Sunday, November 30, 2014
Yesterday was the first day of the “not so much fun” part of our move. We're going through long-stored stuff, some of it dating back to the '70s. Much of it has been stored in our long-forbearing friend's barn for the past 15 years, and the local rodent population has built the equivalent of Mexico City amongst it. So, as you might imagine, a significant fraction of that long-stored trove is going straight into a dumpster. A significant fraction will be given away, and a remarkably small amount (I'm guessing about 20 cubic feet) will go with us to Utah. Makes us feel pretty stupid about storing all that stuff, but then again, I don't know how we could ever have predicted where our life would take us.
We got about halfway through our stuff at our friend's barn yesterday, which is faster than I expected that effort to go. We'll be finished up there either late today or tomorrow sometime, and then we start on our house. There's less stuff for us to worry about at the house, as much of what's there that we're not taking with us has already been given away, promised to someone, or the new owners are going to take it. So I think we're actually going to be ready to start packing up the moving truck we're renting by Wednesday or Thursday this week, well ahead of my notional schedule...
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Early yesterday afternoon I did something that was a lot of fun: I drove Dionecia B. – our friend, house-sitter, and longtime house cleaner – down to Rancho Jamul Auto Care to pick up the RV we've given her. It's been there for months getting a myriad of little problems fixed. At the same time, I signed over ownership to her. Her radiant visage when she picked up the pink slip was something I'll not soon forget. I drove behind her as she drove the RV back to her home, to make sure she made it ok – she did just fine.
Today I begin the “moving out” process: going through everything we own, deciding whether we're going to keep it, toss it away (I have a big dumpster positioned to take the junk), give it away to friends, or set it curbside for anyone who might want it to take. It's amazing how much crap one accumulates after 15 years of living in one place!
Friday, November 28, 2014
Thursday, November 27, 2014
There is only one way to do Thanksgiving "wrong," and that is to fail to be grateful for the people you are eating it with, and the many other good people of this great nation who are sitting down at other tables. The rest is a sideshow. And don't be afraid to have another helping of that sideshow, with extra gravy on top.You betcha I'm going for that extra gravy, Megan.
Here's hoping that your Thanksgiving Day is as wonderful as mine...
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
I took the photo at right this morning, from a field near Wellsville. I had an appointment with our health insurance agent, whose home office is just a couple hundred yards from where I stood to snap this. We had beautiful weather today, as you can see...
...yet experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny...He wrote this in 1778, in a document called Preamble to a Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge. Considerably more diffusion is needed!
He really does think that American voters are stupid chumps.
My neighbor's dog just left a steaming pile on my lawn; it's a perfect metaphor for that speech.
If there's any justice in this world, Obama's comments on Hillary's odorosity along with his endorsement should guarantee that she loses...
Here's an explanation of how they got tables at one degree intervals. That's enough for many kinds of work, but I know there were tables at much smaller intervals (down to 10s of arc-seconds, I believe) that filled entire books. I don't fully understand the math being described here, but I'm guessing that method for getting to one degree intervals can be extended to smaller intervals. What jumps out at me about the method is that it involves some clever hoop-jumping, along with an awe-inspiring amount of tedium as well...
So this great historic deal is really nothing more than yet another trot out of verbal commitments, a last gasp for Mr. Obama, a placation to the always fierce warming constituency, and for the Chinese, a little chuckle or two at how easy it is to charm the eagerly gullible.You owe it to yourself to read the whole thing – and anything else you can find that Mr. Murphy has written. His speeches are just as good.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
The first thing I did today was to fill the trench over the water pipe to a depth of 2 feet. That took from 7:30 am to 3:00 pm. It wasn't physically difficult, as the tractor did nearly all the work – there was about 6 feet of trench I had to do by hand, but the other 250' was all with the backhoe. I had to jump on-and-off the tractor a few hundred times, to switch back and forth from driving to using the backhoe. That turned out to be just enough activity to keep me warm. I got wet later in the day, and that chilled me pretty thoroughly – but a 15 minute break in the nice, warm house cured that.
At 3:00 pm I went to work laying the two network cables in the trench. I had to shove them through the hole Jim J. drilled in my basement wall on Friday, then unspool the rather tight coils for 220' along the trench. I left plenty of slack so the dirt under the cables could settle and move the cables without breaking them. That whole job only took 45 minutes.
Then I spent an hour shoveling, filling the hole next to our house's basement back up. I don't want it to freeze there, because our water supply enters the house right next to where we dug the hole. I got about 3' of dirt in there, roughly a cubic yard of wet, mucky, heavy stuff. By the time I was finished, I was drenched in sweat and very hot. That was a big change from just a few minutes before :)
I called my builder (Jim J.) tonight to verify that we were in sync. He's planning to be here in the morning to lay down the gas pipe. With any luck at all, that means I can completely fill in the trench tomorrow afternoon. Then on Tuesday all I need to get done is to place the transformer foundation – and I'll be finished with everything that must be finished before I leave for Jamul.
When I looked out the window this morning, I wasn't at all sure I'd be able to get anything useful done. I was far too pessimistic – it turned out to be rather a good day to work!
If you're interested in the story of how the nutritionists got things so badly wrong, I recommend The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, by Nina Teicholz. Not only is the direct story interesting, it's a terrific and detailed examination of how science in general can fail. I saw many parallels between the ways that nutrition science went horribly wrong, and the way climate science has done so. When I finished reading this, I had an urge to go make some egg salad (eggs, mayonnaise) with bacon – but not in a sandwich (bread is heavy with carbohydrates), just in a bowl. But then I remembered how poor a record nutritionists have in general. I think I'll stick with my own personal diet: anything I want, but all in moderation...
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Here the soldier (Vincent Speranza) tells the story. It's 11 minutes long, and worth every bit of it. The beer and mug he describes are shown at left.
But I digress. At right you can see a photo of a burlap 100 lb potato sack bearing Edward Dilatush's name. The Garden State branding dates from 1933, so it's no older than that. The nice two-color silk screening was probably not done during WWII (everyone had better things to do then). So most likely this sack dates from either '33 to '41, or from '47 to the early '50s...
Update: my mom tells me that Edward was my grandfather's uncle, or possibly his cousin – not his brother as I had believed. Oh, well, at least I got the family right!
The storm is forecast to be just like this all day today. We're supposed to get 2/3 inch of rain, and the wind isn't supposed to let up. That should melt all the snow and ice in the yard, but we'll see. Tomorrow we've got a 50% chance of snow forecast, with temperatures never going above freezing. It's possible I can work in that, if the snow isn't too intense...
This photo was taken at 60x with oblique lighting. It certainly doesn't look here like it looks to my naked eye!
This is a great example of the class of problems that advocates of centrally managed government (i.e., technocracy, dictatorship, Communism, etc.) point to and say “See? This is what I mean!” I've got no other answers, but I don't think centrally managed government is an answer, either...
- An educated guess places the total number of AWS servers at between 2.8 and 5.6 million servers. If each of those was a standard 1U rack server, these would fill a standard equipment rack between 929 miles and 1,858 miles tall! Each of those servers has many millions of transistors on its chips, so the total number of transistors in AWS is in the range of tens to hundreds of trillions. That scale is just mind-boggling!
- Amazon designed their own networking gear, mainly to save costs. To their own surprise, the network availability went up when they did this. This is a surprise because by default you'd expect the Ciscos of the world to have better quality product than you could make yourself. The Amazon engineers figured out why, though: it's because their equipment was much simpler, with only the features they actually needed. Typical commercial network gear is larded up with an enormous variety of features, many of which interact with each other in complex and often poorly documented or understood ways. I have quite a few personal experiences with that complexity that backs this up. Still, I was surprised myself to read that Amazon boosted their availability with home-brew switches and routers. You couldn't do this, though, unless you had a scale similar to AWS. Most companies couldn't even imagine dedicating engineering teams for years to build that sort of gear.
In the early morning I hauled junk out of the house and into a couple of dumpsters I'd ordered up. This junk was comprised primarily of two things: old house components (Venetian blinds, broken lights, etc.) and packing material left over from online (mostly Amazon) deliveries. The latter was the biggest part of it – it's been accumulating since we started the remodeling in April, and over that period we've purchased a lot of house parts, both big and small. For the most part they ship in big, bulky protective boxes with lots of padding, and that adds up fast. For example, just a couple weeks ago I ordered and received 10 steel wire shelving units. Each of these came in a thick box with lots of interior padding and supports. All by themselves, those boxes made a big pile!
Then around 9 am it warmed up enough that I could stand working on the tractor, and I started the remaining trenching. Shortly after I began, my friend and neighbor Tim D. – a serious glutton for punishment – showed up to help, with a big smile unaccountably plastered all over his face. We worked steadily from then through 4 pm to finish (hooray!) the deep (4') water supply trench between the house and the barn. Along the way we discovered an unmarked gas main (yikes!), an expected gas main, and an expected irrigation pipe – and we miraculously failed to break any of them. Tim worked this entire time down in the trench, and refused to swap places with me. He's crazy, but in a good way :)
At around 4 pm Jim J., my builder, showed up with a roll of plastic 1" water pipe, drills for getting through my house's foundation, and a bunch of tools and parts. Over the next two hours, Tim, Jim, and I laid the water pipe all the way from the house to the barn, with a tee over to where our greenhouse will (we hope!) live one day. We couldn't quite finish that job, as we were short a coupler and an end cap. Jim is hoping to have them this morning, and then that pipe will be completely finished.
Today Tim is coming over to help again. We've got a short stretch of 2' deep trench (for a gas line) to dig, and then we're going to fill in 2' of dirt on top of the water pipe. We may get stopped by a snowstorm at any point, as the forecast calls for it to start momentarily and there are threatening looking clouds in the sky. With luck we'll get that done, and then we'll be ready for the gas line and for two direct-burial network cables. Both of these will go on top of the water pipe, at a depth of 2'. The gas pipe will go in on Monday, weather permitting. My hope is to be completely ready for that by Monday morning.
If we get the gas line in on Monday, then late on Monday or early on Tuesday, I'll be filling in the trenches completely. One final thing remains then before I can head down to Jamul: I have to place the electrical transformer foundation. That's probably only a couple hours of work – but I can't start it until all this other stuff is done. I'm working towards having all this finished by Tuesday evening so I can head down to Jamul on Wednesday, and make it there for Thanksgiving dinner with our good friends Jim and Michelle B...
Friday, November 21, 2014
In the photo (looking north from my house) you can see the trenches that are now making my back yard look like a WWI battleground. Our back lawn is going to need some repair next spring...
What did Obama actually announce?
- More border security, details to be determined.
- Easier immigration for high-skilled immigrants, details to be determined.
- A promise not to deport (for three years) illegal immigrants who meet these requirements: have been here for five years, are not criminals, pay taxes, and pay a fee.
The reaction of most of the talking heads has been predictably filled with breathless partisan doom-and-gloom rhetoric, making it challenging to actually find any facts in the mess. The only semi-sober analysis I saw was this one from Reason.
The way that Obama did this is of a piece with the growth of unilateral presidential power ever since 9/11. I think this may be the single biggest success of the terrorists on that day. It strikes at the very heart of what makes this country America, and I fear greatly its long term consequences. Obama's assertion of presidential power here, if not rebuked in some effective way, is one more step along the path blazed by George W. Bush. So far, it's been a one-way path, with continuous movement of the boundary outward from the presidency at the expense of Congress. This is the most worrisome thing I see about Obama's action, at least so far.
Politically this is a long-expected move by the Democrats, even if the form isn't quite was most people thought it would be. This is a step toward (but not there yet!) a flood of new Democratic voters and the Democratic goal of a permanent majority. At least, that's what Democratic strategists seem to believe. I'm not so sure they'd actually get the results they wanted, though, even if they succeeded on the face of it.
What Obama just did seems rather mild compared to the rhetoric on the right, though. They seem to see this as an irreversible step down a slippery slope to doom. I see this more as a stupidly implemented, easily reversible step that should be a part of a much broader reform of our immigration policies. I'm all for an actual amnesty (which this is not), one that applied to anyone who wasn't a felon, was actually working towards assimilation with American culture, and wasn't agitating for the overthrow of the U.S. government. I'd also like to see our current immigration restrictions completely removed, as they were before the 1860s, back when that motto on the Statue of Liberty actually meant something:
Give me your tired, your poor,Emma Lazarus wrote that, and for about the first half of this country's history it was the literal truth. Today's immigration controls have turned that motto from truth into a cruel, viscous joke – but nobody's laughing except the lawyers who take hopeful immigrant's hard-earned money knowing that there's little chance of success for them.
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
However, even someone as pro-open-immigration as I will not support actions like Obama's taken in isolation. Those actions only make sense to me if they are part of a much broader set of reforms that include not only open immigration, but active deportation of felons and agitators, requirements for assimilation (including English and meaningful citizenship achievement), and more. I don't see anything but bad consequences to piecemeal implementation over the course of years; this is something that really needs to be dropped into place quickly. I've never thought this was politically feasible (and it certainly isn't now), so my default position is to oppose any significant change until real reform does become politically feasible.
There is one good thing I can think of that will come from Obama's amnesty: Congressional gridlock. I think Obama just dropped a nuclear weapon on any possibility of cooperative Republicans. It will be outright political war for the rest of his term in office. Nothing will get done. Yay!
I have just one quibble with that line from her speech. We will need citizens who can remember freedom, not just writers. But the writers might help those citizens remember...
Now the weird thing about this is that we were, at that point, being extremely careful about where we were digging. The main water line into the house is directly behind Tim, about 4' below ground level. The obvious course for it to take is straight out from the house, then left toward our pump house. Just to the right of that, on the house wall, you can see where our electrical service enters the house. For it, too, the logical route for it to take would be straight out from the house, then left toward the pump house, where our meter is. Furthermore, when Trent J. hand dug here, he found that the power kept on going down after 4'.
So we dug with the backhoe to the right of all that, right next to the concrete wall for the entrance to our basement, just to the right (in the photo) of Tim's left foot. In the area where we were most concerned, this all worked very well.
Then, most unexpectedly, as I started to lift out a chunk of dirt low in the trench, water started bubbling out. Fast. Very fast. I got the backhoe's bucket out, gently, then ran to the pump house (about 200') and shut off our pump. When I got back, Tim was out of the trench. Fortunately, he was wearing overshoes, so his feet didn't get wet. The trench had a couple feet of water in it. And the house had no water. It was 2 pm.
I already had a sump pump, purchased a few weeks ago for my last adventure in repairing our home's water supply. We rigged that, and a few minutes later we had just a puddle left. Tim insisted on jumping back into the trench and digging with a shovel in the muck (and I couldn't help feeling very guilty about that) while I operated the backhoe to remove what he'd dug out. We soon discovered that at the bottom of the trench was a capped end of a galvanized steel pipe, and the water was coming in from the side of the trench. Evidently the backhoe had moved that pipe, and broken it somewhere further into the dirt. We had no idea how far into the dirt the break was. I was dismayed to find the pipe was steel, as nothing is harder to repair.
So the two of us, shovel and backhoe, dug out a big hole to the side of our actual trench. That went surprisingly quickly, though if I had been working on this alone it certainly wouldn't have. The combination of Tim on the shovel and me on the backhoe worked well for this work, just as it does on the usual trenching.
Just a few inches from where we first spotted the leak was a valve – and it was turned off. The valve, in turn, was broken off from the pipe beyond it. We'd found the leak. Tim dug a bit around it, removed the broken off valve and capped pipe, and we soon discovered the remaining pipe end was a 1" copper pipe. Celebrate! Celebrate! Dance to the broken pipe! Why? Because copper pipe is a breeze to fix – all I'd need to do is to solder on a cap. Woo hoo!
Tim, knowing I'd object, ordered me (I'm still laughing about this!) to run down to Ridley's (our local sort of large general store, four miles away in Hyrum) to buy the parts I'd need to fix it. I also had to buy a propane torch, as mine is down in Jamul at the moment. Ridley's had everything I needed, and just before 4 pm I had it fixed. I cut a clean end (with a tubing cutter), cleaned it (wire brush and emery cloth), slathered it with flux paste, put the cap on, heated it up nicely, then soldered it. The repair held without a drip on the first try. It had been less than two hours from first break to repaired pipe.
It would have taken much longer without Tim's help, and almost certainly I'd have spent a night without water. I'm beginning to wonder whether he's quite alright in the head, though – because even after today's experience, he's planning to come back and help me again today...
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Anyhow, in the video the golden retriever's handler is quite disappointed – but the dog is thinking “Best game evah!”
Hearing the Finnish language, and seeing the Finnish faces, brought back all sorts of good memories. Finland is across the Baltic Sea from Estonia; the languages are closely related, as are the people...
These days I rarely listen to the radio unless I'm driving – and even then, I'm more likely to listen to the music stored on my phone. Back in the '60s, though, the radio stations were my primary access to music. I couldn't afford to buy many records, and there was no Internet to download music from. There were no iPods (or even Walkmen). If you wanted to listen to a diverse set of music, the radio was just about the only option open to most people. So we listened.
As I'm writing this, I'm listening to Bob Dylan – from my computer, not my radio. “Baby Blue” is on a playlist, and I can play it whenever I feel like it, not when the DJ gets the urge. Even for someone like me, who lived through the '60s, it's hard to imagine listening to music the way we did then...
Estonia comes into this story in an interesting way. For it to make sense, you have to understand that music has a very special place in Estonian culture. For its size (Estonia has just 1.5 million people), Estonia has an amazingly diverse and intense music scene, including several symphony orchestras, dozens of music schools, and more music venues than you can shake a stick at. The 1991 peaceful revolution that earned Estonia its independence is called “The Singing Revolution” because of the central role that music and song played in unifying the Estonian people. Estonians are as serious about their music as they are about their beer (with more breweries per capita than any other country on earth).
Estonian musicians noticed Susan's work, and started playing it. Her pieces became quite popular there. As that article relates, Susan didn't even know about this until an Estonian conductor wrote her on Facebook a few years ago. Last year, the Estonians honored her with a concert of her own work (on YouTube) – an “Author’s Concert”.
What a great story! And now at least two Americans from Hamilton Township, New Jersey have been to Estonia :)
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
So I had some trepidations about getting service up here in Utah. There is no Dave here, so far as I've been able to determine. There are independent mechanics – lots of them – but mainly for American vehicles and tractors. The closest guy I could find who could handle my Tundra was 50 miles away.
I decided to try the local Toyota dealer, Young's in Logan. I made an appointment on their web site, and pulled in at the appointed time. I'm up here by myself, so I had to wait for my truck to be done. I had a routine service plus one minor recall item (the window switch in the driver's door). Two hours after I pulled in, they let me know my truck was done. They'd done the usual oil change, lube, tire rotation, and consumables check. They'd also done the recall item. I steeled myself for shock at the bill – in San Diego, it would have been between $250 and $400, depending on exactly what consumables they replaced (and there were always consumables to replace). The fellow handed over the bill apologetically, cringing in preparation for my rant. Not a good sign. I looked at the bill, and the only number I could find was $51.25. “Is that the price?” I asked. “Yes” said the cringing clerk, hesitantly. In subsequent conversation, I found out that they get a lot of push back from their customers at the high cost of routine service. There's no way I could get just an oil change for that price in San Diego! On drilling down a bit, I discovered that they had replace exactly zero consumables – telling me that they were all in fine shape as they were. The possibility of that happening at the San Diego dealership is exactly zero. Then to top it off, they had washed my truck! It hasn't been this clean since the day I bought it.
I love Utah!
Then on Monday afternoon, as I was digging a trench for getting the water, gas, and network to the barn, one of the roofers came over and asked me if I realized that my tractor was spewing oil all over. No, as a matter of fact, I didn't know. After a little investigation it became clear that my tractor had sprung quite a leak of hydraulic fluid. At $25 a gallon, that's like liquid gold squirting onto the yard. I made a call for urgent repair to Agri-Service, the folks I bought the tractor from, and who handled the warranty repairs. They promised to be out the next day (Tuesday). They also asked me to investigate it a bit myself, to see if it was something simple like a loose fitting. That's completely reasonable.
So yesterday (Tuesday) morning, I dismounted the backhoe from the tractor. That operation requires hydraulic power, and that hydraulic fluid was spewing as I got the backhoe off. I had just barely enough hydraulic fluid left to move the tractor away from the backhoe and park it. At that point the reservoir was empty. The leak had gone through $100 worth of hydraulic fluid. Yikes! Once the backhoe was off, I could see exactly where the leak was: in a hose on the tractor that connects hydraulic fluid to the backhoe. It turns out that the hose had been pinched somehow (we haven't figured exactly how yet), and there was a small tear in it. It doesn't take much to make a prodigious leak in a high-pressure hydraulic line.
I drove up to Agri-Service (about a 40 minute drive, as they're in Hyde Park) to buy some more hydraulic fluid – I knew I'd need it to refill the tractor once the bad hose had been fixed. I walked up to the parts counter to order it, and the sales guy (Lawrence W.) who sold me the tractor walked out of his office to greet me. When he found out that I was there to buy the hydraulic fluid, he told the parts guy that Agri-Service was covering that cost. I didn't expect that – but given the cost of that stuff, it was certainly a welcome gesture. Then he said he'd be down shortly to look at my tractor. As I was driving home, a second guy (Kelly S., a mechanic) from Agri-Service called me and said he'd also be down shortly. In no time at all, two Agri-Service guys were poring over my tractor. They got the bad hose removed, and we made arrangements to get the hose replaced that night, and Kelly would come over in the morning to reattach it. I followed Lawrence back toward Hyde Park so we could get a new hose made, and the idea was that I'd return home with it.
I'm starting to get used to the idea of service like this. It's built into the culture here. I love Utah!
As opposed to all the other frustrations, the roofers made good progress yesterday. They've finished the northern half of the roof, and have started on the southern half. They're very happy about that, as now they have much more sunlight to warm them up...
Locals here hate teasel – it's a pernicious weed that's hard to get rid of. They organize “burn the teasel” weekends to get rid of it. When they saw me “harvesting” the seed pods, then discovered that I was shipping some seed pods back to my mom in Virginia, they wondered what I had against Virginia – though one fellow immediately saw the benefit of teasel-bombing D.C. :) My mom is going to send us a couple of these decorations, so I'll be able to show the locals that teasel actually is good for something. I'm betting that they won't find the argument persuasive, though!
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
The Manitoba Herald:Sounds plausible, doesn't it?
The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration. The recent actions of the Tea Party and the fact Republicans won the Senate are prompting an exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray, and to agree with Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck.
Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.
"I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said Southern Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota . "The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry. He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left before I even got a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?"
In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. He then installed loudspeakers that blared Rush Limbaugh across the fields. "Not real effective," he said. "The liberals still got through and Rush annoyed the cows so much that they wouldn't give any milk."
Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, and drive them across the border where they are simply left to fend for themselves. "A lot of these people are not prepared for our rugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a single bottle of imported drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley Cabernet, though." When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about plans being made to build re-education camps where liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR races.
In recent days, liberals have turned to ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have been disguised as senior citizens taking a bus trip to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half- dozen young vegans in powdered wig disguises, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizens about Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney to prove that they were alive in the '50s. "If they can't identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we become very suspicious about their age," an official said.
Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and are renting all the Michael Moore movies. "I really feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can't support them," an Ottawa resident said. "How many art-history majors does one country need?"
In an effort to ease tensions between the United States and Canada, Vice President Biden met with the Canadian ambassador and pledged that the administration would take steps to reassure liberals. A source close to President Obama said, "We're going to have some Paul McCartney and Peter, Paul & Mary concerts. We might even put some endangered species on postage stamps. The President is determined to reach out."
Wanna start an entertaining fight? Follow these steps:
- Gather a number of dog lovers in a room
- Shut the doors
- Toss a copy of this chart into the room
As headlines go, “ Obama Moves Close to Calling Russian Action in Ukraine an Invasion,” from a weekend story in the New York Times , must surely rank among the year’s most revealing. The Obama presidency has long been at odds with the obvious. Once this was called hope.A farce – that's a reasonably accurate portrayal of the entire Obama presidency. What a damned shame that the first black American president also had to be so ragingly incompetent...
Now it is generally recognized as farce.
So, as a result, I am required by law, under harsh financial penalties, to purchase a product that is not available to me. Had President Obama required that I buy 2 pounds of rocks from Mars, the result would not have been any more unfair.Repeal it, Republicans!
The bottom line is very simple: virtually all net income taxes are paid by Americans in the upper income quintile.
On what planet is that fair?
It's even worse for residents of states with high income taxes (such as California, Massachusetts, New York, etc.) ... in some of those states, virtually all net taxes are paid by the upper decile (tenth)!
Monday, November 17, 2014
“The most likely outcome is that regulators will freeze in place today’s business models, thereby slowing innovation and change.”
There are specific interests who are doing well by the current system and they want to maintain the status quo via government regulations. That’s understandable but the idea that the government will do a good job of regulating the Internet (whether by blanket decrees or on a case-by-case basis) is unconvincing, to say the least. The most likely outcome is that regulators will freeze in place today’s business models, thereby slowing innovation and change.For a moment I found myself thinking that maybe our legislators were smart enough to see that regulating the Internet was a bad idea. Then I woke up...
That’s never a good idea, especially in an area where new ways of bundling and delivering content are constantly being tried.
So, naturally, a lawsuit was filed – but not the one you're most likely expecting. The beagle's owner decided not to pursue a civil suit, because the police had already taken the actions he thought were needed. The pit bulls' owner is suing the beagle's owner, asking for $1 million in damages, citing injuries and anxiety resulting from her attempts to retrieve her pit bulls from the neighbor's yard.
Clearly, the human species still has some evolving to do. The good news? The venue is in Texas, where the citizens have been known to help evolution along on occasion...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
When we bought the house, there was a very fancy, modern-looking Italian light that stretched all the way across this long ceiling. It had five low-voltage lamps, each just 20 watts, strung out along a pair of tightly stretched cable that looked like stainless steel. The whole affair looked like something that might be on the Starship Enterprise, but it put out a paltry amount of light in five beams, as if someone had hung five flashlights from the ceiling. The new lights have 100 watt (equivalent) LED bulbs in them, very nicely lighting up this entire area. They look much more like our style, too.
I'm beginning to expect now that each project I begin will run into problems. This one sure did. The first lamp I put up, I ran into a junction box with metric screws (4mm, 0.7 pitch). I didn't even know there was such a thing. And where did the builder find one around here? It's as if I opened my front door and spotted a kangaroo! The second lamp's junction box had totally stripped threads – the lamp I removed had been glued to it. I ran up to the Ridley's in Hyrum and got a new box. Sheesh. The third lamp's junction box was very badly miswired: the hot and cold wires were crossed, and the safety ground wasn't connected.
I wonder what I'll find on my next project!
“They didn’t understand how men could not see these problems, but it’s because so many of us are being so goddamn quiet.”
I don't know Randi Harper; to the best of my knowledge I've never met her or talked to her. Reading her description of her current job makes me hope I have the chance someday:
Cat herder, spine of steel, puzzle master, obfuscated code whisperer. I complain a lot about things that go bump in the night. Then I track down the monsters and kick them in the junk. I could solve world hunger with a 200 line perl script.That's a geek with a sense of humor :) And about as DevOpsy as you can get...
The quote at the beginning of this post is Randi's, from a two-part piece she's written that's guaranteed to have provoke a strong reaction:
If Randi's experience is actually widespread amongst women in tech, I am appalled – on multiple levels, but in particular because it must mean that some women I worked with were subjected to it. I wonder what I could have done differently that would have encouraged these women to simply talk with me about it?
Randi's onto something here, I think. I'm uncomfortable with the inevitable inference that this is somehow the victim's fault, but ... speaking as a former manager, I can guarantee that if a manager doesn't even know about something, they for damned sure can't do anything about it. Any halfway decent human being (and yes, I'm including managers in that group), if presented with this sort of abuse, would want to do something about it.
I'm no longer in a position (because I'm retired) to help anyone directly. But I'm hoping that Randi's call to arms will help motivate others to speak up if they're being subjected to the sorts of horrible behavior Randi experienced...
This morning I read about another pollutant that in many ways reminds me of this: microscopic fibers shed by garments made with synthetic (plastic) fibers. These are far larger fragments than rubber dust particles, but still small enough in many cases to affect individual cells. It sounds like something we really should understand better than we currently do...
“Because we’re primates with vested interests in tracking social hierarchies and patterns of social affiliation.”
Does that mean I'm not a primate? Not human?
I have a suspicion that this is closely related to introversion (and I'm a fairly extreme introvert, self-trained in the art of getting along with extroverts). I did a quick search to see if this correlation has been noted before, and found a few anecdotal mentions, but nothing more. If I'm right, the inverse would be true: extroverts would be more likely to think about status relations, and therefore more likely to be obsessed with celebrities.
One experience I've had many times is to be in a room full of people (usually a business meeting of some kind) wherein someone will say something that everyone finds funny – everyone except me, as I didn't understand it. Sometimes its a reference to sports (which I pay no attention to), but more often its a reference to some celebrity. I've always chalked up the celebrity “misses” to my lack of interest, and have long been puzzled why all the other people did have enough interest to have absorbed these things. Now I'm wondering if all or part of this was yet another difference between extroverts (who dominate in the management world that I was long part of) and introverts...
One of my neighbors has a ewe, and she's baaaing like crazy. That's about what I felt like doing when I walked outside this morning...
I left the house at about 6 am, headed for Angie's for breakfast. This is turning into a regular thing for me, having a Sunday breakfast of chicken-fried steak and eggs with a scone at Angie's. Yum! This morning when I walked out the front door, my boots crunched loudly on the snow. My windshield was clear, so I didn't have to scrape it. When I tried to start the truck, the engine didn't catch at first. That never happens on my Toyota Tundra – the engine always starts up within a fraction of a second of my turning the key. This morning it took 10 seconds or so of cranking before it started, and then it ran ragged for 30 seconds or so. Maybe my oil froze :) It was fine after that, thankfully. I had the heater up full blast for the entire 20 minute drive, and the interior of the truck never got above 20°F.
It's going to take us a while to get used to these low temperatures...
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Actually it was quite comfortable – it's already over freezing, and I have a pair of Muck arctic sport boots, and those things keep my feet toasty even at 5°F.
Check out the icicles! I haven't seen icicles since the last time I was in Estonia in the winter, probably 15 years ago...
I spent a few hours on the tractor, filling the electrical trench in (covering the conduit). On Monday I'll be getting a load of road base, and I'll be using it to put in the base for the barn's transformer. If it dries out enough, I'll be trenching for water, gas, and network on Sunday...
Friday, November 14, 2014
Into the trash you go, dead bulb! The vendor has already shipped me a replacement – when I emailed them about the black smoke, they offered to replace it immediately...