This topic is for links to relevant news, interesting websites, quick opinions and inane ponderings. Postings in this thread are considered "open-thread", meaning that anyone can post a comment on any of the articles, whether the comment relates to the post or not. If you have something random to say, this is the place.
I just put my second pot of coffee on to brew, and haven't had a sip yet. I was so groggy, I forgot to put coffee in the basket.
I spent a good portion of yesterday out in the garage working on a solar water heater prototype. My oldest son, Seth (age 9) helped me out. I let him help me sweat the copper joints - which he really enjoyed.
I'm about half-way done putting this solar water heater thing together, although I'm still not sure how I'm going to do a couple of things. I need a pump that can handle hot water at high pressure, and is rated for potable use. I'm looking at this one, which is actually designed for use in R.V.s but it might work for my purposes. This first one I'm building is only a prototype though.
These gas prices are insane. And I don't have a whole lot of ideas about how we could fix it, other than by conservation. Some have pointed out that the commodities market has a lot to do with it. I hope that McBlogger will post some of his thoughts soon.
I've been getting a lot of spam lately from dimwits trying to sell kits that purport to make your car run on water rather than gasoline. It's a sad testament to the state of science education in this country that people would fall for such a thing. To make a complicated thing simple: It takes more energy to separate hydrogen from water than you get when you burn the hydrogen. To make a vehicle that separates its own hydrogen and then burns it with no external power source would be akin to the perpetual motion machine.
Recently as I kicked back with this sites moderator and others and we talked about the growth of Lewisville and Denton CO. someone asked what about bring Dallas's mass transit up here? This idea has rolled around in my head for weeks now so I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you. So what do I think about liking Lewisville and Denton with a Dallas mass transit system. I am not one who believes that global warming it not real. I believed it was real 20 years ago as much as I do today. And a mass transit system has unarguably great environmental advantage. That said... I grew up in Denton Co. I went to Newton Razor Elementary School, and I am Fighting Farmer Alumni. And I happen to think we have a pretty nice place to live. Our county has a style and flavor all its own. Over the years it has gotten harder to tell when u have left Lewisville as you drive North or South on I-35E. The cities of the metroplex have all started to blend. DFW is not unique in this way I know. In fact, driveling between Austin and San Antonio it is hard to tell where one city ends and the other starts. But for now cities and towns of Texas still hold there uniqueness. So while my desire to see us start to take real responsibility for the environment; and mass transit is a very good move in that direction. I am concerned that in time the cities and towns that we love, will all be part of mass sprawling cities.
If you live in Lewisville, Texas you might find this man on your doorstep Saturday morning. This is Michael Williams, Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, paid protector of the oil and gas industry. He'll be reminding you to vote Republican, but hoping you don't do too much homework.
What do I mean by "paid protector?" The Texas Railroad Commission has the primary responsibility to oversee oil and gas production in Texas and make sure that producers FOLLOW THE LAW when exploring, drilling, and producing oil and gas. Oil and gas are great economic engines for our state, and I don't begrudge them for making a profit. But it's in our best interest for us to ensure that they do so safely, and without contaminating our air, drinking water or endangering our workers, communities, crops and homes. Then answer is that Williams accepts campaign funds from and takes an active role in defending the very industry that he is paid by the taxpayers to regulate. The oil and gas industry couldn't have hired a better PR spokesman than Williams, who is the first to turn the other way when the industry is behaving badly.
I guess when you're paid to look the other way you can do such things. When politicians like this sell you out, it sometimes leaves one feeling as if you could have used a lubricant like KY Jelly (always use water based, for safety!), but I've never seen a politician just come right on out and grease you up like this.
In November, I'm voting for former police officer Mark Thompson for Railroad Commissioner. We need reform in the Texas Railroad Commission that only an outsider can bring.
Thank God the municipal elections are over. Maybe at least for Lewisville, we can now have rational discussions about where we need to focus our efforts as a city. The things I've heard about the so-called "immigration debate" are so prejudiced and so emotionally charged. I think it's now clear that our voters want our council to get back to work on the serious issues that are in our power and in our interest to work on.
The biggest of our school bonds passed. Over the next few years, our school property tax will probably increase by 30%. I don't mind paying it, but I'm not convinced that the money is well spent. But my understanding is that this was undertaken so we could go ahead and get the debt on the books before the legislature applies robin-hood rules to it.
I've got to mow my yard again today. I really need to redo the part behind my fence, because now it's just weeds that grow really quickly.
My oldest son built his own toolbox in Cub Scouts last week. He's so proud of it. So we came home afterward, and I went out to the shed with him and grabbed some of my older tools that I could spare, and we filled him up. This week, I bought him a hot glue gun (low temp) for crafts, so the boys make their mother a mothers-day gift yesterday.
10,000 BC is playing at the Cinemark 8 Dollar theater in Lewisville. It's one of those trying-to-be-serious movies that turns out to be funny as hell. You must go see it!
On Saturday Morning, as part of my participation in the Lewisville Citizens Fire Academy, I went out and got to receive some training and hands-on time with the "Jaws of Life" and other extrication tools. In the process, we completely destroyed two junk cars. We cut off every door, and the roof, door pillars, and pushed back the dash. The tools are awesome and powerful, even though they are run by a 4 hp gas motor attached to a hydraulic pump. I also learned that the turnout gear worn by firefighters is extremely HOT. Although it was quite cool and breezy outside, I was sweating buckets. Earlier this week, I was able to get a good refresher course on CPR, and obtained my certification.
Well, it’s Friday and I’m sitting here in the Airport in Atlanta on my way home from a week of showing my face around our company headquarters. It’s been about four years since I visited HQ, and I suppose I could make it out there more often.
As I started typing this, I was sitting in the boarding area next to some foreign guy with a Russian accent, who was talking LOUDLY on his cell phone. I think it bothers me on two levels: One, people who talk loudly on their cell phones just generally annoy me. I’m not interested in their conversation, and really you don’t have to talk that loud when the handset is right there in your face. Noise pollution in general bothers me. But I think having the foreign accent on top of it is annoying because I haven’t had the experience in tuning it out. Maybe that’s why foreign language use gets under peoples’ skin so much. With your typical American English speaker, most of us (especially the married ones) are used to tuning it out as background noise.
Speaking of cell phones, what in the hell is it with these people who walk around all day everywhere with their Bluetooth earpieces in their ears whether or not they’re in a call? OK, granted, that’s their business, and I shouldn’t care but sometimes you just want to give them a clue that they look totally dorky. Especially the ones with the bright-ass blue flashing light. It’s getting to where you can’t even use a public restroom and get away from annoying people on their phones. I swear, you’re standing at a urinal doing your business and some slicker is standing there on the phone going “Hey Janet, how’s it going? I’m in the airport, and I had a free hand, so I thought I’d see if that Peterson deal went through…FLUSH…”
Weird thing about Georgia – maybe it’s just the area of Atlanta I was in… It seems as if just about every other major thoroughfare is called “Peachtree” something. Driving directions for me were literally: Take a right on Peachtree Parkway. Then take another right on South Old Peachtree. Go straight and take the first driveway after you cross Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.
I think that the Southern airports have a lot better looking women walking around than the northern ones. What’s up with that? Southern women are precious. When I traveled to New York all the time, there wasn’t great scenery there at LaGuardia.
So, there were a couple of reason why I came to Atlanta. One was to meet with some clients of mine that I’ve been working for since November, and the other was to sit with a colleague of mine so he could do some show-and-tell on some new features of the computer language and development platform that I’ve been working with for the past 12 years or so.
The client meeting went well, I think. I had felt awkward working with them the past few months because of an uncharacteristic lack of rapport – having not met with them face-to-face. After hanging out with them for a couple of days in meetings, and having a few meals and a few beers with them, I think we will have a good working relationship. We’ll soon start a “phase II” of a project we built for them last year.
My head still hurts from the technology demo, but I suppose it’s in a good way. Kind of like when you do a really hard workout in the gym and you’re really sore the next day. Well, my brain is worked out to the point where I’m feeling good and stupid at this moment.
Basically, this language I use has always been very simple for most business needs, allowing for quick development. But the language has always had its quirks that make it differ substantially from other computer languages in ways that can be very frustrating at times. The tools that have been offered for developers to use with this language had been sorely lacking, and sometimes just unusable. Other times in the history of this vendor, they would release some sort of development framework, and people would rush out and try to develop with it, only to discover that it was just too unwieldy.
So, my strategy for the past 12 years has been to not rush in and drink the Kool-ade that this vendor was selling. I tried to focus on building my own tools and working with others in the development community for open-source solutions.
I’ve done pretty well with that, but in the past couple of years had been so busy programming and doing business analysis that I’d become stale in terms of keeping up with developments.
After seeing my co-worker’s presentation, I’m blown away. It’s like this language finally caught up with – and on some levels surpassed – the language and tools of other development platforms. Up until this point, I’ve felt like the red-headed step-child because this language was mostly focused on GUI development, with the Web part sort of included as an aside. But with this new development tool, implemented as an Eclipse plug-in, as well as huge leaps in supporting (finally) object-oriented language constructs, I’ve got stuff I can start working with right away.
My direct superior at my company has a 19 year-old son who is going into the Marine Corps in a few days. He has enlisted to become a translator. After 13 weeks of boot camp, he’ll go to advanced combat training for a few weeks, then to Monterrey, CA for the Defense Language Institute.
So, my boss is visibly a little concerned for his son. He said that at first, he was ready for his son to go, but that now he’s getting a little anxiety about it. While I don’t remember ever discussing politics with him, I know that my boss is a very conservative Southern Christian man who loves his guns more than his truck. And I would suppose that he might be one who thinks “if we don’t fight them over there, we’ll have to fight them over here.” It wouldn’t be helpful to get into any discussions with him about whether our mission over there is right or wrong. All we can do is hope and pray that his son makes it safely through his training and whatever mission faces him afterward. Personally, I really hope for a Democratic president that will take a much more conservative (in the true sense of the word) approach to committing our troops to hostilities.
There were some awkward moments this past week when I was around my colleagues and realized that I had very little to say that wasn’t somehow related to politics. I used to be happy to argue technical issues and ideas. Of course the difference there was that no matter how much one had invested in a particular technology or idea, proof one way or the other was to be had. If someone said that a particular piece of computer code could not be made to run in less than 10 seconds, and I couldn’t see a reasonable rationale for it, I would disappear into code land and come back in a few days with a new version that would run in one second. And if they said they were concerned about accuracy, I would devise tests to run the code many thousands of times and compare results of the data to their code. And by the way, it would run in one tenth of a second this time.
So, I suppose I need to find some non-political non-religious pop-culture-type things that I can talk about. I’m sure I would have friends and family who would appreciate that too.
Recently, an Obama delegate to the Texas Democratic Convention received this letter from a local supporter of Hillary Clinton. I'm not naming the supporter, and if I could have redacted the name of the candidate he was supporting, I would have.
I'm not trying to call out this person, or attack their candidate's campaign. That's not the point. The point is that the letter is from a Democrat - someone on our team - and yet it perfectly illustrates the sad state of what passes for political discourse in our country these days.
Here is the letter and two attachments:
Does anyone think that comparing a person's electoral choice to a vote on "American Idol" or comparing their candidate to "the Ayatollah" is effective? How about implying that a person's choice for Obama equates to "affirmative action"?