so i was reaching into the fridge at work to get a diet coke. i've done this literally a gazillion jillion times. this time i caught the edge of the cardboard box under my thumbnail and gave myself a painful little paper cut. it's totally ignorable. except for one thing: typing the space bar. no problem. i'll just use my left thumb. i'm an old dog. i don't learn new tricks as fast as i used to. though i picked this one up pretty quickly. i(ow)guess(ow)a(ow)little(ow)negative(ow)reinforcement(ow)goes(ow)a(ow)long(ow)way.
i was recently invited to become a facebook fan of my high school band. heh. i don't know about you but from time to time i cogitate on the things that i would do differently if i had my life to live over again. top of the list is i would find my soul mate a whole lot sooner. and i'd be a lot nicer to her. heh. think i'd be pretty happy if i could just edit the parts where i was an ass. anywho, a somewhat close second on the list would be doing anything other than the single biggest waste of time in my entire life: band. no offense to the wonderful people i met there. but sheehs. to think of all the things i could have been doing. and to think of all the abuse i could have done without. sheehs. yeah. no band next life. sorry. will happily be a facebook band fan.
so work's been in a kind of nutso phase recently. nothing unusual there. i have a task: find a work-around for a problem. um, shouldn't i just fix the problem? no, make a work-around. highest priority or you're fired. oh-kay. so i crawled back under my rock and fixed the problem. a few hours later, a co-worker joked he was stalking me while i was trying to get the controller chick to take me out for ice cream. she didn't. then he followed me back to my office. guess he wasn't kidding. then he heaped a mountain of praise on me that made termination a trivial thing. he asked, why is the client suddenly running so much faster?
the other day, the beautiful and talented alisa was dancing in the kitchen. 1 2 cha cha cha, 1 2 cha cha cha. b joined in by singing mc hammer. 1 2 can't touch this.
so the boys and i watched a couple episodes of the tick. at dinner we started reciting tick quotes. my mind is a very strange place. why do little blue midgets hit me with fish? the beautiful and talented alisa wasn't in on the jokes. eventually her head hurt so bad she asked, how did i get here? that's not the important question. the important question is why are you here? because i got hit by a really *big* clown.
my birthday this year was great. mom called. said she sent me a card. but it was returned because she forgot to put a stamp on it. she wanted to know what i got. so i told her. i got a miniature from the bookstore. and a book from the miniature store. i got a hot rock massage. some aluminum pans for my halloween costume. i got a card too. but i peeled the stamp off and sent it back. i love birthday phone calls.
i love my kids. the other day b was trying to spin a snake on his head.
taxes this year are gonna suck. and by suck i mean we'll be in the 35% total tax range. which is about 2x our normal rate. why? well... we all know taxes are totally screwed up. but rarely do we get an opportunity to see *exactly* how screwed up. i explain. we sold off a bunch of losers from our stock portfolio this year. ie a real loss. at least for every purpose other than taxes. we didn't sell off any winners. so we can only claim a tiny fraction of the loss against our income. screwed. but that's not all. we exercised iso stock i got when i started at onlive. we have to pay amt on the profit we would make on it if we immediately sold it. which we didn't. nor do we want to. nor can we. it's a privately held company. double screwed. did you follow that? we are charged for imaginary income. but can't claim a real loss.
so what can a reasonable person conclude from yesterday's articles? well, pretty much nothing from the antarctic ice one. the combined models thing is way more interesting. the particular combination suggests the sun is responsible for nearly all of the past century's warming. as the scientists remind us, this is a model. and it needs to be tested against real data to see how good it really is. a different combination of models could just as easily cancel out nearly all of the sun's contribution to warming. the most significant conclusion is that systems can be far more sensitive to feedback loops than has been assumed. which is good news if you file grant proposals for a living. and bad news if you like black/white answers.
i happened across two climate change articles. they were the same but opposite. i explain. in the first article, the citations of the scientists were very measured. they found a correlation between co2 levels and melting the antarctic ice during the time of the dinosaurs. the journalist organized phrases in such a way that if you were so predisposed you'd think this was proof of man made global warming by burning fossil fuels. if you were predisposed in the other direction, you'd call it an obviously slanted piece of garbage. now, in the second article, the citations of the scientists were very measured. they used a combination of models that produced a solar driven warming effect much greater than the sum of each model individually. the journalist organized phrases in such a way that if you were so predisposed you'd think this was proof that global warming is entirely caused by the sun. if you were predisposed in the other direction, you'd call it an obviously slanted piece of garbage. heh. the same. but opposite.
yesterday's plan was brilliant. absolutely brilliant. super genius even. except for one teensy weensy thing. most people would spend that $3000 per month on crap. they wouldn't save it to increase the quality of life of their golden years. kinda like the proverbial grasshopper who played all summer while the ants worked. then presumably didn't make it through the winter. anywho, health care isn't exactly like building up a retirement fund. but from the point of view of the individual, it's functionally pretty close.
i think the solution to health care is to criminalize the sale of insurance. seriously. go with me on this one. the easiest way to cut costs is to increase competition. and what better way than to make providers compete for the consumer's dollars? providers would advertise their prices. consumers would shop around for the best coverage they can afford. providers would market novel payment programs. like pay in advance. or low interest rates. for example, the average family of four could take the $3000 per month it's currently blowing on health care and put it in an investment plan instead. after a few healthy years, and possibly foregoing expensive non-essential medical treatments, the cost of health care becomes a total non-issue. especially since the providers are now falling all over them to seduce away their dollars. instead of seizing those dollars by law.
on brisk mornings you can step out of your nice warm house into the crisp clear cold air of nigh dawn. you can open your mouth really wide and slowly exhale a plume of steam that drifts away like a soul with gossamer wings. and the still beauty of the world hits you like, well, a cold winter morning. awe inspiring. it's still fall here. and not cold yet. i was having these thoughts in front of a urinal at work watching the steam rise from the err stream. the temperature is set way too goddam cold in this building.
the pergola is nearing completion. we put it all together over the weekend. then it started to rain. so we had to take it back apart. not all of the parts have been treated with water sealer. specifically, the lattice. it goes on top. and is going to be the most tedious to paint. it has the most surface area, the most edge area, and the most area that's inconvenient to get to. but once that's tacked into place, we can call it done. yay! everything after that is bonus trim. like the front/back cap pieces. and the top cap pieces. and the solar powered lights. they had the perfect thing at home depot. i didn't buy them right then and there. believed they'd be on the shelves for more than that one day. big mistake. sigh.
there's a term: mathematically illiterate. it's pretty much a derogatory term used by the so called math literate to boost their smug factor. i don't like it because it's ambiguous. there are a small number of people who can't do math. most people can. which is a good thing given the amount of math people have to do to survive in modern society. for example, given the equations for a damped driven harmonic oscillator, people can generally work through the math and figure out the phase lag between driver and drivee. do we really need a word or phrase for can't-do-math? don't know. don't care. the much more interesting thing is the other use of math illiterate. that is for people who have more faith in their intuition than in pure mathematics. tie the above example to a real world example, the relationship between oil discovery and oil production. math predicts world oil production will decline in the next decade. this is in conflict with intuition. therefore there's something wrong with the math. ouch! again, i don't like the term math illiterate. anyone know a term for this mental phenomenon? there should be one. because it afflicts a disturbingly large majority of the population.
so b went camping for labor day weekend with the boy scouts. he had a blast. was kinda tired and grumpy when he got home. hungry too. they stopped for lunch on the long drive home. and he didn't get anything to eat. he didn't have any money. he left his backpack outside the tent the night before. and it was gone in the morning. along with oh about $200 worth of brand new camping gear. yeah the money's an ouch. but the real pain is going to be replacing all that stuff. it came from 8 different stores scattered around the bay area. sheehs. if i find the person who swiped b's pack i'm gonna give them $200 and take their shoes. and make em walk from store to store barefoot re-purchasing everything. and if they miss out on sale prices, well too bad for them. they can make up the difference out of their own pockets. sheehs. there is a very special hell for people who steal from scouts.
Man crashes his van going 70 mph through the guard rail of a bridge, flies 30 feet over a river, slams headfirst into another bridge, plummets 40 feet into the water, and swims to shore unharmed. Ta-da. -- vehicles have too many safety features. the genes of too many stupid people are not being removed from the pool. sigh.
why are you fat?
thisiswhyyourefat.com obviously. actually some of them looked pretty good. like the ice cream cupcake. and the bacon nachos. not nachos with bacon. but nachos with crispy bacon instead of tortilla chips. mmm... bacon.
i got moved to a new group at work a while ago. that required me to move downstairs. i liked my nice warm sunlit but glare free office i shared with a thermally compatible native hawaiian. my new office suffers a lot of blinding sunshine reflected off the cars parked right outside. fortunately my sons are my heroes. well their artwork is. well b's is. g's artwork is on white paper. b's is on black. which stops the glare a whole lot better. so. b's art is taped on my window in strategic locations. sigh. not sure how long i'm going to stay here. i have a plan. see, i'm in charge of the menu at home. we've been eating lots of wasabi, onions, beans. get the drift?
we've been working a whole lot on the pergola. actually, it's been pretty easy work. often less than an hour at a time. it just feels like a whole lot because it's been under construction for a large number of calendar days. but there's light at the end of the tunnel. one can enumerate what needs to be done in a single breath. woo hoo. need to: 1, secure the back of the top. unfortunately, that means temporarily putting the lattice in place. 2, measure cut paint and secure 4 boards. 3, paint and secure the lattice. 4, celebrate. i guess there's also 5, name it and finish the art piece. but that can wait until after we start enjoying it.
g went to one of those cheesy chunks places where you pay to play stupid games that spit out tickets that you can trade for junk. g had to have the jumping spider. you squeeze the bladder and the spider jumps. i call it the priapus spider. for reasons i didn't explain to the boys. anywho, the spider stopped jumping. seems it developed a leak in the part that extends on demand. g handed it to me to fix. i took one look at what part was broken. oh, honey. your son needs you to fix his spider. it's suffered a rupture. she was like why don't you fix it? uh uh no way. not me. i ain't touching that part. she sorta rolled her eyes at me. empathy too strong.
so the us is one of the few countries that has made decent progress on reducing carbon emissions. despite not having signed international agreements. there are a few reasons for this. the first is, we're greedy bastards. that makes us competitive. so when a fad like being green comes along, we jump on it. research into new technologies has had this implied requirement that it's greener and cheaper than the status quo. industry has gotten greener as it's been adopted. go us. guess there's something to be said for being greedy bastards. but the hands down title for greatest greenifier goes to gwb. after 9/11 he said, go shopping. and people being stupid frightened morans who needed to follow a leader, did. and they did. and the banks kept loaning them money because the government told them to. and effectively promised to bail them out when the shits hit the fan. which it did. and they did. the other punch to the double whammy is the wars in the middle east. which spiked oil prices. and caused several trillion dollars to leave the us economy. plunged us into the greatest recession in a century. which cut back our consumption. which cut back our production. which cut back our emissions. gwb for president. sigh.
bp recently announced the discovery of a giant oil field in the gulf of mexico. some 3 billion barrels. that sure sounds like a lot. but is it? okay first don't get me wrong. it's great that we're still finding oil. we will always want as much oil as we can get. because it is such useful stuff. the question is better phrased as, what impact does this have on the global oil picture including our dependence on foreign oil? heh. the meaning of that is kinda funny. cause bp is a foreign company. anywho, the answer is: none whatsoever. generally oil fields like this shrink after the excitement of discovery. it's not that folks are lying. it's just they don't know. it might hold 3 billion barrels. but it might hold 300 million. which just isn't newsworthy. okay so suppose things go as hoped. this field could increase world production by 1% to 2%. which is nothing to sneeze at. however, demand grows by 3% per year. so we'd need two such discoveries per year just to keep up with demand. not likely since this is the "biggest" find since 1976. also production from the previously discovered fields will be in decline by 1%-3% by the time this new field starts producing. so yeah, reliance on oil is in a world of kicking screaming change.
i was in a meeting today. someone was talking at me. it had been going on for quite some time. i was daydreaming. about calvin and hobbes. he turned to me and said: it sounds like they're winding down. better start nodding.
i think folks are a bit confused about what health care is. it's a form of insurance. the purpose of insurance is so some people can get something they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. which has a whole bunch of implications. the most surprising of which is that the insurance companies are driving up the cost of health care. way up. into the stratosphere up. why? cause if health care was affordable then we wouldn't need insurance. let me repeat myself. the purpose of insurance is so some people can get something they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. if people could afford health care, they wouldn't need insurance. providing insurance is a hugely profitable business. it's an industry that will go to great lengths to keep your business. fortunately for them, we adamantly believe everyone must have health insurance. or they'll die.
so what's really wrong with our current health care system? it works pretty darn good for most people. people who can afford coverage are happy. people who can't afford it generally get some level of treatment pro bono. the first failed group is a sliver of the population who are not rich enough to afford to buy coverage and not poor enough to get serviced for free. actually this sliver is pretty big. cause it includes most people who work for small companies and are self-employed. coverage is expensive because the employer can't afford to contribute. the employee has to foot the whole bill. seems like this would be a fine spot for government intervention. either by requiring insurance companies to cover this group and subsidize it themselves. or for the government to pick up the tab directly. the second failed group is people with pre-existing conditions whose coverage has lapsed. possibly because they got sick or injured and couldn't work and couldn't afford to maintain cobra or it ran out. tragic. it would also be noble of us to cover these folks too. the hard part is figuring out how to pay for it. i vote for magic.
windows users are mad. through the looking glass mad like a mercury snorting hatter. i strive pretty hard at work to use mac and unix systems instead of windows. i've been unusually successful for a while. i guess someone noticed i don't even have a pc. so they gived me one. sigh. spent all day installing the dev system on it. simultaneously i was doing useful work on a mac and a unix box. can i shorten that to ubox? hrm. anywho, the most annoying thing was the windows security thing. you just told me to do something. should i do it? yes. are you sure? yes, fuck you very much. that repeated every couple of minutes for the entire freakin day. so anywho that's the mood i was in when i got home. dinner smelled wonderful. the beautiful and talented alisa greeted me with that smile that outshines the full moon and asks, how was your day? i thought it would be a good idea to express how my day went poetically and humorously. someone just asked me a question, should i answer it? yes or no. now, before you go off on a men are pigs tirade, remember i was mad. through the looking glass mad like a windows snorting user.
so is evolution a religion? it's actually an interesting question. evolution pretty much defines what we mean by science. so it's clearly not a religion. okay. so i'm a school. part of the state. separation of church and state says i can't promote any religion over any other. one interpretation is to promote all religions equally. though that's an icky can of worms. it's much easier to adopt a policy of promoting no religion. can official school groups promote evolution by say, distributing evolution themed t-shirts? there are some religions whose basic tenets are in conflict with evolution. practitioners of such find that whole evolution idea to be an attack on their faith. should the school not do that? in this age of hyper sensitivity, no they shouldn't. codswallop. education is the only thing that stands against ignorance and superstition. schools need to go on the offensive on this point. my religion says the world is flat. ban teaching of magellan. you laugh. but it's really not funny.
okay suppose i was leader of the secret world government. just suppose. cause i'm not. really. right. so a flunky comes in with a reliable and accurate assessment that peak oil is in a couple of decades. the world's economies are on fire. partly because the oil producers are lying their asses off about how much oil they'll be producing in the future. reality's gonna kick in real soon. and hard. oil prices will skyrocket. the red hot economies will turn ice cold. entire industries will shut down. many economies will collapse. and governments with em. there'll be wars for food water and basic necessities. unless of course the secret world government intervenes. what should we do? it's pretty obvious really. we need to cool off the economies. the easiest way to do that is to raise the price of energy. and the easiest way to do that is to start a war in the middle east. a small but incredibly expensive war. but sheehs. who'd be stupid enough to do that? hey! check out this candidate for president of the united states. course he'll need a little help actually getting elected. maybe even fraud. but we're the secret world government. we can do that no problem. heh. okay, so back to reality. it's enough to make one believe in god. or a secret world government.
the weather patterns here are strange. in the summer the wind blows warm air in from the ocean. the marine layer cools the entire bay area like a giant air conditioning system on overdrive. it's downright cold much of the time. in the winter the wind brings in relatively warmish air. in the spring and the fall the wind stops. and things get hot enough to bake eggs on the sidewalk. it's kinda like there are two short summers every year. stranj sehr stranj.