KPBS to the Rescue

San Diego area affected by Fire Thanks KPBS for using Google MAps to it’s maximum possible good.
At a time when the federal authorities are desperately tied up with firefighting, information becomes all the more important. This was especially true for people in the middle of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and anyone in Manhattan during Sept. 11, 2001. I applaud this PBS station in its effort to get the information out there for EVERYONE to see. This mash-up on Google is by far the best use of a public Web 2.0 app that is more or less free. People need this info in one place, updated regularly until all the fires are contained. It gives the sense that somebody does know what’s going on, and that panic isn’t the only logical response to such a widespread emergency. My heart goes out to everyone who has been evacuated, who has lost property, who has lost a pet, who has lost a family member. Fire crews will contain these fires, there is hope, it will end.

Epigenetics way more interesting than genetics

Your environment has an effect on your genes. It’s been proven by medical studies treating cancer patients with drugs that remove the methylating groups from their genes. This is without a doubt the truest benefit from having sorted out the genetic code. First we learned the code, now we understand the operating system the runs above that code. You might consider the Human Genome project a big deal. But the epigenetic enterprise is truly the biggest dividend being paid today by the work done by Craig Venter and the National Institute of Health (NHS).

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Sell, sell, sell

A cautionary tale by your friend the Wing Commander.

Let’s say you knew somebody that had a business, something they started themselves. They put their whole lives into it so they could escape the corporate rat race. Then as is the case with most people, you lose interest, it becomes a job and you want to cash out. The time to sell is now. But things are always as clean, wrapped up, and straightforward as all that. No you have a period of inactivity, fallowness where you’re waiting to hear back you’re trying to wrap up, trying to transition. And your buyer is still trying to get their act together. They’re not ready yet, they’re floating along you’re floating along. And as long as your customers are still making orders and are happy it’s still a business right? But your heart isn’t in it anymore and it’s a grind, kinda like that corporate rat race you escape years ago. Me, I’m no different. I’m the same way. But I made a conscious decision never to try and escape the corporate rat race. I don’t care how bad it gets, I’m staying put. But you should never let your decisions affect all aspects of your life. I am going to take action. I’m profiting by the example of others and dumping the things that I let float along far too long. Say goodbye you crappy stocks. I’m finally dumping those dogs I purchased all the way back in 2001. Now tell me there’s no such thing as loyalty when it comes to a stock market. I was dumb I know. But now I’m getting my act together. No more Blue Monday.

Nakagin Capsule Tower

Just Look at all the pictures of the Tower

I thought I might be one of the first, but in the age of the Interwebs, it appears I may be one of the last or middle to take pictures of the Nakagin Capsule Tower and post it on Flickr. There are no less than 113 images, all different posted to Flickr. And not surprisingly, there are about 10 images that are far better than ANY of the pictures I took. While social software may allow all kinds of discoveries to be made, the one you don’t want to make is that you are one of the teeming masses of photographers. Oh well. I guess now I will be more of an editor than a photographer in this case. I’m going to pare back the number of photos I was going to post to my best 5 or so images of Nakagin. Then I should go and caption all the photos with something interesting historical, wikipedia like in its completeness. Maybe that’s where I can differentiate my Flickr photostream. Regardless, I will soldier on and share my photos all the same, but just try to be a better editor this time ’round.

The Deader the Better

You probably already know about this website. We got on the topic of Ditto Machines at work today. Who can forget the ultimate utility of the Ditto machine. 500 copies at a maximum before they faded too much to be useful. For a class of 30 kids, no problem, nice neat sharp copies bright blue or purple in color. Why I even remember that I got to make a Ditto master in this class they put me in called ‘Enrichment’. It later became the accelerated class for kids who were somewhat less academically challenged than most. Anyway, I screwed up make the master two times in a row, because I didn’t remove the barrier sheet that separated the original from the Wax Master. I was give two shots at it and finally the teacher had to copy over my work herself. My hand-writing was not all that good anyway, so much the better for everyone that had to take the Enrichment Class.

But, I also go an email from a buddy who went to art school talking about early days of removable storage on the Mac. Bernoulli Drives were the cost leader at the time and you paid around $120 for 90MB worth of storage. I recounted my days in art school when Graphic Design folks were doing the removable storage too. The professor who was requiring students to purchase the storage had bet heavily on Magneto-Optical drives with disks that priced out to $128 for 128MB of storage. Not too bad for 1990 right? Soon after the same company started selling disks that held 256MB worth of storage and were backward compatible with the same external drive units. I think the drive itself was rather expensive though (maybe around $1500 by the end of 1991). Think about the dead storage technologies, the dead computing technologies. The burn rate is ever increasing. It goes from the desktop to the personal. Now we had dead Music Player technologies. Who among us knows fanboys who had each and every new MP3 player before the iPod hit the market, then sadly went on a run at Apple iPod treadmill. Dead dead dead, all dead.

Growing grass is not like watching paint dry

I’ve been hand cultivating the big area in front of where our bathroom addition was made last fall. Construction ended in October, much too late to get a good start on growing the grass. So I decided this Spring would be better. But rain made that an impossibility, rain and snow. We had snow on April 16th for crying out loud.

So the sad task of hacking into dried hard ground fell to me. I had considered purchasing a roto-tiller. My dad had more than a few when I grew up as a kid in Virginia. He even got a free one that was missing a belt and the engine was rather dicey. But he resuscitated it, and eventually bought a big expensive $700 model with big drive wheels and counter-rotating tines. That thing could dig a furrow to China if you kept gassing it.

So why not buy a roto-tiller? I looked at the small ones, even the electric ones and none of these seemed like they were going to cut through the clay, cement, rocks and roots I now know resided just below the surface. So I opted for the cowards way out (something I tend to always fall into) and decided to take a pick axe and do it by HAND. Well, 14 hours of work later, I got a bunch of rocks out and have cut up the sod that grew back into the wounded area. Grass was by far the hardest part to remove. After the second day, I decided a better tool was in order. I decided to go for an Azada (it’s like an Adze) and it arrived yesterday.

I immediately wiped danish tung oil on the handle to keep it from cracking and went outside to use it. An azada was the right tool for pulling up the grass, but for that hard clay ground, I discovered the pick axe was better. Around the last half hour of work last night, my arms got so tired using the Azada and I had so little left to do, I gave up and got the axe. That thing went through the last 3 feet of ground like it was loose gravel. The Azada could not cut into the soil because of the damned rocks. Every swing, I could hear that familiar clang of rock contact. I think I may go back to the website where I ordered the original Azada and get another one. The pointed tip Azada is touted as being good for rocky soil, so maybe a whole library of tools would be the best option. No one tool is the always going to make sod busting go easier.

I’m thinking now after it’s all overwith a pointed Azada might have been preferable and I’ll say why. The pick axe no doubt was productive but excruciatingly slow. The wide blade Azada was good, but when you would hit rocks, dead stop. So it was back and forth from Azada to Pick Axe picking through rocks all the way. Whenever I would get to a section without rocks it would go fast with the Azada. Looks like I need to purchase another tool.