Sunday, August 28, 2005

Repo Man Road Rally

I dragged Dena & Arlene to an outdoor showing of the cult classic Repo Man sponsored by the Alamo Roadshow. None of us had ever done a road rally and though there were a few testy moments we did have fun. We were first to the first clue, which was a tire/muffler place on Mission Street in downtown Los Angeles.

Highlights to the day include going down a tunnel to the LA River and meeting the neighborhood homeless speed freak who was extensively tattooed; Dawn doing a face plant while running across the 4th Street Bridge/street, probably the highlight there is that I didn't get run over by a semi truck while sprawled across the white lines.

We had a major breakdown following my kareoke stint at the Japanese Village. I suppose I should explain that. One of us had to sing "punk rock style" to Little deuce Coupe. I was elected, now I have to tell you, it's not fair that she made me start the song in the middle. Arlene said I totally didn't do it punk rock style, I did it with my hips swaying 50's style. What can I tell you. Anyways, the clue was "if G Money and Les Nessman owned a convenience store, what would it be called? The store is East of one of the bridges." Well you could say we got off on a wrong tangent thinking WKRP in Cincinnati, I took the van up to Mission when all along the store was off the 4th street bridge. There's no bridge on Mission. This is where things got testy. It was hot, we were tired and ready for a cold one. We had to call in and get a clue, which was basically that the damn store was called "GLess Meat Market" Who was going to guess that??

Monday, August 22, 2005

Grocery Store frequent shopper cards


When you signed up for your frequent shoppers card at Ralphs, Albertsons or Safeway did you use your real name, address, phone #, birthdate, etc? What information do you think they are collecting on you? You do realize that they are collecting all your shopping habits, what you buy, when you buy it, how many Entemann's Key Lime pies you eat, how many cartons of cigarettes you smoke, etc. I wonder if my shopping habits could be used against me in a lawsuit, let's say I sued a tobacco company for my spouse's death from lung cancer. The grocery store possibly could be served a subpoena as to what brand of cigarettes we bought and when or even if we bought them.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to use a fake name, address, etc., when filling out the application form for the grocery card? Unless you cash checks at the store the information you put on the application is only of use to the store and those marketing firms they sell it to. Do you ever wonder if they could tell after let's say 100 shopping trips if you would vote liberal or conservative? I would think that whether you bought organic produce or not, ketchup or deli mustard, or salmon vs. Hamburger helper could be used to profile you.

A couple of interesting web sites are below detailing out some recent developments or events regarding grocery cards and their impact to privacy on the citizens of the world:

Firefighter charged with arson
Seattle Presstake on grocery cards and the bigger picture

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Finished Walkway

Yes, 4 weeks later (or was it more?) the flagstone front walkway is finally finished. Amazing how long small items like this take. Contractors are so busy nowadays spending people's home equity loans that they have no time for small time jobs like this.

Where would you move if you sold your recently doubled in price home? Well, unless you moved out of California, probably nowhere for the same or less $. So, why not just fix up your house with all your newfound equity? That's what most people are doing, hence the shortage of contractors and their attention.....

Friday, August 19, 2005

Are we really free?

I'm reading this book called the Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. It freaks me out to be quite honest with you. It's set about 10 years from now, modern day, and normal citizens (like me and you) are being quietly and covertly manipulated by fear, terror and diversions. Does this sound familiar? I've been reading it for about a week. The book mentions passports with RFID chips. The day after I read that section the USA Today ran an article about the US Government issuing RFID passports. I discuss RFID's and the possible privacy implications of them in a downline blog.

The book then goes on to talk about implanted PLID's in the human body. Well these are also being trialed in kids and adults alike. A PLID is a personal locating ID, implanted under the skin and your exact location can be tracked. Do you really want that? Do you not think that your habits could be catalogued and "subversive" activities stopped? The GPS in your car could be used to automatically ticket you if you were driving in the carpool lane because they know you are single, surveillancelaince camera to determine you are the only occupant and BAM! you have a ticket in the mail. Just something to think about.

What about privacy? Do we need more video surveillance cameras all over the place? Did you know that face scanning and recognition software is available? Yes, as you pass by a video camera your face can be scanned, tied to your passport photo and your whereabouts pinpointed exactly. Kind of freaky, eh?

Some interesting articles to note on the security and privacy of upcoming technologies:


Implant Trends

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

RFID's What are they really?

Radio frequency identification (RFID) and Electronic Product Code (EPC) technologies are being implemented to improve supply chain efficiency and reduce shrinkage by providing more accurate tracking of goods and assets. RFID are being used to replace the bar codes now used to identify products. Many large retailers, including Wal-Mart, have recently announced their intentions to move over to RFID technology in the near future. RFID allows these companies to track their products using radio-frequency identification tags that can be scanned by radio waves at any time.

An RFID tag is a chip that can contain information such as a product's expiration date and temperature, and it can be scanned from a distance of up to 30 feet. This makes it a lot easier for a retailer to find products in a warehouse and keep track of what condition they're in -- big advantages when it comes to managing inventory. (Hmmm you think, 30'. Will they use it for other things? What about when I buy it?)

If used effectively RFID could have a massive impact on many industries with deliveries telling you what's inside before you open the box or a supermarket trolley being wheeled through a checkout with an instant total, the issues as always surround privacy. Who is to say that the RFID tag meant to help a store track its inventory will stop being used when it leaves their premises? All the trials to date have gone to great lengths to show that the tag information is not being sought after it leaves the store but the tag is not deactivated so there is an opportunity for it to be interrogated by 3rd parties be they connected or unconnected to the retailer the standard allows for enough power so that tags can be read from a distance of 20 meters.
The giant retailer Wal-Mart has been very cagey about its use of RFID only confirming trials and trying to allay consumer fears, but to date no retailer has deployed the technology that would kill RFID tags at the store exit, unnecessary the retailers claim, big brother claim the civil liberties groups. Which ever way you see the technology there is no doubting that it could have the largest impact on commerce since the rollout of barcode scanning.

Something to think about......

Monday, August 01, 2005

It's not all bad

On one of our boat rides in Puget Sound, this was the view. Actually, everyday we can see Mt. Rainier towering over the area. It's been quite clear and rain free for most of my 3 week business trip from hell up here.