Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Oil - The Start of the End - Or Not

A while back a guy at work dropped a movie on my desk and told me I just had to watch it. He said it would change my whole view of the world oil situation and where America, as the largest oil consumer, is heading. The name of the movie is The End of Suburbia. The guy who gave me the movie is not the excitable type and his obvious interest in the subject (which had never come up before) intrigued me. Well, it took a few weeks, but I did finally get around to watching it. And, it was interesting. It's a seemingly well researched and documented expose' of the theory that we are on the cusp of peak oil (that the world will never pump more oil out of the ground than we are doing today and we are near or already on the down slope of the oil production). It also theorizes on what that will mean for America. Essentially, oil will get so expensive that the sprawl and suburban America will cease to exist.

Now, usually I'm fairly leery of these "the sky is falling" types of books or movies or whatever. But, I think anyone who has put two seconds thought into the subject realizes oil won't last forever. But, are we truly at peak oil or do we have another generation? I don't know. But, here is another point of view that leans toward the latter theory, in other words, we ought to get our act together and start finding some alternative energy sources, but we have some time to do it. Also, the real "crisis" in the oil status quo is that most of it exists in volatile areas of the world. Interesting stuff.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Refreshing Trust

With the days getting longer and the eveings staying light until around 8pm we figured it was about time to start some after-work outings. A couple of days ago, GF sneaked out a bit early from under the taskmaster's whip and headed over to pick me up and embark on a little evening drive. We decided to do about an hour and a half loop through a nearby valley that is filled with fruit orchards. In the summer, in this area, there are fruit stands all over the place with the freshest apples, apricots, pears and all sorts of other yummy fruits and veggies. Well, we knew the fruit stands would be closed, but we hoped to catch a few of the trees as they started to come into bloom. However, as we were toodling along admiring the mountains and trees we came across a fruit stand at the side of the road that was open. Interested in what they might have at this time of year, we stopped.

We walked up and found this sign. It was open, and there were shelves of candies and dried fruits and other knickknacks, but there was nobody there. The farm house that seemed the logical home of the proprietors was about a quarter mile up a side road. In the back of the store there were big refrigerators filled with very large boxes of different types of apples and pears. And there was a metal box on a pole with a slot in the top to put your money in (there was a lock on the box - they weren't that trusting). Well, we weighed out 5 pounds of apples from the big walk-in fridge, I grabbed a package of dried pears and GF snagged a handful of apple candies and a little carved wooden thingy off one of the display shelves and then we used the calculator on the counter to figure what we owed and stuck it in the box. And I walked out of the place with the most gosh-darndest happy smile on my face. Too cool.


NASA Got This One Right

I remember how excited I was when the first pictures from the mars rovers started coming back. Now, after 2 years and zillions of pictures sent back (I don't know the real number, but a zillion seems like about right), they just keeping rolling along. NASA has had some awful failures (Mars Climate Orbiter, Mars Polar Lander, loosing 2 Shuttles) and lack of a realistic vision, but on this one they got it bang-on perfect. Let's see more of these.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Stretched Thin

Do you ever have one of those months where every single solitary day is filled from sun up to sun set, weekends included? That's me right now. Crank that streching machine up.


Listening To - The Chieftains

Long Black Veil. I know some of the Chieftains purists don't like these star-studded albums packed with guest musicians and I can identify with the sentiment. But, even so this is one of my favorite of their albums. The Chieftains do their thing with a mix of various musical genres: celtic, pop, even country-esque. And I think the guests really add to the album rather than distract. I'm not a big Sinead O'Connor fan (not the politics - just can't identify with a lot of her music), but she is just brilliant along with the Chieftains.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Sexy Ride

What? My 2002 Mazda B3000 pickup didn't make the Forbes list of sexiest cars? How could they have overlooked such a sleek and sexy contender? Oh well. If I had to pick one of the Forbes' choices for sexiest car, I guess I'd have to take the Saturn Sky roadster. Sure, a Rolls-Royce or a Lamborghini would be fun, but the Saturn is more my style - convertable, sporty, and the one in the picture has a girl already in it! As Stewie would say..."Excellent."


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Yummy Samich

Is it just me or does this little girl just look the teeniest bit psychotic? Maybe she just really, really, really likes peanut butter and jelly.


Flight 93

A moving article on the new movie, Flight 93, by the father of Todd Beamer, who was one of the courageous passengers that fought with the terrorists. It is encouraging that he thinks the film makers got it right in their portrayal of that infamous flight and struggle that brought down the plane in a Pennsylvania field on Sept 11, 2001. He also pegs the enemy right on. The enemy is not a country or a people or a religion or even a specific terrorist group, but radical fundamentalist Islam that wants nothing less than to change the world - your world and mine.

"There are those who would hope to escape the pain of war. Can't we just live and let live and pretend every thing is OK? Let's discuss, negotiate, reason together. The film accurately shows an enemy who will stop at nothing in a quest for control. This enemy does not seek our resources, our land or our materials, but rather to alter our very way of life."


Boobs win

Anna Nicole Smith wins:

"Dressed in all black, she wept in the courtroom in late February as justices discussed Marshall and whether he had intended to provide for his young wife in death. When Smith arrived at the court, several photographers were knocked to the ground in a scuffle to photograph her. "

Ahhhhh, so this is what love is all about. Poor girl, she clearly misses her deceased husband terribly and only wants his money to remember him by. But, maybe she should get back to "acting" to take her mind off of her loss.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Dangerous Chicken

On Iran from the Christian Science Monitor:

Iran's breaking of its NPT obligations, as well as a US State Department report on terrorism worldwide that describes Iran as the most active state sponsor of terrorism, gives it little global support against sanctions. With Europe's help, the US could put public pressure on companies doing business in Iran, such as Royal Dutch/Shell and LG Construction, as well as banks supporting them.

Iran said it wouldn't turn off its oil spigot in response. But if, as OPEC's second-largest producer, it did so, the West would need to contend with prices above $100 a barrel. Striking a deal before such a game of chicken plays out seems like the most sensible course for all sides to take.

I think the CSM op-eders are probably pulling the $100 a barrel cost of oil out of their butt. However, obviously it is in everyone's best interest (in the West and America specifically) not to have Iran shut the valve. And I do agree that Iran has few friends in this world to help push their nuclear agenda. The veil of legitimacy in their "civilian" nuclear program looks lamer and lamer the harder they push and the more threats they issue. And I don't think even Russia and China will back them in the end.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May (Murder) Day

May Day has always been a big celebration for winners such as the communist Chinese, the Nazis, and the old Soviet Union. Ostensibly, it's a celebration of workers and worker's rights. But, under these regimes worker's "rights" were and are, shall we say, more limited than in the West today. And considering that the three combined account for over 100 million killed under heel in the 20th century alone, I'm thinking May Day red might have a bit more to do with blood than with worker's rights. But, hey, who's counting?


Keeping Net Neutrality

From Slate:

What we're ultimately asking is a question that Adam Smith struggled with. Is there something special about "carriers" and infrastructure—roads, canals, electric grids, trains, the Internet—that mandates special treatment? Since about the 17th century, there's been a strong sense that basic transport networks should serve the public interest without discrimination.This might be because so much depends on them: They catalyze entire industries, meaning that gratuitous discrimination can have ripple effects across the nation. By this logic, so long as you think the Internet is more like a highway than a fried-chicken outlet, it should be neutral in what it carries.

I'm a fairly free-market minded sort of guy. But, I think the proposals that the phone and cable companies have before the FCC to allow them to "prioritize" internet traffic are a step in the wrong direction. There are not 2 or 3 internets for me to choose from if I don't like the way AT&T makes me wait 10 minutes to bring up Google and Yahoo comes up instantly because Yahoo pays an AT&T mandated fee. I see it more like a highway and should be open to all and unprioritized until someone can show a good reason that prioritizing traffic would serve more people (like delivering TV or movies for instance).


Just Finished - The Curious Incident

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. A simply written but interesting story of an autistic boy in his quest to solve the mystery of a dog murder in his neighborhood. This is not my usually fare in fiction, and I expected it to be sort of sappy, but it wasn't. Yes, it's endearing to follow young Christopher with his more limited metal capacity as he plugs away to find the murderer and tackles some of his fears in the process, but more than that it was just an interesting look into the mind of an autistic child (the book chapter numbers are are prime numbers because that makes more sense to Christopher). A very creative tale and worth a few hours if you are looking for something different - whatever you normally read, this is different. He "catches" the murderer, but I won't spoil it.



Listening To - Pink Martini

The first time I listened, it was so different from their first album, Sympathique, that I wasn't sure what I thought. Now, after listening to it eleventy zillion times, it is one of my favorites. Pink Martini continue to do what they do best, which is be a totally unpredictable, but wonderful musical experience.



Monday, May 01, 2006

Googly Calendar

I've just started playing with setting up a Google calendar. I really don't have a need for it, I have Outlook and Exchange for work and they operate acceptably, but I like gmail so much I thought I'd take a look at this latest Google tool. My first impression is that it's pretty neat. I like the ability to type out in words a date range and have it plug the scheduled item in. I also like how fast it is. But, will people use this for more than a personal calendar or hobby group calendar (for instance), or would you actually run your company off this thing? I think that's the market Google would be after (the money is there). Anyway, on first blush, it looks like a well thought-out and useful tool.


Dog Blogging

Don't fool around when you tell me we're going for a ride dammit.


Reading the Blogs

Who reads blogs? Apparently most of us are 41-50, male, and make 60-90 thousand a year. Well, one out of three for me, and that certainly doesn't jive with the folks that are leaving me comments, but I've only been at it a short while. Then again, maybe I just pander to a different group. I see more of a 50-50 male/female split. How about you?