Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oiled Hurricane Magnet

I had a very entertaining evening reading comments on USA Today regarding the President's off-shore drilling announcement. It was just so difficult for those Republican PAC members to try to be negative about the President's agenda when it was a topic they actually agreed with. I found it quite comical. So to be fair, let me do it.

This announcement was not a surprise to me as it was referenced even during the election. But I still can't agree with it. True, we are a nation dependent on a resource of which we have a very limited supply. This causes us to be in business with rouge nations and the complications of this dependency are a matter of our national security. But drilling for oil anywhere is a short term bandaid on a gaping wound. The worlds oil supply is finite. We must find another resource. This article, however, is not about the other options we should explore - and there are many. Let's just deal with oil for the moment.

My biggest issue with off shore drilling is the inevitable environmental impact. If my only choice were to drill off shore or drill in a protected wildlife sanctuary, I would choose the later. Accidents happen and there will be spills. At least on land, a spill can be somewhat controlled and the impact is minimal compared to the potential widespread distribution of spilled oil in water. Off shore oil rigs are hurricane magnets. A severe storm not only adds to the potential for environmental disaster, but also stopped production during the storm. This will affect prices as we have seen too often in the past. Those rigs floating out in the open ocean tethered to the ground with a fragile pipe perhaps miles deep are a recipe for environmental and financial disaster. It is irresponsible on many levels.

So if we must drill let's drill on land. But of course these are not our only options. Innovation will heal this wound. Innovation can be expensive, but so are wars. Let's spend the money in the right place - a topic for another article.

UPDATE: Well it didn't even take a hurricane to bring down an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico last week, and while they denied there was an oil spill at the time, we now learn that it may turn out to be one of the biggest spills in oil history. Wonderful. I'm usually a little thrilled when history proves my articles are on target but in this case I had hoped it wouldn't be proven. The vast environmental damage is already occurring - soon to be followed by more financial damage in lost tourism due to oil slicked beaches and increased fuel prices. I believe there are no coincidences - let's not push the snooze button on this wake up call.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Late Adopter

Until recently, I've always been on the bleeding edge of technology. I love tech gadgets especially those that will do several things at once, like smart phones. I was on a waiting list for the Treo 600 when it came out and was thrilled with the device even with a few bugs that needed to be worked out. I've upgraded several times and currently own a Treo 755p. You might ask why someone like me still owns a Treo? While there are several answers, (It still works, contracts, prices etc.) the biggest reason is that I still refuse to do business with AT&T if at all possible.

You can't imagine how disappointed I was when the I-phone came out firmly attached to AT&T. In all honesty, my Treo did (and still does) almost everything the I-phone does. But the I-phone is the type of thing geeks like me dream about - fresh, new and exciting. But I decided my objection to AT&T was more important. Today I read that the exclusive deal between Apple and AT&T may be up and the I-phone may be available on other networks soon. And even though there was a hint that it might also include the newest version of the I-phone, I'm not sure I even want one any more. The poison Apple left a bad taste and I'm also rethinking my decision to possibly buy a MAC as my next computer.

Besides - everyone has an I-phone now, not so cool anymore for us geek types. I've held out this long and there are a lot of new technologies just around the corner. My Treo is still working great and I'm still satisfied with my Sprint service. I don't have a contract right now and I'm ready for the next big thing. Unless that thing is attached to AT&T.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tune the 90's

If you listen to any modern urban type music, you have likely heard the Auto Tune microphone. It is a clever device and it does seem to have a particular application in that Genre, but it also is starting to get on my nerves a bit. Every track seems to use it now- some better than others. I think it takes the art out of music. If you can't carry a tune - you probably shouldn't be singing.

That reminds me of the 90's I wish I had a time machine that would allow me to go back and apply the Auto Tune microphone to those awful "Freestyle" songs that were popular back then. Such a device was badly needed. We have a dance station here that plays a lot of those old freestyle songs and I still cringe at the "almost in tune" droning of that genre. I have a friend who loves those tracks and I joke with him about it all the time. He also has experience in mixing music. Maybe I should challenge him to apply the auto tune and see if we can fix the 90's. It might be a fun project for him.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hopey Changey

I'm very proud of our Democratic leaders for fighting hard for the common good of America. It is a historic period for our Country.

Out of Control Party

Attention SENSIBLE Republicans - take back your party!

We know there are far more reasonable people in the Republican party than the few that are making a spectacle of the conservative right. Please do yourselves a favor and stand up to these extremists! The Republican party is not bad - but there are bad people who think they own it. They are not only making a joke out of our great country and our political system, they are also making a joke of all the good Americans who identify as Republicans.

Stand up to them and let them know that violence against politicians is NOT accepted.

Let them know that being obnoxious does not reflect well on the party.

Tell them you are tired of the childish name calling.

Make them understand that they do not represent most Republicans.

There are ways to make your point without making a scene. Politics are for ADULTS.

Write to them, call them, talk to them. Let them know that you are a proud Republican and you want them to straighten up. Make your point by not watching their shows or supporting their newspapers. Attend your Tea Party meetings and make yourself heard. You have a voice too!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Counted (and Notated)

I completed my census form today and mailed it off. It was very easy and didn't take much time. I was glad to see the category of "unmarried domestic partner" as an option for the other person who might be living with you. Last census I was very honored to be able to indicate that my male partner and I of several years were indeed unmarried domestic partners. I often hear about statistics from the census that mention gay households and this is how they gather that information.

Our relationship ended after 10 years and this year I live alone. If you were to look at my form now you might not be able to tell that mine is still a gay household because it only just shows a single male living there. The same could be true of 2 (or more) gay roommates who do not consider themselves in a relationship. Their form would just show several males living as roommates. This little glitch in the system will widely skew the statistics that show how many gay people or households there are in the USA. And those numbers will be used to justify (or deny) causes related to gay issues. I think that is very significant.

I made a note on my form right next to where I had to choose Male or Female (not a difficult choice for me but I know some people who would have a hard time choosing just one). Right next to where I selected Male, I clearly wrote Homosexual. If a human being reads my form they will see it and hopefully note it. If a machine reads my form then I'm not gay anymore.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


In the movie Avatar the planet natives have an unusual physical connection to the creatures they use for transportation. This allows a mental connection to the creature who in turn responds to their very thoughts. I know it sounds odd, but sometimes I feel like I have this same type of connection to my bicycle – as if it becomes a part of me as I ride. This was especially true on my recent bicycle trip across the USA. That feeling of connection is amplified when your entire life at the moment is loaded on the bicycle as well. At first it seems very foreign and difficult to control. But when you get used to the way the bicycle handles with all the extra weight, it becomes a natural extension of yourself. When camp is set up and all the weight is removed from the bike, it again feels foreign for a few moments while you adjust. I’m sure people had a good chuckle watching me go out for dinner wobbling on my bike like a child riding for the first time. But soon I found the balance again.

Because of my bicycle trip, the movie Avatar had a very profound and lasting effect on me. I grew up in rural America but I only knew my little part. I’ve had jobs where I traveled throughout the USA, but I rarely strayed from the Interstate Highway system. This trip was much different as I traveled on back roads and converted railroad lines that were turned into bicycle paths. Many times I found myself captivated by the diversity and beauty of this amazing country. I found myself riding in places not too disturbed by human activity. It was as magical and “other worldly” as the scenery in Avatar and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised that the local natives were also friendly, if not a bit cautious.

We live in a very special place and sadly few people get a chance to see it the way I did. There is great beauty in our National Parks but don’t expect it to be undisturbed. I found the National Parks jammed to the limit with giant RV buses and too many people trying to see the same thing at once. The deafening noise from Harley Davidson motorcycles often drowned out the sound of the birds and the gentle waterfalls. It wasn’t until I was off the beaten path that I could enjoy nature in all her glory. The sights, sounds, and smells were something I will never forget. I hope more people get a chance to view the world without a motor. Those that do will soon realize our coexistence with Nature is fragile and we must do whatever we can to keep the balance.

Balancing a planet loaded with people is much like balancing a loaded bicycle. It takes a little practice but you get used to it. We must find the balance or we will fall. If we fall the planet will wobble, adjust and find balance again – unloaded.

Monday, March 15, 2010


"They" make it sound like a bad word. Do an Internet search on the definition. I'm proud to be a Liberal.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Money Doesn't Disappear

I read an article in USA Today yesterday that made me very sad. When so many people struggle for life's basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter), it is very disappointing to learn where their hard earned money went. Here is part of the article on the worlds richest people:

Buffett's fortune jumped $10 billion to $47 billion on rising shares of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB). He ranks third.

The Oracle of Omaha shrewdly invested $5 billion in Goldman Sachs (GS) and $3 billion in General Electric (GE) amid the 2008 market collapse. He also recently acquired railroad giant Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNI) for $26 billion.

In his annual shareholder letter Buffett wrote, "We've put a lot of money to work during the chaos of the last two years. When it's raining gold, reach for a bucket, not a thimble."

Many plutocrats did just that. Indeed, last year's wealth wasteland has become a billionaire bonanza. Most of the richest people on the planet have seen their fortunes soar in the past year.

This year the World's Billionaires have an average net worth of $3.5 billion, up $500 million in 12 months. The world has 1,011 10-figure titans, up from 793 a year ago but still shy of the record 1,125 in 2008. Of those billionaires on last year's list, only 12% saw their fortunes decline.

It's almost as if they knew.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Build a Strong America

Whether you love him or hate him, Michael Moore makes some very profound points. He made another one last week on "Real Time With Bill Maher" with a comparison to the recent devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chili. The quake in Chili was said to be 500 times more powerful than the one that hit Haiti, yet they suffered far fewer deaths and much less damage. That's because Chile has strict building codes and regulations enforced by the government. Michael said Haiti is a Republican's dream - a place where people do what they want, how they want, with little government interference. The results couldn't be clearer.

Back here in the USA, we have been shaken too. The results of unregulated business have caused failed banks, out of control health care costs, a real estate bubble and a host of other massive problems. We need government regulation to keep this country strong and stable. Without it we too will crumble.

In the same way thieves don't like police - crooks don't like government regulation.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

2D Plus Glasses

I was thrilled when I learned that 3D TVs were arriving soon. Now I can watch those fantastic 3D movies in my own home without the chit chat, cell phones and babies crying. But then I found out that we will still need to wear 3D glasses to view these new expensive TV sets. What?? Where is the technology in that?!

There is, of course, technology involved in filming or broadcasting a 3D program as you need to get 2 pictures of the same thing - just like our eyes see 2 pictures. But when they play a 3D movie in the theater they don't replace the screen with a new 3D enabled screen - they show a flat picture, just like always, and the 3D glasses bring the 2 images together.

It stands to reason then that if you have a program recorded in 3D, it should be able to be viewed on any normal TV as well. All you should really need is the 3D glasses to bring the 2 images together. If we could view the 3D effect without the glasses then I might be willing to pay $1500 for such a device. In reality, all that should be needed is a $10 pair of glasses. I think they are pulling the wool over our eyes PLUS making us wear 3D glasses and I'm not buying it (yet).

It is the same fake technology they have been selling with respect to digital recorded media for years. There really hasn't been any new innovation in digital media since the basic CD player came out to the public. When DVD's arrived they were selling for hundreds more than a CD - but it was still the same technology (lasers reading optical disks). Ditto for Blue Ray. True they found a way to put more information on the disk with multiple layers etc., but it is still the same concept and not worth the extravagant price. And by the way, all of these optical disks have a glaring flaw that still hasn't been addressed - the fact that a tiny smudge or scratch can make them completely useless. Why do we still make digital media that spins? Clearly, flash memory should be the standard by now - it is much better technology. I'm sure it will be next - at an expensive price - even though it already exists for computers.

Hopefully the REAL 3D TV that I eventually purchase will have a built in USB port and I'll be able to watch Avatar in 3D - without glasses - by simply plugging in the flash drive. And I'll be able to carry a pocket full of flash drives as I travel with my 3D computer as well.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Too Big?

The Republican lawmakers trying to block health care reform (that's all of them) like to present the large stack of papers in the bill as proof that it is no good. I for one am happy to see a big pile of paperwork, although I don't think it needed to be printed in this computer age. The paperwork proves there was thought about how this reform would be implemented. It's what we like to call "transparency". It is good to have documentation. And on a computer it is easily searched for ease of viewing.

The last thing I'm going to say on this idiotic debate (hopefully) is that "they" keep telling us that America has said NO to this bill. Fox news may have said no but America has not! Most Americans are struggling to pay for health care and insurance - if we can even get it! When you say America says no - you are blatantly lying and you know it. Lies, scare tactics, and exaggerations seem to be the only way Republicans can support their agenda. And in my opinion, that says a lot about their agenda.

LOL Smiley Face

OK - I've tried. I really have. But apparently I am incapable of putting one of those emoticons smiley faces into an email without actually smiling while I'm typing it. I admit I'm weak. :)


Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Lifting Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) from the military should be simple. What could be easier than saying stop kicking people out for being gay? You could do it with a text message.

Many, if not most of the homosexual people I know (at least those over 30 years old) have served in the United States Armed Forces without incident. Several of those friends are in their 80s. Gays have always been in the military. Trust me, there will not be a big "coming out" event when the policy is lifted. It will be business as usual - except people won't have to lie if they happen to get discovered.

Gay people join the military to serve their country - Period. Just like everyone else.

Gitter done!

Your Man Could Smell Like Me

I have 6 preset FM radio stations of different genres in my car. It can't be a coincidence that 5 of them have commercials at exactly the same time every day. Sadly, in these hard economic times my satellite radio became an unnecessary luxury but I do miss it. I really hate commercials - but perhaps if they were as entertaining as this one I wouldn't mind so much. I'm not even sure why I find this so humorous, but I chuckle every time. Oh, and I actually use the product being presented, so yes, your man could smell like me.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Portability Priorities

The biggest change Republican lawmakers want to health insurance is portability between states. Surely this will make them more money as they seek the state with the lowest (worst?) costs and ethics. As someone who has been forced to go for months without coverage, I can report this is not the biggest concern of the lowly people. What we need is portability between jobs not states. If we had this type of portability between jobs, it would not only keep people insured, but would also greatly reduce the preexisting condition problem we are also dealing with. Once a person is covered on an insurance plan - either through work or with an individual policy - they should be able to keep that policy for as long as they need it at a reasonable cost. Can we do that first please?