Welcome to my blog...It's more of an occasional-random-quirky-thought blog or a check-out-this-cool-link blog than one of those this-is-what-i-had-for-breakfast-today-and-these-are-my-feelings-about-life blogs and it's definitely not one of those awful i'm-useful-and-have-important-things-to-say-and-i'm-contributing-to-society blogs. Enjoy.

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the official blog of
Dave Tompkins

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Thursday, March 24, 2005
Awesome picture in the UWO Gazette... It seems that someone finally snatched the flag on top of the University College at UWO... which has been a long-standing engineering challenge.

Here is the e-mail from the crusty old dean:

Dear Engineering students,

yesterday you may have noticed that the Canadian flag was not flying on the Western Tower and that a pirate flag (skull and cross bones) was there in its place.

The Campus Police investigating the occurrence discovered that the flag had "ERTW" written all over and, as a result, they are considering Engineering students responsible for this offence. The replacement of the flag on the Western Tower included breaking into locked rooms, property damage and stealing of the flag. As such, it is considered a criminal offence.

Until proven innocent, the Engineering students are being considered responsible for this offence and are currently being investigated.

I am contacting you to seek your active cooperation to resolve this case. What bothers me is the fact that three of the basic unwritten rules of Engineering pranks have been broken: firstly, the prank was not "intelligent"; secondly, it was not fully reversible, i.e. it included property damage; and, thirdly, it was unsafe. As a result, I am absolutely disappointed that Engineering students are being looked at as the probable authors of this prank. We have all worked really hard for a number of years to reverse the stereotypical image of Engineering students and build some respect, and events like this are bringing us back to square one.

I am asking the person responsible for this occurrence to come forward and see me, and return the flag as soon as possible. Alternatively, if any of you has information about this event and may assist in identifying the person responsible, I would like to meet with you. If the author of this prank
comes forward within the next four working days (today, tomorrow, or early next week), the Police has agreed not to lay criminal charges, and there will be no negative consequences on the academic affairs of the student(s) (other than paying for the damage). However, if this does not happen within the set time frame, the consequences on the student(s), if caught, may be very severe.

I truly believe that it is our responsibility to find the person responsible for this in order to bring the case to a close as soon as possible and clear the name and reputation of Engineering students. If the case is not successfully resolved, it will become much harder for Engineering students to seek
permission for some of the social events held on Campus.

Once again, I count on your full cooperation,

Franco Berruti
Here is the response e-mail from the culprit:
Dear Dr. Berruti

I am writing in response to the email you sent out regarding the University College Tower prank. There are some issues that need to be clarified. Most importantly, to "clear the name and reputation of Engineering students". This we both strongly agree upon.

There is a misunderstanding regarding the prank and the three unwritten prank rules. Quote: "firstly, the prank was not "intelligent"; secondly, it was not fully reversible, i.e. it included property damage; and, thirdly, it was unsafe".

1) Intelligent - Considering that no one as of yet, (Including You or the Campus Police) has figured out exactly how I was able to bypass the multi-stage alarm system, I don't think the prank can be discredited as "not intelligent". Especially, considering that this is the exact same alarm system that has foiled the efforts of previous teams attempting the prank. It's certainly more intelligent that all past UWO engineering pranks, i.e. Painting an observatory orange every single year, putting grafted car bodies in unlikely places every single year, or removing toilet seats.

2) Reversibility - This prank is entirely reversible as no damage was caused to the flag, which will certainly be returned shortly. Also, the substance in the locks was specifically selected so that a locksmith could dissolve it with a solvent. Its purpose was only to delay the removal of the pirate flag. Tying a rope from a door to a staircase (also intended to delay the removal) does not damage a door.

3) Safety - You can be assured that this prank was executed with scrutinous caution and planning. At absolutely no point was anyone ever at risk of injury. Walking up a spiral staircase in a tower is no more hazardous than walking up any other staircase on campus. As I understand it, someone (middle aged man named Tim) walks up and down that staircase every single time the flag is lowered and raised.

I do understand that the egos and credibility of the campus police have been somewhat compromised, and that they want to absolve themselves with my identification. Unfortunately, a line written in an e-mail is not a solid guarantee that "no negative consequences" will be implemented. As a result, at this point I regret to inform you that I can not disclose my identity, nor weather or not I am even an Engineer.

It is not my intent to anger or be uncooperative with you or the police. I am fully prepared to make an anonymous payment for the removal of the 2 padlocks on the hatchway leading to the flag. Yes, two padlocks were skillfully removed, but no property was damaged as far as I am aware.

Also, and quite importantly, Considering, that the police informed you that ERTW was written "all over the flag" you may want to see it for your self. It is neatly written twice (once on each side of the flag) in small lettering on the white side margin. This exaggeration ("all over") could very well be indicative of the other exaggerations of the offence. i.e. The extent of the property damage, danger, etc. If this case is really as upsetting to you as you have expressed in your e-mail, I urge you to please see the evidence for yourself.

I am also willing to offer an explanation of how I was able to bypass the alarm system. If you and the campus police wish, I will include schematics and diagrams of the building and the system. The University could implement this information to secure the tower against any future pranks. The flaw in the system is prevalent across much of the UWO campus. I can assure you, the method I used is most certainly one that campus police are not even aware of.

I sincerely apologize to you and anyone who may have taken offence to this prank. Capturing the flag was intended to showcase the feats of problem solving that Westerns fine Engineers are capable of. The addition of pirate flag was intended to be humorous so that the students and staff at Western might appreciate the stunt and take the situation more lightly.

As a side note, could you please forward this letter to all engineering staff and students so that they can all receive my apology and explanation. In your e-mail, the vague use of the words "property damage" has left a false impression amongst many people that the caper involved rampant disrespectful and excessive destruction.

Please reply with a list of the alleged damages to property so that we can negotiate the repayment. I hope that we can put this behind us promptly seeing as that you, the police and I all have more important issues to deal with.

No hard feelings.

Long John Silver.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
One of the few movies I still have on VHS is The Cincinnati Kid , but according to this write-up at DVD Answers, it's finally being released to DVD... but get this... Dave Foley and Phil Gordon (of Celebrity Poker Showdown) are doing a commentary track... I'm not sure if I should be delighted or cringe. FYI, the poker commentary on the special edition of Rounders was a little disappointing.
Monday, March 07, 2005
So, in a typical pattern for me, I can't sleep... too tired to do any 'real' work, what to do? watch the missing episodes of the cancelled show My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss.
Friday, March 04, 2005
Remember that old "Bad Day" video going around the net? Where the guy just loses it and trashes his computer? check out this one.

UPDATE: you can watch the original badday.mpg at this site, where you can read how the original video was part of a commercial -- it was staged, not real.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Okay... so here is the February 2005 contest from www.thesmokinggun.com

Can you guess what word appears in the red box?

You can click here to see the answer... and that I won the contest! How cool is that?

I actually spent about 15 minutes trying to think of dirty words that would appear in the bible and have 9 letters... and then did some online bible searches to see the frequencies of different words to make sure I was close.

I'm not sure if my religious relatives are proud of me or not.

(for the record, I won: 2 DVDs: Metallica - Some Kind Of Monster, and Napoleon Dynamite as well as a a deck of TSG's nifty celebrity mug shot playing cards.