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Monday, November 28, 2005

My Schedule

I haven't posted in over a week. I was on vacation. That is now a valid excuse. Originally, I was posting everyday. Then, I took weekends off. Then holidays. Finally, after having my first "real" vacation in (what seems like) years, I decided I would not post on vacations either. Instead, I would mountain bike and hike and in this case, eat a lot of turkey.

Now that I'm back, I'm inundated with new comic ideas. Back to the grind.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Certifiable Certifications

In the past week, I spent a day proctoring a CISSP exam and a night taking an exam to recertify my CCNP and CCDP. In the course of my professional development activities of late, I couldn't help but contemplate the benefits and pitfalls of both recertification systems.

Take the (ISC)2's stance on certification and upkeep. At the time I certified, I paid $450 to sit for a six hour bubble exam (like the high school SATs) that was, for lack of better words – meticulously ambiguous. I won't comment further on the preparation and the exam itself, but suffice it to say, if certification maintenance involved sitting that exam again, I would let it lapse – gladly. Hence, I was quite pleased to find that money and credits for ongoing studies was all that was needed.

On the other hand, I got my first CCNA by just taking the test sans any studying. I absentmindedly let it expire, and as per Cisco's requirements, took it again to recertify so I could pursue the CCNP. My hands on Cisco experience coupled with my daily on-the-job use of routing and switching skills allowed me to round out my competence with only short, targeted studying. Of course, after three years, I was faced with catching up on all the new (and old) technological developments that I don't practice daily that have made their way onto the Cisco tests.

Cisco's method of retesting to recertify is a win for Cisco. They get money for each exam taken, and the requirement to take exams to keep certified guarantees a steady (albeit small versus their hardware) income. While CCNA candidates arguable could be considered only "book smart", those who pursue higher Cisco certifications – and maintain them – can be regarded as networking professionals (or experts) who possess superior skill sets and represent the upper echelons of technical expertise. By forcing candidates to retest on constantly updated test materials, the breadth of knowledge of the candidates is not only maintained, but also expanded.

By contrast, the CISSP certification is not a very technical certification. It represents the amalgam of a common body of knowledge composed of ten unique security domains. Candidates are versed in physical security to cryptography; from network and telecommunications security to risk analysis. While fire suppression systems and security compliance laws may change, the CISSP candidate understands the impacts of these practices on implementing a well rounded and complete security plan. Maintaining the CISSP certification is more about field experience in a security management role than configuring firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems.

While each recertification method suits each individual certification's needs, it makes it hard for candidates to pursue and maintain several concurrent certifications. Taking another (ISC)2 certification would require me to devote more time to gaining CPE credits to keep current in both disciplines. Additionally, another Cisco certification would require more studying and more expensive exams on a regular basis.

Certifications are like college classes – electives can be fun; however, you have to declare a major, and potentially a minor. Therefore, I've tailored my professional development activities to revolve around my current base of certifications – CISSP for security and CCNP/DP for next generation networking. When I think of the previous certifications I've achieved and either improved upon or let lapse (MCP, MCSE, CIPTDS, CCNA, CCDA and various other exams on the way to Checkpoint certification and CIPTOS/SS) I'm glad I've "graduated".

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Green Pieces

Greenpeace went on a mission in the Philippines to determine whether global warming is destroying coral reefs. Instead, Greenpeace destroyed the coral reef themselves by ramming their boat – the Rainbow Warrior II – into the reef. To add insult to injury, Greenpeace divers found healthy coral and no evidence of bleaching. Greenpeace issued apologies and a statement saying that the lack of any damage from supposed global warming did not disprove the theory of global warming; for it is an "extremely complicated science". In fact, safe navigation in the open ocean seems to be an "extremely complicated science" for Greenpeace.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Blogger Sucks?

I had a great "The Adventures of Rich and Vince" comic prepared today, but it seems Blogger has decided to stop accepting my image uploads today. I'll revisit this again tomorrow. If it is presistent, I may have to look elsewhere. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Mathematics of Strippers

After Robert A. McCormick charged up $241,000 on his corporate American Express card in a nudie bar, I decided I'd like to take the Strip Club Challenge. Of course, my company wouldn't foot the bill so this is all theoretical.

It's been a while since I've been to a peel bar and I've never been to a "high class" establishment like Scores, so I'll adjust my memory of pricing to suit this experiment.

  • 1 12 oz beer (domestic) = $10 (includes tip)
  • 1 8oz mixed drink or 4oz shot = $20 (includes tip)
  • 1 Table Dance = $25 + $25 (tip) = $50 (5 minutes / 1 girl)
  • 1 Private Dance = $50 + $50 (tip) = $100 (5 minutes / 1 girl)
  • Tips on "Pervert's Row" = $1 (that's right – we're in the money, but we remember our roots)

Given this "menu", let's assume Sir Richard, T-Nutz, Mark and I head off to see the ladies dance. What would a quarter of a million dollars get us (besides my mortgage paid in full)?

We start off with a limo from work ($500) on a Friday night right at quitting time (5:00PM). We do this because:

  1. We don't want to drive in Boston traffic
  2. We don't want to drive home drunk afterwards
  3. We need to start spending! We have $241,000 for chrissake.

We arrive at 6:00PM (Boston traffic) and immediately start. We only have until 2:00AM before close, so that's only 8 hours of nude women and drunken debauchery – what is a boy to do?

Assume 1 beer and 1 mixed drink every 15 minutes all night long. We are all professionals; please don’t try this at home. Also assume that we're generous and each one of us buys a stripper 1 beer and 1 mixed drink every 15 minutes all night long.

((($10/beer x 4 boys) + ($20/mixed drink x 4 intoxicated lads)) +
(($10/beer x 4 peelers) + ($20/mixed drink x 4 strippers))) x
32 [15 minute intervals / 8 hours] = $7,680

We mix our table and private dances alternating 1 each every 5 minutes all night long. Also, only three of us get dances at any given time allowing one of us to bequeath $1 tips along "Pervert's Row". Now we’re rolling in dough tonight, so we decide a single lady per dance is for losers and we have 5 girls for each table and/or private dance per fellow. Note that we don't consider timeouts for bathroom breaks to answer nature's call or to puke. Just assume that if any one of us goes to the bathroom for any reason, the 5 strippers accompany that guy to – you know – help out.

((($50 table dance/girl x 5 strippers) x 3 randy fellows) x
48 [5 minute intervals / 4 hours, i.e.: half the time]) +
((($100 private dance/girl x 5 exotic dancers) x 3 horny guys) x
48 [5 minute intervals / 4 hours, i.e.: the other half the time]) = $108,000

So far, that’s a $500 limo ride + $7,680 in refreshing beverages + $108,000 in personal entertainment for a running total of $116,180.

We have to buy a few rounds for all the less fortunate patrons. Actually, we don’t, but we do anyway. We the buy the 200 other guys shots every 30 minutes.

($20 shots x 200 drunken hooligans) x 16 [20 minute intervals / 8 hours] = $64,000

That leaves the 1 guy tipping singles a total of $60,820 over the 8 hours. Assuming three girls on the main stage at all times, that’s about $1 per girl every 1.5 seconds.

Granted, we could have stopped for a nice dinner along the way. We could have drank a little less. We could have been more liberal with the tipping. We could have bought highly overpriced champagne instead of beers. This is only one possible Strip Club Challenge expense sheet. We plan to try it again next weekend.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Drunken Legislation

As Massachusetts lawmakers gut the stiffer penalties from a potential drunk driving law called Melanie's Bill, a Dedham teen named Lisa O'Connell runs down two Bridgewater State College students and their friend – killing one – while driving with a blood alcohol content level three times the legal limit. Should we feel bad for the victims? Should we feel bad for Lisa; who has been on Prozac since the death of her mother two years ago? Should we be disgusted with our lawmakers for not taking drunk driving seriously? Given the latest news, we should rethink our views on drunk driving and the penalties that should be imposed upon those who recklessly drive while under the influence.

There is no excuse for driving drunk. I myself have gotten blitzed on many occasion and made it home safely. This of course was when I was living in Boston and I would walk to the clubs and either stumble, T or taxi home. Now that I live outside the city, anytime I plan on drinking, I consider the fact that I'll be driving to and fro and therefore, limit my beverage intake to a minor amount that I can handle while still being aware.

Notice in my confession, I use the word "I" quit a bit. "I'll be driving" and "I take responsibility". I don't expect a bartender to stop serving me. I don't count on my friends to take the keys. I don't rely on anyone but myself to control my alcohol intake and carry out my responsibility of getting me home safely.

While it's tragic that a young girl made a terrible mistake, it's not "unfortunate" that someone died as a result. It is criminal - more specifically - homocide. Regardless of her past record or prior experiences, there is no excuse for recklessness in light of the fact that drunk driving is a mainstream issue. It's not like she didn't know that driving drunk was bad – no one can claim that defense. She probably did think, "it won't happen to me". Well she was wrong and now someone is dead.

I'm not naive thinking that drunk driving can be ended with stiffer penalties. I do however believe in taking responsibility and paying for your mistakes. Mandatory stiff penalties for first time offenders will certainly decrease the amount of "casual mishaps" while giving prosecutors more ammunition to address chronic drunkards. The Massachusetts law put forth those provisions and was quite robust (given current lack of legislation). The real issue with Melanie’s Bill was that a group of drunk driving defense lawyers were allowed to rework the bill and finish it hours before the final vote. It's unfortunate that legislating under the influence of lobbyists is not a crime.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Accidental Traffic

I’ve written a rant on traffic describing the most efficient way to drive through Boston during the Big Dig. Having to commute into and out of Boston everyday, I’ve become quite the expert. However, I still don’t understand why traffic stops when there is an accident on the OTHER side of the road. I’ve concluded it is due more to human nature than to actual traffic flow mechanics.

There seems to be some primal urge to see blood on the highway reminiscent of the driver’s education films we saw at sixteen. I find it quite pitiful that we take pleasure in stopping to observe other peoples’ misfortune when we are obviously destined for an alternate location. We weren’t planning on seeing a traffic accident, but when we do, we slow down to examine all details so we can later explain it to our friends and complain about how backed up traffic was. Hypocrites! Don’t stop to look and there would be no traffic back up to speak of!

Case and point, I was stuck in a three mile backup of bumper to bumper traffic while my north bound comrades rubbernecked a south bound car fire. It’s not that I get paid by the hour or that I love work so much, but I’d rather be at work than sitting immobile in my automobile while feeble-minded morons watch a car burn.

Given that, one would think that reality shows about police chases would be the highest rated programs on television. Instead, they’re surpassed for reality shows that involve people’s egos hurting other people’s feelings. Frankly, I couldn’t care less about either genre but I think the reason the former doesn’t fare well is because people can get their fill with live action on the real highways.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

No Amnesty for Minor Criminals

Amnesty International is crying out against life sentences for juveniles in United States prisons. What the hell does Amnesty INTERNATIONAL have to do with domestic United States laws? From the latest Supreme Court decisions, apparently quite a lot.

First off, I’m all for the death penalty. Please don’t shovel the crap that it takes more money to kill someone than it does to keep them in prison for life. Also, the whole, “what if we kill an innocent person” argument holds no weight when looking at cases like Dahmer and BTK. If the prison system is meant to rehabilitate our criminal element for return to society, then life sentences are contrary to the prison mission.

The bleeding heart would like to place blame on anyone but the criminal. All the more so if the criminal is a minor. Perhaps it was television, perhaps it was bad parenting, perhaps it was video games. Nevertheless, the criminal has committed a crime. They are responsible and must atone for their actions. Setting the hard example is not easy, but it surely deters further infringements.

We need to stop worrying what other people think about the United States and start worrying about whether we want to be a civilized society. The alternative is murder and mayhem in the streets at the hands of minors who are exempt from lawful punishment. There is a world of compromise between anarchy and cleric rule like the Middle East. I’m not proposing we chop off shoplifters’ hands; however, phallus removal for sexual predators may not be a bad idea. As for minors, they must be taught that all actions have consequences and if the parents don’t impress that upon their children, then the laws of civilized society must.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Local White Water Action

We spent the weekend in West Virginia for rafting on the Gauley River but it seems we could have stayed home and rafted the Mill River during the unexpected dam release at the Whittenton Pond dam.

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