Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Every Blog will have its Way

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Just playing around with this Template to see what gets stuck where. This is deletable.
This should open a link to how 20 30 somethings are having financial fun and games.

How Poor I AM, How POOR I Am, How am I poor ?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

International Space Station Programming Improvements

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International Space Station Programming Improvements

I love watching the NASA channel, but I think I see room for an upgrade. The station goes around and around, and there is an on board camera which can be controlled from the ground. The person doing the announcing might as well be DeadPanAnn. She announces where the camera is, on the station, and then announces where the station is, and then gives a very brief commentary about the picture.

It seems to me that there would be a ton of volunteers who would love to do the commentaries, and control the camera. If you were to make up teams of say three people who would know in advance what areas of the earth they would fly over during their 1.5 to 2 hours on on air time, they could anticipate what they might see, depending on cloud cover and day and night side. They could zoom/follow pan in on Washington DC or wherever. There could be a training version that they could practise with ahead of time, and they could banter with one another about the flight.

It would also be helpful to viewers if they could punch into an on line site the latitude and longitude that they are interested in, and then they would get back the times the station would be above that area in regular or once a week emails, so that they could set their VCR's to pick up action of interest.

Is there a guardian angle out there that might fund this ???

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Schooling, The Battered and Torn Partial Manual for Life

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I originally wrote this below for a comment at DeadPanAnn's blog, but decided it was worthy of a post here, but I am too tired to clean it up very much just now, so consider this a draft. It has finally stopped snowing outside. My dentist just rescheduled my appointment to tomorrow. The dogs can't make up their minds to be in or out.

"You see, nobody in school or in real life bothers to explain that there is no one manual for how to go about coping with becoming and being an adult human being, and that we read all this stuff (Shakespere, The Scarlet Letter, etc) to get a few clues about what works and what doesn't work, and that many things, many IMPORANT things, are altogether left out of most of the potential manuals, because they offend one religion or another. Teachers need to ask, much more often, "Is there anything in this situation (you may need to update the places and speech, but keep the relationships the same as in the original material) that you would do differently, and why ?" Kids need to build themselves manuals, and writing it down is not a bad idea. I did what amounted to logotherapy before it was invented (it used to be called, "keeping a diary" ) between age 18 and 26. I still have the 30 or so notebooks. No, you may not read them.

Most of the manuals are not even self-aware enough to tell the clueless under-aged that they can be used as partial manuals, adding to the confusion. Autobiographies are WONDERFUL manuals, even the self deluding ones. But you have to think of them, at least in the back of you mind, as manuals, incomplete though each one is, just like this sentence, I think is incomplete, it is fun to write when no one is grading you, and run on and on and on....

School is a mimeographed, pages missing, chapers missing, no index, no table of contents, jumbled manual about how to cope with growing older and eventually dying off, which is not self aware enough or confident to convince the kids that they need a manual. Some of the better manuals we study in school are about having fun while trying to figure out the manuals that are miss-written, or missing altogether.

My favorite manuals are "Tom Jones," "Zorba the Greek," "Dr. Strangelove," and "NeverEnding Story." Oh, "Wizard of Oz," "My Fair Lady," "The Great Escape," "Sound of Music" and much of SciFi. "

Of course there are some people who come up with the ONE AND ONLY manual, which is usually a "their way or the highway" reading of a religious text. It should be very funny to watch conservative conservative Christians (the kind that believe Mormons are Cultists) in the next Presidential election being forced to chose between Hillary, (I think is a Methodist?) and thus technically an "OK" Christian, and Mitt Romney, a Republican and Mormon. My guess is that they'll have to do a write-in of somebody, Pat Robertson ? It will be a fun election this next go round. It's amazing somebody still wants the job, considering the mess we've gotten ourselves into this time.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Around the Tahoe Donner Summit Areas....

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Around the Tahoe Donner Summit Areas....

...there is a wonderful secret place to stay. It is called, "Clair Tappan Lodge." If you are into a bit of a "roughing it" experience, this is an unconventional place to stay, located just two miles down the road from Donner Summit, near Sugar Bowl, Donner Ski Ranch, and Boreal Ridge ski areas, as well as the Serene Lakes and Royal Gorge cross country areas. In fact, Clair Tappan Lodge has its own network of cross country trails right outside the back doors. To keep your gear dry for a fresh start the next day, there is a special drying room, and a complete ski and snow board fix-it area.

Now "roughing it" does NOT consist of a Survivor like experience. There are hot showers, a wonderful family style dining room, and even a hot tub. The Library and Great Room are features only found in swankier places like the Ahwanee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. The accomodations are dormitory style, with a few couples private rooms. You can expect to put in about 40 minutes to an hour's worth of work cleaning, cooking, fixing, shoveling, or serving fellow guests for each night's stay, is that really so hard ? Besides, you meet new friends this way. It breaks the ice for conversations by the roaring fireplace in the Great Room.

Click Me to Learn More about Clair Tappan Lodge

During the summer you are practically right on top of the Pacific Crest Trail, and the area is rich in pioneer history, Donner Lake and the Central Pacific Railroad snow sheds are available for exploration. You are 45 minutes from Tahoe and Alpine Meadows, 35 minutes from Squaw Valley and Northstar, and about 1 and 1/2 hours from gambling in downtown Reno. Leaving from the Bay Bridge toll plaza on any night but Friday, you are about 3 hours and 15 minutes from the lodge.

I'm posting this plug as a long time user of the lodge, having first stayed there back in the late 1950's. It is an important part of the original Sierra Club motto, "Explore, Enjoy, and Protect the Planet." The lodge was built by volunteers, and is actually the centerpiece of a series of small mountain huts maintained by the Sierra Club along the Sierra crest. There is also a group lodge right next door, a five minute walk away, if you have a large party and want a private retreat experience.

These all make up a significant piece of the "enjoy" part of the Sierra Club.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

More Car Stuff, Making Highways Safer, Boring !

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Our terrorist transportation system kills off about 42,000 Americans a year, and we have no leadership on either side of the aisle to make any major changes, so here's another set of minor changes, which might reduce the carnage.

RFID for those unfamiliar with the concept, stands for radio frequency identification. Basically there are two parts to this system. One is a microchip that requires no power, or very very little. The second is a transmitter/receiver device which sends out a signal to RFID chips within a relatively short range, 0 to 10 feet, and gets back from the RFID information about the chip, including why it is buried where. This avoids any big brother tracking concerns.

Assume you have a receiver/transmitter in your car, continuously probing the environment under the car. Assuming this chip is connected to information about the car's velocity and brake pedal, etc.

Now, place RFID chips in two or more buried bars across the road, just before, and then right at a stop sign. The car's computer now knows when you've run a stop sign. What can it do ? It could simple tell you, "oooppps, you could'da got a ticket." If you run too many (to be defined by courts), it could activate a careless driver flashing orange light on front and rear ends of the car. In extreme cases it could reduce gas flow or cut the ignition altogether.

"But wait, there's an emergency here, I'm rushing a pregnant mother to the hospital!"

Cool, dude ! Now you pull the Emergency Transit Plug. Your vehicle now goes into alternate flashing headlight mode, and all power offs are overridden. When you do reach your destination or run out of gas, however, your car will not restart until a police officer takes a report, decides if your reason is valid, or requires a court review, and uses a special key to reactivate your Emergency Transit Plug.

Obviously all sorts of spinoffs from these concepts are possible. Cars owned by convicted DUI drivers could have a special coded blink (long, short, long, long, or whatever)to their orange lights, visible at all times.

We now have fingerprint ID devices for computers. Put a pair of these on a steering wheel, and the car only drives more than 2 miles (parking valets) if driven by an authorized owner, or the Emergency Transit Plug is pulled. This makes car theft a wee bit harder, but might make a car jacker take the authorized driver hostage. The car could be equipped with a driver side only control that activates some sort of "help me," system.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Am I stupid, or is there mass insanity....

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Am I stupid, or is there mass insanity....and nobody sees a solution ?

I-710 at Firestone near Long Beach.

Man in car in next to fast lane.

All lanes blocked.

They bring in armored vehicles.

Nobody's heard of a dump truck and gravel ???????

Back dump trucks with gravel up to vehicle. Dump gravel. Vehicle is now surrounded by gravel 6 feet or higher. Use crane to bring in freeway divider concrete blocks. Vehicle is now surrounded by wall 9 feet high, resting on the gravel piles. Now attach metal shields to concrete freeway divider blocks to capture or slow down arcing fire, extending wall up to 16 feet or so. Let traffic flow and wait the person out. Tempt him with food. Use remote boom to bring in cameras, negotiating phones, and food. And water. Actually, salty food and no water, old Scottish trick.

Can he shoot the gravel trucks? Yes, but other than flat tires, he can't hurt drivers in armored cabs.

BahRumphage, a New World Wide Epidemic !

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BahRumphage, A Modern Affliction is best defined as stuff a consumer or citizen has to deal with in order to find stuff out or get things done. Sometimes it is in place because of stupidity in organization of materials by the vendor or agency. Offtimes methinks it is in place becuase of an intentional desire to avoid dealing with a consumer who is not profitable immediately, or a voter who is annoying the peace and quiet the average bureacrat feels he or she is entitled to.

This morning I dealt with Hewlett Packard, H/P HP, trying to get a part for a laptop less than 5 years old, a pair of memory chips. It wouldn't come up through the website, so I called the number. Her information was incomplete, but she did tip me off to yet another part of the website. I went there to learn that the part was replaced by yet another part. I tracked down the second part to discover I had to call back in. This time I learned that the part was no longer available, but at least I was able to pry out of this guy that I should use Kingston first, the Micron, and so on on down. At least now I had a generic description of the part.

I then go to Kingston, which recommends 5 different vendors, including themselves, which was nice, complete with prices for the first time. Now armed with an exact part number, I go to EBay and locate said part for 1/2 the lowest Kingston listed price. And 1/2 the lowest price Fry's of unknown manuafacturer. Time lost, 1 1/2 hours.

BahRumphage, Fat Arrses getting in your way every time you try to get things done !

Another example, from government, California, Placer, Yuba, and all 52 counties. Should you need an emergency credential (a friend here, I have mine valid through 2010) you need finger prints to get it. Should you wish to work for the county looking up your fingerprints for the credential, you need yet another fingerprinting, as they can't share the info with themselves ! Money from educational people (including parent volunteers!) to the Department of Justice, nice funding scheme ! Just more run of the mill BahRumphage ! Second set of prints, another $57 lost. BTW each county you teach in requires separate prints, and sometimes even parts of counties !