LEVI McPHERSON, a graduate student of analytical chemistry at the University of North Central Florida, is approached by agents of the Homeland Security’s Counter-terrorism Unit. The agency is recruiting Lee to study and expose the loopholes of screening instruments in airports. Struggling financially, he accepted the offer, making him a paid, benevolent hacker of the nation’s gateway. Yet Levi is horrified when an Airbus from Los Angeles disintegrated in mid-air.

At 40, when everybody’s career trajectory is going up, Levi’s still a poor graduate student, struggling financially. His research projects however, are worth million dollars. Researching the highly classified and heavily guarded secrets of detecting traces of explosives, what Lee know was a goldmine. The agency's offer is his financial break . So Levi tackles the problem like a scientist, detailing the loopholes of the aviation security and turning what he knew into a big time money machine.

JIM and JONATHAN of the counter-terrorism unit, where nowhere to be found after Charlotte International Airport, a hub of Delta Airlines closed abruptly because of instrument malfunctions in their security lines. And in a post-Osama Bin Laden’s era, the biggest blow to the United Stated after the 9/11 disaster comes unexpectedly when a passenger plane blew up in the skies of Washington D.C., in the heart of the nation.

Levi knew it was only the start of more troubles, so he recruits his fellow graduate students to counter the future attacks. They have to think like criminals—and scientists too. With the help of FBI counter-terrorism experts, Homeland Security and Transportation Security Agency, the team races to close and plug the loopholes Lee identified.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Strange (Gym) Rats

"Lab rats can produce data and scientific reports, I don't know about gym rats"-unknown

It was my first time to be back at the gym after a month, and it made me realized that the gym is a peculiar place to be.

The first strange thing that bothers me inside the gym are those guys wearing sleeveless without muscles to show off. These guys, to make it worst, wear Nike dry fit body-hugging shirts to show muscle definition. There's one problem: it defines the bulge of their stomach. Times had change, times had change. If you don’t have something to show, don’t show it off. You don’t get ‘muscle points’ and a beach body by wearing those kind of apparels.

Same thing to ladies too, when they try to show off their abs, but it's not flat. Are they trying to show their back tattoo or belly piercing? It doesn't matter since the disgusting bulge of their stomach steals the thunder.

You may have noticed this before, when people leave their towels on the floor. I hate that because it’s so unhygienic. In rare cases, some dumb ass do their bench presses without a shirt, which is equally unhygienic! Does it make you stronger when you take your shirts off? One good thing though when you are work out in the gym, is that it's a place to rub shoulders with superstar athlete. One time, I saw somebody in his flip-flops. I thought slippers are not safe, and then realized that the guy was Tim Tebow, the prized quarterback of the school, working out somebody. I pardoned him already for his mistake.

When I was working in the gym before behind the desk, I thought the only requirement is that you know CPR and AED. I was wrong. Technical questions didn’t escaped me: heart rate monitor acting up, a question if Chinese food are healthy, ACL and spine injuries, the difference between decline vs. incline press, what’s a METS, a phone call inquiring for a test for AIDS and a guy asking about a rare genetic disorder called celiac disease, because he has one (eat gluten free food man).

In some instances, you find wierd of the wierdests, such as a half-blind student walking in a treadmill but his’ seeing/guide dog is sleeping beside; person doing a lat pull down while talking to a phone; a guy kissing his bicep muscles after a hard bicep curls. Here’s the best: a university that invented Gatorade but banned people drinking Gatorade inside the student gym.

In the end of the day, you go to the locker room. Then you hear this guy bitching about exercise challenging people around him, “who said exercise is fun, people who said that are hypocrites, I just finished and it was not”.

That’s weird. Ask a triathlete why he loves to burn calories and sweat it out, they're not hypocrites.

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