austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

On a needle up high you can look through the eye

To be filed under the ``barn door, horse home'' department: they've upgraded my department's office phones to the new IP telephones. My phone now has an End User License Agreement, a phrase which for some reason makes me cranky and irritable just to hear. I'd started to read through the thing, but when you have 16 pages of license agreement you're expected to deal with it's easier to just not call anybody at all, or answer the phone, ever. For most people that'd be an inconvenience, but my major use of the phone is to see how long it takes people to stop calling, and with the new voice mail cuts off at six rings anyway.

The voice mail system is curious too, since they want me to change the access number, but keep rejecting the number I'd prefer to use on the grounds that codes consisting of repeated numbers aren't acceptable. I don't have repeated numbers. I suppose I could try `12345', but they probably reject that too. Meanwhile, the list of new e-mails for the people being reassigned from our department to new places has come out, and ... I'm not on it. I'm hoping that's not an ominous sign.

Civil Defence authorities are planning a surprise mass transit emergency exercise. In this drill -- set for sometime this month -- simulated bombs are to go off at four MRT stations and one bus interchange simultaneously, and volunteer victims are to challenge the local police, fire, and hospital authorities to sort them out and treat them. People on the trains and buses will be told before the simulated explosions, and the public at large will be told about 15 minutes prior to the start. Commuters who are not simulated victims will be evacuated and lead to the next functional MRT station, but service may be quite disrupted throughout the system. I'm not sure whether I'd like to be on an affected train -- I'd be fascinated to see the evacuation system actually used; stock footage of last year's exercise showed people taking pictures of the march through a tunnel -- or whether I'd want to avoid it altogether -- generally I like staying away from things on the news, and this would be a big disruption, though in a good cause.

Trivia: On 4 January 1973 the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was officially renamed the H Allen Smith Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Smith was a Californian representative), though the name was never used and the law changing the name was repealed by the end of the year. Source: Origins of NASA Names, Helen T Wells, Susan H Whiteley, Carrie E Karegeannes, NASA SP-4402, and now that I've found this I may be lost for weeks reading them all.

Currently Reading: The Collapsing Universe, Isaac Asimov.


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