Feb 28, 2010

Some Extra Sunday Silliness :o)

I found some of the hypocritical information below very entertaining so decided I would share :o)

Recent Lester & Charlie Poll Results:

Last week, some of the world's most evil people gathered under one roof for the annual CPAC convention. In one of the most popular speeches, Jason Mattera stated that the gathering was very much like Woodstock:

"...except that unlike [that] gathering, our women are beautiful, we speak in complete sentences and our notion of freedom doesn't consist of cocaine, which is certainly one thing that separates us from Barack Obama."

Apparently, the CPAC-ers forgot about Bush's cocaine sniffing, Rush's painkillers and Palin's interview with Katie Couric.

So we asked: How else can the GOP prove that they know how to call the kettle black?

And here's how you voted:

Sarah Palin calling Evan Bayh a quitter (28%)
Glenn Beck calling Al Franken a comedian (13%)
Dick Cheney saying that Bill Clinton has bad aim (10%)
Rush Limbaugh calling Trig retarded (7%)
Ann Coulter calling Hillary Clinton manly (6%)
Bristol Palin calling John Edwards a slut (6%)
Michael Steele calling Barack Obama half white (6%)
Rudy Giuliani calling RuPaul a drag queen (3%)
Joe the Plumber calling Liquid-Plumr unfair competition (3%)
Strom Thurmond calling Ted Kennedy dead (2%)

7% of respondents wrote in their own answers and comments, including:

Bill'O calling the Pope a Nazi
GWB calling Kerry part of the east coast educated elite (oh wait, he did!)
Scott Brown calling Levi Johnston overdressed

And from blogger Rod Davis:

It is becoming increasingly clear that one of the prerequisites for being a member of the Republican party is the depth and breadth of your ability to be contradictory and hypocritical - the more you can demonstrate this ability, the more likely you are to be a leader within the party.

Inside the Nuclear Threat

The Chief Nuclear Officer of Cook Plant is being featured in a segment of a program that starts airing next week on the National Geographic Channel. Titled Inside the Nuclear Threat, the program focuses on the potential for rogue nations or terrorists to develop nuclear bombs, and the difference between nuclear bombs and nuclear power. It airs on Tuesday, March 2, 10 p.m.; Wednesday, March. 3, 1 a.m.; Saturday, March 6, 7 p.m.; and Tuesday, March 9, 6 p.m. Click here for a preview.

Sunday Silliness - Persistence :o)

It's over, man. Let her go.

Feb 27, 2010

Crirtical Thinking, Where Are You? :o(

This is from a column of Leonard Pitts, who is in our Sunday paper each week.  I often appreciate and agree with his conclusions.  Here is a link.

If you and I had an argument and I produced facts from an authoritative source to back me up, you couldn't just blow that off. You might try to undermine my facts, might counter with facts of your own, but you couldn't just pretend my facts had no weight or meaning.

To listen to talk radio, to watch TV pundits, to read a newspaper's online message board, is to realize that increasingly, we are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth. We admit no ideas that do not confirm us, hear no voices that do not echo us, sift out all information that does not validate what we wish to believe.

I submit that any people thus handicapped sow the seeds of their own decline; they respond to the world as they wish it were rather to the world as it is. But objective reality does not change because you refuse to accept it.

The fact that you refuse to acknowledge a wall does not change the fact that it's a wall.

And you shouldn't have to hit it to find that out.

Feb 26, 2010

Leadership Quick Tip :o)

When faced with a challenge, effective leaders resist rushing forward with “The Answer.” Instead, they often look for ways to buy themselves a little time so that they can think about the most sensible way to proceed.

Adapted From Leading Quietly, Joseph Badaracco, Jr., Harvard Business School Press, 2002.

Feb 25, 2010

NBCU and the Winter Olympics, Financial Bust?

NBC's Olympic coverage is scoring big ratings with viewers so far, a relief to the network still recovering from the whole" fire Conan O'Brien to get Jay Leno back on the Tonight Show" debacle.

For the first three days of coverage for the Winter Games live from Vancouver, the network averaged 28.6 million viewers per day, a 25 percent jump from the 2006 Torino Games. Including viewers who at least sampled (watched for at least six minutes,) NBC had an audience of 117 million viewers throughout the first three days of coverage.

The average is the highest non-U.S. Winter Games rating since 1994's Lillehammer Games, which received a nice boost in viewership after figure skater Tonya Harding and her intellectually challenged husband conspired to whack fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan on the knee.

The horrific death of Georgian luge racer Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run on Friday may have also helped boost viewership of the Olympic Games opening weekend.

With a 26.2 million viewer average, NBC over the first eight nights of the Vancouver Games scored a 27% jump from the 20.7 million from Torino, and are the most for a non-U.S. Winter Olympics since CBS posted 38.3 million for the tabloid-fueled Lillehammer Games in 1994

Still, NBC Universal expects to lose around $250 million on its Olympic Coverage due to slow ad sales and overpayment for the rights to broadcast the games. NBCU paid $820 million for the TV rights to the Vancouver Games and is only expecting to bring in around $670 million in advertising revenue. 

At $500K to $600K per minute in prime time, $250M is a lot of ground to make up.  I think that NBC did a great job on the Winter Games, and I hope that they did better than the above predictions.  I will be sorry when the games are over.

Feb 24, 2010

Excerpt from Senator Bayh's New York Times Column

The genesis of a good portion of the gridlock in Congress does not reside in Congress itself. Ultimate reform will require each of us, as voters and Americans, to take a long look in the mirror, because in many ways, our representatives in Washington reflect the people who have sent them there.

The most ideologically devoted elements in both parties must accept that not every compromise is a sign of betrayal or an indication of moral lassitude. When too many of our citizens take an all-or-nothing approach, we should not be surprised when nothing is the result.

Our most strident partisans must learn to occasionally sacrifice short-term tactical political advantage for the sake of the nation. Otherwise, Congress will remain stuck in an endless cycle of recrimination and revenge.

The minority seeks to frustrate the majority, and when the majority is displaced it returns the favor. Power is constantly sought through the use of means which render its effective use, once acquired, impossible.

What is required from members of Congress and the public alike is a new spirit of devotion to the national welfare beyond party or self-interest. In a time of national peril, with our problems compounding, we must remember that more unites us as Americans than divides us.
So, what do you think?  Can we find a way to pull together just a bit and start to help each other, or will we continue our divisiveness?

Feb 23, 2010

Successful Steps :o)

Taking the First Steps to Success

  • Seek out information because you know you need it.
  • Follow established processes because you know it’s the best way.
  • Get buy-in from people whom you know are important for success.
  • Raise issues and risks, analyze them and elicit support to address them.
  • Share information with people you know should have it.
  • Put all important information in writing.
  • Commit to a success and then ask and expect others to do the same.
Adapted From Project Management for Dummies, Stanley E. Portny, Dummies Press, 2006

Feb 22, 2010

Doing Good Badly

This was an article about "giving" in the 2/22/10 issue of Time Magazine, and is primarily directed toward Haiti.  There was great outpouring of support, and always discussion and push to "give", but is it the right thing?

Help never arrives fast enough because no two disasters are alike and chaos is an agile enemy. So how would we feel, after texting our $10 donations to the Red Cross and writing checks to Save the Children, still coming home night after night to the growing mass grave on our flat-screens.

Epic disasters inspire dreams of glory. "Everyone wants to be a hero. Everyone wants to help," Dr. Thomas Kirsch, a co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Refugee and Disaster Response, told MSNBC. "It's not the way to do it." A team from his school arrived in Haiti so unprepared, its members needed rescue themselves. "They had no bedding, supplies or food," he said, and they had to rely on other relief agencies for support.

One's duty in the face of disaster is not just to be kind but to be sensible. Chances are that if the 82nd Airborne can't get food to the tent city fast enough, your food bank can't either.  Then there is the help that is no help at all. After the 2004 tsunami, aid poured in from all over the world. But it included tons of outdated or unneeded medicines that Indonesian officials had to throw out. People sent Viagra and Santa suits, high-heeled shoes and evening gowns. A year later, after an earthquake in Pakistan, so much unusable clothing arrived that people burned it to stay warm. It may make us feel good to put together children's care packages with cards and teddy bears--but whose needs are we trying to meet?

Money is fleet and nimble. The very thing that makes it unsatisfying to give makes it powerful to deploy. It can turn into anything--a water bottle, a prefab house, a tetanus shot, a biscuit. It lets relief agencies buy locally whenever possible, supporting local markets for products that are culturally and environmentally right. In the past decade, accountability has become a watchword of relief agencies around the world, with new guidelines to help donors know that their aid won't be wasted. Give money, Presidents Bush and Clinton implore, and by implication, leave the rest to professionals.

We can give globally and help locally. Either way, the same principle holds in helping as in healing: First, do no harm.

So while it may feel good to donate food to the local food bank for a disaster somewhere in the world, and providing clothing and blankets may seem like the altruistic thing to do, the real question is, who are you doing it for?  If you really want to help, leave it to the experts, not your local church or food bank.  Let the locals help here in our country, and donate dollars to let the experienced organizations do their things at ground zero.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article

Feb 20, 2010

Olympic Medals Include Recyclable Waste :o)

When Olympic champions are crowned at this year's winter games in Vancouver, these elite athletes will be taking home more than just gold, silver or bronze medals—they will be playing a role in Canada's efforts to reduce electronic waste. That's because each medal was made with a tiny bit of the more than 140,000 tons of e-waste that otherwise would have been sent to Canadian landfills.

The more than 1,000 medals to be awarded at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, amount to 2.05 kilograms of gold, 1,950 kilograms of silver (Olympic gold medals are about 92.5 per cent silver, plated with six grams of gold) and 903 kilograms of copper. A little more than 1.5 percent of each gold medal was made with metals harvested from cathode ray tube glass, computer parts, circuit boards and other trashed tech.

This is the first time that recycled materials have been added to Olympic medals, which historically have been made from mined mineral deposits refined for commercial use. Each Olympic medal is 100 millimeters in diameter, about six millimeters thick and weighs between 500 and 576 grams, depending upon the medal.

Feb 19, 2010

AOL AIM and Facebook now compatible?

Last week, AOL announced that it is letting Facebook into the AIM ecosystem and allowing users on either network to chat across with users on the other. This is a major outreach for AOL, since it has historically been reticent with outside contact.  I think this is a result of AOL being spun off from parent Time Warner.

The AOL AIM version (7.2) that makes it possible is still in beta, and is available for download here. Users can click on the "Facebook Connect" button on top of the buddies list and set up the chat. Once you do that, your friends on Facebook will appear as buddies on AIM, along with their status. Facebook users can chat with AIM users using an application from the web-based Facebook interface.

Feb 18, 2010

Science Scene - Minority Report Imminent?

If sustainability is key to the new energy economy, a team of University of Pennsylvania researchers has just taken a big step toward the future by developing the first photovoltaic circuit that powers itself. The circuits could eventually be packed into touchscreens and other consumer devices that would run without a battery or any other source of power, as long as they have a beam of sunlight to harvest.
Like any incremental technology, these circuits aren’t going to be powering the next generation of cellphones or replace silicon photovoltaic cells anytime in the immediate future. Right now researchers can only get a tiny amount of power from the circuits. But as the technology scales and becomes more efficient, it should open up some exciting possibilities for the future.

But in the nearer term, the circuits could lead to devices that function sans power source and electrical transmission pathways. Devices that don’t need to carry power with them in a battery could obviously be pared way down in size, and – material hazards aside – would leave a negligible carbon footprint behind. Most practical devices would require some sort of backup power supply for the times when shade is unavoidable, but a mostly sustainable device is still a nice notion. Which makes it all the more frustrating that commercial applications of the tech are still likely years out.

Original entry at PopSci

Feb 17, 2010

WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will announce a loan guarantee next week for Southern Co (SO.N) to build and operate two new nuclear reactors, the first new U.S. nuclear power plant in nearly three decades, an administration official said on Friday.   Location is in Georgia, at Vogtle plant, shown at the left.

The loan guarantees, meant to show Obama's commitment to nuclear energy as he fights to pass a climate change bill through Congress, would be for the first nuclear power plant to be built in nearly three decades, the official said.

"That financial commitment will be made for the construction and operation of two new nuclear reactors at a Southern Company plant in Burke, Georgia," he said.

"The president has long believed that nuclear power should be part of our energy mix -- that's why he has advocated for comprehensive energy and climate legislation that leverages all of our energy sources, including nuclear, to transition to a clean energy economy," the official said.

He did not give a dollar figure for the loan guarantee. [Announcement made today 2/15/10 put the value at $8b]

Obama, has tried to reach out to Republicans who are skeptical about aspects of his proposed energy policy by emphasizing the role of nuclear power in the country's future energy mix.

Citing information provided by the company, the official said the project would generate about 3,000 construction jobs on site and roughly 850 permanent positions to operate the reactors. About 1.4 million people will be served by the power from the facility, he said.

Construction is expected to start in several years after NRC approval of the construct-operate license (COL).

Feb 16, 2010

Hug a gEEk this wEEk :o)

National Engineers Week is Feb. 14-20, a week to recognize the engineering profession designated by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). The week focuses on recognizing current engineers and on developing the next generation of engineers.

Science Scene - Smart Grid

What is the Smart Grid?

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), along with various stakeholders, have identified the following characteristics or performance features of a smart grid:

•Self-healing from power disturbance events
•Enabling active participation by consumers in demand response
•Operating resiliently against physical and cyber attack
•Providing power quality for 21st century needs
•Accommodating all generation and storage options
•Enabling new products, services, and markets
•Optimizing assets and operating efficiently

As one electric utility after another declares intentions to make smart grid technology available to customers, the South Bend Smart Meter Pilot Project (SMPP) has distinguished itself as not just another pilot to test Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI).  AEP, I&M and others involved in the project are setting the standard for how the technology will be used in the 21st century. Industry innovations developed for the pilot include:

• First integrated advanced metering infrastructure with distribution automation mesh network
• First implementation of new General Electric i210+C meter
• First North American use of General Electric ENMAC system as a distribution grid management system
• First integration of the Oracle Meter Data Management information system with the Silver Springs secure wireless communications network
• First implementation of Zigbee industry standard for direct load control with Silver Springs Network.

These developments are attracting a great deal of attention from industry experts. While the list of innovations may seem a bit cryptic and technical, the bottom line is that customers who expect a higher degree of service
reliability and more control in using energy more efficiently will not be disappointed.

Feb 15, 2010

Benjamin Franklin's Daily Checklist

I wish the values of our current legislaturers were as solid as our forefathers.  Benjamin Franklin’s practical checklist for each day:

1. TEMPERANCE.Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. MODERATION. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

11.TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Feb 14, 2010

Sunday Silliness - Overconfidence :o)

Before you attempt to beat the odds, be sure you could survive the odds beating you.

Happy Valentine's Day :o)

Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday?

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor's daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today.

While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial — which probably occurred around 270 A.D — others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus. 

According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)

Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United States, Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum. The first commercial Valentine's Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap".

I have already wished my bride a Happy Valentine's Day, and I hope you and your significant other have a wonderful day together.

Feb 13, 2010

No "Cocktale" Sausages Here :o)

It's easy to see how Apple might have overlooked this, what with their headquarters located in a place with 60 degree days in February, but anyone from colder climates knows that you can't operate an iPhone with gloves on. In South Korea, they have figured out a way around this problem using the best tool possible: encased pork products.

Yes, South Koreans have beat the cold by using snack sausages as ersatz iPhone styluses. The touch screen on an iPhone, and iPod Touch, utilizes the electrical conductivity of your finger to locate the input. The device can't sense that conductivity through a glove. However, this tasty meat treat has the same conductivity as human flesh, so the iPhone registers its touch a if it were a finger.

Original post at PopSci.

Feb 12, 2010

Winter Olympics Start Tonight :o)

The mascots for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games were introduced on November 27, 2007.  An anime-inspired caricature of traditional First Nations creatures, the mascots include:

Miga - A mythical sea bear, part orca and part kermode bear.

Quatchi - A sasquatch. He comes from the mysterious forests of Canada and dreams of being a hockey goalie.

Sumi - An animal guardian spirit with the wings of the Thunderbird and legs of a black bear who wears a hat of an orca whale. He lives in the mountains of British Columbia.

Mukmuk - A Vancouver Island marmot described as "small and friendly", Mukmuk is not an official mascot but acts as their sidekick.

Miga and Quatchi are mascots for the Olympic Games, while Sumi is the mascot for the Paralympic Games.

My favorite is Quatchi, he is just so darn cute :o)

Feb 11, 2010

Science Scene - Beyond Yucca?

US Senate Majority Harry Reid has asked the GAO to investigagte other potential uses of the Yucca Mountain repository site in his home state of Nevada. Reid sent the letter to US Comptroller General Gene Dodaro on February 2, a day after DOE filed a motion with NRC to halt for 30 days legal proceedings on the department's repository license application. The proposed budget for fiscal 2011 budget, which begins October 1, that DOE released February 1 said the department would withdraw the license application within 30 days and eliminate this fiscal year the office that worked on it.

In his letter, Reid suggested the Government Accountability Office consider how the Yucca Mountain site -- roughly 95 miles outside Las Vegas -- and related facilities and land could be used "for national security activities, included armed services readiness, intelligence gathering, and defense technology testing and demonstration; for renewable energy technology development, testing and demonstration; for arms control, verification, weapons detection, and another nonproliferation-related activities; as a science and/or engineering laboratory for sensitive work requiring either underground or remote experimentation; and as a facility for federal government continuity-of-operations activities."

While I would prefer that the repository be reserved for future use related to the nuclear industry (even if we adopt reprocessing technology, there will still be waste), I also do not want the billions spent do date to go to waste.  Should be interesting to see how this plays out.

Feb 10, 2010

Fool me once?

Human Performance tools are varied, but one that works in everyday life as well as professional life is QV&V - Qualify, Validate and Verify.

One way to think of QV&V is as a contiual loop of:  Observe, Analyze, Act.

  • Observe your surroundings (what has changed)
  • Analyzing what you "see" (what has been done so far)
  • Acting on this information (address new issues, communicate changes and continue the task)
Your environment will change as you progress through your task, your day, or your life.  It is important to monitor the information available to you (continuous self-feedback), to recognize hazards and make appropriate adjustements.

The most important aspect of this to me is: Trust, but Verify.  As the old idiom goes, "Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me"

Feb 9, 2010

Science Scene - Deep Sea Tourism???

Billionaire Sir Richard Branson enjoys promoting the future of space tourism and encouraging biofuel development. And if you're very lucky (or wealthy), he'll let you take his prototype submersible called the "Necker Nymph" out for a spin.

The carbon-fiber submarine resembles an underwater airplane with "wind shields" that remove slipstream pressure, and incorporates fighter jet technology and "wings" to move up or down. Branson eventually hopes to explore depths of 35,000 feet, or greater than the height of Mount Everest. But the $669,000 vehicle designed by Hawkes Ocean Technologies can only currently dive to 130 feet.  Guests on Branson's Necker Island hideaway can supposedly hire out the Nymph for $25,000 a week to check out dolphin pods or catch a glimpse of shipwrecks.  Full article here.
A tad out of my price range, but it would be absolutely awesome :o)

Feb 8, 2010

Another Reason to not like Walmart :o(

As a clown, I have to admit that there is nothing I find funny about this commercial.

Making people laugh is a great thing, and to further denigrate a fine profession for the sake of some meager sales increase for party favors is not my cup of tea.  Having said that, another reason to not like Tea Baggers :o)

Feb 7, 2010

Saints pray harder, God gives them Super Bowl

Saints pray harder, God gives them Super Bowl

It was a good game, and the Saints deserve the victory.

More accidents for pizza drivers during Super Bowl

More accidents for pizza drivers during Super Bowl

On this busiest day of the year for pizza delivery, the risk of injury makes deliveryman one of the most hazardous jobs.

We are doing snack food tonight, how about you?

Sunday Silliness - Opportunity :o)

I am Dr. Adewole Aremu- a director with the Union Bank of Nigeria in Lagos - and I wish to speak to you most urgently about a matter regarding the sum of $39,000,000 US Dollars...

Feb 6, 2010

Girl Scout Cookie Economics

Recent years, especially as my co-workers and I age, has seen a decline in the amount of Girl Scout cookies that enter into our household.  This is good on several levels. First, not sure I need to many of those tasty little cookies crossing my lips. Second, dollar for dollar, I think there are better ways to support your local community.  On the flip side, a box or two to help these fledgling entrepeneurs (teach them finances, leadership, strong values, social conscience, and conviction about their own potential and self-worth), their chapters, and our community cannot be bad.  I usually pick up a box or two when these little treasures are available outside one of our local businesses. 

It appears that cookies first become available 1/16/2010, and sales will continue into March in a variety of methods and venues.  To learn more about this program, go to http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_cookies/. 

Using an average of $3.50 per box as an example, here's a breakdown of how the money is spent.

For each box sold, 85 cents per box goes to the baker to cover production, packaging, shipping of the cookies to the troop, and other incidental costs.

Out of the remaining $2.65, 50 to 57 cents goes to the selling troop (cost of prizes comes out of this portion of the proceeds), which will use the funds to cover the cost of programming, community service projects and scholarships, and to offset the cost of participating in Girl Scouts.

Of the remaining funds, about 1 penny per box goes to the neighborhood "service unit" -- another level of scouting -- and stays within the community.

The rest goes to the regional council, which is usually comprised of numerous troops that are located near each other, this remaining $2.14 to $2.07 is used to fund local programming, support summer camps, train adult volunteers, and so on.

Contrary to urban legends, the proceeds from Girl Scout cookie sales are not funneled to the national scouting organization. "Girl Scouts of the USA has a deal in place in which they receive royalties directly from the two national bakers of the cookies," Ceravolo says. "The regional councils do not send cookie money to the national organization."
My favorite are the Samoas, how about you?
Original post on at Walletpop

Feb 5, 2010

Science Scene - Underground Radio Transmission

Science fair projects don't get much cooler than a texting device that broke the record for deepest known underground digital communication in the United States. Such a device may help save people trapped deep underground and even allow scientists to conduct remote cave research, all thanks to a teen inventor from Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Alexander Kendrick, 16, headed to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico to test his device almost 1,000 feet underground. His invention involves a computer attached to a ham radio that transmits data using low-frequency radio waves. By contrast, high-frequency transmissions used in FM broadcasts have a harder time penetrating solid rock.

Kendrick's team climbed down to 946 feet, before they assembled a 6-foot-wide radio antenna out of PVC tubing and wire. Kendrick's dad had hiked to a spot directly above the team on the surface and awaited a message.

The younger Kendrick then typed the word "happy" on a rubber keyboard, and "appy" appeared on the small screen aboveground being held by his father.

The effort won Kendrick the 2009 International Science Fair, along with a new computer, a Switzerland trip and $12,000. He hopes to make the radio more portable and durable for rescue crews, as well as for scientists who would want to monitor cave environments remotely.

If that doesn't inspire young people to try their hand at becoming high school inventors, we don't know what will.

This was also featured on NPR, and there is a good write-up and the audio here [via NPR]

I would imagine that this could help rescue miners in the future as well.

Feb 4, 2010

Go Red Tomorrow (Friday 2/5/10)

Go Red For Women is a movement passionately dedicated to helping women fight back against heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women in America. By putting our passion together with positive action, we can continue to educate other women about their risks and help them find their own personal path to better health for life.

For more information, go to the American Heart Association - Go Red For Women website.

I am going to wear red tomorrow, how about you???

FMCSA bans texting while driving commercial vehicles

Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an interim regulatory measure that bans all texting while driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) on public roads in interstate commerce. This ban is effective immediately.

The FMCSA will complete a more formal notice-and-comment rulemaking later in 2010.

The ban applies to CMVs subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), which includes vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds in interstate commerce on public roads. This includes all vehicles which require a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) to operate, as well as lighter trucks which could include heavier rated pick-up trucks.

Texting can only be done by a driver when the vehicle is off the roadway and parked in a legal and safe area.

This ban does not prohibit texting by a passenger and does not prohibit texting by the driver while not driving. Again, the vehicle should be off of the roadway, parked in a legal and safe manner.

This is effective immediately.  Personally, I think this is a great idea.

Feb 3, 2010

Science Scene - What is Next for NASA?

Rumors circulated last week, but now it’s official: NASA won’t be sending manned missions back to the moon any time soon. But in what may seem like a gutting of NASA moon- and Mars-based ambitions there is a silver lining: a $6 billion investment in helping private industry bring their space launch vehicles up to human-rated capacity and a smattering of modest robotic precursor missions to the moon, Mars, Martian moons or the Lagrange points that should set the stage for later manned missions far beyond low-earth orbit.

However, the Constellation program – and the $9 billion already spent developing its Orion crew vehicle and Ares rockets – is decidedly dead.

In a press conference Sunday, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag told reporters the White House is recommending Constellation be scrapped, turning the run-of-the-mill duties of shuttling astronauts into low-earth orbit over to private companies and shifting NASA’s focus to “"advance robotics and other steps that will help to inspire Americans and not just return a man or a woman to the Moon but undertake the longer range research that could succeed in human spaceflight to Mars."

Those precursory missions to the moon, Mars and nearby asteroids might entail more tele-operated robots like the Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars, as well as a robotic lunar lander or asteroid mission that demonstrates an ability to utilize resources from remote outposts in space. These will be substantially cheaper than manned missions, generally less than $800 million each. But the thrilling prospect of a manned mission back to the lunar surface within the decade as envisioned in Constellation is more or less out of the question.

Highlights from the proposed NASA budget:

•$6 billion over five years to catalyze development of American commercial human spaceflight vehicles.

•$7.8 billion over five years for technology demonstration programs for future exploration activities. These might include technologies aimed at rendezvous and docking in orbit, refueling vessels in space, advanced life support systems for astronauts and other developments that will facilitate future missions beyond low-earth orbit.

•$3.1 billion over five years for aggressive research into heavy-lift rocket engines (but not the Ares-V), new propellants, and innovative ways of reaching deep space.

•$4.9 billion over five years for investment in early-stage and game-changing technologies incubating in the private sector. These could include innovations in sensor tech, robotics, launch vehicles, communications, etc., and will likely be funded through X-Prize-like performance-based grants that reward private sector space companies that can hit certain benchmarks quickly.

•$3 billion over five years to fund a string of cost-effective exploratory unmanned missions to the moon, near-earth asteroids and even Mars, scouting future manned exploratory targets.

Feb 2, 2010

Groundhog Day 2010

Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania signalled six more weeks of winter when he saw his shadow this morning. But although Phil wore the crown of Groundhog Day prognosticator, his rivals were making sure he wasn't the only rodent in the spotlight this year. Octorara Orphie and Sammi II, who replaced Sammi I after a heartstroke after riding in a parade, are fighting for equal attention and hoping to prove they are the real deal. President of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle Bill Deeley, a group of businessmen who have used groundhogs to predict weather since 1887, however, claims his own operation is "the real McCoy," and says Phil's competitors are "impostors." Deeley used Phil to determine the weather forecast for the rest of winter Tuesday morning, and entertain a crowd of 15,000 people as he raised the rodent into the air to observe his shadow. Yet many are quick to call Phil a fake, since he doesn't stand on the ground or have the chance to return to his burrow if it's sunny. Whatever special rodent used, thousands gathered Tuesday to observe the Groundhog Day tradition.

Read it at The Wall Street Journal

Green Navy

Militaries have a tough, often messy job to do, and as such taking steps to polish their green credentials generally isn’t a high priority. But the potential cost savings – not to mention the tactical advantages – of going green are not lost on U.S. Armed Forces’ top brass. The Army has pursued “zero footprint” base camps, and the Air Force is looking into a variety of alternative propellants that could be turned into jet fuel. Now the Navy is going green, signing a memorandum of understanding with the USDA to demo a Green Strike Group of biofuel- and nuclear-powered vessels by 2012.

For full article, go to Popular Science.

Feb 1, 2010

What Motivates You?

Where’s the Motivation? 
Do you find it hard to stay motivated? 
Is it difficult to motivate others?

Motivation is the activation or energization of goal-oriented behavior. According to various theories, motivation may be rooted in the basic need to minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure, or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, or a desired object, hobby, goal, state of being, ideal, or it may be attributed to less-apparent reasons such as morality or avoiding mortality.

A reward, tangible or intangible, is presented after the occurrence of an action (i.e. behavior) with the intent to cause the behavior to occur again. This is done by associating positive meaning to the behavior. Studies show that if the person receives the reward immediately, the effect would be greater, and decreases as duration lengthens. Repetitive action-reward combination can cause the action to become habit. Motivation comes from two sources: oneself, and other people. These two sources are called intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation, respectively.

Intrinsic motivation comes from rewards inherent to a task or activity itself - the enjoyment of a puzzle or the love of playing. This form of motivation has been studied by social and educational psychologists since the early 1970s. Research has found that it is usually associated with high educational achievement and enjoyment by students.

Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of the performer. Money is the most obvious example, but coercion and threat of punishment are also common extrinsic motivations.

So, do you self motivate, or are you motivated by others?