Archive for category General

Lack of AT&T service in Portland

Lisa called me in a panic this morning, thinking I hadn’t paid the cell phone bill. It turns out some part of Portland, and also Vancouver Washington have no cellular service for AT&T at all at the moment. The person on the phone thought it might be back by tomorrow, but she didn’t have an ETA.

It is an event like this that makes me more aware of how dependent we are on the cell phones for our daily lives. At least we still have a land line. I know people who don’t, and wonder how they are coping.


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We've been gnomed…

It seems that our yard has been turned into a prison for gnomes. It made my day! 🙂

Solitary Confinement

Deer Me

What we have here is a failure to communicate...



Weather Station activated…

Yesterday was another adventure with the aluminum extension ladder. Normally, it comes out when I need to clean the gutters, put up the Christmas lights, and remove the lights again. Occasionally, I use it to retrieve a stuck rocket, ball or airplane that somehow “accidentally” gets launched up on the roof. Yesterday was an all together different beast. This year, I got a weather station as a gift. Installing the rain gauge and sending unit was a piece of cake. The anemometer, and wind vane was a little more work. The manual suggested that it should be located three to four feet above the peak of the roof. It came with a 30 foot cord to connect to the sending unit, which made the whole configuration a little tricky. I decided the best thing to do was mount it on a mast on the chimney. This is where the adventure begins. I found the parts I needed on the Radio Shack website: the mast, and a mounting kit. The mounting kit comes with two stainless steel straps. Or should I say eighteen foot razor blades. Those things are sharp. I ended up working with gloves on to get them in place. The straps also have a lot of memory, which makes some things easier and some things more difficult. The difficult part is that our chimney is on one side of the house, so wrapping the straps around it involves spanning the area that you can’t stand next to. My wife is uncomfortable with heights, so I ended up having to do most of it by myself. The ratchets were not the best. The metal they are made of it quite soft, which makes them a little hard to get tight. Creative use of duct tape to hold the strapping in place temporarily, and a few choice swear words later, and the mast is mounted on our roof.

I’ve been having a problem with the USB->Serial adapter that came with the unit, as it seems stop responding occasionally, and I have to reboot the host computer. I’m guessing the Vista driver isn’t all that great. When it is working, you can see what the data looks like here. I added a Weather Underground widget on the right that displays information from it. If I can’t get the USB->Serial connection working consistently, I may have to make a host computer out of a machine with a dedicated serial port. It sounds like I could make the host machine Linux based too. That’s an adventure for another day.

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Post Splenectomy experience…

As a follow up to my previous posting, our dog, Devon is back to his old happy self.
Devon several years ago. You wouldn’t know that he had his spleen removed except that his belly is missing some hair. It seems to be growing back. I doubt a human would have recovered from that procedure as well or as quickly.

He went in to the vet one day, stayed there over night for observation, and came home the next day. He never needed a collar to keep him from chewing on the staples they used to close him up. He had the staples removed the a week or so later.

It is amazing to see his personality reimerge.


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Ethanol doesn't make a lot of sense…

At least after reading this article it doesn’t seem to. For example:

Corn requires large doses of herbicide and nitrogen fertilizer and can cause more soil erosion than any other crop. And producing corn ethanol consumes just about as much fossil fuel as the ethanol itself replaces. Biodiesel from soybeans fares only slightly better.

Much of what happens in its tanks and pipes is typical of any large distillery–after all, people have been turning grain into alcohol for eons. The corn is ground, mixed with water, and heated; added enzymes convert the starch into sugars. In a fermentation tank, yeast gradually turns the sugars into alcohol, which is sepa- rated from the water by distillation. The leftover, known as distillers’ grains, is fed to the cows, and some of the wastewater, high in nitrogen, is applied to fields as a fertilizer.

The process also gives off large amounts of carbon dioxide, and that’s where ethanol’s green label starts to brown. Most ethanol plants burn natural gas or, increasingly, coal to create the steam that drives the distillation, adding fossil- fuel emissions to the carbon dioxide emitted by the yeast. Growing the corn also requires nitrogen fertilizer, made with natural gas, and heavy use of diesel farm machinery. Some studies of the energy balance of corn ethanol–the amount of fossil energy needed to make ethanol versus the energy it produces–suggest that ethanol is a loser’s game, requiring more carbon-emitting fossil fuel than it displaces. Others give it a slight advantage. But however the accounting is done, corn ethanol is no greenhouse panacea.

I recently finished watching NOVA’s “Saved By the Sun”, and it described a more optimistic means of powering the planet. While solar may not be an ideal solution for several reasons, it certainly has a lot lower impact than ethanol. Did you know that Germany is investing a lot of money and resources in solar energy? Or that Las Vegas is moving toward solar energy? You can watch the program on the PBS website.

Anyway you look at it, this country has to come up with some solution to our energy dependance, and global warming too. My personal favorite candidate has a lot of good things to day on the topic, if anyone would just bother to listen.

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They had electric cars in 1909…

Jay Leno shows that there were electric cars in 1909, that were functional, and were similar in many ways to modern electric cars. I still can’t believe that the major manufacturers aren’t selling electric only cars. I’d like to have an electric car. Public transportation isn’t a possibility to replace my commute. An electric car with a ~100 mile range would be perfect to get me to and from work. Why aren’t electric cars available?


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Kucinich's claim of "rigging" isn't completely honest…

I recently read the Kucinich press release claiming that the Democrats were “rigging” things against him in a couple of forums in Iowa.

I thought this was unfair, and shot off an email to both Iowa Public Broadcasting and the AARP expressing my dismay that he was excluded. I got this response from the AARP, which indicates that Kucinich was invited.

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding the participation of Dennis Kucinich in the AARP/IPTV Forum that will be held on September 20 at the Adler Theater in Davenport, Iowa.

On July 2, 2007, Rep. Kucinich’s campaign was sent a registered letter inviting him to participate in the event. The letter was accompanied by criteria that were set by AARP for participation in the forum. Criteria include:

• Have filed an FEC Form F-2, “Statement of Candidacy,” with the Federal Election Commission;

• Have publicly announced an intention to run for the nomination of the Republican or the Democratic Party for President of the United States;

• Have a Campaign Office inside the State of Iowa; and,

• Have employed at least one paid campaign staff representative to perform

full-time campaign duties in the State of Iowa on behalf of the candidate since at least August 1, 2007.

During the weeks following his campaign’s receipt of the letter of invitation, Rep. Kucinich’s office had no communication with AARP or IPTV. The campaign did not acknowledge receipt of our invitation, nor did he or any of his campaign staff indicate any interest in participating in this forum. We did not hear from anyone about the forum until a story appeared in the Quad-City Times stating incorrectly, that Rep. Kucinich had not been invited to participate.

Rep. Kucinich did not meet all four of the stated criteria that would enable him participate in the upcoming forum by the designated date.

Ann Black

AARP Iowa Communications

It seems Representative Kucinich isn’t quite being honest in his press release!


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Nice Trip To Lincoln City

Lisa and I had a nice trip to Lincoln City for her birthday last weekend. We stayed at the Starfish Manor, which I would highly recommend. We had a marvelous view of the ocean from our room, as you can see in these images.

Looking South down the Oregon Coast
Looking West from the Oregon Coast
Looking North-ish up the Oregon Coast

The room was just what we were looking for: A quiet place for just the two of us. It had all the things we wanted, and a bit more. The room we were in had a king sized bed, a sofa, dvd/vcr player (which we also used to play audio cds), a couple of nice chairs and a marble topped table, a jetted jacuzzi tub with a view of the ocean, a small “kitchen” area with a refrigerator, sink and microwave, a gas fireplace, a small deck with a bbq and wicker chairs. The bathroom had a two shower heads as well.

View of the bed, sofa and jetted tub in our room at the Starfish Manor
A view of the kitchenette
View of the chairs, journal, table, and fireplace

As you can see in the image with the two chairs, there is a book sitting on the table. It has “Journal” written on the front. It contained entries from various people that had stayed in our room over the years. Lisa added her own entry, so if you ever stay in room “14”, be sure to look for it.

The weather was pretty good for July, so we didn’t spend a lot of daytime in the room. We ate dinner the first night at the marvelous Andaman Thai Restaurant that had been recommended by my parents. They were quite busy, but the food was excellent, and not terribly expensive. Initially, we had ordered a “Papaya Seafood Salad”, but they were out of Papaya. It was suggested that they could make a variation of Larb with the seafood instead, and we agreed. Unfortunately, it was too hot to eat. I’m normally not shy about spicy food. I like Habaneros, but the Larb with seafood was downright unpleasant. I made the mistake of wiping my nose with the napkin after wiping my mouth, and my septum was burning for a while. The other food was appropriately spiced and quite delicious.

The next day we went to Depoe Bay to walk through the shops and get Morgan some salt water taffy. On the way there, it was low tide, and Lisa was amazed to see Siletz Bay as low as it was.
Lisa with Siletz Bay at low tide in the background

We ate a passable lunch at Gracie’s Sea Hag, and headed back to Lincoln City.

I had purchased some nice steaks at Zupan’s before we left town. We used the BBQ on the deck and had a nice dinner looking out over the ocean.
Setting the table before our dinner

We spent a little time at the casino in Lincoln City, and more time at the outlet mall there. Lisa enjoyed herself for her birthday. It was great to get out of town, and have some time together.

Sunset as seen from our room at the Starfish Manor in Lincoln City


A disturbing idea in hiring…

This video on YouTube highlights an alleged issue in American labor. The problem seems to focus on engineers, primarily software engineers.

This is disturbing on many fronts, and I agree with Lou Dobb’s comments at the end of this second video.

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A curiously male problem

At work, the men’s bathrooms are divided into the urinals and the stalls. The stalls have full toilets in them. The urinals are closely packed together in a row with no dividers in between. Some men come into the bathroom and are uncomfortable doing their business in a line of urinals where someone might see something. To each his own. My beef has been with the guys that use the toilets, but don’t bother to lift the seats beforehand. It is just plain disgusting to walk into a stall and see that a small acid rainstorm has happened in the stall and left remnants all over the seat. This is a WORK environment with a lot of people. It is pretty amazing to me that people that work in this enviroment could be so oblivious to the mess they are making. I was happy to see that someone posted a signs on the wall behind the toilets. They say: “Bad Aim? Have a seat.” My thoughts exactly.

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