Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

May 30: Neighbornet

What you get when you connect to your neighbor’s wireless (or wired, for that matter) internet, with or without his or her knowledge.


I always recommend using neighbornet if you a) can’t afford broadband and your neighbors are b) too stupid to lock down their modem/router.

PR Part 3

Here are my promised observations of Puerto Rico, and a look into my psyche via what made my favorites list.  Before you comment, let me just say, yes, I know I’m a little bit weird.

Favorite thing:  The lighted magnifying mirror in the hotel bathroom.  It made eerie white circles around my pupils and I looked like an alien when I put my makeup on. Cool! I could not get a picture of it, dammit.

Other fave thing:  My entire life I have been trying to learn Spanish but I appear to be functionally retarded at that and every other language besides English (and sometimes English).  I did, however, master the phrase, “Donde esta el banyo?” and have practiced it in my head for years.  I was with a group at the marina looking for the can and we spotted a guard.  One of the women asked where the bathroom was and got an apologetic “no English” answer.  I rattled off my line and the guy lit up and gave us great directions.  In Spanish, which no one understood.  But dammit, he understood me!  I was WAY happier with the whole episode than I should have been.

Other other fave thing:  The city bus drivers drove like maniacs.  I swear to God at one point we took a corner on two wheels.  It was great!  I’m a speed demon myself and truly appreciated their driving art.  Also, the drivers took care of their women fares. They made sure that each woman knew what direction they needed to go for their hotel or other destination.  It restored my faith in humanity.  Sort of.

The not so great part about the city bus drivers was that they obviously ran on island time, and the “every seven minutes” schedule worked out to more like twice an hour.  Still, it was much more exciting and a lot cheaper than taxis.  We went ahead and rented a car for the last two days.

We drove around quite a bit, trying to see if the crazy Puerto Rican drivers deserved their rep, but mainly it was the tourists who drove like spazzes (us included) because there are no road signs to speak of,  and when they were visible they were oddly placed and, of course, in Spanish.  The Spanish part wasn’t so hard, but many of the signs were placed  after where you were supposed to turn or at other odd intervals which was not so good.  Nevertheless, we found everything we were looking for eventually, and then some.  It was a little confusing – the speed limit (maxima velocidad) signs were in miles, and the “distance to” signs (what few there were), were in kilometers.  The gas is sold by the liter and is cheaper than it is here at home.  Proximity to SA, maybe?  The stop signs said Pare instead of Alto like they do in Mexico.

Other observations:  There were a lot of starving dogs around Aricebo.  I didn’t notice them in San Juan or Carolina, but along the Aricebo coast they were plentiful.  I gave one friendly dog at the beach some jerky, thereby probably prolonging its misery.

There are a lot of houses around the Aricebo coast that are being reclaimed by the jungle.  It’s so wet I’ll bet it doesn’t take very long to make one dissolve back into the earth.  I didn’t get any pictures of them and I’m sorry.  They were striking and poetic looking, somehow.  That area seems to be very poor EXCEPT around the observatory.

Horses and cows run around wherever they want, sans fences, on  a lot of the island.  You have to really pay attention when you’re out in the grassy areas where the rainforest has been cut down.  We saw one wreck that looked to be wandering horse-caused.  The horse appeared to be okay, the car not so much.  The tow truck driver had his lights flashing the whole time.

All service vehicles and some wanna be service vehicles in Puerto Rico drive around with their lights flashing, unless they are running a red light, then they turn them off.  We saw that a lot.  Sometimes the cops and ambulances have their sirens on, too. We asked a local how anyone could tell if the cops were actually pulling them over or just driving around like that, and he said You Can’t!  He cited several times of being followed through two or three lights and finally having the cop pull up beside him and holler YOU! YOU PULL OVER!  They’re all used to it but it made us laugh.

The people there were, for the most part, very nice.   Most everyone in the touristy areas was bilingual which made life easier for us tourists.  And the money is US dollars.

We stayed at the Ritz Carlton, if you can believe that.  It was a nice hotel, but my room had temperature control problems, and little bitty ants.  But really great shampoo and soap!*  There were so many free toiletries (which I stashed in Bob’s suitcase thereby adding 15 lbs to it) that Bob was afraid he was going to get snagged for grand theft when we checked out.

I would stay at the Ritz again if I was rich, but we couldn’t afford to eat there this time.  Seriously. Pancakes were $16.  Hamburgers were $18.  I’m not making that up.  A mimosa was $13.  We walked elsewhere for every meal after my conference was over.  We had breakfast at the Ritz once on the first day only.  Buffet was $26.  For breakfast.  So we had menu food, and it still ended up being almost $60.  FOR BREAKFAST, people.   It was good, but there isn’t a breakfast on the planet that’s worth $60.

Getting Our Exercise
We went kayaking at night on the ocean and through the Fajardo red mangrove canals into the Laguna Grande wildlife preserve where the bioluminescence bay is.  What a cool thing to do! I highly recommend it to anyone, even in the rain.  But no pictures!  You just can’t really take them there at night, and the guide said all the ones on the web have been photoshopped all to hell and back.   Here’s a daytime video of the entrance through the mangrove forest canal.  It was scarier at night.


Here’s some info on the bioluminescence –   about the light emitting dinoflagellates.  Hey, that makes them LEDs!

I have to go back to PR.  It’s a lovely place to visit and they take pretty good care of their tourists and there are a million things to do.   I didn’t get to see the Aricebo Observatory, which was my number one tourisy goal.  Next time!  And next time, we will stay somewhere with a kitchenette….

Bob took some great pictures of Old San Juan, posted here.

*I always collect all the shampoo etc every day and haul it home – we have a collection point at work and we periodically take it all down to the WEAVE  (Women Escaping A Violent Environment) center a couple of blocks away.  They appreciate it.   It makes me feel saintly.  And it was certainly no sweat off the Ritz Carlton’s back.

PR Part 2

Does this ocean make my ass look fat?


Behold, new pictures below via the links to Picasa.

They are of the Aricebo Lighthouse, which is kind of a weird place with pirates and an aquarium, and the Hacienda Siesta Alegre work party which is pretty much the coolest place I’ve ever been to a party, and our catamaran trip to Icacos Island.   And pics of the caves we toured. Rio Del Camuy.  That was interesting.  It took so long, though, that we ended up missing the Aricebo Observatory which was my main goal during the stay.  I am heartbroken.  OTOH, it gives me a great reason to come back.





I have a few observations about Puerto Rico, mainly why I liked it.  I will write them up on the heinous trip home and hopefully post post haste.

Hello, Puerto Rico!

After a long but unremarkable flight (that’s a good thing) we arrived in San Juan at 10 p.m. local time.  It took awhile to get the luggage but GLORIOSKI it was all there!  Yay! I’m always amazed when my luggage arrives with me.

We got to the Ritz and unpacked and I got my grump on because I was hungry and tired.  The porter had some food suggestions and also said we could get room service, but hamburgers, the least expensive meat thing on the room service menu, are $18 not including mandatory gratuity.  Yikes.  So we each had one of my supplements to take the edge off and give us time to decide whether or not to eat that late.  We went out and walked up and down the street – Isla Verde, I think – and got the lay of the land a little.  Then, around midnight, we found the beach and strolled along the pristine sands of Isla Verde bay for a half hour.  It was nice, and really great to move after being cramped up in that plane for 8 hours.

Walking on the beach at midnight in Puerto Rico. Most days, you can’t get there from here.  Quite idyllic and I got my grump decidedly _off_.

Finally made it to bed around two (fucking jet lag) and slept in a little.  Had breakfast outside looking at the ocean and the little black birds that were very good at stealing food.  There was also a largish iguana and a lot of smaller lizards around.   The flora and fauna here are wonderful!

The grounds at this hotel are lovely, especially the Ti plants.  I remember when I was very young we would buy these $2.00 sticks that were Hawaiian Ti plants.  You’d put them in water and sometimes they’d grow into leggy tropical plants that would die off just as quickly as they appeared.  Anyway, this is the first time I’ve seen what a Ti plant really should look like.  Gorgeous!


And here was the iguana – he/she was chomping the flowers off the impatiens plants like a little goat plowing through the garden.  I loves me a good lizzzard.  Don’t you just ❤ that he has food on his face?


We hung around the pool for a bit around noon but kept missing the wait staff with the goodies, dammit.   We walked on the beach again, then headed back up the street for lunch and adventuring. Our main goal of the day is to find a liquor and grocery store, harder than it sounds because we’re on foot.  Good exercise, though!

We ate fish tacos at a little place called Lupi’s – pretty good, actually.  Didn’t care for the gringo salsa, but the margaritas more than made up for it, or I just didn’t care any more.

More pics here.

Archie McPhee strikes again

If you’re a zombie, or have a loved one who is, you may want to get
them these Brain Flavored Zombie Mints to keep their breath as fresh
as the brains for which they hunger. These are the perfect gift for
the zombie fan, horror movie addict or lover of disgusting things in
your life. Probably our most disturbing product. Probably.

Kirk surprisingly effective with his “Whoa! Phasers set to stunning!” pickup line.

Top Five is finally back in production –

May 8, 2009


The new “Star Trek” movie came out today.
It’s a “prequel” set in the year 2151.

The Top 16 Surprises in the New “Star Trek”

16> The very first Starfleet Academy looks an awful lot like
Mrs. Kirk’s basement.

15> Spock’s ears became pointed when an overly excited Kirk
kept pulling on them during their secret bunk liaisons.

14> The Enterprise is not powered by dilithium crystals, but
instead relies on turbine power generated by Gene Roddenberry
spinning in his grave.

13> Young Scotty cries his eyes out when his Pinewood Derby car
came in dead last.

12> Kirk marks human territory on new planets by urinating and
exclaiming, “Just going where no man has gone before!”

11> To Leonard Nimoy’s dismay, focus groups consider new Spock
to be 20 percent Spockier.

10> Transporter room jokers were constantly screwing around with
the controls to add extra breasts to the green chicks.

9> Shatner’s cameo as The Prime Negotiator on planet Priceline.

8> Sulu becomes noticeably aroused at every mention of the
Captain’s log.

7> The Enterprise’s original mission was to “boldly go where a
few people may have gone, but they didn’t give it a detailed-
enough review on Planets.com so maybe we’ll check it out
again, this time with a more neutral perspective.”

6> Way back then, Tribbleburgers were all the rage.

5> Because of continuing fallout from the soaring national debt,
the bold 5-year mission was reduced to a single weekend in

4> “It’s worse than that; it’s Swine Flu, Jim!”

3> Enterprise warranty voided when General Starships files for
Chapter 11.

2> The curse begins when Lionel J. Redshirt naively volunteers,
thinking the “landing party” is going to feature wine and
finger foods.

and Topfive.com’s Number 1 Surprise in the New “Star Trek”…

1> Adorable little Tribbles have been replaced by the Satanic
Spawn of the Evil Octomom.

[ Copyright 2008 by Chris White/TopFive.com ]

The Runner Up & Honorable Mention submissions


Surprises in the New “Star Trek”
RUNNERS UP list  —  Red Shirters

“Look, I’m just saying that if MY name were ‘Schlomo,’ I would
tell people my full Vulcan name was too hard to pronounce.”
(Ed Smith, Chattanooga, TN)

A drunk Kirk promises Sulu not to tell anyone that he was the
first to go where no man had gone before.
(Kim Moser, New York, NY)

At 15, Kirk opens a fortune cookie that says, “You will die
wrestling Alex from ‘A Clockwork Orange.'”
(Larry Hollister, Concord, CA)

Bumper sticker on Vulcan cruiser: “Yes we Khan!”
(Daniel Weckerly, Limerick, PA)

Early versions of the Enterprise had bitchin’ 26-inch rims.
(Bill Muse, Seattle, WA)

Enterprise makes pit stops on every star in Orion for a Starbucks
(Trish Jensen, Reedsville, PA)

Fleet Enema paid dearly for the Star Fleet naming rights.
(Chuck Smith, Woodbridge, VA)

It took five years and many demerits at Starfleet Academy for
Spock to use his iconic “That conclusion is illogical” in place of
“Psshhh… stupid human bullshit!”
(Carl Knorr, Devo City, OH)

Kirk learned his legendary ambassador skills from his mentor,
Commander William J. Clinton VI.
(Josh Sinnett, Bellingham, WA)

Retro clothing and hair styles reminiscent of the 2060’s and
(Kim Moser, New York, NY)

Spock slips up and refers to himself as Sylar.
(Mark Weiss, Austin, TX)

Spock’s tricorder detects Lt. Uhura’s footprints on the ceiling of
the shuttlecraft.
(Chuck Sawyer, Rochester, NY)

Sulu was the first person admitted to Star Fleet under the new
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” program.
(Chuck Smith, Woodbridge, VA)

The ship’s first attack is against Shatner’s toupee.
(Jill Gallagher, Seattle, WA)

The tension between them originates when Spock steals McCoy’s
“Klingons around Uranus” joke.
(Adela Branson, Soda Springs, ID)

Uhura goes by her maiden name, Vajayjay.
(Brad Simanek, Cedar Rapids, IA)

Runners Up list name
(Douglas Frank, Crosby, TX)

Surprises in the New “Star Trek”
HONORABLE MENTIONS list  —  Star Dreck

2nd Officer McStoner, played by Seth Rogen
(Bill Muse, Seattle, WA)

An immature Captain Kirk failed to satisfy intergalactic lovers
due to making love at warp speed.
(Dave Wesley, Pleasant Hill, CA)

Cameo by William Shatner’s hairpiece as a Tribble.
(John J. Brassil, Nashville, TN)

It’s true! Vulcans have pointy penises!
(Larry Hollister, Concord, CA)

Khan is considerably less threatening with that white suit and the
little sidekick.
(Chuck Sawyer, Rochester, NY)

Kirk and Spock first met during the Academy’s mandatory Macarena
(Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA)

Kirk had an illegitimate child with one Mademoiselle Yvette Picard.
(Bruce W. Alter, Fairfax Station, VA)

Kirk was surprisingly effective with his “Whoa! Phasers set to
stunning!” pickup line.
(Peter Bauer, Rochester, NY)

Obvious product placement, as the Enterprise now runs on Folgers
Crystals, Spock’s Tricorder looks suspiciously like a Zune, and
Scotty uses Duct Tape to fix darn near everything.
(Paul Wiley, Westtown, NY)

Smooth-talking Sulu from the big city teaches naive Iowa farm boy
Kirk about the REAL “Final Frontier.”
(Ed Smith, Chattanooga, TN)

Spock installed “Pong” on his tricorder to help pass the time
while resting between sessions with Mudd’s Women.
(Andy Grosser, Boston, MA)

Spock reacts to scientific anomalies not with, “Fascinating…”
but with, “Honest to blog?!”
(Martin Bredeck, Hybla Valley, VA)

Spock was the hands-down “Quarter Bounce” champion at Starfleet
(Geoff Brown, Commerce, MI)

Spock’s given name? Benjamin.
(David Zechiel, Lake Forest, CA)

Sulu’s commands for the ship’s velocity: Fast, Burnin’ Rubber,
Haulin’ Ass.
(Tristan Fabriani, Passaic, NJ)

The Klingon’s were a much fairer people until they took in that
quack transient from planet Bosley.
(Adela Branson, Soda Springs, ID)

The Vulcan greeting sign can actually be found in the Kama Sutra.
(Steve Hurd, Oakland, CA)

Tribbles resulted when a poodle got it on with a Swiffer.
(Chuck Sawyer, Rochester, NY)

We find out how McCoy got the nickname “Bones.” Hint: it involves
the transporter and a case of Viagra.
(Andrew Hackard, Austin, TX)

My Paranoiaz, watch them grow

Researchers Take Over Dangerous Botnet
Dark Reading (05/04/09) Higgins, Kelly Jackson

University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) researchers temporarily commandeered an infamous botnet known for stealing financial data and found that the threat it represents is even greater than had been originally assumed.

The Torpig/Sinowal/Anserin mini-botnet targets organizations and users to steal bank account information or other sensitive personal data. It is considered more dangerous than big-name botnets because of its small scale and stealthiness. Torpig uses drive-by download attacks as its initial mode of infection, and upon infection the botnet can unleash crafty phishing attacks that produce bogus but authentic-looking Web pages and forms that trick users into exposing their credentials.

The UCSB researchers accumulated approximately 70 GB of data for the 10 days they were in control of Torpig, and in that period the botnet stole banking credentials of 8,310 accounts from more than 400 financial institutions, including PayPal, Capital One, E-Trade, and Chase. Nearly half of the 1,660 stolen debit and credit card accounts the researchers counted belonged to victims in the United States.

“The level of sophistication, the amount of data that it is able to steal, and the fact that it has been active for more than three years is truly remarkable,” says UCSB researcher Brett Stone-Gross. The researchers’ disclosures provoked debate on whether the information they exposed about Torpig, its workings, and its victims could compromise efforts to eventually undo the botnet. “This [research] does create a road map … for the [botnet] criminals to fix, and not just for others to exploit,” says RSA’s Sean Brady.


May 8:  wwjkd

What Would James Kirk Do?
When stuck in a life-threatening, impossible situation with no realistic plausible means of escape, only a plan thought up by James “Jim” Kirk would work.

Person 1: OK, were stuck in an underground cavern on a distant planet with no access to the surface.

Person 2: We need a plan. WWJKD?

Urban Dictionary

How a virus works

How the Flu Virus Steals Your Cells, from today’s EveryLearner Knowledge News email.  EveryLearner.com sends out interesting bits about the world on a regular basis.   You can try it free for a month here.


Right now, there is no bigger news than flu. So naturally, we want to know about it. Specifically, we want to know how the flu virus steals your cells, because that’s what all viruses–no matter how new–do. They nab your cells and use them for their own reproductive purposes.

They have to, because a virus is nothing more than a few strands of rogue DNA (or rogue RNA, DNA’s single-stranded cousin) wrapped in a protein coat to keep out the draft.

They are not cells, and they have none of the internal structures that cells use to go about the business of life, which is, generally, to make more life. No, viruses are just genetic material looking for a free ride–looking to hijack a cell and make its machinery do the virus’s bidding.

Rule for Viral Success #1:

Mutation, Mutation, Mutation

With so little to call their own, how have these biological pirates survived for so long? The answer lies in two traits that give viruses superb evolutionary advantages: superfast reproduction and genetic mutations.

Viruses live to reproduce. Although they must do this within host cells, once inside, viruses replicate with enough abandon to shame a rabbit. They quickly reprogram the machinery that cells use to copy their own DNA and use it to spit out copy after copy of themselves.

Genetic mutations add insult to injury. With so much reproduction going on, viruses can mutate almost as fast as they propagate. And massive mutation means that each new generation of viral invaders stands a good chance of gaining some new survival or targeting advantage.

Rule for Viral Success #2:

Pick a Likely Victim

Viruses invade all kinds of cells–plant cells, animal cells, fungi, even bacteria. Yet each virus tends to have a very specific M.O. Which cells look like likely victims to a virus depends on the unique proteins found on the virus’s protein coat and the protein receptors found on the poor target cell.

Some viruses recognize the general receptors that occur on many different kinds of cells. The virus for rabies, for example, can invade so many different kinds of cells that it can span species, infecting rodents, dogs, and humans. Flu is a pretty good species spanner, too.

Other viruses are more restricted and can invade only specific kinds of cells. The common cold virus, for example, can invade only the cells lining the human upper respiratory tract. It’s a picky thief.

Rule for Viral Success #3:

Make It an Inside Job

Viral entry mechanisms are as diverse as viruses themselves, which is why viruses often elude treatment. Some enter a target cell by binding to a specific receptor and passing through the host cell membrane to the cell interior. Others don’t need to enter the cell, but simply attach to the surface and use a needle-like structure to inject their DNA right in.

Once viral genes are inside, the virus begins its replication. It exploits the host cell’s supplies and machinery, forcing it to copy viral genes and synthesize more viral protein coats. Then, these two components come together to form copies of the virus that emerge from the host cell.

Sometimes they “bud” off the cell, like bubbles on top of a simmering stew. At other, more violent times, copies simply fill the cell until it can hold no more. It explodes, releasing its viral hoard into the surrounding area.

Either way, the viral progeny go on to infect new cells–and the cycle starts again. Disease symptoms can and do result from this cellular damage. Most often, though, the sickness you feel is the result of your immune system’s response to the foreign invader. And make no mistake, it will respond.

Rule for Viral Success #4:

Avoid the Cops

Your immune system’s first-responders act like beat cops on patrol 24/7. If they see anything amiss while walking the body’s beat, they make arrests. One kind of cellular cop, the phagocytes, will engulf strange viruses and digest them. Another kind, natural killer cells, recognizes suspect changes on the surface of infected cells and releases chemicals to disintegrate both virus and cell alike.

After spotting the infection, your body can launch a more specific and intensive attack. Proteins called antibodies surround, bind to, and neutralize viruses and other invaders in your bloodstream. Killer T cells mercilessly destroy infected cells and halt systemic infection. Both help your body remember the infection and mount a faster response to the same invader next time.

Still other players merit mention. When a cell does get infected with a virus, sometimes it manages to secrete small proteins called interferons that serve to warn neighboring cells of an imminent viral invasion. These “Paul Revere” proteins work by encouraging neighboring cells to synthesize proteins that can interfere with viral replication.