Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Swallowing my Words

So today was my last day in my old job. It was also our annual department review, in which I emceed a large portion. Additionally, I am in the depths of a cold right now. My head feels like a major freeway is being constructed inside and every cell of my body hurts. It was so bad this morning that I could barely WOG.

As I gave my briefing, I was sucking on a lozenge when it went down the back of my throat. It was a brief nightmare trying to get it down.

Blah blah blah blah GLRK! (Swallow, man, swallow!) BLORK! Blah blah blah...

I don't think anyone noticed. At the time, I could just image switching from words to pantomime as I tried to get someone to come up and give me the Heimlich maneuver.

No one knew until I told some people afterwards. I thought for sure it was obvious.

Am I a bad Father?

My 10-year-old daughter knows all the words to the Monkees theme song.

Am I a bad father? :-)

World of Good, Global Volunteers Style

Global Volunteers has so many great stories to tell that you could populate dozens of World of Good (WOG) entries with their work alone.

Welcome to another WOG here at The Scratching Post. Today we will look at the great work that Global Volunteers has been doing for at-risk children in Romania. First a word about Global Volunteers. Their slogan is "Peace Through Understanding; Understanding Through Service." They offer a wide range of service-based vacations that take you to places throughout the world that need your help. It's not the sort of vacation where you drink mai tais and lay on the beach, it's the kind that refreshes your soul.

Romania suffered for decades under communist rule. Their people and economy were beaten down and if the conditions there are anything like the ones I found in the orphanage in Astrakahn, Russia, they could really use some help. It sounds very similar.

With this many babies to take care of the workers must play a zone defense. There's no way they can play man-on-man.

The hospital nursery staff at the Tutova Hospital has is simply too small to provide adequate care and stimulation for these already vulnerable children. The staff is wonderful and very caring, but they can barely handle the feeding and diapering tasks they face.This is where you can really help. As a volunteer, you will be asked to help feed and care for these babies, giving them the stimulation, love, and nurturing that a parent would normally provide. Just playing with them will make a significant difference in their lives.

After a brief pit stop, Jeff Gordonovich is ready to re-enter the race.

A lot of brain development in children occurs in the first 15 months. During that time, many connections between the two hemispheres of the brain are made. Without personal stimulation and affection, those connections are not fully created and the child suffers as a result. Bascially, they need someone to hold them and play with them.

Don't worry, Lefty! We'll get you out of the Joint. We're talking to the DA right now.

The staff at the orphanages is loving and gentle and great to be with. There just aren't enough of them to give their little tykes the time and warmth they need. Global Volunteers doesn't shove the locals aside and barge in to take over.

The children in the Tutova hospital range in age from a few weeks to nearly 3 years. Some truly have special needs and medical problems, but for most the diagnosis is simply the poverty into which they were born. Families around here struggle to live and raise children on less money each month than my electric bill. These are not orphans or abandoned children. They're not even failure to thrive children. A more accurate description would be "ready to thrive", because they do so when given love, physical and mental stimulation and encouragement. I chose to spend two weeks vacation as a volunteer with Global Volunteers because I though their philosophy was right on; that is, that local people know best how to solve their problems and that outsiders serve best by serving under their direction. Thus, the hospital asked for help in providing love and nurturing to the children because they couldn't afford enough paid staff. We multiply the loving hearts and caring hands of the Tutova people.

Wild stories are exchanged over cookies and milk. Who knew these babies had such a vocabulary?

Since 1999, Global Volunteers has sent nearly one thousand people on service vacations to Romania alone. Here's the kind of feedback they get after the trips are over.

I've touched many lives, and many others have touched mine, and we've made the world a smaller place. I've worked elbow to elbow with local Romanians on something important to them, and they are now my friends and I have a place there. I've learned and I've served. It's what Global Volunteers calls waging peace. Our team followed 31 previous teams, and another will follow us in a week. The children of Tutova will be loved. That is all they asked of us.

Not a bad vacation, I'd say.

For a complete list of our WOGs and the reason why we WOG in the first place, please stop by this post.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Is This Blog Post Too Short?

Pet Peeving

Ben Forest, a self-acknowledged 250-year-old, has a blog called Pet Peeving. He commented here and I stopped by to see what he writes. It seems to be cheerful and funny. Go take a look and let me know what you think.

Calculating Mortgages, San Diego vs. Gulfport

This is a Pay Per Post ad. But I would have done it anyway, since I like doing these kinds of comparisons.

I live in San Diego. Housing prices here are high. Every once in a while, I consider moving to the Gulf Coast so I can go to New Orleans Saints football games and eat the delicious, fattening food. What's the relative cost of housing in San Diego compared to, say, Gulfport, Mississippi? We'll use the calculators at Credit Provide to give us an answer and see how well they do.

Here's a house near mine.

3300 square feet, nice views of the ocean, selling for about $950,000.

Here's a comparable house in Gulfport.

Same size, nice neighborhood, new house for $650,000.

Using the mortgage calculators at Credit Provide, let's see what the cost difference is. With a 30 year loan at 6%, assuming $300,000 down, buying the San Diego will force us to borrow $650,000. This breaks the mortgage calculator at Credit Provide. The calculator is this incredibly cool Shockwave application with dials and sliders. Unfortunately, the loan amounts only go up to $500,000. Additionally, the sliders go in increments of $2000 or so. Precise calculations are not possible.

The loan for the Gulfport house can be done, since that would be $350,000. Borrowing that much at 6% would cost us $2,098 per month. Simple math suggests that the San Diego loan would cost nearly double that per month. I could do a lot with $2,000 a month. Like pay for air conditioning in the summer and flee from hurricanes from time to time.

For those of you whose financial lives are totally out of control, I recommend a visit to Dave Ramsey's website and a few hours spent listening to his podcast. Between now and when you implement his sound advice, you can get payday loans.

I've never done payday loans. Using the payday loan calculators at Credit Provide, I learned that the percentage rates for these loans are a function of how much you borrow. If you borrow $500, your monthly interest rate is 46%. That makes your annual percentage (APR) rate 549%. Holy cow! If you borrow $1,000 then the APR is only 261%.

The Credit Provide website describes Payday Loans in more detail. Dave Ramsey is cheaper.

They seem to cater to people with bad credit. They've got an article about auto loans for folks with bad credit, too.

I was supposed to do a review of their mortgage calculators, so I'll just sum up with this. They were pleasing to the eye and educational (particularly the payday one), but I found them impractical to use. The limits on the mortgage calculator and the fixed increments made them irritating. What I want are simpler ones that allow me to enter in any amount down to the penny. The instant feedback with the dials is cool, but I'd give that up for precision and greater range.

They also have a simple loan calculator, but it suffers from the same problems.

Now that I've panned their product, will they still pay for this post?

Running for the Exits in China

Today's Wall Street Journal reports that the Chinese stock market dropped 8.8% yesterday. That's the equivalent of a 1100 point drop here in the Dow. The claim is that this was just profit-taking.

Chinese share prices, after years in the doldrums, have soared for most of the last 20 months -- a rally that has prompted millions of Chinese to take up stock trading. Officials have expressed concern about the pace of the runup, after the benchmark index surged 130% in 2006.
130%?!? That's insane. An entire stock market going up 130% in a year? It's not possible for there to be a financial basis for that. The Chinese economy is growing at about 8-10%. This just sounds like wild speculation to me. How much can you trust the balance sheets of the companies in China? How strong are their accounting laws? I don't blame people for getting closer to the exits or just taking their money and running right now.

A 1-year chart of the Shanghai Composite (SSEC) vs. the Dow. The Dow has had a great year, but it shows up as barely a blip compared to the frantic run-up of the SSEC. Anything that goes up that fast can come down even faster.

Cooking the Perfect a Pan?

Today's Wall Street Journal has this little bit of culinary arts.

The Perfectly Cooked Steak

4 to 5 pounds porterhouse or bone-in ribeye steak, 1½ to 2 inches thick
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

• On the stove top, heat a large, dry skillet until it is very hot. Season the steak well with salt and pepper and sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until it has a dark crust.

• Place skillet in preheated oven for about 14 minutes for a 1 1/2-inch steak. Cook to between rare and medium rare, because residual heat will continue cooking the meat while it is resting. To test for doneness, press your finger to the meat; it should yield to the touch but not be too soft. The chef says a thermometer will pierce the meat and allow the juices to run out.

• Rest steak for at least 5 minutes before slicing or serving.
I'm a skeptic about this one. I prefer my steaks on the grill, where the grill is blistering hot and the steaks are done about 7 minutes on a side. I just can't imagine eating a steak without the grill marks.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Stopping Global Warming Through Prudent Taxation

Recently, the state of California has been considering placing a heavy tax on vehicles whose carbon emissions are higher than average in an attempt to stop carbon dioxide-based global warming.

Research also indicates a second component to global warming - solar activity. Here's what had to say.

In what could be the simplest explanation for one component of global warming, a new study shows the Sun's radiation has increased by .05 percent per decade since the late 1970s.
This new study needs to be given the prominence it deserves, particularly in the area of public policy. I suggest that the wiccans and pagans in our legislature (particularly those from the San Francisco area) introduce legislation to tax those products that anger the sun god and bring down his increased solar radiation upon us.

Owners of cars like the Honda del Sol would be given tax breaks.

The sun god would like the del Sol. It's a convertible and it's named after him.

Orchestras that perform Eine Kleine Nachtmusik would be heavily taxed.

This will anger the sun god! A Little Night Music, performed after dark and indoors. How environmentally irresponsible!

Appeasing the sun god may be our only alternative to warmer days and milder winters. We need to act now!

Wouldn't You Know It?

I've started to get lots of hits lately, many from search engines like Google. A bunch of them come to my root site and the first thing they see is whatever I've posted most recently.

Wouldn't you know it? This influx of new readers happens right when I'm in the blogging doldrums and am focused on another project, our Geography Game.

Rats. Looks like I need to get on the ball.

Geography Game Development Notes

Following the concept that a blog is life's laboratory notebook, this is as much a post to myself as it is anything else. Disregard at your leisure.

As some of you may know, the kids and I are working on a geography game. In it, you will run an import/export business. You will buy things like lumber, fish, electronics, machine tools and so on in the places where they are found and ship them to the places that import them. The most difficult thing about the game design so far has been the map.

The problem is that the Earth is dominated by vast, unpopulated areas like the Pacific Ocean and Asian Russia. Populated areas are compact. For example, I want to have both San Diego and Los Angeles in the game. They are 120 miles apart in real life. In order to make them far enough apart on the map so that you can tell which one your pawn is on, they need to be 1" apart on the map. That gives us a map scale of 120 miles to the inch.

The Earth is 24,860 miles around at the Equator. At this scale, the map will have to be 17 feet across. While that would be loads of fun to do (imagine a geography version of Twister) it is totally impractical.

That means we have to go to map inserts. It turns out that Europe, North America and Japan will require inserts. The inserts will be at 120 miles to the inch, allowing the rest of the map to be smaller.

The continental US (CONUS to you military types) is about 3000 miles across. At this scale, the North American insert will have to be 2' across. Europe would be something similar.

This leaves you with the issue of where to stick Europe and North America on the map. Of course, you could just do inserts for the dense parts of Europe and America, places where the Earth map is too small to cover it.

Working backwards, if I want an Earth map that is 4' across, then I need a scale of about 520 miles to the inch. Any cities that are closer than 520 miles apart will need an insert.

Working backwards from the game mechanics, I did some research and decided that a freighter travels at 18 knots, on average. In a 24 hour period, it can travel about 497 statute miles at sea. In order for the players to know which sea lane tick mark their freighter is on, we will need a 497 miles to the inch scale. That works out to the 4' map as well. Hmm. Looks like that's settled then. 520 miles to the inch it is.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

We Have Entered Into The Growlery

Posting will be light until we have left the growlery.

"Sit down, my dear," said Mr. Jarndyce. "This, you must know, is the growlery. When I am out of humour, I come and growl here."
(Charles Dickens, Bleak House, chapter VIII)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

When Snark is Repaid With Polite Conversation get someone like Ron Pereira. He's a Lean Six Sigma blogger. I've been blasting Lean Six Sigma for months now and he wrote a kind comment on my blog and replied nicely to a semi-snark I left on his.

When it comes to marketing, Ron gets it. Thanks, man.

The Leftists in the History Department Need to Talk to the Leftists in the Ecology Department

Look, we all know that climate change is caused by man and our modern technology raping the Earth, right? Well, someone needs to break into the History department over at the Illinois Museum and smack them around a little. They're preaching heresy. Dig this from their description of Late Prehistoric Native American technology.
In general, Native American technology did not change during Late Prehistory until European trade goods became available about 350 years ago. The bow and arrow served as the principal hunting tool, although its use as a weapon of war appears to increase. And, although differently decorated, pottery was made in the same way as during the preceding Mississippian period, with bits of shell added to the clay paste. New tools included shell fish lures, thought to have been used for ice fishing—Perhaps another bit of evidence of adjustment to a changing natural climate.
Looks to me like the Christian Theocrat Fascists have taken over down there and are spreading lies. More evidence that the Bush cabal is running amok!

Sutter's Mill Gold Summons Termite Swarms

I've been reading my daughter's history text lately in order to help with her schoolwork. She's learning about the history of California. Right now, she's studying the Gold Rush of 1849 and the following decade. Here's what I've learned.

Gold brought lots of people to California. White, American men were rapacious, swarming beasts that devoured everything in their path, sort of like termites.

Here we see a large group of white, American men raping the land, slaughtering the natives and stealing whatever they can.

White, American men oppressed everything: Blacks, Chinese, the Native Americans, the Mexicans, the environment and everyone and everything else of value. The history book consists of stories of individuals struggling against this oppression tied together by the general narrative of the Gold Rush. There are a few descriptions of what life was like at the time as well.

In previous chapters, we learn that the Spaniards were rapacious beasts, devouring everything in their path. We never learn that the Aztecs, the Mayans and everyone else were the same. What would have been more interesting to me would have been a technology table for the people involved. Why did the Native Americans end up on the short end of the stick? Was it because they didn't have a written language and struggled to pass down knowledge from one generation to another? Was it because they hadn't discovered the Scientific Method? What happened to make the white devils more effective competitors?

I want the school to teach my daughter what it takes to be successful in life. Right now all it seems to be teaching her is to loathe her own kind. It would be interesting to have a conversation with the authors of these books and find out if they even know what the competitive advantages were. I wouldn't be surprised to find total ignorance.

Friday, February 23, 2007

San Diego Morning After a Storm

The palms behind me, Castor and Pollux (named after the boys in Heinlein's The Rolling Stones), were silhouetted nicely against the laggard storm clouds this morning.

The Perfect Lean Six Sigma Motivational Poster

Here's a great one for all you process improvement types out there.

You can buy this as a poster to put in your office.

Join the Feline Theocracy's Frappr Map!

I just created a Frappr map for the Feline Theocracy members and readers. Push a pin in the map and show us where you are!

Of course, given the fact that less than 1% of blog readers leave comments or otherwise interact with the blog, this map will probably lay unpopulated for quite some time. How embarassing!

Update: I'm happy to say I was wrong. As you can see from the map, lots of you have been very kind and put yourselves on the map. It makes me feel good to see all of the different places this blog reaches, even if all it has to say is silly things.

Thanks, everyone. Whenever I feel myself about to enter the Growlery, I'll stop by here and look at this map. I'm sure it will brighten my day.

Barack vs. Hillary and blah blah blah

I was stricken with industrial strength ennui last night and spent quite a bit of time following all of the blog posts about the Barack-Hillary catfight. I considered posting about it for a while and adding in my two cents and then doing trackbacks, comments and all of the other blogging gymnastics I used to do when I was trying to build up hits and links in the center-right blogosphere. I just couldn't manage to find the energy. I'll take a run at it now, sans the trolling for hits.

The whole thing is a big yawn. The two of them are some of the blandest, most pre-packaged bags of hot air around. The whole fight was silly. Geffen said Hillary was a liar. Well, duh. Hillary's minions said Barack wasn't playing fair. No, really?

Barack wants to be president. He can't be president at the same time as Hillary. Hillary is the front-runner. She's got more baggage than Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol. Of course he's going to bring it up. Why not? Even if he doesn't, does anyone in the English-speaking world not know about Hillary's filth-encrusted past?

What a bore.

Death to the Thrips!

And all who support them!

This is a thrip.

Here's what the folks at Ohio Statue University say about thrips.

Thrips are serious pests on vegetables and flowers. Plant injury is caused by both nymphs and adults rasping the bud, flower and leaf tissues of the host plants, and then sucking the exuding sap. This causes distorted and discolored flowers or buds and gray or silvery, speckled areas on the leaves.
My indoor daisy family has been attacked by these little swine. I've posted photos before of my daughter daisies blooming and now mom is about to produce three blooms herself. Unfortunately, the thrips are rasping and sucking and killing my leafy friends.

Normally I'm one for green solutions to pest problems. In nature, thrips are eaten by ladybugs. In the past, when I've had aphid or other pest problems, I've found that a container of ladybugs released on the affected plants at night is an excellent solution. I had a bed of impatiens that were being annihilated by aphids and in 24 hours one container of ladybugs devoured the aphids.

Unfortunately, it's rainy and windy and cold outside right now and I can't take my daisies outdoors to treat them with natural predators. So instead, it's time for WMDs. I've chosen chemical warfare. After a prolonged proposal review period where several vegetable defense contractors were allowed to bid, a contract was let to purchase Immunox for deployment into the battle zone.

Photos to follow. Hopefully photos of LOTS OF DEAD THRIPS!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Does Barack Have a Driver's License Yet?

Is it just me, or does Barack Obama look like he's about 17?

Seed Racing Update 2

As you recall, on October 15, 2006, just as winter was approaching, we planted some seeds in little peat cups in an attempt to get some plants into my barren yard and participate in that new gambling craze, Seed Racing. The contest is to see which species is ready to transplant into my garden first. We've got English Daisies, English Lavender, Painted Daisies and Gold Dust Alyssum. Here's the latest results.

The painted daisies (left) have done the best by far. I've got 7 out of 8 going and they're leading the pack with a whopping 2" of growth. The gold dust alyssums (right) are muddling along.

The English team has had spotty results. The English daisies (left) just recently started to grow and have almost caught the painted daisies. I've got 3, maybe 4 out of 12 of them growing. The English lavender (upper right hand corner) is just a strange mutant thing of a sprout.

Only one English lavender out of four came up and it looks like an alien vegetable from a light gravity planet. The stem is only a little thicker than a human hair, but it's still trying to produce leaves. I'm hoping it gets a little sturdier.

I've learned that October is a stupid time to plant seeds. Plants don't like to work in the winter. Like the French in August, plants take winter off and refuse to do anything productive even with our mild San Diego winter. I think it has something to do with the short days. Since we didn't spring for the growlight bulbs, the sprouts had to make do with natural light, what little there was. Now with spring almost here, the sprouts have returned to work and are taking off.

Now that you've seen the results, I'll let you vote again in the poll.

Which type of plant will be the first one to be transplantable?
English Daisies
Painted Daisies
English Lavender
Gold Dust Alyssum
I can't pick. This is too exciting! I need to go lie down for a while
Free polls from

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Last Perogie

This is really funny.

Attacked by SpyDawn Virus!

Yesterday, one of my PCs was attacked by the SpyDawn virus. What a total pain! It sets itself up as a free virus checker and then gives you false virus reports. The only remedy for the viruses it pretends to find is to send them money to buy the full version of SpyDawn. It also hijacks your browsers so that they all open up to the SpyDawn website and it throws a ton of pop up windows out there, too.

Luckily I was able to Google SpyDawn and find a removal tool and instructions. Apparently it doesn't do any permanent damage other than the annoyance and the attempt to extort money from you.

I wasn't able to find a reference to it on the Symantec site nor on the Microsoft site. It must be a pretty new bug.

World of Good, Amazing Grace Style

Preface: Weclome, Googlers! I've seen lots of traffic lately from folks Googling William Wilburforce. I'm hoping that if you look somewhere else for William Wilburforce information that you also check out the series of posts that I do called The World of Good. It's got lots of inspiring tales of good deeds that go unreported. You can find the full list here. And now, on with this entry from our World of Good...

Welcome to another installment of the World of Good (WOG) here at The Scratching Post. Today we bring to your attention a historical figure who will be the central character in a movie opening this weekend. His name is William Wilburforce and the movie is Amazing Grace. William Wilburforce was a prime mover in the abolition of slavery in England.

The film's website has a great deal of reference material on the man, his work and the situation at the time. Here's their synopsis of his life.

William Wilberforce was first elected to the House of Commons at the age of 21 and dedicated the rest of his life to leading the fight to abolish slavery. Though he was chronically ill and his anti-slavery bills were repeatedly rejected by Parliament, his courage and passion to abolish injustice led him to be referred to as
the “conscience of Parliament.” He also worked to collect evidence of the crimes of the slave trade, collected 390,000 signatures to support his cause, and relentlessly crafted anti-slavery bills. After almost 20 years of leading the British abolitionist movement, Wilberforce wept tears of victory when the slave trade throughout the British Empire was finally abolished in 1807. Because Wilberforce also believed in reforming the larger society, his good works included prison reform, fair care for prisoners of war, improving hospitals and the lot of the poor, the prevention of cruelty to animals, and societal reforms in India and around the world. But his passion to abolish slavery always came first.
Here's the trailer for the movie.

Glenn Murray, a religious blogger, points out how the song Amazing Grace came from the abolitionist movement in England.

Wilburforce became convinced that slavery was absolutely wrong in God's sight. With the support of the men he met with, Wilburforce worked for over 45 years on the abolition of slavery. First he got bills passed which made it illegal for Englishmen to engage in the slave trade; eventually, he convinced the Parliament to make it illegal to own slaves. John Newton, formerly a ship captain who hauled slaves to the New World and the writer of the hymn "Amazing Grace,” is one of the men who came out of this movement.
In a world where political activists compete to turn us against their opponents through half-truths and distortions, and where religious people are sometimes painted as crazed zealots trying to create a theocracy here in America, it's worth spending some time reinforcing the great good that has come from people of faith.

It's not just activists, but the entertainment industry as well. Religious people in films are often portrayed as narrow-minded bigots, pedophiles and charlatans. Here's one where the person of faith is a flawed man striving to bring about a greater good.

The movie opens this weekend in a small number of theaters. If it does well, it will expand to more. If it does not, it will close sooner and the world will be a poorer place. Stop by their website and see if there's a theater near you.

WOG visitors come by the hundreds, but virtually no one ever leaves a comment. If you see the movie and want to drop a small note about what you thought of it, feel free to leave it in the comments here.

For a complete list of our WOGs and the reason why we WOG in the first place, please stop by this post.

H/T: Jeffrey Mark for the YouTube video link.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Winter Storms Mean High Suf

I've got early morning commitments today, so the posting will be sparse until later.

This weekend San Diego got hit by a major winter storm. Tons of rain, high winds and best of all, above average surf. I had a chance on Saturday to go get some photos right before the storm hit.

I love my Olympus C-4040 Zoom camera, but I wish I could get a little better optical zoom on it. I hope these photos give you an idea of the scene at Mission Beach this weekend.

There were plenty of chicks in bikinis playing volleyball, but I chose not to photograph them. I would have felt like a pervert.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Feline Theocracy Acknoweldges a Truth Seeker

Some site called has posted a thread on one of their discussion boards recommending worship of our Maximum Leader. This is worthy and proper.

Our Maximum Leader replies with a psychic transmission of purring to Richard Dawkins and all of his minions, thralls, indentured servants, participants and supporters (athletic and otherwise).

Closing in on Geography Game Glory!

I spent all my computer time today working our family geography game. By the end of this coming weekend, it should be ready to play. I had some real brain waves today for making the maps easier to use and the game more fun to play.

The idea of the game is to help your kids learn geography and economics while playing a fun board game. There is no combat in the game, only shipping products from one spot to another. It will be easy to play and fast-paced. There will be several levels of play so you can use it with kids of all ages.

I'm looking for some play testers to give me suggestions once the kids and I have got it where we think it's right. If you'd like to get a copy, play it and let me know what you thought, let me know in the comments.

Blogging Will Be Late Today...

...for no apparent reason. There's lots to write about and I got up with plenty of time, but somehow I haven't done it yet.

Offhand, I'd blame my biorhythms. Or maybe something violated my Law of Attraction. Or Jupiter is in the house of Sagittarius and my signs just aren't propitious right now. Or perhaps Jupiter is in the house next door and I'm blogging this as I get sucked into the gravity well of an enormous gas giant.

Hopefully I'll manage to achieve escape velocity from whatever is holding me back and blog later.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wine Review - Livingston Cellars Burgundy

Today we will do the first wine review ever here at The Scratching Post. Last night we cooked Rib Eye Steaks with Garlic-Mushroom Sauce from Terry Thompson's Cajun-Creole Cooking. It requires burgundy wine, so we shopped here and there and ended up with Livingston Cellars burgundy.

It cost $4.69. I would suspect that the bottle alone is worth more than half of that. Add labor and shipping costs and the ominous red liquid delicious wine must have been thrown in for free.

It's a screw top. I found this out when my cork remover wouldn't penetrate the top. The top came free with a confirming click, letting me know that no one had tampered with the wine by putting in, say, even more Livingston Cellars burgundy.

Mmmm. Cheap red wine and low blood sugar prior to eating dinner. I can feel a buzz coming on now!

First sip: It's bitter without any ameliorating pleasant flavors. Sort of a brutish, heavy wine.

Second sip: Well, it warms my throat. It doesn't seem to be coming back up immediately at least.

Bottom of the glass: That was delicious! I feel so free and happy. It gives me a warm feeling in my tummy. Everyone is my friend!

Bottom of second glass: I want to share it with my neighbors. I think I'll sit outside with it. In fact, I feel like putting the whole bottle in a paper bag and sitting in my doorway drinking it.

I'm not sure how the rest of the evening turned out. I think I liked the food. I think I liked everything. I think my head split open the next morning and revealed a flaming skull. I think I'm going to be sick.

Well, there you have it. Another, um, recommendation for Livingston Cellars burgundy!

China Finally Gets That Ecology Thing, er, Right

I don't know what you eco-freaks are complaining about. It's green, isn't it?

Explanation here.

Life Sucks

(Posted by K T Cat in the name of my silenced partner, Jacob the Syrian Hamster.)

This is another in a series of posts where we give up on joy and success and join the sputterbudgets and whinypants in the Mainstream Media (MSM). As you know from listening to the news and watching TV, life sucks.

Today we have this article from the New York Times. It turns out that the Coalition forces in Iraq have been turning the screws to the terrorists and several more bigwigs have been killed or captured. One of the worst of them, Muqtada al-Sadr, has fled to Iran. Don't think for a minute that this is good news.

Neutralizing the power of Mr. Sadr, whose Mahdi Army has sporadically battled American forces for the past four years, has been a particular concern for American officials as they try to rein in powerful Shiite militias in Baghdad.

If Mr. Sadr had indeed fled, his absence would create a vacuum that could allow even more radical elements of the Shiite group to take power.
Thank God for the New York Times. If it wasn't for them, I would have mistakenly thought that snuffing a pack of baby killers and driving their leader out of the country was a good thing. Now I see my error. Sadr might be replaced by someone really evil who would...who would...errr...kill innocent civilians? But wasn't Sadr's gang of thugs already doing that as fast as they could? How could this make things worse?

Ow! My head hurts!

Well, never you mind. Life sucks because the New York Times told you that life sucks. Allow me to join in the fun despair.

A while back, I planted some red verbenas and a pair of periwinkles in my front yard to cover the barren dirt. They were given strict orders to act like groundcover and cover the ground. Just look at what they're doing now. You can click on the photos for larger, more stomach-turning images.

Stop that blooming, Verbena! Stop it at once, do you hear me?

So you're against me, too, eh Periwinkle? Well, no good will come of this, I assure you.

Defiance! That's all this is, just plain defiance! I water, fertilize and weed and what do they do for me? They bloom! I told them to cover the ground and instead they put out flowers. It just drives me crazy, I tell you!

Life sucks.

Gark! The New Blogger is Killing Me!

My blogging partner, Jacob the Syrian Hamster, was trying to post another in his "Life Sucks" series. When he logged in to blogger, it told him to get a Google account. He did. Then he went to blog and it told him he can't do it because the 'Post hasn't been moved to the new blogger yet. I've tried to move it, but blogger won't let me. Jacob has effecitvely been silenced! Argh!

I'll just have to post for him.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

If I Never Blog Again, I Wanted You To Know Why

I'm cooking Rib Eye Steaks with Garlic-Mushroom Sauce from Terry Thompson's Cajun-Creole Cooking cookbook. The first step is to pan-fry the steaks in oil and butter.

I can feel my arteries constricting in delicious anticipation.

Update: I survived dinner and it was outstanding. Photos of the cooking scene later. Right now I must lounge around, in a sloth-like torpor.

I Missed my own Blogiversary!

Isn't this just like a man? To forget a key date in a relationship and neglect that part of his life that has meant so much to him, taking it for granted and just treating that day like any other? And this time, it's not like it was an old and tired relationship, just going through the motions. This was our first blogiversary!

Happy blogiversary to me, a neglectful jerk. I'm off by 6 days. It was February 11.

Here's my first post ever. It was all about the furor created over the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. I took a contrarian view and didn't side with anyone. I also didn't get many readers or any comments. From that humble beginning has grown the 'Post you see today, a complete and total waste of time that dominates much of my thought and whose lessons have infiltrated my workplace to make me a Web 2.0 weirdo there, too.

I'm welcome.

The Scratching Post is now Among the Elite

With great pride and absolutely no modesty at all, I would like to announce with great fanfare and jubilation that the 'Post has grown it's very first troll in the comments. There have been snarks and jabs before, but there has never been a repeat performance by a contrarian commenter with such skill and verve. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you cara russell.

With the advent of this new troll, we can expect to see long, fiery arguments in the comments as people use this blog as a forum for their pet theories and political positions.

We're so proud.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pacific Sunset

Tonight's sunset is brought to you by the Pacific Ocean.

Remember, for all your surfing and boogie boarding needs, the Pacific Ocean provides you plenty of good, clean beaches and waves. Be sure to stop by and try some today!

Bill and Mary Have Lost Their Minds

The college of William and Mary has decided that a cross in a chapel was too controversial, but a Sex Workers Art Show wasn't.

Gene Nichol, president of William and Mary about the cross: leaving the cross on display in Wren Chapel where it had been for decades is “…contrary to the best values of the college.”

Gene Nichol, president of William and Mary about the sex workers art show: "I don’t like this kind of show and I don’t like having it here, but it’s not the practice and province of universities to censor or cancel performances because they are controversial.”

Words fail me.

Read the whole thing.

Friday Morning Catblogging

This morning we're just laying around in our office furniture, having a mug of joe, catblogging.

Life is good.

For more pettable postings, visit this week's Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats.

Devolving Into...What?

Yesterday I sprained my right thumb. As such, I no longer have two operable, opposable thumbs. I am deeply concerned that I will now begin slithering down the evolutionary ladder, devolving into some lower-order creature. But what?

If I lay around enough, I might manage a sloth.

Me as a sloth.

Do you have any suggestions?

A Lean Six Sigma Slogan

We're about to engage in massive Lean Six Sigma training where I work. I've written before about how this is a total waste of time for us. Something like 30% of our workforce will have to go experience this foolishness. In light of that, I've come up with the following slogan.

It's better to have your employees wonder if you're a complete idiot than it is to send them to Lean Six Sigma training and remove all doubt.

Feel free to cut and paste.

Update: Hal, over at Reforming Project Management, very kindly linked to this post and more importantly, claims he reads the 'Post on a semi-regular basis. (Did I mention our frequent reader program? At a cost of only three cans of tuna a day, you can have the 'Post delivered right to your web browser!)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Put Down the Blackberry and No One Gets Hurt

The American Psychological Association suggests that all of those emails throughout the day, the cell phone calls and Blackberry messages during meetings are less efficient than you might think.

To better understand executive control, as well as the human capacity for multitasking and its limitations, Rubinstein, Meyer and Evans studied patterns in the amounts of time lost when people switched repeatedly between two tasks of varying complexity and familiarity. In four experiments, young adult subjects (in turn, 12, 36, 36 and 24 in number) switched between different tasks, such as solving math problems or classifying geometric objects. The researchers measured subjects' speed of performance as a function of whether the successive tasks were familiar or unfamiliar, and whether the rules for performing them were simple or complex.

The measurements revealed that for all types of tasks, subjects lost time when they had to switch from one task to another, and time costs increased with the complexity of the tasks, so it took significantly longer to switch between more complex tasks.
Unless you're mopping the floor or emptying the trash, that Blackberry might improve your efficiency if you just turned it off during meetings.

Read the whole thing.

Tax Cuts (don't) Make You Rich!

The Wealth Gap is tearing this nation apart! The government has got to do something about it. We are on the verge of class warfare with people falling on each other in the streets like wild animals. Joe Lunchbucket is going to beat Mortimer Whitecollar to death with a crowbar any minute now. For the love of God, we've got to change the tax code to deal with this!

I did a little experiment with Excel. I played around with 6 simplified scenarios. The first set is the wealth accumulation of a tradesman, Joe Lunchbucket. Joe gets a job at age 18 and makes $20K. His expenses are the same. His income rises at 4% and his expenses at 2%. He then either gets married at 22 or not to a tradeswoman who works outside the house and then either gets divorced or not at age 35. If he marries, they have two kids and their expenses rise commensurately. Here's what their accumulated wealth as a function of age looks like. Click on the image for a larger version.

Here are the charts for Mortimer Whitecollar. Mortimer gets a BA and enters the workforce at age 22. He starts at $60K. He has the same growth and constraints as Joe.

What happens when you get tax cuts? How about tax increases? Well, move Joe's graph up or down by a couple hundred bucks a year. Move Mortimer's up or down by a couple of thousand.

Whoop de do.

David Wessel, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has an interesting column on the effect of the tax cuts on the Wealth Gap. If you ignore all other effects, the tax cuts make a big difference. If you look at the real world, they don't.

Politicians want to seem like they have some kind of major influence on your lives. They debate and posture and pose and blather endlessly about how they will get the country moving again or their opponents will bring about a new Dark Ages. Short of a Hugo Chavez-style socialist implosion, they really don't have much of an effect at all.

In terms of the Wealth Gap, you can't change the tax code to eliminate the effects of education and divorce. Divorce and education have million to multi-million dollar effects on net worth. Tax cuts are orders of magnitude less.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Check this out.

World of Good, Homefront San Diego Style

It's Wednesday! That means it's time for another World of Good (WOG)!

Under peacetime conditions, military families often have many additional burdens to bear. The pay is modest, you move frequently and the person serving is often gone for long periods of time. In the Navy, 6 month deployments are common. While the paycheck from the missing spouse is present, the time, energy and support of that person are not. In wartime it's much worse. In addition to long periods apart, there is the constant worry that something terrible will happen.

Families of enlisted men and women often find their resources stretched to the breaking point. They earn very little so losing a pair of helping hands around the house has a much greater impact. Homefront San Diego seeks to help those who have found their circumstances temporarily overwhelming.

From a letter of appreciation: I just want to take the time to say how much I appreciate everything you did for me and my family this past month. My father passed away very suddenly and I was unsure of what to do. My husband being an E3 and having 2 kids we did not know what to do. You guys were amazing. My husband and I were turned away from another organization because we did not make enough money to offer repayment. I can only say that I will never forget what you did when we needed it most.
Homefront San Diego is an all-volunteer organization that was created to help out military families who were in extremis. They work with the Navy League of San Diego and have found significant support from a local talk show host, Roger Hedgecock. While Roger is a staunch conservative, the support that he and Homefront San Diego give is non-denominational and unconcerned with politics. They do it because it's the right thing to do.

From another letter of appreciation: I would just like to take time out to thank everyone that was involved in helping myself and husband GM1 in obtaining our airline tickets to attend our Grandmother's services. It is time like these that helping hands are always greatly appreciated and well recognized. May God Bless and Keep all that played such a profound part in this.
Here's an example of what they do, taken from the front page of their website.

The SDPD has about 80 car seats to give to active duty military families. The seats are free. The SDPD will teach new parents how to install the seats (officers will actually install the seats for you) and show you how operate them (yes, child safety seats need to be used correctly).

When I stopped by their website, their front page had these way cool photos.

It turns out that a local Canstruction event is donating 10,000 pounds of food to Homefront San Diego after their local, errr, art show.

Canstruction?!? I think that's a topic for a future World of Good.

Homefront San Diego is a group of people giving their time and energy to help out military families in need here in San Diego. You can read more about Homefront San Diego at their website. Donations in all forms are always welcome. You could help them do a World of Good.

For a complete list of our WOGs and the reason why we WOG in the first place, please stop by this post.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Rick Lee's Photos are Gorgeous

Here's one now.

Here's the rest.

Blogging Will Be Light Today...

...because despite the best efforts of our Maximum Leader, I slept in. She tried to wake me at our usual hour of 4AM by tearing at the carpet and climbing in the boxtop for Axis and Allies and scratching noisily at the cardboard, but I managed to fall back asleep. I usually don't.

Sleep! Ahhhh.

Monday, February 12, 2007

NMCI Tech Support Doesn't use NMCI

At work we have the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) as our IT infrastructure. It's the most hideous thing ever created. Unusable, slow, blocked from upgrades, it's just a mutant beast of a system. NMCI is run by Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and provides our machines and our network. You don't want to know how much we pay for it.

I had an NMCI fellow in my office today standing around while both of us watched my machine react to commands like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey after most of his circuit cards had been removed. While we waited for this constipated bowel movement of a system to execute some trivial task I asked him, "So, when you go back to your office, do you use NMCI?"

He replied, "No."

Never take a drug a doctor wouldn't use on themselves in a similar circumstance.

Update: An anonymous commenter has written to say that NMCI tech support does use NMCI. I'm not sure this makes me feel any better. The thing is so horrid that if this is true, all I would do would be to change the headline to "NMCI Tech Support is Forced to use NMCI" and rewrite the post to ask for a Geneva Convention ruling on inflicting this torture on those poor tech support folks.

Lawyers I Would Never Hire

Yesterday I wished I had a camera phone. We got behind a bus with an ad on it's rear that said,

DUI and Criminal Lawyers!

It then gave the name of the law firm and their phone number. While life experience can be a good thing, I don't think I want to be represented by a drunk or a criminal.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

DIY Wind Vane

While my daughter was studying meteorology in her science class, we played around with making some homemade instruments to measure the weather. The best of these was our homemade wind vane.

As usual, we made our device with odds and ends we found around the house and the neighborhood. As an aside, I think that is just as an important a lesson for the kids as the science is. Scrounging gives you a different eye for the world and I would argue that you learn to look for opportunities when you try and make things from freely available items. But I digress.

Our first cut at the weather vane consisted of some aluminum foil, a nail and a thin piece of particle board. Plywood would have worked as well for the base. The wood came from a local construction site. After I spoke with the foreman, they were more than happy to let me scrounge around for some scrap wood.

The instructions are simple. Fold the aluminum foil into a strip. You'll need several folds. I think we folded ours four times. Bang the nail through the board and then with a pencil, make a small cavity in the center of the foil strip. The cavity has to be placed so that the foil strip balances at that point and the cavity has to be larger than the point of the nail so that the strip will rotate freely. Place the strip on the nail and set it out in the wind. Here's what you get.

Failure, total failure!

It bends! We have dishonored ourselves and our family. Prepare for ritual self-flagellation!

We then took a wooden barbecue skewer and folded the bottom of one side of the foil strip around it to stiffen the strip. We chose the wooden skewer because it was long, stiff and light weight. Anything heavier would have impaled the foil strip through the nail. In thinking about it now, we could have taken a paper clip, straightened it out and used that. Remember that you want the stiffener to be as straight as possible so that the wind vane operates with maximum efficiency. Here's what ours looked like.

Success! Let the gloating begin.

A wind vane that will bring pride to our family. Our neighbors will be cast into the depths of despair when they see our glorious scientific device.

Well, that's it for this project. We're rummaging around for new DIY science ideas. Suggestions are always welcome.

For more fun projects, visit this week's Carnival of Homeschooling.

Why Scribbit Blogs

She blogs for many of the same reasons I do. Only not the mom parts. I do the corresponding dad parts. And I don't have nor want a husband here, thank you very much. But the rest is spot on. Here's a teaser.

I blog for creativity. Why do scrapbooks or quilts when you can publish you deepest thoughts, feelings and desires for the entire world to judge and critique?
She gives lots more reasons. Read the whole thing.

Bringing Work Home on Weekends

I recently met a man who had grown up in Germany, come to the US for school and work, then returned to Germany for work. He was the son of American parents who worked on one of the US military bases in Germany. We got to talking about work habits and he spoke at length about the vast difference in attitude towards work between Germany and the US. We are much more industrious than they are. That's both good and bad, so I'm not passing judgment here, just reporting on a conversation.

I used to think that I rarely brought work home. In fact, as I was writing this post, I was going to say so. As I think about it, I bring home a great deal of work. My explorations in marketing this blog have been applied to my job and vice versa. Perhaps it has not been so much bringing work home as it has been a blurring of the lines between work and home.

The reason I bring this up is that because I am changing jobs in a few weeks, I need to bring a few things to closure before I leave my current position. That means I need to work at home this weekend and not in the abstract sense. How often do you do that? If you blog, do you consider your blog to be a partial extension of your job? Is part of the reason you blog to make money and is it a second vocation?

I'd really like to know.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

As Seen in Cat and Driver Magazine

I'd be going faster, but I can't see over the steering wheel.

For more mobile mousers, visit this week's Carnival of the Cats.

Start Making Your Plans Now!

I wonder if Kukka-Maria will be there? Can you imagine the party in her suite?

Big Things are Afoot!

All kinds of crazy things are happening at the 'Post these days. First, I'm changing jobs. I'm staying with my current organization, but I will be moving up into a purely marketing post. I used to split my time between marketing and administrative duties, but I've managed to invoke the Mystical Powers of the Feline Theocracy™ and obtain a totally cool position.

The second is that the kids and I are working on a game that we will be offering over the Internet shortly. It won't be a computer game, instead it's a geography-economics educational game that you will be able to download and print out at home. I wasn't sure how they would take to it, but the kids have really loved doing game design.

There will be lots of blog posts coming up about both of these subjects. A lot of it will deal with learning how to make the most of Google Earth.

We're having so much fun around here that there aren't buckets enough to hold it all!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Please, No Comments

Please do not put any comments in this post. None. Not one. Not even a tiny one. Nope, no need for them. I won't read them even if you do. So it would be a waste of your time. To leave a comment. In this post.

World Happiness Map

Dig this.

Click on it for a bigger version.

The conclusion? Democratic capitalism makes you happy. The happiest places in the world are Canada, the US, Ireland and Australia. All of them are free, prosperous, democratic, capitalist countries. Yes, there are a few happy statist countries, but very few. Our cultural superiors in France and Germany are less happy.

Har har har!


The NFL Season May Be Over...

...but I just had to post this.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Is it OK if a Developing Nation Wrecks the Environment?

Brazil is a developing nation. If global environmental regulations are enacted, should they be exempt?

You can't make ethanol from trees and every politician and journalist is pestering us to use more ethanol. Cut down the forest. Developing nations need help catching up with the US in earnings. Cut down the forest. The poor people in these countries can make more money logging than they can otherwise. Cut down the forest.

Does this make sense? If we're all part of a globally connected environment, then doesn't logging the Amazon hurt everyone?

US citizens could make more money if we suddenly decided to scrap most of our environmental regulations, too. Should we cut down our forests and trash our rivers?

One last issue, and this is the biggest of all for the Kyoto crowd. How do you know how much CO2 (or pollution in general for that matter) nations like Brazil and China emit when it's clear that their governments are not able to control local practices? This logging is illegal and the rampant environmental destruction in China isn't part of their 5-year plan. Isn't it in their best interests to lie? Since the Chinese press is controlled by the Chinese government, how would you ever find out the truth?

The 13 Stages of the Flu

Even if you don't participate in Thursday Thirteens, you need to stop by and read Thermal's this week. Hilarious!

Thursday Thirteen, Taxes Edition

I am currently doing my taxes. Since I am doing them by hand and am not using a CPA or software, I have had the opportunity to peruse several strange forms I had never seen before. What follows is one I thought would be of interest to you.

IRS Form Omicron Delta Crimson Theta.
Federal Tax Relief for Odd Pets Act of 1997

If you have had pets in your home that made your neighbors wonder about you during the previous year, you may be entitled to a tax credit. Please use the following form.

1. Enter the number of invertebrates living with you at least 6 months of the previous year.

2. Add 1 to this number.

3. Subtract the number of mollusks in this group. If the resultant number is zero, stop here and put 0 in line 13.

4. If any of the invertebrates were slugs, please consult form 50281/772, “Tax Reflief for Yucky Pets”. Multiply the number on line 8 of that form by your hat size and enter it here.

5. Add lines 4 and 3.

6. Enter the number of birds of prey that lived with you on June 8 of this year.

7. Subtract the number of arctic songbirds that relied on your for no less than 30% of their upkeep, unless they had an income independent of you in excess of $42,500.

8. Enter the number of sloths in your attic. If you had sloths in residence for more than half the year, but they did not reside in your attic, then divide that number by 3 and add 6 to the number on line 2 unless you had no less than 7 wildebeests or 2 nests of yellow jackets in your living room in which case enter a 4.

9. Enter the number of octopi in any plumbing fixture in your house.

10. If you dressed up your dogs to look like President Martin Van Buren at any time during the year, enter a 2 here.

11. Enter the amount of money you spent on the upkeep of any pet that was utterly noiseless or made a slurpy or squishy noise here.

12. If your taxable income is less than $125,250 if filing single or $3.14159 if filing married, deduct the amount on line 3 of Schedule A from line 11. If not, multiply line 11 by the number of times any house guest asked you if you were insane.

13. Add lines 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12. This is the amount of money you can expect to spend on therapy in the coming year. Much of it may be tax deductible on your 2007 taxes.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Environmental Tax Breaks to Developing Nations

Our Missionary to the Frozen Wastelands has written an outstanding post on China's efforts to avoid restrictions on their CO2 emissions. Here's a tidbit. Read the whole thing.

China argues that as a developing nation, it does not have the financial resources to shift to cleaner, i.e more expensive, technology and therefore should be exempt from any emissions limits.
Globalization has given companies access to manufacturing all over the world. Environmental regulations place a huge economic burden on companies whose plants are in the US. If a similar workforce can be had in another nation where the environmental (or labor) regulations aren't so restrictive, what do you think will happen? Won't jobs be moved overseas where the local environment can be trashed and profits can be made?

If you didn't do this, but your competitors did, how long do you think you'd survive?

This is exactly what China and other developing nations are asking for. They want us to sign global warming treaties, but give themselves an out. This will force American companies to move manufacturing jobs into their countries. The leader of those countries will practice the same graft, corruption and idiotic economic policies that have kept them "developing nations" and their population will have jobs and stay quiet and busy.

Nowhere in these treaties is there any incentive for China or the rest to become anything other than "developing nations." In fact, the moment they declare themselves developed, they're screwed. They will then have to live up to the environmental regulations and their jobs will be exported to countries that are still "developing."

China is a corrupt, communist dictatorship. The people who sign the treaties in China are the ones siphoning the money off of the state industries and taking kickbacks from the semi-private ones, if not owning them outright. Why in the world would they ever progress if their lack of progress is what brings the money to them in the first place?

Making a virtue out of economic failure and rewarding it with ecologically destructive industries doesn't seem to make sense to me.

Orchids, Mr. Bond

Hugo Drax doesn't actually say that line, but my friends and I in college always used it whenever we came across orchids. This little beauty just opened up yesterday.

Blogging Will Be Light Today...

...because life has gotten in the way.

Darn life!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Archbishop of Texas Needs Your Help

Listen to his fantastic podcast. Vote for him in the contest.

If he loses, there will be no tuna tonight for any of you. The choice is yours.

Hillary Clinton is an Imbecile

Our Patriarch of the Airwaves has found two great quotes from The Smartest Woman in the World™.

If we in Congress, working as hard as we can to get the 60 votes you need to do anything in the Senate, believe me, I understand the frustration and the outrage. You have to have 60 viotes to cap troops, to limit funding, to do anything. If we in Congress don't end this war before January 2009, as president, I will.
A war has two sides. There's a word for it when one side unilaterally ends the war. It's called "surrender."

The other day the oil companies reported the highest profits in the history of the world. I want to take those profits and I want to put them into a strategic energy fund that will begin to fund alternative smart energy, alternatives and technologies that will begin to actually move us toward the direction of independence.
Well, we now know conclusively that Hillary is ignorant of economics, engineering and physics. The engineering and physics can be found by perusing any of Steven den Beste's posts on alternative energy. The economics is in the Wall Street Journal.

Exxon's profit margin is about 11%. Google's is 32%. Apple's is 14%.

Following the suggestions of The Smartest Woman in the World™, I think we should seize all of Google's assets and give them to the teachers' union to improve public education and we should take Steve Jobs' personal property and give it to the poor.

All in favor, say "Aye!"

Monday, February 05, 2007

J. A. B. S.

Just Another Boring Sunset


Just Another Beautiful Sunset. You decide.

Can I Have A Mulligan Today?

So I had to go pick up my high school son who wasn't feeling well. It wasn't severe, he just didn't feel very good. No problems.

I take him home and make sure he's OK and go out to get in the car to come back to work for a bit. The car is leaking coolant. No problems.

I go out to my truck and turn it over. It won't start. No problems.

I bring the car out and jump start the truck, leaking coolant the whole time. I put the car back and notice that the truck is out of gas. No problems.

I get gas and notice that my decals for work have expired.

Sigh. Can I have a mulligan on today?

Do Not Open With Sharp Instruction

Today's Wall Street journal has an article telling us that the Chinese government is moving to get rid of their "Chinglish" signs prior to the Olympics. How sad.

Oh well, at least many of them have been captured here.

Listen to the Scientists on Climate Change

Kelly, our Missionary to the Frozen Wastelands, has posted an excellent take on the recent UN report on climate change. He only partially agrees with Mark Steyn. Read the whole thing.

What occurred to me as I read it was that this is the same scenario playing itself out in the environmental world as it plays out in the military world. Ignorant politicans and ignorant journalists forming the opinion of a majority of people. Dig this excerpt.

Yes something unprecedented is happening, but no it isn't necessary to cripple the global economy to do something about it. In fact, if action is delayed, the costs will be more severe...The key here is to ignore what the politicians and the special interests are saying. And definitely don't listen to the press. Try listening to the scientists. Would you go to a senator, the NYT, or your priest to diagnose a medical condition? Read it yourself! Don't take someone elses interpretation of it.
Politicians use data to make themselves look good and their opponents look bad. Journalists use data to make you buy newspapers or watch TV. Neither of them use data to inform you.

Kelly is right. Read the report for yourself. Don't let others interpret it for you. The more educated you are, the less the press and the politicians can distort your perception of reality.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

My Favorite Super Bowl Ads

Most effective:

Where's that insufferable Mac creep now?


Robert Goulet?!? Very weird. I loved it!

Natural Beauty

The organic and the inorganic. Click on the images for higher resolution versions.

I am so proud of this daisy. She's the daughter of a daisy some friends gave to me years ago. It's beautiful on so many levels.

This is a stone I found while hiking in the desert near Jacumba. It seems to be almost purely a single mineral crystal. The crystal has sheared off in these beautiful, pure white, perfectly flat faces. They shine brilliantly even though they've never been polished. I didn't even wash it. I need to do some more research to identify it.