ew wtf

I'm in Starbucks right now trying to get some paperwork done. I'm pretty sure the woman who just sat down next to me is drinking a skunk latte.

eeka 1, combination lock 17-11-37

I came across a Master-brand cheap combination padlock, one I've used on my gym locker, and realized that I don't know the combination for it. Once again, the internet proves to me that it knows everything.

I first tried the old trick of holding it up to my ear and listening for the cylinders to click together, but as the internet will confirm, this doesn't work on newer locks. There doesn't seem to be an audible click. The cylinders also seem to have some sort of newer mechanism where you can't feel the cylinders engage except for the second and third ones, so neither of the tricks I used to use when I was a bored child to crack padlocks would work on it. I'm wondering if they've now put some sort of soft covering or something on the cylinders so it's harder to hear/feel the clicks. As usual, once my brain failed me, I turned to the internet.

I found this site, which explains how to find the third digit on Master padlocks by playing around with it and seeing where you can get the dial to stick while turning it and pulling it up on the shackle. It worked the first time I did it, as I got a set of sticky numbers that fits into the pattern described. It took me about a minute to figure out the third digit. The site then explains the possible combinations of digits used by Master, which allows you to narrow down the numbers you have to try to find the first and second digit. A little further googling found this site, which has these numbers all laid out in a table, eliminating even having to do the math.

Probably the dorkiest part of this whole project was realizing that I'd pretty much correctly figured out the math involved when I was in middle school and noticed patterns in the combinations of people's lockers. (My group of friends and I had memorized the combinations to each others' lockers so we could leave each other stuff.) I had noticed that the first and third digit always had the same modulus 4, but then got kind of stuck on the second one having a different one (but always having the same parity as the other two digits). I thought I had missed something, but it turns out that the modulus 4 of the second digit is in fact two off from the first and third. Which makes sense if you think about how the cylinders must look and the angles at which they could be rotated to get different combinations.

After figuring out the third digit and using the table to try combinations of first and second digits, I ended up needing to try about 50 out of the 100 possible combinations, and I got the lock open in about 20 solid minutes (minus a couple snack breaks, beer breaks, etc.) So I guess the labor involved was probably worth more than a new lock, but dammit, it was fun figuring out how it worked, and now I don't have to buy a new lock. Plus now I'm blogging about how much fun I had cracking a lock, which just makes me that much dorkier than you.

Patrick 1, eeka 0

Molly and I were talking last night with our friend Patrick, a fellow member of our temple, and Molly said something about our temple's rabbi emeritus...

Patrick: What the hell's an emeritus?
Me: Pfft, and you're an English teacher?
Patrick (immediately): Durrrrrrr, that's not English.

Armageddon on Washington Street

I was driving down Washington Street just now (because, chances are, if you're driving in Boston, you're probably either on Washington Street or damn near one) and I stopped for a school bus driving down Washington Street in the opposite direction, which was letting kids off with the red lights flashing and stop sign out. I was at the head of the line of cars stopped for the bus. From the same direction as the bus, an ambulance with lights and siren going pulled out from the lane the bus was in and into the oncoming lane where I was stopped. The ambulance came nearer and nearer to the bus with its stop sign, which had started letting children out, who were crossing in front of the bus and about to step into the ambulance's path.

I sat there watching this, frantically calculating whether the cat would land on its feet or whether the piece of bread strapped to the cat would land butter-side down wondering whether the bus or the ambulance had the right of way, thinking it would have to be the ambulance because it was doing a time-sensitive job, then realizing that regardless, the ambulance still wasn't going to run over people, and besides, the bus had no way of sucking the children back into the door, and hoping the ambulance was also thinking the same thing. The ambulance did indeed stop for the red flag on the school bus, which confirmed my thinking that it actually makes more sense for the school bus to have the right of way.

Except that then a strange thing happened. The vehicle behind me started honking like crazy. I looked around and didn't see anything I was doing wrong, or any way that I needed to get out of the way to help the ambulance, which had plenty of room to get around me once the children were done crossing. I looked behind me, and saw that it was a school bus honking, and the driver was waving and pointing at the ambulance, trying to get the attention of the driver who was letting children out. So maybe the other bus driver did think the proper procedure was to somehow get the children out of the road.

It was an interesting little coincidence to come across, except that now I still don't know for sure which one has the right of way. At least I do know with certainty that had a mail truck also appeared, it wouldn't have even been in the running.

Are there any green auto insurance companies?

As in, companies that will give people a discount for NOT having multiple cars? I take the T-pass discount and low-mileage discount every year, and those are planet-friendly, but it would be really nice to see the companies also do away with the multiple car discount. Even better would be a discount for households with fewer cars than licensed drivers. The planet thanks you.

Liveblogging da primary returns...

I finally found a use for Twitter.

Um, except I had to create a new account to do it, because I can't remember my username or password. Oops.

Check it out, yo.