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.