Bizarre News

So yesterday we had a fire in campus town (see my blog post for some pics).

The first illini text alert sent out about it just said that a fire was at ‘631 E. Green’. Didn’t give the city, nor did it give an intersection near there. If you didn’t already know where it was, you might have been confused.

This was discussed quite a bit on the CCSP sysadmin mailing list around campus.

So, today.. we get the following:

Subject: Active Shooter/Threat
Active shooter at BUILDING NAME/INTERSECTION. Escape area if safe to do so or shield/secure your location.

I start getting emails and chats wondering if there’s something going on. I suspected it was a failed test. Sure enough, emails from our building came out saying to ignore it.

Then another txt was sent out saying to ignore the previous.

Then an email from the chief of police was sent saying to ignore it, and that they ‘sincerely apologize’ for the accident.

Gotta love technology.

At 4:36pm (about 6 hours after the incident, the following was sent from the chief of police…

To the campus community:

This morning at 10:40, an Illini-Alert message was sent to 87,000 email
addresses and cellphones indicating there was an active shooter or threat
of an active shooter on the Urbana campus. The message was sent
accidentally while pre-scripted templates used in the Illini-Alert system
were being updated. The updates were being made in response to user
feedback in order to enhance information provided in the alerts.

The alert sent today was caused by a person making a mistake. Rather than
pushing the SAVE button to update the pre-scripted message, the person
pushed the SUBMIT button. We are working with the provider of the
Illini-Alert service to implement additional security features in the
program to prevent this type of error.

The alert system is designed to send all messages as quickly as possible.
The messages generally leave the sending server within two minutes. This
design is essential for emergency communications. However, this prevented
the cancellation of the erroneous alert once it was sent.

Additionally, once we send an emergency message, we are dependent on the
cellular telephone providers to deliver the text message to the owner of
the cellphone. This is a recognized issue with all text-messaging
systems. This is one reason we use multiple communication mechanisms,
including email and our Emergency Web alert system, which is
automatically activated when we send an Illini-Alert message. We cannot
rely solely on text messages to inform our community of an emergency.

The Chief of Police has charged the campus emergency planning office with
reviewing and documenting todays incident. We are reviewing comments we
are receiving as a result of the incident and will implement all
reasonable and appropriate ideas or suggestions.

We recognize the campus community relies on us to provide accurate and
timely emergency information. We are working diligently to improve our
processes so that this type of incident does not happen again. Finally,
we apologize for the confusion and emotional distress caused by the
initial alert.


Barbara R. O'Connor, J.D.


Ok. I know this isn’t a good picture, but I hope you get the idea. I was driving into work this morning and, at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Florida Avenue, in Urbana, this site presented itself on the southeast corner of the intersection.

This snow plow was, literally, plowing the snow off of a field of grass. Not pavement. Not a parking lot. Not an improved surface at all. It was plowing… a field…

I’m sure that there is a good reason for this. I’m not sure what that reason might be. But I’m confident there’s a reason. In the summer they often play soccer in the area south of this, but I’m not sure what they would be planning for mid December.

Oh well. You gotta spend all that extra money that Illinois has on something, right?

It’s currently 2:04:15. I’m going to see how much of a pain it is to put up a post with a pic in it.

the flash uploader didn’t work well.

That was from the browser uploader. I told it to ‘insert into post’ and had medium selected.

It’s now 2:07:51.

If I want to have that same thing on the right side, with text flowing around it, I can add an (align=”right”) inside the ‘img’ tag.. can change the width’s and height’s, too. It’s good, if one is going to rwap things, to make sure

that I have enough text to actually wrap around it.

Let’s look at fonts. Let’s say I want to change fonts.. Hmm.. I think I have my editor set to not show me the graphical editor version.

That’s a problem. But, I suspect it can be solved, given enough effort.

Picture of Houston Herald website talking about emergency medical workers The Houston Herald newspaper is one that I grew up with. Lately, I’ve been following their website as a way to stay current on what is happening in Missouri, since I don’t get down there to visit very often. The area got 9-12 inches of snow yesterday, so I thought I would take a look at any pictures that they might have up. This is what I was greeted with. Go ahead, click on it. Perhaps I shouldn’t take joy in others mistakes, but I guess I’ll call it a character flaw.

Strange things are afoot in Kirbyland. The parking garage is probably 0.2 miles from my actual office here at Beckman. This morning I had made it into the building and was walking down the hallway towards my office.

I was apparently thinking about something else, and when I got about 20 feet away from my office door, I pulled out my car key and pressed the ‘Unlock’ button on the transmitter. Needless to say, my office door didn’t automatically unlock, and I think I was probably far enough away from my car that I don’t have to worry about it, either.

First time I’ve done that. Wonder what today holds…

Back in January of 2006, I decided that I wanted to try out some facial hair. I’ve always tried to stay clean-shaven, but I decided that I wanted to try something different.

Over the long Martin Luther King weekend, I let my beard and mustache grow. On Tuesday morning, I chickened out and shaved everything off. It hadn’t gotten very long at that point, but I still didn’t feel like going to work like that.

Later in January, I took a week off to go skiing in Colorado. The skiing was great fun, and this gave me a whole 9 or 10 days to let the hair grow before I had to go back to work. So, I got off work on a Friday, and by the Monday a week later, it had grown a fair amount. I felt like it was to a point where I could actually go out in public and have it show up as being something worthwhile.

By the end of March, when this picture was taken, my beard/mustache had reached the point where I was regularly trimming it. I had gone out and bought a trimmer which had adjustable parts to where I could choose how long I wanted the hair to remain. Nothing fancy, but it was working ok for me.

I continued on this path all through April, May, June, and most of July. About the only change occurred in late June. I had been trimming the area right below my mouth. In late June I started to just let that hair grow.

In July, I started thinking that maybe I should change something. Let it grow differently, trim it differently. Lose the beard, or lose the mustache. Or, maybe… just maybe.. lose both.

So, here I am. It’s a Friday night. I’m not ready to run to the library yet. I’ve got time to kill. I had been thinking that if I was going to cut off the hair, I would do it on a Friday night. Then, if I have an inverse five o’clock shadow (too much shade due to the hair) I would have the weekend for it to normalize out before going to work on Monday.

So, I go into the bathroom. Get the trimmers out. Put a trashcan in the sink to catch the hair. And decided that, if I were going to do it, I might as well record it for all time and let the world see the process. So, I went and grabbed the camera and set it up.

I removed the trimmer attachment that set the exact depth of cut so that the trimmer could just remove all the hair it could find. And then I started in. I started underneath the chin. Zoom zoom. The trimmer did a fine job. A ton of quarter inch long hairs went slowly floating down into the trash can. A trim trim here, and a trim trim there, and I was wondering if it was really wise for me to be undoing all that work.

Needless to say, at this point, it was too late to stop. I would have looked like I had gotten into a losing battle with a weed whacker if I had stopped at that point. So, I kept trimming. The trimmers did a pretty good job of getting most of the hair. They definitely got it trimmed down to where the hair was about a millimeter long. Some might say I was still shell shocked at this point. I say I was just showing off for the camera. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

At that point, it was all over except for the finish work. I got out my normal razor and started cleaning up the small pieces.

A few minutes later, and my face looked a whole lot different than it had before. Am I sorry? Nah.. It was time for a change. Will I stay clean shaven? Who knows. I’ll stay this way for a while. If I decide I want to go back to the land of the bushy haired, I can always do that. The process doesn’t really take all that long. About a month to grow it, and about 7 minutes to get rid of it. No problem.

I ran across this photo today while looking at a technology site and thought it was a bit unique.

The link to the actual article is available, but I thought it might be amusing to see what captions people can come up with for this image. So, feel free to comment and give it your best shot.

Socks made from corn

I wonder what happens for people with particularly smelly feet? Do the socks just disintegrate on the spot?

From the article:
The corn-based socks will cost about 20 percent more than socks now available in Japan, he said. In Japan, a pair of socks made from cotton, wool or petroleum-based fibers such as nylon or polyester costs about 300 yen.

As of right now, 300 yen is about $2.56, so the price will be about 50 cents higher that it currently is.