Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fire Congress.

For incompetence. How did they get this wrong. We have things that are rights, and we have things that are privileges. The Bill of Rights are, shockingly, rights.
Copyrights, Patents? Well those are actually very tenuous privileges. Let's look at the source for this:

From our Constitution: To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to
Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.


Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Not quite clear on how congress thinks they have any business trying to pass SOPA. Oh, and while we are at it please return copyright to what it was in 1800.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Monday, September 12, 2011

Preparing for the inevitable....

Well, the inevitable in area's where we have basements. That rainy night when you sump pump breaks, and all the plumbers are busy. Damage can run to the thousands in just hours and the preventative fix is easy.

Buy a second sump pump now. Get one with a standard power plug, and fittings to hook it to your garden hose. Then put it in the basement next to your current sump. When the current one dies, unplug it, drop the new pump into the pool of rising water, brace it a bit so it's stable and put the other end of the garden hose outside. Turn it on and watch that pool of water that would have been a major disaster for your home turn into something that can be dealt with by any plumber during normal business hours tomorrow. It's a cheap and easy fix. You will be buying a second sump so buy it now when it's on sale and have it on hand then when the plumber shows up have him install your already on hand sump pump. Then go buy a new backup pump when prices fall again.

It's quick, it's easy, and it something no one from LA even knows to worry about. Zombies Apocalypse? Sure. But sump pumps? Who thinks about those?

Thursday, September 8, 2011


It looks like we have some.

I moved to this area because it was so green, and vibrant and alive that I could not stand to live in a concrete jungle any more. Well, that and this is where the paycheck is. But truthfully, I can get paid in many places, in many states, and even in many countries. This was the place that struck the right balance between just enough snow and cold in the winter, plus an amazing amount of green and vibrant live in the spring, summer and fall, with just a bit to more humidity in the summer than is idea, but not to much, plus the right financial balance to be where I want to live.

But I have found a new reason to love this place, beyond the trees that caught my heart, and the snowmegedon that ate my jeep's transmission. It's the storms that are taking my breath away. With frequent lightening that brightens the entire sky, rain so dense that you can't see 50 feet in front of your car and fog that rises from the ground like some horror movie.

It's amazing, it's breath taking, and it turns out that it's kind of even life altering. Not in any major way, but just something new to a rush/hurry/busy Los Angeles type A's who live by a schedule. It's the kind of thing where, you actually stand in the foyer of the continence store after getting a hot dog and wait for 5 minutes for the rain to let up not cursing the delay in your schedule, but just enjoying the interlude. This while looking at your car, just 10 feet away from the door. Knowing without a doubt that "running for it" is not even remotely an option since the rain would leave you soaked to the skin in the first 5 of those feet.

That's a difference: here we have interludes, in Los Angeles we have interruptions.

So here you stand stand there, balancing your hotdog and your soda with an ever growing group of people who are leaving the store, all watching to see, can I go now? It’s a very different pace of life, one where you end up in conversations with a stranger just talking about the weather and snacking on hot dog. Waiting for the weather to clear up enough to make it 10 feet.

It’s humbling, it’s random, it’s so very not Los Angeles. And for that I love it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Top 100 List BS

Now with the top 100 post is out, and out of the way I want to take a moment and call total unmitigated BS on that list.
  • First, if you claim to have the top 100 science fiction and fantasy and totally shut out the Chronicles of Narnia series we know the fix is in. How is this not even mentioned? It's pretty much the only competitor to The Ring series in terms of scope, size cultural impact and readership.
  • Second, someone please explain how to you purport to have the list of top science fiction and fantasy and not not get a single Edger Rice Burroughs book on there. I mean it's not like Tarzan or John Carter of Mars is part of our national psych or anything...
  • Third, how did we completely miss both Tom Swift, and Tom Swift Jr? There are over 100 books in this series. They inspired two separate generations of scientists and inventors? How has it impacted you? Well you have heard of the TASER? That would be the Thomas A Swift Electronic Rifle. Don't Taze me bro!
  • Lastly, although the book itself was pretty bad, the tittle (which is all most people read of a book, sorry Breda) inspired a nation's imagination. This is why I thinkPride and Prejudice and Zombies should have been on the list. I mean really, we got The Time Traveler’s Wife, but not Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? How is that fair?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

NP who?

So some group I don't like, who says things that I from personal experience often find untrue posted list asserting to have identified the Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy of all time. While I may disagree with their order and choices, many other folks I read are doing it. I answer to mom's proverbial question about the other children and some cliff, here goes:

The one's I have read in bold.

  1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
  3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
  4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
  5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
  6. 1984, by George Orwell
  7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
  9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
  11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (I saw the movie, and I read the abridged book.)
  12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
  13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
  15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
  16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
  17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
  18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
  19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
  22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
  24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
  25. The Stand, by Stephen King
  26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
  27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
  28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
  29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
  30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
  31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
  32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
  33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
  34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
  35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
  36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
  37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
  38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
  39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells (I read the follow on book and heard a recording of the original radio play)
  40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
  41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
  42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
  44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
  45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
  46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
  48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
  49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
  50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
  51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
  52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
  53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
  54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
  55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
  56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
  57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
  58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
  59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
  60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
  61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
  62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
  63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
  64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
  65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (saw the movie, & read the book. They have nothing in common)
  66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
  67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
  68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
  69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
  70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
  71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
  72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
  73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
  74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
  75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
  76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
  77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
  78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
  79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
  80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
  81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
  82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
  83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
  84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
  85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
  86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
  87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
  88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
  89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
  90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
  91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
  92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
  93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
  94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
  95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
  96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
  97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
  98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
  99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
  100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis (I read half of this does that count?)

48 is of the list, and that's only one's I know for a fact I read. I did not count one's I think I may have read but don't know for sure.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Earthquake Observations.

Just a quick observation: DC, and the northern half of the east coast in general have no idea what to do in the event of a disaster.

First I can see it is important to start with definitions for you east coast types:

Obvious Damage
is one of the following:
  • I can see the sky from the basement, and I did not have any windows or skylights as of last night.
  • All the windows exploded in a shower of glass, and the frames are now off square.
  • The whole building fell10 feet and we had an entire floor "go away". note the now very compact cars under the building.

You have No Obvious Damage if you can say any of the following:
  • Dust rained down from the ceiling tiles, but no tiles, lights or objects fell from that ceiling.
  • No wall I can see has any cracks, breaks, rips or unplanned windows
  • No windows broke.
  • The books did not fall off the shelf.
  • My wall mounted big screen is still on my wall.
  • The picture of my dog on my desk fell over, but I picked it back up.

Having defined what we mean by obvious damage let me offer a few pro tips as someone who has spent over two decades in earthquake prone SoCal.
  • If you are in a high rise building (i.e. greater than 5 floors) and the earth quake is over, please don't feel any need to exit the building. The number of buildings with no obvious damage that just randomly fall down 20 minutes after the earthquake is currently 0%.
  • Additionally the very last place you want to be is trapped in the canyons bellow and between the sky scrapers with all your co workers when the aftershock hit's and does drop one of those 500 pound windows on your head from 10 stories up. If the glass does not kill you the trampling crowd/riot will.
  • You are on going to be able to use your cell phone for several hours afterwords. Please stop trying and leave the cellphone network for people in cars, trapped under derbies and for the use of the emergency crews to coordinate deployments. If you are in an office consider trying out that cool retro land line your company is paying for, it may be busy, but your odds are better than with the cell phone.
  • The news will not help you. Let me be clear about this. I was shocked by the DC / Baltimore news fail. In California 30 to 60 seconds after a quake we have a newscaster on the air with a cal tech seismologist (via phone) telling us about where the quake happend, how big it was and how much trouble the city is about to be in. The news channels have a permanent camera on the graph's from the college to facilitate show and tell, etc. In short the Los Angeles media is locked, loaded and ready for bear. The DC news team not so much. I flipped through CNN, Fox, HLN, and even HSN for a good 5 minutes. Nothing at all until I finally found some junior news girl who had been thrown in front of a camera looking panicky with no idea what was going on. She was holding a cell phone in her lap reading twitter off the wifi feed in the studio. Yeah. That's right, twitter. So don't count on anything useful from the news back here.
  • Last tip, If you are at work stay their. Your coworkers and everyone else will be going home/shopping/to a friends/to the therapist/to pick up their kids ASAP. What that really means is that no one is going anywhere for a long time. And if you drove do you want to go get in your car and be 10 stories underground for the aftershock stuck, trying to get out of the parking garage for 2 hours? If you take the train, how do you feel about sitting in a powered down car under ground in a tube with 200 other panicky people during the aftershock? A far better plan is to hang out in your office do some more work and head home after everything dies down. As a bonus because you are a prepared kind of person you have a half dozen bottles of water, and a couple of Tasty Bites or Trader Joe's equivalent on hand for lunch and for emergency's so you are sitting pretty.
To wrap this up. Don't panic, don't do something in order to be doing something, and think carefully about what your next move is and if it makes sense.