Thursday, December 30, 2004

Good news of the past year

Nice to see at least one news organization takes the time to report what has gone right this year. The trends are promising, too bad this will not be played on the evening news.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Amazon Relief Effort

I posted a donation link to the American Red Cross via Amazon to the right. It really has been remarkable to watch the donations come pouring in. Over 3 million dollars in donations through Amazon in just 2 days! Give Freely.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Tsunami's in Hawaii

To help assuage fears of a tsunami in Hawaii I did a little research. The US has 2 Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (Hawaii and Alaska) along with a natural warning systems in place that monitors receding water and tide measurements. They did detect the 9.0 quake and called 26 countries to warn them, but they had no system setup to warn everyone.

The US tsunami centers get information from the National Data Buoy Center, whose network of buoys measure the size of waves. The Indian ocean does not have any of these buoys. It requires an earthquake of at least 6.5 to start a tsunami.

Hawaii has not been hit by a Tsunami since 1964. Before that time they averaged about one every 7 years.

March 28, 1964: Good Friday earthquake in Alaska sends out a wave swamping much of the Alaskan coast and destroying three villages. The wave kills 107 people in Alaska, four in Oregon and 11 in California as it sweeps down the West Coast.

May 22, 1960: A wave reported as up to 35 feet high kills 1,000 in Chile and causes damage in Hawaii, where 61 die, and in the Philippines, Okinawa and Japan as it sweeps across the Pacific.

April 1, 1946: Alaskan quake generates tsunami that destroys North Cape Lighthouse, killing five. Hours later the wave arrives at Hilo, Hawaii, killing 159 people and doing millions of dollars in damage.

June 15, 1896: The Sanriku tsunami strikes Japan without warning. A wave estimated at more than 70 feet high hits a crowd gathered to celebrate a religious festival, killing more than 26,000 people.

Aug 27, 1883: the eruption of the volcano Krakatau generates a massive wave that sweeps over the shores of nearby Java and Sumatra, killing 36,000 people.

Thomas Hamill

I went to Barnes & Noble across the street this morning and hunted for a book to read. I have not read a book recreationally in at least 2 years. After searching for about 30 minutes through their horrible arrangement I picked out "The Escape in Iraq." The book surprised me, Thomas Hamill took the job in Iraq to literally save his farm. He reminded me alot of Dad with his no nonsense, quiet, and humble nature. He definitely had alot of common sense and handled himself extremely well in some very difficult circumstances. His numerous Iraqi captors were generally decent and gives me new hope and insight into the Iraqi people. Many of his captors wanted to let him go and even told him so. It was a good fast read with a fresh perspective about the Iraqi people and how an untrained civilian can overcome even the worst situations in captivity. It did not sound like he ever showed fear, tried to appease his captors, or lost control.

Intellectual Morons : How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas

I wast tempted to buy this book:

"Ideology acts as a mental straitjacket. It prevents adherents from seeing reality, encourages zealotry, and justifies dishonesty. It makes smart people stupid."

"Why has ideology taken such a powerful hold over so many smart people? Humans desire meaning in their life. With the decline of
religion among the well-educated, intellectuals increasingly look for meaning outside the church, temple, and mosque. Ideology can fill this void. It bestows an easy-to-understand explanation for the way the world works. It supplies a moral code, membership in a community, and a vocation. The new religions exalt secular saints, enforce dogma, punish heretics, value self-sacrifice, and sanctify writings. In short, ideology serves as a proxy religion for people who view themselves as too smart for traditional religion. And since worshiping a god is an impossible task for the self-obsessed, the intellectual moron worships himself—man—and the ideas that will deliver us all into salvation."

"It is folly to blame “bad” ideology for the current degraded state of the public square. The problem isn’t necessarily Left ideology or Right ideology, but all ideology. Anyone who abandons rational analysis for the dictates of a governing philosophy is bound to be led astray. To the ideologue, what matters is not whether an idea is good or bad, harmful or beneficial, or true or false. What matters is whether it can serve the Cause."

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 911

I couldn't sleep so I popped in F911. I have had the DVD for several months now, but never got around to watching it. Some how I knew I would need it. It surprised even me and I had very low expectations. I feel confident I could disprove or at least shed serious doubt on every single accusation Moore makes. But, that isn't even necessary, others have already done it far more eloquently than I ever could. Moore falls back on his recurring theme "scared white men" that made him so popular with bowling for columbine. Lawyers and white men seem to be the only PC targets to ridicule these days. I would hate to be a white male lawyer.....

Back to the movie. Conspiracy theories abound, too many to list. I'll pick one, the Saudi's link. At least I think that is one of the main themes.

Since we started importing oil from Saudi Arabia I believe every President has had direct ties with the Saudi's. For fun I ran a google search on Bill Clinton to find a link to the Saudi's. I was surprised to find a tie to the Saudi's after 911 in about 15 seconds.

"In 2002, Bill Clinton traveled to bin Laden's hometown of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to address a group of Saudi businessmen. He was paid $267,000"

"Hillary Clinton makes $750,000 in payments from three Arab nations with ties to the 9/11 hijackers in 2003, including a $267,000 speaking fee from a group funded by the family of Osama bin Laden."

and I am not a professional at this. I could go on forever, I won't. The underlying issue that gets over looked is what I want to write about.

Why is Michael Moore, a shock jock film maker, a proven liar (repeatedly), an extremist, a propagandist, a.... (insert colorful adjectives here) given the benefit of the doubt repeatedly and legitimized by comments like "there's also a heck of a lot of truth in his film?" You know if you give 1000 monkeys 1000 video cameras they could come up with a heck of a lot of truth too.

Fahrenheit 911, sparking anti-americanism near you.

Holiday Disasters

It has been a year full of natural disasters. The latest Tsunami death toll keeps climbing.

To top it off we have a 1:42 chance of getting hit by an asteroid in 2029.

Update: NASA downgraded to 1:56000 already.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Waiting for santa

Just getting ready for bed at Gram's. Someone in the neighborhood has an unsecured wireless network that I have jumped on with my laptop. Doing some more work on the family tree without much success. Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

As chris noticed comments have to be approved before being allowed now. Some people were spamming me. Many different ways I can prevent it, this is the least painful I hope. All these spammers do is set an automated program to leave a link to their site in the comment sections of 1,000's of blogs. Then when Google arranges search hits it counts number of links to websites to determine popularity. If all that makes sense you spend too much time on the Internet.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The New Media

From Mark Glaser
"For way too long, it has been the mainstream media (MSM) that's played God with the American public, telling everyone what's news and what's not, what to play up and what to downplay. But 2004 was the year the power started shifting, that the Little People, if you will, started to tell the gods of media what the public really wanted."

Time's blog of the year Powerline is being credited with taking down Dan Rather. The future looks even better. It won't be long before people start video blogging.

A first hand account from a chaplain in Mosul puts things in perspective and includes a follow on attack on the hospital where the victims were taken that no one is reporting.

This would make an awesome Senior Project

This would be fun for any techies out there: How to build an Apollo Guidance Computer. It was the first integrated circuit computer and the flight computer that was used to land on the moon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

My Christmas Present

I bought myself The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson which arrived today. It was only 54$ on amazon.com last week on sale with free shipping (21 lbs, that is alot of book). The ultimate coffee table addition.

Ebay Earnings

I was surprised to sell all 8 of my ebay auctions. I made 225$, alot more than I expected. What a great way to get rid of junk. Very well done and completely automated. All 8 buyers paid me within hours through paypal and I shipped everything the next day. If I had a scale I could have printed my own postage and just dropped them off at the post office. Much easier than I expected.

Freedom

Russia has been downgraded to "not free" by Freedom House. They have a great article on who's who among the oppressed and the free in the world. Read it all the way to the end if you want to know what freedom has to do with terrorism.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Super Size Me

Speaking of documentaries. I am watching a good one; Super Size Me. The guy is crazy. He puts himself on a mcdonalds only diet for 30 days. Everyone needs to watch this and stop buying fast food.

Last time Rikki and I had fast food was when the power went out because of one of the hurricanes. We went to KFC across the street that still had power. We hit fast food places (excluding subway) 2-3 times a year. Usually when we are travelling and can't find a subway.

Moore propaganda

I heard through my sources that someone showed mom & dad fahrenheit 911 a while back. I hope that same someone also takes the time to watch Fahrenhype 911, Celsius 4111, or Michael Moore Hates America. I haven't seen any of them yet. I am not a big fan of Moore's propaganda. I try to avoid it and stick to the facts so I do not need to see the above movies that deconstruct it. But if I do see some propaganda I try to balance it out with other points of view. I wish more people would do the same thing.

What I have done is spent alot of time on the Internet reading. The truth is pretty easy to find if you take the time. I prefer a well written document which includes verifiable sources and facts.

Michael Moore should go back to making movies like Canadian Bacon. He has chosen his niche and is making a good living with plenty of adoring fans and popularity. He is living a perverse American dream. That is why so many people hate him. He is using the freedoms and opportunities given to him by this great country to help destroy it. He has that right.

Abe Lincoln: "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

Something you won't see in the old media

About a week ago when Donald Rumsfeld fielded questions from military members a Mr. Wilson asked a harsh question given to him by a reporter about why their humvee's were not armored. What you won't hear is that of his companies 830 humvee's only 20 were not armored and those 20 were scheduled to be armored the next day. The day after he asked every humvee for his unit had armor. Of course this isn't important to the media.

The real problem resides in Congress, they have only approved funding for 29,000 of the 35,000 vehicles that need armor. John McCain and several other senators have placed the blame on Rumsfeld. I thought I liked John McCain, but he is blaming Rumsfeld over a problem he has direct responsibility for. McCain's job includes direct oversight of DOD expenditures.

"and that... is the rest of the story."

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Marathon 101

4 months ago I decided to try a marathon. The first 2 months I did great. Running 5 times a week and building up to a 10+ mile long run on the weekends. Then I struggled with the Marine Corps 1/2 marathon on a hot and humid day but managed to finish. I continued my training a few weeks and then came down with a nasty cold that put me down for a week. Then I was off to Hawaii and I.... didn't get much running in. Following that I put alot of time into passing my NATOPS test and checkride. So my training fell to the wayside. I did manage to do a 10 miler last weekend and a handful of short 3-5 milers during the past 2 weeks. But, I was not in great shape for a 26.2 mile marathon. Oh well. Unlike my 1/2 marathon experience I was more careful in my preparation the 2 days prior to the full marathon.

Two nights before I got plenty of sleep (yes, 2 nights before is important) and the day before I ate well and planned on pasta. Once again, Rikki only had macaroni and cheese. I didn't make that mistake again though; we went to olive garden. I stuffed myself with salad, bread, and shrimp scampi. I was up at 5:30 this morning to get ready for the long run. I only had about 6 hours sleep, even with a Tylenol PM. I had a shake, banana, plenty of water, and a snickers marathon bar (much better than those nasty power bars). I pocketed my ID card and a spare key for the truck, clipped on my ipod, grabbed a hooded sweatshirt (it was 42 degrees out) and my sunglasses then headed out the door. Start was at 7 am and it was just getting light out. The marathon was on our street so I had a short drive.

Almost forgot, there are certain precautions to make for long distance runs. The only one I did was put those small circular band-aids over my nipples. Running several miles (especially in the cold) will cause some nasty chaffing and even bleeding from the friction of your shirt. I don't think it would have been a problem. But, bleeding nipples are not something to take chances with. Many runners wear spandex or... apply vaseline anywhere there might be friction or rubbing. Even places like your armpits can chaff severely if you have any skin on skin rubbing (made much worse by the salt in your sweat, you can use your imagination for the other trouble areas).

I do have one major regret this time besides my lackluster training the past few months. My Nike shoes. They are 3 years old, used through my senior year of cross country and have lost most of their cushioning and support. I should have bought a new pair months ago. More on this later.

I wore my mitre shorts, technical long sleeve shirt, and a hooded sweatshirt for the race. The technical shirt came with my race packet, I didn't know what it was either. It is just a special polyester that is extremely breathable that sucks the moisture away and lets it evaporate quickly. So during the race my shirt never became soaked in sweat. Everyone else wearing cotton was drenched. I was impressed.

The race started out slow because of the congestion. There was probably close to 1000 people there, The 1/2 and full marathon started at the same spot. I was worried in the beginning I would cramp up or have a problem with my shoes but things went smoothly. About mile 3 I had warmed up enough to ditch the sweatshirt, I threw it on a fence and hoped it would be there when I finished the race. I hit the first water station and slowed to a walk to drink, I can't run and drink. I am thankful for the construction boom because there were porta-potties scattered all over the place with all the homes going up. I stopped at one around the 5 mile marker, I was overhydrated. I started taking 2 waters or gatorades at the water stations a little worried I would get as dehydrated as my last 1/2 marathon. It wasn't necessary. I ended up stopping to use 4 porta-potties during the race. Around mile 8 they had bananas, I grabbed half of one for some energy. Around mile 12 I was surprised at how well things were going. I had never felt that good for that long of a run. The cool weather helped. It stayed in the 40's throughout the race even with the sun and clear skies. My feet started to get a little sore and burn, nothing severe. I passed the 1/2 marathon finish and the number of runners quickly dwindled.

My legs were doing surprisingly well. Mile 15 and 19 they gave out gel packs. They are a quick energy fix. They definitely helped, my stomach was empty. By mile 20 my feet were still the only thing bothering me. They were getting worse. I was still enjoying the run though. I had not needed to start zoning or digging up my deep motivators to keep going yet. Mile 22 things were really hurting and I had to keep reminding myself I was finished as a "student" and would be going to Hawaii to keep myself going. I could feel the blisters forming on my feet. Mile 24 a few blisters had popped and I could feel my big toenails seperating (lack of support on the toes causing my toes to bend back too far). The last 2 miles were excruciating. I slowed to a crawl of a jog but I willed myself not to stop and walk. The last mile was definitely the longest of my life. But I made it and the crowd at the finish helped me pick up the pace again. They announced everyones name as they crosse the finish line and I got my medal!

My legs were tired, but fine. The only problem was my feet. I took off my shoes and socks and walked on the grass. I was surprised to see no blood. Though as Rikki was quick to comment my feet were swollen. Numerous blisters and my big toenails are starting to darken. Afraid I might lose them. I got up and stuffed myself with the free food around the finish line. Vegetable soup, Panera bread, power bar, chips ahoy cookies, and another banana. They had free massages if you wanted to wait in line and a medical tent, I didn't bother. I drank 3 propel fitness waters. They were really good, sweet taste without the overpowering flavors of gatorade. I hobbled back to the truck and drove to pick up my sweatshirt, it was still there. I headed home for a long hot bath and icing of the feet. I feel pretty good though I should have taken a nap. We'll see how I'm doing in the morning. Another goal accomplished.

A series of unfortunate events

We went to the matinee to see the above movie. It was good, but I think it was more for kids. Jim Carey was his usual self. I imagine the book is much better.

After the movie we went to Olive Garden, it was early and the place was still packed. It is right across from the mall and everyone was doing their last minute shopping.

Friday, December 17, 2004

The Ebay Craze

I am working on some house cleaning before yet another move so I decided to put some old electronics up for auction on ebay. 8 items all with a starting bid of .01 and no reserve (minimum price to sell). I am already impressed with the results. I am not expecting to sell everything (especially our old motorolla phones) but it is better than pitching them into the dumpster. I did not even bother to put up our old printer on ebay. There were a few there already and only one of them was selling.... at 1$. I've looked around for charities or other places that would want it, could not find anyone. I will put up a note by the mailbox saying it is free, maybe someone will want it.

I would expect to start seeing "Ebay" stores replacing all the pawn shops and even moving into areas that have never had pawn shops before. These professional ebayers will charge a slight fee to sell your goods for you and run a store front for a small portion of their sales. Many small stores have made the transition that... ceptuples? (100X, 1000X) or more their customer base.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

New Toys

We stopped off at Office Depot today and bought a new printer. We went for the no frills 50$ HP 3650. It seemed pointless to buy an expensive printer loaded with extra's we would never use. Also a major deciding factor is ink replacement costs. Pretty sad when the cost of a new printer is equivalent to replacing the ink cartridges in our old HP 812C.

I also spent several hours picking out a new cellphone. Rikki and I wanted to stick with Motorola since our Startacs have worked flawlessly for the past 3 years. Verizon has been pushing their LG phones, they always seemed cheap to me. But after several hours reading reviews on the Internet I decided on the LG VX7000. It is sold out at Verizon Wireless Online. It is loaded with everything you would expect from a new phone minus that annoying speakerphone. The 7000 recently dropped in price from 249 to 149 and we worked a deal to get the 2 phones for free after a 50$ mail in rebate. Rikki had a blast setting up her phone, doing it all herself including her own ring tone "Rikki don't lose that number." I of course chose what I have been using for my IM sound since ICQ came out; the Monty Python sound bit "Message for you sir."

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Come on down!

I emailed a friend that is heading over to Hawaii to VP9 ahead of me. Turns out he has been on leave for the past 30 days and enjoying a road trip. He stopped off in California and went to the Price's Right. He won the showcase showdown! and told me to watch Jan 24th. I actually laughed out loud and scared the wife and dog when I read that. Unbelievable.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Complete!

I finished my checkride with a bang. Well, it was more of a soft thump when the bird hit the nose cone of the plane. The flight back home, inspection for damage, and another takeoff extended the flight from 4 to 6 hours. All went well, except for the bird that tried to play chicken with a 50 ton plane. I will have some free time now and no longer have the axe of "checkride failure" over my head. It feels good.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Cold War Lessons

Paul Nitze died in Oct. at the age of 97. I am not sure how I missed it in the news and on TV. He was the author of "United States Objectives and Programs for National Security" more commonly known as: NSC-68. His work set the standard for how to win the Cold War. I am sure an NSC-68 equivalent for how to handle the current conflict has been written and I look forward to the day it is declassifed. We are in the middle east for the same reason we fought the cold war. Straight out of NSC-68:

"The fundamental purpose of the United States is laid down in the Preamble to the Constitution: ". . . to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." In essence, the fundamental purpose is to assure the integrity and vitality of our free society, which is founded upon the dignity and worth of the individual.
Three realities emerge as a consequence of this purpose: Our determination to maintain the essential elements of individual freedom, as set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights; our determination to create conditions under which our free and democratic system can live and prosper; and our determination to fight if necessary to defend our way of life, for which as in the Declaration of Independence, "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

Todays enemy is not as clear cut as communism. It is difficult to choose our fights, mistakes have and will be made. But, one lesson that I think has been learned. In the current war on terror it is better to act than react.

Friday, December 03, 2004

A cure for ageing!

It sounds too good to be true... so this probably is.

MSN Blog

Microsoft is going to be releasing its own blog software. It will allow blogging for the masses! I guess better Microsoft than AOL.... but AOL probably won't be too far behind.

If I didn't have 1gb worth of pictures on my blog/webpage I would just use a web based blog service and not my own server.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Angel on the loose

Rikki and I were sitting on the couch watching TV. It was nice out so we opened the glass sliding door out to the patio. The patio is screened in so Angel ran out there as usual to stare menacingly at the lizards, squirrels, and ducks. Several minutes later we hear Angel barking.... from a distance. Rikki and I look at each with the exact same expression of shock on our faces and head out the door. Angel is out by the pond barking at some poor old lady that must have tried to pet her. I yelled at her to come back and she did. I'm surprised she stayed around.

Turns out she went through the screen door. But, we were sitting about 5 feet away and can hear when she pushes on it. So she must have quietly "pulled" the screening out of its indent (If she tore it or pushed through we would have heard it) and then jumped over the lower part of the door without hitting it or making any sound.

Blogs!

"Blog" is the merriam-webster word of the year!

I really can't overstate the importance of blogs forcing free speech into many countries that do not have that right. For example 5 bloggers in Iran were jailed because of their opinionated online journals. Anyone can start a blog now (look at me) and I rely on local bloggers around the world to provide me with the local news and bias. For example check out this Iraqi blog.

The number of blogs continues to grow exponentially (about 5 million now). There are blogs covering pretty much every common topic now. The news bloggers brought down Dan Rather and are doing a far better job at fact checking main stream media than was ever possible. Of course there is a large amount of garbage to weed through (like this blog). But there is a huge amount of information out there that was unavailable in the past, be sure to take advantage of it.

Oh yeah, if you are looking for a site with lawyer cartoons... look here.