September 2007

Family Life30 Sep 2007 06:24 pm

Here’s just one bit of advice for you youngsters:

On the rare occasion that you and your sibling are in the midst of a tangle and things are so clear that I step in and actually defend your position, you should not — I repeat NOT — think it helpful to jump in and back me up!

In this situation, bolstering my position with your explanation of the affair will not help you out. Right now, your best move is to keep your mouth closed and watch the fireworks.

And — as long as no snide expressions are involved — you could even take this opportunity to quietly bask in your minor accomplishment.

Family Life30 Sep 2007 05:52 pm

On a recent Saturday morning our youngest, Matthew, wandered into our bedroom while we were still slowly waking up.

“Hey Mom, how come you’re on Dad’s side of the bed?”


Well sometimes, when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much, they share their spot on the bed… ;-)

General30 Sep 2007 01:27 pm

I currently have several mobile phones through Sprint, and I’m generally happy with the service, but one thing irks me.

I’ve had to call their customer service several times recently (to change plans and the like). Every time, in a good-faith but ill-considered effort to protect my security, they ask me to verify my identity by providing the password to my online account. WTF?!

[On these calls I always refuse to divulge my password; the rep eventually backs off and allows the use of other information to confirm my identity...]

I am no security expert, but this seems like an absurdly inappropriate policy. For one thing, my account password would end up in the hands of a bunch of customer service reps, any one of whom could become disgruntled and do evil things (well, they could do damage regardless, but more readily with this information).

For another, it seems like a really bad policy to train your customers that disclosing their password to a stranger on the phone is ok. That is literally setting them up to later fall victim to some very simple social engineering. Any company interested in protecting their customers should do everything in its control to engender in them a “No I will not give you my password!” reaction.

It seems to me that no company should ever ask a customer for their password. And I don’t think I’ve ever had any company other than Sprint do this.

On my last call with Sprint, I got one of the customer rep supervisors on the phone. She didn’t really buy my complaints about this policy, but said she’d relay my concerns up her chain. Yeah, I bet that gets far…

Am I crazy to ask Sprint to change this policy?

Vegetarianism29 Sep 2007 02:14 pm

Got Milk? No thanks!

I’m not sure who this chick is, but if she drinks it then we have one more, umm, large data point telling us to STAY AWAY FROM THE COW BREAST MILK.

Family Life29 Sep 2007 01:54 pm

We moved into our current house in the summer of 2000.

I had bailed out of a post-doctoral position at Jefferson Lab to come work at AOL (at pretty much the peak of the ’00 bubble — great timing…). The kids were still young (from 1 to 8 years old) and we were coming from a really small townhouse in Williamsburg, so — even though we were a team of 6 — the new place felt really big.

As the kids grew bigger, though, it started to feel a bit tight. The two youngest were still sharing a bedroom (well, still are), and they were ready for separate rooms. Also, we often had family and friends in from out of town, with no good place for them to crash.

After mulling over options for several years we decided that — rather than do nothing, or move away from our neighborhood, which we love — we would add a room behind the garage. The new room would become combination family room, kids playroom, and guest bedroom. This would free up space elsewhere in the house to spread out the kids.

I’ve got some experience with home improvements. I built the deck behind our house, installed wood flooring in the LR / DR, put tile in the foyer, installed ceiling fans, did minor plumbing / electrical work, put in attic stairs, and the like. So for a while I considered doing the addition myself, figuring I could hire some folks along the way to help out. I really wanted to try my hand at framing.

But after serious consideration of what the addition would entail, and how much time I would realistically be able to spend on the project, I decided to outsource it ;-)

I solicited recommendations from the neighborhood for contractors, interviewed a few firms, got estimates for the work, and selected one.

At some point along the way we decided that — while we had the guys out here building the new room — we would also replace the roof, siding, and windows. All three were original with the house (over 20 years old) and in pretty bad shape.

It has been a fun couple of months watching all the work go on. In retrospect, there’s no question that hiring someone to do the job was the right thing for me to do…

If you are in the northern Virginia area and are planning something similar, I highly recommend the folks who did the work. If you want to discuss in detail, drop me a line.

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