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SNMPv3 and the SMC 8014



The SMC 8014 cable modem gateway/access router is used in many business class cable Internet access paradigms. In the areas where I work it has largely supplanted the Ambit cable modem gateway/access router lines. The SMC 8014 has been the victim of some high profile SNAFU's.

Time Warner Cable Business Class and Charter Business routinely roll this modem to business customers requiring static IP's where a traditional bridging cable modem will not cut it. In supporting at least fifty of these specific modem gateways I have to say they work quite well as compared to the Ambit models they have largely replaced.

That is until a few days ago when I uncovered an oddity... These devices in the default TWCBC and Charter Business configuration (in my support area) will not pass SNMPv3 traffic to a customer (CPE) firewall that is destined for the CPE firewall public IP address.


In this configuration (without changes to the SMC8014) the CPE firewall outside interface will not see SNMPv3 datagrams destined for the CPE firewall outside interface IP address. The CPE firewall will however, see SNMPv2c (and SNMPv1) datagrams destined for its outside interface IP. What is most confusing about this is that SNMPv2c and SNMPv3 both use UDP/161 as a transport layer protocol and as such would appear identical up to and including L4 to any intermediate forwarding devices. Not many ISP's perform L7/application layer inspection of customer traffic in their cores and edges as it is very CPU intensive.

After a raft of testing (across our customer base), headbanging, and a call to TAC the only thing I could come up with was the SMC8014 was doing something with SNMPv3 (and only v3) datagrams preventing the outside interface of the CPE firewall from seeing them (verified with packet captures).

I figured I was in for a treat in trying to explain this one to the technical support staff at Time Warner Cable Business Class. If you have ever worked with a cable ISP on issues outside of "basic connectivity" and "IP/Subnet/GW config" then you understand. In any case the call was quickly escalated to a Level 2/Modem Specialist. At first the gentleman was quite standoffish until I informed him how this monitoring paradigm is working on over one hundred customer firewalls across more than ten different ISP's -- the only places where it is not working is our TWCBC customers behind SMC modem gateways. I then informed him that we have a few TWCBC customers still using Ambit cable modem gateways and those were working fine. My hunch was the SMC and if he would please humor me for a few minutes maybe we would both learn something.

Within ten minutes we had the issue resolved -- and a potential bug in the SMC8014 pegged. The fix was to disable "Remote Management SNMP" on the SMC8014 by setting it to "false." This then enabled SNMPv3 (recall v2c and v1 were already functioning) datagrams to reach the CPE firewall outside interface.

The bug here is that the SMC8014 was eating/filtering SNMPv3 datagrams destined for the CPE firewall outside interface IP. I could understand the SMC eating datagrams destined for either the HFC side or CPE side IP, but not the CPE firewall outside interface IP.

The same problem was resolved with Charter Business Class technical support in about ten minutes. Again I asked them to humor me and it was fixed in short order.

This odd SNMPv3 behavior on the SMC8014 was not known by the technical staff of either company. If you have this problem yourself call your cable ISP and have them set "Remote Management SNMP" to "false" on the SMC, no reboot of the SMC is necessary. They may be concerned that this will limit their ability to perform diagnostics the SMC. Both TWCBC and Charter Communications monitor their cable modem gateways using DOCSIS based monitoring utilities (DRUM, TruVizion, DP360, and the like). These utilities continue to function after "Remote Management SNMP" is disabled on the SMC.



Juvenile Delinquents



I found myself mulling over a discussion in our class in History and Moral Philosophy. Mr. Dubois was talking about the disorders that preceded the breakup of the North American republic, back in the XXth century. According to him, there was a time just before they went down the drain when such crimes as Dillinger's were as common as dog-fights. The Terror had not been just in North America—Russia, and the British Isles had it, too, as well as other places. But it reached its peak in North America shortly before things went to pieces.

"Law-abiding people," Dubois had told us, "hardly dared go into a public park at night. To do so was to risk attack by wolf packs of children, armed with chains, knives, homemade guns, bludgeons ... to be hurt at least, robbed most certainly, injured for life probably—or even killed. This went on for years, right up to the war between the Russo-Anglo-American Alliance and the Chinese Hegemony. Murder, drug addiction, larceny, assault, and vandalism were commonplace. Nor were parks the only places—these things happened also on the streets in daylight, on school grounds, even inside school buildings. But parks were so notoriously unsafe that honest people stayed clear of them after dark."

I had tried to imagine such things happening in our schools. I simply couldn't. Nor in our parks. A park was a place for fun, not for getting hurt. As for getting killed in one—"Mr. Dubois, didn't they have police? Or courts?"

"They had many more police than we have. And more courts. All overworked."

"I guess I don't get it." If a boy in our city had done anything half that bad ... well, he and his father would have been flogged side by side. But such things just didn't happen.

Mr. Dubois then demanded of me, "Define a 'juvenile delinquent.'"

"Uh, one of those kids—the ones who used to beat up people."


"Huh? But the book said—"

"My apologies. Your textbook does so state. But calling a tail a leg does not make the name fit. 'Juvenile delinquent' is a contradiction in terms, one which gives a clue to their problem and their failure to solve it. Have you ever raised a puppy?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you housebreak him?"

"Err ... yes, sir. Eventually." It was my slowness in this that caused my mother to rule that dogs must stay out of the house.

"Ah, yes. When your puppy made mistakes, were you angry?"

"What? Why, he didn't know any better; he was just a puppy."

"What did you do?"

"Why, I scolded him and rubbed his nose in it and paddled him."

"Surely he could not understand your words?"

"No, but he could tell I was sore at him!"

"But you just said that you were not angry."

Mr. Dubois had an infuriating way of getting a person mixed up. "No, but I had to make him think I was. He had to learn, didn't he?"

"Conceded. But, having made it clear to him that you disapproved, how could you be so cruel as to spank him as well? You said the poor beastie didn't know that he was doing wrong. Yet you inflicted pain. Justify yourself! Or are you a sadist?"

I didn't know what a sadist was—but I knew pups. "Mr. Dubois, you have to! You scold him so that he knows he's in trouble, you rub his nose in it so that he will know what trouble you mean, you paddle him so that he darn well won't do it again—and you have to do it right away! It doesn't do a bit of good to punish him later; you'll just confuse him. Even so, he won't learn from one lesson, so you watch and catch him again and paddle him still harder. Pretty soon he learns. But it's a waste of breath just to scold him." Then I added, "I guess you've never raised pups."

"Many. I'm raising a dachshund now—by your methods. Let's get back to those juvenile criminals. The most vicious averaged somewhat younger than you here in this class ... and they often started their lawless careers much younger. Let us never forget that puppy. These children were often caught; police arrested batches each day. Were they scolded? Yes, often scathingly. Were their noses rubbed in it? Rarely. News organs and officials usually kept their names secret—in many places the law so required for criminals under eighteen. Were they spanked? Indeed not! Many had never been spanked even as small children; there was a widespread belief that spanking, or any punishment involving pain, did a child permanent psychic damage."

(I had reflected that my father must never have heard of that theory.)

"Corporal punishment in schools was forbidden by law," he had gone on. "Flogging was lawful as sentence of court only in one small province, Delaware, and there only for a few crimes and was rarely invoked; it was regarded as 'cruel and unusual punishment.'" Dubois had mused aloud, "I do not understand objections to 'cruel and unusual' punishment. While a judge should be benevolent in purpose, his awards should cause the criminal to suffer, else there is no punishment—and pain is the basic mechanism built into us by millions of years of evolution which safeguards us by warning when something threatens our survival. Why should society refuse to use such a highly perfected survival mechanism? However, that period was loaded with pre-scientific pseudo-psychological nonsense."

As for 'unusual,' punishment must be unusual or it serves no purpose." He then pointed his stump at another boy. "What would happen if a puppy were spanked every hour?"

"Uh ... probably drive him crazy!"

"Probably. It certainly will not teach him anything. How long has it been since the principal of this school last had to switch a pupil?"

"Uh, I'm not sure. About two years. The kid that swiped—"

"Never mind. Long enough. It means that such punishment is so unusual as to be significant, to deter, to instruct. Back to these young criminals—They probably were not spanked as babies; they certainly were not flogged for their crimes. The usual sequence was: for a first offense, a warning—a scolding, often without trial. After several offenses a sentence of confinement but with sentence suspended and the youngster placed on probation. A boy might be arrested many times and convicted several times before he was punished—and then it would be merely confinement, with others like him from whom he learned still more criminal habits. If he kept out of major trouble while confined, he could usually evade most of even that mild punishment, be given probation—"paroled" in jargon of the times.

"This incredible sequence could go on for years while his crimes in frequency and viciousness, with no punishment whatever save rare dull-but-comfortable confinements. Then suddenly, usually by law on his eighteenth birthday, this so-called 'juvenile delinquent' becomes an adult criminal—and sometimes wound up in only weeks or months in a death cell awaiting execution for murder. You—"

He had singled me out again. "Suppose you merely scolded your puppy, never punished him, let him go on making messes in the house ... and occasionally locked him up in an outbuilding but soon let him back into the house with a warning not to do it again. Then one day you notice that he is now a grown dog and still not housebroken—whereupon you whip out a gun and shoot him dead. Comment, please?"

"Why ... that's the craziest way to raise a dog I ever heard of!"

"I agree. Or a child. Whose fault would it be?"

"Uh ... why, mine, I guess."

"Again I agree. But I'm not guessing."

"Mr. Dubois," a girl blurted out, "but why? Why didn't they spank little kids when they needed it and use a good dose of the strap on any older ones who deserved it—the sort of lesson they wouldn't forget! I mean ones who did things really bad. Why not?"

"I don't know," he had answered grimly, "except that the time-tested method of instilling social virtue and respect for law in the minds of the young did not appeal to a pre-scientific pseudo-professional class who called themselves 'social workers' or somethings 'child psychologists.' It was too simple for them, apparently, since anybody could do it, using only the patience and firmness needed in training a puppy. I have sometimes wondered if they cherished a vested interest in disorder—but that is unlikely; adults almost always act from conscious 'highest motives' no matter what their behavior."

But—good heavens!" the girl answered. "I didn't like being spanked any more than any kid does, but when I needed it, my mama delivered. The only time I ever got a switching in school I got another one when I got home—and that was years and years ago. I don't ever expect to be hauled up in front of a judge and sentenced to a flogging; you behave yourself and such things don't happen. I don't see anything wrong with our system; it's a lot better than not being able to walk outdoors for fear of your life—why, that's horrible!"

"I agree. Young lady, the tragic wrongness of what those well-meaning people did, contrasted with what they thought they were doing, goes very deep. They had no scientific theory of morals. They did have a theory of morals and they tried to live by it (I should not have sneered at their motives), but their theory was wrong—half of it fuzzy-headed wishful thinking, half of it rationalized charlatanry. The more earnest they were, the farther it led them astray. You see, they assumed that Man has a moral instinct."

"Sir? I thought— But he does! I have."

"No, my dear, you have a cultivated conscience, a most carefully trained one. Man has no moral instinct. He is not born with moral sense. You were not born with it, I was not—and a puppy has none. We acquire moral sense, when we do, through training, experience, and hard sweat of the mind. These unfortunate juvenile criminals were born with none, even as you and I, and they had no chance to acquire any; their experiences did not permit it. What is 'moral sense'? It is an elaboration of the instinct to survive. The instinct to survive is human nature itself, and every aspect of our personalities derives from it. Anything that conflicts with the survival instinct acts sooner or later to eliminate the individual and thereby fails to show up in the future generations. This truth is mathematically demonstrable, everywhere verifiable; it is the single eternal imperative controlling everything we do.

"But the instinct to survive," he had gone on, "can be cultivated into motivations more subtle and much more complex than the blind, brute urge of the individual to stay alive. Young lady, what you miscalled your 'moral instinct' was the instilling in you by your elders of the truth that survival can have stronger imperatives than that of your own personal survival. Survival of your family, for example. Of your children, when you have them. Of your nation, if you struggle that high up the scale. And so on up. A scientifically verifiable theory of morals must be rooted in the individual's instinct to survive—and nowhere else!—and must correctly describe the hierarchy of survival, note the motivations at each level, and resolve all conflicts.

"We have such a theory now; we can solve any moral problem, on any level. Self-interest, love of family, duty to country, responsibility toward the human race—we are even developing an exact ethic for extra-human relations. But all moral problems can be illustrated by one misquotation: 'Greater love hath no man than a mother cat dying to defend her kittens.' Once you understand the problem facing that cat and how she solved it, you will then be ready to examine yourself and learn how high up the moral ladder you are capable of climbing.

"These juvenile criminals hit a low level. Born with only the instinct for survival, the highest morality they achieved was a shaky loyalty to a peer group, a street gang. But the do-gooders attempted to 'appeal to their better natures,' to 'reach them,' to 'spark their moral sense.' Tosh! They had no 'better natures'; experience taught them that what they were doing was the way to survive. The puppy never got his spanking; therefore what he did with pleasure and success must be 'moral.'

"The basis of all morality is duty, a concept with the same relation to group that self-interest has to individual. Nobody preached duty to these kids in a way they could understand—that is, with a spanking. But the society they were in told them endlessly about their 'rights.'

"The results should have been predictable, since a human being has no natural rights of any nature."

Mr. Dubois had paused. Somebody took the bait. "Sir? How about 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'?"

Ah, yes, the 'unalienable rights.' Each year someone quotes that magnificent poetry. Life? What 'right' to life has a man who is drowning in the Pacific? The ocean will not hearken to his cries. What 'right' to life has a man who must die if he is to save his children? If he chooses to save his own life, does he do so as a matter of 'right'? IF two men are starving and cannibalism is the only alternative to death, which man's right is 'unalienable'? And is it 'right'? As to liberty, the heroes who signed the great document pledged themselves to buy liberty with their lives. Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.

"The third 'right'?—the 'pursuit of happiness'? It is indeed unalienable but it is not a right; it is simply a universal condition which tyrants cannot take away nor patriots restore. Cast me into a dungeon, burn me at the stake, crown me kings of kings, I can 'pursue happiness' as long as my brain lives—but neither gods nor saints, wise men nor subtle drugs, can insure that I will catch it."

Mr. Dubois then turned to me. "I told you that 'juvenile delinquent is a contradiction in terms. 'Delinquent' means 'failing in duty.' But duty is an adult virtue—indeed a juvenile becomes an adult when, and only when, he acquires knowledge of duty and embraces it as dearer than the self-love he was born with. There never was, there cannot be, a 'juvenile delinquent.' But for every juvenile criminal there are always one or more adult delinquents—people of mature years who either do not know their duty, or who, knowing it, fail.

"And that was the soft spot which destroyed what was in many ways an admirable culture. The junior hoodlums who roamed their streets were symptoms of a greater sickness; their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of 'rights' ... and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure."

—Lt. Col. Jean V. Dubois (Ret.) and History and Moral Philosophy class of John Rico in Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers


Weaver VS. The Dominator




  • Height: 6'
  • Weight: 195 lbs.
  • Armed: Screwdriver, Wits
  • Weakness: Temper


  • Height: 1' 4"
  • Weight: 28 lbs.
  • Armed: DOS 6.22 (Upgraded), FAT16 Filesystem
  • Weakness: 2 GiB Max Partition Size (FAT16)

There is nothing I enjoy more than seeing a person, obviously defeated, walk into my office and place a piece of hardware that is 20+ years old on my desk with instructions "Here, fix this" ... on Friday the 13th.

Between the whine of the spindle motor bearings and the look of defeat on those that tried before I knew I was in for a treat.

It is not too often in 2009 that MS-DOS skills come in handy. Today I was happy that I spent so much time in DOS as a boy, hiding porn in compressed and password protected zip files courtesy of Phil Katz (R.I.P.) and PKWare, Inc.

With the PLC control application unable to launch I spent a few minutes figuring out how the pre-launch tests were conducted in the launch batch file and soon noticed that the main system drive was out of disk space. Empty, nada, zilch... 0 bytes free.

It was at this point that I got to thinking about how there was a time when operating systems could run with zero hard disk space available. They wouldn't freeze, the kernel wouldn't panic, life would go on. Days go by.

Spoke with the client and informed them of our plan to pull the drive, clone, and expand the partition to 2 GiB.

Wham, bam, thank you ma'am and a little DOS foo and the PLC control PC was back in business.

Winner: Weaver

-John "This is not in my job description. This BIOS better support LBA" Urbanek


Competent Man



"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
— Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

-John "Who is John Galt?" Urbanek


The American Heart Assocation Owes Me $200


Spaghetti MMMPomegranate 1Pomegranate 2

It is no secret that I enjoy eating. So much that at times I tend to get a little... excited and forget important nuances that many take for granted. Things like eating at or on a table. Chewing food. Things like preparing the food according to common sense instruction instead of "winging it." Or my personal favorite, changing out of dress clothing before consuming food that, based on historical fact, will be destroyed during the meal.

There comes to mind the time, many years ago now that a single stint with reheated spaghetti managed to stain every, that's every piece of clothing I decided to put on that morning. The affair can be broken into two phases; i. Outerwear and ii. Underwear.

After a few fork twirls of pasta it was time for a meatball. That's when it all came down. In my excitement, the meatball slipped off (let's be honest, it wasn't securely attached) the fork and made contact with the collar of my rugby shirt. Like the opening drop on a roller coaster the seasoned ball of animal carcass obeyed gravity and on the way down bounced off my belt buckle, rolled down my pants and as unnecessary as a kick in the [meat]balls skidded across the sock on my right foot. Staring at the meatball in bewilderment I gasped "Come on!?"

In my excitement to continue the meal I removed the rugby shirt, denim pants, and socks. Begin phase two. Like Steven Seagal in Marked for Death, I was as confused as hell to find out that Screwface the meatball had a twin brother. Following in his brother's footsteps he finished off my undershirt and boxer shorts on his journey from my fork to the floor.

"I hope there weren't triplets." -John Hatcher

Pomegranates and You

Which leads us to today... The lesson learned? Pay the extra and purchase the pomegranate arils pre-plucked by the underpaid grocery staff. If you've never prepared a pomegranate for consumption, prepare for the following.

  • Staining and/or destroying most of what you are wearing.
  • Staining any and all walls, countertops, cutting boards, floors, and garbage can lids.
  • Enduring David Lopan like temporary blindness when a popped aril volleys juice into your peepers.
  • Explaining what looks like a murder scene from C.S.I. to anyone unfortunate enough to witness the slaying of the pomegranate membrane and fleshy arils.

-John "I would give you spiced wine to drink from the juice of my pomegranates" Urbanek


"Same thing we do everynight Pinky..."


My First Office WorkstationAnother WorkstationAll for CrusaderThings have changed

Besides Angelina Jolie, techno music, and a 28.8 bps modem what is the most important aspect of a hacker's workstation? Displays, displays, displays. Not all of us come with the skills of Dade Murphy a.k.a. Crash Override a.k.a. Zero Cool a.k.a. Jonny Lee Miller a.k.a. Eli Stone. Yeah, surprised me too. One day you're crashing fifteen hundred seven computers while swimming naked with Angelina Jolie, the next it hits you that a law degree leaves you ill-equipped to handle an aneurysm that lets you talk to God. But who cares, Katie Holmes returned to network television.

How to take over the world if you are not one of Jonny Lee Miller's collective alter egos Dade Mur... Eli Sto... Elade Smurphy? Now there's an idea. A blackhat stealing wireless from his lamer neighbors with a Pringles Cantenna stumbles upon the HolyNet. After going 0:100 on de_dust to a mysterious player known only as 33_aND-CoUNTing he receives an email from teh_JC@whosyourdaddy.jobs listing Smurphy's first assignments. First, stake out this "Cain" guy's PC. Rumors are flying around that he has been into the Anarchist Cookbook and learning illegal Government ninja moves. Second, investigate the increase in spyware related support calls and porn traffic coming from the Soddom and Gomorrah netblocks. I sense an Emmy.

Back to world domination. A minimum of four displays are required. One for each major inhabited land mass. One for North America, South America, Africa and Eurasia. Antarctica and Australia you ask? Penguins, fur-seals, and Vegemite. Box 'em up, send 'em to Mexico if you're concerned. Introduce them to tequila and handguns, the rest will sort itself out.

-John "Federal Reserve Regulation T ate my homework" Urbanek


What are the odds? Seriously...


LightningPowerBALLKing Richard

What are the odds? Seriously. Nothing like lightning striking your winning PowerBALL ticket in hand while standing on an unmowed patch of four leaf clovers, but pretty cool nonetheless.

It's a regular Monday morning. I am happily hacking away at a demo of Orion NPM monitoring a fleet of Cisco Routers. Skype rings and flashes with an unknown number. I pickup and answer with my standard work greeting, "Hello, this is John." The caller responds, "This is Matt [surname removed] from OfficeDepot, can I speak with Sheila please." I inform the caller, "No Sheila here, think you have the wrong number." "Sorry about that. Well, if you see her please let her know her order has arrived for pickup and thank you for using OfficeDepot."

At this point I am confused. Sheila? Don't know her. OfficeDepot? Never set foot in one.

Not two seconds after the call ended did my eyes dart up and to the left as the visual recall systems were putting together a small puzzle triggered by the name and ineptitude of an OfficeDepot employee.

Ah-ha! I knew him. Worked with him at DataWave six years ago. He was the bumbling Sales Engin... idiot who had difficulties grasping IP addresses and their "use of dots instead of commas." Mind you this was a guy selling re-branded Internet T1's and DSL. I spent fifteen minutes helping him enter data into an Excel spreadsheet only to find out that rows and columns were the same thing "at his school." Hard to forget someone with that level of mastery.

So what are the chances of answering the phone to a legitimately dialed wrong number *and* knowing the person on the other end?

Well? I decided to find out. Make note that what follows cannot be considered accurate. Many assumptions are made. It is an order of magnitude estimate, and a poor one at that. Any correctness should be assumed coincidental and the mathematical equivalent of throwing rocks at a cliff face resulting in an exact replica of one of [King] Richard Petty's personalized belt buckles.

Physics 201 Taught Me Things

Like how many New York Sewer rats would be required to feed the rabid fans at Lambeau Field for four quarters of football. Or how much gas would have to be passed from the asses of those Packer fans and burned in the grilling equipment to prepare the rats for consumption. Needless to say, the system is not a perpetual motion machine in disguise.

How Many Names Can You Recognize?

Back to the task at hand. I'll define knowing the person on the other end to recognizing their name. According to "Contacts and influence." (Direct PDF) and other sources online this number is somewhere between 500 and 5,000 persons with the average around 3,000 depending on the individual.

Number of Calls Made Per Soul Per Time

The latest Federal Communications Commission Trends in Telephone Service from 2005 (latest), table 10.2 lists the combined number of both local and toll calls to be 505,834,870,000. The U.S. Census Bureau reports the population of the U.S. in 2005 to be 295,895,897 souls. (Say goodbye to sig figs right now) This divides to around 4.68 calls made per person per day, 32.8 calls per person per week. Bear in mind that this calculation includes all souls, of all ages. The eleven month old diaper wearing, eating, sleeping, shitting apple of somebody's eye to the eleven hundred month old diaper wearing, eating, sleeping, shitting, living holdup on a will. All chattin' away. Note: Since two parties are involved in a given call, the numbers also correspond to the average number of calls received per soul per time.

Number of Wrong Numbers Received Per Soul Per Time

Seeing as I could find absolutely no research in this field, I had to do it myself. I made calls to people I know and flat out asked them. My sample size is 32... ish. Funny enough, I even dialed a wrong number, which I later found out is in line with my results. Averaging out all of the responses I determined people to receive on average 2.1 wrong numbers per month, which divides (for the month of February anyway) to 0.53 wrong numbers per week, and 0.08 wrong numbers per day. This data sucks on the grounds of insufficient sample size, sample distribution, lack of formal questioning of samples, lack of statistical methods, and an altogether lack of effort.

Putting it all Together

Note: Percentages are used as results below, remember to shift the decimal point for non-percentage representation.

First it is necessary to calculate the chance that a given call will be a wrong number. 0.08 wrong numbers per day divided by 4.68 calls per day gives a 1.7% chance that a given call will be a wrong number.

Next, let us determine the chance that you will *recognize* the name of a person sampled at random from the United States of America. Assuming the average of 3,000 recognizable names and a population of 295,895,897 souls, this gives a 0.001% chance.

Now the chance that a given call will be a wrong number multiplied by the chance that you will recognize the name of a random person from the United States of America gives us a chance of 0.00002%.


  • There is a 1.7% chance that your next received call will be a wrong number.
  • There is a 0.001% chance that you will recognize the name of the person on the other end of your next received wrong number.
  • There is a 0.00002% chance that your next received call will be a wrong number and you will recognize the person on the other end.
  • There is a 0.0002% chance that you will be struck by lightning in a given year.
  • One in 5,000,000 calls a person receives will result in a received wrong number where the receiving party recognizes the calling party's name.
  • At a call rate of 4.68 received calls per day (and 4.68 dialed calls per day) it would take 3,000 years for this event to happen to a given person.
  • However, in the grand scheme of daily call volume this happens in the United States of America around three hundred times per day. Around ten times per hour. Once every ten minutes. So it is more common across the populace than it would seem.

Final Thoughts

I am not that special. It is highly probable that I am terrible with probability. In the words of my former roommate, "I just did the math, I'm gonna fail Calc."

-John "What are the odds of Metallica's Death Magnetic rocking your socks off?" Urbanek


Two Men, Two Legs, Two DWI's



Lifted from Postcrescent.com

*Two men arrested for driving same vehicle while intoxicated* *Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers*

ABBOTSFORD - Two Dorchester men were arrested for operating the same vehicle while intoxicated in the Abbotsford area.

Harvey J. Miller, 43, who has no legs, was steering the 1985 Chevrolet truck from the driver's seat while Edwin H. Marzinske, 55, operated the brake and gas pedals, according to the Colby/Abbotsford Police report.

They were headed northbound on Hiline Avenue in Abbotsford when police pulled them over at 2:40 a.m. Aug. 18.

Miller admitted he was too drunk to drive but argued he wasn't operating the vehicle because he couldn't push the pedals. Miller was issued a citation for a third drunk driving offense, while Marzinske was cited for a second. Both men were also cited for operating after revocation.

A third drunk man in the vehicle walked himself home after the incident.


Little attention is given to this mysterious "third drunk man." In his infinite wisdom, he decides to climb in and ride shotgun in the cab of an '85 Chevy, no doubt littered with Sun Drop cans and beef jerky wrappers. He leaves operation of the steering wheel, turn signals, and hi-beams to the better half of Mr. Miller, while Eddie works the accelerator and brakes fumbling for 1390 AM hoping for some Skynyrd. Five-Oh comes around the corner and "third drunk man" suddenly develops a passion for good ideas. Falls out of the cab and walks himself home. What?

Meanwhile, Miller gets cited for his third drunk driving offense leaving Eddie not far behind with the only even prime.

See, I've been to Abbotsford. I've had to hitchhike in Abbotsford, at around bar close on a weekend after spending a few hours trying to fix the fuel pump on an '89 Civic hatchback in the parking lot of Mr. B's. Guess who stopped? A drunken man donning odors whose sources I have only identified in the years following the incident as a young man... namely "stale whiskey" and "unclean woman." It was a learning experience to say the least, and really sold me on Abbotsford, Wisconsin. What?

-John "some things are just beyond me" Urbanek


All the Way to the Right and Down



'bout a month has gone by since driving the 2007 Honda Civic Si off the Honda City lot. Thirty-three hundred miles later and it is time for an update...

"VTEC works in reverse!"

It's true... I won't go into the details but VTEC is completely functional when in 'R'. It is a rather interesting experience to say the least. The distinct whine of a straight cut reverse gear coupled with the scream of the K20Z3 at 8200 RPM was enough to embarrass all parties in the vehicle. So much that a Honda fanboy in the parking lot made a comment as we entered the movie theater. He heard the secondary cam profile engage... while going backwards and could help but bring it up as we strolled by. The debate is still going on as to whether his comments were in admiration or he was making fun of the stupidity of the act...

My biggest problem with the whole VTEC reverse affair is that by design it is pretty tough to check top speed. Firmly planted in the macho male reverse position, left hand at 12, right hand stretched movie theater style on the passenger's seat, head cranked Top Gun style checkin' for bogeys, gasps and all. No sense looking forward at the instrument panel when racing backwards. Boyish curiosity took over this afternoon and I decided to make David Maculay proud, with nothing but a few published statistics and a little gray matter. Top speed can't be that hard to calculate? I digress.

The 2007 Civic Si Sedan comes stock with 215/45R17's front and back. Reverse gear ratio is published at 3.583 and final drive ratio published at 4.765. Going to guess and say I let off at about 8200 RPM. Secondary cams were engaged for quite a while, but I know I didn't bump the rev limiter (at 8500).

Reverse Ratio Rrev: 3.583
Final Drive Ratio Rfin: 4.765
Driving Tire Specs: 215/45R17
Engine RPM: 8200

First step is to calculate a few numbers from the given information. Ideally, we want the absolute drive ratio (Rabs) while in reverse. That is, the number of revolutions of the crankshaft rotates for a single rotation of the driving wheels.

Rabs = Rrev * Rfin = 3.583 * 4.765 = 16.75

From this we gather that it takes 16.75 rotations at the crankshaft to make the tires rotate once, in reverse gear. This number changes as gears change.
Next, we need the outer circumference of the tire. This could be measured easily with string and a tape measure or by marking the the sidewall directly above the pavement, rolling the car forward until the mark is back down, then measuring the linear distance from point to point. I didn't want to get up... Let's calculate.
With 215/45R17's the tire is 8.46 in wide (215mm). Sidewall height is 45% of the width. Wheel (rim) diameter is 17 in. Wheel diameter plus twice the sidewall height (one for for each side) gives us total outer rotational diameter of the tire.

Total Outer Rotational Diameter = Wheel Diameter + [2 * ( Tire Width * Aspect Percentage )] = 17 in + [2 * (8.46 in * 0.45)] = 24.61 in.
Total Outer Rotational Circumference = 24.61 * 3.141 = 77.30 in

We now know that for every 16.75 rotations of the crankshaft the car travels 77.30 inches in reverse. We are more interested in speed (well, velocity, but let's stick to the scalar part), so phrased another way...
At 8200 crankshaft revolutions per minute, the tire rotates 489.6 times in that same minute (8200 / 16.75).
A tire with outer rotational circumference of 77.30 inches rotating 489.6 times per minute displaces 37,846 inches per minute.
Inches per minute to miles per hour is a factor of (60 [min/hr] / 63,360 [in/mi] ) = 0.00095 [min*mi]/[hr*in] (Units! Units! Units!)
37,846 in/min * 0.00095 [min*mi]/[hr*in] = 35.95 mi/hr

The final big ass formula is as follows:

[(Engine RPM / Rabs) * Tot Rot Circumference in Inches ] * 0.00095 = Speed in miles per hour

The Rabs is calculated using Gear Ratio and Final Drive Ratio.
The Total Rotational Circumference is calculated using manufacturer provided wheel and tire specifications.

If you are still with me at this point I commend you. In truth I have no idea if anything above is correct... Makes sense to me. One of you physics boys or ME's are more than welcome to tear me apart... :)

Bottom line: 36 mi/hr in reverse! Best part was sailing into the parking spot at that speed. Doesn't get better than feeling ABS engage on blacktop... in reverse.

-John "VTEC in Reverse" Urbanek


"I think I've got another gear."



Tuesday, 10th of July, 5:30pm rolls around and I fly out the door looking forward to a great workout at Krav. Little did I know I would start the Saturn for the last time. The only other place I've heard noises that engine and transmission made are porno movies and pneumatically driven impact tools. Reaching a top speed of six miles per hour with the pedal to the floorboard I decided against testing the car's resolve on Highway 45. Shortly after exiting the lot I returned, defeated... and pissed.

Much to my favor, I had been anticipating this day for the past few months and had planned accordingly. I'll spare you the details on the new car buying process, but I drove a spanking new 2007 Honda Civic Si off the lot not 18 hours later for thousands less than MSRP. While I am not an expert on buying cars, I like to think I am a few steps ahead of the game. The first time I saw the dealer's asking price on the sticker was on the way home when I looked at the window sticker, laying in the back seat as removed by the detailers. Didn't even know what they wanted until after I bought the car. Can't let their greed cloud the mind. The only number that matters is what you are willing to pay.

Close ratio six speed manual, sport tuned suspension, tuned exhaust... All qualities in the car that affected my ability to keep it under 4000 (redline is 8200 for this pig) for the first 600 miles during the "break-in" period. Even more of a deterrent is this little thing called VTEC, short for "Hold The F*ck On To Something." Kicking in at 5800 rpm it transforms the vehicle from sporty econobox to a hellspawn reincarnated. How long did it take me to break in the car...? 'Bout 5800 rpm. Drive it like you stole it...

Independence Day 2007


What happens on Clear Lake, stays on clear lake. For the most part...

-John "Home of the VTEC Grocery Store Run" Urbanek


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