Saturday, December 31, 2011

Prayers for a New Year

A female CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time. So she went to check it out.

She went to the Western Wall and there he was, walking slowly up to the holy site. She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.

"Pardon me, sir, I'm Rebecca Smith from CNN. What's your name?
"Morris Feinberg," he replied.
"Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?"
"For about 60 years."
"60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"
"I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims."
"I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop."
"I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults and to love their fellow man." "I pray that politicians tell us the truth and put the interests of the people ahead of their own interests."
"How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"

"Like I'm talking to a f*#*#ing wall."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Post Christmas Uses for Turkey

My wife called and asked me to pick up some andouille and oysters on the way home from work. The turkey carcass was simmered down last night to a rich stock. All that's needed is some roux and the holy trinity.

I suspect some turkey gumbo is in my future.

(Note to foodies: that's the Louisiana version of andouille, not the French, which is made from tripe)

When to Change Your Major

Lim of Engineering as GPA → 0 = Business

Monday, December 26, 2011

Blog Maintenance

I made a few updates to the blog list.

North added me to the Gun Bloggers Black List so they are both now listed.

I added Brigid's Home on the Range and through her links I discovered Engineering Johnson who is now on the list as well.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Festivus

X Factor Irony

Maybe its just me, but I found the music played when they introduced the three finalists to be ironic. "O Fortuna" is probably the most well known piece of Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana". Its a latin poem that complains about the role luck plays in life. Ironic music, me thinkest, since the winner is selected by votes from the public. A translation from the latin is below.

O Fortune,
variableas the moon,
always dost thou wax and wane.

Detestable life,
first dost thou mistreat us,
and then whimsically,
thou heedest our desires.

As the sun melts the ice,
so dost thou dissolveboth poverty and power.

Monstrous and empty fate,
thou turning wheel art mean,
voiding good health at thy will.

Veiled in obscurity,
thou dost attack me also.

To thy cruel pleasureI bare my back.
Thou dost withdraw my health and virtue;
thou dost threaten my emotionand weakness with torture.
At this hour,therefore, let us pluck the strings without delay.
Let us mourn together, for fate crushes the brave.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Public Service Announcement

My wife and I are going downtown today to exchange some jewelry. The politicians and police are having problems with crime and are about to ask the National Guard to help out. I WILL be carrying today.

That is all. Go about your business.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Living in 2011


1. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.

2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen

8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't even have the first 20 or 40 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )

12. You're reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.

14. You are too busy to notice there was no number 9 on this list.

15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn’t a number 9 on this list.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review - Micro

This novel was developed from an incomplete manuscript found after Michael Crichton's death. Richard Preston was then selected to finish it. Preston has written books dealing with diseases and plagues in The Hot Zone and Demon in the Freezer. The only flaw in the novel is that you have to make a major suspension of disbelief early on. This is unusual for a Crichton book as he typically bases his stories on cutting edge, but real, technology.

The plot follows a group of graduate students that are hired by a research company to research medical discoveries developed from nature. The twist is that the company has found a way to shrink people in size and send them out to collect specimens that would not be visible to a person of normal size. Of course, the company also has an evil side and our valiant graduate students struggle to survive in the micro world and vanquish the bad guys.

While not my favorite Crichton novel (That is Eaters of the Dead), it is an interesting read and you will learn more about naturally occurring chemicals than you ever want to know.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Challenge

I married into a large Italian family. If you learn nothing else about Italians, you learn that they cook enough food to challenge the miracle of the loaves and fishes. As my wife likes to say, there is plenty of food and adding one more person will not make any difference. So, we have invited a couple of people we know, who would otherwise spend Christmas Day alone, to join our extended family for dinner.

So I'm issuing a challenge. My challenge is for you to find someone in your circle of acquaintances who will be alone Christmas Day and invite them to share Christmas dinner with you. It could be someone in the military or a student who can't afford to travel home. It could be a colleague who has no family in the area. It could be someone who is travelling and can't get home for the holidays. Think about who you know that may be alone and invite them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Counter Top Fail

My wife has been doing a kitchen remodel. We are making the island bigger. The challenge is to finish it in time for Christmas dinner. They were supposed to install the counter top yesterday - a slab that we had hand picked for color.

The language was not fit for children.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Green is the New Color of FAIL

Bluewater Wind, an offshore wind farm project off Delaware announced the other day that they are putting their plans on hold. They cited the following as the reason

In particular, two aspects of the project critical for success have actually gone backwards: the decisions of Congress to eliminate funding for the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program applicable to offshore wind, and the failure to extend the Federal Investment and Production Tax Credits for offshore wind which expire at the end of 2012 and which have rendered the Delaware project both unfinanceable and financially untenable for the present.

So, the project is not economical without government loan guarantees and tax credits.

In other news, we learn that the US Navy is buying jet fuel at $16/gal, four times the usual cost, in order to buy it from bio-fuel supplier Solazyme. Also involved with Solazyme is Dynamic Fuels, which is a joint venture between Tyson Foods and Syntroleum to turn chicken waste into fuel. This jet fuel is part of the Navy's program to develop the "Great Green Fleet", the Navy's plan to deploy a fleet fueled entirely by biofuels by 2016.

Who thinks this stuff up?

Wanna Job? Be an Engineer!

I know that unemployment is through the roof and that economic indicators are bad, but I receive at least one employment solicitation per week. The kicker is that they are all for engineers. In fact, my own employer is busily looking for engineers. I sit and listen to my colleague in the next cubical over talking to potential new hires every day!

I joined LinkedIn primarily to stay in touch with friends who may be assigned to far flung areas of the world. But a lot of recruiters have also joined it and mine it for leads. And since most of those recruiters focus on the technical specialty groups within LinkedIn, when they solicit you for employment, it is for a job that's in your area. And they are all busily searching for engineers and designers. It would appear that as hard as Obama has tried to kill the oil industry, it is alive and well - especially overseas. And especially so for engineers with experience who have shown ability to drive projects to completion.

If companies are competing for engineering talent, they will also be hungry for technicians and designers - jobs that don't require an engineering degree but for which you do need technical and math skills.

My advice to young folks heading to college is to take the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) route.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Colonoscopy Time

It was time for another colonoscopy so I spent 2 days this week in prep and procedure. It's one of the joys of getting up in years. But colon cancer is the third most prevalent cancer and it took a friend of mine - a Marine and Vietnam vet who probably didn't like the thought of probes being inserted into his nether regions. I know it's not pleasant to think about, but the procedure can be a life saver.

The worst part is the prep day. You have to go on a liquid diet and then drink a gallon of a foul tasting fluid which acts to completely (and I mean completely!) clean out your colon. You go in for the procedure the next day. You are under sedation during the whole thing and aren't even aware of it. The doctor will run a scope into your colon, and if he finds any polyps, he will remove them. Polyps can be potential cancer sites.

I happen to have a tendency to grow polyps so the doctor removed about a half dozen and told me to come back in three years. Usually, if you are polyp free, the return frequency is 10 years.

So if you haven't done it, have one done. If not for you, for your family.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Review - Shockwave

This is the latest in John Sandford's Virgil Flowers series. Virgil is investigating the bombing of the offices of a big box store magnate. The trail leads to a small town where one of the newest stores is under construction and there is a series of bombings seemingly related to the store. The plot gets complicated when Virgil discovers some local political hanky panky and works a sting against the local politicos along with trying to find the bomber, who is now targeting Virgil.

While a good story, it is not one of the better Flowers novels. But reading Sandford is always good.

And speaking of John Sandford, I'm waiting to see how Mark Harmon does as Lucas Davenport in Certain Prey. Somehow I can't picture him in that role.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Head Count

The Executioner in Saudi Arabia removed the heads of 6 murderers in November. The year to date total for the Kingdom now stands at 58.