Thursday, March 29, 2007


I pay attention to a couple of podcasts using Sage (a Firefox plugin). But it's a pain to manually download each of the .mp3's, and I didn't want to use iTunes to do it for me.

Turns out there's a pretty nice, free (as in GPL) podcast receiver. You just add the feeds you want and it'll download them for you. It also does a nice job of letting you clean them up (delete them) when you're done.

Check it out - click on the button:

Download Juice, the cross-platform podcast receiver

iBike WW13 (1)

My second ride of the year on my road bike. Still no cycle-computer so I don't know the distance (probably 8-9 miles), but I rode hard for 30 minutes. Just out around Philomath.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sadly, It's Not A Parody

I was led to this post and I thought it was funny, until I realized he was serious.

A choice quote:

“Based on genetics, I think Adam’s chest hair needs to be short, like Sean Connery’s.”

The post in full is here: Meeting Scientists Behind Closed Doors - Answers in Genesis

Saturday, March 24, 2007

iBike WW 12 (1)

Today was the triathlon clinic at the Osborne aquatic center. We basically did a sprint triathlon and got some tips from some pros (one of the guys finished the 2005 Hawaii Iron Man in 9:39 (205 of 1600)). It was pretty fun - we got video taped while swimming. It turns out my swim stroke is pretty good (need to get my elbow up earlier, but most things are working well) - probably the best thing would be to reduce the drag of my belly (which hangs down pretty low...).

Anyway, I did the long ride (20 miles), and I biked there and back, so that's my ride for the week. I hadn't been on my road bike for probably near 2 years, so the cycle computer needs a new battery.

The beaver freezer is in 2 weeks - hopefully the run then won't be as bad as the run was today.

Friday, March 23, 2007


So, I was leaving work on Wednesday. It'd been a sunny day, but a bit cool. As I was walking through the parking lot I saw a guy heading toward his car wearing a heavy jacket and shorts. I immediately thought, "dork, who wears shorts when it's chilly."

For those who don't interact with me much, I almost always wear shorts - except formal occasions and when I ski. I just had to laugh to myself as I said "dork" - but it just came out.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Mary made Holupchi for dinner. mmmm...

It's a Ukrainian recipe consisting of savoy cabbage leaves stuffed with ground beef and pork and cooked rice. You cook it slowly for a few hours in some chopped tomatoes (oh, and add onion/garlic to either the rice mixture, or the tomatoes).

Very tasty. The few internet recipes have egg in them, and some odd spices I don't believe they had in the Ukraine, so I think we'll stick to salt and pepper.

Blowing Bubbles

Tonight Simone figured out how to blow bubbles under water. We were taking a bath, she stuck her mouth into the water and blew bubbles. Occasionally she'd breathe in a tad bit of water, but by the end of the bath - she almost never sucked in water.

And to think, I still have problems blowing bubbles when I am under water.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Simone 9.5

She's nearly ten months old. scary.

Lucky for us, she's not crawling yet, so we can still run circles around her. Before long, she'll be flip the tables on us, and then we won't know what to do.

Today was a beautiful spring day, so we decided to do some yardwork. We conned a friend's kid into mowing the lawn (woo-hoo), and did the weeding and pruning ourselves. Simone even tried helping out - she got her first taste of grass.

mmmm.... grass....

mmmm.... phone....

Dad, stop taking pictures and help me up!

She's obviously sitting up and grabbing things. She's actually gotten to the point where not everything immediately goes into her mouth. She looked at the grass for quite a while before tasting it.

Simone's laughing lots more, and still gurlges on command. Just this week she learned how to make the clucking sound by ... um, well combining your tongue and the roof of your mouth.

She's playing the piano, and drumming any two things she has in her hands together. The favorite toys seem to have moved away from the mint tin and wooden ring to a quarter cup measuring cup.

Each day is an adventure.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Root Beer Remixed

So, I decided to make root beer again. The first two times I made it I used yeast for the carbonation, which gave nice bubbles, but had a little bit of a yeasty flavor.

This time I sweetened the batch with maple syrup (and a little sugar), and I tried carbonating the bottles with dry ice. A guy at work talked about how he did that for his beer and it worked really well. In fact, he wasn't using yeast for carbonation any longer.

I grabbed some dry ice from the store, mixed up my brew, and dropped some small chunks of frozen CO2 in the bottles. The guy had said pea-sized chunks worked well.

I'm here to say, bull-sh*t. A pea-sized chunk of dry ice in my 16 ounce bottles blew the cap right off. I've got the nice, sturdy glass bottles with the wire bale swing-top cap. While testing one of the early bottles out, I popped the top and the entire wire bale mechanism shot off the bottle and hid under the cupboards. Needless to say, I was a bit spooked. My sunglasses and yellow fabric gloves weren't going to be enough to protect me against that danger.

I popped the couple of bottles I'd already done to let them de-pressurize (two more bales came flying off. And I looked for even smaller chunks of ice. The "right" size appears to be about the size of a cooked lentil. We'll see tomorrow. I'll be opening them with a towel over the top to keep from breaking something.

iBike WW11 (1)

Just another ride to the gym for tri-training (over Witham Hill).

Stats: 35 min, 13 mph, 7.77 miles.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

iBike WW10 (3)

I rode to the gym today, and since the last ride took just over 32 minutes, I wanted to try to get it under 30.

I also happened to fall off my bike. It was my fault - about the only excuse for going over the handlebars is a stick in the wheel, which didn't happen today. I was at a four-way stop sign, rolling along real slow, waiting for the driver going the other direction to give an indication of what she was going to do (go straight through intersection, or turn left - and cross my path). I waited a couple of seconds until my legs said, "let's go boys!" and I stood up on the pedals, beginning to start going. At just that time, the lady turned on her left-hand turn signal, and my brain said, "whoa there!" and I hit the brakes. What happens when your bike stops suddenly and your center of gravity is way high? You go over the handlebars.

I mostly scraped my left elbow, and my inner thighs got a nice set of scratches from the handlebars. I continued on to the gym (where I did a lighter workout), and biked home.

I did make it in less than 30 minutes though:

time: 28:13, 14.9 mph, 7.01 miles total.

Monday, March 05, 2007

iBike WW10 (2)

To the gym and beyond! Well, just to the gym to swim.

32 min, 7 miles, 12.8 mph.

Bunk as News

Good article, with an interesting idea on how to make it possible to have real news. Ironically, the article is in some ways an advertisement for a book Why the media passes off bunk as news - Yahoo! News. I'm sure the irony is not lost on its author.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Ha (Paranoia)

iBike WW10 (1)

Another beautiful day. I rode to the gym and back. Why go to the gym on a beautiful day? Well, my body isn't ready to run on pavement, and I've got a triathlon in just over a month.

Ride stats: 13.6 mph, 10.5 miles, 46 minutes. The ride went past bald hill, out Walnut to TimberHill, and then back pas the north store of the co-op to pick up some potatoes for dinner.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

iBike WW09 (1)

Today was one of the only days this week that wasn't raining nasty, and it is the last day of the week - so I lucked out.

Simone and I rode downtown to pick up some library books for me and some bolts for the bed frame that needs some fixing. We also wandered around downtown because it was just so pretty. After paying for the bolts, and my library fine, I had $2 left, so I bought an over-priced cookie at one of the shops. Simone got her first look at a drinking fountain - I showed it to her and she stuck her hand in the water.

We then rode back through campus and the covered bridge. A very nice leisurely ride.

Stats: 36 minutes, 10.5 mph, 6.5 miles.

iBike WW08 (3)

The third ride of the week was a simple criss-cross of the country club hill. I try to put hills in to keep the workout somewhat challenging. I happened to choose the only hour during the day that wasn't raining heavily.

Ride stats: 38 min, 12.2 mph, 7.82 miles total.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Random thoughts from the last week

Lately I've had it against capitalism lately. I must be turning socialist or something. I'm just getting tired of the crowd that tries to solve all our problems by applying market forces (capitalism).

The first thing is schools. Vouchers don't seem to be in the news as much, but they make as much sense as do the "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) policies. Under NCLB, if your school isn't performing, then they get punished, and kids can go to other schools (with your school footing the bus bill no less).

Sure, there are better teachers and there are worse teachers. There are better (more modern, better equipped, not running down, etc.) schools, and there are worse. However, I seriously doubt that the rich, white, suburban school has twice as good of teachers than the poor, multi-racial, inner-city school. Heck, they've even found that the public schools teach math better than private ones (once adjusting for background).

So, how does shuttling around a bunch of kids who are not doing well in school solve the problem? It just blames teachers and doesn't address anything. Vouchers seem nifty because the folks that (can) take advantage of them already have money and already value education - their kids are going to do better in school. And, you leave behind the ones that value education less, have more problems at home, etc. I'm no expert, but it's difficult for Johnny to do his homework if he's worrying if mom's gonna get home with dinner tonight or not. When was the last time you had to worry about eating? (Let alone worrying about getting shot because your brother is in a gang...)

The NCLB thing just doesn't pass the sniff test. Kids are not untainted raw material, and teachers are not craftsmen. Take the analogy of kids == wood, and teachers == furniture makers. The cities are full of trees/lumber, and we need to turn all lumber into furniture. If an inner city shop (school) is having to spend all of it's time/energy drying the wood, planing it flat, working around knots, it's just not going to be able to compete against the suburban school that is receiving dried, knot-free wood. NCLB and vouchers simply end up concentrating the poor wood in the "problem" shops. Eventually, that poor wood is going to make it to the suburbs and we'll be back where we started.

Before you get all high and mighty, I'm not saying that inner-city folks are knotty and the such, but in general, with lower income, the kids come in with more baggage. The kids aren't flawed, their environment is. That's what we need to fix.

And I do think the teacher's union needs to figure out how to get rid of dead wood. We had some really bad teachers in my high school. The other teachers knew about them, but there's not much you can do b/c of the tenure. But that's another digression...

Back to capitalism. Miles and I were having an interesting discussion on health care. My main beef is that I think that when you try to make a profit off health care, profit becomes #1, and patients take the back seat. Costs are rising for all sorts of reasons, but costs for non-profit health-care providers have gone up more slowly than that of for-profit providers. Anyway, I don't intend to rehash our discussion, but I did find this interesting article that shows two sides to the debate (I'm sure there are more sides than just these two).
Long-Run Health Care Cost Drivers.

Similarly, newspapers. They're in a world of hurt because readership is down, and they're losing advertising revenue. So the LA Times is looking at what to do to address the situation. Well, the LA Times thinking of closing down its foreign bureau, because it is not making enough money. I don't think it's creative editing that makes the investors sound like they want to turn the LA Times into something of a tabloid (like People magazine). A quote:

Mr. Bobrinskoy (vice-chairman of one of the major investors of the LA Times:
"The demand is for a very strong, high-quality, local newspaper, focused on the things that people in L.A. care about: style, Hollywood, entertainment, local government, local sports, local issues like immigration. If he [Dean Baquet, former editor] was focused on all those issues, there would be a lot of demand for his product. Instead he's trying to be the fourth national newspaper."

So, you've got an investor wanting more money, not caring about the news - the first three things he lists as priorities are exactly what People magazine covers.

You can't expect everything to continue to grow or to make more money, it's just not realistic, and that demand pushes organizations in the wrong direction. At some point, you have to push back against capitalist pressures, because at some point they will push you away from your original goal. If you are a newspaper, you should be reporting news. Simply trying to maximize money leads us down the road to a common low - tabloids.

The recent killer-diaper-wearing-astronaut and Anna Nicole Smith stories are just examples of it. For a week, they were two of the five top stories. The Anna Nicole Smith one has been in the top five for a few weeks now. How is this news? It's not, it's "entertainment." The businesses may hide behind the excuse that, "it's what readers want" - but that's simply lame. We also want to eat fat, salt, and sugar all day, but at some point you have to say enough is enough, we should be eating vegetables.

Enough is enough, we should be getting real news.

capitalism - applied to schools (voucher system, no child left behind)
just doesn't apply well to everything
e.g. food

How Cool Is This

At work I do most everything from inside the application Emacs. It's my mail reader, I write software, compile it, run and debug it from Emacs. I've even taught a class in it at work.

Anyway, this guy just wrote a module that lets you post blog entries to blogspot from inside Emacs.

I actually remember him from college - he was getting his PhD at Cornell while I was an undergrad. You see, he's blind. What made me remember him was ... well he was blind and programming computers. When you walked past his office you could hear the computer talking to him. It sounded more like barking to me, but that's probably because it wasn't in English. Turns out, he wrote the program that "speaks" to him, and it runs inside of Emacs.

He left off a few details of how to get the posting functionality working, so I need to download some extra modules. But I hope to begin posting from inside Emacs soon.