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October 1st, 2003

Cool day pick-me-ups

Today at work was full of meetings. I had just half an hour between 2:30 and 3 between meetings to get lunch, so I ran to the nearest burrito joint (which I don't like to do, I try not to patronize that place, long story) to get something quick for me and also for debbie, who was just as busy and gave me five bucks to get her some food too.

So just as I'm walking into this place, two guys walking the other way pass me. One of them stops, turns around, and gets my attention. "Hey, man, my name's Levi, what's yours?" He offers his hand, and I shake it, and tell him my name. "Wow, nice to meet you, man, have a nice day."

I was the tiniest bit apprehensive, but he did not start talking about Jesus, he did not ask me for money, and he did not hang around making me uncomfortable. Instead, after I somewhat surprisedly said "well, um, yeah, you have a nice day too", he said "Thanks, thanks a lot. Well, just wanted to say hi. See you later, man." And then he was on his way.

It wasn't until I was walking back to work with my burritos that I started thinking about that and realized, you know, that guy Levi really made my day.

I have no idea who he is.

patterns in nature

I'm not enough of a "true scientist" to be able to leap to the truth of why this happens, but I've always been surprised when certain patterns show up in new places. A long time ago I remember noticing that the statistical distribution of duration of sessions on our dialup terminal servers followed a Poisson distribution function. And just now I was looking at the LiveJournal statistics page which includes a distribution of LiveJournal account owners by age, and it also looks to be Poisson.

I learned that Poisson distributions model service times of random-arrival queues. Why is it they appear in seemingly unrelated contexts?

(Relevant to this is the observation that I'm way out on that long tail; presumably I'm too old to be keeping an online Journal.)

hardware faults

I mentioned that my DSL was flaking out. They thought they had it "fixed" by resetting a card at the central office but that only worked for a couple of days, then it was down hard again. After doing more diagnosis and swapping out everything on both ends, they concluded it was a line problem and called in SBC to meet the McLeod technician at my house to check the line. Of course, SBC found absolutely nothing wrong with the line at all, but after they were done, everything was magically working again.

The only thing they physically DID was lift the wires off the binding posts on my network interface box to run the test and then rebind them, so I'm assuming there was some corrosion or moisture on the posts or something that they "fixed" by their testing. Either that or the old saw about SBC reporting "no problem found" while they silently fix the problem.

At least it is working again, even more reliably than before. He said, knocking on wood.

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Charley

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