Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

In honor of the holiday, I thought I'd post my favorite youtube flick of all time

Mystery of the pyramids solved.

I thought you all would find this interesting, I sure did.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

On beards, shaving and haircuts

My beard seems to be getting tougher or maybe the razors are going down in quality. I have a Quadratrac, but it clogs. The Bic disposables went down in quality for a while, but are improving again. I'm thinking about returning to a straight razor. Jon once gave me a DoubleDuck, a quality variety of straight razor. I must find it and try it again. But then I will need to find the strop. The strop is a piece of leather used for working off the wire burr at the very tip of a recently sharpened straight edge. As any metallurgist knows, it is impossible to cut metal without leaving a burr somewhere.

The option of doing nothing doesn't work either because my beard itches. Maybe I could try shaving every day, then it would not get so long as to clog the razors. What a novel idea.

I solved the problem of haircuts. I just grab a bunch of hair and cut it. The appearance is not so great but it works.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Today's news on CNN Money included "Leaders from both parties expressed concern Wednesday that a taxpayer-funded bailout of the financial industry will be used to pad the pockets of executives rather than get the economy rolling again".
Does any have the heart to do the sums below (found in comments on CalculatedRisk) and divide by the US population of 300,000,000 to see what our per person debt is adding up to? I sure don't:
$700 Billion – Treasury to purchase toxic mortgages and other non-performing assets from financial institutions.
$50 Billion – To guarantee principal in money market mutual funds.
$10 Billion+ – Treasury purchases of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in September. More to come.
$144 Billion – In additional MBS purchases by FNM and FRE. Limit $850 billion. FNM’s portfolio currently holds $758.1 billion and FRE holds $798.2 billion.
$85 Billion – AIG bridge loan giving the Fed a 79.9% controlling stake in the firm.
$87 Billion – Repayments to JP Morgan (JPM) for providing financing to underpin trades with the now bankrupt Lehman Brothers. In response to the Fed & Treasury’s stand against providing public funds to consummate a deal.
$200 Billion – $100 billion capital infusion for FNM and FRE by the Treasury.
$300 Billion – Provided to the FHA to refinance failing mortgages into new, reduced principal loans with a federal guarantee as part of the housing bill.
$4 Billion – Provided to local communities to purchase and repair abandoned homes due to foreclosure.
$29 Billion – Financing for JPM’s takeover of Bear Sterns. The Fed takes $30 billion in non-performing assets as collateral.
$200 Billion – Currently outstanding loans to banks through the Fed’s Term Auction Facility. Recently updated to allow loans of 84 days in addition to the original 28-day!
$150 billion stimulus checks

End of tunnel

So I spoke with the state of WV today. They said the $3000 penalty was just for not including my W-2! I swear I did anyway. But it sounds like it I just need to send them a copies and this will go away. Also Brian is coming home from Malta in a few hours. I have to work on adjusting my mood from mopey to happy before he gets here.

Just found out about this

i know your minds are made up, but i would just like to post the only third party presidential debate that i know of. it was aired on c-span and included Chuck Baldwin and Ralph Nader. (don't be hatin, i mean no offense to anyone)

lol, i think it is funny that it is on a ron paul website when he isnt even running for president anymore.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I might die if you actually see this video

i received this video from my friend a day ago. it made laugh cry angry all at the same time. if it were to actually happen though....i don't wouldn't be very good for my health...

put these in the url thing one after another--it should work.i have to do this cause the link spills past the post.

(first half)

(second half) tzwUV2XHTxLDEzOTA3NTk-&referred_by=11489371-z6Qt.Ex

(my friend didn't know that i had already voted.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Diary flashbacks

For a long time, Lona and I have occasionally made entries in a joint diary since March 4, 1978. With a long ago view to climate change, I often recorded leaf emergence in the Spring and leaf fall in the Fall season. Today Oct. 27, 2008, it is still mostly green in the forest with some yellow leaves. Oct. 1, 2006 most had already turned yellow and would soon fall. Someday I will extract all entries and summarize them somewhere as a record of climate change.

Here is a random entry from Dec. 1, 1978:

It is really quite pleasant sitting amongst family (Soren & Lona) here at our apartment looking out at the night view of lights. Soren is happy, Lona is happy, I am happy. All is well. Just had spinach quiche washed down with tonic water ... Ahhh.

Ken LaCapria stopped by to pick up a buckle order. We talked about old times. Soren is sitting on Lona's shoulders pulling her hair. Great fun for Soren. We hope to hear from our builder soon about a price estimate.

Quote by John Archibald Wheeler: "... the past exists only as it is recorded in the present..."

The reference to an apartment, was in Oxon Hill, across from Sunnybrook and Henson Creek. Lona was still in the belt buckle business. We never did use the builder's services and instead built our house ourselves as project managers with John Greene's help on framing. I evidently recorded the quote from Wheeler as a remainder of the diary process itself. Wheeler specialized in general relativity and thus often thought about the passage of time.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I have not been in much of a blogging mood as of late. I haven't been up to much. Everything seems so dull when Brian is away for a while that I've just been sitting in bed petting puppies and buying junk on ebay. I got a letter in the mail saying I owe $2,750 additional on my 2007 WV state income tax and I better pay up before November 15. There was NO explanation along with this bill. I am pissed off. I used turbo tax, didn't take any wacko deductions, and even got a $180 refund from the state. Now they think they can squeeze another $3000 from me without even telling me why! Obviously I need to get a tax accountant to help me.

Up the upside, the same day Brian got a letter from the WV attorney general saying he can now conceal carry in 13 new states. yeeeeeeeeeeeeeee haaaaaaawww

Drill Doctor

I bought a "Drill Doctor" out of necessity. I had ruined a very expensive 5/8" bit through improper use and it needed sharpening for an important generator project. I also have lots of other dull bits lying around that need work. So does Jon.

It took a bit of doing to figure out how it works. I misconstrued the instructions to think that their reference to a chuck mean any old chuck I had laying around. Wrong. They mean the plastic thing supplied in the kit. There were two holes in the case for chucks. Only one was filled. I don't know whether someone swiped the other one before I bought DD or whether they mean for you to buy it as a supplemental. The one in there was for big bits and that was my immediate job, so I eventually figured out that was what was needed and used it.

DD works pretty well, the sharpening went along rapidly and apparently correctly. I finished the important holes that needed drilling. One problem was when I went to close the DD box, it wouldn't close. It took a really long time to figure out that the chuck needed to be screwed "in" to shorten it before the box would close.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Optimism about the Future

Despite the immediate cares of the world, there is also plenty of reason for longer term optimism. As usual, this mostly centers around the improved living made possible by improved technology.

In health care, many and profound discoveries are being made about the origins of disease and aging. Inevitably this has resulted, and will result in advanced medications that pinpoint target the origins of medical problems. Sadly, soon to be instituted proposals to limit profits from pharmaceuticals have already resulted in disinvestment in pharmaceuticals in anticipation of a new political world order. Eventually new meds will find their way to market in other countries, but later than necessary in the good old USA. In any event, the wealthy or desperate will be able to travel to find advanced medications.

Imagine a world where cancer, obesity, and aging are conquered. It will be great for the individual. The resulting overcrowding of the world population will lead to very regrettable means of limiting population, but that can be solved by war, pestilence, famine and suicide. Whoops ... I forget that pestilence will be fixed, and, that is reason for optimism.

It has long been a truism of science and technology that advances in materials result in advances in engineering and in science. Those advances, in turn, feed back to create still further advances in materials. It is a virtuous cycle of advancement. New materials such as nanotube paper, biologically inspired catalysts, and electrochemical batteries will all have immediate application to real world living.

The late Julian Simon, an economist at the University of Maryland, is famous for his predictions that the costs of all products, over the long term, become less due to advances in technology. So far he has proven to be correct. When a raw material such as copper becomes costly, someone finds a different way to provide the same function in the final product. Alternatively, someone invents a more economical way to extract a product such as copper from abundant low grade ores hitherto ignored.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Predictions about the next administration

Under the present economic conditions the loser of the election will be whoever wins the election. If that seems like a strange statement, consider the following. Both candidates promise to cut taxes and raise expenditures. In the best of times a universal health plan is mostly unaffordable. I have long advocated health care for immunizations, trauma and obstetrics, I also think that complete care is an economic impossibility.

Both candidates plan to give hell to the Taliban, and rightly so. Both are predicted by pundits to start a war with Iran on the expectation that Iran will almost certainly give nukes to terrorists. All this adds up to increased expenditures with decreased revenues in an economic situation where stimulus isn't going to help much. The economic situation is basically a worldwide crisis of confidence.

Something has to give, and, I know what it will be. All the promises about health care will not be kept. Taxes will go up. The predicted wars will be made more economical by use of nukes. The loser of the election will be whoever wins the election.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Myopia and My Mother

In recent comments on eyesight my children have mentioned how their eyesight is so much better than mine. I am very nearsighted. It is a condition known partly to be environmental (i.e. reading a lot) and partly inherited. If inherited, why is it that I am myopic but my children are not? A remarkable article recently published shows that myopia is more inherited from the mother. It derives from interaction of chromosome 3 (inherited from both parents) with the mitochondria (inherited solely from the mother). Thus it is more Lona's contribution that has influenced my children's eyesight than mine. Lona is nearsighted but not severely so. She read a lot so it is only natural that her eyesight might not be the very best.

I must have some good eyesight genes though, considering that Jon has such good eyesight. Those passed on by me interacted with Lona's to produce my kids good eyesight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pumpkin Idea

A friend sent me this link today, and I thought I should share it with my more artistic relatives:

I was also trying to think of a good Gordonesque set of labels, but find that my creativity is lacking...

Locavore Update - Green Tomatoes

Our growing season is officially over. Last weekend, Guy picked our basil, hot peppers and green tomatoes, and composted the plants. In previous years, I have not had much luck ripening the tomatoes inside, so tonight we tried out two green tomato recipes. We were not impressed with the fried green tomatoes (too sour), and the feta-topped green tomatoes were a bit better (feta, white wine vinegar, and oregano do a lot to help the taste) but I don't really want to eat that many of them. Does anyone have any ideas, aside from compost? Only 1 of the 11 tomatoes we have left, shows signs of ripening.

We have a two gallons of chopped broccoli in the freezer, keeping our gallon of green beans and gallon of corn company. Guy strung up our hot peppers and basil to dry. There is only one more week for the farmer's market. We plan to stock up on apples and potatoes, we already have enough honey, soap and pumpkins to last a while. There is still a lot of food available, but I can't think of much more that I want to store or preserve, any suggestions?

shedding $20,000 in debt

I am paying off my car today. It's exactly one year earlier than when it comes due, though I had still planned to pay it off sooner than this. But it reminded me of where we were a little over a year ago. Brian had $11,000 in credit card debt and we had three car loans with at least $9,000 across them. Now all we'll have is $8,200 in school loans and our two mortgages. The next thing to attack is the interest only balloon mortgage for 15% percent of our home's price. I pay a lot extra on it every month but have still only paid down $4,000 in principle in two years. The interest rate is 8.25% so we'd like to refinance if it becomes possible. Brian is talking about buying a truck and financing it, I am really hesitant to take on another loan. The book Total Money Makeover by David Ramsey was what inspired me to really get serious about paying things down.

Equality for all candidates

well i will keep my message short.

these links are for people who feel like researching candidates they might like and didnt know about (what's the point, idk. all of you are voting for obama anyways at this point.) well i guess this is aimed for awareness of third party candidates primarily. i just think it might be fairer if they were at least included in debates. Lastly, i don't want to stir up emotional response or anything--I mean no offense.

(Independent)__Nader/Gonzalez '08 -

(Libertarian)__Barr/Root '08 -

(Constitution)_Baldwin/Castle '08 -

(Green)________McKinney/Clemente '08 -

(Socialist)____Moore/Alexander '08 -

(Reform)_______Weill/McEnulty '08 - ??bleh?? (can't find)

Monday, October 20, 2008

My eyes are good so far

The ophthalmologist pronounced my eyes healthy. The Amsler test that I failed at home, I passed at the doctor's. The grid they used there had thicker lines and was backlighted. The backlighting made the difference. They gave me a simpler version to take home and post on the frig. There was no sign of exfoliating glaucoma even though I carry the gene as do many blue-eyed northern Europeans.

Thanks to Jon, I did not need to drive home after the eye drops. I had also stopped by Leo's house to see if he could drive me home, but, he was doped up with sleeping meds for his medical problems and couldn't do it. He couldn't even go to work.

Haven goes Geek

Last night Haven and friends stopped by. She brought the Fibonacci guage she made for Science Fair. I know she is an intense reader. Looks like another geek in the making.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Where is your republican God now?

Nice talk by republican Colin Powell on why he thinks Obama should be our next president.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

sickeningly cute

I saw this on perez hilton, but it is too cute not to repost.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Situation Comedy

"Why isn't my life like a situation comedy? Why don't I have a bunch of friends with nothing better to do but drop by and instigate wacky adventures? Why aren't my conversations peppered with spontaneous witticisms? Why don't my friends demonstrate heartfelt concern for my well being when I have problems? ...I gotta get my life some writers."
That is a lament from Calvin and Hobbs but I've often felt that I have the opposite problem: life way too much like a sit-com. The Mr. Science spouse character? The live-in character in the little room under the stairs? The hippie family upstairs? The appealingly comical canine? The outrageously cute tot? I can see that the writers introduced the baby when the ratings started to dip. Now they must be going down again so the upstairs crowd has a new baby on the way. Where are the writers going with the new tent city springing up in the field? Are they trying to bring in a dose of economic reality? But I say, people don't tune in for that. Let's write those field party goers off the show and write in some jobs for everyone that doesn't have one. And let them write in a decent maid. She can make wise-cracks while she cleans the place up.

Geek Things I wish I had known when I was young

I suppose it is mainly Andelle and Brian who are the geeks who read this blog, so, I am mainly addressing this to them. The subject is how to make one mechanical shaft drive another one, for instance a motor to connect an actuator or, for a another instance, an engine to drive a generator. The problem that arises in doing so is that it is always impossible to make a direct rigid connection because it is impossible to perfectly align one shaft with the other. There are three main ways to solve this problem. The method chosen depends upon circumstances.

When reasonably good alignment is practical and when a compact arrangement is desired, an Oldham coupling is almost invariably used. This is an arrangement where one shaft has a crosswise slot cut into it, the other shaft has another slot cut also cut at right angles to it but perpendicular to the slot on the other shaft. A "spider" usually made of hard rubber is placed between the two facing slots. Of course the spider has a protrusion to match the slot one one side and on its other side a protrusion to match the other slot. The center of the spider is a circular disk. This type arrangement is almost invariably used for generators. As the shafts rotate, misalignment is accomodated by the protrusions sliding latterally within the grooves.

Another handy technique is to simply connect the two shafts with a spring that grips both shafts. This only works for very light duty purposes such as instruments. The shafts can be considerably misaligned, even perpendicular to each other. You can get an ordinary spring from the hardware store and epoxy the ends to each shaft (or fasten them with a screw if removability is needed, and, it usually is). Or better yet, if you have a expensive instrument, use a factory made precision coupling made by machining a hollow cylinder then machining a helix around the periphery of the hollow cylinder leaving an helix coil with rectangular crossection spring coils elements. An alternative to a metal spring coupling is to use a piece of plastic tubing between the shafts. Because plastic expands a lot with temperature, it is not a good choice for precision instruments, but it is great for a laboratory quick setup for some gimmick.

Another technique for coupling shafts is widely used in trucks for coupling the transmission output to the differential drive in the rear. In most cases there is a wide distance separation between them. This is called a Cardan's universal joint. Importantly you need TWO of them, each connecting to a third so called center drive shaft that goes between the desired input shaft and the desired output shaft. To save on weight and provide rigidity, the drive shaft in trucks is usually hollow. The center parts of each Cardan joint at both ends of the center drive shaft must be aligned with each other. A single Cardan joint is shown in

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Google has officially become evil

Does anyone else use igoogle? They forced users to a bug filled, hideous new format today with no method to opt out. Everyone on the interwebs is roaring about how much it sucks and how inconsiderate it is to make changes to a page that users customize to their own preferences without providing them a medium to give feedback or revert. I need a new homepage, does anyone use netvibes?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day -Nuclear War in real time

Our military is currently using and exporting nuclear weapons.The United States has been using depleted uranium, a by-product of nuclear power plants, for shells, bullets and protective armor of tanks. The uranium is composed mainly of isotope U-238. It also contains U-235, but in a lower than normal content, hence the term 'depleted'. Depleted uranium has several horrifying qualities. For one thing, it spontaneously burns on impact, creating aerosolized particles less than five microns in diameter, that travel airborne for long distances. U-238 emits both alpha and gamma radiation and its by products emit both beta and gamma radiation. DU is roughly 60% as radioactive as naturally occurring uranium and has a half life of 4.5 billion years, the age of the earth. In the United States we now have in excess of 1.1 billion pounds of DU waste. Since the 1970s this waste has been given away free to arms manufacturers as a way of getting rid of it. During the current Iraq War the U.S. use of radioactive DU weapons increased from 375 tons used in 1991 to 2200 tons.
After microscopic and submicroscopic insoluble Uranium oxide particles are formed on the battlefield from the use of the weapons, the particles remain suspended in air and travel around the earth as a radioactive component of atmospheric dust, contaminating the environment, indiscriminately killing, maiming and causing disease in all living things where rain, snow and moisture remove it from the atmosphere. It is believed that the radiation from DU particularly affects the lungs, the kidneys, and bone marrow where uranium compounds from DU can remain for years. A surge in birth defects has been noted in Iraq. In 1989 there were 11 per 100,000 births; in 2001 there were 116 per 100,000 births with no doubt even higher rates after the second Gulf War. As the U-238 decays into daughter radioactive products, in four steps before turning into lead, it continues to release more radiation at each step. There is no way to turn it off, and there is no way to clean it up. It meets the US Government’s own definition of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
International Human Rights and humanitarian lawyer, Karen Parker, determined that depleted uranium weaponry fails the four tests for legal weapons under international law, and that it is also illegal under the definition of a ‘poison’ weapon. Through Karen Parker’s continued efforts, a sub-commission of the UN Human Rights Commission determined in 1996 that depleted uranium is a weapon of mass destruction that should not be used.
Citizens should be aware of this global problem and demand and end to such destructive practices. We must join together to clean up contaminated sites in the US and the Middle East and ban the development and use of such weapons.
I was dimly aware of the issue but I learned a lot more from a book I got at the Greenbelt Labor Day book sale, Metal of Dishonor, Depleted uranium, How the Pentagon Radiates soldiers & civilians with DU Weapons.

Blog Action Day – Reducing your dependence on fossil fuels

It’s a good bet all high on the hog readers agree that our conspicuous consumption of fossil fuels needs to drastically decrease if we are going to stop the effects of global warming and end our dependence on oil imports. Hopefully the widespread effects of global warming will spur political action to fund the infrastructure which allows for abundant public transportation and renewable energy. While progress is being made, we cannot count on this happening on a wide scale anytime soon, though it is certainly a hotter topic than ever before. Therefore, as individuals we must find ways to consume less fossil fuel.

Last December I started tracking where my household’s money went. I found that we spent an average of $650 a month at gas stations, and that was well before gas hit $4 per gallon! Since this summer, I have been able to reduce the amount we spend at gas stations to $250. Here are things we tried in an attempt to reduce our fossil fuel consumption:

• Carpooling- Unfortunately there is no way to take public transport given my 100 mile round trip commute and my late working hours. Luckily Brian and I work fairly close together, and by a bit of compromising on our schedules we are able to carpool most days. This saves about $300 per month.

• Greasing- Brian converted his truck to run on waste vegetable oil. The conversion cost about $1800, but with diesel so expensive the return of investment was theoretically fairly quick. Unfortunately, Brian always has some reason why his set up isn’t working and he is a slacker about making the rounds to restaurants and asking for grease. It also doesn’t help that we are near Valley Proteins who usually gets the good grease first to make biodiesel. So far our benefit from this conversion is far far in the red, plus Brian wants to sell his truck and buy a fancier one. Søren, on the other had seems to get decent benefit from his grease car. Collecting and processing grease is so laborious though so it is only worth pursuing if you enjoy it as a hobby, because if you paid yourself your normal wage for the cost to get and clean a gallon of grease it would exceed the price of a gallon of gas by far, me thinks.

• Wind and solar power- we have both of these on our farm but haven’t put them to practical use yet. The solar is so my donkey can read books in his barn at night and our area is highly rated for wind power but Brian hasn’t built the tower for his turbines yet. The cost of hooking these to the grid is prohibitive so they may have to charge batteries or directly feed to some appliance.

• Hypermiling- This is a way to get more fuel efficiency from your car. My top ten tips on how to hypermile are ranked in order on their convenience to actually apply to your daily driving. I went from getting 28 to up to 41.5mpg in my VW Golf through strict adherence to the principles below:

1. Ensure your tires are inflated to the max PSI on the tire wall (NOT your car’s manual they want you to experience a cushy ride). Some recommend going 5 PSI over.
2. Buy premium, it burns cleaner and I get such better MPG it actually saves me about $2 per tank.
3. Dump the extra weight you haul around in your trunk.
4. Stop racing up to red stoplights. I’ll never understand why DC drivers will pass others in their rush to get ahead when a red light awaits them. Anyway, just coast up to them in neutral; ideally you’ll time it so they’re already green by the time you get there. Having to brake ruins your fuel economy, so create situations where you won’t have to.
5. Go the speed limit. Crazy huh? but this has really increased my MPG, plus if I get anymore tickets I’ll lose my license.
6. Quit the AC. Mine is broken anyway. Apparently the drag that open windows create is negligible at speeds below 70mph.
7. Draft trucks. This just means finding a tractor trailer and following it at a safe distance. I haven’t noticed a big savings in fuel economy but others swear by it.
8. Turn off your car at red stoplights. I only do this at the really long ones now because I am worried I’ll wear out my starter, but the improvage in fuel economy is insane!
9. Use the hills. Any significant hill you should put it in neutral and take advantage of the momentum. I take this to the extreme and actually turn of my car if A) I am in a safe area where having reduced steering and braking power won’t endanger me, and b) I know I’ll have my car off for more than 10 seconds to make it worth it. I have a stick, so I just pop the clutch when I need to start again. If you have an auto you can turn the key to start in neutral. This technique rocks and is the one I used for at least 5 continuous miles the other day.
10. Mod your ride, this could be as simple as taking off your roof racks or truck tailgate. Others block off their grills to make their cars run hotter. There is seemingly no limit to the things some people will do in order to make their cars more aerodynamic.

Blog Action Day--Education--and more water facts

My blog post is here:

And here is an interesting fact to go along with Piri's post:
Additional annual investments needed to achieve clean drinking water for all: $10 billion
Annual expenditure on ocean cruises: $14 billion.

So if we stopped floating on salt water so much, people might get clean drinking water!

Or something like that.

And another one: Woman and girls in developing countries walk up to four miiles or six km a day, carrying about five gallons of many of us walk four miles a day for any reason? On a daily basis I walk about 2 or 3. But maybe thats just me?

Living at the bottom of the Black Sea

I previously mentioned that my Y chromosome appears to belong to a newly recognized grouping within the overall European R1b1 grouping called tentatively L21+. It appears to be a very ancient group, hence the scientific interest in it.

Speculation has been that it has its origin in the dispersal of people from the Black Sea area after the straights of the Bosphorous broke 5600BC. Some claim that the event accounts for the biblical flood myth. Others claim that it resulted in dispersal of the IndoEuropean (IE) language throughout the world including Europe, Turkey and eastward. Plotting the L21+ gene on a map is expected when data become available. There are also alternative agricultural explanations of the IE language dispersal.

At any rate, I thought it would be interesting to speculate what it would have been like to live in the Black Sea depression before the flood occurred. The living conditions could have had an influence on evolution in the area.

Because the altitude would have been lower, atmospheric pressure would have been higher. There would have been more oxygen in every breath of air. That could have lead to altered brain development. Have you ever noticed how crazy the Celts are? Also, there would have been less ultraviolet light to burn the skin. That could have lead to pigmentation changes later accentuated during dispersal northward after the flood.

Because of the low altitude, freezing of crops would have been less frequent. Volcanic eruptions that devastate agriculture elsewhere in the world would have had less effect here. Survival would have been greater, with a tendency for other groups to take refuge there, leading to conflict. Forts would have been built.

Technology might have been developed there specific to the conditions. I don't know what, but something might have been developed there, such as new crops like wheat.

There would almost certainly have been a smaller lake in the middle of the depression even before the flood. Fishing would have been a livelihood for some. The lake would likely have been salty due to evaporation in conditions of no outflow. Rivers flowing into the lake would have been routes for population travel.

Modern surveys of the underwater scene in the Black Sea have revealed many sunken boats from post-flood times and at least one settlement. The deeper parts of the Black Sea have very low oxygen levels, thereby permitting survival of wooden artifacts such as boats. Research continues.

Blog Action Day - Water - Its clean because we're rich

I know participating in Blog Action Day was my idea, but I have been having a hard time coming up with what to post about. I have already posted about my current favorite causes, being anti-plastic and a locavore. With most of my other favorite issues, our blog readership are already on the same page. Since the official Blog Action Day theme for 2008 is poverty (I didn't mention it on my other post, because I wanted to see what you would come up with), I decided to post about water.

Water is necessary for all forms of life, it is one of the most basic human needs. Clean water is now more precious then ever before. The facts are staggering. Over one billion people do not have access to clean drinking water. Millions of people spend hours a day collecting water, and it is often unsafe and polluted. A kid dies every 15 seconds from a water-related disease. 88% of all diseases are caused by unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation. Yikes.

$25 will provide one person, clean water for life. It may not feel like it lately (or ever), but if you have money in the bank, cash in your wallet and spare change hanging around somewhere you among the 8% of the most wealthy people on earth. WaterPartners is a non-profit organization that funds community-based, sustainable water supply and sanitation projects in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Kenya, Bangladesh, India, and the Philippines. That definitely is not local, but it is a good cause.

I'd still like to hear from the rest of you for Blog Action Day, especially those of you who haven't posted yet (Hallie, Andelle - this means you!).

Poverty Facts
Water Facts
State of the Village Report
Donate to WaterPartners International

Car Repair Woes and a Successful Conclusion

Earlier tonight, Soren and I headed to his work place Tricon Chemical in Forestville to repair his car. It was already quite dark and he was concerned about the possibility of violent crime. That is why I went along. Two people are seldom attacked compared to just one.

He got the old battery, took it to an auto parts store, got a new one and we returned. Everything was uneventful. We talked about generators quite a bit.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Yesterday I had the day off but Julia’s day care was closed so I spent it watching her. We went over to the farm to pick pears. I took a broom to knock them off the branches so we could pick them up off the ground. Three big pears came down and bonked me directly on the head. Little Julia, not yet two, burst out laughing. Wow, that made me think that something like that must be innately funny. It reminds me of Jerry Lewis’ definition of comedy, “comedy is a guy in trouble,” and brings understanding to Charlie Chaplin’s "Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot." In this case, close up-me, long shot-Julia. Anyway, inspired by locavoire postings here, we finished the job and went home and made some pear chutney.

Monday, October 13, 2008

On Heresy - a Repost from Tim Warlin

Random Quote
I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on
the edge, about to jump off. I immediately ran over and said "Stop!
Don't do it!"

"Why shouldn't I?" he said.

I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!"

"Like what?"

"Well ... are you religious or atheist?"


"Me too! Are you Christian or Jewish?"


"Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?"


"Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"


"Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the

"Baptist Church of God."

"Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed
Baptist Church of God?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God."

"Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of
1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!"

To which I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off.
Timmy Warlin

Weekend recap: miracle of blogs, cheap gas, hedge hogs

On Saturday:
I had to go to Warrenton to drop off my crap woot refurb Dyson vacuum to be fixed. It’s outrageous they couldn’t provide me with a closer repair facility, but it was a beautiful drive with the foliage just starting to turn. I also had a bit of business to do in nearby Bealeton. My friend has been jonesing for a hedgehog for months now and I happened to spot an ad for the perfect little hedgehogs in Bealeton. Since he’s out of the country I picked it up for him and am watching her until he gets back. What my friend doesn’t know is that the favor I’m calling in will be that he goes back to Warrenton to get my vacuum once it is fixed. Anyway, the hog’s name is Rhianna and she is cute as a button and friendly too even though she can feel like a cactus at times. While I was in Bealeton, I picked up some 87 octane for $2.99/gallon. When I got home we went to the race track and stimulated the economy for a spell.

On Sunday:
There is a happy ending attributable to this blog. My long lost buddy, Ingrid started lurking on it after seeing a link from the Baby Blog and we made plans to hang out. Yesterday, Brian, Leo, Karen, Ingrid and I all crammed into my car to head up in the mountains to hone our marksmanship. They have a park which is a gun range with landfill like aspects; in that you can bring pretty much anything you can carry and use it as a target. However it was drastically cleaned up from the last time I was there. They must go in with a bulldozer and haul off the trash periodically and reshape the burms. I wanted to practice my handgun shooting and we also brought along Brian’s m-4 and 22 rifle. Ingrid shot the rifle the whole time and she is one hell of a shot, hangover or not. She had this index card sized piece of paper with a 1 inch black dot on it and the thing looked like swiss cheese after her shooting at 25 yards without a scope. I think she could do well at 50 or 100 yards. She could be our designated sniper if people resort to raiding each other’s property.

On our way down the mountain I turned off my car and put in neutral to save gas. For blog action day on Wednesday I will write an article on my gas saving techniques. I have never experienced the kind of ridiculous economy I got going down that mountain. I wish I had measured it, but we must coasted for 10 minutes until I got to a stop sign. Next time we go up there I’ll be sure to check the mileage.

We went through about $50 of ammunition. Brian says when he bought it at Wal-Mart he noticed it was getting more expensive. If you are the type who fell for Y2K, ect.. you should probably start stocking up on ammo, water, and non perishable food. The cost of ammo should be something you consider when picking out a gun. My new gun costs $.20/round whereas the 22 only costs $.01/round. Brian’s M-4 I think costs about $.50/round and his friend shoots sniper rifles that costs $3/round so he started recycling the bullet casings and refilling them.

astounding art

look at the work of this crazy english guy, at

he does miniatures .. .micro miniatures . . . they all fit on the head of a pin or inside the eye of a needle. he has to do the sculpting in between heart beats. oh, look at the video.

DNA testing -- a perspective

I had my DNA tested recently by . They do 600,000 or so DNA SNPs for $399. I believe the service is invaluable. To my surprise, not only have I heard opinion otherwise, but also, almost everyone I've talked to would not do it themselves. With a view toward correcting misinformation about these kinds of tests, here goes a bit of info.

According to Chrissy, her mom heard on "Twenty Twenty" that these tests are unreliable and a fraud. This is utterly untrue. What is true is that there are some paternalistic "consumer advocates" out there who assume that all clients of these tests are stupid and would be ill served by knowing their DNA background. Some of them are physicians. I reject this opinion completely.

Cross comparison's between 23andme and decodeme for the same individual have shown that they are almost in complete agreement in their SNP calls for almost all 600,000 SNPs. Only a handful differed between the two testing companies. That disposes of the data reliability issue.

The allegations of unreliability probably derive from the well known fact that these are early days in the scientific INTERPRETATION of those results. 23andme provides interpretation for only 91 SNPs of the 600K. Furthermore, individual SNPs only are interpreted, when not only environmental influences must be taken into account, but also the DNA context of the OTHER SNPs must be taken into account. No company provides that contextual interpretation because few scientific papers are yet available.

Nonetheless, what is available already is invaluable. One can determine whether they carry the cystic fibrosis gene or many other highly deleterious (and beneficial genes). That is often a good enough indication for medical surveillance in a particular area (all depending on the individual results). Sergey Brin, founder of google and husband of the lady who founded 23andme now knows that he carries the Parkinson's gene and since his mother already has Parkinson's he is now motivated to fund research in that area and also undertake medical surveillance of his own condition.

I now know I am at risk of thromboembolism and maybe a few other things at lower risk. I am actually relieved to know I have so few risk factors. Almost all humans have some risk factors. I was able to run my DNA file through the Promethease program by an another company which turned up a few more things that 23andme choose not to display because they do not yet regard them as sufficiently proven. That is fine by me. The Promethease program warned me of a possible Warfarin sensitivity. If I should ever have a heart attack or stroke, I'll simply warn the doctor to use a reduced dose or an alternative medication. No problem. In short, I find the service invaluable from a medical perspective.

As chance would have it, the 23andme forum also turned up a request for people with a certain profile. It turned out I fit that profile on my Y chromosome and it now appears I am among the first seven people to be discovered for a new previously unknown R1b1 clade of the Y chromosome. Very interesting. The experts seem to think this will greatly change scientific interpretation of the Celtic history.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Trip Hop pt 2

Tricky is the gold standard of trip hop artists. This song, "mango tree" is enchanting in its simplicity.

"Over me" is also not to be missed.

One woman's trash...

typical of a haul from the Baltimore collective

I don't know how possible this is everywhere, but some friends and I have been trying to create an infrastructure for catching useful waste before it gets to the dump. Dumpster diving is by no means new, but it's becoming more profitable and important as our businesses throw away more and more useable material. A lot of what's there to be had is edible food, but dumpsters also provide household goods, flowers, clothes, you name it.

My friend Mike started a collaborative website for Baltimore and organized a weekly collective to make the endeavor more profitable for everyone. Members meet at his house Tuesday nights, or coordinate via a listserv, to divide into pairs or groups which each go to a different dumpster. Since it's most common to find a whole lot of one kind of thing (bagels, juice, produce) at one dumpster, they collect as much as they can and meet back at the house to divide it up. That way, everyone gets a reasonable amount of each category and ends up with a balanced haul.

Of course, dumpster diving is a pretty maligned practice, which leads to some risks. The legality issue is kind of fuzzy, and one has to be especially careful of trash trucks coming to empty the dumpster. (That's another advantage of the collective: the buddy system works, and we can publicize collection times.) The most common concern is food safety, but I think most people would be surprised at how much food is thrown away in almost-perfect condition and in clean plastic containers.

So grab a buddy, empty out your car, and head on down to the local supermarket or cafe. It might take a while to find a location with a reliable source, but once you do it's amazing how much free food you can get out of a fundamentally flawed system.

ETA: my roommate Wes and I did a walking tour of the dumpsters in our neighborhood, which didn't yield much besides a nice Sunday afternoon stroll. But, I did stop in at the Subway to ask them straight-up if I could have the bread they would otherwise throw away at the end of the day. The guy behind the counter seemed dubious but said if I came back at 15 minutes to closing (9:45) he would see what he could do. When I went back just now, he filled a plastic bag the size of a grocery sack with 13 loaves of slightly-stale (just the very ends) bread. I hung it on my handlebars and pedaled home with garbage-juice-free bread!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Brighter thoughts

“To be thrown upon one's own resources, is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; for our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible.”

—Benjamin Franklin

Lynnis is complaining about the negative turn of the blog. Although I got a shockingly low statement from my Gold and Precious metals fund (which I thought was supposed to be a hedge) I can still think of some bright sides to economic collapse. If the country really goes broke maybe we will stop having all these wars. Maybe we will reevaluate spending 52% of the national budget on military. Maybe there will be a cultural shift away from the excessive consumer culture of the last few years. Already people in my family are having a lot of fun sewing new clothes out of old tee shirts instead of buying clothes. I'm on my second batch of wine this year (pears, this time) because I don't want to let good fruit go to waste. And I am hoping that the unrelenting conversion of the local woods to suburban McMansions and strip malls will stop. And we can still make art from found objects as this Alaska State Fair entry shows:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pregnancy food cravings

It is very interesting. Earlier today it was a craving for saltines. This evening it is a craving for kimchi. I suppose the baby is in the middle of neurological development, and she can not tolerate ordinary foods. Anyway, they drove off to Sakura to get some kimchi.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lona, the State of the Economy, Soft Seats

I was trying to figure out if I should comment all over the place, or just post. In the end, I had enough comments that it seemed like a post was called for.

First, I noticed that this comment the other day by Lona

"I don't think Gordon understand that the danger is the unwinding of the derivatives market which has hugely leveraged the mortgages. Today the size of derivatives markets is estimated by the Bank of International Settlements to exceed $109 trillion."

was echoed on the top of the front page of the New York Times today. The difference was that they were saying that perhaps Allan Greenspan, in addition to Gordon, did not correctly understand the dangers; also that perhaps his lack of understanding of the derivatives market may be a big part of the problem now. As I was reading that article I just kept thinking that it was too bad that Lona wasn't talking more to the bankers in high places.

Second, I thought I should interject that while we have recently lost a whole lot of money in the market, I am not planning on eating pigs feet any time soon. That thought brings to mind another good New York times article that I read a while back by Mark Bittman about cutting back on meat where he points out that vegetables actually have more protein by calorie than meat: In the article, he actually does not advocate vegetarianism, but something more like the meat eating that most of the rest of the world does with just as a small amount of meat. I'm pretty sure that most of the readers of this blog don't eat meat. For those that do, I think this might be a better alternative in the lean times than those less choice cuts of meat.
On an unconnected and lighter note: as a follow-up to my recent blog post about two wheel transportation, I highly recommend cruiser bikes. I have a lovely Electra bike (with 7 very useful speeds) that has a seat that is about 1/2 as wide as my bottom and has fabulous springs. I was passed on my way to preschool pickup today by a bunch of people who were riding really fancy uncomfortable looking bikes that had very narrow seats that required expensive looking padded bike pants to ride them. I was thinking about how high on the hog my lifestyle was with the WIDE and SOFT seat. And to reply to Piri's question about what baby bike accessories I recommend, I have a Topeak bike seat for Sofi that I really like Amazon. Matt did a bunch of safety research to determine which option would be the best with my somewhat challenged balancing skills, and determined it is the best choice. Sam still seems happy riding her old Burley trailer, and it is great having all of the storage in there for side trips to the grocery store and elsewhere.

Male soprano, Radu Marian

Hmmm, I think this blog is taking a negative turn. I present you with an ethereal distraction from your financial woes.

A perspective on the world financial crisis

The fraction of defaulting mortgages is not yet that great, but will become much larger. But seen as a fraction of total world debt, it is still not that much.

Instead, the real financial crisis is a total loss of confidence in everything to do with money. No one will finance debt when there is no confidence in the future. The origins of that loss of confidence I am not going to address. It is complex, and, plenty of finger pointing can be done in all directions.

Rather, I am going to take a stab at what the future holds. Real things such as nuts, bolts, people, real estate, real capital (e.g. factories) will still be around. People need to eat, they need a place to live. Farmers will do well. They will be able to sell, in some currency, everything they grow. Agriculture exports will continue to boom. There will be demand for real things and a surplus of labor. Labor costs will go down, prices for everything will drop. In other words, there will be deflation on a massive scale. Gold will go down in price, having already correctly risen.

Money is an accounting system for who did what, and how much, for others. It is that accounting system that is devastated. Good people will be hurt, bad people will be hurt. A few prudent souls will benefit. Anyone with an education will still possess that knowledge and skills set. Anyone with a bag of nuts and bolts will still have them.

Be kind to others. Do not do unto others what you would not have others do unto you. That is the real bottom line. Keep living. Do good deeds.

Nouveau Great Depression help

See a primer here.

Low on the Hog

Today I was in line at Giant checkout and struck up a conversation with a black man about ham hocks. He says they are tasty to eat.

The black tradition of eating them probably arose during slave times when black folk got what the whites didn't want. Maybe low on the hog isn't so bad. The way things are going everyone might be eating low on the hog. Let's look on the bright side.
This is sad.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The New World Order

Let's be cheerful. Instead of calling it the Greater Depression, instead, call it the New World Order. The stock market still have not found a bottom. As I write the Japan stock market is down over 9% on top of what has gone before. Where will it stop?

Anti-Plastic convert

So I took a big step towards making less waste today, I took a set of real dishes into work. Metal utensils are so far superior anyway. I got a lot of flack for the mug I brought, the old "Friends don't let friends get a dog" mug that was given to Guy. I figured it was one I wouldn't mind losing so it was a good choice, but everyone who saw it kept asking why I hate dogs. Which prompted my coworker to elaborate on why he hates all things cute and fuzzy and how he drowned a chipmunk in a bucket for the crime of living under his driveway. I don't think I will ever look at him the same way.....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Anything but morose

After hearing lots of buzz about it, I finally watched Randy Pausch's last lecture last night. I only meant to watch a few minutes but it was so captivating I watched the full 76 minutes. If you haven't seen it yet I highly recommend you do. Randy passed away on July 25.

The Greater Depression

For anyone who ever wondered what the Great Depression was like, now you are going to get a chance to see a Greater Depression. Stocks are plummeting, reflecting disapproval of the bailout. Cash is King. If you have a job, great. I have retirement income, but I wonder how long the Government will continue to pay it. Bye bye birdie. At least I'm alive, maybe my 28 gauge will turn up to shoot yummy rats and snakes.

moving on to trip hop

Trip Hop is my fave music genre. MIA's father was the leader of a group that was the supporting arm of the Tamil Tigers.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Locavore update

Well, it is not much for winter food storage, and it is stored in plastic, but it is a start. The farmer's market was today and we got a dozen ears of corn and 2 quarts of green beans to cut up and freeze for the winter. Now we have something to look at in the freezer. We also got pumpkins, broccoli, honey, soap, coffee (locally roasted), potatos, apples, apple cider, tomatos and onions. Still left over from last week, are a tomato, a few peppers, onions and leeks. I ment to buy celery and eggs but they were sold out. The farmer's market closes for the year, in three weeks.
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Saturday, October 4, 2008

WV Rite of Passage

I bought my first gun today from a surplus store in Charles Town. Brian was in there yesterday and saw a 22 baretta with pink handles that said right on the outside "made in Accokeek, MD USA" he thought was perfect for me. He took me back there today to have a look at it. It was very nice but I wanted something smaller and lighter. Not that I know anything about handguns but it's seems 22s are always longer because people use them for targets. I like shooting 22s though because they have no recoil, so maybe if I get more into guns I'll get one. I ended up getting a 9x18mm FEG PA-63 handgun, which is light and compact. It was also cheap, only $115 new. I might need it when people start eyeing my livestock for food. Brian is taking me to his gun club to shoot it tomorrow.

Friday, October 3, 2008


So I was watching the vote on C-span and the bailout passed. I wonder what kind of footnote in history this will become?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A beneficial suggestion for aviation

The discovery of Steven Fossett's remains and aircraft at 10,000 feet is, in my opinion, probably a consequence of altitude and his age. Reports of thunderclouds in the area are an alternative explanation. It is conventional for pilots to turn on oxygen at about 10K ft. He was at that limit. His age suggests the possibility that he was no longer capable of that degree of oxygen deprivation.

All this suggests to me a possible improvement for safe aviation. If pilots were required to don oxygen masks above a certain conservative altitude, let's say about 6,000 ft, but age dependent, and, if further, the mask does not switch on the oxygen until biological signs of oxygen deprivation, then oxygen supplies would be conserved until needed, but would switch from air to oxygen automatically when needed. I am not qualified to suggest exactly what biological signs should be used, but, surely they exist. Oxygen equipment does not currently have this automatic switch on capability. Perhaps it should. That is the beneficial suggestion made.

I don't like the idea of excessive regulation, but oxygen deprivation has figured in enough crashes, that this might be a good idea. It is time for discussion among the aviation community.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV)

I've long been inclined to get an NEV. It would be great during a gas crisis to avoid a gas line. With my weak heart, an unpowered vehicle such as an ordinary bicycle is not a possible option. The road situation here is suitable to go a short way before running into the road speed limit problem.

The only hangup is that most NEV's still use lead acid batteries that don't last long. However I've found that if LA batteries are never discharged fully they last a lot longer. Full or near full discharge disables them thereafter. The GEM NEV by Chrysler is a good possibility. Several models are possible. I've thought about the model eS that has a little truck body in back with two person seating in front. Just google on GEM NEV or look up NEV in Wikipedia if you are interested in the many options. There is a company in Florida that makes a cute little topless sports car style NEV. I didn't get it because it doesn't have doors and my unwieldy weight could not easily step over the side into the seat. If Piri or Emily have an easy place to park it with electric charging capability, it sounds good. Speed limit is 25 on at most 35 roads. There are many companies.

Biking to see Michelle Obama

I finally have something to say in the blogger world- and thought that I could tie together some of the threads on this blog! Also, I really like it that this is a communication with our family, and I need to make sure to get involved.

This morning Sam and I biked over to see Michelle Obama at a rally in Boulder after dropping Sofi at school. We got there early enough to get a front row spot, and I was so amazed by her presence that all of us will be heading over to the democratic campaign office today after naps to sign up for canvasing or whatever you can do with babies in tow. She is really clear on the issues that affect every person with children and families; the main thrust of her speech was to point out that it really does matter who you vote for, and since it was at the University that all young people should vote. After she was done, Sam and I got to shake hands with her (and I've been looking around the web for photos, as we were with a friend of mine who also brought a baby boy and I'm pretty sure they were good photo ops). Also thanks to my recent thoughts about skin care from Lynnis I have no sun damage to report from this event.

That brings me to several of the other ongoing issues. The first is the "Living Well on Two Wheels" issue. I have been working really hard to bike my kids around lately, and highly recommend getting out there on a bike (with pedals) wherever you are. We have a single trailer that Sam rides in now, and a seat on the back of my bike for Sofi. It takes work to haul them both, but it is really fun to teach Sofi things like how to signal turns and share a path with others. I realize that Boulder has better trails than most places, but I would look for a place to take a bike ride wherever I was. The effects of all of the nice fall air are even more easy to feel than imagining the emissions that we're saving.

The last item that I'd like to contribute is a link to the Barack Obama song that our family has been listening to all of the time lately. I think that it brings really positive energy to the universe, and while it is not quite in Lynnis's music broadening spectrum, it's not your everyday kind of song:

Maybe I'll write more about all of this on the 15th for blog action day. In the mean time, I'll say that I have been contributing all of the money that I save by no longer having a cleaning lady to the Obama campaign in some way or another. I consider it my "cleaning for Obama" personal campaign. I really hope that it helps to elect a politician who seems to care so much about the things that worry about for not only my immediate family, but also all of you guys!

What have you been absorbing?

I recently found this cool database which tells you how safe your personal sundries are on a scale of 0 to 10, zero being no risk and ten being very high hazard. You can search by product or specific ingredient. Most of what I've been using is pretty good, my goal is the keep the level of hazard under 4 or 5.

The site has it's faults and it is somewhat alarmist at times (like aloe getting a mention for cancer risk and one of my products getting a 4 because it has "unspecified essential oils"). I found out the Salycilic acid from my peels is a 7, but glycolic acid is an acceptable 5, so I think I'll just switch to 50% glycolics instead of 40% and maybe add some 85% lactic acid to the routine and hopefully get the same results. The scariest part to me was makeup with high pigments like blush and eyeshadow, those generally rank very risky since there are metals used to make the pigments. I also thought my mitchum deodorant was super threatening because of the high amounts of buffered aluminum, but it only ranked a 2.

Coming Soon - Blog Action Day!

Blog Action Day is October 15. I'd like to see everyone post about their favorite cause, charity or issue.

Generator Unfun

The carburetor on the gasoline generator was torn apart and rebuilt. Now it won't start at all. Hmm. At least I acquired some propane for the other generator.