Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Dirty Tricks

Wunder Blog : Weather Underground
Release of hacked emails had "organization and orchestration", UEA official says
Prof Trevor Davies, pro-vice chancellor at the University of East Angelina where the "climategate" hacked email controversy began, said in an interview yesterday: "A lot of people have remarked that it seems an unlikely co-incidence that this happened just before Copenhagen. There are indications that the people who stole this data and documents have had them for some time. They have clearly had the chance to go through them and we have had to check them ourselves. I think from the way that this has mushroomed and the very rapid responses on various blog sites, it seems to me that it has some organization and orchestration".

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the FBI is investigating death threats made against two U.S. climate scientists involved in the emails. Clearly, meteorologists involved in tornado and hurricane chasing are risking their lives in the cause of science, but who would have thought that meteorologists sitting behind a computer crunching numbers would be risking their lives? Crazy life!.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Frank Cerabino

Pond-lovers casualties of all-out war on piranhas
I love Frank Cerabino's columns but this kind of title is not good journalism.  You nhave piranhas in a local pond and you are coming out defending those who just want to leave the pond alone?  Any one who knows anything about ecosystems and exotic invasions would say this kind of statement is nuts.  I am saddened that journalism has deteriorated  to this "Fox News" kind of sensationalism.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Solar panels an even better investment

BBC News - Solar panel costs 'set to fall'
The institute says the panels are such a good long-term investment that banks should offer mortgages on them like they do on homes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Dad

My dad is in Clarendon Memorial Hospital in Manning, SC.  He will be 90 in January.  About four days ago he had a bad case of diverticulitis and was admitted through the ER at the hospital.  He had emergency surgery to correct the problem.  I finally got to see him yesterday after a lot of travel obstacles reported previously here.  He looks as though he has been in a fist fight but by all reports from doctors and nurses he is doing remarkably well.  Yesterday he had a steady stream of visitors by friends and family and is now talking and entertaining the nurses in the ICU.  Luckily at this time he is the only patient in the ICU and the nurses are wonderful.  He has all of the ICU staff focused on him and they are providing excellent care.  The surgeon visited last night and said he was going to try to get him on his feet today and thinks he will be taking a few steps on his on.  He told me that dad is doing remarkably well for someone his age.  They are amazed at his rate of recovery.

The surgery went well in Tampa too.  Barbara is there caring for Kim.  We are thankful we are able to be retired and can divide our forces to cover all the bases.  This has been a logistical challenge for us and we still face some travel.  The Mothership was left behind in Tarpon Springs, Florida for repairs of the damage done by the tire blow out.  So, at some point I will travel back to Tampa to retrieve Barbara and the RV.  Perhaps we will then come back to SC depending on how well dad does and the situation with mom and dad.  They are likely to need us for a while even after that.  We shall see what we shall see.

Gridlock on I-95

Yesterday, Tuesday, we awoke at 5am.  My stepdaughter was having surgery at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Florida.  Our plan was for Barbara to go with her daughter and  her daughter's husband to the hospital with Kim.  I packed to travel to South Carolina to see my dad who had surgery two days before.  All went smoothly and I left Palm Harbor, Florida near Tampa for the trip to SC.  It is about an 8 or 9 hour trip depending on the traffic.  The route chosen by my GPS seemed a good one as all of the roads were good and traffic at that time of the day was steady but not bad.  All went well until I was 20 I26.  I thought that perhaps it was a bad accident but almost two hours later when I reached the bridge the problem was a crack or hole in one lane of the bridge.  They had reduced the two lanes down to one to repair it and that was the reason for the grid lock.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Adventure on Florida's Turnpike

On Sunday we heard that my dad was going in for emergency surgery. We had already planned to go to Tampa because another family member was also scheduled for surgery. We had originally planned to drive just the car thinking it would be a simple trip to Tampa, stay to help out, and then return home. But, the call about my dad required a change of plans. I decided to take the Mothership, our RV, and tow the car. I would drop Barbara off to stay in Tampa and then I would drive the RV on to South Carolina where my dad was having surgery. That way, if we had to stay longer in SC I would be able to take the car back to Tampa, pick Barbara up, and then return to SC where we would have the RV to live for as long as we could stay. So off we went.

At about Mile Marker 134 on the Turnpike we heard a loud bang. Imagine what it must have been like flying a WWII bomber to be hit by Flak, the anti aircraft artillery used by the Germans against allied aircraft. It sounded as if we had been hit by Flak. It also sounded like something was thrashing loudley as if part of the RV was coming apart. We had blown an inside rear tire. The remenants of the tire were thrashing around and around as it came apart. I wrestled the big beast to a safe landiing on the side of the road and we called AAA. We have the AAA Plus road coverage so that the RV would be part of the service. Barbara also heard a hissing sound which I quickly traced to our propane tank. The line leading to the rest of the coach from the tank had been severed. I turned off the main valve leading from the tank to the rest of the coach.

They dispatched a truck at about 2:30 as soon as we called after rolling to a stop. First a small repair truck arrived but that one did not have the equipment to do the job so they dispatched what is known as a "Rotator." It is a gigantic tow and repair truck. The driver told me that the vehicle cost $750,000. I believe it. That thing could lift an 18 wheeler with its crane and I guess they are called upon to do so.

The driver, a wiry but strong and
intense guy, surveyed the damage. Not only had the propane line been severed but the tire tentacles had thrashed around and grabbed the back of the wheel well pulling it inward toward the tire. That in turn pulled the outside fiberglass wheel well fairing and the wheel well structure inwards towards the wheel. Before the tow guy could change the tire he had to get all of the bent metal and fiberglass clear of the tire. He wrestled and fought with hands, arms feet, and legs until it all came free. It is now in the back of our car. He then proceded to retrieve the spare and change the tire which was another big job but with the right skills and tools he made quick work of it. All of this took about three hours so by now it was 5:30 pm. Damage done included gas line severed, electrical marker light wires severed and possible the electrical line supplying power for lights on our car which we tow. Who knows what else but we at least were underway. We finally arrived in Tampa at 10:00 pm tired and ready for bed.

Today we face finding a place to do quick repairs and buying a new spare tire. Meanwhile my dad is doing well in ICU and my cousin who is a doctor called to fill me in on the details of his situation which sounds very good considering his age, 90. I hope my solo leg is more uneventful than the first leg of this trip. Life is an adventure.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Amazing interactive video

This is an amazing video application.  Pan left and right while flying around Mt. St. Helens.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kindle Killer?

Barnes & Noble eBook Reader with Android and Google Books

These devices are all very clever and nice.  My tech heroes all use them in one form or other.  Most use the Kindle but am I just old fashioned?  In spite of loving the instant access and download of hundreds of thousands of books, I find myself still loving a real book made of tree flesh.  I can run my fingers over the words, I can stick any old piece of paper between the pages as a bookmark.  I can donate them to my local library when I am done.  Yet, the E-Readers beckon to me like sirens on the rocks.  Am I like the Ancient Mariner being lured to my death on the rocks?  Will books be obsolete someday?  In my mind I can imagine archeologists of the future finding "real" books and marveling at them but I see them staring, puzzled, at a blank Kindle or Barnes and Noble ebook.  I am just confused. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cheap Solar Power

The Associated Press: Thinking solar power? It's never been cheaper
The government has plowed so much cash into the solar industry that it's effectively pulled the luxury tag off of home solar systems. Combined with local incentives, buyers can save up to 90 percent on a system, whether it's for a single-family home or a 75-unit condo in the city.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bear Damage to Plane Repaired with Duct Tape and Cellophane

Bear vs. Cub vs. Man

Here is an amazing article.  I have to credit King Hawes for alerting me to this one and for the story.  Alaska produces all sorts of interesting conflicts between man, technology, and wildlife.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Battle Mountain Speed Challenge

World Human Powered Speed Challenge

It's happening again.  Conditions of the road surface have been improved greatly.  If the weather cooperates the contestants could reach 90 mph on human power along. 

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Ensuring Patient Safety For a Loved One in the Hospital

Patient Safety - In the Hospital | Caregiver Blog

Anyone who has family or friends in the hospital or who will be going in to the hospital should read this Blog entry by Lynda Shrager, "The Organized Caregiver."  Speaking from experience I can validate the importance of the points she discusses.  You really have to be your own advocate if you are unfortunate enough to be in the hospital alone.  If you are a caregiver you must be willing to speak up if you feel your loved one is not being cared for properly.  I was particularly pleased to read of the legislation that South Carolina passed to protect the patient. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why Capitalism Fails

Why capitalism fails - The Boston Globe
By the end of the 20th century, the financial system that Minsky had warned about had materialized, complete with speculative borrowers, Ponzi borrowers, and precious few of the conservative borrowers who were the bedrock of a truly stable economy. Over decades, we really had forgotten the meaning of risk. When storied financial firms started to fall, sending shockwaves through the “real” economy, his predictions started to look a lot like a road map.

This was a fascinating article from the Boston Globe about the economist Minsky and his theories on capitalism.   Too bad he has a Russian name because it is too easy to associate that with the failed Soviet Union and communism, but far from it, Minsky, as I understand it, believed in capitalism but feared the financial industry.  He warned about what would happen if the financial industry went unregulated and actually detailed what happened to us over the last few years.  He actually warned about exactly what happened to the US and other countries as they depended more and more on leverage and increased their debt.  Our financial system evolved into a giant Ponzi scheme that put Mr. Madoff to shame.  Free and unbridled capitalism seems to be self destructive and the purists who believe that the free market can solve anything are just plain wrong.  Anyone who still believes that after the collapse we have suffered is just living in denial.  The trick is finding the balance between competition and regulation.  Too much of either is dangerous.  The link above takes you to page 4 of the piece in the Boston Globe because key points are made there that apply to our situation today, but I recommend after reading it that you jump back to page 1 and read it all the way through if you have time. 

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Greenhouse Gases Shifting Rain Band Northward | Earth's most prominent rainfall feature creeping northward | University of Washington News and Information
June 30, 2009 | Science | Environment
Earth's most prominent rainfall feature creeping northward
Sandra Hines

The rain band near the equator that determines the supply of freshwater to nearly a billion people throughout the tropics and subtropics has been creeping north for more than 300 years, probably because of a warmer world, according to research published in the July issue of Nature Geoscience.

If the band continues to migrate at just less than a mile (1.4 kilometers) a year, which is the average for all the years it has been moving north, then some Pacific islands near the equator -- even those that currently enjoy abundant rainfall -- may be drier within decades and starved of freshwater by midcentury or sooner. The prospect of additional warming because of greenhouse gases means that situation could happen even sooner.

The findings suggest "that increasing greenhouse gases could potentially shift the primary band of precipitation in the tropics with profound implications for the societies and economies that depend on it," the article says.

"We're talking about the most prominent rainfall feature on the planet, one that many people depend on as the source of their freshwater because there is no groundwater to speak of where they live," says Julian Sachs, associate professor of oceanography at the University of Washington and lead author of the paper. "In addition many other people who live in the tropics but farther afield from the Pacific could be affected because this band of rain shapes atmospheric circulation patterns throughout the world."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Some Thoughts on a Four Day Work Week

Better world: Take Friday off… forever - 15 September 2009 - New Scientist
Better world: Take Friday off… forever

* 15 September 2009 by David Cohen
* Magazine issue 2725. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.

The four-day week could boost employment, save energy and make us happier.

FANCY a three-day weekend - not just once in a while but week in week out? You may think your bosses would never agree to it, but the evidence suggests that employers, employees and the environment all benefit.

The four-day week comes in two flavours. One option is to switch from five 8-hour days to four 10-hour days, meaning overall hours and salaries stay the same. In August 2008, the state of Utah moved all of its employees, apart from the emergency services, to working 4/10, as it has become known. The hope was that by shutting down buildings for an extra day each week, energy bills would be slashed by up to a fifth.

The full results of this experiment won't be published until October, but an ongoing survey of 100 buildings suggests energy consumption has fallen by around 13 per cent. The survey also found that 70 per cent of employees prefer the 4/10 arrangement, and that people took fewer days off sick.

The second form of the four-day week is to work the same number of hours per day for four days only, with a commensurate 20 per cent pay cut. With the recession hitting revenues, accountancy company KPMG announced in February that it was offering its 11,000 UK employees the option of a four-day week to avoid job losses. So far 85 per cent of employees have applied to join the scheme, and 800 now do a four-day week.

Things to Do For a Better World

Better world: Vaccinate your children - 16 September 2009 - New Scientist
Better world: Vaccinate your children

* 16 September 2009 by Clare Wilson
* Magazine issue 2726. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.

If you have ever taken a stroll through an old graveyard, you may have winced at the surprising number of tombstones bearing witness to the young age of their occupants. In the past, around 1 in 3 children died before their fifth birthday. It was common for children to perish from diphtheria, measles or whooping cough, to be paralysed by polio or to be born deaf and blind from congenital rubella.

Now fewer than 1 in 150 children die before age 5 in developed countries. Much of this is down to better sanitation and nutrition, but a large part of the credit must also go to vaccines. Despite this, some parents are refusing to allow their children to be vaccinated out of fear that certain vaccines cause autism, or that combined vaccines against several diseases overload the immune system.

Vaccines can cause side effects, and a few have had such serious effects they have had to be withdrawn. However, any side effects are usually minor, such as a fever, and have to be set against the risks of the real disease. What's more, study after study has shown that autism is not more common in children who are vaccinated. And children can respond to an estimated 10,000 immune challenges at one time - a good job when you consider the maelstrom of microbes they encounter in every speck of dirt.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Healing of America

Books - One Injury, 10 Countries - A Journey in Health Care - Review -
Similarly, what Americans often consider a single unique system of health care is an illusion: we exist in a sea of not-so-unique alternatives. Like the citizens of Germany and Japan, workers in the United States share insurance premiums with an employer. Like Canadians, our older, destitute and disabled citizens see private providers with the government paying. Like the British, military veterans and Native Americans receive care in government facilities with the government paying the tab. And like the poor around the world, our uninsured pay cash, finagle charity care, or stay home.

Our archipelago of plans means that those safe on a good island with good insurance can be delighted with the system, even as millions of invisible fellow citizens tread water or drown offshore. It means that those on a mediocre island are stuck there. It also means that not one single piece of the infrastructure — like record keeping, drug pricing and administrative costs — can be streamlined across islands in any meaningful way. Hence the expense, the inequity and the tragedy.

Can we ever repair the damage to our planet?

Great Lakes Cleanup Could Take 77 Years - CBS News
(AP) Cleanup of the most polluted sites in the Great Lakes is moving so slowly it will take 77 more years to finish the job at the existing pace, according to a federal report.

More information about obesity from the Framingham Study

The Buddy System: How Medical Data Revealed Secret to Health and Happiness
Med-Tech : Health RSS
The Buddy System: How Medical Data Revealed Secret to Health and Happiness
By Jonah Lehrer Email 09.12.09
Obesity: Fat By Association
Smoking: Together We Quit, Divided We Fail
Happiness: Joy Is Contagious, Offline and on the Net
Download the PDF (1.9 MB)

A revolution in the science of social networks began with a stash of old papers found in a storeroom in Framingham, Massachusetts. They were the personal records of 5,124 male and female subjects from the Framingham Heart Study. Started in 1948, the ongoing project has revealed many of the risk factors associated with cardio

Thursday, September 10, 2009

SC Politicians

First the governor of my home state goes AWOL for a few days for a hottie in Argentina. This is a guy who is married with children. He disappears saying he was "going hiking on the Appalachian Trail." When I say disappeared I mean it. No one knew where he was. No phone numbers, no addresses, no way to get in touch and he was gone for at least four days with out anyone knowing how to get in touch with him. Sad, because he seems to be a fairly nice person but hopelessly out of touch with reality.

Then, Senator Joe Wilson from South Carolina makes us proud by shouting out, "You lie" at one point during the president's speech. There was also some heckling from other members of the sad gang of naysayers that our GOP has become. I tried to go to Wilson's web site at to register my complaint. My hope is that it is because so many people are complaining to him but my fear is that it is because so many people are trying to congratulate him. I really have no way of knowing but I for one will keep trying to register my complaint.

South Carolina is a beautiful state and I would like to be proud of it but if those who represent us on the national stage continue to show such juvenile behaviors I fear that my pride is crumbling.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Some possible reasons for widespread fear of government

This is the first time I have read a serious analysis of why people fear government and exhibit such irrational behavior at public meetings.  Usually critics just put them down as "crazies" but this author takes a serious analytical approach as to why they behave the way they do and why there is such a widespread fear and distrust of "government." 

The Psychology of the Right-Wing's Anti-Government 'Death-Panel' Delusions | Politics | AlterNet
A lot of heavyweight thinkers have offered explanations of the irrationality of modern political behavior -- you know, behavior like Medicare recipients at town halls screaming about the evils of government-run health care, or otherwise-reasonable people likening President Barack Obama's plan to Nazi eugenics.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Oakland, California

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I believe this is the apartment building we lived in when my ship, the USS Peregrine, was in overhaul in the Bethlehem Shipyards in San Francisco, California.

421 Simonton Street, Key West, Florida

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We used to live upstairs over this store when I was in the Navy. The entrance was in the center where the indented doors are. You walked through a courtyard and then up some stairs. No air conditioning. Jalousie windows. This was when I was on the USS Peregrine. I am now reading the Alex Rutledge series of detective stories written by Tom Corcoran that take place in Key West. It is fun to read about all the places I used to know and visit.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

115 North Salem

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My grandfather's house in Sumter, South Carolina. My dad and his 8 brothers and sisters grew up here. We all gathered every Sunday at my grandfather, Popoo's, house. I have many fond memories of being there with a multitude of cousins and all my aunts and uncles talking at the same time,

123 Broad Street

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This was my home when I was growing up. I lived here until I finished college and joined the Navy.

The Complete Kaisei Voyage Blog

Project Kaisei Cruise Blog by Karen Hawes
Day 28 S/V Kaisei: The Voyage Ends/The Journey Begins

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Project-Kaisei - Sailing Vessel Kaisei

What does a blog about sailing vessels, what people do with trash, and an airplane nicknamed "Rivet Ball" have in common? As always truth is stranger than fiction and as is often the case these days Facebook plays a role. My cousin, Robert L. Brown, a retired teacher, active historian, and former Air Force Officer was at one time a crew dog on a plane flying out of a small island in Alaska, an island called Shemya. "Rivet Ball" flew out of the single runway on Shemya and along the Russian coastline capturing electronic intelligence and evidence of Soviet ICBM launches. The weather was terrible and landings were always a challenge. On one of those landings in bad weather "Rivet Ball" encountered slush and ice on the runway preventing the braking needed to stop. "Rivet Ball" slid off the end of the runway and ended up a twisted and broken bird but her crew escaped with minor injuries. King Hawes and my cousin were fellow crew dogs on the broken plane and have remained friends ever since. Recently I encountered King on Facebook and knowing the connection to my cousin we became Facebook friends. It was then that I learned that he has some very talented daughters, the youngest, Karen is maintaining a the blog Open Waters where she is documenting her experiences on the sailing brig Kaisei. The excerpt below is from her blog.

Kaisei Meets New Horizon

Kaisei Meets New Horizon

Just a quick update, because internet access is a little iffy out at sea. . . I’m traveling west and north, on the brigantine Kaisei – a tall-mast ship with Ocean Voyages Institute. We’re over 1,000 miles from nearest land, taking a short swim break in the deep waters. The crew of 25 are enjoying a much-needed break from the long days and short nights – or long nights and short days (depending on what shift you’re working)!

I’m onboard as the medic, engineer, and computer geek/website assistant to the blog for Project Kaisei – Sailing Vessel Kaisei. There’s a second ship, the New Horizon, which is also working with OVI on Project Kaisei.

Obviously, I’m also onboard for my exploration of trash, for Trash Trip. The fact that I’m out at sea, searching for the plastic vortex of trash, is a dream come true! I have known about the gyre but never imagined it possible to reach. We have seen plenty of bits and pieces of trash along the way but we have yet to encounter the elusive island of floating trash. The gyre is a big place and we’re a small vessel. If and when we do encounter it I can only imagine how that will feel!

Find pictures and updates about our ship at the blog for The Kaisei and I will post my own updates when I can and when I return. Thanks to all who have contacted me so far – I will reply when I’m back on land

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Florida decrease in population a good thing or bad?

In my humble opinion this could be, in the long run, the best thing that has happened to our state in decades.  The reality is that no society can live on growth forever.  it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that we live with limited resources.  Food, energy, water, all are limited.  We have been living beyond our means for half a century now.  It is time for Florida, the US, and the world to stop counting on growth to pay for everything and for everyone to realize that there is a certain population that is sustainable.  We passed that level a very long time ago and the continuing degradation of our environment is the result.

For Florida, 'end of an era' of population growth -
Last month came the most jaw-dropping announcement of all: The state that made population growth the linchpin of its economy for more than 60 years lost a net 58,000 people this year, according to newly released estimates for April 1.

"It's the end of an era," says Robert Lang, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech. "Florida represents an entire postwar vision of the good life — palm trees, low cost and no taxes, just easy living. They could turn it around, but in the short haul, it's paradise lost."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Geography and Sex Offenders

1554 Walnut Avenue Antioch , antioch ca - Google Maps

Hindsight is 20 20 but wouldn't a simple Internet connection and Google Maps combined with the fact that the guy who kidnapped and imprisoned that poor California girl for 18 years was a registered sex offender have enabled the police or other authorities to rescue her sooner?  A Google mashup of locations of registered sex offenders combined with the link above would have shown something fishy going on.  Seems that local building or zoning code enforcement using the Google Maps tool would have revealed some serious code violations.  A GIS map of property lines and the image above would have shown that he was running some sort of illicit activity on part of his property.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

70th Wedding Anniversary

The Brown’s are a model for marriage, celebrate 70th
By Chris Bullard

While divorce rates in the U.S. hover around 50 percent, one Clarendon county couple is setting the example of long-term commitment.

Marrying at the ages of 19, Robert and Jeanette Brown will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on Aug. 9.

How did they do it?

“That’s a question I can’t answer,” Jeanette said. “I guess it was meant to be.”

Growing up in Sumter, Robert and Jeanette met in a high school typing class.

“When we were coming up, people just met at somebody’s house,” Robert said. “The girls and boys went to different schools after a certain grade. I needed a typing class, and it was my job to lead the football team over to the girl’s school for it. We ended up sitting by each other in the class.”

“He was dating someone else at the time,” added Jeanette. “But they broke up, and I mended his heart.”

On Aug. 9, 1939, the two were married in a Lutheran church on the corner of North Washington Street and Hampton Avenue in Sumter, where a Tuomey Hospital parking garage now stands.

“There wasn’t any air conditioning in the church and the men wore white linen suites,” recalled Robert. “I remember it was so hot we were sweating through the suits and one boy had to go home and change because you could see his blue striped shorts.

“They pinned white sheets all over the pulpit and put smilax on there. It was beautiful.”

“That was the trend back then,” added Jeanette.

The couple spent their honeymoon in Washington D.C. with only $100.

Robert and Jeanette Brown stand together on the front porch of their home on Lake Marion. The Browns, married at the age of 19, will soon celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.

“I kept books of our money and we came home with 68 cents,” said Jeanette. “We said we didn’t live on money, but on love. But I learned that wasn’t true.”

As life continued on for the couple, they had one child, Robert Brown III. Jeanette retired from Sumter County Health Department Vital Statistics in 1978 and Robert retired as Vice President of Wachovia Bank in Sumter in 1982.

Robert III, who now lives in West Palm Beach, Fla., sees his parents as a model for maintaining a long-lived relationship.

“Mom and Dad have always enjoyed life and have many good friends in the Manning and Sumter area,” he said. “I believe their ability to enjoy the best in people and to enjoy time spent with good friends has been a part of their long marriage. In these times of marriages that only last a few years, they are a model of what a marriage contract really means.”

“As we aged we’ve gotten into a social group. We go to a breakfast club and a supper club,” said Jeanette. “We love Clarendon.”

“Our neighbors really look out for us and we live in a great community,” said Robert.

To celebrate this anniversary, many of the Brown’s friends and neighbors planned a party.

“We had a big 50th anniversary,” said Jeanette. “For our 60th anniversary there was a banner that said ‘For 60 loving years.’ I told them they spelled love wrong – it should be endure.”

The Browns now also have one grandson and three great-grandchildren. So what’s next for this enduring couple?

“We live day by day,” said Jeanette.

“We’re just going on with our plans,” added Robert. “Why stop?”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Real Facts on Health Care Reform by AARP

AARP - Health Action Now! : Myths vs. Facts
Don't Let the Myths About Health Care Reform Scare You.

There are special interest groups trying to block progress on health care reform by using myths and scare tactics. Like the notion that health care reform would ration your care, hurt Medicare or be a government takeover. Actually, these are false statements.

All of the health care reform plans currently being debated in Congress would ensure that you and your doctor are the ones making decisions about your health. The majority of working Americans will continue to receive their health care through their employer. In addition, health care reform will strengthen Medicare by eliminating billions of dollars in waste while lowering prescription drug prices.

Throughout the debate on how to fix what's broken about our health care system, AARP pledges to help you cut through the noise and find the facts about what health care reform means for you and your family. When we see special interests using scare tactics, we'll make sure you're given the facts so you can make informed decisions about health care reform.

The following are some of the most common myths being spread about health care reform and the facts that prove them wrong – click here to watch a video by AARP on the myths and facts of reform.

Percent Generated in Vacation Mode

Vacation Mode, August 18, 2009

We were away from home from August 3rd to August 17th. During that period all electronics were unplugged except for two DVRs and the Acer Aspire One netbook that functions as the server for Two inefficient non-Energy Star refrigerators were running as well as the pool pump 5 hours a day. The weather was relatively good for solar generation but the ambient temperatures were high, in the 90s. The jump in percentage generated can be clearly seen in this chart which shows daily percent generated since January 1 of this year, 2009.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Weekly Investor Round Up

Weekly Investor Round Up

Posted using ShareThis

Florida's Solar Incentives NPR Market Place

Solar energy gains ground in Florida | Marketplace From American Public Media
More on Sustainability

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Listen to the show

Solar energy gains ground in Florida

Solar Energy

Gainesville, Fla. is the first city in the country to adopt a new solar incentive program, making it profitable for an average person or business to put up solar panels and begin feeding power back to the grid. Jennifer Collins reports.

Kai Ryssdal: Gainesville, Florida sits right in the heart of the Sunshine State. It's probably best know for its powerhouse college football team, the University of Florida Gators. The city's also started attracting attention for power of a different sort. Solar energy. Panels are popping up all over the city. So are the economic benefits. Jennifer Collins has more from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Plastic and water

Solutions Journal

What a strange concept. Love bottled water? Have you ever thought about the fact that thte bottles are made from oil and the water, in most cases, is just tap water? If it is truly water from distant mountain springs then oil is used to ship it all over the world. Very bizarre.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

You're Gonna Get Nailed.

Great TV campaign by the State of Tennessee.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

V-Bat Vertical Take Off and Landing Aircraft

I Feel Better About Our Computers

I thought we were not the norm with our three desktops and three laptops.  I guess that is not so unusual after all according to this very interesting article at ZDNet:

How many PCs are enough? 5? 10? | Tech News on ZDNet
Despite a PC market in freefall, it seems readers are still packing a fair few pieces of hardware.

Asked how many PCs - including laptops, desktops and netbooks - they own, 45 per cent of ZDNet sister site readers who responded admitted to having between three and five.

An even more hardware-heavy 32 per cent claimed to have between five and 10 computers tucked away while another six per cent 'fessed up to having more than 10 machines. And presumably very large houses and/or understanding partners.

At the low end, 11 per cent owned up to having a pair of PCs, five per cent said they own just one and a hardware-shunning one per cent said they have no PCs at all (which presumably means they responded to the poll either in the office or on a friend's hardware.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monk Parakeets

Last week my granddaughters and I bought two new birdfeeders. One is a hanging feeder and the other a platform feeder. We told the girls that we were hoping the hanging tubular one would attract some parrots. Amazingly, parrots have visited the feeder. Well, to be technically correct parakeets have visited. We have had one Black Hooded Parakeet and three Monk Parakeets. I grabbed my video camera and shooting through the kitchen window and the patio screens got this short video.

See for more info on the Monk Parakeet as an invader.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gambling the Future? Excerpts from Dave Cohen's article on ASPO-USA

Is Business-As-Usual Likely In A Peak Oil Scenario? :: ASPO-USA: Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas
2010-2020 — The Decisive Decade

If the peak oil hypothesis is correct, world oil production will likely be in decline well before 2020. During this same period, the United States may (or may not) implement a cap & trade system to rein in CO2 emissions. The proposed legislation aims to cut emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. Emissions declined in 2008 following on the oil shock of 2007. The financial meltdown in 2008:Q3 guarantees a similar emissions decline in 2009.

As I described in The Reign of Error, Europe already has a cap & trade system in place. Europe’s carbon market, created under the Kyoto Protocol, has not actually resulted in reduced emissions in the Eurozone. This sleight-of-hand is due to allowable offsets whereby a putative reduction outside of Europe (e.g. in Asia, or Africa) is counted as a reduction within Europe. At best, Europe has reduced the carbon intensity of any economic growth that took place since the formation of the carbon market. The proposed cap & trade system in the United States contains the same loophole.

Assuming that peak oil occurs early in the next decade, and the currently envisioned cap & trade system, which goes into effect in 2012, is actually implemented, we can expect an overall decline in carbon emissions in the United States during the period 2010-2020. If growing emissions are a necessary condition for economic growth, as I have argued here and in The Radical Hypothesis, it follows that the American economy will shrink, not grow, in the coming decade.

If world oil production peaks, I predict most people will forget about terrifying business-as-usual climate scenarios. Instead, they will get down to the hard business of replacing oil by any means possible. If the economy is shrinking, any means necessary will be used to jump start growth. I am not so much interested in what should happen. I am interested in what will happen.

Thus, the years 2010-2020 will likely be the decisive decade of the 21st century. We should know by 2020 whether economies can grow as emissions decline. The result will define our response to anthropogenic climate change in all the decades to follow. We will know whether the consensus view espoused by Joe Romm, John Holdren and many others, as I have believed all along, is merely a politically expedient, faith-based “green jobs” guess about how things will turn out. Should that guess be proved wrong, our political leaders will run the other way.

Contact the author at

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My friend Troy's Philipine Adventure

Welcome to Troys 2009 Uhaj Native Village Adventure

Rick and Cordella live next door to us and our best friends. They are an extraordinary family who live an intensive life outside their work life which in itself is intense. They travel to Honduras and work at a school for girls with their church. They are involved in a lot of other charitable organizations as well as their church. This summer, their son Troy, traveled to Banaue in the Philippines to study native woodcarving from a master wood carver there. He has documented his adventure with photos and a diary on this website. He will be coming home soon and we all are excited about hearing the details of his summer study adventure in Banaue. Barbara and I believe that this adventure and the experiences he is having are absolutely amazing. Troy has traveled half way around the planet on his own. Lived in a remote village in the Philippines and studied the art of woodcarving with only hand tools for a month. He has also hiked to remote sites and has lived in an area that has farmed the steep hillsides growing rice in terraced fields for centuries. We cannot wait to see him and hear of his adventures and we know he is anxious to return home but will miss the friends that he has made there.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Images of Mass Consumption

There is a strange beauty in these images of mass consumption but also conflicting feelings of horror.  The feelings are like those when you are driving and a bad accident has occurred and you have to drive right by it. You don't want to look but something compels you to.

The Images by Chris Jordan

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy

About FARE
The Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy “FARE” is a coalition of concerned individuals, businesses, communities, associations, policy makers, non-profits, and renewable energy producers. FARE is dedicated to educating and engaging Floridians on Renewable Energy Dividends. RED's have proven to be the most wide-spread and effective legislation for the promotion of renewable energy. Support FARE today and help secure a future for Florida that includes job creation, energy independence and environmental stewardship.

Weather and NPR

Our weather has been unusually hot. High temps daily in the 90s. That is really unusual for us. Even so, our PV system has been cranking out 35 percent and up of our energy. With the AC running constantly that is not too bad. We still have a lot of work to do on conservation. When our major appliances get old enough we will replace them with Energy Star ones. We have two refrigerators and that alone should save us about 10+ KWH per day. It is more cost effective to replace inefficient appliances than it is to add more solar panels.

A couple of days ago while taking Barbara to the dentist I turned on the radio. It happened to be tuned to NPR and the Dian Rehm show. They were talking about solar energy. It was a good show with a great panel made up of:

Rob Lamkin, CEO, Cool Earth Solar

Rhone Resch, president and chief executive officer, Solar Energy Industries Association

Peter Fox-Penner, principal and chairman emeritus, The Brattle Group, an international economic consulting firm,former Department of Energy official, and author of the forthcoming Island Press book "Smart Power"

Alex Daue, Renewable Energy Coordinator with the Wilderness Society.

Something urged me to call in and boy was I shocked when they took my call. I was so surprised that my thoughts were not as organized as I would have liked them to be. I still managed to convey some of our experiences of living in a solar home and got a nice compliment from the panel. You can go to the Diane Rehm Show website and listen if you want. My call came in about two thirds of the way into the show. Click here to go to the website. The audio links are on the right.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another Tiny PC

fit-PC2 Wiki

CompuLab introduces fit-PC2 – the smallest, most power-efficient Intel Atom PC to date. fit-PC2 architecture is what sets it apart from other nettop PCs - fit-PC2 is designed around the Intel Atom Z530 1.6GHz and the ultra low power Intel US15W system controller hub, rather than the Atom N270 and 945G used in other nettop-PCs, thereby reducing power consumption by more than two thirds.
US15W incorporates hardware video acceleration. This allows fit-PC2 to run Windows XP or Ubuntu Linux at just 6W and to play full HD 1080p H.264 video using less than 7W.
Unique Features

The most striking feature of fit-PC2 is its size - 4" x 4.5" x 1.05" - smaller than a CD.
Fanless Operation

fit-PC2 is totally fanless - the all-aluminum case dissipates heat. This has two advantages -

o fit-PC2 is noiseless, or absolutely silent if used with a solid state disk.
o Increased reliability due to no moving parts.

Wall Wart Computer

Marvell SheevaPlug: $99 Linux PC hidden in a wall-wart - SlashGear
Marvell SheevaPlug: $99 Linux PC hidden in a wall-wart
By Chris Davies on Tuesday, Feb 24th 2009

Worth Reading?

+92 [96 votes]

Marvell have been talking up their SheevaPlug reference design, a wall-wart power plug that actually hides an entire Linux PC. Priced at $99, inside the SheevaPlug there’s an ARM-based 1.2GHz Sheeva embedded processor, 512MB of DDR2 memory, 512MB of flash storage, gigabit ethernet and USB 2.0; in fact the development kit is available now.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Black-hooded Parakeet

Black-hooded Parakeet
Originally uploaded by ReinhardG
We had one of these on our bird feeder this morning. Since we use one of those weight balanced feeders, the parakeet was unable to perch without closing the cover over the seed. I heard the typical sounds of a parrot and I always try to see them even though they are fairly common in this area . To my surprise, a Nanday or Black-hooded parakeet was trying to land on the feeder. I understand that they are an invasive species but it sure was pretty.

Roar and Brake

This comment extracted from a CNET article on the Toyota Prius sure struck a nerve.  We have noticed the same thing as we drive.  People sit at a light.  The light turns green and the stomp the accelerator to get to the next light which turns red just as they arrive.  We cruise past in "old man mode" and they stomp it and brake hard at the next light as we cruise through.  It was amuzing to see someone else express this as well as this commentor on the web site did.

Chasing the Toyota Prius' 50-mpg nirvana | Green Tech - CNET News

What I do find amusing is that most traffic lights are timed for a specific road speed. I can't tell you how many times, I have been passed by a guy doing 5 over the limit. While I drive the limit. 90% of the time I find him stopped at the next light. As I roll up doing the speed limit the light turns green I don't need to brake or accelerate. I pass the guy who passed me, only to see him roar up past me again. And we repeat the process over and over, as he roars past brakes hard at the light sits, and grumbles then roars past again.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Solar Startups in the Sunshine State

Some of Central Florida's solar-power companies -
Energy Alternatives, DeLand: A former airline pilot, Sandra Williams was waiting in a long line of planes in New York when she suddenly became aware of what she calls "my long history of bad fossil-fuel karma." She whipped out a calculator and determined that she had personally been responsible for using 1.5 million gallons of gas in her aviation career. She hung up her captain's uniform and started working on a book called The Queen of Green Tells All. In 2005, she started her company and got to work installing solar water heaters in homes and businesses. Williams is seeking grants to do solar education.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Great way to use rainwater.

Rain2o: Source for Rain Water Harvesting Equipment

Would you be surprised to hear 50,000 gallons annually? That’s the answer when big and small homes are averaged together and different levels of rain fall are taken into account (see Table 1). A modest ½” of rain yields 700 gallons of rain water on a typical roof and all of that pours through your downspouts. Rain barrels are an excellent way to collect and store some of your rain water for use between rains, for example, to water your gardens using soaker hoses. The cost to set up a few rain barrels is modest and easily recouped through savings from reduced water and sewer bills.

Laser "cure" for blindness tested (BBC)

This is pretty exciting news for our older friends who may have macular degeneration.

BBC NEWS | Health | Laser 'cure' for blindness tested
Laser 'cure' for blindness tested
Elderly eye
AMD causes blurred or distorted central vision

A ground-breaking laser treatment could prevent millions of older people from going blind, experts believe.

The technique helps reverse the effects of age-related macular degeneration - the leading cause of blindness in over 60s in the western world.

Developed by pioneering eye expert Professor John Marshall of King's College London, the laser returns the back of the eye to its youthful state.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Five new apps for the Iphone

Five fab apps for iPhone OS 3.0 and the new 3GS
Here's a quick look at five applications iPhone and iPod Touch owners should consider. The easiest way to track them down is by accessing the App Store on the iPhone and searching for the app title. (You can do it in iTunes, too, if you want.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Florida lawmakers just can't get it right. Sunshine State? Not yet.

Solar disarray: Lawmakers bungle green push
As a blazing sun bore down this week, Southwest Florida got a sweltering reminder of true solar power.

With the intensity and frequency of its sunshine, Florida should be a world leader in harnessing this potent form of renewable energy.

Yet, the state has only a handful of commercial solar arrays, offers a paltry $5 million rebate program and serves merely as a conduit for federal stimulus funds targeted to renewable energy projects.

Despite good goals set by Gov. Charlie Crist, Florida has done too little to increase the use and generation of solar power or to encourage businesses or jobs in developing, supplying or installing the equipment.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Behind the RC gear really works.

RC Gear from Crazy Builders on Vimeo.

This is a pretty interesting explanation of how RC, Radio Control, gear works. We take a lot of this for granted but when you see what goes on behind the scenes you understand just how remarkable the technology is today. Wait for the end. Pretty funny.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Aspire One Solar Logger

Originally uploaded by rbrown3rd
My new netbook, and Acer Aspire One. This one is running Windows XP and is functioning as the server that uploads data to . It takes the place of a headless Dell machine running Windows Vista. This change reduces energy consumption of the server by 1.22 kwh per day. This is a significant savings over the old machine and is just one little bit of energy that we are no longer consuming. It is amazing how many small things we have plugged in that are sucking small amounts of energy. It all adds up.


Originally uploaded by asadotzler
Talk about a steady decline. Internet Explorer has been gliding down from the altitude it got by being bundled with all new computers. Does this mean that the PC user community is getting more savvy with time? Firefox shows a steady growth. I just tested the new Safari 4 on my Mac and it has some very nice features. I believe that it is built on the Gecko engine like the new Firefox. I have also test Chrome by Google and it is really fast but as of yet has few addons or enhancements. For now, I will stick with Firefox as my web browser.

Dramatic gains in truck efficiency through aerodynamic testing.

AeroTruck E-38096: Air flow testing on aerodynamic truck
During a decade spanning the 1970s and 1980s, Dryden researchers conducted tests to determine the extent to which adjustments in the shape of trucks reduced aerodynamic drag and improved efficiency. During the tests, the vehicle's sides were fitted with tufts, or strings, that showed air flow. The investigators concluded that rounding the vertical corners front and rear reduced drag by 40 percent, yet decreased the vehicle's internal volume by only 1.3 percent. Rounding both the vertical and horizontal corners cut drag by 54 percent, resulting in a three percent loss of internal volume. A second group of tests added a faired underbody and a boat tail, the latter feature resulting in drag reduction of about 15 percent.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Firefox Add Ons

Believe me when I say I have done a LOT of testing with Firefox addons.  After considerable experimentation this is my current stable of Firefox addons that provide such incredible functionality that I have yet to see a web browser that approaches this setup.  I'll publish a series of discussions about each of these in the future and what I find so useful about each of them but for now, here is my list:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Firefox and the "Awesomebar"

A Little Something Awesome about Firefox 3 :: The Mozilla Blog
A Little Something Awesome about Firefox 3
Posted by Mary Colvig

April 21st, 2008 · Mozilla News, Tips & Tricks

Deb Richardson, author of the about:mozilla newsletter, wrote one of the better explanations I’ve seen on the “AwesomeBar,” Firefox 3’s revamped URL bar. It’s not the most humble of names, but if you check out Deb’s post you’ll see why it’s earned it.

In Deb’s words, here’s a quick snapshot of what makes Firefox 3’s URL bar just so awesome:

Dubbed the “AwesomeBar”, it lets you use the URL field of your browser to do a keyword search of your history and bookmarks. No longer do you have to know the domain of the page you’re looking for — the AwesomeBar will match what you’re typing (even multiple words!) against the URLs, page titles, and tags in your bookmarks and history, returning results sorted by “frecency” (an algorithm combining frequency + recency).

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Only in South Florida

Iguana problems tackled at Palm Beach County symposium -- South Florida
Leapin' lizards. Literally.

More than 100 people showed up at the Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service building west of West Palm Beach on Tuesday to learn about everything iguana. There was information ranging from what plants are most vulnerable to an iguana palate to how to harass and euthanize them if they become a nuisance.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cooliris for Firefox

I love this addition to Firefox.  It is a stunningly beautiful way to browse photos and videos by category or on any web page.  This is one of my recommended Firefox add ons.

Cooliris :: Firefox Add-ons
Full-Screen, 3D -- Cooliris is simply the fastest and most stunning way to browse photos and videos from the Web or your desktop. Effortlessly scroll a "3D Wall" of your content from Facebook, Google Images, YouTube, Flickr, and hundreds more.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The future of browsing, at least with Firefox our favorite browser.

From "ReadWriteWeb" a glimpse into the future of web browsers.  We currently use Firefox with several add ons that give our browser customized power.  One of these is called Ubiquity and another enhances tabbed browsing.  The add ons that we find useful to us seem to be useful to others too.  The future of Firefox seems to incorporate all of them into the browser itself.  We find this article innteresting and perhaps you will too.

The Future of Firefox: No Tabs, Built-In Ubiquity - ReadWriteWeb
Thanks to its extensibility, Firefox quickly became the favorite browser for most power users. But while extensions are a great way to make Firefox more functional, Mozilla's designers are also currently thinking about a complete redesign of the way the browser looks and feels, in order to keep up with changing usage patterns. The most radical proposal we have seen so far would do away with the standard browser tabs, and replace them with an interface that looks more like iTunes than Firefox.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Earth Trainer Tomato Growing

This is a great set of instructions for growing tomatoes  hydroponically in plastic storage containers.  The link is here.  Complete instructions including videos are available.  Just continue through the article to the bottom.  I've always had an interest in this and will probably give it a try this spring.  I used a hydroponically watered feed tray to start some Amaryllis seedlings.  They are all doing well.  One of our lilies produced big seed heads and just as an experiment we tried germinating them by using what is known as the "California Method.'  It involves floating the seeds in glass containers until they germinate.  I used some big glass casserole trays and it worked.  I would say we got about a fifty percent germination rate.  The method of growing described in this tomato article might also be a great way to continue growing those seedlings.  I am definitely going to give this a try. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nice Orchids For You..

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Plug-in Vehicles for Clean transportation

This this technology is far off in the future?  Watch a video about a family who has driven for 7 years and 70,000 miles with no gas and using only the energy generated from their solar panels.  This could have been implemented almost a decade ago and was not.  Our own house generates excess energy during the day.  We could use it to charge up a plug in vehicle.

Watch this fascinating video right here.

New things in Gmail

Gmail has served us well as a web based email client.  The developers are always coming up with new things to make it even more appealing.  Here are some new features that I really like:

YouTube previews in mail
by Stanley C and Braden K

Shows a video preview whenever you receive a YouTube link in an email. You can watch the video right inline!

Picasa previews in mail
by Dan, Stanley, Mark & Umesh

Shows photos previews whenever you receive a Picasa link in an email.

Flickr previews in mail
by Dan P

Shows photos previews whenever you receive a Flickr link in an email.

...and this one is especially nice.  It is still under development but works well.  The delay needs to be a bit longer or user configurable.  But, this is very nice.  We used to have an undo in our email at work and it saved me many times when I sent something and then had second thoughts about it.

Undo Send
by Yuzo F

Oops, hit "Send" too soon? Stop messages from being sent for a few seconds after hitting the send button.