my grandmother passed away a few months ago. my aunt phyllis put together a wonderful little memorial. the smartest part was giving all of us grandchildren time to organize our busy professional lives and make reasonable travel arrangements. we were all there. and we all had stories to tell that others didn't know. here's mine: i went away to collidj far far away. apparently when i came home i was acting a little more timmer than normal. she pulled out one of her dining room chairs. (which i found out were a wedding present from her estranged father. beautiful mahogany thing.) climbed up on it. shook her old crooked finger at me and said: you might be a big shot college student, now, but i'm still your grandmother. me: yes, grandma.
i never realized how sexy lightning is. until at auntie p's guest nest in the middle of the night with the power out my beautiful and talented wife changed into her pajamas backlit by a thunderstorm.
everyone's got an opinion on health care in the us. most people are healthy, have it, and don't need it. on the other hand, you can find lots of horror stories of people who aren't, don't, and do. it could clearly be better. pretty much the biggest problem is cost. we pay the insurance company to shop for the best price for us. we pay them lots of money to do this. the providers on the other hand counter by inflating prices. so if you don't have an insurance company going to bat for you the providers hand you inflated bills. this keeps some folks away from services they need. this makes some folks default. a very very small minority know how the game is played and have the time and energy to do their own negotiations with the providers. usually you can negotiate the hospital down by 3x to 10x. crazy. but here we are. greatest health care in the world. no need to change a thing. but if we did change a thing i'd do it this way. tell the providers that they have to provide services for free equal in value to the services they charge for. things like stitches, annual checkups, bone settings, anti-biotics, whatever. let the plastic surgery clinics in rich neighborhoods hook up with the trauma centers in poor neighborhoods. timmer for president.
so dnd 4e is out. still haven't really played. the boys and i have done some random (literally) dungeons. so i've had a taste. the boys got their beautiful and talented mother to play with them once. she's really a pretty good player. the little min/maxing xp grinding munchkins haven't figured out she enjoys the literary and the social aspect. sheehs. me either. we keep telling her what to do. we need to learn to keep our mouths shut.
recent administration nonsense has reclassified use of the pill as an abortion procedure. nifty. this is gonna have some push back. but not the obvious kind of religious-conservatives-are-idiots push back. not directly. i think folks are gonna think more along lines like this... so the pill is abortion huh? i guess abortion is okay then.
when bad stuff happens we blame the president. even if it was out of his control. so when good stuff happens we should give him the credit. even if the bozo doesn't deserve it. anywho, embassies in hostile countries have two functions: diplomacy and espionage. it's true. the best intelligence we gather in a foreign country walks in the doors of our embassy there. and having diplomats playing johnny on the spot can deal with situations before they spiral out of control. i've adopted this position from people who used to live and work in a us embassy in a hostile foreign country. i view the reopening of an american embassy in iran as a great thing. regardless of whether our intentions are to talk or fight. hopefully we'll see more of this. cuba would be nice.
one of the current problems with electric cars is they don't go very far. the reason is batteries are heavy and don't hold much energy. compared to gasoline. they're not even close. 100 pounds of batteries. or one gallon of gasoline. like, duh. anywho, the energy density of batteries has been improving by 8-9% a year. if the industry can maintain that rate indefinitely, we'll all be driving electric cars in 2060. it could happen! or we could do what the semi-conductor industry did. throw billions of dollars at the effort of maintaining moore's law.
the fires in california are winding down. i was reflecting on how big of an affect they had. i felt crummy. like i was catching a cold. and the weather was weird. it always felt like it was about to rain. yet it never did. the effects were easily discernible because they came on suddenly. i was thinking, though. que es mas macho? a few hundred fires. or 50 million people. we noticed the fire cause it was a sudden change. we don't notice what happens because of what we do because the changes happen slowly.
ever notice that when people say they're in a hurry... they really mean they're late. i love it when people in a hurry, or rather people who are late, need something from me. cause i always point out that distinction. guaranteed to get a reaction. no, you're not in a hurry. you're late. an ambulance is in a hurry. ambulances are entitled to special privileges because they're in a hurry. you are late. don't know why you're late. don't care. you're either unlucky or irresponsible. either way. you're not entitled to special privileges. so wait patiently while i deal with these other people who were lucky enough or responsible enough to be here on time. and next time you're late, be polite. then you won't get a lecture before you get what you want. have a nice day.
while the boys were with grandpa in truckee, the beautiful and talented alisa and i went to see the reduced shakespeare company. my kind of humor: irreverent. anywho, our seats were up in the balcony where the rows are steep. behind us sat a fat lady. in a dress. she was too fat to actually sit like a lady. one accidental peek and oh yeah pass the eye bleach. not doing that again. except it was hot. and she kept hiking up her hem and fanning her self. so this motion in my peripheral vision kept catching my attention. gah! oh my god my eyes. focus on the show. was funny. and alisa looked great.
we went to truckee for the fourth of july. the boys stayed with grandpa and friend for 5 extra days. i had a little vacation with the beautiful and talented alisa for five wonderful days. we went to work every day. and did something fun every evening. except one. i was a bozo and stayed at work instead of going to alisa's softball game. i am a bad person. we saw the hulk. we went to the theater to see the reduced shakespeare company. we went out to dinner. we stayed home and watched a movie. we stayed up late. doing what, ain't sayin. kinda glad the kids are back in a way. this old man needs to catch up on his beauty sleep.
fuel efficiency requirements for automobile manufacturers are expressed in miles per gallon. and it's calculated that way. but that's wrong. it should be calculated using gallons per mile. i explain. say the requirement is 50 miles per gallon averaged over your fleet. i make a car that gets 10 mpg. and a car that gets 90 mpg. i sell equal numbers of cars. average 50 mpg right? wrong. 50 mpg is 20 gallons per 1000 miles. each type of car is driven an average of 500 miles. the 90 mpg car uses 5.6 gallons. so far so good. however the 10 mpg car uses 50 gallons. for a grand total of 55.6 gallons per 1000 miles. or 18 mpg. which isn't even close to meeting the requirements. fail. write your congressman. or better, timmer for president.
the vpn we use from work uses the security protocol AES/SHA1. these old eyes of mine see that jumble of blurry letters and for the word ASSHAT. yeah ftt. funny to timmer. what exactly is an asshat? some possibilities: a hat for your bum. a hat for you donkey. buttocks on your cap. a donkey on your head wear.
clear solar panels
i read an article the other day about research into making clear solar panels. heh. that sounds like a joke. but i think it was really on the up and up. usually you want the solar panels to absorb all of the sunlight and turn it into electricity. however, funny thing about the photovoltaic effect... the photons need to be higher than a certain threshold energy. low energy photons are useless for producing electricity. so the novel idea is to coat windows to shuttle the high energy photons to the photovoltaic cells on the edges of the window. this works pretty well because generally you can't see those high energy photons anyway. unless you're a bumble bee who can see uv. so now... in addition to covering our rooftops with pv's we can also cover the walls and windows. nice huh?
i've been accused of being a know-it-all. can you believe it? heh. a know-it-all is a person who is completely ignorant of how much they don't know. funny thing about knowledge. the more you learn, they more you discover is yet to be learned. huh. on second thoughts, i might want to reconsider my definition of know-it-all.
we went to truckee for the fourth of july. there was lots of traffic. don't they know that gas is $5/gallon? sheehs. stay home. save gas. save money. heh. on second thoughts, the people who can't afford a vacation in truckee at $5/gallon are the same people who can't afford a vacation in truckee at $3/gallon.
i have a problem with devices that do what they're supposed to do badly. unpacking a bag after a long road trip i pulled out a knife. i didn't know there was a knife in there. it didn't feel like a knife. cause it was inside a knife guard device. it was a sort of plastic taco shaped object that wrapped around the blade. except the sharp edge of the knife was on the open end of the taco part. so when i tugged on it, the business end came out ad bit me. great. now i'm bleeding. i don't blame the knife. the knife was just doing what it does naturally. the knife guard however failed.
i was bashing bush the hero a few posts ago. perhaps i was too hasty with my acerbic wit. w might go down in history as the guy who broke our dependence on oil. think about it. the only thing that's gonna do it is sky high oil prices. which with a combination of war in the middle east and the plummeting dollar is exactly what we have. yeah it's gonna hurt. it's hard work to maintain a regimen of healthy diet and regular exercise. but in the long run it pays off big time. i don't think for one moment w has the foresight to have done this intentionally. but. most of the time heros don't set out to be heros. they just do what needs done. even if they do it for the wrong reasons. even if they really wanted to do the opposite.
boy don't you wish we'd have drilled for oil in anwr and the gulf of mexico back in 2000? heh. at first thought it seems like it would have been a great idea. we wouldn't have these out of control pump prices. heh. well, at second thought. heh. i should rename this blog to second thoughts. anywho, if we had drilled the anwr oil we the world would not have drilled oil somewhere else. there are only so many expert drilling crews. and they're not idle. they've been working around the clock for decades to deliver the oil you want. yeah maybe anwr oil would be slightly cheaper and slightly more plentiful than what we actually drilled. but the difference would be insignificant given the instabilities in the primary oil producing regions. and the falling dollar. anyone who says different is blowing smoke up your ass. thick black oily smoke.
my cat is really smart. unfortunately, she's a cat. so she can't talk. and she has paws instead of hands. so she can't write. this makes it nigh impossible for her to communicate how smart she really is. you have to spend enormous amounts of time observing her and interpreting everything she does. which is okay cause in addition to being really smart she's also really cute. heh. in reality, she's too stupid to seek medical attention when she hurts herself. and she's too stupid to not eat stuff that will make her sick. pass the paper towels. the cat just yacked up a hairball again.
so in the 70s there was enough oil for 20 years. here in the oughts there's enough for 50 years. so in 40 years there's gonna be enough for 100 years, right? everyone panic. heh. so what's different? well for one, technology has improved. for two, we've explored more. but those are minor things. the big thing is opec. the producing companies got tired of getting screwed by the american corporations backed by the us government. so they formed a union, effectively. really an oligopoly. but that's far too fancy of a word for this blog. anywho, before opec the member states were motivated to hide their reserves. keep them from being exploited. after opec, production quotas were set based on proven reserves. poof! suddenly "proven" oil reserves came gushing out of the woodwork. like sweet sweet crude from an oil well. and now we've got gobs of oil when just 40 years ago we were on the brink.
one year we gave money to the sierra club. big mistake. never again. the position on the propaganda is good. save the environment. who could be against that? but then they started calling up asking for more money. then they started calling and demanding more money. called us bad names. made the beautiful and talented alisa cry. sheehs. someone lost the ideal. like they know anything about her. sheehs. we save the water from the shower before it heats up. the tub water goes on the organic urban garden. get a frikken clue sierra club.
does anyone besides me think it's silly to both tax and subsidize a product? we subsidize oil. and tax gasoline. seems like we could get rid of both. [uh get rid of the subsidy and the tax. not get rid of oil and gasoline. sheehs.] along with all the associated infrastructure. smaller government. lower all-over taxes. sounds like a no-brainer. heh. i'm so naive. usually profits are near the money. ie the store owner takes the biggest cut. the distributor takes the mediumest. the actual producer gets the smallest cut. unless of course the government steps in. the subsidize and tax system is a means to channel the profits from the retailer to the producer. the justification is to ensure supply. in other words, if the oil companies didn't make wall street sized profits they wouldn't produce so much. and there'd be shortages and high prices. it happens all the time in other markets. like there's a shortage of cars computers and consumer goods. yep. the shelves in walmart are practically bare.
yeah, sure. ya got me. evolution is a theory, not a fact. religion however, isn't even that.
i recently posted about what things might be like in 50 years. i don't consider the scenario to be very likely. which means that one or more of the assumptions is likely to be not true. which one? take you picks. i believe that in 50 years, population will not double. oil demand will not quadruple. technology will not make luxuries 8x cheaper. i do believe that the energy cost of necessities will go up. not so sure about the 3x number. anywho. that's my 2c. feel free to stick your own foot as deeply into your own mouth as you wish.
buddy of mine claims there's gobs of oil and/or oil like substances buried all over the earth. some folks think he's nuts. but technically, he's right. there are gobs of hydrocarbons down there. the problem he glosses over is the ease with which we can get it. saying there's gobs of oil makes it sound like all of it is equally easy to get to. which clearly isn't exactly true. otherwise there'd never be shortages. opening the taps to the next reserve takes longer and is more expensive than it was for the previous reserves. and it's faster and cheaper than what it'll cost to tap the reserves after that. as long as reserve size times delay is bigger than the growth of demand, prices are low. but eventually you get to a reserve that is so big and so inaccessible that it can't keep up with growing demand. and prices go up. i suppose you can call it economics if you wish. but it's really just math.
so paid $60 for a tank of gas today. on it i drove 383 miles. that's 19 drives to and from work. a monthly train pass costs $60. the train becomes economical when if i ride it 19 or more times per month. there are open wireless access points at every station. i can grab some pages while we're stopped and read them between stations. it really doesn't take much longer to ride the train than to drive. cause i'm usually driving home in rush hour traffic. the big disadvantage is i have to go on the train's schedule. but right now i generally have to go on the kids' schedule. so that's really not much of a change. and bonus, i can skate to the station every morning. i really need to get some exercise.
it's pretty cool when you see the stuff you worked on loose in the wild. years ago the company i work for advanced the state of the art of facial motion capture technology. it was pretty darn cool. we did some little bitty neat stuff. commercials and shorts and test shots. but now with the release of the hulk it's up there on the big screen. in your face (so to speak). and larger than life. i'd like to say i did that. but the facial motion capture is such a small part of the ginormous amount of work it takes to make a movie. ah well. and it was really so long ago that i barely remember it. never got to meet the actors. that's not usually a perk for the coders. google
this was the best father's day ever. i got two routers. one from fry's. one from home depot. my lan is now set up so you can get out via either the dsl or the cable modem. neat huh? and the wireless is now up to date. no more of that wimpy 6 year old original airport silver puck thing that was always getting stomped on by the neighbors. ha ha ha. got burgers for dinner. and went to see the tigers play the giants. was a good game. had a bit of everything: 4 homers, a triple, 2 doubles, fan interference, a blown call, coach got ejected. was more/less tied the entire game. giants pulled it out in the bottom of the 8th. it was cold. really freaking cold. i knew i was gonna be in trouble when i saw the parking lot attendants were wearing parkas. but we had blankets. thanks everyone.
when you boil finances down to the simplest possible model there's only unit of currency: a person's labor. you can leverage that labor by drilling oil and adding the work the oil can do to the labor pool. oil is an amazing thing. a single barrel of oil is worth 15 /years/ of labor. each day we produce some 500 billion man-days worth of oil. people produce some insignificant 2 billion man-days of labor. it costs some 25 billion man-days to produce that oil. and yeah, i'm starting to pull numbers out of my backside for the purposes of illustration. anywho, after the math clears we're left with some 80 man-days of labor per person. that labor is spent on necessities and luxuries. let's call it half and half. and yeah that's a guess. but it's not far off. it's really impressive how much energy it takes to feed everyone. anywho, fast forward 50 years. at current growth rates the population doubles and oil demand quadruples. now things look more like this: 2 trillion man-days oil produced per day and 4 billion man-days from humans. but that oil now costs some 500 billion man-days. resulting in 125 man-days per person. nice! an obvious win, right? well maybe. depends on how much it costs to feed everyone. if the energy cost of necessities triples, the amount you have available for luxuries plummets from 40 to 5. which is fine as long as the technology factor boosts luxury production by more than 8x. heh. my grandkids are gonna be so poor.
so the recent bursting of the house market bubble made some $1 trillion dollars disappear from the books of the home owner. money isn't strictly a conserved quantity. but for this practical purpose it is. so, where did it go? one can only wonder. in other news, speculators are being blamed for driving up the price of oil.