Friday, December 28, 2007

States Visited

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

Here is a neat site that allows you to create a map of all the states you have visited. Looks like we have done pretty well except for the Pacific NW. Now we have a goal.

Visited Countries

create your own visited countries map

Here is a neat website that allows you to create a map of the countries you have visited. This is my map showing that in spite of my extensive travels in miles I have only visited a small percentage of the countries of the Earth.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

IEEE Spectrum: Electric-Car Maker Touts 10-Minute Fill-up

IEEE Spectrum: Electric-Car Maker Touts 10-Minute Fill-up

In depth discussion about the ramifications of the Altair Nanotechnologies rapid charge batteries. Well worth a read. No doubt that changes are in the works but any new technology has its implications and side effects. To quote Gilda Radner, "It's always something."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Crime Rate Comparison

We always think that the place we live is either worse or better than other places but is it really? Here is a comparison of the national average crime rate vs. Florida and my home state of South Carolina.

United States-Total vs. US Violent Crime Florida vs. US Violent Crime South Carolina

Crime Rate

What happened in 1996? Crime peaked then. We are now back to 1986 levels in the US. Interesting.
Violent crime total

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ants have a sense of their own mortality - life - 10 October 2007 - New Scientist

Ants have a sense of their own mortality - life - 10 October 2007 - New Scientist

It appears that we humans are not the only living creatures that have a sense of their own mortality. What are the implications of this? We have always used the term "dumb animals" to describe all animals except for ourselves assuming that we had some awareness of our own mortality that was lacking in animals. Also interesting that the ants increase their risk taking the older they get which is in direct opposition to what humans usually do.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I lost a good friend when Carl E. Copeland Jr. died unexpectedly at the age of 67. He and I were born just days apart in the first week of July, 1940 in Sumter, South Carolina. We didn't spend much time together until we were teenagers. Our friendship really grew strong as college students at Clemson and the University of South Carolina. It was then that we became intoxicated with the newness of art, music, literature, poetry, and life in general. We shared an enthusiasm for painting, folk music, and the daring things that young men are drawn to. As most men say when looking back at their youth, "It is a wonder we survived." We climbed mountains, drove fast cars, parachuted from planes, traveled without specific destinations, and reveled in the stream of consciousness lifestyle epitomized in Jack Kerouac's books. We never felt the need for the drugs used by Keroac's "Dharma Bums" and "The Subterreneans" as life was intense and intoxicating enough for us. Most of us became more conservative as we grew older putting at least our wildest dreams to bed in pursuit of a more conventional life but not Carl. He never gave up that lust for life and went on to paint a colorful life full of adventure and experiences few people can claim.

One day some of my friends and I were driving, a rare event since we walked most places, and saw Carl walking on the side of the road in Columbia, South Carolina near the campus of the University. We stopped and offered Carl a ride. As he climbed into the car with a very full backpack we asked where he was going. "To the freight yards to hop a freight train to California." he replied. Since we knew Carl well we never questioned his statement and delivered him to his destination with a bit of awe and fear for his safety. Carl was an art major at the University and we heard later that his professor had begged him to take the final exam as Carl was just weeks away from graduation. Carl had decided to begin his life adventure early though and nothing could sway him from his decision to start out on the pursuit of his goal. We didn't see Carl again until years later and when we did he told of his adventures starting with that day at the freight yards in Columbia.

He had done just as he said he would riding freight trains from South Carolina to California. Along the way he stopped in small towns, found work, made friends and then traveled on using his preferred form of transportation at the time, freight trains. He never carried more than he could put in his backpack. His warm personality and willingness to work gained him acceptance in each place he stopped along the way. he worked as a carpenter, handyman, and painter. He took any job that was available to earn enough money to travel on. We could only imagine all the experiences he had on this trip but he shared some of them. He told us of crossing the Rocky Mountains in an open gondola car huddled in a corner with a couple of other vagabonds as the temperatures dropped and snow began to fall. Carl, in his usual understated soft spoken style said, "I had no idea how cold it would get crossing those damned mountains."

He made it to California and somehow met the right people and started applying his art in the movie business. He worked his way up as his talent began to be appreciated. I have no doubt that his the experiences he gained working his way across the country carried him far. He was at ease meeting and talking with anyone. He was willing to work hard and had an artistic talent that he put to good use in the entertainment industry. He developed an extensive portfolio of experience and became respected and loved by many in the movie and television industry. His credits included set designer on the Lowell Thomas TV show. Lowell Thomas was the writer and broadcaster who had made "Lawrence of Arabia" famous. He had a television show about his adventures traveling the world. He went on to work as art director, set designer, construction foreman, or construction coordinator on major movie and TV projects including "Summer of My German Soldier" in 1978, "Heartland" in 1979, "Swamp Thing" in 1982, "Black Rainbow" in 1989, "A Show of Force" in 1990, and "Rich in Love" in 1993. He produced and worked on a number of fitness videos and films. He then returned to South Carolina to devote his time to set design and construction on major local productions such as "The Nutcracker" and other plays. He also worked as a local artist on various commercial works. He was a master of the "Trompe l'oeil" murals. "Trompe l'oeil" murals are paintings that trick or fool the eye into believing that the scene is real. No doubt Carl's years of working in the movie industry led him to work in this medium.

One of Carl's loves was skydiving and like anything he pursued he poured himself into it attaining many thousands of jumps and a high level of expertise. He told me one Christmas during one of our infrequent meetings that he wanted to be the first person in the new year to be eating an apple while in free fall from an airplane. This was just the kind of "off the wall" experience that he could think of. He later told me that he had indeed accomplished his goal by eating an apple during the first minute of the new year. He opened his chute and landed somewhere near house and delighted in telling of the shock in the faces of the people whose party he interrupted by ringing their doorbell wearing his jump suit, goggles and helmet while carrying his parachute canopy. While telling this story Carl had that twinkle in his eye and laughter in his voice revealing his wonderful sense of humor.

My dad, Robert T. Brown Jr, had made up his mind that he would "save" Carl from his terrible vice of skydiving. Dad offered to take Carl fishing each Saturday when he knew Carl would normally be skydiving. Dad said that each Saturday a few minutes before the designated time for the fishing trip he would hear Carl's car coming down the driveway at their lake home, Tranquility Cove. Carl would tell my dad that the temptation of skydiving was great but he had overcome it to go fishing instead.

At our last meeting in Columbia, South Carolina only a few years ago Carl told me of another funny experience that illustrates his sense of humor. He would get horribly sea sick anytime he was on a boat out of sight from land. In spite of this he loved sailing and even lived on a sailboat on Lake Murray. Carl had always wanted to be able to say he had worked on a shrimp boat. This was a dream of his ever sense we rode our bicycles from Sumter to Mclellandville, South Carolina. Mclellanville is a shrimp fishing vllage and Carl was fascinated with the shrimp boats and their crews. In his usual style Carl attained his dream working on a shrimp boat but as usual he also became very seasick. During one particular voyage the boat was boarded by the Coast Guard to do one of their searches for contraband, to validate the boats documents and the crews identification papers. Carl recounted how the heavily armed coast guard crewman asked for each crew member's identification in turn. All members of the crew were supposed to be topside but Carl was still in his bunk below. An armed coast guardsman went below and demanded Carl's identification. A very seasick Carl lifted himself from his bunk showing his wallet and ID. As he lifted himself up he accidentally bumped a "Popeye the Sailor Man" toy that his niece had given him. It was one of those toys that plays a song when squeezed or bumped and it started singing "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man" as Carl opened his wallet to show his ID. The coast guardsman and Carl broke up in laughter. With the ice broken the shrimp boat crew and coast guardsman laughed together and enjoyed the moment. As always when telling the story there was a twinkle in his eye and laughter in his voice.

Carl loved South Carolina and his friends and family. One of his sisters said at his funeral that "Carl was a soft spoken man who was at ease with paupers and with kings."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Final Inspection of Solar System

Two days ago our system received its final inspection from our town. It is approved. Yesterday we received calls from FPL to arrange the service ticket for installing our net meter in place of the one that is there now. Once that is done we can begin selling any excess energy back to the utility. FPL was very professional and efficient in setting this meter replacement up. I was impressed. We are very close to going into official energy production with the ability to sell back to our utility.

Kohl's Activates Largest Rooftop Solar Rollout in U.S. History

Kohl's Activates Largest Rooftop Solar Rollout in U.S. History

Starting to see more and more solar rollouts. If breakthroughs come in battery technology that could be the next big thing. There are some semi secret battery technology projects underway in the US aimed at plug in hybrid autos but that same technology could apply to solar installations as well.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Photovoltaic System Goes Live and First Test

On Thursday, August 30, 2007, our solar energy system went live. Yesterday I flipped the AC breakers off and we ran through the day on solar power. As a test, I left the breakers off last night forcing our energy to come from the batteries through the inverters. It is 7am as I type this and the inverters have turned off the AC power to the emergency circuits due to low voltage, 45 volts. The battery bank is 48 volts and the system keeps them over 50 volts during the day. The sun is coming up so the system should be waking up soon. Right now the inverters are showing ZZZZZZZZ since the sun is not up. They have turned AC voltage to the house off.

The important thing to point out is that for our test last night we made no attempt to change our habits. We watched the big tvs, left lights on, and acted as if nothing were unusual. That was our intent, to see how far we could go without trying to conserve. Now we have a base line. Everything ran through the night and the sun will be up soon. We will observe the wakeup cycle as the arrays start charging. For our next test we will use careful energy management as if a true emergency had occurred and the grid were really not available.

We know that the entertainment center is a big energy user so we would use our small tv to monitor local events. We also have our wind up radio which we would use. We would also use our LED night lighting instead of our big overhead lights. There are still some lights in the house that are big halogen bulbs and we will replace them with more conservative lighting. So, we now know that we can get through the night and possibly more if we are careful. Our refrigerators ran through the night with no connection to the grid. I consider this first test a success. Now we will monitor the wake up cycle as the sun rises.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Wunder Blog : Weather Underground

Wunder Blog : Weather Underground: "Every year now, we see news articles about coastal surveys, that seem to indicate a lot of people living on the coast aren't ready for hurricane season. Whether that is the case or not, one of the things from this year's survey noted was, 'One out of three (34%) do not know if their home is located in an evacuation zone.' Well there are a lot of things that remain to be fixed or improved regards hurricane preparation on the coast, but this is one that can be taken care of!

If you live in Florida, you have access online to the best emergency management website in the country: Included on this website are storm surge maps for coastal counties. For instance, if you live in Pensacola, you can pull up the Escambia county map and see, to some extent, what category hurricane would flood your area: "

Monday, July 23, 2007

Old Version Downloads -

Old Version Downloads -

This is a wonderful site to have as a bookmark. Are you one of many who have found the new Itunes 7 to be a huge resource hog on your PC? You can downgrade to older versions on this site. Not only Itunes but most of the popular programs are archived here.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

St. Cloud Times | AP News

St. Cloud Times | AP News

This article discusses the drought in Florida and the search for storage north of Lake Okeechobee. What it does not address is the fact that what is known as "The Upper Chain of Lakes" could have adequate storage but their use is severely limited because development has been allowed to occur on the shorelines. Intensive use of the shorelines by private owners limits the lakes use for water storage. If the stage in the lakes is allowed to fluctuate outside of a narrow range the land owners raise hell. They have boats and docks all along the shorelines so if the stage is allowed to go too low they cannot get their boats in the water and their docks do not reach the water. If the stage is allowed to go high enough for some additional storage then their docks and yards are flooded. This essentially eliminates using the many lakes in the Orlando and Kissimmee areas for much storage. Restoration of the Kissimmee River back to a more meandering state with marshes is a worthwhile effort but lets point to the real problem, development of the shorelines in the Upper Chain of Lakes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pale Blue Dot

Listen to Carl Sagan putting it all in perspective:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

NPR : The Exoneration of Larry Peterson

NPR : The Exoneration of Larry Peterson

The greatest injustice is the conviction of an innocent man. Listen to this story of Larry Peterson. He did not lead an honorable life but did not commit the murder and rape he was convicted of. DNA advances and analysis of the evidence using the new technology freed this man who spent 17 years of his life in prison for a crime he did not commit. He maintained his innocence during this entire time. His release was largely due to the Innocence Project.

Listen to his story by clicking on the "Listen" link on the NPR page.

St. Cloud Times | AP News

St. Cloud Times | AP News

I was saddened to read of the death of Don Herbert, TV's "Mr. Wizard." Back in the 50's watching his show was one of my favorite things. He was very talented at popularizing science for those of us were were kids at that time. I was surprised to read in this article that he was an Army Air Corps pilot during Warld War II. See also his web site at

A lot more information is also available at

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Use science, not politics on state's water emergencies

Use science, not politics on state's water emergencies

Nat Reed points out opportunities for the South Florida Water Management District's new board members in this article in the Palm Beach Post. This is certainly an accurate overview of the challenges faced by the new board on many fronts. Mr. Reed addresses the fact that the District needs to restore the partnership between the state and the federal government. This partnership was built over years of negotiation and effort but since the year 2000 has been largely dismantled. I agree with and respect Mr. Reed's view. Hopefully the new board will too.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

St. Cloud Times | AP News

St. Cloud Times | AP News

Indian artificacts, boats, large steam vessels, and fishing boats exposed from Lake Okeechobee's low levels.

"More than 17 sites have been identified in Palm Beach County's part of the lake in the last three months. They are scattered over miles of terrain. The drought has bared a rim around the lake up to a mile and a half wide at some points.

"It looks like it's part of one of the American Indian settlements that were there - people that were intentionally interred at some point," said State Archaeologist Ryan Wheeler."

St. Cloud Times | AP News

Sunday, June 03, 2007

New Roof

From Re roofing Pro...
Our new roof has been completed. We could not be happier with the job that our roofing company did. The finished product is proof of their skill. They took great pride in their work and we can recommend Ametco, Inc. in Lake Worth, Florida without hesitation if you want a very high quality metal roof installation. Their phone number is in one of the photos in the album which you can view by clicking the link under the photo.

We now start on our solar energy projects. The first is to reinstall our solar hot water heater which was removed for the re roofing. After that we plan on installing a 4,400 watt photovoltaic system on our south and west roofs. None of this will be visible from the street but it will give us a fair measure of independence from the grid without relying on conventional generators in the event of a power outage. In addition, unlike a conventional generator that only runs in an outage, the photovoltaic system will be generating electricity every day to offset its cost.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Speed Test

For all my geeky friends who know what this means here are the results of my latest speed test since upgrading my DSL connection.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The beginning of the end for analog TV - Engadget

The beginning of the end for analog TV - Engadget
Who knew? Our analogue TVs and radios will become obsolete in February of 2009. Will our existing TVs work with the new digital transmitters? Only with the addition of a converter box. I know this news has been out for a while but according to everything I read and see the big box retail stores are brimming with inventory of analogue TVs which will be obsolete after the Super Bowl in 2009. Seems there are a lot of advantages to the switchover. Stations will be able to transmit multiple channels of programming. Quality will be much better too. Too bad they are not telling everyone. I would hate to purchase a new TV in a big box store sometime in the next two years only to find out shortly thereafter that I would have to buy another box to make it work. Apparently, the law now requires all TVs sold to be labeled that it will be obsolete in February, 2009.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

New Roof

We are replacing our 40 year old concrete tile with a 5V metal panel roof. The new roof will be a Marine Green color. We are using a company in Lake Worth that specializes in metal roofs. The company is AMETCO and so far we are very happy with their work and would highly recommend them. I'll add to the photos as the project progresses.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

China's Solar-Powered City

China's Solar-Powered City: "A combination of regulations and public education spurred the broad adoption of solar heaters. The city mandates all new buildings to incorporate solar panels, and it oversees the construction process to ensure proper installation. To raise awareness, the city held open seminars and ran public advertising on television."

This is an ordinary city in China but the product of three key factors. As the article points out the convergence of government policy, local industry and strong political leadership made it possible. The city has the equivalent of one half megawatt of water electric water heaters. If an ordinary city and China can do this, why can't we do it in the US? We are in the process of trying to implement additional solar capability on our house but our little town can not be called progressive on this issue. While there are a few solar water heaters in the town there is not one major photovoltaic panel that I have been able to spot and I doubt seriously if the town will welcome our implementation with open arms. I hope I am just being overly pessimistic.

Monday, May 21, 2007

CarGurus Blog � 2007 � May

CarGurus Blog � 2007 � May

Is the Toyota Prius going to reach 100 mpg in 2009? Rumors say yes. This is from CarGurus Blog.

PML Builds 640hp Electric MINI

PML Builds 640hp Electric MINI

640 HP and 250 mile range in all electric mode. Out accelerates an Aston Martin and with its small internal combustion engine running a super efficient generator it has a 1,000 mile range.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

BoGo Light - Help Light the World!

BoGo Light - Help Light the World!

The BoGo Light
The BoGo Light is a scientific, eco-friendly breakthrough that is making an impact worldwide. From Cairo to Cape Town, from the Caribbean to the Amazon, it is improving the lives of individuals, families, and entire villages by replacing costly kerosene, candles, and disposable battery flashlights with an affordable, long lasting, solar flashlight.

BoGo means Buy one, Give one. We want our lights to benefit the less fortunate; therefore, with each light purchased in the developed world, a second identical light will be donated to an organization that will distribute it in the developing world with our direct financial support. Give the Gift of Light, and Help Us Change the World!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Florida Public Opinion Poll on Solar Energy

FloridaMaxon-DixonSolarPoll.pdf (application/pdf Object)
Public opinion is strongly in favor of the Florida Legislature encouraging investment in solar energy in Florida. Read the results of this recent survey. It is a PDF file requiring the Adobe PDF Reader.

Sun powers up part of Palm City Elementary

Sun powers up part of Palm City Elementary

As we prepare to install our own solar system we see news about new systems popping up everywhere. Discussions with friends and business acquaintances always seem to drift to this topic. Solar is not cheap but with state rebates and the panels working every day it can pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time. Here in Florida, the state rebates $4 a watt for residential PV systems. That means that if you put a 4 KW system up you will get $16,000 back from the state.

In spite of thinking that we have a lot of roof space for solar we find that it is a challenge to fit enough collectors on our roof to generate our desired 4 KW of power. Our design guys down at Vergona Bowersox in Boca Raton are working hard to fit the maximum number of panels on the roof.

We already have our solar water heating system in place and it has been happily making hot water for us since the end of last year. Yes, the water is extremely hot. It has an electric backup for short cloudy winter days but we keep it turned off most of the time. The water is so hot that one has to be very careful when opening the hot water tap. We have had solar hot water systems for about fifteen years now and have been extremely happy with their silent and efficient operation.

Here's a link to Palm City Elementary's website. Palm City Elementary

July 13, 2006: Supermarkets and Service Stations Now Competing for Grain

July 13, 2006: Supermarkets and Service Stations Now Competing for Grain

Biofuels are not the answer:

"In agricultural terms, the world appetite for automotive fuel is insatiable. The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol will feed one person for a year. The grain it takes to fill the tank every two weeks over a year will feed 26 people.

Investors are jumping on the highly profitable biofuel-bandwagon so fast that hardly a day goes by without another ethanol distillery or biodiesel refinery being announced somewhere in the world. The amount of corn used in U.S. ethanol distilleries has tripled in five years, jumping from 18 million tons in 2001 to an estimated 55 million tons from the 2006 crop. "

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Monitor a Site Remotely for $99

I don't ordinarily plug products that I have not tried but this one appears to be quite a deal for the price. It is a wireless remotely controllable video camera that you can use to monitor a site remotely. It was demonstrated to me by someone here in Florida who uses it to check on their home up in Michigan. It was really cool. Hard to find a pan and tilt cam and all equipment needed to set it up for $99. Of course, the down side is you pay a $10 a month service fee but if you need this functionality you can't beat this deal.

AT&T Monitoring Deal

Two Computers, One Mouse

I love this application. I like surprising Barbara by moving my cursor over to her monitor and then clicking on an icon and moving it around while she is working. Besides this I cannot think of a practical application but it sure is fun. Anyone have any ideas? Add them as comments below. I would love to hear if you come up with a practical use for this neat little freeware package.

Feature - Lifehacker

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Kite Flying

Rick and I went to a local park to fly kites. I used my CVS disposable camcorder to create this short video of our Sunday afternoon kite flying.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tipping Point?

I can only hope that the Don Imus firing is a tipping point in our tolerance of rude and crude behavior in public personalities. I may be showing my age but I grew up in a time when public figures set a higher standard for people to use as role models. I have seen a trend over the last decade or more of greater and greater tolerance for rude behavior by public figures. The yardstick that we use to measure what is acceptable in public has gotten severely distorted in my view. An entire network, Fox News, has prospered by supporting public rants by people like Bill O'reilly and others. In O'reilly's case his written works seem pretty reasonable and sensible but his public persona like Don Imus is rude, domineering and bullying. The man is highly skilled in public debate and often leaves his guests shredded and wounded. The point is with O'reilly in particular is that he seems a very intelligent and reasonable man but his public persona is what sells and has sold for decades, a bullying and mean one. We see it everywhere in our culture. It is now publicly acceptable to publicly bash women, cops, and "The Man", through loudly played "Gangsta Rap" when stopped at a traffic light or in a parking lot. The intrusion on our individual space has not only become commonplace but the norm. I admit to attempting on several occasions trying to watch the Imus show and I guess I just did not get it. A rude and crude old guy in a cowboy hat ridiculing everyone around him. Like O'reilly he had redeeming qualities in his private life but the point is he became a rich, rude, old guy like many other TV personalities including Ann Coulter, Nancy Grace and many others on various networks because of his bad behavior in public. We paid for him to get that way through the network polls by casting our vote for rude and crude public behavior. I can only hope that his firing is a tipping point in our society that will lead us back to the times I knew as a kid when public persona's were elevating by their public behavior even if their off camera or off mike behavior was reprehensible. But, then again I could just be a middle class old guy hoping for a return to my youth.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kite Video

Just for fun I put my disposable CVS camcorder on my kite aerial photography rig. Get your dramamine and let's go for a ride!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Wunder Blog : Weather Underground

Wunder Blog : Weather Underground

This and the newly released IPCC summary, linked in the article above, are a must read. Some interesting and scary implications to global climate change although not all are bad. One that bears thinking about in terms of not only climatic but social change is the forecast for increased dryness in the Northern Mexico area. Will this increase the desire to come across the border from Mexico? My guess is that it will in the beginning but as the desert areas expand it will create a much larger barrier to cross than exists now. Specifically the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts could become an even harsher and dryer zone. See this Wikipedia discussion of those areas as they exist now.

NOVA | Saved By the Sun | PBS

NOVA | Saved By the Sun | PBS

Set your Tivos or VCRs if you are so unlucky as to have one of those to deal with. The Nova series on public TV is having a show about solar energy on

Tuesday, April 24 at 8 p.m.

Is it time to take solar energy seriously?

Green housing gains ground - 04/05/2007 -

Green housing gains ground - 04/05/2007 -

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

US Attorney Scandal Tops News Stories

Let's see. It is ok for key people to testify as long as they do it in secret, there is no record of the "conversation", and they are not under any oath to tell the truth. I think that about sums it up. What happened to government of the people, by the people and FOR the people?

The Scent of Scandal Makes Gonzales the Big Story | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Weather Bonk

Weather Bonk
is a really comprehensive real time weather site. It uses a Google Map application to display real time information along with webcams for the area and other information including local traffic, some climatic info such as monthly averages, forecasts, etc. The site is easy to navigate and customize to your individual location. I highly recommend Weather Bonk. There is even a Weather Bonk forum which you can view by clicking here.

DailyLit: Read books by email.

Well, you know me. I like to try new things. This is actually working quite well for me. I wanted to read one of Corey Doctorow's books and while browsing his web site, , I ran across the fact that his books are available from this site as little readable chunks sent daily by email. Since Corey had adopted this method as one of his publication media I decided to give it a try. You know what? It works beautifully. It is astonishingly simple. You can suspend the daily email with a single click on a link in each email chunk or you can grab as many additional chunks as you might want. I am reading Corey's "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom." It is entertaining but one of those sci fi stories with a lot of jargon in it. Even so, the terminology has meaning and depth so it is fun.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Innovations by Truckers Save Energy

Interesting innovations by truckers for saving energy. How much of this will transfer over to the RV industry? We have been using auxiliary generators when stopped for years but some of the features in this article are very worthwhile reading:

NYT Article on Truck Noise Reduction — OpenPlans

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Tranquility Cove

We have spent a couple of weeks, I think, here in South Carolina at Tranquility Cove. I say, I think, because time begins to blur from a structured day by day, calendar based, set of activities to a movement through time based more on sunrise and sunset and family events. It has been 70 degrees in the day and 40 something degrees at night. Our furnace takes the chill off each morning as we listen to the honking of Canada Geese in the cove. It has been an interesting and pleasant visit in spite of having to attend the funeral of one of my dad's sisters, Betty.

Betty lived a life of public service working for the Public Health Department here in South Carolina in her home town, Sumter. She was a plain spoken person always saying exactly what was on her mind. She and her husband, Bunk, relaxed in their off work times by fishing in the Wateree Swamp. Her daughter Emily attended to her needs faithfully right up to the very end. Her son John gave a wonderful tribute to her at the memorial church service. Betty was an icon in the family and will be missed by all.

We will get underway tomorrow morning, March 12th for our trip home. We have reservations at a highly rated campground, Flamingo Lake RV Resort, in North Jacksonville. Interestingly, when I called for the reservation the owners knew an acquaintance in West Palm Beach who lives full time in their large motorhome at a local RV resort. The owners of Flamingo Lake used to run the resort that our friend Herb lives in. It is a small world. Especially when you narrow it down to RV'ers. One can always seem to find a connection to someone else.

That is all the news that is fit to print for now.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

DSL, the Internet, and Squirrels

Last Sunday our DSL Internet connection started dropping every ten minutes or so. We called Bellsouth Fastaccess and they checked the lines remotely and said they detected a problem on their line and would dispatch a technician on Monday. Monday afternoon the tech showed up and ran tests which showed the lines were clear. That day our connections were slow but stable. Monday night brought rain and our connection became unstable again. Our phone lines were plagued with static which made conversations difficult. We began to see a correlation with rain and our problem. Tuesday morning I called Bellsouth's residential service and complained about the static rather than calling Fastaccess to complain about the Internet drops. I knew they would say they had sent a tech out and everything was ok. In the afternoon the new tech arrived and investigated the problem. Again, it was sunny, no rain, and no problem. But, when I told him about the correlation with rain he climbed the pole and discovered the problem. Squirrels had chewed the insulation off the wires up on the pole. Every time it rained water seeped into the line causing the static and the Internet drop outs.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Future Computer Interfaces Demo'ing Now

New desktops that mimic real ones. If anyone saw the movie "Minority Report" this will ring familiar to you. The future is no mouse, no keyboard, but an all in one touch sensitive physics based screen. Watch these videos and then wonder who is working with these people. Is it Microsoft, Apple, Google, or someone who will come out and blow them all away. This is the future:

Friday, January 26, 2007

This is a really cute and createive online game for kids. Draw a figure and then animate it. This was my masterpiece.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I think this guy really put together a nice video explaining why we ride recumbents as opposed to upright bicycles:

Recumbent Video

One of my projects for 2007 is to convert my collection of VHS tapes to DVD. In the process I have discovered a lot of forgotten footage. This clip is from a recumbent ride at Daytona Beach, Florida that a friend, Fred Ungewitter and I coordinated. We called the group LASERR which stood for Loose Assemblage of South East Recumbent Riders. I am really pleased that the footage shot by his wife Ginnie is now preserved. Here is a sample:

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Powerful Walmart helps reduce power consumption

Walmart is using its power to reduce power consumption. Good to see that they are marketing power miser light bulbs. If everyone switched to these our dependency on oil could be reduced significantly. While the savings may not be huge for individual homes, although it will be noticeable, the impact of millions of households converting could be huge. A major retailer like Walmart can help make it happen. Read the article below. Very interesting.

Power-Sipping Bulbs Get Backing From Wal-Mart - New York Times