Saturday, March 15, 2008

Picking Locks and Minds

I spent this morning reading over a book Glenn ordered called, How To Open Locks With Improvised Tools: Practical, Non-Destructive Ways Of Getting Back Into Just About Everything When You Lose Your Keys. I remember as a kid that lock picking was almost a necessity when dealing with four other siblings. I learned how to pick locks early (very simple ones) but never went beyond the basics of using a hanger or paperclip to pry open a lock. However, as one who tends to be absent-minded and has locked her keys in the car on more than one occasion, I decided to read over and keep this book as a future reference for more advanced lock-picking.

I never knew opening things was so complicated. I have always had a respect for lock-smiths, especially since getting some good advice from one-six-and a half foot giant who installed locks at my old office. He told me that no lock was impenetrable, but he never really cared --"if someone is dumb enough to break into my home," he stated, "then they're all mine." Not a bad mind-set to have and it certainly worked for him. "Who would break into his place?" I thought. Anyway back to the book and the mechanics of lock picking.

The book empasizes the mental aspects of successful lock bypass (sounds like some type of surgery). First, the author says, try not to need it. "Make a habit of physically checking to see if you have your keys before going through a door or leaving your car. If you think you are holding them, look down and visually confirm it." You should also try to find a spare key, roommate or some other way of getting into your car, home etc. before attempting to pick a lock.

If one does have to open a lock, they are advised "never to force a mechanical part to move." The most force that should be used "is the same amount it would take to use the key or inside handle." The greatest cause of failure to open a lock is using the wrong method of entry. "You might have half a dozen bypass ideas in mind, but you have to choose the right one to get the job done....Having the wisdom to determine how much of what you know is specific to the lock in front of you and having the ability to apply that knowledge is at least as important as the knowledge itself." Finally, the author advises, take your time. "If you give up too easily or lose patience, you aren't allowing yourself a fair shot at it. Do not be sloppy in the way that you use your tools. A professional differs from the incompetent mostly in attidue, in the willingness to proceed carefully and with full attention."

The rest of the book focused on how to do a successful lock bypass on various locks ranging from doors, to handcuffs(!), and cars. There are also sections on how to make tools, use them and how to beef up security around your own house using what you have learned about locks. The book is really helpful.

Okay, so picking locks is not much different than picking minds, that is, you have to be patient, never force change if not necessary, don't use the wrong method of entry and do not give up too easily. Okay, you may think I am being really dumb here,comparing locks to minds, but look, I am not very mechanically inclined, so I guess I have to put everything into a framework that I can understand--it makes it more fun and more of a challenge. Wish me luck the next time I lock my keys in the car.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Are Women Always More Empathetic?

It doesn't appear so--at least when it comes to putting their husbands down when yucking it up with their girlfriends. Cassy Fiano at Wizbang has some advice for wives who male bash:

Women, say it with me: MEN. ARE. NOT. THE. ENEMY.

And this "harmless" disparagement of husbands among wives is not harmless either, ladies. It may seem like it's just fun and games to put down your husband when you're gossiping with your girlfriends, but it isn't. Would you say that kind of stuff to his face? Would you tell your husband that he can't take care of himself if his life depended on it, that he's selfish and doesn't pay enough attention to his family? If you wouldn't, then don't go around laughing about it with your girlfriends without a second thought. Men seem stoic and unbreakable, but they aren't. If your husband heard you telling your girlfriends how selfish he is, how he never helps out around the house, how he's such a mess, how he can't take care of himself... even if you meant it in jest, I can guarantee you that it would kill him inside. And you, loving wife, would probably never even know it.

Good advice, especially for women who think they are the ones who are so "empathetic" and caring in their relationships.


Are You a Generation Xer?

I am often confused as to which generation I belong to (not that I care that much) but one constantly hears different dates for the Baby Boomers vs. Generation X. I was born in the early 60's which could put me in either camp but depending on what dumb (or smart) thing each group is doing at the moment, I align myself with whoever seems the least ridiculous. But most of the time, I feel like I fell through the cracks and belong to neither group (I guess this makes me a "tweener"). I got to thinking about all this after skimming over a new book, X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking.

The premise of the book is as follows:

While the pathologically nostalgic baby boomers are busy popping Viagra and clinging to their endless squat in the spotlight, and while their self-obsessed, lip-synching progeny, the millennials, are caught up in a perpetual hustle to take that spotlight away, the generation that is doing the hard, quiet work of keeping America from sucking is the one that still gets pegged as a bunch of slackers: Generation X.

Uh, okay. That sounds good, being part of some generation that is the backbone of America (don't they all feel that way?) But anyway, the purpose of this post is to find out if you, dear reader, are a part of Generation X. Apparently, there is much disagreement on where the Baby Boom ends and Generation X begins. Some dates given for Generation X are 1965-78 or 1960-80 or 1961-81 or 1963-81 or 1960-1977. The author of the book, Jeff Gordinier, says that 1960-1977 makes the most sense to him because this group scores highest on the all-important Generation X Aptitude Test (GXAT). Are you a Generation Xer? Take this in-depth test--I set it up as a poll--and see:

Do you want to change the world?
Yes, and I'm proud to say we did it, man. We changed the world. Just look around you!
Yes, I promise to get back to doing that just as soon as interest rates return to where they should.
Omigod, omigod, changing the world and helping people is, like, totally important to me!
The way you phrase that question is so fucking cheesy and absurd, I don't want to continue. free polls

Let me know which answer you think makes you part of Generation X (it's pretty obvious).

Update: So, according to the poll (92% last I looked) the majority of us on the Dr. Helen blog are either Generation Xers, contrarians, or both. I am betting on the contrarian theory.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Michelle Obama: Men are Selfish and a Mess

Jim Geraghty at National Review points out an article at The New Republic on Michelle Obama that indicates how she feels about men--they're selfish and a mess:

In a 2004 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Michelle observed: "What I notice about men, all men, is that their order is me, my family, God is in there somewhere, but me is first. ... And, for women, me is fourth, and that's not healthy." This is not a radical observation: Get a half-dozen gals together with a few bottles of Beaujolais, and a similar theme will eventually emerge. (Trust me on this.).....

But, when she talks smack about her husband's hygiene, she sounds like any old housewife gabbing to her girlfriends about what a hopeless mess her man is. It's a clever approach, winning Michelle props for being outspoken and un-Stepford, even as she avoids alienating more traditional voters by keeping her focus on the family.

If male politicians spoke this way about women--"they're all selfish and a mess!"-- heads would roll, but Michelle Obama is seen as "outspoken" and independent. You go girl! But just remember that your husband needs votes from the very block of people you are dissing. In fact, some speculate that men might just be the deciding voting block in this election. You might want to choose your words more carefully.


Ask Dr. Helen: When Wife Out-Earns Hubby

My PJM column is up. In this column, a wife out-earns her husband and asks for advice on how to help him cope with her extra income. Do you have experience with this situation? If so, go drop a line in the comments there or here if you like.