Saturday, January 24, 2004

Road rage

The worst part of road rage is the one-on-one aspect when the cops show up.

I took both Julian and Cordelia to visit my mom in Connecticut today, followed by a trip over to Brewster for his hockey game. Nothing eventful happened during the game, or for much of the drive home.

Then, we're making good time down the Hutchinson Parkway when a guy suddenly swerves around a car in front of him and pops in front of us in the left lane, a few inches from my front bumper. I do what any self-respecting driver would do - I lay on the horn for a few seconds and flash my high beams at him. His response is to slam on his brakes until he's going about 20 mph in the left lane of the highway. I see that he has birthday balloons in his sedan, and at least one
child in the back seat.

Okay, so I'm dealing with a psycho. The first order of business when dealing with a psycho on the highway is to not give him any chance to do something crazy to you. I figured that he'd be slamming on his brakes again, so I thought that the best plan of action was to get around him. I moved to the right. He moved in front of me. So I moved back left, and when I was just about next to him he suddenly lined me up and swerved into me. Nearly ran me off the road.

Okay, this isn't good. I stayed right behind another car for a while, hoping that this guy wouldn't do anything stupid if there wasn't enough space to cut in front of me. He took off a little bit in the center lane, but when he saw me catching up on the left side he slowed down and swerved at me a second time. This isn't good. I have two kids in my car. This guy has, I now saw, a wife and two kids in his car. And he's going nuts and trying to kill me.

I moved into the center lane and slowed down. He got in front of me and slowed down further. I finally figured that I just had to get ahead of him and pull over at the McDonald's ahead on the Hutch. From behind him, I signalled left to get him to sneak over that way, then pulled right instead and went past him as he was leaning the other way. We were neck-and-neck, and I looked over and made eye contact at him and his wife. I opened my window and yelled "Why are you trying to kill me?" He sped up a bit, swerved hard into me, and slammed into my car going at highway speeds. My side mirror snapped back. My car almost went up on two wheels. I took out my cell phone.

He immediately jumped in front of me and exited on Pelham Parkway. I dialed 911 and called them to tell them that a guy had just tried to kill me three times, but they couldn't hear anything I was saying and they hung up on me. I kept following him - I was going to make sure he didn't get away. After a couple of blocks, he pulled over on Stillwell Avenue and I pulled up about 10 feet behind him.

I called 911 again, and said that this guy had intentionally tried to sideswipe me three times in a row. The guy came out and approached my door. I opened my window, and yelled "Why the fuck did you just try to kill me and my children? You've got kids in your car what the hell is WRONG WITH YOU?" He shot me an especially blank look and said "Is everyone okay?" Cordelia says that she's really scared, and has to go to the bathroom.

A few minutes later, the cops arrived. They took my story, then took the other guy's story. Which, of course, involved an honest mistake on his part, not seeing me when he changed lanes to exit the highway. So he's lying to the cop to save his hide. Then he begs not to file an accident report.

The cop talks to me, explains that I've got less than $500 damage on my car and that my rates would go up and I wouldn't get past the deductible. The guy's got significant damage to his car. If they take the report it's going to be me against him, and there's no way to tell which story is true. So I decide that he's just cost himself several hundred dollars, his wife is going to be all over him for putting her life and their kids' lives at risk, and I'll save money. Sure, he should be in jail now for assault, but I'm not getting that because the damn state couldn't be bothered to put full surveillance cameras every 1/10 mile down the Hutch.

Plus, I got his license plate, New Jersey PXR 934. I'll be tracing him and getting his name to the top of google, associated with this story. A nice little legacy!

Friday, January 23, 2004

Sign up those visitors!

Yesterday, many of us got spam that gave us a userid/password for a site that none of us had ever heard of. It looked sloppy and poorly written, and we had no idea what the site was going to be. Naturally, the first inclination was to delete it because it had no context whatsoever, so we did.

This morning, we got mail from our site's office manager. Effective next week, all visitors to the building will have to be preregistered using a new Web-based tool. We should all have received email yesterday with our userid and password, without which we'll be unable to bring any guests in. And the best part was the "this mail wasn't spam, so don't delete it" plea.

Fearing the worst, I (and about 250 of the 250 people here) wrote back asking what to do on the off chance we'd deleted this...uh...spam. The response was to go to their site and enter your userid or email address to get the information back out. So I did. Shortly thereafter, I got back my response.

If your are not JOSHUA TRUPIN please delete
this email.
Based on the information you provide us, the following is your
login information:
To login into Workspeed
you can use the following link:

(And so on.) I like the quaint, all-caps name database. I like the way they have an English-be-damned philosophy to their writing. ("If your are not...", " provide us...", etc.) And I especially like the warning: "If you are not JOSHUA TRUPIN please ignore this secret password that gets people into the building!"

More spam. This one came in as formatted below, in the MIME format text/brokenass. It's obvious that they don't even care about crafting a convincing fake note anymore. Where's the craftmanship of old? Where's the 14-year-olds sending me mail saying "run this cool disk utility!" with an attached BAT file that just read "del /s *.*" in it?

-----Original Message-----
From: FDIC []
Sent: Friday, January 23, 2004 4:01 PM
To: MSDNMag - Wicked Code
Subject: Important News About Your Bank Account

This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

Content-Type: multipart/alternative;

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

Content-Type: text/html; charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

To whom it may concern;
<p>In cooperation with the Department Of Homeland Security, Federal, S= tate and Local Governments your account has been denied insurance from= the Federal<br>
Deposit Insurance Corporation due to suspected violations of the Pat= riot Act. While we have only a limited amount of evidence gathered on = your account at<br>
this time it is enough to suspect that currency violations may have = occurred in your account and due to this activity we have withdrawn Fe= deral Deposit<br>
Insurance on your account until we verify that your account has not = been used in a violation of the Patriot Act.</p> <p>As a result Department Of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has = advised the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to suspend all depos= it insurance on<br>
your account until such time as we can verify your identity and your= account information.</p> <p>Please verify through our IDVerify below. This information will be = checked against a federal government database for identity verificatio= n. This only takes<br>
up to a minute and when we have verified your identity you will be n= otified of said verification and all suspensions of insurance on your = account will be<br>
<a href=3D"">http://ww=</a>
<p>Failure to use IDVerify below will cause all insurance for your acc= ount to be terminated and all records of your account history will be = sent to the<br>
Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington D.C. for analysis and = verification. Failure to provide proper identity may also result in a = visit from Local,<br>
State or Federal Government or Homeland Security Officials.</p> <p>Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.</p> <p>Donald E. Powell</p> <p>Chairman Emeritus FDIC </p> <p>John D. Hawke, Jr. </p> <p>Comptroller of the Currency </p> <p>Michael E. Bartell </p> <p>Chief Information Officer</p> </body> </html>


Thursday, January 15, 2004

Train pals

At 11 degrees and 6 inches of snow, I felt it would be the perfect time to walk to the train station this morning. Evidently, the liiiitle bit of snow kept all the regulars off the train. I didn't realize just how much I missed the old gang. Let's see. There's Stinky. Coffee. Egg Muffin. Notre Dame. Faux Fur. Wen Ho. Loud. Patty and Selma. Schnauzer Face. Reads The Daily News Out Loud. Bad Moustache. Shirtsleeves. Emphysema. Character Actor. Gets Off At Babylon. The Spit. Nurse. Fun Neckties. Ruddy. No-Name Neighbor. Yacht Club. The Golfer. Hands Off My Pine-Sol. Men's Health. Tote Bag. Work Overalls his loyal sidekick Bucket. Fat Legs. Three-Seater. Frequent Urination. Cell Phone. (sigh) Good friends all.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Corporate sandwich express

Okay, complaint time. Not about the fact that I never add entries in here, but about the dining in our building.

The E/V stop on 53d is actually relatively convenient to our offices. When I can't or won't walk, it presents a challenging staircase that's bracketed by two escalators. Invariably, the escalators are packed solid and no one's on the stairs. So I run up the stairs - it has to be about three stories, straight up. I get to the top, look around, and most of my fellow passengers are 1/3 to 1/2 of the way up. I puff my chest out proudly as I walk out, being careful not to let on that I not only can't inhale, but that I can taste blood. Instead of getting a bagel at Bakery, I might try the quaintly named E F Deli in the train station. We haven't had the heart to tell them that the F doesn't run there anymore.

It's about 85 degrees in my office. No one seems to know how to fix it. (The problem has a technical explanation: there's no "air flow" coming into my "office.") I bought a box of chocolate truffles at Trader Joe's, but all the perfect little dollops of chocolate are melting into each other now. I can't find a plastic spoon in my office anywhere, so I'm about to be reduced to scooping the globs out with my office toothbrush and eating them that way. Lord have mercy on my soul.