Rejection, where it has been said the pitiful wails of web bots can be heard a whole IP bracket away. In these moments I feel like I have somehow let my race down. Like forgetting a PIN, I am unable to surmount an obstacle designed to allow me to proceed.

As the one-up contest between web developers and bots continues and identification systems become more complex, I wonder how many other systems will falsely lock out legitimate clients. At least I can’t lose my fingerprint.

Another Milestone for the Tercel


Way back when I was still updating my journal (that’s what they called them before “blog” was such a popular buzzword) on deviantART, my ‘84 Toyota Tercel hit a pretty significant milestone.

On the trip back from Chincoteague, I passed by another one that made me happy enough that I actually wiped the dust off of my dashboard so I could get a better picture. I mean, I’d been waiting for this moment for at least 400 miles, so I think it was worth the extra effort.

Congratulations, old friend.

Thanksgiving at the Beach


I went away from both home and Maryland for the Thanksgiving holiday for the first time in my life. It’s always interesting to break away from the regular and try something new, and in this case I think the experience was a good one. While it was obviously too cold for swimming (even though Rachel went in the water anyway…) we had some excellent weather and some wonderful opportunities to take photographs. I think I got a little better at taking longer-exposure pictures in the evening with a tripod, although as I haven’t gone through all of my pictures yet I can’t be sure.

In other news, only two weeks left of classes before finals, freedom, and Christmas shopping…

Omar Woes


Here in the apartment, we all love Omar. We really do. But sometimes he does things we just can’t understand, like turning up the air conditioning when it’s 48 degrees outside. I literally had to go put on a jacket as my fingers were getting too cold to continue typing. What’s great is that Omar isn’t even home right now to feel the effects! So there is a good chance he’ll return later, notice the temperature at 72, and turn it down again. Oh, Omar. Below is shown Kyle and I shivering because our apartment is so cold. Above, note how the “cool” section is lit even though it is already very cold outside.

Ode to My Blue Bowl


Plates were in the washer clean

An easy solution it would seem

Yet the sink was overflowing with

Every single type of dish

The night before I had consumed

Popcorn from my bowl of blue

Delicious treat, a healthy snack

But then I put the blue bowl back

Atop the pile in the sink

Oh blue bowl what did I think

Knowing Kyle (as do I)

View kitchen mess with narrowed eye

Whose fault it was I do not know

But Kyle dealt the fatal blow

Rent asunder by brutal force

My bowl’s life had run its course

Another bowl of red he found

Will we find it lying ‘round?

If we have learned then I think not

Let’s not leave dishes in the sink, to rot.

Cough Medicine


Rachel took some high-powered cough medicine the other night. This is how our conversation went:

Rachel: “I took this medicine… I think it’s going to knock me out.”

[conversation ensues for a few minutes]

Rachel: “I’m starting to feel a little funny.”
Me: “You are?”
Rachel: “…”
Me: “Are you there?”
Rachel: “…”

I think I’m going to need some of that stuff in the next few days.

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time


Many people will tell you that there is an issue with parking at UMBC; namely, that there are not enough parking spaces. I would disagree with that claim, submitting instead that there are not enough parking spaces close to where students actually go.

It has gotten a bit colder over the past few days and I have yet to import my warmer, fall/winter wardrobe from my house. So this morning, I thought that I could save myself some discomfort while preparing myself for the driving errands I would have to run later in the day by driving to class rather than walking.

What I failed to take into account was my class time – 11:30 AM. This means that all of the commuting students have already arrived, devouring the convenient parking spaces as crows do roadside carrion. The result of my poor timing was that I had to park over in Lot 17, which was actually further away from my destination (Lecture Hall 2) than I would have been had I just walked from my apartment.

Needless to say I was a few minutes late for class, and later, because I had to walk all that way back to my car, I was late for my appointment as well. Bummer. At least I got a nice spot in the Commons Garage when I came back.

Red Zone


All of today has been a dance between me and my Treo 700w’s rapidly dwindling battery power. Last night, during all of the hubub, I left my Bluetooth headset paired to the phone, only to realize when I sauntered off to class that I was getting the “First Warning” – battery is less than 10%.

After Spanish class the poor Treo passed out, leaving me helpless and forced to write things down with paper and pen. I can only imagine how it must feel going through life in such misery. I managed to charge back up to 11% before my next errand, which kept me afloat for the rest of the day until a few minutes ago, when it passed out again. Now I’m SOL until I drive back to UMBC from Rachel’s house in the morning and can use the car charger, which unfortunately doesn’t do its job nearly as fast as the wall variety.

Note to self: turn your darn headset off when you arrive at your destination.

The Unexpected


Have you ever had one of those times when you think your day is going to go a certain way, then about 75% of the way through something happens and it completely changes?

I’ve just had one of those times.

Oh, Omar…


On Friday I had an interesting run-in with my apartment-mate, Omar. But for this to be appropriately appreciated, some background needs to be established.

Omar has been having a little problem getting up and going to class. After about the first two weeks, his daily attendance began petering out until he was regularly missing Plant, Organic Chemistry, and Physics – all very important classes. At first we thought he was simply staying up too late, but that was not the case. Our Omar was getting about 12 hours of sleep per night, and then had the nerve to complain about being tired! After about a straight month of him missing class, the rest of us in the apartment confronted him about it and I decided I would take responsibility for waking him up three times a week to go to Plant, as I’m in that class as well.

Monday and Wednesday things seemed to be going pretty well, with me alternately calling him and banging on his door before leaving for class in frustration, only to have him appear a few minutes after I had sat down. However, on Friday there was quite the interesting turn of events.

Something else about Omar – he takes about six hours to actually wake up, during which he walks around thinking he is awake when in reality, he is peering around at the world through squinted eyes and operating solely on his brain stem, the same organ that theoretically powers the rudimentary functioning of zombies.

At any rate, on my way out I stopped by Omar’s room and rapped soundly on his door. I heard a muffled grunt from the other side, before the door opened and a squinting zombie in the semblance of my roommate appeared. I told him firmly to go to class, to which he responded with another prehistoric grunt and closed the door. My job being done, I went to class assuming correctly that he was a lost cause for the day and would not be attending.

However, at 2:53 that afternoon I received an interesting text message from Omar:

[Michael] did you come to my door today? Because I opened the door and saw Superman and he told me to go to class.

Apparently, not only am I Superman, but even the appearance of said hero is not enough to compel this friend of mine to attend his classes. Oh Omar, I have no words for you…