Nov 28, 2009

Spaghetti Friday :o)

We had an awesome day on Thursday over at Beth's sisters place.  Good food, good family, and good Rock Band.  Does it get any better than that?

Yesterday, the plan of the day was for my folks, and stepbrother "JimBo" [who I had not seen in 28 years until two months ago] and his wife, to come over to Nutwood for dinner and some fun.

The menu was Ken's Special Spaghetti :o)  This was a standing request from my Stepdad.  About seven years ago, my folks came and visited us for a week.  During that trip, one of the meals I made was spaghetti.  It is pretty basic, ground beef, garlic, onions, tomatoe paste/sauce/diced, and a mix of spices.  I think it it the spices, simmered for 4-5 hours, that really give it its great taste.  Note, this is NOT a vegan sauce :o)

I started the sauce at 1:30, and we eat about 6:30, so it was in fine form.  We also discovered an electric garlic baker a few years ago [we used an oven based Terra Cotta baker for about four years], and we had what we consider the bestest garlic bread ever, french bread - baked in the oven with olive oil - then fresh baked garlic spread on it.  And its Healthy Too :o)  The best compliment is when you are asked for a "doggie bag", and my folks took enough with them for another meal. 

Before dinner, we played Rock Band.  After some switching around, we settled in with JimBo singing, Beth on lead guitar [She ROCKS \m/], JimBo's wife on base, and me on drums.  We played for about an hour, and it was fun.  After dinner, we decided to do Wii bowling.  JimBo ended up winning the day, and I am pleased to say that the TV is still intact.  My folks are not really in a condition to play, but they enjoyed watching [evidence is that my stepdad stayed awake past 9:00 PM]

All in all, a great visit.  Love Thanksgiving, spending quality time with family.

Science Scene - Energy Outlook :o)

Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth will remain flat/negative for 2009 with only China and India having postive growth.  This starts to change in 2010 and 2011, with worldwide growth to be on the order of 2% for 2010 and 3% for 2011. 

While electricity demand is lower in 2009, and not expected to reach 2008 levels until 2011, the forecast from there has a steeper slope than previous growth.  New forms of electricity use will outstrip energy efficiency gains (just think about flat screen TV's, DVR's, gadget rechargers, and such). 

So, what are our options for meeting this increased electrical demand?  Even if solar power costs were halved, the cost still would not reach the cost of combined cycle gas turbines or wind energy.   It turns out that the real solution in the short term may rest with bio-mass (wood chips, wood pellets, etc.), which is projected to be a quarter of the cost of solar, and on par with combined cycle gas and less than half of wind energy projected costs.

A wildcard in this mix is shale gas fields, the technology for retrieving the gas is not yet proven, but the potential is huge.  Bottom line, natural gas will be with us for a long time, and there will be wind and solar, but they will not be the silver bullet.  I expect that clean coal and nuclear power will fill out the mix.

Nov 27, 2009

Science Scene - PlantBottle, Thanks Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola cursive logo is the most recognized consumer brand in the world, and now, in some places, it will have a little green stamp on it, symbolizing not only that company’s sustainability efforts, but the degree to which green thinking has penetrated the corporate mindset.

The Coca-Cola Company dubs the new packaging PlantBottle, and boasts that it is the first-to-market plant based PET plastic bottle in the industry. PlantBottle is already on the shelves in eco-conscious Denmark (in time for Copenhagen) and will be introduced in Canada in December, and San Francisco, LA and Seattle in January.

The beverage company aims to produce 2 billion PlantBottles by the end of 2010, “a first step towards achieving the Company’s vision of bringing to market plastic bottles that are made with 100 percent renewable raw materials and are still fully recyclable,” according to a press release.
PlantBottle packaging is currently made through a process that turns sugar cane and molasses, a by-product of sugar production, into a key component for PET plastic. The sugar cane being used comes from predominantly rain-fed crops that were processed into ethanol, not refined sugar. Ultimately, the Company’s goal is to use non-food, plant-based waste, such as wood chips or wheat stalks, to produce recyclable PET plastic bottles.  The bottles do not use 100 percent plant material because the material can not handle hot or carbonated beverages.

For the full article, at triplepundit, click here.

Nov 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving :o)

Thanksgiving is one of the few truly secular, nondenominational holidays on the US calendar (the Fourth of July is another). We celebrate with a long weekend, a big meal with family and friends (on the menu: foods that reflect the tastes and colors of the autumn harvest, such as roast turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and candied yams), and football. It kicks off the holiday season and is the biggest shopping weekend of the year. We're taught that Thanksgiving came about when pilgrims gave thanks to God for a bountiful harvest. We vaguely mumble thanks for the food on our table, the roof over our head and the loved ones around us.

Thanksgiving is a celebration of successful production. The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production.   This country was mostly uninhabited and wild when our forefathers began to develop the land and build spectacular cities, shaping what is now the wealthiest nation in the world. It's the American spirit to overcome challenges, create great achievements, and enjoy prosperity. We uniquely recognize that production leads to wealth and that we must dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

But surely there is something more to celebrate, something more sacred about this holiday. What should we really be celebrating on Thanksgiving?

I think that the reason that this Holiday has become so ingrained is that there is special meaning, a meaning that is best understood by family, and that is relishing the fact that you care and are cared for. Being with your family while great food is being served is something that is memorable and full of encouragement. Sitting at the dinner table with relatives you haven't seen recently, how good does that make you feel? Thanksgiving is a time for thanking those you love and being close to them.  It is a holiday that simply makes us happy and filled with glee knowing we are loved.
One thing that makes me appreciate this holiday is that everyone is included, if you have no family, if you are homeless, you are given the chance to celebrate it at a center especially made for troubled times. It shows that people care and people truly believe in this never ending special holiday.  For a few years, when I did not have anyone to share this holiday with, I was at the homeless shelter, helping serve up some warm thoughts and some good food.

Now, before our meal, we offer our thoughts and prayers to those that cannot be with us on this day.  For me, while I contemplate this, I focus on the reason I am grateful that the person is in my life, not the reason that they are not present.

May you and yours have a wonderful day today, full of love and appreciation.

Nov 25, 2009

Philosophical Phun - Classical Logic :o)

Today, logic is both a branch of mathematics and a branch of philosophy. In most large universities, both departments offer sequences of courses in logic, and there is usually a lot of overlap between them. Formal languages, deductive systems, and model-theoretic semantics are mathematical objects and, as such, the logician is interested in their mathematical properties and relations. Soundness, completeness, and most of the other results reported below are typical examples. Philosophically, logic is the study of correct reasoning. Reasoning is an epistemic, mental activity. This raises questions concerning the philosophical relevance of the mathematical aspects of logic. How do deducibility and validity, as properties of formal languages--sets of strings on a fixed alphabet--relate to correct reasoning? What do the mathematical results reported below have to do with the original philosophical issue? This is an instance of the philosophical problem of explaining how mathematics applies to non-mathematical reality.

When mathematicians and many philosophers reason, they occasionally invoke formulas in a formal language to help disambiguate, or otherwise clarify what they mean. In other words, sometimes formulas in a formal language are used in ordinary reasoning. This suggests that one might think of a formal language as an addendum to a natural language. What do deducibility and validity, as sharply defined on the addendum, tell us about correct reasoning in general?

As an engineer by training, this one hits pretty close to home.  What do you find relevant, and more importantly, WHY ???

Nov 24, 2009

TMI for You :o)

No, this entry is not about personal or too much information.  It is about Three Mile Island (TMI), a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania (for you youngsters, site of the one and only nuclear accident in the US, circa 1979).

I know that yesterday, when I stopped by my folks place, they had been watching CNN and asked if I had heard about the "event" at Three Mile Island".  I indicated I had (we had a summary sent to management explaining the details), and gave them the scoop.  Below is the official release that came out today.  For reference, a routine chest x-ray is about 10 mrem per film. Smoking 1.5 packs of cigarettes daily exposes the individual to about 1300 mrem per year. 

TWELVE WORKERS AT THREE MILE ISLAND-1 WERE CONTAMINATED NOVEMBER 21 with "detectable" but small amounts of radiation, Exelon Nuclear said in a November 23 statement. The radioactive particles were confined to the containment building and posed no threat to workers or the public, it said. About 150 workers at the reactor were sent home the afternoon of November 21 "when monitors detected small amounts of airborne radiological contamination inside the containment building" at a temporary opening cut in the building to allow new steam generators to be installed, the company said. The contamination "was caused by a change in air pressure inside the containment building that dislodged small irradiated particles in the reactor piping system," it said. The highest estimated dose to a worker was 38.4 millirem, less than 1% of the annual federal occupational exposure limit of 5,000 millirem, the company said. Work has now resumed at the unit, which has been shut since October 26 for refueling and maintenance. Exelon Nuclear spokesman Ralph DeSantis said November 23 that the event will extend the outage schedule, but declined to say when Three Mile Island-1 is expected to return to service. NRC Region I spokeswoman Diane Screnci said November 23 that the event had "no effect on public health and safety." A health physicist and a manager from the agency's regional office were on site November 22 and 23 "to independently review and confirm the company's technical assessment" of the event, Screnci said.

Watch how you steer: don't veer for deer!

They’re out there. In the woods and on the roads as well. While hunters are gearing up to find that big buck, motorists around our plant, our state, and many parts of the nation are trying hard to avoid them.

I know that I have had some harrowing near misses during my 45 minute daily drive to work, and about five years ago, hit a deer and did $4,000 damage to my then Explorer.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there are about 1.5 million car accidents with deer each year that result in $1 billion in vehicle damage, about 150 human fatalities, and over 10,000 personal injuries. The actual numbers are most likely higher because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's figures for deer accidents rely on inconsistent state reporting. There is no standard reporting of deer accidents in the country yet, and a “reportable deer accident” varies significantly between states.

However, in an insurance claim statistics study, the top ten states for deer accidents were listed. According to this study, Pennsylvania drivers experience more deer collisions than any other state with Michigan following close behind. The number of accidents increases with the deer migrating and mating season which occurs between the months of October and December.

The worst states for deer collisions based on total number of claims filed with one of the countries largest auto insurers are:

1. Pennsylvania
2. Michigan
3. Illinois
4. Ohio
5. Georgia
6. Minnesota
7. Virginia
8. Indiana
9. Texas
10. Wisconsin

Tips to avoid deer accidents:

Be attentive when driving, especially at dusk. Slow down.

Use high-beam headlights when driving in deer territory to increase your vision as well as your time to react to a deer hiding on the roadside who decides to jump in front of your car.

The use of car-mounted “deer whistles” actually has minimal effect on deer and may result in drivers being less aware. You need to continually be on your guard.

If a collision with a deer is unavoidable, it is always best not to swerve to avoid it. Brake and hold the wheel straight. Turning the wheel to avoid the deer may result in a worse accident with another car, or cause the car to spin out of control resulting a in much more serious crash.

Nov 23, 2009

Go Green At Thanksgiving :o)

Thanksgiving is generally about three things: tradition, food and family (in no particular order). All of which can make it seem like a tough time to go green.

But look at it another way: new traditions need to start sometime, so what better day than Thanksgiving? Try going green (or greener) this year by incorporating some eco-friendly changes to your holiday shopping, food, decorations and travel with our easy — and fun — tips.

Yum…Turkey, Sweet Potatoes, Stuffing and More

First up: the meal. Make your holiday a little more Earth friendly by choosing an eco-theme for your feast, like one of our four outlined below — it's a fun way to start a new tradition with an environmental impact.

•The Locavore: Eat Local and In Season
This means doing as much of your Thanksgiving Day shopping as possible at local farmers markets and farms — for food items like eggs, milk, veggies, turkey, potatoes, pie fillings and more. The eco-benefits of eating locally? Food grown or raised in your region has fewer food miles, meaning the carbon emissions associated with local foods are smaller. The plus for you is that local fruits and veggies usually taste better because they've been picked at the peak of freshness, rather than produce shipped from thousands of miles away that had to be picked before ripening.  What about the turkey, you say? There's a growing number of small farms that sell turkeys directly to the public. has a searchable map so you can hone in on foods sustainably grown and raised near you.

•The Tree-Hugger: Shop Organic
The benefits to your health might not be proven yet, but there's no doubt that organic agriculture is better for the landscape — fewer pesticides and other toxic chemicals seeping into soil and running off into rivers and lakes.  When it comes to turkey, pasture-raised, organic turkeys are the way to go. Or consider buying a heritage turkey this year, defined as centuries-old breeds of turkeys that need to be raised over longer periods of time (unlike the sped-up rearing process of today's breeds).

•The White Rabbit: Go Vegetarian
Eating vegetarian has been touted as one of the best ways to help save the planet. Conventional meat production is a major cause of deforestation and global greenhouse gas emissions — more so than the transportation sector, according to a 2006 study from The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
We are going to Beth's sisters house, spending our time with family.  So we will not be doing any cooking.  How about you???

Nov 22, 2009

Wellness Journey - Marathon vs. Sprint :o)

As Beth posted back on 11/13/09, we went for our wellness health screenings through my work.  Unfortunately, my results were not quite as good as Beth's.  My cholesteral is high (although my ratio of good to bad is excellent), my glucose is high, and my body fat and mass index needs some serious work.

Today, I am happy to report that I have resumed my workout routine, and it is going well.  I have worked out 10 days straight now, and am back into the routine.  I do at least 10 minutes of weights, and at least 30 minutes of cardio (500 calories minimum). 

It amazes me how easy it is to put on weight, and how long and hard it is to take it off.  My starting point was 226 lbs, with a target of 220 when we go on vacation in a few weeks, and to get below 210 by April.  By July, my target is to be below 205.  From experience, anything at 200 or below is a little to lean for my body structure.  I would like to lose faster, but this needs to be a marathon approach versus a sprint.  Making it habit and routine is the key.

As a treat and incentive today, I went out and got an Ab Lounger Sport at Target.  It uses a jacknife approach to abdominal work, much better than the bench type situps I have been doing.  I will occassionally post updates, mostly because that helps keep me motiviated, you know, do what you say you are going to do :o)

Sunday Silliness - Limitations :o)

Until you spread your wings, you'll have no idea how far you can walk.

Nov 21, 2009

Science Scene - Trash Talk

Did you know the average baby goes through 5,000 to 6,000 dirty diapers by the time he or she is potty trained? That accounts for nearly one ton of waste per child. Although disposable diapers are convenient, they also create a burden on our landfills. Disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose. And untreated human waste poses another environmental concern – the potential to contaminate groundwater resources.
So imagine being able to divert thousands of tons of dirty diapers from landfills on an annual basis. That is exactly what Knowaste will soon be doing. Beginning in May 2010, Knowaste Ltd., will open a new recycling facility in the United Kingdom.

Here’s how it works. Once the soiled products are collected and transported to the Knowaste facility, the products are sent to a shredder that breaks them apart. They are washed, sanitized, deactivated and mechanically separated into plastic components or organic residue. The plastic is then recycled into a variety of products including shoe insoles, vinyl siding, wallpaper, bicycle helmets and roofing tiles, to name a few.  Non-recyclable waste is converted into green energy, which will power the facility or will be sold to the national grid. The water used during the process is treated and reused again.

Established in 1989, Knowaste recycles other absorbent hygiene products besides diapers – bed-liners, adult incontinence and feminine hygiene products. The company’s main recycling facility is located in Toronto, Canada.

Here is a link to the full article at

Nov 20, 2009

Bucko's Bucks - Cash In At CoinStar :o)

Every once in awhile there comes a deal that actually MAKES YOU MONEY. This is one of them. Now until Dec. 6, 2009, cash in $40 worth of coins at a green Coinstar machine, chose to get the money as a gift certificate or eCard, and you get a bonus $10 mailed to you.

But getting the money requires you to follow these directions to a T:

Before you dump your coins into the machine, press the "Cash in Coins" button and then the "Free Coin Counting" button.

Select the retail brand of your choice.

Pour your coins into the tray.

Get your fully loaded card or eCert right from the machine.

To get the bonus $10, look for a claim form at the bottom of your Coinstar receipt. Complete the claim form in its entirety and postmark it by Jan. 6, 2010. Mail it to:

Coinstar Holiday 09 Bonus Offer
Department D, PO Box 6112
Douglas, AZ 85655-6112

Caveats: It takes six to eight weeks to get the check. Valid in the U.S. only and excludes Puerto Rico. Limit one per name, address, or household.

Nov 19, 2009

Three Days Until National Family Volunteer Day.

National Family Volunteer Day is an annual day of service, held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, designed to demonstrate the power of families who choose to volunteer together to support the communities in which they live and serve. Volunteering as a family provides quality time for busy families, strengthens communication and bonds, and positively impacts local communities across the nation. Presented by the HandsOn Network and the Walt Disney Company.

To Learn More, Click Here.

Nov 18, 2009

Happy Anniversary Baby :o)

Take my heart (take my heart)
There's no telling what this love can bring.
This romance (this romance)
I got a felling could bring everything.
Don't be shy,
Lift that chin and let me look at you (oh baby)
What a face,
I've been waiting for you all my life, so be my baby baby.
Take this kiss (take my heart)
Crazy kiss of love I offer you.
Kiss like this (kiss like this)
Kiss like this proves our love is true.
Hold me tight,
Whisper on my dear like lovers do (oh baby)
Don't let go,
I've been waiting for you all my life, cause your my baby baby. Yeah.
Take my heart, you're the morning stars above for me (oh baby)
Can't you see, you're the only one I'm dreaming of, it's you I love now baby baby.
Take my heart (take my heart)
Take my heart. Take my heart.

I Love You With All My Heart.  LUHP :o)

Nov 17, 2009

This Kid Has It Right, Go Will!

Will Phillips doesn't believe that describes America for its gay and lesbian citizens. He's a 10-year-old at West Fork Elementary School in Arkansas, about three hours east of Oklahoma City. Given his beliefs, he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, specifically because that one phrase, "liberty and justice for all," he says, does not truly apply to all.

That did not go over well with the substitute teacher in his fifth-grade classroom.

The Arkansas Times reports that he started refusing to say the pledge Mon., Oct. 5. By Thursday, the substitute was steamed. She told Will she knew his mother and grandmother and they would want him to recite the pledge.

Will told the Times the substitute got more and more upset. She raised her voice. By this point, Will told the newspaper, he started losing his cool too, adding: "After a few minutes, I said, 'With all due respect ma'am, go jump off a bridge.'"

That got him sent to the principal's office. The principal made him look up information about the flag and what it represents. Meanwhile, there was the inevitable call to his mother.

At first, mom Laura Phillips told the Times, the principal talked about Will telling a substitute to jump off a bridge. When pressed, the principal admitted the whole incident was sparked by the boy exercising his constitutional right not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Phillips suggested an apology was in order -- from the teacher. When the principal said that wasn't necessary, Will's mother started venting to friends via Twitter. Those friends, in turn, told the news media. And what would have been a minor classroom incident has people throughout Arkansas and beyond choosing sides.

As for Will, he continues to exercise his right to remain silent. It can be rough at times, he and his family admit. He has his share of supporters, however, his critics are louder and nastier -- especially because he took his stand to defend gay rights.

"In the lunchroom and in the hallway, they've been making comments and doing pranks, calling me gay," he told the Times. "It's always the same people, walking up and calling me a gaywad."

Nonetheless, Will told the paper, he is sticking to his convictions. A reporter for the paper asked Will -- with all this talk about patriotism and the pledge -- what he thinks it means to be an American.

"Freedom of speech," he responded. "The freedom to disagree. That's what I think pretty much being an American represents."

His mother is proud.

Philosophical Phun - Frame Of Reference :o)

A “frame of reference” is a standard relative to which motion and rest may be measured; any set of points or objects that are at rest relative to one another enables us, in principle, to describe the relative motions of bodies. A frame of reference is therefore a purely kinematical device, for the geometrical description of motion without regard to the masses or forces involved. A dynamical account of motion leads to the idea of an “inertial frame,” or a reference frame relative to which motions have distinguished dynamical properties. For that reason an inertial frame has to be understood as a spatial reference frame together with some means of measuring time, so that uniform motions can be distinguished from accelerated motions. The laws of Newtonian dynamics provide a simple definition: an inertial frame is a reference-frame with a time-scale, relative to which the motion of a body not subject to forces is always rectilinear and uniform, accelerations are always proportional to and in the direction of applied forces, and applied forces are always met with equal and opposite reactions.

My frame of reference is based on Nutwood Junction and my wonderful wife.  We live a simple life, but have a passion for making things better - environmentally, politically, and financially.  What is your passion?

Nov 16, 2009

Going To 7-Eleven for Wine

Something to jot down the next time you're in the mood for a drink and don't have a lot of cash: 7-Eleven now has its own brand of wine.

The name of the label is Yosemite Road. They're selling a chardonnay and a cabernet sauvignon, and both will retail for about $3.99.
The 7-Eleven (SEI) venture began in earnest this year with a series of video conferences followed by multiple trips to California`s wine country. Leveraging its sheer scale and sourcing capabilities, 7-Eleven approached The Wine Group, the world`s third-largest wine producer, with the mission to craft two quality, affordably priced varietal wines.

Experienced, award-winning wine-makers John Willumson and Jim McDonald were tapped for the task. The winning vintners created a Chardonnay, described as fresh and zesty with notes of apricot, peach and honey, and a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with juicy plum overtones. Both are well balanced, offered at an affordable price and can be enjoyed anytime of the year.

Yosemite Road is currently a limited-edition wine that will be available while supplies last.

I think we will need to make a stop for some of the Cabernet to put in our cellar :o)

Nov 14, 2009

Go Irish :o)

I hope to be able to update this entry later tonight with the news that the Fighting Irish beat #8 Pitt in football.  But this entry is about our great day today.

Coffee - check
Paper - check
Workout - check
Pleasant Weather - check

About 1:15 PM, we headed out to the recently renovated Purcell Arena (previously called the Joyce Center) for the season opener of the Fighting Irish basketball season.  They were playing North Florida, and the won easily (by about 30 points). 

Update: The Cardiac Kids tried to rally, but they came up short, 27-22.  Second week they gave one away :o(

Science Scene - The Spider Awards :o)

I know that there is a myth out there that claims that you swallow about eight spiders in your lifetime while you sleep.  I am glad that it is not true, because could you imagine chocking one of these babies down?

Largest Spider:  The award for the most astronomically sized arachnid goes to the Goliath Bird-eating Tarantula (Theraphosa blondi), who lives in the rain forests of northern South America and grows up to a whopping 12 inches across, including legs. Females can live up to 25 years and can weigh nearly a half a pound.

Although this giant is called the Bird-eater, named by Victorian explorers who witnessed the spider devouring a hummingbird, the tarantula doesn’t have particular preference for birds. Like other spiders, the Goliath’s favorite foods are small insects such as crickets and beetles. However, he’s also an opportunistic eater: When faced with a delectable reptile, bird or small mammal, what’s a hungry spider to do? Apparently, the Goliath will gobble up just about anything that’s smaller than itself.

For more Spider Trivia, head on over to Wired Science

Nov 13, 2009

Bi-partisan Support For Nuclear?

The Obama administration and leading congressional Democrats are wooing wavering Democrats and Republicans to back a climate bill by dangling federal tax incentives and new loan guarantees for nuclear power plant construction, even though financial analysts warn that huge capital needs and a history of cost overruns would constrain what many lawmakers hope will be a "nuclear renaissance."

The elements of a nuclear package under discussion include investment tax credits, a doubling or more of the existing $18.5 billion in federal loan guarantees for new plants, giving nuclear plants access to a new clean energy development bank, federally financed training for nuclear plant workers, a new look at reprocessing nuclear fuel, and a streamlining of the regulatory approval process, according to corporate, congressional and administration sources.

Designed to put nuclear power on an even footing with wind and solar, the package comes on top of existing incentives, such as the production tax credit.

Pundits predict that between 5 and 50 nuclear power plants by 2030. I cannot think of a better solution to our climate change policies. Solar and Wind just do not have the same potential for large scale power plants, and their footprint will make the NIMBY philosophy hard to overcome.

Nov 12, 2009

I see Bar Food in our future :o)

TGI Friday's just announced that it is lowering the price on eight of its appetizers to half-price! The appetizers are normally $6 -$11. The deal is good after 4 p.m. when you sit in the bar area.

The offer starts Tuesday, November 10 and goes through Dec. 23, 2009. The eight half-priced apps include sesame jack chicken strips, Tuscan spinach dip (served with chips), fried mozzarella, pot stickers, crispy green bean fries, loaded potato skins, Friday's tostada nachos, and buffalo wings.

Special Interest At Work

Ordering grilled chicken or cooking it home may not be as healthy as you think.  At least that is what the Cancer Project, a Washington D.C.-based group believes.  They sponsored a class-action lawsuit in Connecticut against McDonald's, Burger King and Friendly's alleging that the restaurant chains failed to warn consumers about a dangerous carcinogen in grilled chicken.

The group says that it conducted independent laboratory tests that showed grilling chicken at high temperatures produces PhIP, one of the group of carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCA), which even when consumed in small amounts increase the risk of getting cancer.  And consumers deserve to know that, Patrick Sullivan, spokesman for the Cancer Project, said in a phone interview.

PhIP has been on the California governor's list of cancer-causing chemicals for more than a decade, and the federal government added HCAs to its list of carcinogens in 2005. True, PhIP gets produced even when you grill at home, but for restaurant chains such KFC, promoting the dish as a healthy alternative is highly deceptive, Sullivan said.

Cancer Project, which promotes a healthful, plant-based diet and is an affiliate of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, began its crusade against the chains last year by suing a bunch of restaurants in California. Following the suit, Burger King settled and agreed to warn customers about the presence of PhIP. The rest, led by mighty McD's, held its ground. The case was eventually dismissed by a judge who said that federal law governing certain chicken products prohibit California from imposing its own PhIP standards. The group is appealing that ruling.

So, do not breathe, do not eat, and do not move, and you will be safe from all the carcinogen producing things out there.  Me, if I am going own, I am going down with ugly oolies.

Nov 11, 2009


If you want to see a post that does justice to this day, please go to see Lon's entry at Reflection, but make sure you have a tissue or two first.

Thank A Veteran Today

We started this weekend when several of the folks we attended the ND - Navy game with were Navy Veterans.  We thanked them for their service.

It has continued here at work as 30% of our plant workforce are Veterans, and we distributed commerative pins to them.

Last, a thank you to my Brother, my Father-In-Law, my Brother-In-Law, and my Nephew-In-Law.

Science Scene - How Green Are Our Pets?

It takes 17 times more land to feed American pets than would be required by solar farms producing enough electricity to meet all the demand in the United States.

Wired Science source of this entry, click here?

By examining the land and resources necessary to produce the meat and grains that compose pet food they discovered something startling: It takes over 90,000 square feet of land (that’s two whole acres) to feed a medium-sized dog and 16,000 square feet of land to feed a cat.

The Humane Society estimates Americans own about 75 million dogs and 88 million cats. We did the math and found that feeding those animals takes about 294 thousand square miles of land. That’s a little bigger than Texas!

The amount of land required to generate electricity for the nation does sound like an awful lot, sometimes. One recent calculation led by Vasilis M. Fthenakis, an environmental engineer at Columbia University’s Center for Life Cycle Analysis, found that it would take covering 16,602 square miles of land in the southwestern desert with solar energy converters like cadmium telluride photovoltaic panels to generate the 3,816,000,000 megawatt-hours of electricity that is used in the U.S. ever year.
While the numbers can be argued with, what I found interesting is that it takes more land to feed our beloved animals than it would take to generate solar electricity. 

Nov 10, 2009

Ditch the Bag and Roll With Me :o)

We have been using cloth reusable bags at our local Martins grocery store for a couple of years now, and we get the $0.05 discount. But more importantly, we are not using the plastic bags, which cuts down on garbage, reduces oil usage (petroleum is used to make plastic), and they are actually more convenient when you get used to them. So, today, there are two new national chains, Target and CVS, rolling out programs to get shoppers to trim their reliance on plastic grocery bags.

The nation's fifth-largest retailer along with the country's largest prescription provider are each launching plastic bag-reduction incentives. Both brands have test-marketed the new campaigns and are introducing them in all of their stores (that's 1,700 Target locations and 7,000 CVS sites).

The Target plan offers customers five cents off their bill for every reusable bag they use in lieu of a plastic bag. A Target spokesperson says any reusable bag is acceptable, but you're not allowed to bring in plastic bags from your last trip to the store. The five-cent discount is available to all shoppers.

Unlike Target's plan, the CVS program is only available to shoppers who are -- or become -- members of the pharmacy's loyalty program, ExtraCare, and it requires an upfront investment in the form of a 99-cent "GreenBagTag." Loyalty program members can have the tag swiped every time they come to a CVS and forgo a plastic bag -- either by bringing a reusable bag with them or carrying their purchases out sans bag. After every four "green" swipes, the customer will get a coupon printed on the bottom of their receipt for a dollar off a future shopping trip.

Nov 9, 2009

Science Scene - I AM PISSED!

Using hydrogen to power cars has become an increasingly attractive transportation fuel, as the only emission produced is water - but a major stumbling block is the lack of a cheap, renewable source of the fuel.

Gerardine Botte of Ohio University may now have found the answer, using an electrolytic approach to produce hydrogen from urine—the most abundant waste on Earth—at a fraction of the cost of producing hydrogen from water.

Urine's major constituent is urea, which incorporates four hydrogen atoms per molecule—importantly, less tightly bonded than the hydrogen atoms in water molecules. Botte used electrolysis to break the molecule apart, developing an inexpensive new nickel-based electrode to selectively and efficiently oxidise the urea. To break the molecule down, a voltage of 0.37V needs to be applied across the cell—much less than the 1.23V needed to split water.

Beth thinks that this may be a "Eureka" moment :o)

Nov 7, 2009

Tailgating in November - Outstanding

When we got up this morning, it was already almost 60 degrees.  We shook out the cobwebs, had our showers, and headed for the stadium. 

We found good parking, poured our beers into our cups, and went out in search of our tailgate partners (folks from my work).  It was a little breezy, but that settled down as the day progressed, and I am pleased to announce that I never had to put on my windbreaker.  A sweatshirt was all that was required on this fine South Bend autumn day.

We met up with our tailgate partners (we were the first to arrive and really enjoyed watching a boxer revel in the warm weather with his human friends).  Shortly, our tailgate host arrived, and his wife did an outstanding job.  Sammiches, Chicken, Brownies, veggies, fruit, chips... you get the idea.  There ended up being about a dozen of us and no one left hungry and there was just enough beer to get us to the stadium.

The sun was shining, the band was playing, and there was a Navy flyover.  It was a great day, except for the final score of the game, Navy 23, ND 21.  ND had at least four opportunities to score, which would have put the game away, but that was not to be today.  While we are not pleased with the outcome, as Beth said, it is not possible to hate on Navy.  Besides, some of our Tailgate friends were Navy vets, so at least some of our group left happy.

It was great day for our last set of ND Football Tickets. Looks like it is time to go on-line and seek out some Basketball and Hockey tickets.  Hope you had a great Saturday, I know we enjoyed ours.

Smart Grid - Improvements in our Future

On October 29th, the Obama Administration announced $3.4 billion in grant awards that are part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and will be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment worth over $8 billion.   While my company did not get any of the initial grants, there are more in the pipeline, and overall, improving our electrical infrastructure is a good thing.

These investments will create the infrastructure and expand access to smart meters and customer systems so that consumers will be able to access dynamic pricing information and have the ability to save money by programming smart appliances and equipment to run when rates are lowest. This will help reduce energy bills for everyone by helping drive down “peak demand” and limiting the need for “stand-by” power plants – the most expensive power generation there is.

The combined effect of the investments announced today, when the projects are fully implemented, will:

Create tens of thousands of jobs across the country. These jobs include high paying career opportunities for smart meter manufacturing workers; engineering technicians, electricians and equipment installers; IT system designers and cyber security specialists; data entry clerks and database administrators; business and power system analysts; and others.

Leverage more than $4.7 billion in private investment to match the federal investment.

Make the grid more reliable, reducing power outages that cost American consumers $150 billion a year -- about $500 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

Install more than 850 sensors - called ‘Phasor Measurement Units’ - that will cover 100 percent of the U.S. electric grid and make it possible for grid operators to better monitor grid conditions and prevent minor disturbances in the electrical system from cascading into local or regional power outages or blackouts. This monitoring ability will also help the grid to incorporate large blocks of intermittent renewable energy, like wind and solar power, to take advantage of clean energy resources when they are available and make adjustments when they’re not.

Install more than 200,000 smart transformers that will make it possible for power companies to replace units before they fail thus saving money and reducing power outages.

Install almost 700 automated substations, representing about 5 percent of the nation’s total that will make it possible for power companies to respond faster and more effectively to restore service when bad weather knocks down power lines or causes electricity disruptions.

Power companies today typically do not know there has been a power outage until a customer calls to report it. With these smart grid devices, power companies will have the tools they need for better outage prevention and faster response to make repairs when outages do occur.

Empower consumers to cut their electricity bills. The Recovery Act combined with private investment will put us on pace to deploy more than 40 million smart meters in American homes and businesses over the next few years that will help consumers cut their utility bills.

Install more than 1 million in-home displays, 170,000 smart thermostats, and 175,000 other load control devices to enable consumers to reduce their energy use. Funding will also help expand the market for smart washers, dryers, and dishwashers, so that American consumers can further control their energy use and lower their electricity bills.

Put us on a path to get 20 percent or more of our energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Reduce peak electricity demand by more than 1400 MW, which is the equivalent of several larger power plants and can save ratepayers more than $1.5 billion in capital costs and help lower utility bills. Since peak electricity is the most expensive energy – and requires the use of standby power generation plants – the economic and environmental savings for even a small reduction are significant. In fact, some of the power plants for meeting peak demand operate for only a few hundred hours a year, which means the power they generate can be 5-10 times more expensive than the average price per kilowatt hour paid by most consumers.

Nov 6, 2009

Bad Sheeba Poetry - Catitude :o)

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I lay on the laptop to heat keep,
Should you die before I wake,
I don't care because I'm a cat.

Nov 5, 2009

On October 29, 2009, UCLA Engineering celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Internet. Forty years ago, a team led by UCLA's Professor Leonard Kleinrock, sent the first message on ARPANET, which later became the Internet. The Internet has revolutionized communication, education, business and entertainment leading to dramatic changes in our social, political and economic lives.

I know I will forever be grateful for the internet, that is how I met my bride.  How about you, any special memories of the internet???

Have You Hugged A Project Manager Today?

November 5th, 2009. Today is International Project Management Day. If you have not yet hugged this underappreciated creature, why not seek one out :o)
The international project management day is intended to encourage project based organizations worldwide or organizations who utilize project management methodologies to schedule some type of recognition event within their organizations or coordinated locally with others to truly demonstrate appreciation for the achievements of project managers and their teams.
In most organizations, project managers do not seem to receive fair recognition for the work they do. Certainly the project sponsor and maybe a few stakeholders will offer some type of thanks or appreciation upon the completion of a successful project but generally, the people who are the actual target audience of the project deliverables often go about their daily operations without any thought about how the new system that has improved their well being was provided or how their new cafeteria was designed and built, or their newly expanded parking lot was completed.
The Importance of Recognition, Acknowledgment, and Saying Thank You. Of course, this appies to many jobs and professions, but today, it is focused on Project Managers.

Nov 4, 2009

Business Travel :o(

It is interesting as we age, and get more comfortable in our home situations, how business travel becomes less appealing.  Whether it is because you have young children at home, pets, or are just a homebody, being on the road is not always all it is cracked up to be.

I am in Chicago for two days to keep our Project Management Institute Region humming, and more importantly, to make sure that our local chapter voice is heard.  This is my fifth year of doing this, so it is more about providing direction than getting ideas on how to grow our organization.

The plus side is that Beth gets to eat her EggPlant Crapisan, and I do not. 

Hope you all had a good Hump Day, and that you are prepared to slide into the weekend.

Philosophical Phun - Consequentialism :o)

Consequentialism, as its name suggests, is the view that normative properties depend only on consequences. This general approach can be applied at different levels to different normative properties of different kinds of things, but the most prominent example is consequentialism about the moral rightness of acts, which holds that whether an act is morally right depends only on the consequences of that act or of something related to that act, such as the motive behind the act or a general rule requiring acts of the same kind.

One common illustration is called Transplant. Imagine that each of five patients in a hospital will die without an organ transplant. The patient in Room 1 needs a heart, the patient in Room 2 needs a liver, the patient in Room 3 needs a kidney, and so on. The person in Room 6 is in the hospital for routine tests. Luckily (for them, not for him!), his tissue is compatible with the other five patients, and a specialist is available to transplant his organs into the other five. This operation would save their lives, while killing the "donor". There is no other way to save any of the other five patients (Foot 1966, Thomson 1976; compare related cases in Carritt 1947 and McCloskey 1965).

We need to add that the organ recipients will emerge healthy, the source of the organs will remain secret, the doctor won't be caught or punished for cutting up the "donor", and the doctor knows all of this to a high degree of probability (despite the fact that many others will help in the operation). Still, with the right details filled in, it looks as if cutting up the "donor" will maximize utility, since five lives have more utility than one life. If so, then classical utilitarianism implies that it would not be morally wrong for the doctor to perform the transplant and even that it would be morally wrong for the doctor not to perform the transplant. Most people find this result abominable. They take this example to show how bad it can be when utilitarians overlook individual rights, such as the unwilling donor's right to life.

This problem cannot be solved by building rights or fairness or desert into the theory of value. The five do not deserve to die, and they do deserve their lives, just as much as the one does. Each option violates someones right not to be killed and is unfair to someone. So consequentialists need more than just new values if they want to avoid endorsing this transplant.
Another popular charge is that classic utilitarianism demands too much, because it requires us to do acts that are or should be moral options (neither obligatory nor forbidden). (Scheffler 1982) For example, imagine that my old shoes are serviceable but dirty, so I want a new pair of shoes that costs $100. I could wear my old shoes and give the $100 to a charity that will use my money to save someone else's life. It would seem to maximize utility for me to give the $100 to the charity. If it is morally wrong to do anything other than what maximizes utility, then it is morally wrong for me to buy the shoes. But buying the shoes does not seem morally wrong. It might be morally better to give the money to charity, but such contributions seem supererogatory, that is, above and beyond the call of duty. Of course, there are many more cases like this. When I watch television, I always (or almost always) could do more good by helping others, but it does not seem morally wrong to watch television. When I choose to teach philosophy rather than working for CARE or the Peace Corps, my choice probably fails to maximize utility overall. If we were required to maximize utility, then we would have to make very different choices in many areas of our lives. The requirement to maximize utility, thus, strikes many people as too demanding because it interferes with the personal decisions that most of us feel should be left up to the individual.

However, most people begin with the presumption that we morally ought to make the world better when we can. The question then is only whether any moral constraints or moral options need to be added to the basic consequentialist factor in moral reasoning. (Kagan 1989, 1998). If no objection reveals any need for anything beyond consequences, then consequences alone seem to determine what is morally right or wrong, just as consequentialists claim.

For me, it is about personal choice and considerations of others around us. We start with those we love, they come first. Then, we move down to acquaintances, they may or may not be deserving of our benevolence, but again, it is a personal choice. Beyond that, it becomes much more altruistic. To me, the summation comes from Spock in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan; "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one". It is up to each and every one of us to make these distinctions for ourselves, within our belief systems.

Nov 3, 2009

Taxing Texting?

This is the first I have heard of this, but it would not surprise me to see more of this type of tax going forward.  I know our local income tax just went up, and it is costing us more than an additional $100 a month.

The city of Vallejo, Calif. is voting today on expanding utility taxes to include text messages, pager messages and VOIP calls. The measure would lump these together with gas, electricity, water and other utilities, while lowering the overall utility tax rate from 7.5% to 7.3%.

This follows the example set by Sacramento and 40 other towns in California which have added electronic communications to their taxable utilities, both to reduce the burden on those clinging to land-lines and to increase city revenue.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Vallejo's general fund has lost $18 million in the past two years. It declared bankruptcy in 2008.

While officials contend that the change will have only a minimal impact on a typical resident's utility bill, some locals are concerned that the measure opens up the door for taxes on other forms of communication not presently taxed.
As more and more people abandon land-lines, many communities will be looking to replace lost tax revenue by charging for text messages, voice-over-Internet calls, e-mails, and IM conversations.

Catitude :o)

"Cats regard people as warm-blooded furniture." Jacquelyn Mitchard

Disclaimer - this is not Sheeba, but a remarkable resemblence :o)

Nov 2, 2009

The Wiz Quiz :o)

Whoever wrote this one deserves a HUGE pat on the back!

Like most folks in this country, I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck in my case, I am required to pass a random urine test (with which I have no problem). What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test. So, here is my Question: Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them? Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their ass - doing drugs, while I work. . . Can you imagine how much money each state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check? I guess we could title that program, 'Urine or You're Out'.

Nov 1, 2009

New Stephen King Book :o)

Stephen King is back and ready to make your hair stand on end with 'Under the Dome,' a complex novel about society and humanity with that signature King touch.  This is a 1000 page novel coming out on 11/10/09.  Looks like we found our third book for our Cabo San Lucas trip :o)

Sunday Silliness - Irresponsibility

No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood.