Friday, July 31, 2009

As You Get Older

I had an interesting conversation with some coworkers while coming back from lunch a few days ago. We all noticed that while our parents are not technically illiterate, they don't necessarily grasp the latest technologies. Most of our parents had a lot of trouble with e-mail for instance. We wondered what technology we wouldn't be able to grasp when our as yet unborn children get to be our ages.
  • Jeez dad, why do you keep using these old mp3 players? Don't you know everything's on audio crystals now?

  • I know. My dad is still listening to music with his ears. I keep telling him he can get it piped straight into his audio center in higher fidelity now. Especially with his hearing.

  • Well he probably refuses to mindjack onto the connected global consciousness anyway.

  • Yeah, my parents will only get on using a hardline. I keep telling them that the info cloud is subspace accessible now, but the idea of instantaneous high bandwidth connectivity inside their heads freaks them out. They still make me talk to them with words! It takes me forever to tell them anything! Like whole minutes even!
We know it's going to happen, we just don't know when or what with.

Banana Bread

French toast was created as a very tasty way to get rid of stale bread. I've mentioned that banana bread is the fruit equivalent. It is where the overripe bananas wind up at my house. We recently discovered that bananas for bread freeze very well too. They retain their flavor and while the ice crystals make bananas really mushy, that's an advantage when you're going to recycle them into bread.

We've been trying different recipes lately. I started with one Amy's mother gave us. It uses bisquick and sour cream. I was very tasty, but I don't generally keep either of those ingredients around the house. Plus the sour cream gives Amy trouble. Then Amy suggested a healthy recipe from Hungry Girl. It didn't rise well and sat like a sweet banana brick at the bottom of my load pan. It wasn't bad and we still ate it, but we're not trying that one again. We tried this one from this week:
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3 ripe bananas
Bread pan

In medium size bowl mix first three ingredients. Add flour and baking soda, mix well. Add bananas crushed with fork. Mix well. Grease bread pan and put mixture in pan. Bake 1 hour in 325 degree oven.
We use pam instead of grease and eggbeaters instead of eggs, but the recipe still worked very well. Its simple and tasty and isn't giving my wife stomach problems. I think I'll stick with it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Blackberry Ambiguity

A coworker asked if me whether I liked blackberries. I replied no, thinking that she meant the ever-present smart-phone that the Army issues to middle management and up. One of the things that keeps me from working too hard here is the prospect of being issued my own cyberleash.

Nope. Turns out she has bushes in her back yard. Her berries are quite yummy with a nice tart juiciness. My parents had Blackberries in the backyard when I was little and I remember enjoying them a lot. I'd plant a bush of my own, but whenever I think about picking them it sends me into Age of Empires flashbacks.

Friday, July 24, 2009

American Chopper Meets Antiques Roadshow

Amy and I caught Pawn Stars last night on the History Channel. It's a reality show set at the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. The post title says it all. Amy liked seeing people bringing in their antiques and I liked the interplay between the family members that kept the show interesting. I wouldn't mind catching it again.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tiny Terror

My Eee 1005 arrived on Monday and I've been slowly whipping it into shape. On Monday I charged it and installed a real web browser. Tuesday took me to the Army website to download our anti-virus and security suite. On Wednesday, I installed my Army copy of MS Office and worked on getting my browser bookmarks sorted. I'll probably just apply all of Office&'s patches tonight and transfer more files over from my desktop.

I really like this netbook a lot. It's smaller and lighter than my churchgoing bible. The screen is clear and bright, even before the BIOS upgrade gave me a larger range of adjustment. The keyboard still works. The touchpad is good although multitouch commands were easy to accidentally activate. The battery life is immense, especially since Asus lets you play with the clock speed from the system tray. I hooked it up to charge last night more out of guilty than necessity. Installing software from CD/DVD requires an intermediate step because the netbook doesn't have an optical drive. I could buy an external USB unit of course, but my ipod works perfectly for sneaker-netting things over. What they say about the glossy finish picking up fingerprints is true as well.. So far so good though.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Solar Irradiance and Climate Change

The New York Times has an article on the dearth of sun spots this year which also mentions the improbability of their relationship to the cool summer we're having:
The idea that solar cycles are related to climate is hard to fit with the actual change in energy output from the sun. From solar maximum to solar minimum, the Sun's energy output drops a minuscule 0.1 percent.
Most people reading this probably haven't had college and graduate level thermodynamics or heat transfer. Allow me to explain the fundamentals. You do not do heat transfer or thermo in Fahrenheit or Celsius. You perform the calculations in Rankine or Kelvin respectively. These are just the former scales adjusted to zero at absolute zero. With convection and conduction, you can cheat because the temperature terms are linear and so the conversion cancels itself out. With radiative heating you can't take that shortcut because radiation is proportional to the temperature difference to the fourth power.

Why does this matter? It matters because room temperature on earth is around 300 K or 530 R. A 0.1% change in irradiance would produce a temperature shift of ~0.3 C or ~0.5 F. Global warming is credited with temperature shifts anywhere from there up to about a degree Celsius. While small, a simple back of the envelope calculation should show that that change in irradiance is nowhere near negligible in relation to the phenomenon being studied.

Update: Fixed the formatting left over from mailing it in. Did it on the new toy. Liking it so far, especially now that I have Firefox installed.

40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

In celebration, I give you Buzz Aldrin punching Bart Sibrel in the face:

Sibrel is one of the most prominent moon landing deniers. At the time Buzz was 72 and Sibrel was not. Go Buzz.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Getting Your Manga Fix

I've been reading a lot of manga online lately. I initially got caught up on Naruto at OneManga after my wife started talking about their iPhone manga app. It's a good site and most of the content seems to be fan translations, which is nice because I have no problem reading something on the internet that I can't get in the US. Spectrum Nexus and Manga Fox are similar but at least some of their content seems to be direct scans of US translations. Not sure if they're fan subs or not. Spectrum Nexus also has some flash vids of unlicensed anime like Blade of the Immortal.

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Toys

Being the spender in the family, I've had an itch to buy something extravagant for a while now.

I looked at some swords. The French 1829 artillery saber is a beautiful weapon. The US patterned the 1840 artillery saber (not the NCO sword of the same year) after it. Unfortunately the only company making a replica is Deepeeka, so even at $75 it probably isn't a bargain. The alternative is something like the Musashi Bamboo Katana which is a bargain. It's so nice I actually gave my brother one its sister swords as a Christmas present.

I also looked at guns. A bunch of the online parts shops have gotten .45 acp cylinders in stock for the Uberti-made single action revolvers. That's important because .45 colt costs a fortune to shoot unless you reload. CDNN is selling the Beretta Stampede for a song. The Stampede is also made by Uberti but has a modern transfer bar safety so it's harder to shoot yourself with it. I like not shooting myself. But even after a Virginian in cowboy gear actually broke up a convenience story robbery with a Peacemaker over the weekend, I just can't justify spending hundreds of dollars for a gun I probably won't shoot that much. Especially since I'd have to buy a cowboy hat and a proper holster rig once I bought it.

Instead I spent my money on a netbook: the Asus 1005HA-P. I tried the cheapest version of this model at Best Buy and was shocked that I could actually touch type on the keyboard. It's a great little machine, but the Best Buy version is pretty badly neutered. I bought the top end version on Amazon along with additional memory. Now when work sends me on travel, which it has been threatening to do regularly lately, I'll have a computer to take with me. It should come in handy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Something About Maria

Amy loves BBC America. Right now we're watching "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" a reality show trying to cast the lead in the Sound of Music. Sometimes it's unintentionally funny. For instance they regularly comment on one contestant's Romanian accent. They mention that she was really good as Evita, but that was something of an accent part. Where do they think Maria von Trapp is from? She certainly wasn't born in Surrey like Julie Andrews.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

This Just In...

Michael Jackson is still dead. Should he turn out to be undead, please act accordingly.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Rule of Law in Honduras

Michael Wade at QandO discusses the current situation in Honduras with citations from the Honduran Constitution to back up the governments actions. The constitution has very strong protections on presidential term limits. Trying to remove them results in immediate loss of office. Lobbying for removal by private citizens results in loss of civil liberties. In short, people stating that his is some sort of extra-legal coup on the part of the Honduran military, courts, and congress don't have a leg to stand on.