Wednesday, June 30, 2010

the secret- may you get what you ask for

So I went to Papacito’s (Manhattan ave and huron in Greenpoint) to meet up with my friend Mo (a fantastic bartender- TRASH BAR). As I am driving looking for a parking I find a awesome space. On one side is a driveway so I decide to be the nice guy I am and pull my truck as far forward to the driveway as possible. This will allow another person to fit as I think to myself- someone is going to ding my truck. Remember, no good deed goes unpunished (not true by the way). As I get out of my and go towards the back I dodge a girl in a tiny little red car. I move to the sidewalk and I see her attempt the parallel park. She failed and collided my rear driver’s side quarter panel with her passenger side front. I look and smile. Our eyes meet and I can see the sadness in hers. She gets out wearing this cute sun dress (yeah summer) and relate my thought about my car getting hit. She says “just like the secret”.

The universe is talking and I am listening. May you get what you ask for.

PC guy using his first Apple

Hello everyone, since I started this blog a friend recommend buying a Mac. Many of my friends have blogs (some quite successful) and most use a mac. So this past weekend I jumped in with both feet and bought an Apple 13" MacBook Pro. The price was reasonable and it just looks cool.
I have to say so far I am very happy with it. Case in point- I am at a Borders book store right now and I have both my laptops (my other one is a 15" Gateway with Windows 7).
So which one an I using to write this post? The Macbook- I have tried for 15 minutes to connect the PC based notebook (purchased last December 2009)
I will write a more detailed review later this week- but for now- two big thumbs up for Macbook Pro!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Watching World Cup at the Red Lion last Sunday

I went to the Red Lion- 151 Bleecker Street in the west village of Manhattan to meet up with friends and watch the world cup matches. It has been a while since I took a day to myself so even though I just got off a plane the day before and I was seriously fatigued I forced myself out into the jungle.

What a great time I had. There is nothing that matches the energy in a sports bar when world cup games are on. People from all over the world come together and watch. Even though these were early matches and the bar was far from pack it was a great day. I perched myself at the bar by the closest sit to the door and sent out messages to friends telling them where I would be. I also put my status on facebook with my location in case any friends were in the area and wanted to stop by. About six friends said they would try and make it. In the end only one friend actually made it out (thanks Mark) and being there I made tons of new friends. Thanks Vlad and Melissa (watch out they are from Philly), And George (corporate lawyer- actually had more in common with him than I could ever imagine).

Watching the World Cup in a bar in Manhattan is one of my favorite things. I cannot wait until next weekend.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stuff happens - probability of rare events

This morning while I was running through a mall parking lot in Houston bird crashed into my head. As I used my keen survival instincts, ducked and emitted a high pitched squeal (not too different from what you would hear from an 8-year old girl) I made a few more steps before I realized what happened. The bird flew to a nearby tree and perched on a branch looking at me. I figure even birds can't help but love my glorious mane. I continued on and really didn't believe that actually happened. I still brush my fingers through my hair to check the bird didn't steal some of my hair.

Now I think about all the miles I have run in my life and cannot believe this rare event happened. Now will it every happen again? Will I be more cautious around birds? I am not even sure what point I have, but I can't help and think about this Gulf Oil Spill. Will we actually learn from our experience. I hope so.

Disaster in the Gulf- Presidental Address

I do not even know where to start. I just finished watching our President's Address. I am in Awe. That was one of the best speeches I have ever heard. I feel inspired. I do not ever in my life remember feeling like this after hearing someone someone talk. He was clear, direct, and everything he made sense. I am going for a run (barefoot of course) and I have to think about his speech more, but I feel better about this whole mess right now. Some quick notes- I feel better- he should reward his speech writing team. I actually cannot say more. I need to absorb this.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Understanding Programic Risk- personal example

There is a risk when you fly and when you don't fly. NASA has to compare and quantify many different attributes. Most of these things are easy to quantify, and verify using test, engineering judgment, complex modeling and experience. One of the most difficult is things to judge is programmatic risk (not my field- but I understand the challenges the people that do face). There is risk inherent in delaying a program (whether it is a space launch, video game, or any product) and delays are not considered lightly. Rocket science is hard (that's why only the best even try- others work on wall st, start internet companies, or play baseball, etc.)

I will give a simple example we can all understand. Exercise is good. Of all the different way you can exercise walking or running is available for everyone with a fully functioning body (if you can walk you can do it as exercise) and at any economic situation. Moderate exercise- just 10 minutes a day- can benefit anyone. But understand that you must consider where and when you walk that 10 minutes. By starting today and pledge to walk 10 minutes a day- if you decide to walk in an unsafe area you have accepted the risk of getting hurt in that environment. The life long benefits of exercise are clear- just remember when and where you exercise may actually increase your risk of loss or injury.

So, I hope this simple example helps you understand the difficult decisions that are made everyday in ever project.

As always. post, share, repost, email, and all comments welcome. Thank you for reading.

I am unstoppable

This morning I woke up and jumped out of bed. I could not wait to start the day. I am taking a training class and arrived in Houston (Go NASA!) late last night. I recently started barefoot running and I am addicted. During and after a run I feel great.

The training class is about 2.4 miles on foot. I asked the concierge in the hotel lobby (I am staying at a beautiful holiday inn). When he gave me driving directions via a highway I asked how the neighbor was to walk (I am from Brooklyn so I know to at least ask if there are any shady areas- safety first). He looked at me and said "oh, that's way too far to way." "Not for me" I replied- I am get anywhere on foot. I walked the distance and did better time then I did last week for 3 miles.

Is that such a radical idea- to walk somewhere. I don't really understand. I don't not understand why some people look at me like I am a god. (I am really, really smart and handsome, but please I am actually very modest.)

Is this really that strange?

I am unstoppable.

Frank Hark

Post, share, repost, forward, and comment. And as always-- thanks for reading.

The Gulf Oil Spill- Part IV

I just remembered this whole situation sounds like an issue of G.I. Joe from twenty years ago. (Yes, I am a comic book dork- good ahead and make fun of me for being intelligent- I love it!- and anyone who has met me personally will tell you my head is the size and density of a cement block- you hit it and you'll do damage to yourself than you could possibly do to me).

I don't remember the actually issue (but I still have a copy- better hold onto it because it is probably going to be worth sometime someday- right after the world ends). The story goes like this- COBRA builds a secret underwater bunker with a device that kills off all the gulf fishes. Now the Joes must act. (wait a second- BP is COBRA!- it seems obvious now). The damage to the economy must be stopped. The decision is made use THE NUCLEAR OPTION. At the last minute, I think it was DOC, comes up with the alternate solution of dropping all conventional bombs instead of one Nuke to destroy the bunker- same effect no nuclear fall out. (G.I. Joe had their own super-carrier- it was the best toy ever- Mom and dad never bought it for me- but I did get to stare at it greedily for hours at Toys R us).

Why on earth can a comic book come from 20 years ago (even a brilliant comic like G.I.Joe) come up with a better solution than anything I have heard today.

Btw- COBRA built the bunker on a fault line and wanted the bomb used because their evil scientist knew that the explosion would create a new island. It worked and COBRA used their evil lawyer twins, XAMOT and TOMAX, to get America and the world to recognize COBRA Island as its own sovereign land. I just remembered all this last night on my flight to Houston. If someone does go ahead and bomb the problem, and a new land mass is created- then I take it all back. They are geniuses.

The Gulf Oil Spill- Part III

I assume by now my letter has reached the someone in power. All the responses I am getting tell me that people agree me with, but I have yet to hear from BP or receive a political appointment from the president. I did hear that BP's efforts are located in Houston, Texas. I happen to be here in Texas this week so I could swing by after 5PM. To everyone who took the time to read my blog. Thanks for all the support. I am still having trouble finding the podcast I did last week on http:\tvnewslies, but I am working it.

I now understand that the powers that be, the brain trust in charge with solving what is basically a plumbing problem, are talking about a nuclear BOMB solution. The nuclear bomb never solved anything- it creates problems. I want to give these jerks a broken glass bath followed by a rubbing alcohol shower.

Do not even consider this a solution! BP has access to the Bomb- what sane people would even talk about using a NUCLEAR BOMB as a solution. (And please don't not even consider defending this option by the evil empire's successful use of it- they were known as the evil empire (The Soviet Union- for you kids out there)). OK, wait a second, BP has access to THE BOMB!- I knew BP was large, profitable and powerful but they have the BOMB! Now I know corporate power is out of control. Stop the MADNESS. Maybe someone integent came up with this solution, but he sure isn't sane!

Please repost this if you agree- share it on facebook. Forward to your friends. and comment- all comments are welcome. And definitely comment if you don't agree! I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I am grateful

I recently went through a very difficult time in my life and I am grateful for everything that has happened. I lost some friends, but I realize they were never really friends to begin with. I have gained so much more. I lost most of my personal possessions processions- furniture, HD TVs, assorted crap and a place to live. and now I am free to start new. I now realize how many friends I have and I know that they are true friends. And I also know that the vast majority of people are good. The outpouring of love and support I received has been truly amazing. What happened in the end was really the perfect thing that had top happen. It truly was a blessing in disguise. I am not a smoker any more and this time for good. My lungs are free and clear and getting better and better everyday. I have gotten to spend time and reconnect with old friends and new. I meet amazing people everywhere I go. I made three new friends just last week during my travel to Huntsville. So please know that I cannot thank everyone withing my life enough for the support I received recently. Please know that every day I work my hardest to live up to the esteem you hold me in and the respect you have given me. I am grateful.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The gulf oil spill Part II

I will be on a radio show at 8PM eastern today. It will be available as a podcast after it is over.

Please listen if you can. 8pm eastern or 5pm pacific.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

The gulf oil spill

What on earth is going on? The accident occurred more than a month ago. It is almost at two months and to my knowledge it is still leaking. The president has now said that British Petroleum has the best technology to handle the situation.

You want a solution BP- Hire me. Put me in charge and I'll get it done. Even better- hire me to consult the guy in charge- put every resource available to stop this leak now. I am a risk, reliability, and safety consultant for NASA with over 10 years experience. I think a bunch of monkeys on LSD could come up with better solutions than I've heard coming from BP. I have heard for 10 years that off-shore drilling is safe and the oil companies have better technologies than NASA. I have also heard that this couldn't happen. Please hire me and I will sign a non-disclosure agreement and I will eat my hat if after a month with my help this leak has not stopped.

Even better the company I consult for (who contracts for NASA) has a whole reliablity and mission assurance team that can help and help today. (We are looking for work since the president of America decided to end American human space flight).

Or heck I'll do it for free and challenge you sir to a slap bet; your choice. The gauntlet has been thrown.

Or to President Obama- I have given the last 13 years in service to the space program as a consultant and you decided to cancel human space flight. I believe in this country and capitalism and corporations can to provide for the American people. We deserve better and I owe this country more than I have given. I can help- I know I can. Hire me as a government representative to oversee the oil companies- I already have a security clearance.

If you like what I wrote and agree- pass it on, if you do not like it- please let me know- I would love to hear from you.

Reliability and safety analysis and systems are cheap- Failure is expensive

In the aftermath of the gulf oil spill I cannot sit by any longer. I work at NASA and I have been waiting for reliability data for 10 years for components that are used everyday. Even people who should know better argue about our reliability numbers, even after I say three times the numbers are assumed and look only at the relative percentage change- we end up talking about the basis for the numbers. Even within the PRA community people that I know that know statistics waste their time discussing numbers (and only mean numbers are mentioned- how about the uncertainty bounds?) I am guilty myself. Please stop it and stop it now. Probabilistic Risk Assessment is so powerful and it is not being used properly.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NASA is not behind or overbudget it is underfunded- and it has been for years

I have had the pleasure, privilege, and honor to work indirectly for NASA for over ten years now (13 and counting). I work with the best educated, hardest working and dedicated people anywhere on the planet (Huntsville Alabama has the highest concentration of advanced degrees, Masters and Phd, than anywhere else on the planet*). You do us a disservice when you insult NASA or cut a program and end American human space flight- stopping the momentum gained over the last few years. They are roughly 150-160 astronauts in the American astronaut Corp and most of them have never flown. I think their salary is about 80 grand a year. You are talking about amazing Americans and amazing human beings. Their are thousands of American workers dedicated to the American Space Program. They deserve better than ending American human space flight. Stop it and stop it now. Reinstate some kind of American Human Space Flight.

NASA's budget is roughly 17 billion. You lost track of more (much more) when you bailed out the banks. We have lost track of more in Iraq and Afghanistan. The money is there. Restart the American Space Program. I am not the biggest proponent of Constellation, but ending government run human space flight? This is madness- every other country that can, is increasing human space flight and we cannot? We are going to rely on the Russians? Yeah that should work out great. We spend more than the rest of the world combined on our military. the rest of the world combined! This makes no sense. It is a very simple principal of technology develpment. Get the capability- copy what we could do or what another country can do exactly how they do it. The Japanese are masters at it. Why can't we do it. I see all this discussion about the size and details of the vehicles and it just doesn't make sense. Look, work has been done on the Orion, Sounds great, I was not involved. Let's just copy the capability of Soyuz and Apollo (3 man crew to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Let's use our best two vehicles (Delta IV and Atlas V) that have the capability and only allow volunteers on it. Forgot the discussions about how to man-rate un-manned vehicles. Ask the astronauts- they're bright people and know the risks better than anyone. Stop talking and do it. The Space Shuttle is ending this year after a very successful launch record. We need a follow on program and it needs to be lead by NASA.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hark's Rule

Hark's Rule: When given two opposing arguments (with data or without) on any subject decide your conclusion based on which one will cause you less harm if it is true.

For Example: fake sugar found in most things but especially diet sodas. It is either fine or it may be horrible for you. Numerous studies show either (actually most studies show it is ok*). I really have no idea. Apply Hark's rule and realize that you do not need zero-calorie sugar to live and it did not exist in the human diet until recently (relatively) so why take the chance- I no longer drink zero-calorie sweeteners.

And yes, I named it after myself- If it is not my original idea (and I doubt it is) please let me know- I based this on Pascal's wager. But please, if you do start using it go ahead in your own life and refer to it as Hark's rule. I would also accept Hark's law, but I think referring to it as a "rule" is more appropriate.

* denotes that I have no idea what the scientific studies state- please comment and tell me I am wrong. I don't care my conclusion is not based on data