we have a tradition. it started with easter. before we were married. alisa hid my easter basket somewhere. and left a trail of clues hidden in eggs to find it. usually the clues are in verse. it's fun for all. the tradition has recently expanded to include mother's day, and father's day. the water heater broke on mother's day so she got a cold shower. and the clues were timmer random. mom was not amused. she's a sweetheart though. she didn't extract revenge on father's day. my treasure was a calvin and hobbes book appropriately entitled, there's treasure everywhere.
generations of finches have been nesting in a tree in the neighbor's back yard. they cut it down this year to replace it with something else. the finches moved to the trellis directly over my office window. which is often open. it's easy to tell when it's feeding time. forty to fifty voices start up the baby bird chorus. GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG! GIMME A BUG!
blogs are cool. this is my personal soap box. i can (and frequently do) express any opinion i happen to hold at the moment. i can freely brag about how great my life is. and bitch about how much better things would be if only other people weren't such pumpkinheads. if you, dear reader, don't like what i have to say, why, that's another great thing about blogs, you don't have to read them! make your own soapbox and spew whatever drivelous drek escapes the dark dungheap of your dome. blog on. ;->
why do i hate w so much? purely selfish reasons of course. as the world uses up its cheap oil, prices will climb. in 10 to 30 years you'll be wishing for the good old days when you could buy gas at $5 a gallon. there could be a really big ugly war for control of the remaining cheap oil in the middle east. bush's policy of aggressive posture puts us right in the middle of it. will we bring back the draft? maybe. in 20 years my sons will be the same age as the soldiers currently dying in iraq. that's my darkest fear. that we'll fight over something we should share. that's why i so repeatedly say don't follow our leader off this cliff. he's a morans.
the amazing randi is pretty cool. he's a gifted magician. but his obsession is to bust those that say their magic is real. anyone who does tricks or illusions isn't in randi's sights. he got sued by uri gellar. remember him? guy said he could bend spoons using only the power of his mind. 'course he could only bend /his own/ spoons. he couldn't bend the spoons provided by johnny carson live on the tonight show. bending spoons by itself is pretty harmless. but uri went on to say that you could cause anything to happen by using the power of your mind. ie wishing for it. even curing your diseases. which is what drew the attention of the amazing randi.
magic tricks are fun to watch. they're fun to do. for the most part they're pretty harmless. the problem with magic is that some people think it's real. the net is littered with stories of some guy who kills his neighbor because she gave him the evil eye and cast a spell on him. or bob dies because he went to a faith healer instead of a hospital. there's definitely a line between white magic that entertains us. and black magic that does us harm. in my view, stage magicians are entertainers. and faith healers are criminals.
it turns out your refrigerator uses a good chunk of the power consumed by your house. an easy way to conserve energy is to open the refrigerator door less often. but timmer! i don't know what i want. so i stand there with the door open trying to decide. heh. so here's my brilliant idea. put windows on refrigerator doors. stand there as long as you want. you're saving energy. i'm gonna be so rich.
oil (including natural gas) has an eroei in the neighborhood of 50. but when it runs out we're gonna use coal. why? cause we have lots of coal. and we don't have lots of anything else. clean coal has an eroei of about 10 give or take. our oil economy uses 2% of the energy produced to produce more energy. that leaves 98% for everything else. like driving cars. the coal economy uses 10% of the energy produced to produce more energy. that leaves 90% for cars. now if we simplistically assume we produce the same amount of total energy and constant population then we have 9% less energy available for cars. or put it another way. the impending energy crisis means our cars have to get 22 mpg instead of 20. everybody panic.
are we screwed when oil gets expensive? not entirely. we have to do two things. one, we will use energy more efficiently. cause we'll have to. currently, we're terribly wasteful. just look at the popularity of suv's for cryin out loud. any company that can do more with less will have a huge advantage. and survive. its competitors will go out of business. the other thing we need to do is control our population. all of our predictions about future energy needs make the assumption (implicitly or explicitly) that our population will eventually stabilize. and the sooner the better. there is /no/ energy solution if our population can continue to grow without bound. the doomsday scenario is where 90% of humans die off because of starvation, war, disease, etc. likely? no. possible? yes. avoidable? yes, but it's much more likely if we're imbeciles and maintain this faith based course of denying facts of reality.
so, what's waiting in the wings to replace oil? well, nothing. there's no source of energy that's as good as oil in all 4 categories i outlined in my last post. natural gas is nearly as good. there's not as much. and it's not as dense. we have lots of coal. but it's return is lower. it's very dirty. and not very dense. we have lots of sunshine. but its return is bad. it's not all that clean when you count disposing of storage batteries. and its density is terrible. we have lots of wind. it's clean. its return is marginal at best. its product is electricity which, like solar, has terribly low density. hydro, geothermal, tides, ocean currents, waves are very similar to wind. bio fuels sound great. but there's not very much arable land left after what we need for food. hydrogen is not a source of energy. it could be a nice clean, dense way to store electrical energy. but that will drive the return of our electrical sources down even farther. blech. there are other possibilities. like shale oil, oil sands, slate oil, methane ice, etc. high risk bets at best. nuclear? there really isn't all that much uranium in the world. which means we're talking about breeder reactors. or possibly extracting fissionable stuff from coal ash. fear of accidents and terrorists drives the return into the cellar. and again the product for the most part is electricity. so. it really looks like the fuck you energy belongs to whoever controls the middle east oil.
energy energy. it's all about energy. to be useful energy needs four things: 1) quantity. 6 billion people use a lot. 2) high return. it's called eroei = energy returned on energy invested. or something similar. basically means you want to do very little work to get a whole lot energy. 3) low pollution. this is kinda redundant. it can be absorbed into the return equation. ie you have to spend some of the harvested energy cleaning up any mess you made acquiring the energy or using it. and 4) density. we need to store lots of energy per pound of fuel and storage device. oil is really cool because 1) there's lots of it. like a trillion barrels. 2) eroei is 50. 3) pollution's not perfect, but manageable. 4) it's really dense. 1 pound of gasoline has as much energy as 100 pounds of batteries.
rich people call it: fuck you money. it's when you have enough money that you can quit your job if your boss is being too much of an arse. hence the fuck you part. well, i was thinking. we need fuck you energy. then we can say fuck you to the states that sponsor terrorism and breed like crazy because we're paying a zillion dollars for their oil. so. now that we've identified the need. how do we get it?
so apparently, my posts make me sound like an angry depressed person. drat. i was shooting for cynical. i'll work on it. and in the meantime i'll blame the government. and you. the crap this administration pulls makes me angry. but worse. the number of people that buy it makes me depressed. or maybe vice versa.
garrett rode his old little bike so much he wore it out. so bennett got a new bike. and we put the training wheels back on bennett's old bike and it's now garrett's new bike. it didn't take long for him to figure out those training wheels are just in the way. it took a lot longer for him to get brave enough to take up dad's offer to remove them. so we went to school this morning without those silly training wheels. that's my boy. the bike is just a tiny bit too big for him. which makes stopping kinda exciting. especially for his genitals. ow-ich!
cover of war
it is morally wrong to kill someone, to take another person's life. there are exceptions of course. like on the battlefield. and even then many people are not comfortable with it. in a sense they have to substitute a battlefield morality for their own. it can be difficult. and it should be. but it's much much easier when your country is at war. and you have to. or somebody dies. this is how the nazis imposed their morality on an entire population. they went to war. the farmers put down their plows and their morality. and picked up weapons and the nazi morality. the cover of war made evil people out of good people. we as a good nation need to be cautious when going to war. especially when our leader holds fairly radical religious beliefs.
memorial day 3
apparently, some of my friends don't know what they're talking about. memorial day is the day we remember dead soldiers. veteran's day is the day we remember all soldiers. dead or otherwise. much thanks to my friends who do.
we left the boys with aunt julie last weekend. apparently, she wore them completely out. it gets real hard for a tired 4 year old to behave. he couldn't. so he got a time out. she sent him to his room a little before we got home. so she checked on him after we unloaded the car. he wasn't there. oh shit. we found him. sound asleep. under the bed.
i think the irs has really succeeded in remaking itself as the kinder gentler irs. long ago i used to get letters from the irs like this: we caught you cheating on your taxes. you owe us $25. pay it. now. we have many ways to get our money. we'll take your stuff. we'll get it from your family. we'll take their stuff. we'll get it from your neighbors. we're not kidding. we are the irs. sheehs. we got a letter this year from the irs politely informing us they noticed a discrepancy between their records and our filing for 2004. the taxes on the discrepancy would be about a quarter million dollars(!). apparently, there's a rare edge case where your employer gives you a w-2 and your broker gives the irs a 1099-b. which gets the attention of the irs. cause they think we sold an enormous quantity of stock (which we did) for an enormous profit (which we didn't) and didn't pay any taxes on it (which we did).
speaking of mom... she decided to have the risky surgery
to repair the deteriorated tendon in her heel. fortunately, the surgery was successful. she's healing. slowly. but she's healing. looks like the gamble is going to pay off. whew.
i pretty much have no superstitions whatsoever. then i noticed that my mother was born on june 6th, 1940. this year she turned 66 on 6/6/6. perhaps that explains a few things. perhaps i should reevaluate my position.
the beautiful and talented alisa and i left the boys with aunt julie for the weekend and took off for big sur. it was wonderful. we went driving and hiking and swimming and dining and smooching and beaching and shopping. didn't even think about computers the entire time. didn't feed too many mosquitos either. the cabin we stayed in didn't have air conditioning. it was hot. hot enough to melt chocolate. mmm. melted chocolate.
on november 19th 2005, a u.s. marine convoy was hit by a roadside bomb. in retaliation the marines alleged shot to death some two dozen unarmed civilians. why is this news? or rather, why is this news here? its old news in the arab world. they're not even running this story. we've been killing people this way every day for the past three years. this sort of action is the inevitable result of fighting a faceless enemy that doesn't wear a uniform but blends into, and has the support of, the local population. again, why is this news now? this happened more than six months ago. to use an analogy the ex-drunk in the white house should be able to understand: the party's over. we're hung over and in bed with a really ugly woman. morning's come and with it the realization that we're an alcoholic.
there are two types of debt: good and bad. good debts are investments. eventually you will recover every penny and then more. examples are: student loans, business loans, home loans, infrastructure, research. bad debt is pretty much everything else: credit cards, car loans, personal loans, excessive military expenditures, most bond initiatives, pork projects, etc.
speaking of debt. do you know what your share of the national debt is? bet you don't. the median price of a house sold in the u.s. is about $230,000. the total cost of all the financial obligations the government has commited you to is about $580,000 per household. so in addition to your regular mortgage, you have to somehow make payments on two and half more. most likely, you can't afford that. it will drive you into bankruptcy. so what's your government doing to save you? they're making the debt bigger.
memorial day 2
so memorial day is the day we set aside to remember all dead people. i'm going to focus on my ancestors. thank you (belated) for immigrating to this land of opportunity. your sole reason for existence was to create me. for which i am infinitely grateful. thank you for working so hard to make my life better than yours. let us also set aside a small portion of this day to think about how we are going to be remembered. will our descendants remember us for the wonderful things we are doing today? like curing diseases, developing renewable energy, and promoting world peace. or will they be cursing us for our failures? like global warming, overpopulation, pollution, consuming everything and leaving nothing for them. except the bill.
a friend of mine pointed out that veteran's day is the day we remember dead soldiers. memorial day is the day we remember dead people in general. huh. something went really wrong in my history. my memories of memorial day are always parades with old soldiers. we always ended up at a graveyard. and the speaches were always about dead soldiers. huh.
we went to an assembly at bennett's school where he received a national fitness award. not bad for a kid in a leg cast a few months ago. in addition to those festivities, the girls scouts and the cub scouts were recruiting. the cub scout troop leader, whose name is mr. leder, (i am not making this up) showed the classic cub scout project. you build and race a model car. he showed the raw block of wood and asked, what is this? the first grader said it was a geometric solid.
i've stood in awe at the ruins of the temple of olympic zeus. it's a gotta see if you get to athens. i took a picture of alisa with a column. then i moved away and took another. then i moved away some more and took another. and again. and finally i was so far away my wife was a tiny white smudge at the bottom of the column. anywho, it's fascinating to think ancient greeks piled those rocks without modern heavy machinery. i think when i retire and have a big empty chunk of land i'm going to stack rocks the old fashioned way.
a long awaited event finally happened last night. g always wore disposable diapers. bennett wore cloth and was potty trained significantly faster. g's been wearing pull-ups at night. usually they're a couple of squirts wet. but this morning's was completely dry. yay! mom was sleeping in. i made him pancakes with chocolate chunks on top. good boy.
mac keyboards have a nice little button on them that's supposed to turn on the computer. i prefer to use a non-apple keyboard. and i have a kvm switch to jump between three different computers. both are supposed to support the power on feature. but between them they don't. my desktop computer is under my desk. is it a deskbottom computer? i dunno. anywho it's right next to my chair so i can just reach down and push the button to boot the silly thing. if i can find it. the button is flush with the case. my old fingers are not sensitive enough to find it without looking. design flaw. i piled enough masking tape around the button so now i can find it without crawling under my desk.