Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Biggest Single Step - Global Warming - Sierra Club

The Biggest Single Step the United States can take to curb global warming and save oil is to raise the fuel economy of our cars and light trucks.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Earlier today I was thinking about politics...

Now that doesn't seem so important, just an abstraction and a distraction compared to what's really important - friends, family, work, play.

We spend so much of our lives at work. I'm lucky to have an interesting job and work with some really great people.

One of those people retired today. We will really miss him.

I know that chapters must end so new ones can begin but I can't help but feel a sense of loss.

On the plus side it's good to be able to say you will miss someone - rather than saying "boy I'm glad that guy is gone."

We Don't Need No Stinkin Constitution

There's a key point in the current debate about the Bush administration's firing of the eight U.S. Attorneys that is not getting enough attention.

...the Patriot Act allows for the indefinite appointment of an interim U.S. Attorney without Senate approval...

The newly appointed U.S. Attorneys did not undergo a confirmation before the U.S. Senate as required by the constitution - instead the U.S. Attorneys were appointed by President Bush under a provision of the Patriot Act, which allows for the indefinite appointment of an interim U.S. Attorney without Senate approval.

It's one thing to practice political patronage by putting your political cronies in important positions like FEMA, but a different kettle of fish when the Executive Branch of our government starts to use U.S. prosecuters to extend their political power.

The United States Department of Justice website states - "United States Attorneys are appointed by, and serve at the discretion of, the President of the United States, with advice and consent of the United States Senate."

Tim Griffin, the recently installed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas is an example of what U.S. citizens got as a result of the political sleight of hand that George Bush's administration pulled off by using the Patriot act provision to stack the deck with politically compliant, partisan and in the case of Mr. Griffen, possibly racist - U.S. Attorneys.

From a March 26th article in the "New Yorker" by Jane Mayer -

"A former research director for the Republican National Committee and an aide to Karl Rove, the White House political adviser, Griffin had relatively little prosecutorial experience. Nonetheless, e-mails between Justice Department and White House officials show that Bush Administration officials pushed out Griffin’s well-respected predecessor, H. E. (Bud) Cummins, to make room for Griffin, in part because “it was important to . . . Karl [Rove], etc.”

Griffin did not undergo a confirmation process before the Senate Judiciary Committee, as is required by the Constitution. Instead, the President appointed him under a little-noticed provision of the 2006 renewal of the Patriot Act, which allows for the indefinite appointment of an interim U.S. Attorney without Senate approval. Ostensibly, the provision was intended to be used in situations where national security might be at stake, such as the death of a sitting U.S. Attorney resulting from a terrorist attack.

As early as last summer, Justice Department officials worried that Griffin’s past as an opposition researcher for the Republicans might make him unconfirmable. (A Justice Department staffer wrote in an e-mail, in reference to the plan to install Griffin, “We have a senator prob.”) In congressional hearings last month, Mark Pryor, a Democratic senator from Arkansas, raised concerns about newspaper accounts of Griffin’s political work, which, he said, has “been characterized as ‘caging’ African-American votes. This arises from allegations that Mr. Griffin and others in the R.N.C. were targeting African-Americans in Florida for voter challenges during the 2004 Presidential campaign.”


George Bush is taking a fair amount of criticism (justifiably so) for surrounding himself with true believers.

On the plus side, by doing so is teaching us a valuable lesson in the value of diversity.

If we are trying to come up with the best solutions to our challenges, there's really no point in gathering a group of people who think exactly like we do.

We shouldn't agree on everything, and we shouldn't become ditto heads who use other people's talking points in lieu of thinking for ourselves.

We need to champion diversity. We all have something to bring to the table. By insulating ourselves from diverse opinions and ideas we end up with bad decisions made by people who are afraid of being culled from the herd if they speak up, and in the worst cases we end up with insanity like the KKK or Nazism.

Unfortunately for citizens of the United States and the world, the Bush administration's legacy will be that they taught us what happens when Sock Puppets not only take center stage in the political arena but are allowed to take over our government.

If only George Bush would have learned about Abraham Lincoln surrounding himself with dissenters in is Team of Rivals, or FDR's Brain Trust.


p.s. I was thinking about titling this post "Sock Monkey Rides Again" but that's already been taken.

Sock Monkey Rides Again is a book by Cece Bell. It gets 5 stars and sounds pretty good -

"Sock Monkey makes a new friend, and everybody gets along. If only real life were that simple!" —Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT


George W. Bush's current term ends on January 20, 2009

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Step It Up 2007

Step It Up 2007 "This April 14th, tens of thousands of Americans will gather all across the country at meaningful, iconic places to call for action on climate change. We will hike, bike, climb, walk, swim, kayak, canoe, or simply sit or stand with banners of our call to action"

Every group will be saying the same thing: "Step it up, Congress! Cut Carbon 80% by 2050." As people gather, pictures of the protests will be linked together electronically via the web--before the weekend is out, we'll have the largest protest the country has ever seen, not in numbers but in extent. From every corner of the nation we'll start to shake things up."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Donkey Konga

Ever since I went to a game store to pick up "Brain Age" and saw the small bongo controllers used with Nintendo's Game Cube game "Donkey Konga" I've been thinking I'd like to get the real game, but this flash version is fun for awhile.

It would be a lot more fun with some little bongo controllers.

Come to think of it, a lot of computer activities would be more fun if we could use little bongo controllers instead of boring old mice.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Be Hospitable

I like the idea of the Be Hospitable website.

It gives people an opportunity to share stories of hospitality, kindness, and helping others.

The Pay It Forward Foundation has a list of links to organizations with similar ideas.

Think Thin To Get Thin

The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person by Dr. Judith Beck is due to be released in April. It has 42 tasks and skills to work on over a six week period - to help people control their weight. Simple things like - not eating while standing up, writing all the reasons you want to lose weight on a card, taking a walk when you have a craving for a snack, and other techniques to help us train our brains.

Judith S. Beck, Ph.D., is the Director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research in suburban Philadelphia and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.

The book description at Amazon says,

"Any sensible diet will help you lose weight, but the challenge for 90% of Americans is actually staying on the diet they choose.Enter Dr. Judith Beck and The Beck Diet Solution. Dr. Beck, one of the foremost authorities in the field of Cognitive Therapy, has created a four-week plan that will help people stick with their diet, lose weight with confidence, and keep weight off for a lifetime. This program is not only based on the authors personal success and on her success with her many clients, but also on published research. It all starts with how you think. With other programs, you think about nothing but food: counting, weighing, and worst of all, food you cant have. This way of thinking inevitably contributes to diet failure. The Beck Diet Solution is the only program that helps dieters use Cognitive Therapy methods scientifically proven over 20 years to forever change those treacherous thought patterns that lead to overeating, cheating, excuses, and other dieting downfalls."

Read more at Think Thin To Get Thin - To Your Health -

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's Getting Hot In Here

I find it quite tedious (and yet oddly - somehow very exciting and upsetting) to listen to talk radio, watch television, read magazines or blogs that attempt to refute observable scientific facts. Without fail these arguments revert to non-scientific statements, that boil down to something like "Al Gore is a weenie." "Liberals are poopy heads." "Democrat party bad." etc.

Certainly entertaining to some, who can't stand the truth, or can't stand to think for themselves - but how utterly useless in solving any of the difficult challenges the human race faces to protect our planet.

Al Gore didn't invent the internet and he didn't invent global warming. I have read and thought about the environment for years - so I'm not all that excited to know that climate change has found it's way into the daily buzz (particularly if it's going to become a good guy - bad guy discussion).

If it brings people to realize that - conservation (shouldn't conservatives be for that?) and saving energy can be done in simple ways, that saving energy saves money (shouldn't conservatives be for that?), and that we need to devote our intelligence and willpower to finding even more effective ways - then great!

There are people who, no matter how strong the evidence to the contrary, will find ways to convince themselves that what is - is not. We can look at satellite images of the polar ice caps and see they have shrunk in size by roughly half between 1979 and 2005, scientists tell us the average temperature of our planet has risen by about a degree in the 1900's (more in the polar regions) - and yet there are people who will say receding ice caps and rising global temperatures aren't happening.

We shouldn't find that surprising, any more than the fact that there are people who think we never sent a man to the moon.

It might help to realize that science often does not deal in absolutes, but rather in probabilities. Because of that fact a person can always argue that some scientific "thing" may not be true, or may not happen. Since we are "predicting" the future we can't do so with 100% certainty. But if we understand the odds and what's at stake it would behoove us to err on the side of caution (shouldn't conservatives be for that?)

Scientists use terms that equate with mathematically defined probabilities. They may say something is probable, improbable, or extremely improbable - and those terms have specific mathematically defined meanings. Scientists who deal with climate change use terms like "virtual certainty" (or virtually certain) which conveys a greater than 99% chance that a result is true. Other terms used to communicate confidence include "very likely" (90-99% chance the result is true) and "likely" (66-90% chance the result is true).

My point is that since many things scientists deal with are not 100% certain, there will always be things that are open to debate. People need to use their own judgment to decide if they want to assume the risk that by arguing that something that may be 60%, or 90% or 99% likely to be true may in fact be false. We may be wasting valuable time.

It's sort of like this - say I put 3 bullets in a six shot revolver. It's not even "likely" (using the 66% chance definition above) that if you spin the chamber a bullet will be ready to fire when you pull the trigger. Is that a good bet or a bad bet? Your call.

It's not as immediately dramatic but lets say we continue to dump CO2 into the atmosphere at our current rate and it's not even likely (just 50-50) that the net result is that we will see species become extinct, desertification, sea acidification, increasing methane emissions as the peat bogs melt...etc. Do you think that's a good bet or a bad bet? Your call.


So what is the "state of knowledge", the "facts" regarding global warming aka climate change (to account for the fact that the impact on the climate due to greenhouse gases does more than just cause a rise in earth's temperature)?

I have no reason to distrust the United States Environmental Protection Agency so I will cite what they say. I have no reason to distrust NASA, or Scientific American or National Geographic and could just as easily cite what they say. But here is what the U.S. EPA states regarding the current state of knowledge on climate change -

  • Human activities are changing the composition of Earth's atmosphere. Increasing levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere since pre-industrial times are well-documented and understood.
  • The atmospheric buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is largely the result of human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels.
  • A warming trend of about 0.7 to 1.5°F occurred during the 20th century. Warming occurred in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and over the oceans.
  • The major greenhouse gases emitted by human activities remain in the atmosphere for periods ranging from decades to centuries. It is therefore virtually certain that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will continue to rise over the next few decades.
  • Increasing greenhouse gas concentrations tend to warm the planet.
  • Average temperatures in the Arctic have risen at almost twice the rate as temperatures in the rest of the world over the past few decades.
  • Widespread melting of glaciers and sea ice and rising permafrost temperatures present additional evidence of strong Arctic warming. Arctic sea ice decreased by roughly half from 1979 to 2005.
  • The above trends are expected to continue during this century, resulting from ongoing increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (though greenhouse gases do not primarily originate from the Arctic).
  • Melting of Arctic glaciers is a contributing factor to sea level rise around the world.
  • Warming is very likely to alter the release and uptake of greenhouse gases from soils, vegetation, and coastal oceans.
  • Reduction in sea ice is very likely to have devastating consequences for polar bears, ice-dependent seals, and local people for whom these animals are a primary food source.
"Warming is now occurring over most of the globe and is consistent with the global retreat of mountain glaciers, reduction in snow-cover extent, the earlier spring melting of ice on rivers and lakes, and increases in sea-surface temperatures and ocean heat content."


Here's the part that should wake us up if we aren't already. No one knows what sort of path this climate change will take. It could be very non-linear and if "you feel lucky" you could bet that it will be a exponential decay (that would be a bad bet...but what the hey take a chance...lose the planet) - on the other hand it could be an exponential rise in things like sea level or temperature, or methane gas (one of the greenhouse gases) emissions, or just the overall temperature of the planet. A complex system can reach a "tipping point" or "bifurcation point" where it suddenly changes state. It's not the "Day After Tomorrow" silliness but more likely a rapidly rising rate of what we are already seeing.

Again from the EPA -

"Our state of knowledge is not yet sufficient to predict the timing of the future abrupt climate changes or pinpoint their effects. However, the National Academies of Sciences did conclude:

…greenhouse warming and other human alterations of the Earth system may increase the possibility of large, abrupt, and unwelcome regional or global climatic events. The abrupt changes of the past are not fully explained yet, and climate models typically underestimate the size, speed, and extent of those changes. Hence, future abrupt changes cannot be predicted with confidence, and climate surprises are to be expected."


It won't help us step up to the challenge by denying the scientific facts or making really bad bets with our future, or calling each other names, or making something that is of vital importance to humankind, into some sort of silly political sideshow, where we debate whether Al Gore uses more energy than I do. Yes he does, but so what?

We are all hypocrites in some sense. My apologies to the true Mother T's, or Gandhi G's...but when it comes to us puny humans - nobody is perfect. We do the best we can.

The EPA has a nice summary of things that We Can Do

"You release greenhouse gases as a result of using energy to drive, using electricity to light and heat your home, and through other activities that support our quality of life like growing food, raising livestock and throwing away garbage. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced through simple measures like changing light bulbs and properly inflating your tires. This site provides 30 easy steps you can take to not only reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce air pollution, increase the nation's energy independence and save money."

I'm going to go hug a tree now.

By the way if you have a chance be sure and check out the Planet Earth series on the Discovery Channel

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Everett Is - And Will Be Booming

Everett Washington has undergone a significant transformation in the last 20 years and from the looks of things that trend will continue for the next 20.

There are many recreational and cultural opportunities. Everett is becoming a major medical center with the expansion of the top-rated Providence Hospital into a regional center and on-going discussions to bring a 4 year university to town.

The waterfront development will attract people interested in boating, artists, empty-nesters looking for a new lifestyle and young professionals. Living on the waterfront will cost a bit more than many people are able, or willing, to pay for housing - but there are other more-affordable housing opportunities in downtown Everett.

Some of the most interesting in the more-affordable category are the Nautica Condominiums at the corner of Grand and Hewitt Avenues. This is really a nice location, with the Sno-Isle Natural Food Coop right next door, various restaurants, gyms and the library very close by (within easy walking distance). Nautica advertises their condo prices as -

Studios from the low $100’s

One bedrooms from the mid $100’s

Two bedrooms from the high $200’s

There will be opportunities in the upcoming years to buy a condo from the low $100's to the low $1,000,000's.

If a person wanted to invest in real estate it seems like any of these options would be a pretty good bet.

Everett, unlike many of the cities/surburban-developments in the Seattle area was a city in it's own right in the late 1800's. Consequently it was layed-out with streets that follow a grid (no cul-de-sacs) and because of that the city is much more orderly than some of the unplanned communities that sprouted up as people moved away from Seattle in search of more-affordable places to live. In other words Everett can have a downtown "core", and not simply a sprawl of strip malls, convenience stores and big malls.

One other very important thing, considering the traffic mess in the Puget Sound area, is that a person could live and work in Everett. Or live and retire in Everett and not have to commute to and from work, libraries, gyms, stores, restaurants, or recreational opportunities on a regular basis.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

LOST: no-legged dog, brown :-)

This is just one of many things you will find at Kasper Hauser Sketch Comedy

Dig around a little - they have some super funny stuff, in addition to the Craig's List parody, there are some great podcasts and videos - from Captain Kirk on acid, to a "This American Life" takeoff, funny blogs from a 14th Century serf named Jacobus, mock wedding announcements and SkyMaul.

They have more video and audio skits on myspace.

I found out about the San Francisco comedy troupe Kasper Hauser courtesy of Boing Boing: Five favorite podcasts.


Friday, March 23, 2007


I learned that S I M B U Y O is a Tagalog term for passion.

There's some interestingly creative writing on this blog.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

California Giant Strawberry Pie

I made this pie with the two quarts of the new California Giant strawberries, Krusteaz Scone Mix and a container of Marie's Strawberry Glaze. It's vegan, but I think it would be good with some whipped cream, ice cream or Soy Whip. It was super simple - just add 2/3 cup of soy milk to the Krusteaz mix, stir it up, and form it in the pie pan - bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Wash and slice the berries and add the glaze. Once the crust is semi-cool put your strawberry mix on top. Add whipped topping, or ice cream when ready to serve.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Are You a Strange Loop?

The book I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter is due to be released this month.

Douglas Hofstadter is also the author of Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid written in 1979, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.

I don't generally like to list a bunch of links without any explanation but I've found that reading about his upcoming book and his previous book has led me into more ideas than I can summarize at this time. I've been on a trip from the Big Bang and how we got something from nothing, to Möbius strips, Klein Bottles and String Theory with it's 10 or 11 or 26 dimensions...needless to say my head is a little too full of fragmented thoughts.

Fascinating stuff if that's your cup of tea. By the way - did you know you could make a donut into a teacup? I learned that in What is topology? about 30 minutes ago...but I digress.

What is a strange loop you ask? Why should I be interested in this? At the fundamental level a strange loop is something that creates itself or in more human terms - perception is reality. We are self-referential beings who understand what "is" only in relationship to what we are. In Hofstadter's first book he talks about beaming a Bach composition into outer space; without some prior knowledge, that piece of beautiful music would be gibberish to the recipient. If you extend that idea to "your" world you can begin to see that everything becomes what it is, based on who you are.

That's why M.C. Escher is tied into this. He drew things, that often trick us into seeing something that isn't there, or interpreting what is there in various ways - such as with the Necker cube. You can make a short jump from these ideas into string theory and the concept that there are multiple dimensions beyond what we are capable of perceiving.

Kurt Gödel comes into play because he proved there are some things that are true, but unprovable. It takes some work to pull what Gödel had to say into anything we could relate to - but for the casual observer his point may be - don't be so sure (even if you are a mathematician or logician) that there are firm underpinnings in the system of theorems, axioms and proofs you hang your hat on...unless they are very very simple.

The bottom line?

The world and the universe we live in, is a strange and very mysterious place, assuming we take the time and make the effort to look at it closely enough to get beyond the surface.

Artists, poets, philosophers, advanced mathematicians and physicists - like that idea. All of us should take great comfort that there is so much to learn - so much we don't know, and room for a whole bunch of different ideas about what "is".

If you do a little looking on the web you will find that Douglas Hofstadter's writings appeal to various people - not only those who may be technologically or mathematically inclined. Perhaps more importantly, his ideas will lead curious learners to all sorts of other interesting things to read and think about.

I found his comment in the Wired article (see link below) illuminating.

The interviewer makes the statement,

"One of the attractions of your writing is the wordplay, a fascination with the kind of recursions that appeal to programmers and nerds."

and he replies,

"It is ironic because my whole life I have felt uncomfortable with the nerd culture that centers on computers. I always hope my writings will resonate with people who love literature, art, and music. But instead, a large fraction of my audience seems to be those who are fascinated by technology and who assume that I am, too."

I only put that in since a fair number of people would assume (myself included) that this sort of thing would mainly be intended for the nerdlier among us.

Last but certainly not least - I find it touching, and hopeful, that Douglas Hofstadter who lost his beloved wife at a young age uses the idea of strange loops to point to the fact that she lives on in who he is.

Here's that promised list O' links...(some pretty interesting stuff here and lots of fun tangents if you follow some of the Wikipedia threads) -

The Year of Mathemagical Thinking

Strange loop - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wired 15.03: PLAY

An Excerpt from I Am a Strange Loop

Nerd World - Lev Grossman - Technology - TIME


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I Woke Up

This morning I woke up to the dull roar of something.
Was it the rain? The wind? A helicopter?
I’ll never know because now it’s gone.

The early morning city wakes before dawn.
The paper people come down the street.
First only the one.
Then all of them – to your work – to your place.
Hurry. Hurry. Get to where you belong.

Poetry, creative writing, fiction, stories.
Telling stories that should be true.
Or not.

Inspiration is 90 percent perspiration.
That’s why creative people need to use a good deodorant.

I woke to the smell of sagebrush and dirt.

Bill woke to the warmth of her neck.
No one else was awake so he drifted off again.

Later Bill leaped with joy. Then ran around in circles as fast as he could.

What would I do if I wasn’t doing this?

What will I do when I’m not doing this?

After I give it all away (which I inevitably will)
Then what will I have left?
Only me.
We enter this world alone
We leave this world alone
If we are lucky some nice people are around to say hello and goodbye

If you could have or do or see – anything, what would it be?

I woke to the smell of pine trees and water.
The dull roar of the river.
Fish sleeping in place – facing upstream always, so they can stay in one place and breathe.

I woke to the smell of a bakery, cinnamon and coffee.
The sound of early morning trucks and banging of cans.

I woke to the smell of stale beer and smoke.

I woke to the smell of vomit and piss.

I woke to the smell of diesel and gasoline.

I woke to the smell of a campfire and horses.

I woke to the smell of death, burnt bodies and blood.
Fear and pain.

I woke to the smell of ink and paper.

I woke to the smell of warm water and detergent, floor wax and cleaning solutions.

I woke to the smell of rocks and sand.

I woke to the smell of grass and sheep, rain is coming.

I woke to the smell of her hair, her face and linen.

I woke to the smell of metal and oil, machines, electricity.

I woke to the smell of lightning.

I woke to the smell of newly cut wood.

I woke to the smell of bacon frying.

I woke to the smell of wet concrete

I woke to the smell of a tent

I woke to the smell of a skunk

I woke to the smell of concrete and steel, a commode in the corner.
And hundreds of men on either side.

I woke to the smell of the ocean and the steady hum of the shaft as the ship moved through the deep water.

I woke to the smell of moss.
As I realized where I was, I thought to myself, “I need to clean my room more often.”

Monday, March 19, 2007

Enjoy The Little Things

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."

Robert Brault


"We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?

Wendell Berry


Read more quotes here.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Nobody Can Sleep Anymore

At least that's the way it seems if you look at the ads on television and in magazines for prescription and non-prescription sleep aids.

Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta, Rozerem, Dalmane, Restoril, and ProSom are some of the prescription medications available. Over-the-counter medications include - Sleep-Eze, Tylenol PM, Simply Sleep, Sominex, Nytol, and Unison.

So what's going on?

Off the top I think it may be a combination of overweight, overly caffeinated, under-exercised people who want a quick-fix easy solution (at least that's what's going on for me).

I've enjoyed insomnia for years. Never did much like going to bed - there's too much to miss, while you are asleep - plus the nighttime and early morning is a great time to think or just look around. Nowadays though when I watch television I get the feeling I need to buy something or have my doctor prescribe something.

I take some sleep aids now and then - because I have to go to work and don't have the luxury of sleeping when I'm tired. I still like my grandmother's advice to have some warm milk (soy nowadays) and remind myself that even though I may not be able to immediately go to sleep I'm still resting.

Send Your Pals a Personalized Voice Message From Dick Vitale

Been watching the NCAA b-ball tournament?

You can send a semi-personalized message to your buddies from Dick Vitale courtesy of Digiorno Pizza.

My main favs; WSU, Creighton, Gonzaga and Xavier, are out of it but I'm still rooting for Oregon.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Slide Show Creator

This slide show creator is similar to Flickr's photo-badge but has a few more features.

You can upload your own photos and make a slide show at

These are just some random shots I pulled off my hard drive...

Doin All Right So Far

"So far today, God, I've done all right. I haven't gossipped, I haven't lost my temper. I haven't been grumpy or nasty or selfish. I'm really glad of that. But in a few minutes, God, I'm going to get out of bed - and from then on I'll be needing lots of help!"

From The High Price Of Heaven a sermon, by Rod Benson.


PingMag - the Tokyo-based magazine about “Design and Making Things” has some pretty pictures, that could serve as inspiration or diversion.

The internet is interesting that way - lot's of diversion but not much inspiration.

At least inspiration that leads to me actually doing, making or creating something. It's a fairly self-contained universe. Not that it isn't a wonderful tool.

I can spend hours skimming over stuff (pretty stuff, interesting stuff, funny stuff, weird stuff) on the web. At the end of those hours could I sit down with another person and tell them a story? or summarize what I had learned? Not likely...

I'm pretty sure that's a diversion. Not bad in itself, but not to be taken in large quantities at the expense of other more important things.

If you took a walk and really observed what was around you, met some new people, took a class, cooked or ate something new, went on a trip - did anything outside of your normal routine it would be easy to tell someone a story, and in some sense that's what life is all about.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Secret

From the website The Secret -
"This is The Secret to everything - the secret to unlimited joy, health, money, relationships, love, youth: everything you have ever wanted. "
If you believe that I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Oprah has had some of the people associated with this book and DVD, on her show, and endorses it.

I have to admit I have not read the book and I don't intend to. My general rule of thumb (not always, but usually) is to read books that get good customer ratings at

The Secret gets about 3 1/2 stars, on average, from over 500 Amazon readers - not very good. It's a big enough sample size to let you know what the average reader thought of the book.

Here's what Shary, one Amazon reviewer, had to say -

"Unless you're nine years old and have been living in a tree, this book isn't worth the money. It's nothing more than a slick rehash of what your mother has been telling you for years--that a positive attitude will serve you better than a negative attitude. I intensely disliked the fact that the book stresses materialism; i.e., lose weight and you'll be happy, win the lottery and you'll be happy, or acquire a five million dollar mansion and you'll be happy.

But what happens if you don't get what you asked for? Well, the author has left herself a neat little exit hole by telling you that if your wish doesn't come true, it's because you didn't really, REALLY believe it would."

I'm listening to Ron Upshaw and Don O'Neill's show on KIRO 710 in Seattle - and people are calling in about "The Secret". One guy just called in and said that he wished he would have visualized not getting shot in Iraq (sounded real). That's the problem with this kind of balderdash - you can visualize all you want to but sometimes stuff happens - bad things happen to good people. I agree with what Shary from the Amazon reviewers has to say as well - getting "stuff" isn't the road to happiness. The road to happiness is the road - enjoying the trip - living your one unique life.

If you want to read about the power of positive thinking you can read any number of daily devotionals from Christian-based sources, any of Thich Nhat Hanh's Buddhist-based writings or the old traditional - Norman Vincent Peal's classic The Power of Positive Thinking.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Can't Wait

I'm 3 1/2
I wish I was five so I could go to kindergarten or better yet six so I could be in the first grade
It will be so great to get to high school
Can't wait to get out of high school
If I was eighteen I could join the service
Can't wait to get out of the service
Sure will be good when I get out of college so I can get a job
Monday - Boy I'm glad we got through that
Wednesday - Thank God it's hump day, only two days left in this work week
Finally Friday - TGIF
I'll be really glad when the kids are out of diapers
It'll be nice when the kids don't need babysitters
Sure will be good when the kids can drive themselves around
Now the kids are out of high school
On to college - young adults
I'm planning my retirement wishing I was 62 1/2....
And to think - Just a short time ago I was 3 1/2 going on 5.


If I learned anything I'd have to say don't plan your life away - instead of "can't wait" - "wait"...slow down, stop, look and listen. Savor the moment(s), and have courage to be open to the unexpected, put some slack time in your life - unmake a few plans, take a few things off your busy schedule so you can have some room for the beautiful, transient, so-short journey.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wonder Adventure and Beauty

As I sit here this morning slowly waking up, having eaten my morning oatmeal and my first sip of coffee, I can't help but think.

I am grateful for all the beautiful, wonder-filled, touching, wild, joyful, experiences I've had in my life. I accept the less than beautiful, sad, boring, painful experiences as part of the bargain.

So many things, people, places...very beautiful. It couldn't have been any other way - couldn't have been any better - so it's perfect. My one wild and beautiful life, I'll do my best to make the most of it, and hope that you make the most of yours.

Some travel around the world looking for adventure, wonder and beauty - and never find it, others can travel around the block, and figure out it's all right here.

Wishing you wonder, adventure and beauty wherever you may be.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Just a Six String Guitar

Looks like we survived the early transition to Daylight Saving's Time from where I'm sitting (I haven't been outside yet). My laptop is so smart - it knows it's an hour later this morning and I didn't have to do a darn thing.

I feel really lucky to have had a chance to listen to those great guitar players and singer/songwriters at Seattle's Paramount Theatre last night. The Paramount is a beautiful theatre, originally constructed in 1928, and renovated in 1994 - thanks to a former Microsoft employee, Ida Cole and the Seattle Landmark Association.

It's amazing how much music can come out of a 6 string acoustical guitar. Joe Ely, John Hiatt, Guy Clark and Lyle Lovett each had one guitar and that was it - no backup band.

It was amazingly good.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Pan Pacific Seattle

panpacific 010
Originally uploaded by yustyack.
B and I are in Seattle today enjoying ourselves. The new Pan Pacific Hotel is really nice. Great service, good location and nice views. They have hangers that you can take off the closet pole and a big tub that you can turn the water off with using your toe.

We've hit the usual spots - REI, Nordstroms, Starbucks and Whole Foods.

We're excited to see Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Joe Ely, and Guy Clark's "Four Horseman - Songwriter Tour at 8 pm.

Keys To Happiness

What makes us happy?

I believe happiness comes by living a life of meaning - being loved, giving love, being fully awake, aware and present in the "moment" - so we can share joy,

A huge part of that path to happiness is learning to love yourself. Lot's of people have lots of ideas to share or sell you on that.

For me personally - Christianity, with some Buddhist practices thrown in, works pretty well. It wasn't always that way and it still isn't always that way.

If you happen to be in a place where loving yourself isn't possible right now - wait - slow down - stop, look and listen. It might take awhile but keep in mind that the best thing you can do, is to be you, whoever and whatever you are - is perfect - you're perfect - it's all perfect. It can't be any other way.

It may be stating the obvious but in order to be happy you need to associate with happy people. I don't mean that you have to hang out with clowns, as fun as that may be - but you need some optimistic, fun-loving, helpful, non-negative people in your life. If you are very lucky you will be surrounded by those people at home and work. If you find yourself in a place where some totally negative vibes keep coming from a person, or persons, it may be best if you or they move on.

You can make simple adjustments in your life to aim at your happiness goals, but it all starts from the inside and works it's way outward. You can't buy happiness (I don't think you can even rent it)'s the same old deal - "wherever you go there you are". You can go to a beautiful sun-drenched beach, be holding the drink with the little umbrella, laying in a hammock - but unless you are happy within yourself - it isn't going to work. It's easy to confirm this theory by looking at people who have lots of "things" go lots of "places" but are so very unhappy that they end up doing very self-destructive things.

Enough of my ramblings.


NPR has a program about Finding Happiness - a very popular class at Harvard, taught by Tal Ben-Shahar.

Six Tips for Happiness from Tal Ben-Shahar

1. Give yourself permission to be human. When we accept emotions -- such as fear, sadness, or anxiety -- as natural, we are more likely to overcome them. Rejecting our emotions, positive or negative, leads to frustration and unhappiness.

2. Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable. When this is not feasible, make sure you have happiness boosters, moments throughout the week that provide you with both pleasure and meaning.

3. Keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind, not on our status or the state of our bank account. Barring extreme circumstances, our level of well being is determined by what we choose to focus on (the full or the empty part of the glass) and by our interpretation of external events. For example, do we view failure as catastrophic, or do we see it as a learning opportunity?

4. Simplify! We are, generally, too busy, trying to squeeze in more and more activities into less and less time. Quantity influences quality, and we compromise on our happiness by trying to do too much.

5. Remember the mind-body connection. What we do -- or don't do -- with our bodies influences our mind. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits lead to both physical and mental health.

6. Express gratitude, whenever possible. We too often take our lives for granted. Learn to appreciate and savor the wonderful things in life, from people to food, from nature to a smile.

Source: NPR : Finding Happiness in a Harvard Classroom


I don't know - sometimes it's 6 steps, sometimes 7, sometimes 12 steps, or in the case of the book mentioned below - four.

I think finding happiness/peace/joy is an infinite number of small steps - happiness is a journey, a path, not a destination. In the words of Harry Chapin, "It's got to be the goin not the gettin there that's good."

In any event, the author of the "Four Agreements" and his family sound interesting - this is from the website of don Miguel and don Jose Luis Ruiz -

"Don Miguel Ruiz was born into a family of healers and raised in rural Mexico by a curandera (healer) mother and nagual (shaman) grandfather. The family anticipated don Miguel would embrace their centuries old legacy of healing and teaching and as a nagual, carry forward the esoteric Toltec knowledge. Instead, distracted by modern life, don Miguel chose to attend medical school and later teach and practice as a surgeon. "

Don Miguel is the author of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom the agreements summarized on his website as follows -

Everything we do is based on agreements we have made - agreements with ourselves, with other people, with God, with life. But the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. In these agreements we tell ourselves who we are, how to behave, what is possible, what is impossible.

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Friday, March 09, 2007

100,000 TV Channels Coming Your Way

Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, co-founders of the peer to peer music sharing program "Kazaa", and Voice-Over-IP program "Skype" have released their latest venture - a video delivery system for Mac's and PC's called Joost™. The service is available to Beta testers by invitation-only with a rumored release date this summer.

Friis is a Dane and Zennstrom a Swede - referred to by some as internet rock-stars. They had 2.6 billion dollars in their pockets after selling Skype to E-Bay and are using some of that money to get Joost™ off the ground.

In this Guardian Unlimited article, the founders say that when it is up and running, Joost™ viewers will have thousands of programs to choose from on up to 100,000 channels.

Joost™ uses H.264/MPEG-4 AVC digital compression to provide "near" high definition video.

The video distribution is based on the P2P (peer-to-peer) technology used by Kazaa where the network infrastructure is user PCs, rather than central servers.

According to this Wired article, "The goal is to render DVD-quality pictures -- no sudden freeze-ups or obvious artifacts -- at around 400 Kbps. (On a typical 500-Kbps home connection, that leaves headroom for the vital job of uploading to other peers.)"

The video is streamed, not downloaded to a user's computer - which attracts content providers concerned with illegal copying and distribution.

Joost™ currently has deals with Viacom to distribute video from MTV, BET and Paramount Pictures.

The service is free, and it's supported by one minute of individually targeted advertisements per hour vs. up to fifteen minutes per hour on conventional TV.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Google SketchUp

Google SketchUp is fun to play with. There are some nice simple self-paced web-based and video tutorials that will get you started.

It might be handy for doing some thing other then just playing too.

According to the Sketch Up home page, it's a -

"3D modeling software tool that’s easy to learn, simple to use, and lets you place your models in Google Earth. Are you remodeling a kitchen, landscaping your back yard or adding a deck to your home? Google SketchUp makes it faster, easier and a lot more fun. From simple to complex, from conceptual to realistic, Google SketchUp helps you see your vision before you build it.

Once you've built your models, you can place them on Google Earth, or post them to the 3D Warehouse."


Sierra Club

$25 Sierra Club Membership with FREE backpack, Sierra magazine subscription, and more!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Changing Weather

We had a fair amount of snow in the convergence zones last Wednesday.

It took me 3 hours to drive 7 miles because the roads were so slippery and traffic was all jammed up. There were over 60 fender-benders in Everett that afternoon and the Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 was closed because of jack-knifed semis and cars in the ditch or stuck on the road.

I took this picture last week after that snowstorm.

Today, less than a week later- Seattle set a new record high of 68 degrees (the old one was 64 degrees set in 1984).

The trees that were covered with snow last week, are starting to be covered with blossoms this week.

Hooray for Spring!!!


Monday, March 05, 2007

Google Apps vs. Microsoft Office

Google is figuring out how to insert itself into one of Microsoft's major businesses - selling Microsoft Office applications to people who want integrated document, spreadsheet, email and calendar application.

According to this NPR interview by KPLU's Dave Meyer, with Strategic News Service publisher Mark Anderson , people perform intellectual type work in three stages -

1. Research
2. Analysis
3. Documentation

Mark Anderson says that Google has the front end with it's search capability and now can move into analysis (using online collaboration tools) and finally into documentation via it's document, spreadsheet and web page creation suite called Google Apps.

Microsoft's dilemma is that they are at the end of this process, since they have been unable to come up with a viable search tool - they are not involved in the research phase. All Google has to do (theoretically) is catch people's attention in phase 1 and then give them tools for doing analysis/collaboration and documentation.


Google Apps is pretty nice based on my 2 hour test drive.

Similar to Microsoft Office - it integrates mail, calendar, search, chat - as well as web page, document and spreadsheet creation into one package. Documents and spreadsheets are saved on a secure online server, or may be downloaded to your computer. Documents may be saved as pdf, word, open office, rtf, or html files.

Unlike Microsoft Office, the basic Google Apps package is free - at least if you have your own domain. If you don't have one - Google will register a domain name of your choice for $10 / year, which is a good deal.

The free package comes with 2 Gigabytes for email and web pages, which allows you to create up to 100 user accounts. There's also a premier edition aimed at schools and businesses, that want to integrate Google Apps into their existing infrastructure. It provides 10 Gigabytes of email space and phone support. The premier edition is 50 dollars a year per user account.

The Google Apps word processor and spreadsheet are capable of doing most anything I usual do with those applications. One of the nice features of the word processor is the ability to save files in the pdf format.

It looks like it would be easy to collaborate on documents or spreadsheets, and the shared email features might come in handy (you can decide as the admin who will have access to the group inbox) as a discussion group. You can invite people to collaborate or view a document. You can also retrieve earlier versions of a document and see who changed what and when.

The interface for creating web pages is simple and intuitive. You can create a Personalized Start Page for your co-collaborators with a shared calendar, inbox, and your docs and spreadsheets.

Over all - pretty cool. I don't think "power users" are going to be jumping on the Google App bandwagon real soon. It has some potential for a relatively small (100 or less) group of people who want to do certain types of collaborative work. Depending on their needs, it could be a real money-saver for a small business in lieu of an expensive I.T. group/person, or be a nice tool for a group of students, or anyone else, working on a project.

It's missing the infamous Powerpoint and Access least for now. I expect it will be changing to adapt to the market quite quickly.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Finding Love In The Quest For Freedom

The film 'Through Hell And High Water' tells the amazing story of Nancy Kelly, and other Norwegians, who escaped from their hometown of Hammerfest during WW-II after it was burned by the Nazis.

Nancy and six others lived in a mountain cave for several months; until they skied to the coast and were picked up by a Royal Navy destroyer. Nancy was transferred to a second ship which was hit by a U-Boat torpedo. Nancy survived after being rescued by the Royal Navy's HMS Onslaught - where she met her future husband Archie.

The Events Calendar / Pacific Lutheran University describes this story as -

"The most daring rescue carried out by the British Navy at the end of World War II changed Nancy Kelly's life forever. She was fleeing from Nazi occupation in the North of Norway when she met her Scottish love, Archie, on the gale blown high seas of the Atlantic Ocean. Their love story highlights undeniable courage in the face of adversity and shows the determination of the human spirit to fight for freedom at all costs. "
The story is remarkable.

You can watch an interview with Nancy Kelly at King 5 Evening Magazine

Saturday, March 03, 2007 - home

Just a couple of links with some interesting things, people, look at - - home

Face Hunter

Friday, March 02, 2007

Paper Airplanes

I need better lighting. Using a flash didn't work so good...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Earth Day - Saturday April 22

"Let's face it: Earth is a cool place to live! Where else can you find banana slugs and elephants, Venus flytraps and sunny yellow daffodils, parched desert flats and ice-encrusted mountain peaks?

The Sierra Club saluted Earth Day 2006 with a nod toward the sun, the wind, the land, and solutions for taking better care of this planet we call home. That home is threatened by global warming, and unfortunately, the federal government isn't eager to do anything about it."

From the Sierra Club Earth Day main page.
There are many things we can do individually to help preserve our planet, some we all know about - using compact fluorescents, walking or riding a bike, turning down the thermostat in the winter and putting on a sweater - and some we may not have thought about from TreeHugger: How to Go Green

These bizarre pictures from the US Government Earth Day website show President Bush rolling up his sleeves, pointing, smiling and posing with some people working on the environment. How strange to think our tax dollars can be used for that kind of propaganda given his administration's record in The Ungreening of America.


Sierra Club