Monday, December 29, 2014

No Snacks For You

English: Snack Machine
English: Snack Machine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The other day, I was browsing through some of email news alerts that I subscribe to at work.  These alerts are usually related to the retail industry, with a heavy emphasis on the convenience store industry.  I was going to delete most of the emails, but one of the articles caught my eye and I had to check it out further.

The article was about a new vending machine that they have developed in Europe.  This vending machine uses facial recognition and can detect your age, build, and mood.  It will then go through a series of calculations, including past purchases, before the machine decides whether or not to allow you to complete the purchase.  So if you are stress eating your 4th Snickers bar of the day, good luck.  It also has the capability to tie into your medical records in the approval process.

This disturbs me on so many levels.  I know junk food is bad for me but sometimes I just need, no, want a Reese's Peanut Butter cup.  The machine doesn't have any idea what I have had to eat that day so how can it make an educated guess as to whether or not to sell me the product?  I might not even be buying the product for me.  Perhaps my son or a friend is with me and I am treating them to a snack.

Let's also talk about the fact that the machine has the potential to tie into my medical records.  That just blows my mind.  There are somethings that nobody should have access and medical records is one of those.  That info should only be accessible by me, my doctor, and my insurer.  I would not trust that the info would be safe from other eyes that have no business seeing it.

Of course my geeky side thinks that the technology is very neat.  However, that doesn't override in the least the objections I would have about it.  Way too much Big Brother for my liking.  I'd like to know what others think about it.  Would you want a soulless machine to deny you a snack because it doesn't like the look on your face when you try to make the purchase or would you like a machine making decisions for you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Office Christmas Party

Christmas in the post-War United States
Christmas in the post-War United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I really feel bad that I have neglected this blog for so long.  I am making it my goal to try to keep this updated a couple times a week starting with this post.

Today was the day for my office Christmas party.  It wasn't going to be a major affair.  Just lunch and for those that wanted to participate some games and a gift exchange.  Typically, I do not look forward to these affairs.  My plan was to go to the party, sit with a couple friends, grab a bite to eat, and quietly watch the festivities.

I consider myself to be quite the introvert.  So much so that if you look it up in the dictionary you just might find my picture.  As an introvert, I tend to dislike being put in social situations that make me uncomfortable or anxious.  Even at church, I hate the dreaded "greet your neighbor" portion of the service.  Today ended up being one of those situations.  When I get forced into one of those situations, I tend to withdraw and am easily agitated.

It takes me a while to get comfortable around most people.  Once I do, I can be very friendly and talkative.  Until I reach that point, however, I tend to clam up and not say a whole lot.  When I arrived at the party today, I was handed a label with a picture from a Christmas movie.  I was told that there was assigned seating and we had to sit at the table that corresponded to the label I was given.  The idea was to force people to mingle with people that they wouldn't normally sit with.  That was strike one.

Normally, I get to the office pretty early, usually an hour and a half to two hours before everyone else arrives.  Since I get to work so early, I also eat lunch earlier than most, usually around noon.  Today's party was supposed to start around 1 pm so I was already hungry when I arrived.  It took a while for everyone to arrive.  Then there were the speeches from the bosses.  They didn't want everybody to flood the small buffet line, so they sent one table at a time to the line.  So even though my table was closest to the buffet line, we went last.  It was nearly 2 pm before we got to the line. Strike two.

I grabbed a paper plate and plastic cutlery and got in line.  Whoever was responsible for ordering the food didn't do a very good job.  When I got to the front of the line, there wasn't a whole lot to choose from.  The vegetables did not look appetizing at all.  The ham looked very dry, and you really couldn't get anything from it as all the slices were gone and there was nobody to slice more and no knife to cut it.  The chicken was gone.  That was strike three for me.  I left without eating, went back to my desk, and finished up my day.

From what I hear, I didn't miss a whole lot.  My best friend in the office told me the food wasn't very good.  And my observation about the ham being dry was accurate.  I wish that I could feel more comfortable in these situations.  Unfortunately, like Popeye, "I yam what I yam."  Even to this day, after 23 years of marriage to my wife, I still am uncomfortable when all her aunts, uncles, and cousins are at events.  I'd say maybe someday, but I doubt it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Easy Tips for Home Safety

Burglaries are one of the most common crimes in America with one occurring approximately every 15 seconds. However, a homeowner can do much to decrease intruders' interest in the home, to make the home difficult to break into, and to keep people and belongings safe should a break-in occur. Each of these tips is easy and inexpensive to implement.

First, homeowners must beware of leaving certain items outside that unintentionally lure intruders onto the premises. For example, burglars are attracted to expensive items on the property, such as scooters, bicycles, lawnmowers and power tools that are outside and easy to steal. Having motion detector lights installed around key entry points such as the garage or using landscaping lights around trees and bushes will make intruders less likely to creep around the house.

Second, homeowners must take special care to secure their property when on vacation. Timers can turn lights, radios and televisions each day at specified times. A trusted neighbor should be notified to keep a watchful eye on the premises when the homeowner is going out of town. In addition, vacationers should have their mail put on hold.

Thirdly, homeowners can make it difficult for burglars to get into their homes should they make it onto the property. Of course, keeping doors and windows locked when away and at night is a necessity. Outside doors and doors between the house and the garage should be installed with steel deadbolts and strike plates. Sliding patio doors can be easily lifted from their tracks by burglars; therefore, these should be secured with strong rods or dowels in the tracks as well as locks.

Finally, homeowners should use a home security system and have it monitored by a reputable company, such as Alarm Relay. These systems will notify the alarm Monitoring company if a door or window is breached or if motion is detected; these systems can also monitor for smoke or fire. The company will then notify police or the fire department in case of emergencies.

Homeowners can take a variety of easy steps to secure their properties from intruders and burglars. Making sure that doors and windows are locked each day is just the first step in home safety. Security monitoring companies help in this endeavor by having dispatchers on alert 24 hours a day to notify the authorities in case of a problem.


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