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|Thursday, July 17th, 2014|
After all these decades being threatened with eco-destruction generally, and "the hole in the ozone" due to the dangerous patent-expiring DuPont Freon I CFCs (as opposed to the newly patented DuPont Freon II) ... anyhow it turns out we were looking at the wrong hole, wrong pole, and wrong goal. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/16/giant-hole-siberia-crater-end-of-world_n_5591780.html
Unexplained holes in the biosphere -- likely, given other recent events, due to meteor strikes -- and the science is completely UNsettled.
Obviously I'm not in charge.
|Monday, June 9th, 2014|
|Wednesday, May 21st, 2014|
|Monday, May 19th, 2014|
|Thursday, May 8th, 2014|
My cousin's husband died a few years back, and she died shortly after. Now her oldest, of two sons, has died. Sudden, and unexpected. My surviving first-cousin-once-removed had returned to High School, (under court appointed guardian, who managed his parent's meager estate) and should be celebrating his graduation next weekend, with his birthday the week following.
In the midst of sorrow we are in joy, and vice versa.
|Wednesday, May 7th, 2014|
|Experts on transplants and other topics
This is very cool: http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2014/05/07/is-this-how-well-cure-cancer/
A few years back I broke my neck. It shouldn't have broken, but there'd been a hidden tumor. The tumor turned out to be cancerous. The neck surgeon introduced me to an oncologist who warned I had about five years to live. But meanwhile I could look forward to being sick from radiation treatments, then bone marrow chemotherapy, then transplants, then whatever random illness I might catch from being immuno-suppressed while the doctors hoped the donor marrow might catch in my bones long enough to get me all the way up to the five year mark.
This is not the kind of news one wants to hear late at night while whacked out on pain-killers, post-surgery.
Anyhow, having heard the best recommendations from a leading expert in the field, I did what I hope any father of young children would do when informed he would not be enjoying their youth nor present to help with their adolescence: I sought a second opinion.
The next oncologist confirmed I had cancer. But he said there's cancer and there's gawdawful cancer, and one biopsy is not usually enough to tell the difference. So he suggested that, while I do a mild course of radiation on my neck at the site of the original tumor, we do some waiting and watching (and saving of money) while we gathered evidence about what was happening, and what the consequences might be, and what, if anything, we might do about it, when the watching became more measured and the waiting became more risky.
That was ten years ago.
I'm still seeing oncologist number two. Not as often, these days. Down from once a month to once a quarter to once a year... He frankly admits he's puzzled. The blood work still indicates I'm a cancer sufferer. The BONE scans and x-rays indicate there's not any particular damage showing up, the way the typical understanding of the typical patient might typically suggest there should be.
Meanwhile the treatments of choice for the particular kind of cancer my blood work suggests I suffer have diversified. I can have the old standby stuff, several varieties of new stuff, or sign up for some experimental stuff. I can do radiation alone, with no chemo; or chemo alone, as part of a transplant; should such a therapy be indicated. And, as the article linked now shows, there are ways to gene-splice repair DNA (from HIV viruses, of all things) into my very own cells, which might let me be donor AND recipient, and so not need quite such awful HIV-like /AIDS-like symptoms be induced to avoid rejecting such a donation. So this is cool news.
|Thursday, May 1st, 2014|
|Pirates and their Chests
So in the illustrated book of pirates this scene
: (looking like a story board from Captain Blood
shows a straight sided chest. But the same artist gives us the fRustrum-sided chest
Contrary to impression not all cartoons follow the convention, but it's still common.
And it seems so intuitive a shape for a thing to be buried
Just nattering. Looking, too, at milk crates, which are rectangular, and lidded "totes", which are frustrum shaped with flat lids, in packing out elder daughter next autumn. Totes, emptied, nest much better but crates stack and bear weight better. Treasure chests, as stated, bury better... Hard to find at Big Lots or the Container Store, though.
|Wednesday, April 30th, 2014|
|Google security and treasure chest design
So, the CHROME browser from Google stores passwords. That storage apparently propagates. Three PCs and one cell phone since being active on LJ, the password Google suggests for the login screen works.
Pity I can't remember it...
AOL was lately hacked and that account may have spammed many friends. That password has changed. I've changed most of the recreational ID passwords and taken heroic steps to keep the real-life meatspace ID protected. But LJ has, sadly, been nearly a "dead" journal for me and I'm just now catching up.
Anyhow, as long as the Chrome access works I'll be playing with the new features a bit. If anybody has suggestions about recovering a forgotten password, chime in. Any advice about more secure and perhaps LESS user-friendly browsers than Chrome, ditto the chimes. (Opera is handy... If I could find a LINX text-only HTML parser... Well, I probably wouldn't like it.)
So, a thought. We're doing some gardening and I'm the hole digger. I'm seeing the dirt along the sides of the holes collapse, and the piles of excavated dirt form into cones, and I'm thinking "angle of repose". Flowerpots leave root "balls" in the shape of a cone's fustrum, (though of course the roots should be broken free at planting.) And the word "fustrum" applies to pyramids as well as cones. In cartoons, the fustrum shows up as the "chest" part of pirate's treasure chests buried, or dug up, from sandy beaches. The lid part of a pirate treasure chest is usually more or less a morph between a dome and a rectangular prism. Among real world chests and trunks this sort of lid is called "camel back" which is as close as anything, I guess. Oddly though, in perusal of real world meat space trunks and chests and footlockers and steamer "wanted on board" luggage etc, there is nothing quite like the inverted fustrum shape of a treasure chest. Oddly, the angle of the chest seems to be ideal for burying such a thing, with the angle of the chest matching the angle of repose of the sand in the hole and the dome-lid arched to support the weight of the covering ground. That is, the cartoon image makes great sense. But it's my understanding that treasure chests in reality were rarely buried. Treasure, if obtained, was SPENT. So how did the well-engineered buried treasure inverted fustrum-and-dome image come into such broadly accepted understanding? What was the pirates' chest used for, when NOT being buried, and why did the angled sides make such tricky construction worth-while for a piece that was, presumably, lugged around like other chests and luggage?
Posted via m.livejournal.com.
|Sunday, August 16th, 2009|
|Low hanging fruit
In 2005 then-senators Obama and Clinton joined Senators Kennedy, Frist, Corwyn, Santorum,l and 30 others to introduce a health care improvmentment bill (S 1418 ) that, by the following summer, had passed the Senate 100-0. A similar bill passed the House (HR 4157) with 380 votes. Then President Bush anticipated passage and issued an Executive Order enabling many of the bills' requirements, such that the process could be "jump started".
Congress failed to reconcile the Senate and House versions in committee and the effort died.
The 110th Congress attempted it again in 2007 and didn't get a similar bill out of commit
Anybody care to explain, or guess, why a necessary and desirable change with massive bi-partisen support that Senator Obama sponsored in 2005 is NOT on his agenda under his presidency? Is the Bush Executive Order another, like Gitmo and the "faith based initiatives" has renewed -- and is that better or worse than fighting for legislative change?
I dunno. In a quasi-business environment where there is money to be made or costs to be avoided and the "stakeholders" are all lined up and signed up on board to go, the situation is described as "low hanging fruit". It gets plucked and the lucky plucker gets credit for the win.
Illinois legislator Obama lined up several such quick wins in his career there. Bills that had come up before but failed for silly procedural problems got re-introduced and passed, again, then signed by a supporting executive. In fact Obama's critics assert that most of his "wins" in that legislature were of the "low hanging fruit" variety. On the other hand, he got 'em done.
I can't help but wonder what might have happened if he had pushed harder for a quick win and the low fruit -- earning some additional public approval and political capital -- before trying to reform the entire health care industry.
|Wednesday, August 12th, 2009|
|Sovereign Immunity and US bureaucrats
In the late 19th century the US taxed rich people who bought the luxury of long distance telephone service. Congress argued the tax was necessary to pay for the war -- the Spanish American War.
A century later taxpayers noticed the phone company was not billing them in the fashion of the 1890's -- and the tax law did not pertain. The IRS disagreed. The courts, after some high powered lawyers figured out how to get the question before the bench, agreed with the taxpayers.
A decade after the problem was identified, the IRS was still defying the courts, and holding tax moeny that should be refunded.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_telephone_excise_taxhttp://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/opinions/08-5106.pdf
the court heldIn sum, the IRS unlawfully expropriated billions of dollars from taxpayers, conceded the illegitimacy of its actions, and developed a mandatory process as the sole avenue by which the agency would consider refunding its ill-gotten gains. It cannot avoid judicial review of that process by simply designating it a policy statement. ... Taxpayers bear a heavy burden when pursuing refund claims, but we have yet to demand clairvoyance. ...
I love the IRS, as an example of the professionalism and competence one can expect of federal public servants.
|Sunday, August 2nd, 2009|
|Dinner table conversation
Note the new Pouncers refer to the film incarnations of the characters ...
Legolas, or Susan Pevensie?
Gandalf or Dumbledore?
Yoda or Gimli?
|Thursday, July 30th, 2009|
|*sigh* Such a short summary and such a tedious explanation...
Politics – Effective. Voters have replaced six of seven trustees on the local school board since 2005. The newer board quickly acted to terminate the superintendent’s contract. The chief business officer was persuaded to resign. The Public Relations Specialist has resigned. In this school district all board seats are localized, none "at large". So the board elections all had low turnout -- a few hundred voters each. One could, now, take the trouble to purchase public-data Dallas County voting records from prior years, say 2000 to present. A dedicated person could run some spreadsheets and do some business-like data analysis, and might detect a small group of voters who had typically voted only the fall -- in state and national races. Post-election analysis would indicate these voters had recently, for some reason, decided to make an unusual effort to turn out for the spring, local, elections. The data might also reveal in 2006 and later elections the appearance of newly registered voters -- less than a dozen, but a greater fraction than in prior election years -- turning out for their first election in the spring. Working with the spreadsheets and numbers the hypothetical after-action analyst might conclude that "new/spring" voters -- perhaps unsurprisingly -- appear to have voted as a bloc for new trustees. The whole analysis exercise could be good fun, if a hypothetical person happened to be inclined to such entertainments to begin with. It might be sort of like how Bill James views baseball. Spreadsheets, like video games, get better every year. On the other hand, "safe" seats supported by a solid "base" just aren't what they used to be.
Perceived (blush) discrepancies in the school district’s finances did lead to a state agency audit last year. The confirmation of alleged problems resulted in a state-selected financial conservator who has been in place a full year. He, and the new business officer, are still digging into accounting “errors” in the local school construction funds. These errors were documented by investigators acting on tips and analysis provided -- well, modesty forbids.
And finally, in another consequence of mistakes uncovered ( curls fingers, buffs nails on lapel) in 2006, the IRS has reviewed district travel records and is demanding back taxes. Roughly 170 employee files are being reviewed. Travelers who filed receipts indicating actual expenses greater than cash advances -- the vast majority -- have no problem. However, those who neglected to provide receipts, or those who receipted less expense than cash advanced --and pocketed the difference -- are now on the hook. One particular employee was
(a) advanced DOUBLE the daily rate of every other employee and
(b) traveled vastly more often than other employees and
(c) seemed to believe that since he approved everyone else's receipts his own were, by definition, always approved without further record or processing.
That (former) employee was mistaken on point (c) and in consequence may have a severe tax problem this month under points (a) and (b).
If there is a general lesson for public officials in all this, it may be: Don't piss on patient people who actually enjoy arithmetic.
|Wednesday, July 29th, 2009|
|still catching up -- the long list continues
Hobbies. Whelming. I mentioned overflowing bookshelves? We enjoy acquiring books. (Distinct from, of course, “collecting” books. The idea of collecting would imply a degree of discrimination we have no talent or inclination to apply.) We’re good at it. All five of us, now. Library cull or donation sales, bookfaires, garage sales, truckload remainder sales … I should have realized, I suppose, that like alcoholism or physical abuse, a parent’s vices are imposed upon the family. When I, myself, was bringing home a cubic foot or so of printed matter every month or so, the situation was manageable. Get a new bookshelf for Christmas or birthdays and carry on. Now there are five readers in the family, with distinct and differing tastes. And there is a certain synergy: each of us delights in finding something that, maybe, suits the tastes of another. Or maybe not, but why not bring the book home and find out? And even it such a thing is not ENTIRELY to one’s taste and one might not have, oneself, brought it home, one can’t bear to get rid of a book that (a) is PRETTY CLOSE and (b) was a PRESENT. Another driver is that technology is driving other people, and institutions, into dumping books. Schools, in particular, seem to think that library books and the shelves they occupy are taking up space better used for a (as near as I can observe) internet MUD gaming station. At this point the cost of a cubic foot of books is entirely negligible. We’re getting about five to ten a month. Boxes, not books. There is some turnover. Again, it’s delightful to find and bestow a gift that (more or less) suits the tastes of a friend. Or an acquaintance. Or seem generous towards a person one doesn’t actually like very much but who does need a particular book whether he knows it or not. But it seems as the kids get older and better at the acquisition end of things we’re falling behind on the bestowal side. So, anybody have any requests?
|Tuesday, July 28th, 2009|
Schooling -- Pro-Am. The amateur part is homeschool, still. Math provides the structure, and great heaps of reading matter supports anything else. We experimented briefly last year with a formal government funded “virtual classroom” -- the “K12.com” curriculum Texas and other states have approved. Incongruent with our expectations. It’s far from clear how a program where everything is custom tailored to the vendor’s specifications should need to be altered by administrative “lesson plans”. By this I mean something of the sort where Lesson One begins in Chapter Three, Lesson Two goes back to the last of Chapter Two, Lesson Three skips up to several pages in Chapter Five plus one exercise in Chapter Seven of a different textbook … We amateurs got into the habit of opening one book at chapter one, page one, exercise one, and working thru in the author’s chosen sequence until we’d reached the end of the book – typically in somewhat less than a full year. It’s nice to think about several thousand dollars worth of tax money coming home to buy twenty or thirty books, and to pay an expert to monitor progress over the phone and the internet. And I suspect that this virtual school approach is less disconcerting for those transitioning OUT of a brick-and-mortar classroom; for students accustomed to professional teachers each developing individual and peripatetic routes through the material. We gave it up before the month was out. It has, however, been useful to have professional guidance and peer competition in non-academic matters. This year, for the second year in a row, karate (see previously) and piano. The piano course is held at the local Community College. So, the explicit lessons in music etc are augmented by implicit experience-gathering in how to navigate a campus, how to show up on schedules designed to suit other people, watching bulletin boards for exciting social events, etc. Good stuff, even for the nine-year-old.
|Long list more
Career – Pressurized. Capped, actually. Way too many bubbles in the overall system, far too many bottlenecks and kinks to manage matters gracefully. I predict a few blowouts here and there – in locations other than mine, one hopes – over the next year or so; then we’ll have to see who and how things shake out.
|Monday, July 27th, 2009|
|Everything is on the long list
Home – Attractive. In the “black hole” sense – money is sucked in from all directions and basically disappears. The ‘live oak’ trees are growing, providing significant shade, and beginning to overtake the junk tree, an ‘Arizona Ash’, that the builder installed. My stonework, now edging the flowerbeds, is gathering a picturesque layer of moss. The downstairs bathroom with the walk-in shower -- sized to support either two able adults or one adult enabled by walker/wheelchair -- is by good fortune now enjoyed entirely in the former capacity. Various experiments in flooring have been conducted – notably without satisfactory results. The library is overflowing, as usual, and the shelving supplier has stopped making the style and color of shelves desired to expand and match. The security system now consists of a three-tiered symbiotic suite of self-propelled mobile sensors, audible alarms, and active response modules: three canines. The small observer dog, allowed on furniture, looks out the windows and yaps and/or howls when he detects disturbances. The intermediate-sized rapid-response dog works latches and flaps to self-egress, engage intruders if any, and barks. The large main dog receives and discriminates yaps, howls, and barks and decides when and if to growl. When, rarely, growling is called for, the large main dog avails herself of the openings procured by the rapid-response dog, to lunge in and secure the intruder. It’s an effective system but the individual canine units consume quite massive amounts of bio-fuels and deposit comparable masses of noxious waste.
|The long version, continued
Extended Family – Diminished. My father died suddenly a year ago, without warning. Also, without lingering. My mother has transitioned from a home to an apartment now back to a rental house; attempting to shape a new normal for herself. The ten hour drive from here to there is a major and frustrating barrier to my ability to assist. Neither my mother nor my wife are at all willing to consider having Mom move closer, (one of the very few topics on which they’ve agreed.) Mom’s health has been poor for decades and the immediate family had been accustomed to the idea of “Grandpa” joining us someday. But that proposal has been abruptly disposed of. Mom continues to cope with her diabetes and related disorders. She continues to anchor several civic/church/charitable activities in her community. She … continues. But the universe has shifted and Whoever is In Charge, it’s obviously not me.
Immediate Family -- Intact. I almost regret reporting that into a social scene where divorce, death, and dramatic transitions seem to be common. How little entertainment value is there in acknowledging x-teenth anniversaries, birthdays, etc? Ah well. The LilPouncer will be our first teenager next month. MiniPouncer, 17 months behind, is generally mistaken for her twin. On Beta Colony, both would be wearing ear-rings already. (The ones that signal -- "not even looking". In MiniPouncer's case, that would be less than completely accurate...) Shapely young ladies, if I may say so. The MicroPouncer, 18 months younger still, ( that is, he's almost nine.) is in the midst of a pre-adolescent growth spurt. His growth chart looks like Al Gore's Inconvenient Hockey Stick. His increasing size, and consistent inclination to spy on, tease, and otherwise inconvenience his older sibs has, so far, obviated any need of mine to hang the shotgun over the mantelpiece. (Let alone the squid…) I’m also reliant on the fact that all three are advancing rapidly through the ranks in TaeKwonDo. They’re in a style with ten belts from beginner to first black; presently having earned “green” -- fifth of the ten. MicroP had one lesson, his sisters watching. The girls quickly noted that, unlike ballet, TaeKwanDo class includes LOTS of boys. Suddenly my enrollment expenses tripled. But, karate turns out to be cheaper than either ballet or soccer; and vastly less expensive than horseback riding. MrsPouncer remains wonderful -- my domestic goddess.
Status report: The short list, then the long.
Immediate Family -- Intact
Extended Family -- Diminished
Home -- Attractive
Career -- Pressurized
Schooling -- Pro-Am
Hobbies -- Whelming
Politics -- Effective
Forecast -- Hectic
The long, let me break up.
Health -- Stable. So some of you have seen this rant before. And which is to say I continue to remain in denial. I have compared the situation to living in a house where the smoke detectors simply will not shut down. There is, apparently, somewhere a smoldering fire -- evidenced only by the faint, imperceptible whiff of smoke that regularly triggers the alarms. There is, I'm told, an ember remaining, perhaps buried in upholstery or behind the walls. As long as it continues to smolder there is no way to identify which wall to douse with retardant chemicals; or which article of furniture to break up and remove. We've reached a point where my "firefighters" seem to me becoming impatient for the ember to actually kindle a flame; something they can ACT on. I, on the other hand, as you may understand, am in absolutely no hurry for either the fire, the ax, or the foam.