Monday, December 31, 2007

The war on boys

Instapundit.com -

We have a daughter but I don't think schools are any better with girl games then boy games.

How clean is the electricity I use? - Power Profiler | Clean Energy | US EPA

How clean is the electricity I use? - Power Profiler | Clean Energy | US EPA: "In the United States, electricity is generated in many different ways, with a wide variation in environmental impact. Electricity generation from the combustion of fossil fuels contributes toward unhealthy air quality, acid rain, and global climate change."

In Colorado 81% of our energy comes from coal.

from LesJones

Miserable Donuts: The training I felt uncomfortable about - and shouldn't have

Miserable Donuts: The training I felt uncomfortable about - and shouldn't have: "But one thing that good first aid/trauma training can get across to you is a sense of, for lack of a better term, 'priority'. Certain things must be done if naught else is accomplished.

Like, seeing what is wrong in the first place.

I am currently home on leave, and I was driving on a back road when I came upon a two car accident. 911 had been called by an eyewitness - and the other two people standing near the wreck had done...naught."

Training is the big thing. Knowledge really is power.

Miserable Donuts: The training I felt uncomfortable about - and shouldn't have

Miserable Donuts: The training I felt uncomfortable about - and shouldn't have: "But one thing that good first aid/trauma training can get across to you is a sense of, for lack of a better term, 'priority'. Certain things must be done if naught else is accomplished.

Like, seeing what is wrong in the first place.

I am currently home on leave, and I was driving on a back road when I came upon a two car accident. 911 had been called by an eyewitness - and the other two people standing near the wreck had done...naught."

Training is the big thing. Knowledge really is power.

Emergency Preparation: Safe Room

You can make many kinds of safe rooms for many different purposes. I am not going to talk about a panic room where you can hide in case of a home invasion that is a totally different idea from what I want to talk about.

One of the big ones talked about is the Expedient Safe Room for Chemical Incidents. It isn't just about terrorists, there are many HAZMAT incidents across the country and a terrorist attack can just be considered a badly placarded HAZMAT incident.

Some scientists went out after the 1991 Gulf War to see if the Israeli idea of sealing off a room is one that would actually work.

The link is to a pdf that explains how effective duct tape and plastic sheeting really is.

It is most effective if it is 10 mils thick or more. You can get 10 mil plastic sheeting at Home Depot, Lowes and other home improvement places.

If you live in Tornado Alley a tornado safe room is a good thing to build into your home. A place without windows near the center of the home that is well protected. If you have one of these then upgrading it for chemical incidents is not hard at all.

If you live anywhere it is good to set up a safe room, often this can be the master bedroom, The idea is to set things up so you can be comfortable in case the power goes out or some other or all other utilities go out for a few days. Basically, you are looking to have a well insulated room, an alternative source of heat or cool (if you live in someplace like Tucson), a small fridge for essentials like medicine and milk that is powered by some alternative source, e.g. batteries, solar power, or generator which is outside.

Look at what can happen and think how you would react.

Knowing what you can and should do is half the work.

from Instapundit

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rotkohl, red cabbage sauerkraut

One of the best compliments a cook can get is, "This is good, what's in it?...but I hate that."

One of the dishes we brought to Christmas dinner was Rotkohl. My nephew's wife's parents were there and her mother was really enjoying the Rotkohl and asked what was in it. It is a pretty simple recipe and when I got to the caraway she was amazing. She hates caraway. We ground it because while my Dad likes caraway, a traditional German flavor, he doesn't like the seeds getting in his teeth. So we ground it in our spice grinder. It also added a wonderful flavor in a shorter time then whole seeds.

Rotkohl (red cabbage sauerkraut)
1 12 oz jar red cabbage, drained
1 medium onion thinly sliced
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, freshly ground
salt and pepper
oil for sauteing

Heat a heavy pot of medium-high heat and saute the onions until they just begin to brown. Add the red cabbage, raisins and caraway. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low and let simmer for 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning before serving. Serves 8-10 as a side dish. Goes well with ham and scalloped potatoes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cool Tool Car kit air compressor

Many years ago we got a car emergency kit as a gift. On the whole the piece that we've used most has been the air compressor.

It isn't that there aren't a lot of good tools in the kit. It has a rather nice emergency triangle, but it has been the air compressor that has saved the day most often.

It's snowed a lot the past few weeks and I haven't checked the tire pressure since it got cold. But today at the store when I was adding windshield washer fluid I noticed one of the tires was pretty low. It was down to half pressure. I guess I shouldn't be surprised there are a lot of pot holes and they are very good at knocking air out of a tire. So I pulled it out, pulled it into the cigarette lighter and let it do its thing. It took only a few minutes and we were back at full pressure.

Highly recommened.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Signaling the Mothership

Sometimes you get a neighbor that goes a little nuts with the Christmas lights: 10,000+ blinken lights.

Usually, they are not synchronized they are just plugged in and they go for a few hours until they get turned off. Occasionally they'll sync up and light up the neighborhood like a min-Sun.

Of course, some geek figures a way out to make the lights do what they want all the time.



That gets all kinds of attention, but can only be seem a few thousand feet up.

But this will be putting out enough Watts to actually be heard by a few nearby planets.



from Slashdot

Saturday, December 22, 2007

An Experiment

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

Technophilia: Discover the .EDU Underground

Technophilia: Discover the .EDU Underground: "Little appreciated outside the world of academia, there are literally thousands of .edu sites bursting with incredibly useful and interesting information and resources. Most of these sites won't pop up to the surface of the average search engine quest, and so they wait, neglected and underused...until now. Keep reading for a quick tour through the mysterious underground world of .edu"

Ooh, good stuff.

from Lifehacker.

Friday, December 21, 2007

College educated slaves

Current View: "We are now playing the same games with college tuitions, thus assuring that there will never again be an American middle class in the usual sense. One may inherit an education from wealthy parents; or one may be so damned deep in dept that the notion of independence never comes up. Debtors are not middle class."

The American education system is no working and not only does it have design flaws, some people are making it worse. Not that I blame them exactly they are working in their self-interest they want more influence and money and they have found a way to get it.

With families having only 1 or 2 kids parent don't learn what good education is until long after the schools have been paid.

This is one of a host of other reasons to pay off our debt. If you are in debt you are a slave. Actually a debtor is worth less then a slave. A slave, as property, would be taken care of to maximize the benefit of the initial investment. Kinda like a car it would be taken care of. A debtor is more like an old beater of a car that would be driven until it dies and no thought is given to it. Slavery is and was awful beyond belief but debt is no better, and in some ways worse.

The worst part about it may be the realization that you did it to yourself.

People will stay in jobs they hate, hurting themselves and the companies they work for and their family and friends because they need that next paycheck to "make ends meet" which never seem to. It has been my experience that companies can smell the desperation and will try to suck you dry.

When you don't need that next paycheck the relationship chances and they fear and hate the lack of control they have over you. Entrepreneurship makes more sense more of the time.

The wise learn from other people's mistakes.

Bad career advice: Do what you love � Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk

Bad career advice: Do what you love Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk: "One of the worst pieces of career advice that I bet each of you has not only gotten but given is to “do what you love.”"

From the other side of the fence. Her main issue is finding the perfect job. Now, that I agree is stupidly impossible. Most people can do and are good at more then one thing.

I think what people are confusing here is that old false trope of "one true job" like there is just one soul mate out there. There isn't. Even if you are 1 in a million that means there are 6,000 others just like you out there.

There are jobs and careers you will be much better suited for then someone else would be, but your combination of strengths are different then others.

I am looking at my strengths, and things I spend my time on. I really spend a lot of time reading and writing. I spend time learning new things and synthesizing them with things I've already learned to see what new insights I can get. I also spend lots of time thinking about design. How things are put together and how they can be improved. I hope to turn those things into something great for me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Love Your Work or Don’t Work at All

Love Your Work or Don’t Work at All: "When you do work you dislike, you poison your output. If that is the only work you’re capable of doing, you’re better off doing nothing. Meet your needs by asking for hand-outs if you must, since at least you won’t be poisoning others with your fear and resentment."

I concur with the general sentiment of this post, If not all the particulars. One of the jobs I had was a job at a call center and it was a lousy job. Pay was low, stress was pretty high and low meaning, the only reason the call center existed was because they couldn't trust the installers to be honest about their work. It was so bad I couldn't remember what I did all day. I remember the feeling of wanting to cry and other people actually doing it. It was mindless and pointless work.

It was so bad I ended up in the hospital after 3 months and having to quit. So I know by experience how poisonous a job can be. And because I didn't qualify for health coverage we lost more money then I made there.

I didn't think there could be jobs that were beneath me, but obviously there are. People talk about toxic coworkers but there are toxic jobs too. Life is too short to work in a poisonous environment. It also hurts to much. Better to leave then to end up in the hospital or morgue, because your body will tell you that it is wrong and will work to get you out of there if you don't.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

At 71, Physics Professor Is a Web Star - New York Times

At 71, Physics Professor Is a Web Star - New York Times: "He said he spent 25 hours preparing each new lecture, choreographing every detail and stripping out every extra sentence."

This guy is impressive. This is truly a labor of love and I am very impressed. I hope this material is still around when I get to teach my daughter about this.

Pandemic Ventilator Project

Pandemic Ventilator Project

Now I certainly am into emergency preparation and this is one of those things that is important to think about before hand.

MacGyvering something in times of stress is very hard. Doing the work before hand is a great idea and is great for boosting creativity. Stockpiling a few hard to get items before hand would also save a lot of lives. You won't be able to get things overnighted in many cases during a disaster but having a few critical parts on hand should not be that big of a deal.

The big thing is to have the plans the critical parts and a list of other materials handy and people knowing about it. And not having things tossed because no one knows what it is or for.

For me I am focusing on communications now that we have our Amateur Radio Licenses. We still need a radio for my wife but that will come. But this has me thinking about other things we might be able to do.

I have instructions of building fox hole radios but I have to try it and make sure it works.
Kludging a transmitter is another story. I need to think about that one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dream Home 2.0 Kitchen Cutting Station



The knife has been the most basic tool of the kitchen since the Neolithic era. It lets you get things ready for the application of heat which is cooking.

I don't like walking around the kitchen with a big knife when the little one is around and there is a lot of time wasted going to the sink and back to wash it for the next item.

So what makes up a good kitchen cutting station:
• First, it has to be at a good height. If you are close to average the typical countertop is fine. You are looking for your arms to be bent at a comfortable angle, if it is too far away then stacking a few cutting boards can help if you are too short a few rubber mats can help.
• Easy access to the sink, The cutting station should be on the same counter as the sink, that way you can clean the knife without swinging it where people can be walking. Since food is always cleaned before use anyway, having the sink right there also saves quite a bit of time.
• Storage for knives and cutting boards is essential, there is no point to having to walk across the kitchen to bring it to the right place to use it. I like a knife block with horizontal slots since the blades won't be resting on anything and dulling. With separate cutting boards for vegetables and meat keeping them someplace is important too.
• Plenty of counter space for freedom of movement. The space for cutting should be 36-48 inches (91-122 cm) wide. That gives you plenty of elbow room when the knives are moving and you have a pile of ingredients. Ideally, I want enough space on both sides to have a half sheet pan to hold raw ingredients on one side and prepared ingredients on the other. At least having handy access to plates and bowls for finished goods is great.
• A place to put a cookbook to check on ingredient amounts would be great too.
• For cleanup, a place for paper towels, and sanitizer to kill those nasty germs should be handy too.
• Placement, the cutting station should be closer to the food storage are then the serving area because you are going to be preparing food and often cooking it rather then serving it directly.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Emergency Preparation: First Aid kits

Injuries Can Be Emergencies and Disasters
It is worthwhile considering (unpleasant though it may be) to consider what might happen, in terms of possible injuries, during a disaster. Some are obviously worse than others, but all should be thought through when preparing:
• Lacerations–breaks in the skin, minor or severe, which pose a risk of infection, and/or in some cases serious bleeding.
• Fractures (broken bones).
• Sprains–injured and painful tendons which can limit mobility.
• Burns–usually from fire, electrical, or chemical injury–although severe cold (frostbite) is similar in many ways.
• Temperature-related dangers–hypothermia, heat prostration &etc.
• Infection–usually a risk from other injuries, although contaminated food and water are a risk as well.
• Heart-attacks caused by stress.
• Births caused by stress.

First Aid kits contain things you know how to use to help someone who has been injured. Sadly, most of the kits found in stores today are little more then an assortment of bandages.

What do you know how to do?
The most important thing you need for building any kind of kit is knowledge and training. It doesn't matter what you have in the kit if you don't know how to use it. Take a class, read a book do something to learn more about how to help someone in trouble. Check out www.redcross.org for more on classes.

What injuries do you expect to encounter?
The second most important thing in building a kit is expectations. The things you put in your kit will depend on what it is you expect to be taking care of, it also depends on if this is an individual kit, a kit that stays in the car/office or one at home. A family with five active boys has different needs then one for an apartment of female college students, a kit for an office is different for one for hiking the backcountry.

Two levels of Kits:
• Handy Kit
A handy kit is a small kit that you can carry with you all the time or have in the glovebox of the car or in your desk at work. You can deal with a few small injuries and maybe a medium injury.
• Home Kit
No one ever thinks about a year's supply of bandages and such but this can be lifesaving in a major disaster to help treat many injured people or helping a few people heal over the long term.

The Handy Kit
• CPR mask
• Cell phone: this can be an old one with a working battery, 911 calls are always allowed.
• Band-aids various sizes
• Butterfly bandages
• 4x4 gauze pads
• 1" or 2" bandage tape to secure gauze or a sprain.
• Betadine/Bactine for cleaning wounds.
• Neosporin/bacitracin for scrapes.
• Alcohol wipes/Hand sanitizer for cleaning equipment.
• Nitrile / Vinyl / Latex gloves for protecting yourself or marking a place.
• LED flashlight/headlight + extra batteries.
• Bandage scissors/trauma shears.
• Red bandanas to make slings or hold dressings in place or signaling device.
• Glucagel or tube of writing frosting (not blue) to help someone in diabetic distress.
• Water purification tablets to purify water to clean wounds or a box/pouch of water.
• Aspirin or your favorite pain-reliever in 2 tablet packages.
• Antihistamine (like Benadryl) in 2 tablet packages to deal with mild allergic reactions.
• Splint Material: SAM splint, carpenters ruler, magazine, or cardboard.
• Instant Hot and Instant Cold compresses.
• Moleskin for blisters.
• Pen and paper to write down what is happening and whatever instructions you get from 911.
• Permanent marker to write on people or things what you've done to them.
• Feminine Hygiene pads to stop blood loss.
• Space/emergency blanket to stay warm, treat for shock

The Home Kit
Mainly you will need a lot more of what you have in the Handy Kit.
• Box(es) of latex gloves or equivalent.
• Large supplies of pain reliever and antihistamine.
• Lots of band-aids and gauze pads.
• Rolls of Ace bandages and bandage tape.
• A few Instant Hot and Instant Cold compresses
There are also many things you can keep in a home kit that are impractical to keep in the car for most people.
• Medical books, knowledge is the most powerful tool of all.
• Several reusable gel hot/cold compresses.
• A thermometer or two.
• An otoscope for looking in ears and noses and such.
• Heating pad.
• Humidifier.
• Splinting material.
• Blood pressure kit.
• LED flashlights/headlights + extra batteries
• Tweezers for splinter removal.
• Feminine Hygiene supplies (useful for stopping blood loss)
• Bulb syringe to clear a newborns nose or cleanse a wound with sterile water
• Cotton shoe string to fix shoes, tie off a babies umbilical cord or tie back your hair.
• Towels to cover people in shock, to warm a baby, to stop blood loss.
• Eye glass repair kit
• Soap
• Sterile Water/Saline to clean contact lenses and wounds.
• Sun screen

The Vial of Life
The Vial of Life is a nationwide program. All USA EMTs are trained to look for one. Where they expect to find it: In your refrigerator.

What it is: an info sheet for your friendly local EMTs to use if they come to your house and find you lying on the floor, unable to answer questions about what your medical conditions are, what medications you’re on, what your allergies are, your DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) status, your date of birth, doctor’s address and phone number, and other Helpful Information. A recent photo wouldn’t be a bad idea so we can be sure that the information we’re working from matches the unconscious body on the floor. (Even if you live alone, maybe there’s a guest over. It’s nice to be sure.) Insurance numbers and the usual stuff they’d ask at the hospital at the registration desk if you were capable of answering questions goes on the form too: It’s coming with you.

The big things that need to be there are your name and date of birth (since they can’t start the paperwork without them), your allergies (so they won’t accidentally kill you), and your medical history (since most people come down with HIBGIA: Had It Before, Got It Again). Please write down your medications, please spell them right, and please write neatly. If you don’t speak English they need to know what language to try instead. Typing is a big plus.
For more information go to: http://www.vialoflife.com/index.html and 8026080888008808080808
http://www.mypreciouskid.com/

For a free copy of Where There Is No Doctor and other free medical and health books go to http://www.hesperian.org/publications_download.php
For Wilderness Medicine http://www.wilderness-survival.net/chp1.php

Friday, December 14, 2007

Career Transitions

Career Transitions: "I know your problems seem big to you, but lots of people have already solved essentially the same ones. You can go to any library and find books explaining how they did it too. The physical step-by-step solutions are easy to come by, but the downside is that virtually all of them require a certain degree of inner strength, courage, and discipline."

Here is yet another post on most problems already being solved.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Scientist Employs 'Circuit Theory' to Protect Endangered Species

Scientist Employs 'Circuit Theory' to Protect Endangered Species : "Ecologists are now using 'circuit theory,' thanks in large part to a scientist named Brad McRae who works at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, California. McRae designed electronics for printers before completing a Ph.D. in forest science at Northern Arizona University. He realized how striking the parallel was between the circuits he had worked on as an engineer and the species he was now trying to understand. "

I have long thought that specialization and the latest trend toward super-specialization may not be the best thing. It tends to narrow the ways you think about how to go about solving problems. In college we are taught certain ways to solve certain kinds of problems and we use that for everything. We get a good hammer but forget that there are other tools out thee.

I love to study how big problems were solved. Hoover Dam, The Erie Canal, the Panama Canal, the Apollo space program, the SR-71 and U-2 aircraft, Filming the Lord of the Rings.

This is a strong reminder to get outside of your specialty and see what others are doing to solve problems.

UPDATE; There are several problem solving theories that understand this. from dumblittleman

Books: None of the Above: Books: The New Yorker

Books: None of the Above: Books: The New Yorker: "Flynn then talked about what we’ve learned from studies of adoption and mixed-race children—and that evidence didn’t fit a genetic model, either. If I.Q. is innate, it shouldn’t make a difference whether it’s a mixed-race child’s mother or father who is black. But it does: children with a white mother and a black father have an eight-point I.Q. advantage over those with a black mother and a white father. "

This is very interesting and I think this is known at some levels by everyone. One of my nephews has had a hard time adopting a child because they don't photograph well. Most mothers like their children to go to "pretty" parents. This one black mother wanted her child to go to the smartest parents they could find. His finishing up a Ph.D. and she has a Masters. That was good enough for her.

“The mind is much more like a muscle than we’ve ever realized,” Flynn said. “It needs to get cognitive exercise. It’s not some piece of clay on which you put an indelible mark.”

They finally realized this?! Everyone I know would say that was totally flaming obvious.

I.Q. does measure something and is a good predictor of academic success but is mostly useless outside of academia. Bill Gates isn't 24,000 times smarter then average but he is 24,000 times richer.

The Flynn Effect has odd implications:
" If we work in the opposite direction, the typical teen-ager of today, with an I.Q. of 100, would have had grandparents with average I.Q.s of 82—seemingly below the threshold necessary to graduate from high school. And, if we go back even farther, the Flynn effect puts the average I.Q.s of the schoolchildren of 1900 at around 70, which is to suggest, bizarrely, that a century ago the United States was populated largely by people who today would be considered mentally retarded."
Obviously I.Q. is more complex then what the tests are able to measure and people have not thought through the implications of what renorming the test means.

That article goes into that. Well worth reading and the arguments are just beginning.

Everyone has their time, everyone has energy and health which effects their time and they have talents, certain innate capabilities that allow them to pick certain skills more easily then others can. It is what we choose to do with these things that make us what we are.

"It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." -Dumbledore

My Way News - Families Flee Freezing, Powerless Homes

My Way News - Families Flee Freezing, Powerless Homes: "More than 70 people have been treated for carbon dioxide poisoning in Oklahoma City and Tulsa."

CO2 poisoning is a major problem when the power is out. A battery powered detector is a good thing to have at such times.

One of the reasons we got the apartment we are in right now is because it has a fireplace. It seems okay and ready to use.

An alternative source of heat is always important in the winter. I've got to make sure to remember that in our next home.

One thing though is that the basement may be nice and cool in the summer but might also be nice and warm in the winter. Or at least warmer then the upper levels of the house. It is linked to ground and will be near 55°F most of the year. That is not terribly warm but way above freezing.

Checklists and more

Current Chaos Manor mail: "This piece belongs on the Mandatory Reading List for High School Seniors, right next to Peter Drucker's _The Effective Executive_. "

I ran across the New Yorker piece earlier. Now I have another book to put on the list to read.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dream Home 2.0: The Library


Hackito Ergo Sum: The Library Problem: "In March of 2006 my wife Mary and I owned about 3,500 books. We both have eclectic interests, voracious appetites for knowledge, and a great love of used bookstores. The problem was that we had no idea what books we had or where any of them were."

That ain't nothing, we've got 6000+ books, at least that was where I stopped counting, but it is less then 7000 books. Right now they are mostly in storage except for the 600 or so essential ones. Except for about half a books books we are currently working on at least one of us has read each book. And that doesn't even count all the books we've borrowed from the library. One of the downsides of having above average reading speeds is that we go through books very quickly and they then to pile up.

You know you have a lot of books when you are triple stacking paperbacks with books underneath to allow you to see that there are more there. 2x4s or something might have been better but this was something to do with the not of good books.

That family has worked really hard to organize their books and that is great. We have a different way. We just needed something simple to make the books reasonably easy to find. So we just kept them in broad categories in particular places:

Office: The work related books.
• Engineering
• Science
• Personal Development
• Business Development
• General Reference

Kitchen: Except for the Alton Brown books we haven't read these cover to cover but they are fun to peruse for ideas.
• Cookbooks
• Entertaining
• Nutrition
• Medical
• Gardening

Library:
• Science Fiction and fantasy series by author. This is the bulk of our collection and easiest to hold together.
• Historical fiction.
• Other novels by author.
• Religion
• Classics
• Humor
• &etc.

The media room has all the video and audio products and our daughter had all of her books in a bookshelf in her room. We also had a shelf for oversized books, mostly Art in the living room.

Are all of these good or great books, no but since we have prescreened a large number of them they are generally better then average books. We've had friends comment, "I love coming to your home it's like going to my favorite bookstore." Lending books is just fine a simple checkout sheet taped to the side of one of the bookcases worked for us, if it was leaving the house with a friend.

We haven't had much trouble with duplicates either, but then we buy most of our books online now even if we find something nice at the store or library. It's just cheaper.

We are now in a much smaller place so we are beginning a purge of the not so good books. The hard part here is deciding what isn't worthy to stay. We'll want to remember what we got rid of so we'll be using Delicious Library to hold that stuff, so we don't buy it again later unless we mean it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Education | The race is not always to the richest | Economist.com

Education | The race is not always to the richest | Economist.com : "The last recommendation—sparking children's interest in the subject with appealing science-based activities—comes with a caveat: a keen interest in science does not always mean being good at it."

Interesting.

Simple Thing Make Huge Differences

Peter Pronovost's contribution to medicine will be as significant as Ignaz Semmelweis', and probably as well known.

Which will be too bad for us if the medical community ignores him as they did Ignaz for so long.

The problem: each ICU patient has 178 daily tasks required to keep them alive for another day. Each ICU nurse has between 4-8 patients to watch over each day, not including assisting any time there is an emergency in the unit. So each ICU has at least 712 tasks to do each day to keep their patients alive.

Could you imagine a Daily To Do list of 712 actions? Sure you can, but thinking about it probably made your head hurt and your heart quail. The amazing thing is that they get it right most of the time. For example, putting in a line (an IV to us average people) takes only 5 steps and they do all the steps 60% of the time and line infections only occur about 11% of the time.

But what happens when you add a checklist and a kit containing all the things you need in one convenient package? Line infections drop to almost 0%.

A medical breakthrough that reduces line infection rates to nearly 0% should be hailed as a major breakthrough, Nobel Prize winner talk should be going on, everyone should be changing to the new system with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, the response seems to be, "what? more paperwork?" I can appreciate that sentiment as the level of paperwork in hospitals and doctors offices now looks to be overwhelming even with computers to deal with the storage problem.

Don't forget the cost of learning this was 1 or more human lives.

The article goes into the story of the B-17 and it's first crash and how people called it "too much airplane for one many to fly." But adding a simple checklist make it much easier to fly. The writer also doesn't mention that all airliners come with a little clipboard attached to the yoke for the current checklist.

Heck, we went to the Moon of the power of checklists. The computers they used were less powerful then a $20 scientific calculator you can get at most grocery stores today.

This reminds me The Magical Number Seven Plus or Minus Two We can only hold about 7 things in our short term memory, 712 is way beyond that. While we can certainly chuck this stuff into something we can more easily handle it is important to realize that an interruption can cause us to forget what it was we were doing or what step we were at and we just forget.

When you are programming you can get into flowand be holding huge and complex data structures in your mind, but a "quick" interruption can make all that come crashing down, and it takes a long time, about 20 minutes to recover.

I know a lot of my first aid training came in the form of instilling checklists into our minds: breathing, bleeding, shock. When we had our car crash that checklist came to mind and that is what I did for us, even though I was trapped in the car and had 11 fractures.

I am thinking of doing more checklists for myself, that should make a number of things I need and want to do in life a lot easier.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Emergency Preparation: Snowstorm

We had our first real snowstorm this weekend and we pretty much sat it out at home. Just as it was getting going I ran to the store for a few items to make our lives easier. Getting there and back wasn't too bad though it was a freezing fog/drizzle thing that was sticking to cars and trees but the roads were not remotely as bad as this. I found that the wipers were practically useless The tips of the blades did some work but the part right in front of my face just didn't do anything except smear so it was easier to just use a hand squeegee before moving. The supermarket is only a couple of blocks away and that wasn't bad at all.

I don't like going on the roads during the first major snow event since most people have forgotten how to driver over the summer. The roads were warm enough that it wasn't slippery but that changed rapidly. It was much smarter just to stay home and ride it out. It doesn't really matter if the road is all that icy do the right thing at the right speed (maybe that should be the wrong thing at the wrong speed) and your tires will break free of the traction to the road. Once we were driving back from the airport in SLC and we were following a pickup carrying a pile of light brown slabs. We had a fair amount of room 4-5 car-lengths when something about a square meter and several inches thick fell out the back. Slamming on the brakes and turning the wheel don't do nothing about changing direction. We were just skidding down the road still in a straight line right at the chuck of brown stuff. When it bounced off of the front of the car I realized it was foam rubber, but my relief was short-lived as the car finally started reacting to the fact I slammed on the brakes and turned the wheel at 70 mph several seconds ago. After hitting the stops on the wheel a few times I was, with God's help, able to recover from the skid but we stopped on the side of the road for a few minutes to allow our heart-rates to drop to something more reasonable.

Since it is winter it is a good idea to have a survival kit on the car. With our recent move things are all over the place and we have to find or recreate one. A big bag of GORP and some space blankets at the least would help. The scrapper is already in the car as is a brush so that is a start. We are also carrying our HT around all the time too.

Another things we should make up is a flu kit. It also seems that flu season is in full swing. I got a shot and out daughter got a nasal spray but my wife is allergic to the standard flu shot and they didn't have any of the other kind so she is doing without for now.
One cool thing they found was an oral rehydrating solution,

You can make a simple homemade rehydration solution by mixing
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3 Tablespoons sugar into
• 4 cups (1 quart/~1 liter) of water or apple juice
and drinking it slowly.

Like sports drinks, it tastes horrible if you are fine but wonderful if you are sick.

We are supposed to get more snow tomorrow so we'll go get a few things today.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Pearl Harbor Day Page

The Pearl Harbor Day Page: "At dawn on Sunday, December 7, 1941, naval aviation forces of the Empire of Japan attacked the United States Pacific Fleet center at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and other military targets. "

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Officials: Ham Radio Operators Are Storm's 'Unsung Heroes' - Weather Alert - Special Coverage News Story - KPTV Portland

Officials: Ham Radio Operators Are Storm's 'Unsung Heroes' - Weather Alert - Special Coverage News Story - KPTV Portland: "'One of the problems in this is always communication,' Gov. Ted Kulongoski said after a visit Tuesday to Vernonia and a fly-over there and other affected areas. 'I'm going to tell you who the heroes were from the very beginning of this...the ham radio operators. These people just came in and actually provided a tremendous communication link to us.'"

I just got my Amateur Extra License and my wife has her Technician, we got them almost on a whim. But there has been this feeling of a storm coming, the past couple of years 40 people in our area have gotten new ham licenses. We've organized as many as wanted into groups to try and coordinate a response in case of a disaster. We have a few people with powerful HF rigs for long distance work, though most of us are just trying to get good with the short range FM voice stuff.

Ham radio has always been a backup for official communications and will be used that way for a long time. Hams do incredible things because we know that we can save lives just by getting the right information tot he right people.

One of the powerful things people talk about is your network. Ham radio is another network and one that can reach around the world, even in times of emergency. Find out more about Ham radio at ARRL.

from Slashdot

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

San Jose Mercury News - Out of the box: Valley companies dump cubicles for open office spaces

San Jose Mercury News - Out of the box: Valley companies dump cubicles for open office spaces: "Whatever Intel's decision, for many, cubes are becoming dinosaurs."

This is one of those ideas that work great on paper but crash terribly in real life since they haven't written down the most important rule. Only the same type of people can be in the One Big Room.

It will work fine, if and only if, all the creative types or all the telephone types are together, people like the art department and the computer programmers, they have basically the same work style as they are both creative, lots of time faced down creating something wonderful. You can also put customer service and sales in the same room as they are all on the phone all day and that works too.

It is really easy to see if One Big Room is working or not. If most of the creative types are coming in at odd times or asking for telecommuting or you keep running into them in outlying conference rooms then you know your workspace isn't working and is costing you significant amounts in lost productivity.

from slashdot

Monday, December 03, 2007

Emergency Preparation Backup power.

What We Are Encouraged To Do
“We continue to encourage members to store sufficient food, clothing, and where possible fuel for at least one year. We have not laid down an exact formula for what should be stored. However, we suggest that members concentrate on essential foods that sustain life, such as grains, legumes, cooking oil, powdered milk, salt, sugar or honey, and water. Most families can achieve and maintain this basic level of preparedness. The decision to do more than this rests with the individual.
“We encourage you to follow this counsel with the assurance that a people prepared through obedience to the commandments of God need not fear.” (First Presidency Letter to priesthood leaders, 24 June 1988.)

Fuel Storage
One of the hardest things to store is fuel. By its very nature it is a very energetic substance and that can lead to certain problems: like it starting to burn before you mean it to and in places you don’t want it to. It is not usually something you want to store large quantities of in your home. So some kind of out-building or storage shed is a good thing to have.

Fuel for Electricity
At the very least you need some batteries for flashlights and radios and the like. There re two kinds of batteries: Primary and Secondary. Primary batteries are single use and disposable, like alkaline and lithium batteries that can only be used once, but will store fully charged for several years. They create voltage and current through and irreversible chemical reaction. Secondary batteries are rechargeable, like NiCad, NiMH, and Lithium-Ion batteries. Properly cared for they can be used hundreds of times. With the use of an inverter you can use your car to charge your cellphone, laptop or any other rechargeable battery.

A generator is a useful little device, but storing large amounts of gasoline is challenging. Don’t buy an over-powerful generator, you don’t have to power your whole house; the refrigerator, the furnace fan and the phone and any vital medical equipment you might have. A small photovoltaic solar energy production system to backup the basics is not all that expensive.

You also likely have a gas grill in your backyard. A few canisters of propane will allow you to cook food and boil water for quite some time. A propane camp stove will also be very useful for that.

Safety First
Remember not to use these indoors, even an attached garage is indoors even if the door is open. Carbon monoxide can get into your home and kill your family.

Fuel for Heat
Heating your home in the winter is an important thing to do, without heat you will die. Even so you don’t need to heat the whole house. Moving everyone into one bedroom and just heating it during extreme cold may be a useful idea.

There are a variety of fuels that can be stored for use, the main ones are: wood, coal and oil.

Wood is easily stored outside under a tarp or other protective cover and will last many years. Make sure the chimney is inspected, and if necessary cleaned, every year. It takes about 4 cords (4 ft x 4 ft x 32 ft) of wood to heat a 1500 square foot house for one year.

Coal also stores well and provides much more heat per pound then wood. Coal can spontaneously combust in piles greater then ½ ton. It takes about 6 tons (240 cubic feet) of coal to heat a home for one year. However, coal could be stored buried in the backyard, preferably under a flower bed or other space that can be easily disturbed during cold weather.

Oil is one of the best kinds of fuel for storage, it can be stored easily in a heavy-gauge steel container and has lots of energy. 500 gallons will heat a typical home for one year.

Other fuels
Propane and natural gas both require pressure vessels for storage.
Kerosene is a very popular supplementary heating fuel and can be used for lighting.
Lamp oil is a highly refined version of kerosene that burns very cleanly. Usually used for light but produces plenty of heat as a byproduct and can heat a small room.
Pellet stoves can use wood pellets or even grain to produce heat.
Peat and manure can be burned for heat. The pioneers often used manure to cook with.
Rubber tires are made from oil and will burn. It is best to have some tools on hand to cut them into smaller, more useful sizes. Not a great choice but useful for emergencies.
Passive solar can be made use of by building a box as wide as your window painted black inside with a plexiglas top pointed south at a 30ยบ angle to the ground attached to your window to allow air heated in the box to come into the room.

Damn Interesting Space Radio: More Static, Less Talk

Damn Interesting Space Radio: More Static, Less Talk: "To demonstrate the degrading effect of distance on an everyday omnidirectional signal, one might imagine a spacecraft equipped with an Arecibo-style radio receiver directed towards the Earth. If this hypothetical spacecraft were to set out for the interstellar medium, its massive 305-meter wide dish would lose its tenuous grip on AM radio before reaching Mars. Somewhere en route to Jupiter, the UHF television receivers would spew nothing but static. Before passing Saturn, the last of the FM radio stations would fade away, leaving all of Earth's electromagnetic chatter behind well before leaving our own solar system. "

This is the whole propagation and inverse-square law thing. Once you start thinking about it unless someone is deliberately trying communicate with us it is terribly hard to find signals.

Just trying to do Ham radio stuff around our own planet is hard enough. Just trying to receive from Voyager at the edge of the solar system is challenging for scientists. Then don't forget all the radio noise all the suns in the region are spewing out.

This is a very hard problem.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Iconic Daredevil Evel Knievel Dies at 69

Iconic Daredevil Evel Knievel Dies at 69: "'They started out watching me bust my ass, and I became part of their lives,' Knievel said. 'People wanted to associate with a winner, not a loser. They wanted to associate with someone who kept trying to be a winner.'"

To remember.

Beacon Broadside: Read This! Instilling a Love of Reading in Kids

Beacon Broadside: Read This! Instilling a Love of Reading in Kids: "Among the study’s more dire findings: Only 30% of 13-year-olds read for pleasure on a regular basis. The number of 17-year-olds who never read for pleasure increased from 9% in 1984 to 19% in 2004. The average American between ages 15 and 24 spends only 7 minutes a day reading and half never read books for pleasure."

Part of it is what are they calling reading, from the context it seems to be pleasure or literary reading.

Reading for pleasure is a great thing but after reading page after page of school work and researching/surfing on the 'Net you want to do something else.

One of the things I find disturbing is the lack of backyards in most neighborhoods. You can't really tell your children to go out and play anymore, because you have to keep an eye on them. Now that means you can't do cooking or household chores while the kids play out back.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

People of the Web - Rolling in cash

People of the Web - Rolling in cash: "Linda started her online business, the Prairie Tumbleweed Farm, as a joke. It was 1994 and she wanted to teach herself how to design a website. Since she lived on the prairie in southwest Kansas, where rolling tumbleweeds are sometimes the only dynamic feature of an endless flat horizon, she invented a farm that sold tumbleweeds..."

The funny thing is that I've heard about this before but thought it was a joke.

But it also tells us what you have in nauseating abundance, some people are searching for, and are willing to pay.

It also shows us the power of the Internet. There is no real way you could have created a business plan for selling tumbleweed. You would conclude that while there may be a market out there there is no inexpensive way to actually find it and to market to it.

What do you have in abundance that might be driving you crazy?

from MaginalRevolution

Scientific American: The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

Scientific American: Nothing Says "Early Earth Was Cool" Like World's Oldest Diamonds: "In particular, attributing poor performance to a lack of ability depresses motivation more than does the belief that lack of effort is to blame. In 1972, when I taught a group of elementary and middle school children who displayed helpless behavior in school that a lack of effort (rather than lack of ability) led to their mistakes on math problems, the kids learned to keep trying when the problems got tough. They also solved many of the problems even in the face of difficulty. Another group of helpless children who were simply rewarded for their success on easy problems did not improve their ability to solve hard math problems. These experiments were an early indication that a focus on effort can help resolve helplessness and engender success."

This article isn't about gifted children at all it is about a learning mindset.

The way parents and teachers praise their children can have huge effects on how they react to challenges.

Rather then giving them a generic, "You're smart," Use a more growth oriented "You must have worked really hard."

It looks like all those years of focusing on self-esteem probably severely limited a good portion of the students it was focused on, for life.

So what does this mean to what I need to do for my children. I need to focus on giving work-based praise.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Big List of Sites That Teach You How To Do Stuff

A Big List of Sites That Teach You How To Do Stuff

This is a great resource. I have a lot more exploring to do.

On Homeownership

Homeownership is really turning into a hot topic. But it isn't just owning a home that is at issue here it is also the community you live in. Cities are just beginning to figure out that families are important contributers to growth. The sad thing is that most developers and city counsels don't seem to get it.

Owning your home, and I mean actually owning it by having a paid off mortgage and are keeping up with the property taxes, really means that your home, generally, can't be taken away from you on the whim of the economy, company or even a single person.

Mortgage payments tend to be a very large percentage of a family's expenses, typically near 30%. Paying off the mortgage means I get a the equivalent of a 30% raise, I'd like that. I'm sure you would too.

But something that drives me crazy is that communities aren't planned with families in mind. One of my nephews moved into a new development a few years ago and there still isn't a grocery store nearby. A thousand-odd families and no where within 5 miles to get food? How dumb is that. Sure there are spaces available to build but no one has yet. And the backyards are so small you can have a swing set or a porch or a garden but not really more then one.

You want a family friendly home, put a big window in the kitchen overlooking the backyard where you can watch the children play while making dinner. In college the married student housing was great a group of apartments were all facing into the courtyard that had a swing-set and a sand box shaded by trees and a bit of open space and all the apartments could watch the children play. That was great. Now some neighborhoods have a park in the middle but no one can see it from inside their homes, useless.

Owning a home can be good but you really need to have a good plan at what you are trying to do there or it can really hurt you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

'No Child' Law May Slight The Gifted, Experts Say

'No Child' Law May Slight The Gifted, Experts Say: "'We don't find any evidence that the gifted kids are harmed,' said Chicago economist Derek A. Neal. 'But they are certainly right, the gifted advocates, if they claim there is no evidence that No Child Left Behind is helping the gifted.'"

Are they even looking for harm?

The sad thing is, is that it will likely take 20 years for us to notice the harm. The self-motivated are not the ones we need to worry about.
The ones in the greatest danger are the ones that are directionless. They may be bright but they also have learned the first lesson of school, don't make waves. It you have been burned a few times and no one has stood up for you you'll just drift along, a good student but bored.

There is an old saying of you can manage what you can measure. If you are not measuring it, you are not managing it.

It also means if you are measuring the wrong things you will be managing the wrong way. During the dot.com era they were measuring eyeballs or page views, which was worthless, you need to measure what people are buying from you. It makes a difference, Those who stayed with eyeballs went away in the dot.bomb.

For this is will become even worse. The schools have traditionally focused on the middle, which is just fine. The middle is pretty big and the ends can deal with it well enough.

Now they are focusing on the bottom or at least the bubble group near the pass/fail on standardized tests. They will be ignoring the vast majority, even the middle group, because they are so focused on the numbers that bubble group generates. You manage what you measure.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Does Your Spouse Know Where the Money is?

If you Die, Is Your Money Mapped? - Dumb Little Man : "If I died tomorrow I can honestly say that my wife would have a hard time navigating through the spider web of bank accounts, insurance policies, and 401k plans that I'd leave behind. No, it's not because they are worth a lot, it's because I don't have a map telling her where everything is located."

Most people are not well prepared for death in many ways, but this can be very hard for a family.

I am not even sure I know where all our money is sometimes. My wife recently got a statement from an old account her Dad had set up for her.

My family almost died once already when a drunk driver crossed the median of the interstate. You often can't see death coming so it is best to be prepared before hand. When Arafat died there was quite the bedside vigil as they may have been hoping to get the offshore bank number where he had squirreled away so much money.

I am working on this and it is slow work sometimes trying to find it all. But it is worth doing and setting up a way for family to find it after something might happen.

The U.S. Economy: Trying to Guess What Happens Next - New York Times

The U.S. Economy: Trying to Guess What Happens Next - New York Times: "Economists have long intoned that somehow, some day, the United States will be forced to settle up and stop depending upon the largess of foreigners. The basic laws of economics say imbalances are eventually balanced. Some have warned of a worst-case scenario where the foreigners holding American debt get spooked that the value of the dollar is about to plummet and dump the currency in a self-fulfilling prophesy. This would jack up the price of imported goods in the United States, making it harder for Japan, China and Europe to sell their wares, and delivering a global recession. "

Much as I would like to believe that a gradual correction will take place, history doesn't bear it out. History shows us that things tend follow a boom-bust cycle. That is just the way it is. Things have been way up of some time and it is far more prudent to expect a sharp correction then a gentle one.

It is actually rather easy to get in shape for such a correction:

One gather all your income and assets and put it at the top of a spreadsheet or ledger.

Then list your debts and obligations under them.

Starting with your smallest debt pay it off and start on the next one up.

It usually only takes a few years to retire all debts if you aren't incurring new ones.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We budget our money what about budgeting our time

Scott H Young � Why You Need to Run a Timelog (And How to Do It): "A timelog is a simple device to track where your time is going. Regularly running a timelog allows you to know precisely where your time is going. And in a busy world when commitments are piling up, timelogs can help you understand what to eliminate in order to keep your sanity. "

This is pretty good advice. We spend lots of effort on budgeting and recording our money but what about our time.

As I have said before, we have four major resources in our lives: time, energy, money and knowledge.

Tracking money is easy enough. time is a bit more complex, but doable. Energy tracking I haven't tried yet but can't be much harder then time, we all know we are at peak functioning in the morning after a good nights sleep but not so good after lunch. Tracking knowledge is as easy as looking at your book shelf in many ways.

The other side of the IQ question.

Stop thinking you’ll get by on your high I.Q. Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk: "Parents: Stop pretending that your child’s I.Q. matters more than their social skills. Get treatment for your child as soon as a professional recommends it. Respect that the risk of not being able to transition to the work world is significant, and so is the risk of waiting to see if your child will fail despite being brilliant."

This is significant. Social skills are important. I know mine are less then stellar but I don't see schools as actually helping matters.

Do I worry about our daughter's social skills? Sure I do, but subjecting her to the cruel gauntlet that schools have degenerated into is not going to help her or us. She is shy when starting out in a new place or one she hasn't been to for a long time but after a few minutes she is playing with everyone.

So I try to make sure she has opportunities to lay with others. Is it enough? I am not sure yet. Not enough work has gone into it to see particular results yet.

This is Reality. It doesn't have to make sense!

William Gibson: The Rolling Stone 40th Anniversary Interview : Rolling Stone: "It has to do with the nature of the present. If one had gone to talk to a publisher in 1977 with a scenario for a science-fiction novel that was in effect the scenario for the year 2007, nobody would buy anything like it. It's too complex, with too many huge sci-fi tropes: global warming; the lethal, sexually transmitted immune-system disease; the United States, attacked by crazy terrorists, invading the wrong country. Any one of these would have been more than adequate for a science-fiction novel. But if you suggested doing them all and presenting that as an imaginary future, they'd not only show you the door, they'd probably call security. "

This is just too sweet as I have been reading SFF for about that long.

Some other SFF writer spoke on how hard it was to write good Scifi since it had to sound plausible. Reality is under no such restriction.

From kottke

TCS Daily - Race, IQ and Education

TCS Daily - Race, IQ and Education: "The concept of IQ works like this: there are tests that one can give a young child which allow that child to be assigned a percentile relative to other children of the same age. Many of these tests seem explicitly designed to measure intelligence. However, other tests, such as the Stanford Marshmallow experiment or tests of reaction time, are not what we would intuitively think of as intelligence tests, and yet results on these tests correlate well with IQ. The main finding is that a child's performance on one test will correlate with his or her performance on another test."

A fascinating article about g and how our educational system is totally screwed up because they are looking at the wrong problem with the wrong solution.

Easy with Eve, the virtual teacher

Eve, a virtual teacher who understands - New Zealand's source for technology news on Stuff.co.nz : "Researchers wanted to create a virtual teacher that could pick up body language and facial expressions like a real teacher, to ensure they are holding the attention of students"

This could be a very interesting development. The desire for something like this has been around for a long time.The Pegasus series by Anne McCarrery had a virtual teacher, but you had to have a special bracelet proving citizenship to use it. But you could learn pretty much anywhere.

This should strike fear into the hearts of teachers unions everywhere. They can be replaced, and they can be used anywhere.

This would be great for homeschoolers who need some help in specific subjects. If they focus on math and science they would corner that market pretty quick. But it would have to be a subscription that is not too expensive.

It is known that girls learn better from women and boys from men. I wonder how hard it would be to "skin" the model for different models of teachers for different subjects and students.

US report says young people reading a lot less - The Boston Globe

US report says young people reading a lot less - The Boston Globe: "Only 30 percent of 13-year-olds read almost every day. The number of 17-year-olds who never read for pleasure increased from 9 percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004. Almost half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 never read books for pleasure. The average person between ages 15 and 24 spends 2 to 2 1/2 hours a day watching TV and 7 minutes reading. "

Are people reading fewer books? Sure they are but I am not sure that means that they aren't reading. Lots of people have the Internet and there is a lot that must be read if you want to do much.

As for college students after reading tons of stuff during the day for school, reading in general is no longer pleasure. My roommate and I read for pleasure after studying but we didn't know anyone else that did.

If you spend hours at work reading on the Internet why would you want to go home and read some more. It is time for some other activity.

Then you have the Amazon Kindle ebook reader. That should be interesting but something they have got to realize is that they HAVE to make it dead easy to load up and read books. Reading a book is easy but people don't do it for various reasons. They have some pretty stiff competition for reading time. They have to make Kindle even easier to use then iTunes/iPod is for music. That will be a challenge all by itself.

I know one person who uses Palm Pilots to read regularly, and that is it. I only know a few families that have large selections of books at home, I don't know if that correlates to how often they read but so it goes. Those families with few books just don;t have much to read eve if they wanted to, unless they go to the library, and that is hardly ever full.

from googlenews.

Update: This article from NPR

Monday, November 19, 2007

One of the signs of the crisis

We dealt with a big debt problem last year. We sold our home and paid off our debts.

This wasn't an easy decision, but it came to the point that selling our home was a better choice for several reasons.

Now, a year ago it was not so obvious that the economy was going to have some troubles, but one thing nagged at me quite a bit. On the way to work there was a new facility opening it. Richie Brothers Auctions was converting a huge field into an auction facility.

The sign that was there before it offered 100+ acres for sale. They put a big fence around and built a couple of buildings that they could drive the equipment through that would be bid on.

The entire facility is designed around auctioning off heavy equipment, like the stuff that is used to build homes. We don't drive past it very often any more but this time it was interesting to see a fire truck and street sweeper on display, next to all the earth moving equipment.

They obviously saw the potential of the housing market crisis and are in a position to make use of it.

What are you seeing in your industries and how they relate to the economy?

Emergency Preparedness Pamphlet #6: Family Reserves

There are a number of family reserves we have been counseled to setup. They are usually talked about separately but I am going to consolidate them for us here.

Family Reserves:
Food Storage
Financial
Spiritual
Emotional
Intellectual

Food Storage Reserve
Food Storage is the one everyone thinks of first. A year's supply of food, water and where possible fuel is the standard line given. We ought not to forget household commodities like toilet paper, soap, shampoo and the like. Every day we use things up that need to be replaced often. It is very inconvenient when you don't have any toilet paper. Disasters can come without prior warning and having food in your house is better then having food in a warehouse somewhere in the state. A year's supply for one person is 1095 meals for that 1 person, or a 9 month supply for a family of 4, or 1 meal for 1095 people. One of the major things sent to disaster area by the Church are hygiene kits: Soap & small towel, toothbrush & toothpaste, razor and other small but very useful things.

Financial Reserve
We have been told many times to get out of debt and to build up a reserve. This reserve can start out being $100, can be built up to $1000, the standard size of emergency fund in many books. At this point, you should throw all your effort into getting out of debt. Pay off the smallest debt first then move to then next largest and in just a few short years you can be debt free.
Then you can built your reserve to where it should be able to sustain your family if you become unemployed. The LDS Employment Center has found it takes on average 1 month per $10,000 per year of salary/wages to find another comparable job.
While keeping this reserve in the bank is fine most of the time, a major disaster will shut down banks for a while. Having a small cash reserve on hand at home is important too. Pay the Lord first with a full tithe and generous offerings, pay yourself second, minimize your expenses, eliminate debt and maximize your income.

Spiritual Reserve
The Parable of the Ten Virgins is about the members of the Church. We have been warned that we must have testimonies of our own as we cannot survive what is to come on borrowed light.
As individuals and as families we can build these reserves by:
Daily Prayer
Daily Scripture Study
Weekly Family Home Evening
Weekly Church Meeting Attendance
Regular Temple Attendance

Emotional Reserves
Paul taught that without charity we are nothing. Charity helps us as we help others. As we help others our own hurts are healed. Charity begins at home.When was the last time you spent some good quantity time with your spouse or just one of your children? Do you really know them? Do they really know you? Hopes, dreams, goals, progress? When it comes to relationships love is spelled T-I-M-E. Time spent in the same room watching the same thing doesn't count. This is not about face time this is about knee to knee time. Talk time counts, particularly if they are doing most of the talking.

Intellectual Reserves
The brethren have taught mainly the sisters that they should get all the education they can. Just because you have left school doesn't mean you can stop learning. Yet 77% of college graduates never read another book from beginning to end the rest of their lives. The way the employment market goes you need to constantly improve yourself just to stay in place, much less advance. Brian Tracy, a motivational speaker, has studied successful people for many years and has found that they spend at least 3% of their income on their own continuing education. Have you spent anything on your own education? And what about your spouse, have you encouraged them or helped them to learn something new? If they are a stay-at-home parent they need it more then you do. Even teaching your children at home will allow your brain to go to flab if you don't do something to challenge it from time to time.

On Starting a Long-Term Company

On Starting a Long-Term Company: "A lot of what goes into starting companies is turning nothing into something. Starting with a blank slate, and just inventing all kinds of stuff. You'll never know if it's ultimately correct. You just have to use your judgement, make decisions, and move on. To some people, that's pretty scary. Not to have any answers to look up in the back of the book. Just to do stuff."

This is good advice. I am keeping it here and the link for near-future reference.

Aid pours into Bangladesh after cyclone | csmonitor.com

Aid pours into Bangladesh after cyclone | csmonitor.com: "Survivors are scrambling for food as rescue workers struggle to reach remote villages three days after cyclone Sidr battered Bangladesh, leaving more than 2,200 dead and thousands homeless."

The aftereffects of a major disaster take a while to dissipate. You have to have something for yourself. It just takes too long for others to come help.

One thing to notice is that there are a couple of Marine dock landing ships racing to help. Know your friends.

Forty Acres and a Gap in Wealth - New York Times

Forty Acres and a Gap in Wealth - New York Times: "15 of the 20 descend from at least one line of former slaves who managed to obtain property by 1920 — a time when only 25 percent of all African-American families owned property."

As a point in the argument of to rent vs buy, this is fascinating.

Admittedly, his study sample size is very small and not randomly selected but since he is backtracking it ends up being very large He is looking back 5+ generations, that is a lot of people, and they all started out pretty much in the same place, as former slaves.

Property ownership seems to be one of those things that changes a person quite radically. Just about everyone who buys their first home says they feel different about things afterward.

The effects of property ownership also obviously echo down through the generations. The attitudes that you have you pass to your children and then to their children and maybe further.

Another effect that can be in operation is compound interest. Over the long term compound interest is vastly powerful. By keeping property in your family for a long time it generally appreciates and can by used later to powerful effect.

We may be renting right now as we re-establish ourselves but our goal is another home of our own. Because it is important to us and it will be important to our children and their children.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nov. 16, 1904: Vacuum Tube Heralds Birth of Modern Electronics

Nov. 16, 1904: Vacuum Tube Heralds Birth of Modern Electronics : "1904: British engineer John Ambrose Fleming invents and patents the thermionic valve, the first vacuum tube. With this advance, the age of modern wireless electronics is born."

I almost missed this
Via Neetorama

Anchor Optics - Educational Documents

Anchor Optics - Educational Documents: "Educational Documents"

Way cool! Those will be great projects when my daughter is a bit older.

via MeFi

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ratatouille Movie Mistakes

I've watched Ratatouille several times now and have noticed a couple of mistakes.

The Disappearing jar
The first is when Linguini lets Remy out of the jar. Remy runs off and Linguini stands up. Remy looks back and the jar is at Linguini's feet. Then as Linguini turns to his bicycle the jar has vanished.

Jumping Physics
This one is more subtle. In the big chase scene as Skinner and Remy are jumping from boat to boat on the Seine. When Skinner does the screaming jump from the No Smoking Boat to the boat with the couple in love, we see most of his jump from the point of view of a camera on the deck on the Love Boat and he approaches it in a straight line toward the camera.
The mistake is that Skinner flight is directly toward the Love Boat in a straight line. The two boats are in motion relative to one another. Skinner would be moving at the speed of the boat he left and not the speed of the boat he is jumping onto. So from the Love Boat point of view he would be moving in a curve that would have had to start behind the man for him to end up grabbing the tablecloth.
Admittedly that might not have been as dramatic as what was put on screen but physics errors in movies are slightly bothersome to me.
This was something we ended up spending a lot of time on in my high school physics class. Several students couldn't figure out that the path of a falling object that was moving sideways was a curve. They kept saying it was a straight line. It turned out to be an optical illusion. The first experiment we tried was to have the teacher walk along and drop his keys. The optical illusion was that the keys were falling down beside his leg which looks like a straight line. Legs are straight and therefore the keys are falling in a straight line. After arguing about it a while I devised a plan to make it more obvious. I have the teacher stop and have the keys slide off his hand, then it was very obvious that the keys were traveling in a curve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stir-fried Popcorn

We wanted some popcorn to watch Monsters, Inc. with but all we had was popcorn kernels. The popcorn popper is buried in a box somewhere and we don't have any paper bags for doing it in the microwave. Obviously, popping it in a pop is a good way of doing it but tends to be a bit soggy and not very crisp like good popcorn should be.

Well, I know the problem is that the lid on the pot will keep all the steam in, and trying to keep the lid slightly open while shaking a big pot of popping corn on the stovetop without letting popcorn blast its way across the kitchen is just a really hard thing to do easily.

So I thought about how to solve this problem of letting the steam out without also letting the popcorn out and not burning myself. The big colander was hanging in the pantry and that solved the steam problem but it didn't fit well on any of the pots. But then I remembered the wok. It was about the same size as the colander, and trying it out it fit perfectly.

I now had a stovetop popcorn popper. Now to popping the popcorn itself. Preheat the wok on medium heat. Have a landing container ready. Add a tablespoon of corn oil and butter and allow the water from the butter to boil off and add 1/4 cup popping corn. Shake leisurely until they start popping then continuously until things start slowing down. When they reducing popping to 1 a second or so, remove from heat and into your landing container and season immediately. Serve with a good movie.

Ham Radio Amateur Extra License

I passed the test for my Amateur Extra class license so I have full privileges to the Amateur Radio bands. My wife was just short on her General test but she wants to try again after a bit more studying. She never studied electronics or anything like this as an elementary education major and this has been a struggle to hook the theory on to something in her mind. She keeps complaining about the material not sticking.

The problem seems to be that the material in the Ham study guide really expects you to have some science background in your education, like a high school physics class or something like it.

That is a big thing. There are all kinds of things you learn in school that are just not related to anything else but in the real world everything is mixed together and recognizing that is a big deal. Like during the fox-hunt a couple of people walked right past the transmitter box a half-dozen times but since they were looking at the readings on their radios rather then the world around them they just didn't see it.

Relating new concepts to things that are familiar is a really important thing to do. Wave theory can and should start by taking you back to the bathtub and splashing around.

The Only Complete Swiss Army Knife at Hammacher Schlemmer

The Only Complete Swiss Army Knife at Hammacher Schlemmer: " is the largest Swiss Army knife in the world, holder of the Guinness World Record for The Most Multifunctional Penknife, with 87 precision-engineered tools spanning 112 functions."

I love Swiss Army knives as much as anyone but, this is so over the top it is hilarious, unless you have the hands of King Kong this is just not going to be useful.

You survival tools need to be simple and effective. This is neither.

A good tool should be good at what it does. The thing about a Swiss Army knife is that it does many thing pretty well, and it is very small and light. Which is important too if you are carrying it around all the time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 21-76 - EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE (tm)

U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 21-76 - EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE (tm): "U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 21-76"

You can download the whole thing from that site.
From Instapunbit

After Fires, Homeowners Feel an Insurance Pinch - New York Times

After Fires, Homeowners Feel an Insurance Pinch - New York Times: "Most Americans still think that full coverage means full coverage, but insurance companies know otherwise,” said Douglas Heller, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, an advocacy organization"

Reviewing insurance and reassessing our spending plans is one of those things that need to be done from time to time.

Insurance is becoming crazy expensive but it is still something to have.

Reviewing it whenever a major change occurs is probably the best time, a new home or renovation, or other major purchase, a job change, a new child or a child leaving home.

My brother in law went though some of his papers recently and found his will, it didn't even mention he youngest child who is in college now.

At the very least review these thing on years ending on 0.

Monday, November 12, 2007

MAKE: Blog: Programming AVR MCUs on a Mac

MAKE: Blog: Programming AVR MCUs on a Mac: "Programming AVR MCUs on a Mac"

This can come in useful for ham radio tinkering.

Fired after 30 years and taking bullets for the store

Shilson rose rapidly, working 60-hour weeks and becoming general manager at the W. 7th Street store and, later, at the Richfield Taco Bell. She was robbed at gunpoint twice, including the time she was shot while opening the W. 7th restaurant one morning in 1998.

A gunman made her open a safe, but there was a 10-minute delay on the lock. The impatient robber started shooting the safe. A ricocheting bullet hit Shilson, wounding her in the left knee.

When the cops came, she was in shock and called Doug, asking him to bring her a clean uniform. Why, he asked. "Because the one I'm wearing has holes in it and there's blood all over."

Paramedics intervened and took her to the hospital. She had two operations, but the knee still hurts. Other than a severe car accident that required a year's recovery, nothing kept her from work again.

"Border Foods was very good to me," she says, referring back to the days of her convalescence from the car accident. "They paid me disability until I went back to work, and they spent a lot of money on me. At that time, I thought there was no better company to work for."


This is not really new news, company loyalty left the coop long ago.

We can't afford to keep all our eggs in one basket. They say that about you investments in stocks and bonds and the like, but we forget that it is vitally important in our biggest investment: our career.

Having a side-business or possible income producing career is far more important now then it was when it was more popular years ago.

From The Simple Dollar

In Flanders Field

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Simple Chicken Soup From Scratch Recipe

We are a bit sick so I spent the day making chicken soup to help everyone out. I made this from scratch since all the ones at the store have way to much salt and preservatives. I roasted the vegetables and the chicken bones to improve flavors. This step is optional but tasty.

Chicken Soup from Scratch
1 whole fryer chicken
4 stalks celery
4 carrots
2 medium onions
1 head garlic
2 Tbsp peppercorns
2 bay leaves
About 1/2 lbs of small pasta like rotinni or elbow noodles
enough water to cover ingredients

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Finely chop the narrow ends of celery, you want about 1/2 cup of celery and reserve for the soup. Coarsely chop the rest of the celery for the stock.

Finely chop one of the carrots for about 1/2 cup of carrot and reserve for the soup. Coarsely chop the rest for the stock.

Finely chop enough of the onion for about 1 cup of onion and reserve for the soup, and coarsely chop the rest for the stock.

Finely chop 4-6 cloves of garlic for the soup, and break up the rest of the head for the stock.

Cut up the chicken, into wings, legs, back and breasts. Remove the skin and ribs from the breast. Dice the breast and reserve for the soup. Put it in a plastic bag and refrigerate until we are ready to make the soup.

The Stock

Put the chicken, and vegetables on a roasting pan and cook until the vegetables begin to brown. About 20 minutes. This step is optional but it does provide an extra flavorful stock in the end.

Transfer everything to a large pot, about 8 qt sized, and add the peppercorns and bay leaves. Add enough water to cover by about an inch. Up here in Colorado a lot of water will evaporate, by if you are in someplace with lots of humidity, like Georgia, you probably won't need so much.

Simmer on low until the wish bone or other small bone like the wing become brittle, about 4 hours. That means much of the gelatin in the bones has been liberated.

Remove the bones vegetables and herbs and discard they have given all they have to the stock. Now you have chicken stock. You can strain it through a fine mesh strainer or a colander with some cheese cloth in it, but that is not necessary for this application.

The Soup

In a new pot, about 2 qt sized, place the diced chicken and vegetables, and the noodles. Add enough stock to cover and a little bit more as the pasta will absorb quite a bit. Cook until the pasta is tender and chicken is cooked through. Salt and Pepper to taste. If you are sick you'll want more seasoning then usually, as you can't smell very well.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ratatouile DVD Review

We really enjoyed this movie when it first came out.

Our daughter loved it so much we watched the podcasts most evening before bed. So, of course, we had to get it as soon as it came out. It is still a great movie. It has lots of replay value, way more then Dora the Explorer.

The best part about it is that it had heart. Colette is annoyed about being handed Linguini when she stood up for him in the first place. He was so eager to please her, well it was obvious that he was smitten by her, that it soften her toward him as she continued to teach Linguini and Remy. She was really hurt when she thought Linguini had used her teachings to blow past her. Not the case but that is how it looked.

Colette had been used before by some other rising chef, and she had loved him too. We see that and it is heart rending as she expresses that. She is in that kitchen because she has something to prove. She beat that other guy, she is in the finest resturaunt in the world and he is in some lesser
place, but it still hurts her.

These characters have real pain in their backgrounds. The look on everyone's face as Colette challenges Skinner to keep Linguini because, "Anyone can cook" is priceless, Skinner and Colette were the only ones to come to cooking the conventional way. Each of the others had met Gusteau somewhere and had been taken under his ample wing.

Horst is a key character, whatever his management style it alllows the chefs to work smoothly even with iron-fisted Skinner in charge. Horst is actually doing most of the work as Skinner dreams up his next batch of frozen entrees. It is his decision to leave at the big revelation that let everyone else leave, but he is almost in tears, he doesn't want to leave but he cannot stay and that tears at his soul.

This is a great movie because they don't have to tell you all the backstory of everything, but you can create it yourself easily.

I am wondering where Disney/Pixar will go after Wall-E and Toy Story 3. I am pretty sure they want to move animation out of the action-comedy genre. I hope they make a drama that is still rated G but is not really for kids. I would never expect them to make a "My Dinner with Andre" but they do need to tell people that just because it is animated doesn't mean it is kids stuff.

Mrs. du Toit Something to Live and Die For

Mrs. du Toit: "Our civilization will be lost to those who at least pay lip service to loveliness. Our cities, our great institutions, are full of those on the ideological left with the ideaological right locked in our houses or scattered into the woods… and when a young mind is given the choice between the ugly emptiness, selfishness, and simplisme of the right, or the elegant pseudo-sophistication of the left, what do you think they will choose? They will choose lovliness, in whatever guise it is offered. "

There is great beauty in simplicity and it takes some work to achieve simplicity and that is a work to itself.

There needs to be more emphasis on beauty and too often things that drive me the most crazy are things that are designed badly, things that don't work well are ugly no matter how much lipstick was put on that pig.

That is one of the main reasons why I like using Macs. They work, they work well and are good looking too.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

American kids, dumber than dirt / Warning: The next generation might just be the biggest pile of idiots in U.S. history

American kids, dumber than dirt / Warning: The next generation might just be the biggest pile of idiots in U.S. history: "because of all the insidious mandatory testing teachers are now forced to incorporate into the curriculum, of the 182 school days in a year, there are 110 when such testing is going on somewhere at Oakland High. As one of his colleagues put it, 'It's like weighing a calf twice a day, but never feeding it.' "

That is a interesting way of putting it. Testing seems to be making it worse rather then better, but the system has been in trouble for a lot longer then that.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Seth's Blog: We accidentally marketed ourselves into a corner

Seth's Blog: We accidentally marketed ourselves into a corner: "There's no question that a Harvard degree helps (or is even required) in a few fields. There's also no doubt that spending four years at Yale is a mind-changing experience. The question isn't, 'are they wonderful?' The question is, 'Is it worth it?' "

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

'Fire blogging' tech expert on how fellow evacuees and networks are holding up | NetworkWorld.com Community

'Fire blogging' tech expert on how fellow evacuees and networks are holding up | NetworkWorld.com Community: "Local media did a great job of telling people that the most efficient way of telling others where they were or assuring those people that they 'were safe' was by texting, which has a lower bandwidth demand than voice.With 250,000 people turned into refugees by the fires there was a lot of stress on voice networks. I only got a "network unable to place call" message twice yesterday on I-15 as I went zero miles an hour.

The other piece of technology I rely on and carry in my "go now" bag is a Belkin Skype wireless phone. It's sturdy and small enough to nestle safely in my bright red backpack and it finds Skype and connects automatically wherever there's an 802.11 network. I keep all my portable electronics fully charged and ready to go. My Skype wireless phone has become an integral part of my mobile equipment and it's a great backup or primary communications tool."

Interesting take on the Go-Bag. As we see again the cell phone network bogs down in a crisis. Testing is a good way around that, though.

I am not exactly surprised that a shelter in Southern California would have 802.11 WiFi I have doubts that one here in Colorado would. Though as a Ham I am going to start thinking about it a bit more because that, obviously, would be very useful.

From Slashdot

E-mail from an inferno: How we escaped the fire - CNN.com

E-mail from an inferno: How we escaped the fire - CNN.com: "It is truly amazing what becomes important under such terrible circumstances; but I think we got 95 percent or more of what really mattered. Everything else is replaceable clothes and furniture and TV's and computers and refrigerators and china. "

They are quite fortunate they had lots of time to get ready to go, they even got to make two trips.
I wrote about evacuations just yesterday so go back there and read up. Getting that much time is not guaranteed.

EO Newsroom: New Images - Wildfires Strike near Los Angeles and San Diego

EO Newsroom: New Images - Wildfires Strike near Los Angeles and San Diego: "Wildfires Strike near Los Angeles and San Diego"

The current fires and where other fires have been in the last few years and how they are overlapped. This is a pretty cool site.

from Chaos Manor

Monday, October 22, 2007

Evacuation planning

Gathering Plan

Unless you work at home, homeschool your children and grow your own food, most of us are away from home for a large portion of the day. We may have to find a way to gather everyone together. Disasters aren't going to come convenient to our schedules.

1: Figure out where everyone is during the day. You should have done this when creating a communications plan, but do it now if you have not. This is contact information for work, school and play, including address, main and direct phone numbers.

2: Decide on a local alternate gathering place that is not home. You won’t be able to go home if it is burning down. Choose an alternate: a nearby park, church, school or family member’s house.

3: Decide on an out-of-state contact, phones will often be overloaded during a disaster but you may be able to get a long distance call out of the disaster area. If everyone is calling the same place information can be exchanged. Setting up a family blog is also a way to find each other after a disaster, Do it now at blogger.com which is free and make sure everyone has the web address in their wallets.

4: Setup a distant evacuation point. This can be in-state but further is better. As we saw with the Blizzard of 1997 and Hurricane Katrina, disasters can cover multiple states. If you can travel 500 miles (about 2 tanks of gas) you will generally be out of the disaster area.

5: Scout out alternative routes. Everyone will think to use the interstate but that will clog them completely plan and practice alternative routes. During the evacuation for Hurricane Rita in 2005 many people used the county road system to escape at a much higher rate of speed then those who used the interstate. Be prepared for blocked roads so have a detailed maps or good GPS to find alternative routes. State Highways are usually better then an Interstate and County Roads are often the least used routes. Going North, East or South from Denver is pretty easy, going West can be a real challenge. Eisenhower Tunnel and Loveland pass are the routes most people think of, you need to think of a different way.

The Go Bag

For an evacuation it doesn't make too much difference if you're running from a wild fire, hurricane or tsunami. You really just need to grab the same things and go. Evacuation plans are a big deal if you have to go. You usually have very little warning. Ideally you want just one bag per person that you can grab on the way out the door. Really it probably won't be quite that good.

• Copies of your important documents (insurance cards, photo IDs, proof of address, deeds, bills, etc.) in a waterproof and portable container, double bagged in plastic zipper bags is fine.
• Contact and meeting place information for your household, and a small regional map.
• Keep a list of the medications each member of your household takes, why they take them, and their dosages. Medication information and other essential personal items. If you store extra medication in your Go Bag, be sure to refill it before it expires. A spare prescription to refill anywhere can be kept here.
• Extra set of car and house keys.
• Credit and ATM cards and cash, especially in small denominations, at least $50-$100 on hand, or enough to put the family up for a few days in a cheap motel.
• Bottled water and non-perishable food such as energy or granola bars.
• LED Flashlight and extra batteries wrapped with a couple of feet of Duct Tape.
• Battery-operated AM/FM (optional Weather/TV audio) band radio and extra batteries.
• Communications systems: Two-way radios of some kind: cellphone, FRS, GMRS, CB, or Amateur radios, and list of numbers or frequencies to call on. And extra batteries.
• First-aid kit.
• A multi-tool or swiss army knife
• Some parachute cord, chained for compactness.
• A couple large trash bags which you could make into a poncho if you have to.
• Paper and pen/pencil.
• A wide brimmed hat to keep sun and rain off.
• A Red bandanna has many uses including signaling.
• Child care or other special care items:
This would include things such as diapers, formula, toys, books, diabetic supplies, or anything else that may be needed to help sustain life.