Monday, December 31, 2007

The war on boys -

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 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: and 8026080888008808080808

For a free copy of Where There Is No Doctor and other free medical and health books go to
For Wilderness Medicine

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

• 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 |

Education | The race is not always to the richest | : "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."


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.