Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Lack of Cool Makes It Cool

The picture above is of the coffee I had this morning. I had to go to Walmart to get some stuff for the Potluck at work and just happened to see this on the shelf. While not the best cafe mocha in the world, it is a very cool idea. I can't even begin to imagine the huge number of jobs out there where the workers would love to have some warm coffee readily available but can't because of a lack of ability to heat things during their work day.

They way the coffee heats is genius in its simplicity. Located under the bottom of the cup is a small button that you push on before opening the coffee. When you push it, a small container of water is punctured on the inside. The water flows into another opening which contains Quicklime, or Calcium Oxide (CaO). The reaction between H2O and CaO is exothermic, meaning it creates heat. This is kept separate from the coffee, which is good since the end result, Ca(OH)2, can be a health hazard if you are over exposed (besides the fact it would make your coffee task pretty bad). After about 5-8 minutes heat sensitive ink on the side of the package changes from pink to white and your coffee is ready to drink. 

I think the cost of it was about a $1.50, although I'm not sure since there isn't a price on the can and I already through away the receipt 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nickle and Dimed to frustration

Christmas came early for me thias year, in the form of my new G1 phone that I'm currently writting this blog entry from. It was a gift from my Mom and Dad but, because I ordered it myself to make things easier on everyone, I got it about 2 weeks early.

So far I'm really impressed with it for all the reasons I'm always really impressed with Google. It is a great quality product that meets all the expectations set by the name Google. Which isn't to say it is perfect, it's not, but Google has never been a company that promised perfection.

My favorite thing about the phone is the operating system being open source. In an age where almost every company is trying to nickle aand dime their customers to death, especially Verizon who I had before this, the G1 has none of that feel and this is mostly thanks to the open source operating system. With Verizon, any time you wanted to use the phone for something other than making a phone call or sending a text, you could almost guarantee that there would be an extra charge associated with it. Which would have been fine if it was 1990 and all a phone was used for was communication but that's just not the case any longer. Want to back up your contact list, that will be an extra two dollars, want to download music to your phone, that will be an extra dollar, want to look at a map, extra $9.00 a month for the navigator service, and so on and so forth. With my G1, all I have to pay for is my basic phone package and my basic internet package. From there I can load whatever applications and files I want on the phone for no additional charge. I don't feel forced to use a particular service by a particular company like I did with Verizon. Google has even gone so far as to offer a G1 that is completely unlocked right out of the box, although I did go with the T-mobile one for ease of use.

Besides getting my new phone, there hasn't been a whole lot going on lately. Kristin and I have been spending a decent amount of time trying to figure out all of the arrangements that need to be made when you plan on visiting two sets of parents over the Christmas holiday. It now looks like I'll be taking about a week longer off of work than what I had wanted. My original plan was to work in between Christmas and New Years for a few days and again on the Friday after New Years. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, I haven't decided yet) due to Caterpillar policy I'm going to have to take the entire week after Christmas off.

I also got a new car about a week ago. I finally had enough of dumping money into the Explorer, which seemed to have become the black hole of my finances, so I traded it in for a 2006 Saturn Vue. My new SUV (the EPA's classification of it, not mine. It is a crossover as far as I can tell) has a much more "suburban" feel than the Explorer did, which I could certainly do without. But, in an age when gas could be back up at $4.00 a gallon in no time and the C02 coming out of my car seems to be driving Mother Nature insane, sacrifices had to be made. So, while I've still got a car I can use for camping, driving in snow, and just about every other non-off road use I can think of, I won't be taking the Vue mudding any time soon.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Geeking Out!

At the moment I'm sitting here in my lab space completely geeking out because corresponding evidence for e=mc^2 has finally been found, effectively removing it from the column of scientific hypothesis and placing it firmly in the column of scientific fact. (well maybe not firmly, the results still need to be verified) The down side to this is that it has reminded me of the one thing I miss from being in the navy, having a group of friends, with very similar interests, as coworkers who would be geeking out with me right now.

Of course, between the BEB forum, facebook, and my cell phone I can still geek out a bit with them but it's really no substitute for being in the same room as 4 or 5 of my friends and joking about how, "It's a good thing they proved e=mc^2, since we've only been using it to make nuclear bombs for the last 40 years or so".

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's Getting Better All The Time

Not sure why but The Beatles's song Getting Better is playing in my head right now.

I suppose things are getting better for me. For one thing, there is now no chance that Sarah Palin will become the President, at least not in the next four years. For anyone who is still on the fence as to whether or not she's an idiot, her not knowing if Africa is a country or a continent should seal the deal for you.

I really hope the republican policy of trying to see exactly how stupid of a person they can get in the White House will die off in the next four years, but I'm not holding my breath.

Moving beyond politics, things are going much better for me. I started working out again about a month back, something that was sorely needed. It's a good thing I did too because I've now started playing indoor soccer again after about an eight year hiatus. As much as it hurts because of how out of shape I am, I can only imagine how bad it would have been if I wasn't working out at all prior to this.

I've also effectively stopped playing WarHammer during the week, instead opting to take Bear up to the local dog park when I get home from work. Besides getting me out side for a little bit extra every day it gives my dog a chance to run around like an idiot and sniff some doggy butts for a bit. I'm pretty sure both of us are happier for the change.

Finally, although I didn't get a chance to go back home and hang out with my cousin who's home from the Marines, I will be able to make it back there for Thanksgiving. It will be great to see my family again and I'm really looking forward to the long weekend back in Michigan.

Monday, November 3, 2008

McCain's Path to Victory

538 has run 10,000 simulations of possible outcomes for tomorrow, of which McCain won 624 times. Link

...there are some states that truly do appear to be "must-wins" for McCain. In each and every one of the 624 victory scenarios that the simulation found for him this afternoon, McCain won Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Indiana and Montana. He also picked up Ohio in 621 out of the 624 simulations, and North Carolina in 622 out of 624. If McCain drops any of those states, it's pretty much over.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Constitution: As Interpreted by Sarah Palin

In a continuation of the series "The Constitution: As Interpreted by Sarah Palin" this weekend's lesson deals with the first amendment. Link

ABC News' Steven Portnoy reports: In a conservative radio interview that aired in Washington, D.C. Friday morning, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin said she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by "attacks" from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.

Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama's associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate's free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations," Palin told host Chris Plante, "then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."

I would really just like to thank John McCain for exposing us all to the brilliance that is Sarah Palin over these last few months. Really, Senator McCain, thanks.

Is it Nov. 5th yet?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How Will They Lower The Bar Tomorrow?

It's nice of McCain to reinforce the view I expressed here.

Maybe tomorrow McCain can accuse Obama of hanging out with communists or better yet how about child rapists?

Among all the other things fucked up with the above clip, to the best of my knowledge Rashid Khalidi, while being anti-Israel, has never said anything that would make him specifically anti-semitic.

Battle of the Lessers

Jacob Sullum of Reason writes a great article summing up which of the two major party candidates is actually the lesser of two evils. Link

The extent of the president's powers, although hardly mentioned during the general election campaign, is probably the most important consideration in choosing between McCain and Obama. It is tied to all the other major issues, including the Iraq war, the fight against terrorism, and the government's response to the current economic situation.

The crucial question is which matters more: a president's theory of executive power or the political environment he faces. If the former, Obama is the less risky choice. If the latter, McCain is, since he would face a less compliant Congress.

I agree with Mr. Sullum's assesment of the choice that is presented to the American people this election. One thing I would add is that a vote for McCain is also a vote for the continuation of President Bush's "politics of fear". Where the main tool that is used to accomplish political goals is manipulating the inherent fear that people have of things that are unknown or different. I think this factor is ampliphied even more if you assume that Senator McCain will not complete his full term in office due to his age and that Sarah Palin will take over at some point.

If I happened to live in a swing state the combination of executive power and politics of fear would be enough to swing my vote for Senator Obama and against Senator McCain. Luckily, I live in Illinois, where Senator Obama is sure to win, so I'll be voting for Bob Barr this presidential election.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm a fan of Helen's new rules: Link

New rules:

I will stop calling George Bush a jackass when he stops calling me a terrorist: Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.

I will stop calling John McCain an ass when he stops calling Barack Obama a socialist at every dog and pony show on the Straight Talk Express tour.

I will stop calling Sarah Palin a bitch when she stops calling Obama a terrorist sympathizer.  And I will stop calling Sarah Palin a bitch when she stops calling the parts of the country where I don’t live more Pro-American than the part of the country where I do live.    And I will definitely stop calling Sarah Palin a bitch when she stops acting like a bitch.

I’m old enough to remember the Republican party of Barry Goldwater - when the party stood for fiscal responsibility, small government and personal freedoms.  I remember when I could talk with friends about politics and just agree to disagree.  And then religious nut cases decided that if you didn’t agree with them you were immoral.  So they went and elected George Bush President so he could take the Republican Party from being a party full of respectable people to a party filled with asses, jackasses and yes - bitches like Sarah Palin.

I am tired of Rush Limbaugh suggesting that feminism is a dirty word.  How hard did he fight to gain the right to vote?  Or own property in his own name?  Or get equal pay for equal work? 

And I am tired of Sean Hannity suggesting I am un-American because I don’t think that war is the answer to everything.  How many bullets has he taken defending his country in battle? 

And I am tired that Sarah Palin can decide what she wants to do with her body but other women can’t make that decision for themselves.

NEW, New Rules:

If you are not for me, you are against me.  I’ll get over it.  Now kindly return the favor.

Oh…and one last thing. Elisabeth Hasselbeck is still a moron.  There is just no way around that, Folks.

The New Meaning of Fair and Balanced

This is the current electoral map according to Bill O'Reilly.

Apparently Bill knows something that no one else running an electoral map has caught on to yet. Here's the current one from Pollster. According to RCP the current count is 311 - Obama, 157 - McCain. I wonder, if O'Reilly tried could he be an even bigger tool? Probably not.

- I'm afraid of Americans

Welcome to Crazy Town.

Maybe it was a feature in past elections and I just wasn't paying close enough attention to notice it but there seems to be a large segment of the American populace that expects the country to collapse into ruin if their chosen presidential candidate doesn't win and, in response, have developed deeply emotional feelings towards the "other guy".  People saying things such as "Obama will turn us into a Muslim country" or "McCain will destroy our country" seem far more common place than what I've seen in the past.  

While I expect statements such as these to come from political operatives of all the parties, it amazes me when I hear it from a 20 something college grad or a 65 year old grandmother.  People who seem perfectly reasonable and to have at least average intelligence suddenly drop any semblance of logic and spew off hateful statements with no basis in reality.  To be sure, sentiments such as these have always existed along the extremes of American society but in the past year they seem to have found their way much closer to "main street".

Of course it could just be that this emotionally based, logic deprived hatred has always been a component of the average Americana's political views and is simply more visible now due to the internet giving anyone with a computer and a camera their own little world stage.  I'm not sure if that possibility makes me feel better or worse about the current situation.

- I'm holding out, not giving an answer.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The birds sure are angry this morning.

For those of you who don't know, the apartment that my girlfriend and I share is located on a lake with our balcony hanging over the edge of the water.  It is the only body of water in the immediate area that is large enough to support water foul and as a result, it has a ton of water foul in it pretty much all year round.

It appears that mating season is now in full swing for the ducks, as they have spent most of the morning beating the crap out of each other.  We also have a growing population of Coots showing up since the beginning of the month.  They are strange little birds with black heads,yellow beaks, and spend most their time floating in the water.  They look a bit like ducks except they don't have webbed feet, their bills are shaped like a chicken's, and they dive much deeper under that water than most ducks.

Originally this post was going to be about the movie Quarantine, which I saw last night, but these ducks are just to entertaining.  I do want to say though, Quarantine was an awesome movie and probably one of the best sudo-zombie movies I've seen in at least the last 10 years.  It was good enough I'll probably try to go see it a second time in the next week or two.  There was a ton of stuff going on and I want to see if I can pick up a little more detail than I did the first time.

Well I'm going to go get myself another cup of coffee and watch the ducks some more, later.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Change of Mind

I happened to notice today that all of a month ago I had posted that I hoped John McCain would win in the upcoming election.  I had actually completely forgotten about that post and was even surprised a bit when I read it.  While the reasons for my supporting McCain over Obama at the time haven't changed, I no longer want Senator McCain to win.  

One of the things that I was happy to see with this year's campaigns, at least now that we are out of the primaries, is that the use of blatant hate as a tool for winning the presidency was greatly reduced compared to the Rove/Bush elections in the two previous presidential campaigns.  Neither of the major party candidates were standing on stage bashing away at a minority group, such as was done towards gays during the Bush campaigns.  Not only did they personally stay away from this type of rhetoric, but they kept their campaign's away from it too.

Over the last month however, that has changed in the McCain campaign.  Now they have Sarah Palin out there, acting like a junior Bush, trying to stir up hate and fear towards their chosen minority, anyone perceived as different than "Joe the Plummer".  As Colin Powell pointed out this weekend, they have also unleashed the surrogates, Republicans in congress, to reinforce the idea of Obama as a "secret Muslim".  Indirectly implying that some how being a Muslim automatically disqualifies a person from being a "good American".

I'm beyond sick of hearing hateful speech spew forth from the White House towards various minority groups in order to gain political points.  I also have zero tolerance for the idea that some how having either a Muslim or Arab background inherently makes someone unpatriotic.  

So I've changed my mind, despite thinking that both Obama's health care plan and judicial choices will be wrong for this country, I would rather have that then the risk of Sarah Palin ending up as President and forcing me to endure eight years of Bush 3.0.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Quick thoughts on the election

As this election cycle drags on it becomes more and more obvious to me just how close Senator Obama and Senator McCain are on a wide range of issues.  And while I certainly don't support either of their campaigns for the presidency, I am an independant with strong libertarian leanings after all, I think I have made up my mind as to which one of them I want to win, McCain.

There are two reasons for this.  The first is that in all likely hood three supreme court seats will opent up in the next 8 years, if not the next 4.  My libetairian idology forces me to be a much stronger supporter of justices who tend to support a more conservative interpritation of the constitution, as opposed to those who would have a more liberal interpritation.  Based on that I believe that Senator McCain will appoint far better justices than Senator Obama.

The second reason I want McCain to win is because of the current hot issue of universal health care.  While I believe that every American should have access to health care, I am strongly opposed to the government being the vehical through which it is provided.  With the current democratic attitude towards this issue it would be disastorous to have both a democratic controlled congress and a democratic president at the same time.

So while I won't be voting for Senator McCain or Senator Obama, there are 3 or 4 other candidates for President on the ballot after all, between the two of them I really do hope Senator McCain is able to walk away the victor come November.