Jan 31, 2009

Green Superbowl???

This entry is duplicated from The Cool Green Science blog of the Nature Conservancy. Click the link to go visit and/or subscribe.

This year’s Super Bowl is going green: the NFL has expanded its environmental program which had basic recycling to include food donations, green energy purchase, and tree planting. Though the NFL admits that while these efforts don’t complete negate the Super Bowl’s impact on the environment, it does make a difference, St. Petersburg Times reports.

The NFL is purchasing renewable energy from TECO, which gets its power from solar panels in the Tampa Bay area and from a biomass facility in South Florida. TECO officials estimate that powering the Super Bowl with renewable energy will prevent more than 313,000 pounds of CO2 emissions - but will increase the stadium’s cost by about $5,000.

In order to offset the game’s carbon impact, the NFL (with help from the U.S. Forest Service and the Florida Division of Forestry) is planting 2,700 trees at a dozen sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Leftover prepared food will also be donated to local charities and churches. Building materials, decoration, office equipment and supplies used to prepare for the game will also be donated to nonprofits to use or sell for cash.

Last month, StubHub launchded its “Tickets for Trees” program, which plants a tree for every ticket purchased on StubHub for the 2008-09 NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl.

The 2008 Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona was the first to be powered completely with renewable energy.

Jan 30, 2009

Stimulus Package - Will Nuclear Get a Fair Shake?

US NEWS: --SENATE APPROPRIATORS APPROVED $50 BILLION IN LOAN GUARANTEE authority in fiscal 2009 for new nuclear power plants and other clean energy technology projects. The appropriators approved the provision January 27 as part of a stimulus package intended to create more jobs and reinvigorate the economy. A report accompanying the legislation, S. 336, said the loan guarantee authorization would supplement the levels previously approved for the loan guarantee program. It said the committee was providing additional authorization because of the "strong interest in the program and the large number of pending applications."

Under the program, there is currently $18.5 billion available for power reactor projects, which the industry says would cover construction of no more than three new nuclear units, and $2 billion available for nuclear fuel cycle facilities. DOE said it initially received 19 applications to build 21 new reactors, but the department hasn't disclosed how many of those applicants completed the second part of the filing process by last month's deadline. House appropriators did not include a similar provision to expand loan guarantees for nuclear projects in their version of the stimulus legislation.

Differences between the House and Senate versions would have to be ironed out by members of a congressional conference committee.

Jan 29, 2009

Superbowl Commercial - Are You Gonna Watch?

The following information was sent out on our internal network today, and I found it really interesting. My company, AEP, will be part of a Superbowl Commercial. So as we all watch the game, and when you see the Scarecrow, know that you will be connected with us for a brief moment.

GE will air a national television advertisement that includes an AEP logo during the first game break of the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIII, coming on Sunday, Feb. 1.

The 30-second spot launches a major GE advertising campaign to introduce its Smart Grid energy-related technology, and has a working title of "Scarecrow," featuring the theme song "If I Only Had a Brain" from the classic movie "The Wizard of Oz."

AEP and GE are partnering in AEP's installation of GE Smart Meters in South Bend, Ind., as part of AEP's gridSMART initiative. Indiana Michigan Power is installing 10,000 of the new meters and automated distribution technology. Smart meters are digital meters connected to a two-way radio frequency communications network that send usage information over a secure internet protocol system.

Empowerment - Not Silliness :o)

Empowerment can be defined as a clear vision, and clearly stated guidelines and boundaries for behaviors.

Jan 28, 2009

Swimming With Sharks :o)

Recently, one of my co-workers provided me a remake of a paper that was published in the 1800's regarding "How to Swim With Sharks: A Primer", by Voltaire Cousteau. This was developed to help protect sponge divers.

It is really interesting to review the analogies of the dangers of swimming with actual sharks, with the business world, and having to deal with "sharks" :o)

So here provide the "rules" that were identified to say that it is of obvious importance to learn that the waters are shark infested before commencing to swim. If you suddenly find yourself in shark infested waters, then what is your recourse? - If you follow these rules, it may be possible to survive.

1. Assume all unidentified fish are sharks
2. Do not bleed
3. Counter any aggression promptly
4. Get out of the water if someone is bleeding
5. Use anticipatory retaliation
6. Disorganized and organized attack

As you think about the waters in which you swim, do you have a plan on how to deal with the inevitable sharks?

Jan 25, 2009

Sunday Silliness - Consulting :o)

If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

Jan 24, 2009

Schizophrenic Psycho - I bet you know one :o)

This past week has been interesting. I have been on a special assignment at work, investigating why a project was not ready to implement as planned, resulting in one co-worker losing their job and costing our company significant dollars.

As we have dealt with the multiple personalities involved (pun intended), it has been very interesting to say the least. We have several weeks left, so I may be returning to this entry on a regular basis to get my comedic relief.

It also reminded me of Beth's recent entry based on a Time Magazine article we recently read, go see her entry by clicking the link Insane in the Membrane :o)

I am sure as we have all traveled on our various journeys, we have come across individuals that fit the profile of the song Psycho by Puddle of Mudd. Who knows, it could even be the person that looks back at us in the mirror :o)


[Said twice]
Maybe I'm the one
Maybe I'm the one who is the schizophrenic psycho (yeah)

[Verse 1]
She lays down on the fresh lawn
She can make everything magical
But she tied one on big time
And it makes me wanna rewind
To back in the days when we were young
When everything was like a loaded gun
Ready to go off at any minute
And you know we're gonna win again (yeah)

Maybe I'm the one
Maybe I'm the one who is the schizophrenic psycho (yeah)
Maybe I'm the one
Maybe I'm the one who is the paranoid flake-o

[Verse 2]
She lays down on the sidewalk
Never very analytical
She is something simply beautiful
Re-appear when you feel magical
To back in the days when we were young
When everything was like a loaded gun
Ready to go off at any minute
Yeah you know we're gonna win again

Maybe I'm the one
Maybe I'm the one who is the schizophrenic psycho (yeah)
Maybe I'm the one
Maybe I'm the one who is the paranoid flake-o

[Said 3 times]
You're the one, You're the one who is the schizophrenic psycho

Back in the days when we were young
When everything was like a loaded gun
Ready to go off at any minute
And you know we're gonna win again

Maybe I'm the one
Maybe I'm the one who is the schizophrenic psycho (yeah)
Maybe I'm the one
Maybe I'm the one who is the paranoid flake-o

[Said 3 times]
You're the one
You're the one who is the schizophrenic psycho [yeah]
Schizophrenic psycho YEAH!

Jan 23, 2009

USS New York.
It was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center . It is the fifth in a new class of warship - designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft. Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite , LA to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept 9, 2003, 'those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence,' recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. 'It was a spiritual moment for everybody there.' Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and 'the hair on my neck stood up. It had a big meaning to it for all of us. They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back.' The ship's motto? 'Never Forget'

The pictures above are from the christening that occurred on 03/01/2008. The commissioning is expected to take place in the Fall of 2009. Click this LINK to go to the official website.

Jan 22, 2009

Science Scene: Worm Grunting

I read about Worm Grunting tonight in National Wildlife Federation magazine, and did a Google, and found this information from Discovery. I found it very interesting.

Oct. 20, 2008 -- It sounds a little like snake charming. You drive a wooden stake into the ground and draw a flat metal rod across the top, creating an bullfrog-like grunting sound. Within minutes, hundreds of earthworms come to the surface, where they meet their doom in the buckets of fishing bait collectors.

Now, researcher Ken Catania of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. has an explanation for the worms' hightailing it to the surface: Worm grunting mimics the vibrations made by burrowing moles, a voracious worm predator.

Catania, who studies moles, had read Charles Darwin's statement in a book he wrote on worms: "It has often been said that if the ground is beaten or otherwise made to tremble, worms believe that they are pursued by a mole and leave their burrows."

Others have observed certain turtles and birds tapping the ground to bring worms to the surface to eat.

"Then I heard about this 'worm grunting'," Catania said.

Jan 20, 2009

Thank You Mr. President, Both Of You :o)

Regardless of your political affiliation, today was a historic day. President Bush has been our President for the past eight years, and while we can agree or disagree on his legacy, he was the leader of our country during the 9/11 tragedy, and he showed remarkable leadership at that time. So, Thank You President Bush, as President Obama stated today, for your service to our country.

I had the chance near lunch to be in my car and hear the introductions for the inauguration today, and it was truly historic, regal, and epic. On the way home, I got to hear the entire speech, and tonight on T.V., got to see the Lincoln Bible, the incredible new first family, and this moment in history will be forever ingrained.

So, I say, thank you President Bush, and welcome President Obama. I voted for both of you for the same reason, to keep the United States of America the best country to live in, and to be proud of. You both showed immense poise and grace during the past several months as this transition was made, and you are both to be commended.

Hope and Change mean different things at different times, and I look forward to the next four years.

Jan 19, 2009

Science Scene: Solar - is there a toxic downside?

Everybody loves solar, the shiny superstar of renewable energy.

But scratch the surface of the manufacturing process and the green sheen disappears. Vast amounts of fossil fuels are used to produce and transport panels. Solar cells contain toxic materials. Some components can't be easily recycled.

That has some environmentalists worried about a new tidal wave of hazardous waste headed for the nation's landfills when panels eventually wear out. You can't just call your product green and close your eyes to what's happening in the supply chain. The solar energy industry is running into some of the same problems that have been seen in the electronics industry, whose waste is polluting U.S. landfills and contaminating groundwater with harmful substances such as mercury and chromium.

Solar energy supplies less than 1% of the nation's electricity at present. But the technology is poised for explosive growth. Much of the world's production is centered in Asia, but there are some disturbing trends emerging there. China is major producer of polycrystalline silicon, a key component of solar cells. The Washington Post last year documented how at least one Chinese producer was dumping a toxic byproduct from that manufacturing process on nearby farmland. Experts suspect that firms in other developing countries are taking similar shortcuts.

Davis said developing benign substitutes for some of the most dangerous materials was essential for the solar industry to be truly sustainable. Making the panels is just the beginning. Planning needs to begin now on what to do with millions of these heavy modules as they wear out in 20 to 25 years or are replaced with better technology, environmentalists say.

The high-tech industry generated more than 2.6 million tons of e-waste in the U.S. in 2005, about 87% of which ends up in landfills or incinerators. Most of the rest was exported to developing countries to be dismantled by low-wage workers, many of whom are exposed to dangerous substances lurking in the guts of personal computers and other electronics.

Solar can not go down that path. State and national governments need to consider legislation to keep cleanup costs from falling to taxpayers. Thinking about recycling of the panels in the future needs to be part of the upfront design and manufacturing process.

Source: 1/14/09, Los Angeles Times, by Marla Dickerson.

Jan 17, 2009

Habits of Happy Couples :o)

See the links for the source of this entry.

Happy couples know that the real relationship begins when the honeymoon is over. Below are the habits of highly happy couples:

  • Go to bed at the same time.
  • Cultivate common interests.
  • Make Trust and forgiveness your default mode.
  • Focus on accentuating the positive.
  • Hug each other as soon as you see each other after being apart for the day.
  • Say "I love you" and "Have a good day" every morning.
  • Say "good night" every night, regardless of how you feel.
  • Do a "weather" check during the day (if your partner is having a bad day, it is not reasonable to expect them to be enthusiastic about something good in yours).
  • Walk hand in hand.
  • Stick with it (some of the above suggestions may not be natural yet, it takes practice to make them a habit).

Jan 15, 2009

Science Scene: Rocket Science - NOT :o)

The content of this entry comes courtesy of Popular Science, February 2009 Edition.

Question: Does the space shuttle's computer really run on just one megabyte of RAM?

The brain of NASA's primary vehicle, known as the General Purpose Computer (GPC), has the computational power of an IBM 5150, that '80s icon. Such an antiquated computer works just fine for NASA. The GPC has just 0.005 percent of the power of an Xbox 360.

The shuttle does not need to support powerful graphics and such, only to support core functions like controlling the thrusters. No Windows, No Powerpoints, no games! The GPC has flown so many missions that there is no reason to replace it.

Interesting to know that the computers we are using to make Blogger entries, and to read said entries, have tremendously more computational power than the computers used to control the Space Shuttle. That is amazing.

Jan 14, 2009

Dentist Skit - Go Pee First :o)

I had a Project Management Meeting last night, and during the presentation, this clip was shown. We laughed so hard that many of us had tears running down our faces. So my warning to you is - go pee first LOL.

Jan 12, 2009

Presidential Family Death

The first family leaving the White House this month will be without one of its longtime members: the Bush family's 18-year-old cat has died.

The first lady's office said Monday that India, a black American shorthair named for former Texas Rangers player Ruben Sierra, died Sunday at the White House.

Bush daughter Barbara, then 9, named the cat “India” after Sierra, a former major league player, whose nickname was "El Indio." President George W. Bush was a former co-owner of the Texas Rangers.

When Bush daughters Barbara and Jenna went to college, the cat stayed at the White House with the president and first lady. The family affectionately called the cat “Kitty.”

Sheeba says "who says mans best friend is a dog, or the only friend a President can have - cats rule, dogs drool." The news feeds have said that the cat did not want to leave the luxury of the White House :o)

Jan 11, 2009

Sunday Silliness - Conformity :o)

Special second Sunday Silliness this week because I failed you last week while I was in Sin City :o)

When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.

Sunday Silliness - Compromise :o)

Let's agree to respect each others views, no matter how wrong yours may be.

(I am sure we have all met people like this LOL)

Jan 10, 2009

Change - It Is A Good Thing :o)

Change seems to be inevitable in today's day of age. Even planned and positive change can be tough. So what can we do to ease the transition???

One of the things we need to do is recognize where change may come from - relationships may change (retirements or moves), roles may shift (illness, children marry), routines may be altered (new job, new baby).

We also need awareness that our assumptions may change. Life changes (being laid off, a promotion, etc.) can impact our sense of worth, or our self-confidence. The change can be positive or negative, planned or unplanned, but that does not mean that we do not need coping mechanisms.

* Modify your thinking. Play down the bad parts of the transition, and play up the good.

* Modify the situation. For example, if in a new job, ask for an early performance appraisal.

* Develop a support system. Family, friends, organizations. This can help provide affirmation for the change, as well as assistance and a sense of feeling cared for.

* Cut stress. Steps could include counseling, exercise, massage - what ever helps keep you calm.

* Be patient. Some change can take a year or more to re-establish a comfort zone. Be kind to yourself during the transition. Also, make sure you are compassionate with others that are impacted and/or sharing in the change. You never know, the person you help may be yourself :o)

Vegas Baby - Paris/Bally's

We stayed at Bally's, which it turns out is associated with Harrah's, Caesars, Horseshoe, Flamingo, Grand, Harvey's, Imperial Palace, Paris, Rio, Sheraton, and Showboat. So we signed up for the TotalRewards card that will maybe, someday, give us some comps and discounts. For the gambling we did at Bally's, I have so far earned, are you ready, a $0.04 discount, whohoo :o)

Bally's and Paris were connected via a shopping/restaurant corridor. We did not spend much time in Paris, more just passed through on our way to shuttles and such, but I did want to share these two shots. The ceiling in Paris is painted to look like the sky, and you can see one of the legs of the Eiffel Tower in the first shot (there will be pictures coming on another day of the view from the top of the tower :o) The light blue ceiling with the clouds really made the casino feel open and inviting, it was nice.

One of the first things we noticed at Bally's was the lounge with the name of one of our dear Spotterville friends, it made us feel immediately at home :o)

As you can see from the last picture, we were very happy to be on our mini-vacation in FABULOUS Las Vegas :o) Notice our Vegas Bling we got for signing up for the TotalRewards card.

If you have never been to casinos, and Las Vegas especially, they try and entice you by offering points clubs for spending money at the casinos. During this trip, our friend Steve became the "Card" man, and I was "Coupon" man since we got three separate coupon books [one at check in, and one each when we signed up for TotalRewards] for drink discounts at Bally's (which we used as often as we could). These coupons also got us 2 for 1 on the Eiffel Tower experience.

Jan 6, 2009

Vegas News :o)

Sunday's travel day was not bad at all. Our flight out of South Bend was only delayed 30 minutes, and we had a three hour layover in Chicago, so had no problem with making the connection and getting into Sin City while the night was relatively young (we got to the hotel at about 8:30 P.M.). We forgot how long of a flight from Chicago it is, three and a half hours.

We met up with our friends Kim and Steve, had a cool amber beverage, and then headed to explore Bally's and Paris casinos. We will write more about them when we return, but the ceilings in Paris are painted like the sky, it is very inviting. We played a few slots, a little blackjack (only $10 tables, that did not last long) and some craps (this was fun because we were able to teach the rules to Kim and Steve). Alas, we did not win big the first night (down about $100), but all in all, a fun evening.

Today, we met up about 10:30 A.M., and headed to the Rio for a look around, and then across the street to the Gold Coast (the picture above shows the weather, in the high forties, and a bit overcast, and also the fact that some construction is still occurring, but it has slowed a bit). We had a blast playing some blackjack, and I ended up $70, and Beth down $50, so pretty good for about three hours of gambling. The picture here shows Steve, Beth, a wonderful gentleman (who helped Kimberly weather her first blackjack experience, she did great by breaking even over a three hour period), and Kim. The last hour, I was able to get a seat at the table, and we had a fun time with a guy from central Michigan.

We came back to the hotel, got cleaned up, and headed to dinner. We went to a burger place, and Beth had a Cobb salad and I had a Blue Cheese burger. The deserts were fabulous, we had a Cheese Cake with fresh berries, it was the smoothest I have ever had.

We then headed to the Mirage (a nice brisk walk to burn off some of the burger), and saw an amazing Cirque Du Solie (spelling?) show, LOVE, with a Beatles theme. One a scale of 1 to 10, Beth would rate it an 11, and I would rate it a 9.5 (mine is slightly less because I am not quite the music aficionado that Beth is, and the show had great dancing, but less tumbling and such). We had front row seats, and it was amazing. I will leave the graphic descriptions to Beth and her wonderful talent with prose.

Tomorrow we are headed to old Vegas for the Neon Sign Museum tour, some seafood buffet, and the whole Fremont Street Experience :o) I am sure there will be some more blackjack in our plans as well.

Needless to say, the first night and day in Vegas exceeded expectations. We have to pay for Internet, so are not going to be able to provide regular updates or many pictures until we return (besides, we are not spending very much time in the room :o). Hope your week is going well, and know that even though we are not visiting you right now, does not mean we are not thinking of you all and wishing you well.

Jan 4, 2009

Vegas Baby !

Not much to report from this end. Yesterday we ran a few errands and puttered around the house. We watched the Colts last night, but unfortunately, they lost. So both of our teams are out of the playoffs. So we think we will root for the Titans :o)

We are all packed, and our flight leaves at about 2:00. We are headed to Las Vegas for a few days. You can read the details over at Nutwood Junction, where Beth explained our plans and how we are meeting with our great friends Steve and Kim.

We are already in Vegas mode, staying up until the wee hours of the morning and sleeping in most of the morning. So, expect some weird posting times :o)

Enjoy your Sunday :o)

Jan 2, 2009

Is It Spring Yet ? :o)

The main goal today was to get the reclaimed bedroom set up as an office today. The thing is, I do not "spring clean" my files and such nearly enough. So today, there were two boxes of garbage and two boxes of burn barrel (things that have sensitive info on them, and we do not want to throw away, the whole identity theft thing, don't you know :o).

After disposing of the boxes, it was time to haul the roll-top desk top, solid oak file cabinet, and desk drawers upstairs (needed some help from my bride since the stairs are steep and oak is heavy), and then set up the desk and put the files back into the drawers. All in all, after five hours, with a few Mafia Wars on Facebook breaks (an amber beverage may also have been involved), the room has been set up.

The roll-top is closed because there is almost a year's worth of filing, in anticipation of tax preparation, that needs to be done. That is a project for another day. You can see that we have my desk set up, and two chairs for a reading room (see the bookcase in the background?).

Hope your short week is going well, and here is looking forward to the weekend :o)

Jan 1, 2009

Happy 2009 To Everyone :o)

My wish to you is that 2009 meets, and exceeds, your goals and desires.

I have set my resolve to focus on the people that are an active part of my life. This includes my wife, her family, my Mom and Step-dad, and of course my friends here in Spotterville :o) I will continue to reach out to those family and friends that we have become somewhat distant with, but that is a secondary objective. One thing that is exciting is that we know we will be meeting a few of our fellow Bloggers this year.

My goal is to spend more time in the yard this year, getting our veggie garden back to health, putting in a flower garden with waterfall, and working on our forest path. The added benefit is that this falls right in line with being healthy and getting excercise.

At work, I plan on focusing on the things I really need to get done, that add value, and not sweat the smaller things. There are lots of things that we can do to help make our workdays fun and less stressful, thereby improving our overall quality of life.

Last, but certainly not least, I will continue to search out ways that I can give back. A book I read several years ago (Halftime, by Bob Buford) has the following premise: "One of the most common characteristics of a person nearing the end of the first half (of the game of life) is that unquenchable desire to move from success to significance." I am certainly transitioning to the second half in this wonderful game of life, and truly look forward to the significance focus.

Picking our focus areas, where we can have the most impact, or get the best return, is certainly better than chasing the wisp of our pasts, wondering "What-If." I find the view through the windshield is much better than the rear view mirror. Happy New Year, and wishing you Health, Prosperity, and Happiness.