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ADP’s payroll check security absurdity

Warning: The following is nothing but a rant—no charts, no photos, nothing but text—about a piece of security absurdity I ran into the other day. I am 100% in favor of strong security in general regarding financial matters, but when it's false security that does nothing more than inconvenience legitimate users, that's when I get mad…and that's exactly what this was: a security absurdity.


My daughter Kylie recently got a part-time job; her employer uses ADP to process its payroll. When her first check arrived, it was actually a debit card—which we didn't want to use—so she had to write herself a check (using a blank they provided), which she could then deposit.

Because Kylie had a busy day ahead of her (school then work then a post-work thing), I told her I'd write the check for her, then she'd just have to sign and deposit it. But to make the check usable, I needed a six-digit authentication code that ADP provides via a phone call. And that's when I entered a hellhole of security absurdity thanks to ADP…

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The Art of the Brick at OMSI

We recently toured Nathan Sawaya's The Art of the Brick at OMSI, our local science museum. I had heard about this show, and seen pictures, but they don't do it justice…so here, look at some of my pictures which also won't do it justice. [View on Flickr]

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Part of the reason photos don't do the ehxibit justice is the lack of sense of scale—further accentuated in my photos due to the lack of reference points. Most of these things are quite large; the human figures are all life size (or bigger). The Easter Island head is maybe 8' tall, the Whistler's Mother figure is six or so feet long, etc. Each piece has a descriptive card that includes the total number of Lego pieces used. As you'd expect, it's a lot of Lego!

If you're in the Portland area—or The Art of the Brick is coming to your town—I highly recommend a visit. You don't even have to like Legos; the art is just amazing…even without considering it's made of Lego bricks.

Does the Tooth Fairy exist?

This morning, when I woke Kylie, our nine year old daughter, she hit me with some Tooth Fairy questions: "Do you believe in the Tooth Fairy?" "How can she be real, she'd be busy all the time with millions of kids losing their teeth every day!" "If she's real, she'd never forget a kid, right?"

Odd, but with Kylie, you're never sure what you'll get in the morning. So we went through the morning's tasks, getting ready for school, and then she hits me with: "Dad, there's no way the Tooth Fairy is real, and I've got proof…right here!" And she pulls out her Tooth Fairy pillow, where you place teeth for the Tooth Fairy to collect and replace with coins.

She then pulls a tooth out of the pocket of the pillow, and says "This is my tooth; it fell out yesterday, and I didn't tell you or Mom. Then I put it under my pillow last night, and the Tooth Fairy didn't take it!"


At that point, I took her into the other room, so our younger daughter wouldn't hear, and explained that yes, the Tooth Fairy was really Mom and Dad, and we did it to help our kids through what can sometimes be a bit of a traumatic experience. I asked her to keep this secret from her sister, and she merrily agreed.

This one's got a future in science, I think! (I also realized that had I noticed the missing tooth, and managed not to say anything to her, she would've woken up today absolutely convinced that the Tooth Fairy really exists!)

Five easy steps to a heart attack

Here's how it's done...

  1. Have your cat awaken you at 4:30am, pawing your face to let you know he's hungry.
  2. Head downstairs in a stupor, leaving the annoyingly-bright lights off.
  3. Open cat food and start scooping it into the cat's bowl, letting the cat know just how you feel about the 4:30am wake-up pawing.
  4. See the light from, and hear the click of, the downstairs bathroom light coming on.
  5. Have heart attack.

OK, so clearly I didn't actually have a full-on heart attack. Instead, my pulse merely doubled and I had an amazing adrenaline surge.

As soon as I started breathing again (quietly), I reasoned that any intruder with even a quarter of a brain wouldn't actually bother to turn on the bathroom light, nor would they have ignored my easily-audible talking to the cat.

So what was the cause of the spurious pulse-quickening light? It turns out that our six-year-old daughter apparently heard me, and had gotten up to use the bathroom. Why she chose to come downstairs--very quietly, I might add--I have no idea, as there's a bathroom just down the hall from her room.

Needless to say, after bundling our daughter off to bed again, I found it basically impossible to go back to sleep, given the adrenaline coursing through my veins.

It seems something was lost in translation

I found the following examples of horrendously poor translation on the same box--a kid's play set called Fairyland Journey that we bought a while back at the local mall (click each image for a larger version):

I know good translation is difficult and expensive, but some of these are so bad they're hilarious. My favorite is probably "FLASHING ENTER!", used in a context where it makes absolutely no sense (not that I can think of many contexts where it does make sense!).

Driving lessons from a four-year-old

"Daddy, I've told you before: keep two hands on the steering wheel!"

'You're right; sorry Kylie!'

"If you don't listen to me, we'll have to pull over and let Mommy drive home!"

Or some words very close to those; she told me this during our drive home last night, causing an eruption of laughter from the front seat.