Monday, December 20, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Indian Night

Lamb curry, Basmathi rice, Chole and samosas.

All I Really Wanted to do

Was to fuel-up the snow blower and drive it from the backyard shed to the front of the house, so that I would be ready for the first snowstorm of the year.

Two hours later...I was done.

I started the machine with no problems, but seeing a mouse in the shed was a portent of future, like 5 minutes later, problems.

The drive mechanism was stiff and then after moving about 30 feet, it jammed completely. I inspected the housing and there was some kind of fluff sticking out of a mouse-sized port by the axle. I took off the access plate and found the whole gearbox full of some kind of fibrous material. I pulled out enough to fill a bread-bag and the machine was able to propel itself. The fluff had completely cleaned out all the accumulated grease in the gearbox but a quick spritz of WD-40 restored the unit to silky perfection.

While I was at it, I inflated the tires, which were both flat. I also changed the oil and found a loose wire responsible for the headlight not working.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

These guys really are not missile scientists

And by "missile scientists" I mean smart.

We are worried about Russian tactical nuclear weapons which are believed to be increasingly deployed close to Eastern European NATO allies. So, the logical conclusion is to give away the store on strategic weapons first and then hope, what? The Russians will return the favor by giving us whatever we want on the tactical front? Maybe our people think the Russians are stupid. In which case our people most assuredly are stupid.

Administration officials say U.S. and Russian negotiators plan to turn their attention to tactical nuclear weapons, as well as larger strategic warheads that aren't actively deployed, as soon as New Start goes into force. "If we don't ratify Start, we're not going to be able to negotiate on tactical nuclear weapons," one said.
From, Russian Missiles Fuel U.S. Worries

Friday, November 26, 2010

Two big dinners in a row.

Both Thursday and Friday we had...how many? Our family of 5, in-laws 2, Brother in law's family 3, cousin and girlfriend 2, aunt's family 4. 16 in total. On Thanksgiving day an additional 4 local friends came over for dessert and drinks, making it 20 for much of the evening.

Thanksgiving was traditional fare, with two turkeys; one done on the charcoal grill and one done in the oven.

For today the theme was Latin American: Chili, pork roast and grilled beef both done in churasca style, Brazilian rice, guacamole etc.

The dishwasher has been running about three loads per day.

BTW: Did you know that if you eat enough beets, it will change the color of your urine? And not in a fun way, in a way that is really frightening if you don't expect it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I know, tastes change...

Why would anyone take wood that looks like this:

And then stain it to look like this?

We went the other way of course! Several days of belt-sanding and the old dark wainscoting is now natural looking. My finish is only linseed oil and shellac.

It would have been difficult to get into all the parts of the built-in shelving, so I mostly left it alone, but painted some parts to relieve the dark monotony.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Slowing Traffic With Trompe l’Oeil

Picture from Discover.

I just thought of this and so my first thought was to do a web search and see if anyone else had already thought of it. Yes, they have. Well, if nobody else thought of it then I'm pretty confident it would seem stupid to anyone I tried to sell it to.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Day-off chores & errands

--Take the wife's car for inspection. While there, I had them run the numbers on getting a complete overhaul of my car's suspension: Better than two K! Yikes, but still far less than a new car.

--Got a haircut. I have two choices when I go: 1. A new place where there are televisions all over the place, all with sports on. The barbers are mostly (if not all) young single-mom types. 2. An older guy, who is semi-retired and works out of a rundown shop. I go to the second place whenever it is open, which is about half the time. Today we were having the usual banter, "Short enough for you"? "A little tighter, please". Followed by the usual, "Happy to take more off sir, I can't put it back though." I'm not sure why I responded as I did and before I said it, I did think it possible that it would come off as morbid, but I said it anyway and tried to say it with a slight hint at humor. "In Heaven, you will get the power to put hair back on" I said with a smile. I am guessing that he was touched by this since he became subtly more friendly after that. It is good to make a human connection sometimes.

--Put together a powerpoint showing that some Vibram Five Fingers shoes I ordered are counterfeit.

--Went to work. Hey isn't this a day off? Yes, but there was a tech service appreciation lunch and it would seem churlish to skip it.

--Came home and sanded more of the wainscoting in our family room. There was a black walnut stain on the pine and it sucks all the light out of the room.

Did a 7.85 mile run.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Busy day

--After getting the kids on their way to school, it was 'get stuff done time'.

1. Winterize the house: Lower the storm windows, remove the air conditioner units and vacuum all the junk out of the windows while at it. The junk consists mostly of dead moths and cob webs.

2. Went for an 11.8 mile run. I flew: For the first time since mid-Summer's Yankee Homecoming race, I was able to do more than 10 miles in less than 8:00/mile. And that was a race, while this was just a work out. In keeping with the aviation theme, the course is named after a landing strip and my pace was 7:47.

3. I had a quick mango/banana shake and then off to help-out with the Bay State Marathon. My running club, the Greater Lowell Road Runners put on the race and so all the members are expected to help-out. I handed-out race packets to a pretty steady stream of runners for four hours.

As an aside: Just the other day, I had been looking at mortality data for smokers and one of the reports had an interesting way of presenting the data. It seems that the chances of getting a large number of diseases is higher in smokers and it is higher to the extent that it is equal to the rates seen in non-smokers who are 5-10 years older than the smokers. I saw the opposite effect, at least in the appearance of runners. As part of the process of handing out race packets, we would look runners up from a list. The list also gave their age. They mostly looked 5-10 years younger than what their age actually was listed as. It's like running is the opposite of smoking. I've noticed this before.

Zipped home to work on dinner with my wife. We made rice, steak, mushrooms, green beans and a dessert of freshly fried apple cider doughnuts.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Emergency Planning

Between yesterday night and this morning I discovered something which might be useful someday.

I don't know if everyone does this, but we do not pour grease down the drain. It can clog your drains and makes a particularly nasty clog when it happens. So, you save a large glass jar and dump your grease in there. Once it is full, put the (saved) lid back on and toss it in the trash. Okay, this is all common knowledge, right?

Last night we were watching a cooking show about a place in Chicago, famous for its 72 day-old aged steaks. In one part of the show, guests were served a sea-scallop appetizer and the head waiter came out with a votive candle and dripped molten wax onto the dish! He quickly explained that the "candle" was actually bacon grease and so this was a seasoning for the scallop. Most of the "candle" looked to be quite solid and I suspect that it was actually rendered beef fat, which in my experience is more solid at room temperature than bacon grease. Also, earlier in the same show, they had talked about rendering the beef trimmings and using this, as they called it "beef love", to season their steaks.

I forgot all about that show by this morning--until I went to dump the morning's bacon grease into the jar. I had to try it. I mean, anybody who had just seen that show would try it, right? Yes. Of course they would and I would too. And did.

I put a small length of cotton string into the grease and lit-er-up. This resulted in a clear, non-smoky and (possibly) odorless flame. I only say possibly because there was already bacon smell in the air, plus just the open jar smells a little bit.

So if you have a power outage and no candles, or the outage outlasts your supply of candles; you have another way of making light.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

"I have done a terrific job".

Let us see who all agrees in November.

A Validation of Common Sense

Light drinking during pregnancy: still no increased risk for socioemotional difficulties or cognitive deficits at 5 years of age?

Conclusions At age 5 years cohort members born to mothers who drank up to 1–2 drinks per week or per occasion during pregnancy were not at increased risk of clinically relevant behavioural difficulties or cognitive deficits compared with children of mothers in the not-in-pregnancy group.

J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech.2009.103002

Dahlia

No Flash

Flash

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lt. William C. West Jr. ALS Memorial 5 K

21 7/53 M-OPEN DAVID PECCHIA M 213 21:56 6:58

The results, here have the race called, Lt. William C. West Jr. ALS Memorial 5.15 Miler

I can see where their mistake comes from: The race is listed as a 5K, which is 3.1 Miles, but the actual course is 3.15 Miles. The race was kind of a small affair (155 finishers), no racing chips and they didn't break-down runners by the usual decade/groups. I am in the open division--18-49, so I had no prayer of winning. I may have been the top male in the 40's, but there is no way of knowing since the results don't give the runner's ages.

The start was the usual jostling and passing of slow runners and within a couple of hundred yards I saw that only maybe 5 runners were ahead of me. Then, a large group of boys passed me all together. I think they must have been a local High School CC team. I eventually caught and passed two of the adults but never was able to keep up with the CC team. Oddly, the only competition I had was with the woman who came in first among the ladies. She was 10 yards ahead of me for the first mile and then at about one and a half miles, I passed her. She re-passed me while climbing the one big hill and then I re-passed her on the down-slope. I picked-off one last runner on the flats over Nutting Lake and then made a move on the guy ahead of him. I was gaining on him but as we approached the finish he out-kicked me. He was built like a sprinter, so I didn't go all-out. He would have beat me either way and so why give him a hard time? I would have gone all-out if needed to protect my place against the people I had already passed though.

Added: My wife ran too (actually, she is the one who proposed this race) and she did well too.

Also, the winner was from our running club and was the only other runner, besides me, wearing our uniform. I saw a few familiar faces, but they were in mufti.

Here he is.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Banner Day

Two problems that had been festering have been fixed today:

The oven wasn't working and we had a guy out who fixed it by changing the igniter.

I chopped-down a dead pine tree in the front yard. Again, it was handy to have a large 4-wheel drive truck handy. The tree did not want to fall in the right direction and got hung-up on a maple tree. It was a good thing in a way since without the maple, the pine would have fallen right onto our power and phone lines.

I tied the bottom of the tree to the truck via chains, rope and tow cable and essentially pulled the carpet out from under the tree--The top of the tree is where the stump is and the trunk-end is now down by the road.

It all started-out so poorly too. I had a new chain for the saw, but it ended-up being too long (the package was stapled-shut, so maybe it is really a 22" chain) and it looks to be a pain to shorten it. Then, once I had got the old chain back on, the pull-cord broke. I was starting to get the feeling that Fate, did not want me meddling with trees, today.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Facts" and Logic

In Internet as well as in regular debate, the process runs on facts and reason. The logical flaws get most of the attention, but for this post I would like to categorize the types of facts which are used to bolster an argument. First some definitions though:

--True, will have its commonplace meaning. The statement is in accord with how things actually are. For instance, car tires in the USA are normally black and made mostly of rubber.

--False, will mean things which are not true. For instance, the planet Mars is almost exactly the same size as the Earth. This is false because Mars has only around 1/10th the mass of the Earth and is around 1/2 the diameter.

Relevant/Not Relevant

Again, the common meaning is used here but is a subject all its own. Usually the level of irrelevance is not immediately apparent to all, though upon reflection it is nonetheless total in most actual cases.

So, here are the categories finally!

True AND Relevant--The side that comes up with the most of these should win.

False AND Relevant--This happens all the time, but with internet fact-checking it is a rather foolish thing to try. It kind of works when the facts are in dispute, but an argument is considerably weakened by controversial claims.

True BUT Not Relevant--These claims usually have some superficial relationship to the thing being argued, but when looked at closely, really proves nothing.

False And Not Relevant--Why bother wasting your time with people like this?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday Chores

Throw together some spaghetti sauce.

Go to the liquor store and stock-up on wine. Why stock-up? Here in Massachusetts, they do not sell wine, or beer for that matter, in grocery stores. Since I have to make a special trip to a special store, I want to have to do this as little as possible. Also, you get a big discount when you purchase large volumes.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I Guess I'm Going to be running For Another Year

Having just purchased 5 new pair of running shoes and all.

Having just purchased 5 new pair of running shoes and all.

Join With Me In Bravely Pointing-Out The Obvious

Not one, but two smart and sensible friends had the following Facebook posting yesterday:

like Being Muslim does NOT mean you are a terrorist. . . like if you agree.

Perhaps I am over-analyzing this, but I see a subtext here. What is the point of the FB entry unless they think there's a lot of Americans out there who think that every Muslim is a terrorist. Liking such a statement is not just agreeing with it, but also lending support to what I think is a pernicious assumption: That substantial numbers of their own fellow countrymen are benighted and in need of correction.

I think the opposite is true. Sure, in a country of some 300 Million people, there are bound to be plenty of wackos like the one who thinks McDonald's responsible for more murders than terrorists are. For my part, I think our country has treated Muslims in an exemplary fashion. If anything, we have been mau-maued into being too trusting. How else to explain the situation of Major Hassan? It was only after he murdered 13 and wounded many more of his fellow soldiers that anybody noticed his obvious radicalism.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pictures of Pictures

We visited NYC in days long before the invention of digital cameras, so these are digital pictures of the photographic prints we made.

This shot is a reflection across the atrium. The camera is on the railing just in front of my belly--used a timer of course.

The small white lights are Christmas decorations and you can see them in the previous picture as well.

NYC skyline from a distance.

What is that spiky thing at the top of the picture?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Last Week's Movies

We brought two Netflix movies with us to our NH trip: Avatar and Fantastic Mr. Fox. At first I thought they were total opposites of each other, but on further reflection, I'm not so sure that is true. As usual, "Blake" has great reviews of Avatar and Fantastic Mr. Fox. As for this post, it will just be random musings and criticism.

Avatar:

"Unobtainium", Really Mr Cameron? Did you call it that just so that if it was a bomb, you could claim the whole concept was parody? Two problems: One, why is this stuff so valuable? It cannot be essential for interstellar flight since Humans got to Pandorum without it. Two, all the stable elements are already accounted for.

Can any evolutionary biologist even imagine a scenario where plants and animals would have that braid thing which allows the humanoids to control them? I mean, it is great for the Na'vi, but what do the other plants and animals get out of it? One can imagine this being done via genetic engineering, but the Na'vi are stone-aged people.

Speaking of stone-aged, there is some point in the movie where the hero claims that "we don't have anything they want". Nonsense on stilts: How about cooking pots and pans, knives, hatchets, swords and a myriad of other useful things you can make out of metal? Much more likely is the scenario where the natives fight over a discarded Coke bottle as in The Gods Must Be Crazy.

Rather than starting a war with the natives, here are a couple of ways the Humans would really have operated, you know, if they were actual Humans and not two dimensional black-hats: The Humans would set-up a trade alliance with one group of Na'vi and exchange metal things, trinkets and exotic food like Mars bars in payment for driving away the Na'vi which are living over the mine. Or the Humans could have just tunneled under the tree from miles away, etc.

I could go on till the end of time finding whoppers like the above, but one final one before turning to the next movie. What mechanism allows the remote control of the Avatars? Physically, they are complete and there is no radio receiver on-board. We know this because (spoiler alert for those who still haven't seen the thing in the year since it came out...) at the end when the hero's mind is moved to his avatar, they didn't yank-out any hardware or make any physical changes to the avatar. So, why doesn't it operate autonomously in the first place? The mind is a construct of a working brain after all...

On to Fantastic Mr. Fox

Yeah! I liked it a whole lot more than Avatar. First a caveat; Fantastic Mr. Fox is first and foremost a Wes Anderson film. I like his style of films and so, no big surprise, I like this too. Mr. Fox is much like the character played by Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums. George Clooney plays Mr. Fox as a younger, hipper lovable rogue, but it is essentially the same part. The similarities to other Anderson films are abundant--my wife and I both exclaimed how the tunneling sequences in Mr. Fox were a lot like the cutaway of the ship in The Life Aquatic...I think "Blake" more ably delves into the Wes Anderson style, so I won't go beyond this.

So, what about all that "opposite" stuff from the start of this bit? Well, there is the obvious: In Avatar there is huge expense spent making the thing look wonderful and yet the story is moronic and the characters totally predictable. In Mr. Fox, the production values are low; you hardly ever forget that you are looking at stop-action animation. Yet the characters are human, at least in spirit, full of personality, humor and idiosyncrasy. Plus, it is an interesting and believable story.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

So far, so good.

So far the trip to the White Mountains is going well:

--We were, just barely able to get all of our stuff into the Saab and so didn't have to take the Yukon. Yea! The Saab is more fun to drive!

--There was heavy traffic most of the way but still, people in the fast lane were (mostly) going pretty fast, so we made excellent time.

--The weather has been great.

--Our condo dinner plans have gone well so far: Spaghetti & meatballs with garlic bread and salad for the first night's dinner. Breakfast of bacon, boiled eggs, pastry & toast. The next lunch was mostly leftovers plus PB&J. Tonight, steak, baked potatoes, green beans and fresh baked toll-house cookies.

--My wife really has this dinner planning down to a science.

--The kids fight and feud as per normal, but I think they are having a good time.

Above, the kids play in the Saco River. The water was cold, though not frightfully so and incredibly clear.

Friday, August 27, 2010

White Town - Your Woman


White Town - Your Woman
Uploaded by EMI_Music. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

I like the video but what first attracted me to this song is how they used a reedy version of the Star Wars Emperor's Theme by John Williams--cheeky! Well, if they did it on purpose. It is not exactly an obscure series of movies.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Old comment which acts as a review, kind of...

I had posted this as a comment last year on The Bit Maelstrom review of Inglourious Basterds.

Someone at work had just seen the movie and I knew I had written something about it somewhere. I thought it was on the above mentioned blog, but searches there were in vain (I probably misspelled Inglourious Basterds). I searched on Althouse, where "Blake" the author of The Bit Maelstrom sometimes comments and found a few posts about the movie in question. Naturally, being an inveterate and excellent movie reviewer, he had a comment there with a link to his review. I made the following observations in his comments section:

My wife and I saw this last weekend.

Yes, the lack of distinction between regular German soldiers and NAZIs really bothered me and I am glad someone else noticed this too. My wife thought that since most people don't make any distinction, it would have complicated the story. My view is that if there is a distinction to be made, the filmmaker should make it. They had the time to talk about nitrocellulosic film stock, but maybe they had time to do that because it is a subject that interests our filmmaker.

A couple of other things too: 1) The Zoller character was, I thought, presented in a positive light early on. But then right at the end he is kind of a jerk. Wife reminded me that he did have the girl essentially arrested in order to join him at lunch with Goebles and that was kind of jerky... 2) There were two independent plots against the theater and neither of them interfered with the other. There could have been some very nice tension if--in each case--something unexpected happened that left doubt as to the plot's success. After the denouement, all the plotters would come to the conclusion that their plot worked since they don't know about the other one. This could lead to all kinds of post-event intrigue. There was a better movie in there somewhere.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Yea! I helped the team again.

Men's 40+

9.  GREATER LOWELL ROAD RUNNERS 

40:39 43:09 44:06 45:06 45:47 (47:40) (49:52) = 3:38:47

John Dowling, Fil Faria, Ken Goodin, Glenn Stewart, David Pecchia, Tom Amiro, Michael Brodeur

Scenes from the race

The girl handing out water probably ran in the 3K which was just before our 10K race.

The Race start: We began on this bridge, ran a couple of miles through neighborhoods, back over the bridge, another 4-mile loop and then finished by crossing the bridge one more time.

These nice ladies got us fired-up before the big, steep, mile-long climb; which was just ahead.

The elite ladies start: #334 won the race and the smiling runner # 73 is 45 years old and won for her age division.

Added: Some pictures of the race posted by Locallyrun.com...

The hill

Done!

A couple of hundred feet till the finish.

Bridge of Flowers 10K

233 28/67 M4549 45:47 7:22 David Pecchia 47 M 554 Chelmsford MA GLRR

This is a long ways from my best 10K time, but this was a very difficult course (all hills) so maybe I should not feel so bad.

This was a New England 10K championship race and so I have to compare it with other grand prix races. The only other 10K in this series that I ran was back in 2007:

326 659 DAVID PECCHIA 44 M 84/197 M4049 CHELMSFORD MA 44:41 7:12

This was a hilly course too, but not nearly so bad. The key metric would be how well I did against men in my age group: 28/67=.4179 84/197=.4264 So, I did do slightly better in this race than in the one from 2007.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Where are they getting these ideas?

Back in the days of the second Gulf War, it was a constant trope of my liberal debate opponents that, "Iraq was a distraction from Afghanistan". That is to say, we could have wrapped things up nicely in the first war, but diverted too many resources away from the "good" war. Anyway, ancient history right? I was just reminded of this when a couple of days ago a smart liberal from work claimed that we pulled troops out of Afghanistan to fight in Iraq.

The press and liberals may have thought that nothing was going on in Afghanistan, but the steadily increasing numbers of troops fighting there would not agree. It is an odd and probably solipsistic view that if we are not thinking about something, it must not be taking place.

The following statistics are from the (I believe) mildly anti-war, National Priorities Project U.S. Troop Levels in Afghanistan

Fiscal Year Troops

2001 N/A

2002 5,200

2003 10,400

2004 15,200

2005 19,100

2006 20,400

2007 23,700

2008 30,100

2009 62,000*

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Wife and I were watching some concert video of The White Stripes and at some point they did their cover of I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself. I noted that it was a cover but didn't remember who made it famous. I thought it was a show tune but in retrospect, I must have been thinking of a great scene from My Best Friend's Wedding.

Julia Roberts plays the friend of a guy who is getting married and since she wants the guy, she spends much of the movie trying to make his fiancee look bad. In this scene, knowing that the girl, played by Cameron Diaz is shy and cannot sing, puts her on the spot at a karaoke bar. The girl tries so hard and is so earnest that she wins over the whole bar and the guy loves her even more. Major backfire!

A little research showed that it goes much further back than this movie.


DUSTY SPRINGFIELD-I JUST DON'T KNOW (WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF)
Uploaded by pierrot77. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

Oh yeah, here is most famous (now) version...

A Short Imaginary Conversation Between Two Private Citizens

Former Gov: Hiya! I see you've gotcher self a sign...

"Teacher": Yeah, I was hoping you'd come by and explain why you quit.

Former Gov: Why? Did you vote for me?

"Teacher": No.

Former Gov: Well then, once I was in office you decided I was doing a great job and are disappointed that I quit?

"Teacher": No. I'm glad you quit.

Former Gov: Maybe it is just me, but normally when I get my way about something I don't also demand an explanation. Furthermore, I gave an explanation--to my supporters--as to why I felt it necessary to resign. They deserved an explanation and they seem to have accepted what I put forth.

"Teacher": I suppose it does seem churlish to ask a question when there is no conceivable answer that would be satisfying...

Okay, now I've really gone off into fantasy-land...

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Depressing Blood Pressure and Mood

I did a longish run for the first time in a while and thought ahead, or was possibly procrastinating and took a before-run blood pressure and pulse.

127/78 pulse 63 before. Ran 13.1 miles in modest heat.

112/68 pulse 63 after. I drank about 20 oz of fluid after running and took a shower before taking the after run reading, so this was maybe 30-40 minutes post-run. There are different theories as to the cause of decreased BP after an endurance event. Dehydration: After all, some of the more common BP meds are diuretics, so this makes sense. Though I had replaced most of the lost fluid before taking the post run reading. I think distension of the veins and arteries makes a lot of sense too; they get stretched-out from being under pressure for a while and it takes some time for them to recover their former state.

The time on the run was a big disappointment though; I was on track (roughly) for the first 8 miles and then just felt like there was no energy left and my time reflects this.

Later, I got the idea of giving one of the girl's a math problem related to my recorded pulse rate. 63/minute translates into how many seconds per heart-beat? Naturally it took the girl about five minutes to solve what should have taken ten seconds; and I did require it be solved in the head (no paper, no calculator.)

Answer: 19/20 sec per beat or 0.95 seconds per beat in decimal form. The way I did it is to reason that 60 BPM reflects one beat per second and there are three more beats/minute to account for. This is one beat per 20 seconds extra, which is to say that if we take-off 1/20th second from each beat, then we can fit the remaining three in to one minute. It doesn't come out exactly to this amount though since we have freed-up three whole seconds for the three remaining beats, but assuming they are the same length as the other 60, they are slightly shorter than one second each. This estimated answer is therefore off by one 420th of a second.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer cooking

A guy could get a pretty good meal without even grilling meat.

Though we did indeed grill meat too.

Not meat in the Catholic sense, but meat in a taxinomic sense. Sorry for only having an image of the raw steel-head and scallops--I got too busy while cooking to take any further pictures.

It was a nice day, so we had the AC off and the windows open. A good time to roast coffee and after the oven was free of coffee (it gives off a lot of smoke) some JoJo's to go with dinner.

Mexican Turquesa

Yemen, Mocha Matari

Idaho, JoJo's Vaishali-style.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

At least I helped the team.

Last year I had a disappointing time at the Yankee Homecoming 10-miler. It is in the middle of the Summer, but in the evening--as if these things somehow cancel each other out. It is held in Newburyport MA, which is on the Atlantic Ocean, so one might even expect some cool sea breezes. The weather last year was above 90 with high humidity and not a breath of wind.

I wanted to run it this year because I figured that it couldn't possibly be as bad as last year.

It did not start auspiciously; I gave myself two hours to get there, park, pick-up my number & so forth. Google maps gave the route an estimate of one hour, so I figured that I was fine. Traffic said otherwise. As I looked at the temperature gauge, which hovered between 95 and 97 degrees, I half-way hoped I would arrive too late to race. Route 495 was a mixture of stop-and-go and wide-open lanes and I had spent an hour and a half by the time I got off the highway. I now had to find the race, park, pick-up my race number, run back to the car to drop-off my t-shirt and sun glasses and then run to the start. I got to the starting line right before the gun went off.

Some large races have a starting sensor which keeps track of when you cross the starting line and deducts this from the final time. This can be significant. In Boston from a couple of years ago, I started in the middle of the pack and still took over 6 minutes to reach the starting line. This race didn't have a starting sensor and since I came late I was further back in the pack than I would have liked. Between crowds preventing full speed running for the first mile and the time it took to reach the start, I estimate that I lost around two minutes. This translates into 12 seconds per mile for the whole 10-mile race. It was in the low 90's at the start, but there was a little wind and the humidity was much less than last year.

I think I was running in the mid sevens for most of the way. I didn't really go all-out except at the end though. I was up there on my own and didn't want to be in a position where I incapacitated myself. In the last two miles though, a group caught-up with me and I increased my pace to match them. We all, to one degree or another, sped-up in these last couple of miles since we could taste the finish and the temperature had fallen at least 10 degrees. By the last quarter-mile we were all moving pretty fast and there was even some jostling for position in the curves. For some reason this made me loose patience and I went into full sprint mode for the final 200 yards. I left the group I was in behind and passed another half-dozen runners in addition. It is nice to add a little drama at the end for spectators. It was a little irritating though--if I had all this speed at the end, I probably could have run a faster pace for a substantial part of the second half.

I did help the team though:

9. GREATER LOWELL ROAD RUNNERS

1:02:51 1:03:57 1:11:33 1:16:42 1:30:56 = 6:05:59

724 Jason Bui 30, 2997 Cody Freihofer 22, 1881 Ken Goodin 55,

2134 David Pecchia 47, 2299 John Ducharme 41

Had I not been there, then the 6th and only other team member's time would have been used. He ran it 19 minutes slower than I did and so this would have knocked us into 12th place. Not to disparage him, he is 71 years old and finished first in his age group.

Last year I was 310th and this year 312th, so I guess the better conditions this year helped everybody, not just me.

Update: Looks as if there were a couple more GLRR's there and we moved up to 7th:

7. GREATER LOWELL ROAD RUNNERS

1:02:51 1:03:57 1:08:10 1:11:33 1:16:42 = 5:43:13

724 Jason Bui 30, 2997 Cody Freihofer 22, 762 Fil Faria 45, 1881

Ken Goodin 55, 2134 David Pecchia 47

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

4-mile bookends or not much to report on this day off

My wife likes it when I go with her on the mornings when she runs, but she doesn't want to make me come, so she slinks away quietly. This morning I was drowsy but didn't think I could fall back asleep so I threw on some shorts and a t-shirt and went downstairs. I initially thought she had already left since it was so still on the ground floor, but she was there and happy to have me along.

The main bulk of the day was spent at the CS&T club minding the kids as they did swim team, tennis lessons and then swim lessons. We have a girl who does this the other four days per week but since I have Wednesdays off, she has Wednesdays off too. While there I got another few chapters of Stalin's Ghost read: Our hero has survived being shot in the head and few other scrapes in his suicidal attempt to bring the bad-guys to justice. Also, ran into the mom of one of Dahlia's friends, just back from three weeks in France. Naturally we had a lot to talk about.

Once home, I cleaned-up the breakfast things and lunch things which was enough to run a load in the dishwasher. Next, I put together a batch of spaghetti sauce for dinner tonight and a few other nights. We ate early due to Surenna having to go to a hip-hop workshop. After dinner there were enough pots, pans and dishes for the dishwasher to set-out again on its mission.

After all of this, there was still plenty of light for a run though it was still 80 degrees out. When we haven't had a heat-wave in a while, I sort of relish the idea of blitzing-out a 5-miler in the middle of the afternoon. It is a challenge that I enthusiastically embrace. It has been more-or-less continuously hot here for a solid month and now running in the heat just seems like drudgery. I think that this is the reason for my times being so lame in the last couple of weeks. Still, with heavy heart, I went out for a four miler.

One small reward was that I got to see how fast I was going. The police have put up a radar sign which flashes your speed. I have noticed it in the car and wondered if it would register a runner. There are two criteria that would have to be met: 1. There must be some threshold speed to be met since you wouldn't want it wasting its time flashing zero all day from the speed of the road itself. 2. There must be a reflection threshold. You want it to pick-up a car or motorcycle, but not, presumably, a breeze. this would not seem to be a tough problem since motor vehicles are made of metal, which is pretty reflective to microwaves, versus air which is not very reflective. (There are such things as storm and wind speed radars btw.) The key here is which side of the threshold is a person? I am mostly water and the only metal is a wedding ring and a couple of bits of dental work. The answer is that it did pick me up. It was on a slight down-hill and picked up my speed as 8 MPH from about 200 feet away. Naturally I sped-up and managed to hit 11 MPH (which is a 5:30 pace). I think I could have hit a higher speed but didn't want to pull something and cripple myself. Also, just for comparison; I could run a 1/4 mile in High School at an average speed of 15 MPH. Double also; I was a distance runner and the real quarter milers were much, much faster than me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Family Fun Day

It was more-or-less just like last year's version at our local co-op pool club. I made the 2nd round in the cannon-ball contest, but didn't win it.

Being forced to sit outside on a hot day (at least we got there early enough to grab a spot under a good shade tree) has some benefit: I had enough time to get back into a book I had started back in January on the flight home from Bombay. I am reading Stalin's Ghost which is the 6th novel in a series by Martin Cruz Smith. The first book is the most famous, Gorky Park probably because there was a big Hollywood movie too. The movie is actually pretty good, it has William Hurt and Lee Marvin in it. It was only through looking into it in the process of writing this post that I realized how many stories there were in this series. I had read the first two and had a vague impression there was more than three.

Anyway, I am really glad I kept reading. The novel was interesting, but fairly involved so to keep track of the characters and plot requires either quick reading or careful attention. The action is picking-up now and so I am eager to find out what comes next. Our hero, the guy played by William Hurt in the movie, has had a girl try to garrotte him in one chapter and in the next a deadbeat dad shoots him in the head. I suspect he will live since the book centers around this character, but we shall see.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Endless lawnmower issues...

I suspected that the spark plug was an issue since last week I had got the machine to run by cannibalizing the plug from the snowblower. Well, today I went out and got a brand-spanking new plug and a gapper. The lawnmower ran for a bit and then started to sputter. I checked the air filter and it was full of dirt. Even once the bulk dirt was out it still caused the mower to quit whenever it went into place over the air intake.

I don't feel too bad though: The plug came from a little hardware store that didn't have filters anyway. I will have to go to the big Sears Home Center for the filter. Meanwhile the lawn is still growing.

Out of coffee and it is hot outside.

Our oven is excellent for roasting coffee; it has a convection mode and is gas rather than electric. These two aspects allow it to do a good dark roast in about 10 minutes. The only drawback is smoke. Roasting creates a lot of smoke. This is not a problem in the temperate times of the year since the open windows will air-out the house in short order. In the Winter it is unpleasant and drafty to have windows open and in the Summer if there is a heatwave--such as we are having now--there are big drawbacks to opening the windows and running the oven at 470 degrees F.

I've done it before and am doing it again today: Roasting coffee on the charcoal grill. The first batch is a little over roasted, but I think it will still make serviceable coffee. The 2nd batch was really perfect, a nice Vienna roast--lighter than French but darker than American. The 3rd batch, doesn't seem to want to finish: I guess the coals only go for so long and these batches have been taking around 30 minutes each.

One nice little benefit from all of this is that the grill has burned-away any accumulated grease.

Look a little closer

A little bee, completely covered in pollen.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mostly Meat

There are three things which make for a tasty marinated meat dish, I instructed my wife--as if I was some kind of expert: Though I do think the following is sensible.

1. The marinade.

2. The cut of meat--no matter how you flavor a crappy specimen of flesh, it will still be dry, tough or whatever.

3. Cooking technique: There are a million ways to ruin the most perfect cut of meat--burn it, under-cook it, cook it too slow, etc.

All of this was brought about by a visit to a new "gourmet" shop in town. The name of the place inspired thoughts that it was primarily a meat place and a good portion of the joint was meat, but less than half. The rest was a selection of mostly what we would consider upscale items rather than gourmet. The problem was that they didn't have much of a selection in any category. They had breads, but only sliced (a good brand) and a smattering of artisan loaves. They had some nice cheeses, but a selection any one of our supermarkets easily match. As for the meats, it was not a full-service shop. They had some USDA Prime steaks, various chops and sausages, but mostly they had vacuum sealed packages of marinated meat. This is what my wife primarily rejected. First, she didn't expect that their marinades would stack-up well against what any competent cook could throw together and the prices were super high. Added to that, it is impossible to judge the quality of a piece of meat when it is swimming in goop.

We got nothing from this place.

Later, I went to Costco for various items and scored. They had USDA prime beef! One package was about $8/LB and was a boneless rib eye roast. This is a good deal since the regular grocer charges almost that much for USDA choice grade. I am dry aging the whole piece and will cut 3-4 LB of it for a Christmas roast and the rest into steaks of various thicknesses.

Since it was my day-off, I also got a package of three racks of baby-back ribs. I put a dry rub on them and slow cooked them for 6 hours. Half were for dinner and the other half for an easy meal some other time.

Besides the shopping, I had run with my wife at lunch-time, worked on the cars and picked-up some plywood for a project--so I was kind of tired. Still, after the big rib meal and the earlier slow run, I wanted to really go out and get a hard workout. I went into the failing light for a 7.85 miler and even at that late hour it was hot and sticky. I felt great when I was done though, for a while. When I went to bed, the chills set-in, plus I felt dehydrated. Later, my skin turned burning hot and my perpetually cold wife couldn't stand having me close. All turned to normal within a couple hours of hitting the sack though. I suspect I had a bit of heat exhaustion.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Little experiments I do

A year or so ago, I was driving home from my in-laws with just the middle daughter. (I work near them, so I will come directly from work while my wife will drive from home with the three kids and the dog.) Anyway, the middle daughter was a champion at stream-of-consciousness dialog. Just to test her, I resolved to give her nothing to work with: I would say nothing and see how long it took for her to stop talking--maybe she would ask a question or just run out of steam. Well, she made it the whole 20 minutes; nonstop chatter.

Today, I tried the same thing except this time she was silent. Lost in her own thoughts, not a word was uttered the whole way home. Once home, I opened up the door and she disappeared upstairs while I turned to cleaning the kitchen.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Independence Day Race on the 5th this year

124 17/225 M4049 13:08 6:34 David Pecchia 47 M 1375 Chelmsford MA

I'll put up pictures if I see any posted.

This is the first race ever for both Wife and oldest daughter--they did very well and I am proud of them!

I was able to find my picture at the race site, but not of the others. Well, they are above.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Scenes from Independence Day eve

These should be further along, but we wouldn't have even these except that a neighbor gave us her extras.

My wife swears that this is not the color that these lilies were last year. Odd that.

The Thirst For Justice is Nigh Universal

In so many areas we see an underlying truth revealed: We like it when justice is carried-out. In television, movies or literature we see the good-hearted person living "happily-ever-after" and the evil whatever getting punished--or at least learning their lesson. The examples are too many to mention but a couple of famous ones are, Cinderella and The Count Of Monte Cristo.

Real life is not like fiction though. Bad, evil people who have caused untold suffering die in their sleep, while heroes find their names dragged through the mud, or die in prison. Injustice is Spain, which was led by Franco until his death by natural causes, prosecuting Pinochet who had relinquished power and returned his country back to democracy. I chose this controversial example on purpose. We may disagree on what is just, but we all agree that there is injustice.

I think this is the root behind seeing justice prevail in much of the arts. To the devout, the concepts of Heaven and Hell go hand-in-hand with a just and good God. If there is a God, surely he will ensure that justice prevails: If not in this life, then in the next.

All of this musing was stimulated by part of a comment section regarding the downfall of Journolist. A commenter seemed to be totally unfamiliar with the above concepts:

Daniel said... There's a difference between delighting in the misery of others and actually causing it. Of course there is, but maybe in the opposite way you think. Causing the misery of others (who deserve it) is better than just delighting in it. It is similar to how having wealth by earning it is more enjoyable than having it just fall into your lap.

And

Daniel said... dbp, your words, even in jest, are absent any redeeming quality. I'm going to take the high ground by hoping that no one ever thinks that you deserve misery, and takes it upon themselves to make it happen.

I think the problem here is what was mentioned above. Daniel clearly thinks that the Journolisters are innocent and therefore punishment is unjust. I obviously feel the opposite way. I (for the record) appreciate that he wishes no harm to me, thanks! If I ever truly deserve to be punished, I hope that I retain the moral clarity to appreciate it. Further, in a cosmic sense (nothing spiritual here Crack, just mean life taken as a whole)I almost certainly do not deserve to live a life as happy as the one I have.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tempo really makes all the difference in the world

The original up-tempo with electronica by Tears For Fears.

The version from Donnie Darko sung by Gary Jules with arrangement and instrumentation by Michael Andrews.

Scenes of this morning

This is the first year in several that this Hydrangea has produced any flowers. I think I was pruning it incorrectly or something...

I planted blueberry bushes about 5 years ago with high hopes. The little bushes had lots of berries the very first year. The next year deer ate the bushes down to stubs--especially this one, but it has made a real come-back. This is the first year with any appreciable fruit. The birds, squirrels or whatever is eating the berries are appreciative I'm sure.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Here is to France's Nicolas Mahut

John Isner has been getting all the attention and it makes sense in a way,-he did win the match and the coverage I see is, as is Mr. Isner, American.

It took two amazing players for the match to have come out this way. They both exemplified the highest traditions of the sport. They brought honor to themselves and to their sport.

Bravo!

It Is A Relief, But I'm Not Sure Why I Care

Here is the back story:

Via Facebook I reconnected with a grade school classmate. We didn't interact much in school, but being in the same class of less than 20 kids for 3rd through 5th grades lets you observe enough to feel like you know the person. I actually knew her older brother better: He and I often sat on the school bus together and would chat. He introduced me to The Lord Of The Rings among other things and I would tell him what I know about the military. My dad was an Air Force pilot and the brother seemed fascinated by all things military. He is serving in the US Army (reserves I believe) even now. Anyway, there were two other siblings, both sisters. One was older and was in my older brother's class, the other was much younger and I think was in a grade below my younger sister's.

The three younger siblings had an active repartee between each other on FB, but there had never been any mention, comment from or entry on friend lists for their eldest sister. I was tempted to ask, across these nearly 40 years, whatever became of "B". I never did, of course--what if something tragic or scandalous had "become" of her?

So, it was a big relief a few days back when she posted a reply to a post her brother made. She is alive, well and employed in a reputable profession. The question is, why did I care in the first place? [Note: I obviously care about any human being, what I mean here is the extra concern conveyed to people you have an emotional connection to.] I don't think we ever exchanged a word with each other. I was too young to be moved by music back in grade school, but certainly had enough of an ear to admire the skill with which she played the piano at recitals. That is a pretty tenuous connection to hang emotional content on.

On further reflection, I think I know why I care: I care about the girl from my class and her older brother because I know them. I care about their sister because they must care, in a really vital way, about her and so by extension I care. She has a big effect on them and I care about things that have a big effect on people I know. Further, it goes beyond this: That other people care deeply makes my empathy reach out to this lady and to wish her well.

ADDED: I have an aunt who is into new-age nonsense and I know how she would view all of this. She would think that my good will directed toward "B" will somehow reach her and make her feel happy. In reality, if she knew that the little brother of one of her class mates from grade school was thinking about her at all, it would probably give her the creeps.

Today's Route

1. I originally posted the route without any text and it kind of messed-up the whole blog format, so perhaps this will help.

3. Maybe if I remove the map...

2. It is still messing things up, but in a different way now. It is showing posts below out of order.

4. Of course the fix required the complete removal of the original post, so I am back to square one.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dance Recital, Day Two

Today has felt like a day of mostly waiting. It is odd, since really it has been wide-open for the most part.

First thing in the morning, my wife got up and was heading out to go for a jog. I offered to join her since I didn't plan to go for a serious run anyway and she likes the company. Since it was cool, we took the dog along too.

After breakfast, all I really wanted to do is finish the lawn mowing: Yesterday I had run the chipper/shredder for however long it takes to consume one tank of gas. Even with gloved hands, the vibration from grinding branches rends hands weak and bruised feeling, if I did two tanks' worth it might do lasting damage. It was enough though to clear most the the debris left-over from falling a large pine tree last Memorial Day weekend. Before grinding, I had run the mower over the back & side yards and the machine was running fine, so I had high hopes for the front, which was especially lush since it hadn't been cut in three weeks. I got through maybe 1/3 of the front before the machine quit. I didn't have time to fix the mower because I had to get washed-up and go to the recital.

The older girl was in two numbers, one ballet and one hip hop. She really is built for ballet, she is graceful and slim rather than powerful and quick. The younger was in 4 numbers. Singing, acting, ballet and a sort of show dance. She is only 8, but loves the stage. It is revealing to see them up there since they don't practice this stuff at home, at least not when I am around.

One thing I could not help but notice in the endless (seeming) parade of dance routines was that dancing on stage does not favor the chunky. Plenty of slim girls lack either the talent or skill to be entertaining as dancers but if they have much skill then they are a pleasure to watch. There was no exception to the rule that stocky girls looked ridiculous on stage. I think this is due partly to physics and partly to aesthetics. The extra weight prevents high leaps or graceful moves. Dance costumes tend to be skin tight and this only looks good on a fit build. It was really too bad since clearly some of the dancers were well trained and the only thing preventing a pleasing performance was excess mass.

Today I really wanted to finish the lawn since I had made such good progress yesterday. It took about an hour to get the lawnmower running: Changed the oil, added gas, cleaned the spark-plug and then finally got it to go when I took the plug from the snow blower and put it into the mower. It ran like a champ for most of the rest and it was heavy-duty; grass was lush and shin-high. Toward the end, the mower got finicky again and oddly, would only run when I put my finger lightly over the choke-bulb hole. I put a bit of scotch-tape over the hole and this worked, though not as well as my finger.

I finished this work by early afternoon, but didn't feel like doing more.

1. I had already showered twice and didn't want to get filthy again.

2. I was tired.

3. We would be going out to dinner after today's performance and I didn't want to be in the middle of any large project when it came time to go.

4. Really, I think it all comes down to being tired and feeling like I had gotten as much done as could be expected.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

18 Years of Wedded Bliss

Yesterday, actually. But we were too busy to do anything. Maybe after recital season and karate belt testing and so forth, we will celebrate.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I knew it when we got them...

A couple of years ago we got another few window air conditioning units. When I opened up the box I saw that the ends of the electric cords came equipped with built-in circuit breakers. I thought to myself, "This will be the first thing to malfunction". Sure enough, today after putting in the second unit; the breaker would pop as soon as it was reset.

The basement got flooded this spring, only a few inches though and the electric parts of an air conditioning unit are a ways-up from the bottom. Still, it was possible water got in there and damaged something. I took the whole thing apart and all the electrical parts looked pristine. I disconnected the cord from the unit and sure-enough, it still popped the breaker even when separated from the unit.

I had a power cord from another air conditioner that died a few years ago and so I attached it and the unit runs fine now.

And yes, I do have some screws left-over now that the unit is all reassembled.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Follow-up thoughts

I was watching a Blogging Heads TV segment with Ann Althouse and Eve Tushnet and was struck by an exchange they had. I will not try to repeat it here verbatim since that would be tedious. I will try to be reasonably accurate, though I should note that my purpose here is not to criticize-rather they got me thinking of ways the topic could be almost endlessly expanded.

Althouse was talking about how some of God’s commands don’t have to make sense to the faithful. They obey them because they want to be obedient to God’s will. Tushnet had a different (though not mutually exclusive) take on it. She was attracted to the Roman Catholic church in part because it was the sort of religion that was willing to make demands. That is, a church that tells her she is great just the way she is, is not the sort of organization which will be capable of helping her. Churches that make no demands are implying that they don’t actually believe in anything—there is no absolute truth. If you are perfect now, then why join a church? I am not suggesting that you have to consider yourself a fallen sinner (though that would be fine), just that you are not all you could be—in a spiritual sense, as a bare minimum requirement to joining a church. Again, my purpose here is not criticism and so I am open to suggestions that I have read into or misapprehended what was spoken. What I want to get to is a discussion of reasons for following God’s rules.

1. The Enlightened School.

If I was religious, this would certainly be the view which would be most attractive to me. The idea here is that we may not understand why God makes the rules that he makes, but he is good. As a good God, he makes rules that help us in life. If we follow his laws, the result will be a happy, full and decent life.

2. The “It Is Totally Arbitrary” School.

In this version the rules are arbitrary; they won’t hurt us, but they have no benefit of their own. There are a couple of ways of thinking about this. In George Orwell’s 1984, there is a part where Winston is told that illogical rules are needed: The goal of the state is power, so if the people are told to do reasonable things, how will the rulers tell the difference between obedience and people just doing what they would have done anyway? If this is God’s motivation then, other than prudence, I don’t see any moral reason for obedience. But there is another perspective as well: I don’t think that the following is true, but there is a kind of logic to it which illustrates this point further. My dad was a career Air Force pilot and he had a theory about the regulation haircut. He thought it was arbitrary in that it didn’t need to be as short as the regulations required it to be.* The real reason, he thought, was that they (I guess the Air Force as an organization) want to know who is willing to follow orders. This makes some degree of sense. For the military to function in warfare, there needs to be confidence that lawful orders will be carried-out.

*Later, I was enlisted in the Marine Corps and our regulations were even more strict than what I remember my father having to do. We jarheads felt less-than-squared-away if more than a week elapsed between haircuts. In the Marines, having a good haircut was more peer-pressure based than top-down. You just didn’t feel like you could lead your men with authority if your uniform and grooming were not sharp. It was a show of rigor.

3. The “It May Be Arbitrary, But It Is Still Good For You” School

What if the act of submission is the point? When you let go of your own ego and follow God’s law, that this discipline helps you to grow spiritually or in your faith?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Minority Can Really Screw Things Up

The other day I was reading an article in the WSJ called, Honk if You're an Aggressive Driver, which was about some states' efforts to fight the problem of "aggressive" driving.

My initial impulse was to make a blog post setting out the thesis that the largest cause of aggressive driving are the passive aggressive drivers who clog-up the passing lane. They may be going close to the posted limit, but are far below the prevailing speed for that lane.

I decided, partly due to not being able to locate the print edition in the recycling bag, to find the online version. Once I got there, I perused the comments and changed my mind a bit about the post. The comments ran about 10:1, most drivers complaining about people who squat in the passing lane and a small minority of self-righteous pricks (guess which side I am on) who essentially say that they can be in any lane they want as long as they are at, or close to, the speed limit.

The problem is that it only takes one out of ten drivers to royally screw-up a highway. So often I have seen 1/2 to 1/4 mile-long traffic clogs caused by the concatenation of 2-3 slow cars blocking all three lanes. Around here (New England) the posted speed might be 65 (when it is 55 the lane speeds are pretty much the same FWIW). The leftmost lane will have a prevailing speed of 80, the middle 70 and the right 65. The clog happens because many citizens prefer to cruise in the middle lane to avoid traffic entering and exiting on the right. Then a motorist going 66 will pass (on the left) a driver in the middle going 65. The roads out here are usually pretty full, so a lot of traffic will pile-up behind the 66 MPH car while he takes a couple of minutes to pass. The delta speed in the left lane is 14 MPH and in the middle it is 5 MPH.

Oddly, the right lane is often quite empty and aggressive though it may be, I have passed traffic clogs consisting of hundreds of cars, by zooming along in the right-most lane.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Why should BP pay for an Obama decision?

I had read about this in the WSJ and wanted to comment on it but Taranto beat me to it:

Obama: You'll Pay for My Decision! "The Obama administration's latest anti-BP volley is a call on the oil giant to pay up big time--not just for economic damages from the Gulf spill but also for lost wages of workers idled by the president's drilling moratorium," Politico reports. This column has no brief for BP, but for the president to demand that the company pick up the tab for his political reaction to the accident takes chutzpah to new heights

I would still like to expand on this for the kind of people that have trouble with easy concepts like Supply and Demand for instance.

1. Let's say that the 6-month moratorium on deep water drilling is justified: There is some flaw in regulations which made the current blow-out nigh inevitable. This flaw is not the fault of BP. In fact, it would be just the misfortune of BP that they happened to find the flaw first, they kind of helped the rest of the industry to avoid this mistake. As an aside: Just to gauge how reasonable a 6-month moratorium is. How would you feel about a similar ban on building jetliners as a reaction to a plane crash?

2. After a 6-month investigation it is determined that the current regulations were fine and should remain unchanged. We would then conclude that the half-year ban on drilling was a mistake--one made by Obama, not BP.

Either way, there is no rational basis for charging BP with lost wages due to the ban. In addition, why just lost wages? Are there not many other expenses to be considered? What about the capital costs of idle equipment, money already paid for leases on drilling areas and so forth? The current administration is sometimes accused of being Socialist, this has been debated far and wide elsewhere. It is interesting that when they look at the consequences of the drilling ban they only consider lost wages and not the (almost certainly higher) corporate losses. It is like they think labor is the only factor in production

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Day Of Three Motorized Devices

The Lawnmower: I made sure it would start before investing the time into taking the blade off for sharpening, reattaching the drive belt and fueling it up. Then I mowed a good part of the lawn.

Weed-whacker: I always get this to start, but had to fill-up both spools with new line. Then trimmed the borders.

Leaf Grinder: Started it first, then hauled it down to the front area to grind-up branches from the pine tree I felled over the Memorial Day weekend. It usually starts, but I like to make sure before moving it around since it is very heavy and our place is hilly. The work was slow, but I got through a substantial volume of branches before running out of fuel. I have more gasoline available but this was a good stopping point since it was just enough time to shower and go to our 2nd grader's portfolio party.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The weather outside was frightful...

So the weekend was filled with cooking.

I got 6 whole chickens from the store and cut them into parts:

--Odds and ends for broth and dog treats. --Wife marinated breast fillets for grilling and leg-thigh pieces with tandoori spice for oven cooking or grilling. We had the back pieces encrusted with corn flake crumbs and baked for dinner last night.

Wife made a batch of some 10-dozen meatballs.

I made a batch of spaghetti sauce.

I even made a batch of cranberry sauce, which we use like jam year-round.

For dinner tonight we had a pork rib roast. My wife purchased a large one which I cut in half. Then she spiced-up both--one for the freezer and one for the oven.

All in all, we should have some easy meals ahead of us. This is good since weekdays are a mad rush from the start of each day 'till the end.

Harvested from the garden today

Rainy and gross all day long, but there was a little break of sunshine so I ran out and got these. Rose, Peony and Strawberries.

Feel bad for the next-door neighbors: They are all set-up for some kind of big party (I think a HS graduation) and they have been getting rained on all day. They do have a pavilion installed, so they have an outdoor place to huddle when the rain is especially fierce.