Wednesday, July 14, 2010

PC user going to mac--Part II-- Two weeks later

Here is my review of using a Macbook pro now that I have had it for two weeks: It is awesome. I barely use my windows 7 Laptop ( I gave away my XP and vista laptop when I got the Mac). I actually have been traveling non-stop so I haven’t transferred the stored information (documents, pictures, music) from my old laptop. The Macbook Pro is everything a laptop should be. I realize my revulsion with the Mac’s probably had more to do with a bias of hipsters I see walking around Brooklyn with them and human nature to resist change.

For word processing and internet access it is amazing. The price is higher, but well worth it considering the ease of use. Start up and shutdown is exactly what you would expect a computer should be- almost instant.

The battery life is incredible. I spend the weekend in Houston as an eight hour class and the battery life was over 50% by the end of the day. On sunday I didn’t even take the charger with me. This still blows my mind- I need my charger after less than three hours with any of my former laptops. Power management is superb. I was reading an ebook on my flight home from Houston when I turned off the reading light over my head in an effort to save energy for the plane (always fugal, environmental, and engineering minded) when I noticed the screen actually dimmed. I turned the lights back on and the screen brightened. This Macbook actually adjusted the screen brightness depending on the ambient light. I almost do not believe it.

Now, the battery isn’t removable and it wears out. So to replace it you have to send it out for servicing. From what I understand all Apple products are like this. My friend Nick told me his iphone battery doesn’t hold a charge like it once did. I tend to replace laptops every year or so anyway (benefit of owning your own business) and I’ll have to report on that in a later blog.

The bottom line is that after two weeks of using the Macbook I don’t think I will ever not have one to use for word processing, presenting, and interneting (yes, I made that word up). All the frustrating things about the other operating PCs just don’t exist.

Friday, July 9, 2010

How to barefoot run- a short video

This is a great video (only 10 minutes long) that explains the principals of barefooting- it also gives simple exercises you can do to help you barefoot!
How to Barefoot
I have been barefooting three months now and the best thing about it is how much fun it is. I start most days with a three mile run and it puts a big smile on my face. I am still a novice so I will definitely be doing the drills shown here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Root Cause Analysis of the Washington Monument

There was a problem with erosion of the Washington Monument. The Monuments rate of erosion had increased. The initial cause was do to harsh chemicals used to clean off pigeon droppings. This being an important monument for America a study was conducted to solve this problem. This is the story I heard as recounted by Dr. Woods during her presentation at PSAM 10 in Seattle June 11,2010. I apologize if any of the story is mis-communicated and any mistakes are mine.

As the study began the first thing that was discovered was the rate of erosion increased after harsh cleaning chemicals began to be used. The analysts therefore concluded that the cleansers were the problem. The cleansers were being used to combat a problem related to pigeon poop. Yup, need to solve that problem. We cannot have one of our most powerful symbols covered in pigeon poop. Doesn’t say good things about us if we allowed that kind of mess. So, why were pigeons there? Well, it turns out that pigeons like spiders (probably like I like hamburgers (I know I have eaten more than I should have in the past) and spiders were now nesting in the Washington Monument? Well, Spiders like gnats and gnats were all over the Washington Monument and only recently. It turns out that gnats come out right at dusk and they are attracted to light. The Monument is bathed in light which were turned on the same time each day not accounting for the seasons. So the solution to the whole problem was to just turn the lights on later (well after dusk). No gnats therefore means no spiders and therefore no pigeons.

Now this solutions is fantastic. You are saving electricity (very small amount) and there is no need to use harsh cleansers. All in all an elegant solution to the problem. Of course, this is obvious after the fact, but how could this solution be enacted by a single person. This has to be done with a few people getting together at different levels to even see the problem. The cleaning crew isn’t going to know enough to solve this problem. The lightning person won’t know- even if there is a lightning person since the lights may have been automated.

My point is if something seems obvious after the fact- it isn’t. You see this “blame game” going on whenever you have an accident that seems obvious after the fact. When the details are effectively communicated the problem can be solved and solved quickly- only once all the factors are known. From the Titanic to now the British Petroleum oil spill- complex failures will have solutions, but only after the fact until we can our attitudes and focus. I still refuse to believe that BP is solely to blame. There are thousands of oil wells in the Gulf and around the world. The real problem was our human nature to underestimate risk.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Movie Review: the twilight sage: Eclipse

So I went today to see Eclipse with my niece (teen girls like this thing). Since I was seeing it to spend some quality time with my niece I decided to give it a go and devote my full focus to the story. I have to say I did my best to go in with an open mind and as a Buffy the vampire fan actually try and like it. I did... like parts of it- actually I laugh a lot since some of it is so rediculious. Some parts of it just left me with questions. I have a feeling that the movie was produced for people who already read the books (like they are doing with the harry potter movies).

Bottomline: It took way too much effort for me watch this to go back and read the books- this sucked. If your girlfriend forces to go see it- read below and make fun of the movie in an intelligent way. Then you get to choose the next date movie.

The story so far:

So here is what I got of the story: There are good guy vampires that sparkly in sunlight (just accept it) and have brown eyes yellow eyes. The main character is a 18 year old girl who loves these two guys, Edward a skinny mopey pale vampire guy and Jacob, a jacked altethetic guy. These two guys couldn’t be more different and somehow this girl is something amazing because they both love her and put up with her silly games playing on their feelings. From what I understand Edward is a 100 year old vampire

Vampire Lore:

(I am a huge Buffy the vampire slayer fan (and Angel), enjoy True Blood, Anne Rice, I play Dungeons and Dragons, and basically love horror films and movies) So here is what I gather about how vampires are within The Twilight Saga. They can move around during the day and they move really fast (like Ann Rice’s wonderful work). For some reason they sparkle occasionally in sunlight (the single worst feature that most men detest- you are talking about undead- why would they sparkle). Somehow there are good Vampires, but they are in fact dead, have no sole and do have to “hunt”. A big deal was made vampires needing to hunt for the good vampires to stay strong, but they never let you know (in the movie) what this involves. When they are hurt, decapitated, or dismembered they turn to ice or stone. They have no problem moving through water (which has been a limitation removed from vampire lore by many stories- so I can forgive this one). Certain of the vampires have additional other powers: Edward can read others minds (except Bella- which is why he may love her) and another vampire that have premonitions or visions (right out of BTVS or Angel).

Werewolf lore:

The werewolves are spirit warriors of a small tribe. Actually, I loved this take on werewolf legend. Jacob is new to the pack and could have been chief.

Jacob versus Edward: The stand-up corn-fed good guy or the mysterious challenging dark and creepy guy. It should be obvious who I think is the better guy, but they represent a decision most girls are always fighting to make. This was a major part of the story that really bothered me- I would never (at this point in my life) put up with a girl that played all these games and forever set these two again each other. She was so disrespectful at so many points in the movie to both guys that I had to laugh, repeatedly. I actually feel bad for the people in the theater with me since I laugh a lot and did my best to not do it too loudly.

What I did like: I enjoy the climatic battle at the end. I enjoy the conversation between Jacob and Edward while Bella was asleep. I really enjoyed the confederate soldier back story. I did love the scene when Bella breaks her hand hitting Jacob and then Jacob telling the father. That fact the Jacob appeared on-screen with a shirt on for less than .03456 seconds and Edward actually asks at one point “Does that guy even wear a shirt”. When I am back in shape- I will probably walk around NASA shirt-less.

What I did not like or absolutely hated: The blond vampire girl’s back story- it made no sense what so ever. Sparkely vampires. That Edward had so much desire to marry Bella- yet Bella had no interest in marriage and wanted to become a vampire. And that whole Bella wants to bang but Edward doesn’t believe in it. That Jacob said something to the effect of you can love more than one person. This whole love triangle made very little sense (which is the main conflict in the movie that teenage girls love- shows what I understand about women).

I assume that the books are much better and explain a lot more of this detail, but overall most of this is aweful.

One Light Bulb at a Time

I got this from my sister Debby and this follows systems theory- Little changes today will lead to big changes tomorrow:

A physics teacher in high school, once told the students that while one
grasshopper on the railroad tracks wouldn't slow a train very much, a billion of them would.

With that thought in mind, read the following, obviously written by a good American.

Good idea . . . one light bulb at a time . . .

Check this out. I can verify this because I was in Lowes the other day - I was looking at the hose attachments. They were all made in China . The next day I was in Ace Hardware, and just for the heck of it, I checked the hose attachments
there. They were made in USA .

Start looking --- In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else - even their job. So, after reading this email, I think this lady is on the right track. Let's get behind her!

My grandson likes Hershey's candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked
made in Mexico now. I do not buy it any more..

My favorite toothpaste, Colgate is now made in Mexico . I have switched to

You have to read the labels on everything . . .

This past weekend I was at Kroger. I needed 60 Watt light bulbs and dryer
sheets. I was in the light bulb aisle, and right next to the GE brand that I normally buy was an off-brand labeled, "Everyday Value". I picked up both brands of bulbs and compared the stats - they were the same, except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand - - - but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in - get ready for this - the USA, in a company in Cleveland, Ohio.

So on to another aisle - Bounce Dryer Sheets . . . . . yep, you guessed
it, Bounce cost more money and is made in Canada . The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA! I did laundry yesterday and the dryer sheets performed just like the Bounce Free I have been using for years and at almost half the price!

So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here. My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA - the job you save may be your own or your neighbors!

If you accept the challenge, pass this on to others in your address book so we can all start buying American, one light bulb at a time! (We should have
awakened a decade ago!)

Let's get with the program . . . help our fellow Americans keep their jobs and create more jobs here in the U.S.A.

I Passed this on . . . will you?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book Review: Born to Run

I love to barefoot run. I started three months ago after reading this book:

My story: I started running when I was 14 years old. I used to run three miles every morning before school with my friend Jack (still one of my best friends to this day twenty years later). The joy I used to have running next to my friend in every kind of weather for that 30 minutes each day is something I cannot really do justice with mere words. Anyway as I got older I started getting shin-splints which made me buy more expensive sneakers. That worked, for a little while. Of course I stopped running and then gaining weight. I have spent the majority of my adult life gaining weight. I read "born to run" six months ago after seeing the author on "the Daily show" and it has changed my life. I am now a runner again. I do three miles everyday for the last three months. I did "the grid" a four mile run to honor our fallen soldiers on memorial day. I will do the "cow habor" run in October. I was born to run. check out this book.

I have so much energy some people look at me like I am insane

I took time to sit with my nephews to watch Battlestar Galactica. (great show by the way)

And I was discussing with them different facets of the show when I start rambling- which as you can tell I something do- when I jokingly said "Boys, your uncle may be a little insane". My nephew immediately says "And the most intelligent people usually are a little crazy". Damn that kid is smart. When I see the craziness going on all over the world I take it as the biggest compliment when you look at me like I am insane.

Rock on,

Origins of Rail Road Tracks

This was sent to me today by my old friend Sinibaldo (yes that is his real name and he works in the transportation industry with choo-choo trains):

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England , and English expatriates designed the US railroads.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did 'they' use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England , because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome , they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder 'What horse's ass came up with this?', you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses' asses.) Now, the twist to the story:

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two bigbooster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah . The
engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass. And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important? Ancient horse's asses control almost everything.... and
CURRENT Horses Asses are controlling everything else.

Germany- 2010 world cup champion

As a dorky dude- I have never been into watching sports. Now I cannot wait for Saturday's world cup (that is soccer for you who don't know) game between Germany and Argentina. Last world cup I went to every Germany game with my friend Rob. We would go into a bar and laugh all day long. I don't even understand the rules of soccer (All I know is offsides is bad). World cup is such an incredible time- you can feel the energy in any bar the game is being played. Two more days to go.

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

Sunday, May 30, 2010


So I recently quit smoking. Now that it has been over two months I feel the need to share my experiences. I had my first cigarette when I was 14 years old. Please remember that there is almost no positive thing about smoking. It should be obvious how I feel. No one should smoke. Most smokers know it is bad and want to quit, but it is harder to quit than heroin*. I do not belittle anyone who has tried and failed. I made the joke many times in the past "Quitting smoking is easy- I do it all the time" I don't know who original said it, Mark Twain I think, but it does say something fundamental. Trying to quit something is easy, it is the follow through that is hard. I will be writing more about this in the future. If you agree or disagree, please let me know. I'd love to hear from you. If you enjoyed this, forward it on. More to follow...

A beginning

I decided to start blogging because of all the nonsense I see going on in the world. I decided to start blogging to get my own thoughts out. I decided to start blogging since it seems like fun.