Friday, November 28, 2008

Curbside compost comes to Boulder!

Happy post-Thanksgiving! I loved your thankfulness post, Lynnis. I am thankful to be able to read the thoughts all of you so far away.

I thought I should report on my newest happy Boulder living phenomenon. Sofi and Sam had a great time watching the trash company come this morning to reconfigure our trash carts for the new city curbside compost and single stream recycling program. For some time we tried to compost in our yard, but with the extreme dry climate compost actually requires watering, which strikes me as such a difficult use of a precious resource. Now all residential trash service in Boulder comes with a bin where kitchen waste, yard waste and non-plastic coated non-recyclable organics can go- this was a huge step for Boulder towards the citywide zero-waste plan. It makes us feel better knowing that not only are we overly concerned about our trash, but those around us are too. All things considered it chalks up to more points in the pro column for living in Boulder.

Now if only we could figure out how to go completely zero-plastic. I did want to follow up on Piri's older plastic rant by mentioning that we have a picnic table made of recycled plastic that I really like. It is very heavy duty and supposed to not fade or degrade very easily, and so far has not stained or changed state in any way. Maybe we need to just think of more ways for our plastic refuse to enhance our lives?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Porcupines demonstrate gratefulness even when no one wants to give them a hug.

We spend a lot of time taking things for granted. Thanksgiving is a time when we are reminded to show thanks for the good things in our lives. For most people it involves lots of food and family...two things most of us probably take for granted. Many of us don’t stop to think of how difficult life would be without them. Only once you are truly grateful for the bounty in your life, does the universe allow more blessings to come your way.

For the record, I am very grateful to have family and friends that raised me and continue to care for me, ample water to drink and food to eat (though I could use a little less), a warm home that I own, a job that pays me enough to live comfortably on, a partner who I know will be there for me no matter what, and of course my assortment of critters who bring me endless joy and amusement. So thanks, folks.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Polio Eradication

Because I had polio at age 5, the hoped-for eradication of the disease is something I keep up with. Most efforts heretofore have used a so-called "trivalent" oral vaccine that is intended to simultaneously immunize against Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3 versions of polio. Type 2 polio is believed to be already extinct worldwide. Recently, monovalent vaccines against Type 1 and Type 3 have been separately certified. This is important because in endemic areas of the world such as India and Nigeria, the virus is so prevalent that the oral immunizations against multiple types compete with each other in binding to the gut. Therefore the monovalent versions are believed to be and mostly have been proven to be more potent. Sometimes the trivalent version is still used when both Type 1 and Type 3 are still present. Those are now alternated with the monovalent versions in various campaigns.

The success of the most recent campaigns has been mixed. The geographic diversity has been reduced to fewer countries, but, the absolute number of infected people has increased. The reason for this is mostly because of Islamic distrust of the rest of the world. They believe that medical personnel are trying to sterilize them and some imams vigorously campaign against it. Some medical people in Pakistan have been killed. Of course, Islamic doctors campaign in favor of immunizations. Northern India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are now the major reservoirs in Asia with mostly Nigeria infecting the rest of Africa sporatically.

No one knows how all this will turn out. In Nigeria, it is the corruption of officials hoping for a bribe that holds up things combined with religious fervor doing likewise. In Asia, it is mostly religion.

It is not obvious how much longer the world will continue to fund the eradication effort. If things collapse, infection will spread again worldwide. So far, there is still hope that the monovalent potency will reinvigorate the campaign. Asia has mostly type 3 and a bit of Type 1 combined, whereas in Africa it is the opposite. I hope everyone will contribute to the effort. The worldwide economic collapse is not helping things. There is still hope. Saudia Arabia holds a trump card. They do not allow haj unless a person is accompanied by a polio immunization certificate.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I wish sex ed was like this when I was in middle school

More bad news about plastics - Get away from my butt!

And the weekly Plastic News:

It looks like the BPA in waste water streams has been traced back to recycled toilet paper. I knew I hated recycled toilet paper for a good reason. It isn't added intentionally, but comes from recycled credit card receipts. BPA is not just found in recycled toilet paper, but all recycled paper, though exposure is quite high with the toilet paper. BPA is a hormone disruptor and having it in waste water is likely causing problems for marine life. And unfortunately, sources like this, probably means very small amounts of BPA in our tap water. Plastic in our water is beyond disturbing.

Don't put your plastics in the microwave. New tests show it causes BPA to leach out of even the "safe" plastics, numbers 1, 2 and 5.

And in creepy consumer news, despite a ban on phthalates in toys, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is allowing toys containing unsafe plastics to be sold throughout the holiday season, until February 10, 2009. Especially try to avoid buying soft plastic bath toys and teething rings for anyone this Christmas.

Holy S#@T:There's BPA in my Recycled Toilet Paper
Is it Safe to Microwave Plastic?
Get your Phthalates Cheap for Christmas at a Store near you
Piri's Anti-Plastic Spiel

Is the Climate getting Warmer ? Brrr...

It sure has been cold lately. This summer was not all that hot either. OK, so the glaciers are melting and the Arctic is showing a bit of bare skin.

None of that helps me. According to actuarial tables a male my age has about 19 years life expectancy left. I don't think it will warm up much in 19 years ... if at all. Tonight at latitude 38 degrees North, that is here near Washington DC and same latitude as southern Spain, it is predicted to go down to 20 F. It is only November.

If you want a Federal Job by Law Register for Draft

It was quite some time ago that I urged Soren and Scot to register for the draft. The draft has not been used since the Vietnam war, but, Congress passed a law that all males who want a federal job must have registered for the draft. This is supposed to be done at 18 and must be done before turning 26.

Today that paid off for Scot. He applied for a Navy job where Greeleo works. He was sweating it for a while because he didn't remember registering and the Selective Service site said that since he was 26 it was too late. But then he remembered to check to see whether he was already registered. Lo, and behold, he was registered. It PAYS to listen to elders advice. Now if only a different male would do so on other matters ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's a Woot Off today!

Woohoo! Cheap crap that you never imagined you needed until you see it on woot! I know I have turned Piri and Sandi on to woot and they've gotten some good junk there, but those of you who haven't used it yet should check it out. They post one ridiculously cheap thing everyday at 1am. The other day they had 2gig SD cards for 2.99, so I got 3!

Special days, like today, they use to clear inventory and when one item is sold out, another item will be posted immediately afterwards. The grand final is usually a bag of crap for $1. This usually instantly crashes their server as people have been known to get plasma TVs in the grab bags. Also no matter what you get or how many it is $5 shipping. One caveat - I have not have much luck with their refurb goods (cleaning robots & vaccums), I have usually needed to send them back for repair.

You could go to but I like to watch woot-offs at this RSS feed because it's less drag on their server and you don't need to refresh.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Possibly Useful Summary News Source

Google news is a nice summary, but it is automated without much in the way of human selection or summary. I ran across this summary news source you might like to bookmark. It has RSS feed also.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My favorite stock gets the Jim Cramer treatment!

Full article on The Street

When it comes to ethanol, Cramer made it no secret he's not a fan of the commodity, nor the companies that make it.

But with the collapse of Verasun Energy (VSUN Quote - Cramer on VSUN - Stock Picks), along with several other ethanol stocks, Cramer's changed his tune on Archer Daniels Midland (ADM Quote - Cramer on ADM - Stock Picks).

Cramer said when all of the weak players get washed out of an industry, the last man standing usually wins. In this case, with just about all of the smaller ethanol companies now bought or bankrupt, ADM stands alone as a giant in the ethanol industry. Add that to an Obama presidency that heavily favors ethanol, and Cramer sees dollar signs.

Cramer said ADM is a huge buy based on its enormous size and global reach. He said in the biofuel business, size really does matter, and with its international business model, ADM is in the unique position of being able to shift its end product production to meet global demands.

For example, he said, now that ethanol is back in vogue in the U.S., ADM is shifting some of its corn syrup production back to ethanol to meet increased demand. Likewise, the company has the ability to weather disruptions in crop production by shifting supplies around the world.

Cramer said he's also a fan of ADM's bioplastics division, which makes bio-based plastics for plates, containers, utensils, coatings and other products.

When you put all of the pieces together, ADM is a buy, said Cramer.

Abraham Lincoln eloquence speaks

Executive Mansion, Washington, Nov 21, 1864
To Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Mass.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five (5) sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
A Lincoln

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Geek Stuff: Simple Motion Control

After my crude success with CAD drawing for the snake grabber, I have now tried something a little more ambitious. This is a simple way to make something move in a more or less linear controlled fashion using leaf springs. If you just use a simple leaf spring and attach something to the top of it, the spring bends over. The classic solution to this is to attach something to counter bend the top of the spring so that the top of the spring stays more or less parallel to its original position, but displaced as desired. The sketch below (excuse my beginner CAD abilities) shows a two leaf spring device with the leaf springs in RED and the top controlled portion in black with something coming half way down to counter bend the top so that it remains parallel.

The thing labeled wobble pin is a method for accomodating the fact that the pusher (usually a screw with a dimple in the end) will never be exactly perpendicular to the motion control device. By inserting the wobble pin between a dimple on the motion control bar and the dimple on the screw, the wobble pin accommodates in accuracies of construction that are always present. The location of the dimple on the bar should be half way down but it is best to empirically locate the best point since sometimes materials are inhomogeneous. By attaching a mirror temporarily to the top the image can be viewed while pushing. Find a point where the image doesn't deviate. When the CAD drawing was made the RED leaf springs should have been shown as extending over the top and bottom pieces for attachment.

A more sophisticated version of this can use three balls in a cylinder at each end of the wobble pin. The cones of the wobble pin rest against the three balls. It is easy to drill a hole in the control bar for the bearing balls. In a pinch disassemble a ball bearing, but it is easier to just order a box of loose precision bearing balls. A box of 100 1/8" bearing balls will cost around $7.00.

A still better version of this device uses four leaf springs with the second set displaced from the first set so as to form four upright springs in a rectangular bedpost configuration. The counter-bending bar then sits between the two sets.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


How to catch a snake peacefully

An old trick for making a grabber for anything I show here in the following picture.

An alternative way to make it is not use a pipe, instead use a stick with another loop tied to the end of it. Insert the rope loop through that loop. Ask the snake to please insert herself into the loop of the rope. If she refuses you know it is probably another pesky male.

Squash 2 Π - Part 1

The last day of the farmer's market, a slippery squash salesman talked Guy into buying this monster squash. The price was $3, a very good veg to dollar ratio. Apparently, this is a good type of squash to make into pumpkin pie.
After giving the squash a bath, hack it to bits. Its harder then it looks, this is one mighty squash. Remove the seeds from the bell at the bottom, an ice cream scoop works well.
The next step is to steam the squash. We got out our very large, 20 quart, beer brewing pot. Put a veggie steaming basket or a stainless steel colander at the bottom, add a couple of inches of water and pack the squash in. This one filled the entire pot. We cooked it for 30 minutes (a smaller squash should cook in half the time) and it was really nice and mushy.

Peel off the skins. If your squash is watery, let it sit in a colander for a few hours to drain.

After we got to this point, we had to take a break and our squash turned into a giant squashsicle. Hopefully, it will turn into pie soon. If you must know, the story ends with pureeing, seasoning, making pie crust, baking and eating.

Exercises in Compassion Part II- More than one way to kill a snake

Gordon mentioned he wants a gun for killing snakes. I want to remind him that there is more than one way to kill a snake. In general I don’t believe in killing things that don’t bother you, copperheads are the exception. Most snakes I just relocate to the far reaches of the field. They only hang around because they like to eat the rodents. This means that Gordon will have to choose between whether he has a snake infestation or a rat infestation since killing the snakes means more rats. Personally, I like rats. I don’t like it so much when they carry pestilence or when the cat bats their rotting corpses under the vacuum so I can spend weeks looking for that awful smell once they are reduced to a furry grease spot. Whenever I catch a varmint, I cross both the Shenandoah and the Potomac rivers before letting them go in Maryland. Crossing two bodies of water with mice is a rule of thumb Lona taught me, when she drove the 20 miles to Upper Marlboro to release the mice she caught in her geodesic dome.

Since moving into our house two years ago I have had more than one interesting encounter with snakes. When we first inspected the attic we found it was filled with snake skins. We had the trees trimmed so it wouldn’t be so easy for them to slither out of the trees and onto the roof for sunning themselves. It seemed to help keep them out of the attic.

The trouble really happens when Brian travels. While he was off eating a rattle snake his friend bludgeoned and dried on a rock, I was having a snake of my own. I was in the downstairs bathroom washing my hands when I noticed a copperhead coiled around the showerhead! I almost called the police but I remembered that my very capable mother (who has braved the bites of a much larger copperhead) was on her way.

In the meantime I began to think of how the snake got in and how I could dispatch it. There is no good explanation for how it got in, but it could have been through the bath tub drain I suppose. Later we found that drainpipe just dumped under the foundation despite the plumbers telling us it was all hooked up.

I came up with several ideas of how to deal with it. They included:

a) Cutting its head off with a pair of brush loppers

b) Turning a can of spray air upside down and freezing it (somehow I thought I could then shatter it)

c) Trapping it under a bucket and leaving it for Brian to deal with when he got home.

Lona arrived and we chose option C. We were too afraid it would lash out at us to get close enough to freeze it or lop its head off, so I got a 6 foot long garden stake and pried it off the showerhead while Lona covered it with the pig’s water bowl. The bottom of the tub was too curved for the bowl to sit flush so we had to swap it out for a flower pot. That unfortunate reptile sat in wait for at least three days until my neighbor called to check in on me and sent her husband over to see about the snake. He picked it up using the loppers as tongs and took it outside and dispatched it. This concluded that adventure.

Two months later, Brian went away to Iraq for 9 weeks I was stepping outside one morning and there was another small copperhead coiled up on the doormat, right where my foot was about to land. My intrepid neighbor, Smitty took care of that one too by bashing its head in. I owe him such a debt.

the next time Brian went away I only saw one wrapped around the porch foundation. I implemented an aggressive regimen of naphtha (moth balls) to try to deter the copperheads as I am afraid my dogs or pig will get bitten one day. The regimen wasn’t having the desired effect. This spring, Brian was away in the Mid East again. It had been raining cats and dogs all day. When I came home I immediately noticed the house smelled off. I looked in the basement and it had several inches of water on the floor.

After I stood in the water like an idiot to unplug all the power cords, I called Brian’s dad for advice. He suggested I try to get to downspouts to dump farther from the house. I went out to clean the leaves over from under the downspout and lay down a shower curtain. What did I pull out of the leaves but a huge black snake! I left well enough alone with the snake and the sump pump finally started to make a dent in the basement flood. However, when I went outside in the morning, the snake was dead. I felt bad; it must have been from drowning or the naphtha. I had seen the snake around before and we never bothered each other. He was just here for the mice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Moonshine, Pirates & Paranoia

Yesterday some website was running a promotion that they would make you an LLC free of charge if you just pay the state filing fees. Brian was very excited about this. I told him “psshaw, I can do that! I’m a paralegal remember?” You actually need no legal training to do it, it’s just going to your secretary of state’s website and filling out forms. He wanted to do it through this online company because the special was on Nevada LLCs. Nevada doesn’t require you to have the names of the managers on file with the secretary of state so it is the preferred jurisdiction of shady businesses.

I asked him what he was planning on doing that required that kind of anonymity. His response “I'm going to make it an umbrella corporation for everything evil: gun selling, whisky making, tranny p0rn sites and cute little piglet pictures. You should register merrygoosemother LLC and they can own your blog so if you say anything inflammatory, your LLC will get sued and not us.”

me: why do you need your officers hidden?

Brian: because i don't want protesters!!!

me: what kind of shady things are you planning on doing?

Brian: make moonshine!

and sell guns

and fight piracy in the gulf of Aden!

me: this is wv, that what we DO and no one protests

Fighting piracy in the gulf of Aden was Brian’s brainchild at least six months ago.... long before shipping companies started to see the need for private escorts. Destroyers are just so darn scarce on Ebay right now.

Brian’s same partner in privateering wants us to make whiskey on our farm. He figures we have street cred being located in West Virginia. (or is it dirt road cred?)

He also wants to become a licensed firearms dealer. I NEVER thought I would say this but I actually think it’s a good idea. I think gun dealer licenses are set to become the real estate agent licenses of the early 2000s, everyone can make a few bucks with minimal effort. Ever since the election, guns are flying of the shelves and into the hands of paranoid rednecks. Our local store can not keep assault rifles in stock, they sell in a day and now they have a waiting list. Maybe it would be a business plan for some of you Marylanders as "Fairyland" seems to be an under-served and under-armed market with plenty of paranoid people.

Back to the start up business train of thought.

Brian’s “Free” service wanted $250 for a Tax ID number. Which are available from the IRS for free. I also think that if you are a small business with one location you should incorporate in the state in which you intend to do business. Otherwise you will have to maintain registration with both your state of incorporation and where you actually operate your business. Those annual reports are expensive to file are a pain in the ass, plus you'll need to maintain a registered agent in each state you do business. Maryland is actually the worst state I’ve ever had to file in. They require a complete inventory and valuation of all your assets once a year so they can tax you on them. I’m no expert but if you want to start a small business in Maryland sole proprietorship or a partnership is probably the best option. If you are going to have a partner though always always get the arrangement in writing! None of this is legal advice as I'm not qualified to give it, it's just my own thoughts on the subject.

This is a rambling post so I’ll do a recap on the themes I’m trying to express:

  • Entrepreneurship is good.
  • You can start a business by your own damn self
  • Don’t make it more complicated than it has to be
  • Tax ID numbers are free
  • Gun dealer licenses are the new hotness

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A happy mello motorbiker

Here is another youtube time waster.

But very entertaining.
Happy Armistice Day, Frank Buckles!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Another reason to go plastic-free

It looks like plastic #5, polypropylene, is not as safe as originally thought, it leaches oleamide. Oleamide is a chemical naturally found in the blood and the brain, and is used to improve the fluidity of molten plastics. It has been suggested that a bit extra could alter brain function.

Link: Researchers raise alarm after chemical leak found in common plastic

Friday, November 7, 2008

Beat Bawking

I often go about bawk-bawk-bawking little ditties which Brian has dubbed "beat bawking". This is because I love chickens. They are the only pets that contribute more than just love to my family. Chickens are so relaxing to see pecking around in the yard. This activity also keeps away ticks. My own High On The Hog mascots at right are also the endless source of comic amusement.

Becky, the buff orpington recently started laying eggs and it's really wonderful to have fresh local eggs that I know are humane. Chickens are so easy to keep and their only need is to be protected from predators and a bit of scratch grain. For Søren's 30th birthday I made him a chicken ark complete with three chickens. It was fun to build and a thing of beauty, although their chicken population has outgrown it.

I realize many of you face local ordinances preventing you from keeping chickens, but if they are legal where you are I highly recommend checking out The City Chicken. This is where I got the idea for Søren's chicken tractor. The City Chickens recounts tales of keeping small chickens on an urban balcony. Small breeds of chickens are great alternatives to parrots for city dwellers. My own Japanese bantams are about the size of a pigeon.

Chickens, like dogs come in difference breeds which you make select base on your needs. The Feather Site is a great place to research the variety that's best for you. Here are some breeds I've raised and my thoughts of them.

Buff orpington – beautiful fat dual purpose chicken. Classic look, very sweet disposition, reliable layers.

Golden Comets – Sex linked. Lean birds are excellent for commercial egg production. They have wonderful tame personalities. I will be getting more of these in spring.

Silkie Bantams – Beautiful plumage, nice layers for their size and good temperaments.

(these three breeds above are the ones in the High on the Hog logo)

Barred Plymouth Rocks – Classic looking dual purpose, big birds. Unfriendly to people and aggressive to other chickens.

Japanese Bantams – exotic looking small birds. Aloof and skittish but very self sufficient.

Road Island Reds – Excellent for egg production but tend of be skittish and aggressive to each other.

Brown Leghorns – Excellent for egg production and self sufficient, aloof personalities.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Expertise counts

I went over to Lyle's today to have some welding done. It was all completed in an amazingly short time. He uses a MIG instead of a stick welder like mine. Of course he is practiced while I am an utter novice. Both equipment and expertise did the trick.

Lyle says he is going to teach Scot to weld if Scot wants to learn. I hope he does. That boy needs a trade. Scot is a smart, quick learner.

Maybe I will get a MIG some day. Lyle says that even a monkey can learn to use one. I'm sorry to repeat an insult to a monkey. The thought police are listening. I hope I am smarter than a monkey.

Things that you wished people noticed

Have ever had that feeling? Hasn't there been something you felt like you had improved on and you want somebody--anybody to compliment you for the hard work you put into improving it.

I was just thinking about my signature. I know it must be sort of weird, but i have spent hours practicing my signature in the hopes that i may one day get complimented. when i look at now objectively, id say that it looks average/normal. At the same time, i suddenly realized that people weren't there for the time that i put into it. It's not a big thing, it's just wierd thing i have noticed before.

What about everyone else?

a radio that "only plays music that you like"

You might've heard about this website already but I hadn't heard about it til yesterday. I looked it up this morning and used it for a few hours to supply my background music for working on homework, etc.
The website Pandora Radio is a website that is sort of like a cross between youtube and a radio. You create an account (free), and enter the name of a band, composer, or song that you like. It creates a long list of songs that have similar qualities for you, and plays them continuously, (I think) like a radio. If a song comes up that you don't like or that you've heard too many times, you can click the "thumbs down" icon on your list and it won't play it again. You can have multiple playlists.
I think its pretty cool because I get tired of listening to the same songs over and over again, and I'm not very good at discovering new songs that I like by myself. The only downside is the songs don't download, so when you want a song you have to go out and buy it.

Angry Bloggers Unite

Karen found this article and linked below. I had trouble accessing from work so it merits re-posting:

LINK: The Great Google Rebellion
By Lou Cabron
October 19th, 2008

Thursday Google unveiled a new design for its iGoogle homepage
service. Unfortunately (according to one geek), it's "a big unwanted
piece of crap."

In an email interview today, Google defended the changes. But Google
won't let users switch their home pages back to the way they used to
be, which has sparked a furious revolt, online activism, and even some
homegrown fixes.

22 million people visit iGoogle each month (according to January
figures from Comscore), but Thursday Google foisted their changes onto
every user in the United States. The same day, Johnson Rice created an
online petition urging Google to allow a rollback option — and found
nearly 1,000 people to sign it. Then he expanded his crusade on a
nationally-syndicated radio show, and launched a Facebook Group
protesting "forced website redesigns." Its goal? Fighting for the
best-loved sites "if the corporate committees start trashing them."

iGoogle's product manager, Jessica Ewing, emaield us today arguing
Google is "constantly thinking about how to improve our products for
our users. Then, we take our ideas, prototype them, and put them
through a vigorous set of usability tests and experiments to make sure
we are doing the right thing for users.

"The iGoogle features we launched went through this exact process and
we've made changes along the way based on feedback from users and

But some users clearly aren't satisfied. One thread in Google's
discussion groups "is full of thousands of complaints about this
sudden and unannounced change," according to Slashdot. In fact, one
commenter posted that "Google has gone evil," joining a chorus of
other negative threads.

What were you thinking????
How do I complain to Google?
Please return the hijacked horizontal space
I agree that the new igoogle changes are crap

Within 24 hours, disgruntled users had gotten even more aggressive,
and resorted to posting email addresses for iGoogle's developers. One
commenter claimed they'd also contacted a Google employee, "and they
said they agreed that the new layout is horrible and was surprised
that it was distributed to everyone at this point in time.

"They also said that as soon as they saw it, Google would be bombarded
with complaints."
Soon the fierce discussion had identified several unsanctioned
workarounds, which include logging into Google's Australian, British
or Irish home pages or running a Greasemonkey script in Firefox. (The
script's name? "Old Google Ig...") Other protesters used Google's
discussion group to tout Google's competitors, including Netvibes and
Protopages. Another blogger located a Firefox add-on which
"disappears" the unwanted column, and one user even bragged they were
accessing their Google Gmail account using Yahoo's home page service.

Comscore's January figures suggest Google has more than a quarter of
all personalized home page users, and one iGoogle user says it's
corrupted Google's philosophy. "Notice that the more powerful Google
becomes, the more they take away our choices....once they reached the
status of monopolistic stardom they suddenly fling off the sheep's
clothing and out comes the wolf."

"Welcome to the future of cloud computing," warns a commenter on
Slashdot. "This is what it means to give up control of your software
for the convenience of a net-based service."

Information Week iGoogle's senior product manager, Jessica Ewing,
defended the new column added in the re-design. "The left navigation
allows users to go from canvas view to canvas view of the new gadgets
with one click, which we think is important as we see more and more
great canvas view gadgets that require a scalable navigation model."
Jessica says Google was careful to narrow the column because "We
realize it does take up some screen real estate, particularly on small
monitors," and adds that "We'll continue to monitor user feedback and
usage and adjust accordingly." But angry users on Google Groups were
already posting her phone number, along with a number for Google's
"User Experience" Vice President Marissa Mayer, urging "flood her
inbox people!" One user even posted that "After trying the phone
number and getting the 'error' hangup — I sent her a fax!"

The new iGoogle features "were designed to make it more powerful,"
according to Google's official blog, saying the redesign will "bring
more information to the homepage." Besides the new column (which
re-lists the homepage's links), iGoogle now also offers a new "canvas
view" expanding RSS feeds to fill the screen. (And another option
condenses that view to a Gmail-like list of the feed's headlines.) The
changes will simply "bring more information to the homepage," argues
Google's blog. But some critics see it differently.

"They forced users to a hideous new format today with no method to opt
out," complained a blogger named Merry Goose Mother. "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." She titled her post "Google has officially become evil."
(Ironically, she posted it on Blogspot — a service owned by Google.)
And she asked her users for the ultimate solution.

"I need a new homepage, does anyone use Netvibes?"

Lifehacker posted another Greasemonkey script which eliminates
Google's new design changes, telling readers that "over half of you
gave it the thumbs down. Your main complaint: The new sidebar eats up
a substantial chunk of screen real estate." And Information Week
reported that "Almost all of the 80 comments posted on Information
Week since Thursday express unhappiness about the new iGoogle," adding
that "The situation is similar on other sites. Almost all of the 149
comments posted on the Google Operating System blog express
displeasure with the iGoogle changes."

But statements from Google suggested the easiest workaround — of
logging into a foreign version of iGoogle — may not last forever.
Google's blog announces cheerily "Don't worry. We'll also be rolling
out this updated version in other countries very soon."

Google isn't the only offender, according to Johnson Rice. "Facebook
has done the same thing to all their users," he argued in his radio
diatribe. "They just changed the design, and so what has happened is
people are starting to get angry, because this is an egregious use of
force on these people..." Today Slashdot reported that Yahoo "decided
to massively screw up their entire userbase by changing all user
profiles to blank, while Friday Thomas Hawk noted a thread on Flickr
complaining about changes to Flickr's "Recent Activity" page. (Hawk
sardonically headlined the post "Flickr Changes Most Popular Page on
the Site, Users Go Bonkers," and in three days the thread has racked
up over 3,700 posts.)

Johnson Rice argues the web services are committing a clear injustice.
"Both Facebook and Google, while they offer a free service, make their
money on advertising," he told the radio show's hosts. "Which means
that their users and their community are the people who are in fact
paying them by using their service." But despite his best efforts, he
hasn't succeeded yet in rallying everyone to his cause.

The radio show's host responded, "I'd like to go on record as not
giving a crap."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

OMG BLOG!1!!!1!

How did I not know about Ysa's blog? Check it out peoples!

Exercises in compassion.

A few days ago I noticed a ladybug crawling on my work pc monitor. I thought it was cute since I used to have an app of crawling ladybugs for my igoogle before I quit using the updated version. Yesterday I found her struggling on her back so I flipped her over. I found her today and she seemed weak so I told her I’d take her outside. I carried her to the elevator on my ID badge. When I stepped in the elevator I noticed she was no where to be found. I was disappointed I’d let her down but moved on. I went to the restroom where one does a lot of looking down at ones shoes and saw her clinging to my instep. I picked her up worrying the action may have hurt her and took her outside. I set her on a leaf and she happily latched on.

Why is it so much easier to be compassionate towards cute things? I also have an infestation of ants and stink bugs in my home. At first I could tolerate the ants and just vowed to keep the place cleaner. Now I have ants no matter what and they have lost their protected status. Stink bugs are also the most loathsome little critters I have ever encountered. I found hundreds living in my fireplace and set them on fire. Not only are they gross and stinky they are also an invasive species so I don’t feel bad about killing them.

Lona got Julia a book that teaches children to show compassion for ants. Where do you draw the line on showing compassion for inconvenient pests?

Our foreign relations have improved already

Kenya has declared a national holiday. The world is celebrating.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Barry O'Bama helping the economy already!

So voting is just getting underway and already the idea of an Obama win is helping the economy. The stocks are up, way up! Since the economy is largely based on how people feel about their financial prospects, consumer confidence goes a long way to making a measurable difference in the economic outlook. Seems democrats get the benefit of typically being associated with economic prosperity. (Carter is the exception to that I suppose). I don't believe there is an actual trend of democratic policies always helping the economy, but as stated above sometimes it being in people's head is enough to make a difference. More likely the economic growth and contraction cycles are in sync with the alternating Dem-Rep cycles. One thing is for sure though, the Bushites sure did their fair share of screwing it up.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Reuben Sandwich

B&J had a sign up about their perfect Reuben's. I like Reuben's and so do many people. Interestingly, it is a quintessentially American invention although the exact inventor is in dispute. Reuben Kulakofsky of Omaha Nebraska is said by most to be the inventor. Others say Arthur Reuben, of Reuben's restuarant in New York, was the inventor. Interestingly, it is not kosher to mix meat with dairy, nonetheless, both names appear to be Jewish.

I had to find an excuse to put DAIRY in here in order to confuse Lynnis' alleged dyslexia confusion with DIARY. In any event, both alleged inventors are Americans and the invention has spread worldwide to great acclaim. I like mine on rye, not pumpernickel.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Just one more

Ok, I realize I am posting too many videos in lieu of writing actual content. But I beg of you, just one more. This is soooooooo hilarious you need to see it.

Quote of the day

Remember to keep your words soft and may have to eat them someday.

Palin Prank Call

This is either highly entertaining or excruciating. I found it too painful to listen to about 3 minutes in.

Leopard Hideout

Julia got very excited when we brought the big houseplant inside. As fate would have it she was wearing her pink leopard print pajamas. It was like deja vu all over again. Does Lynnis remember the leopard hideout?