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Saturday, December 10th, 2011
5:55 pm
Since I traveled to Iceland during their crash a few years ago, I've followed their economy off and on. This past week, I found Martin Wolf's article, How Iceland survived the fire, detailing the differences between Iceland's and Ireland's responses to their bank failures interesting enough to share.

Similarly, although I believe many of the protesters have legitimate complaints, I'm rather indifferent to the Occupy Wall Street movement. I think sit-ins with nebulous goals will be largely ineffectual. With that said, I found Brad Hick's article, Gods Help Us, St. Louis Did it Right #OWS on how the St. Louis police approached breaking up their OWS camp to be really, really interesting. If you're interested in either crowd control or the psychology behind power use it may be worth a read.

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Monday, October 4th, 2010
3:12 pm - Reign of Terror
I've been watching the Doctor Who's from the beginning in order recently (via the DVDs when available, and dailymotion when not) and the last serial of the first season was on the Reign of Terror. I decided to go ahead and read up on Robespierre and the Reign of Terror since I wasn't too familiar with it.

And all I have to say is wow!

I always assumed the Reign of Terror was one of those appellations made after the fact. Not so. Here is a quote from Robespierre:
If virtue be the spring of a popular government in times of peace, the spring of that government during a revolution is virtue combined with terror: virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue; it is less a distinct principle than a natural consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing wants of the country. ... The government in a revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny.
Robespierre, as the de facto leader of the Committee of Public Safety, wasn't a big mercy person, stating that "slowness of judgments is equal to impunity" and "uncertainty of punishment encourages all the guilty." So when he took over the government he was instrumental in pushing through a tribunal that only needed suspicion with no witnesses for a citizen to be sent to the guillotine.

Those dystopic future sci-fi programs where society is run by a Committee of Public Safety, where you're guilty until proven innocent and then executed publicly? Well, that was revolutionary France and more time traveling shows should visit that time period. Learning about it was quite illuminating. It makes the atmosphere defined by McCarthyism seem downright cordial.

While I ended up reading a dozen articles, if you're unfamiliar with the time period, I recommend taking 5-6 minutes to read the Wikipedia article on Robespierre - particularly the Reign of Terror section. I found it really interesting.

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Saturday, September 25th, 2010
9:56 pm
Today I gained "Premier" status with United. Apparently, through January 2012 I will receive:

1. Economy Plus seating when available
2. First and second bag fees waived
3. My one way awards cost half the miles
4. 25% more miles per flight
5. Priority check-in and boarding
6. Waitlist/Standby priority
7. On domestic flights, I'm automatically placed on an upgrade waitlist when I buy my ticket

1 and 2 are rocking, 3 and 4 make a great combo, and the rest are whatever. Anna told me she now feels like a peasant.

However, what's really funny about this is that I hate flying. I avoid it as much as possible, to the point where one summer I drove from OKC to DC to Seattle to DC to Seattle to OKC. Yet here I am - a Premier frequent flier.

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Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
11:17 pm - 70s vs 80s Fashion
I was doing some research on the fashion of the 70s, and watched this 1970s video compilation:



In watching it, I started out thinking "Hell yeah, the '70s were rocking!" Somewhere around 1976 though, it becomes obvious that the people of the '70s are losing their way. By the late '70s it was a little painful.

When I was done, I started watching the '80s compilation:



I don't know what happened between 1979 and 1980, but it was dramatic. Seriously, watch from the 7:50 mark until the end of the '70s video, and compare that to the first minute of the '80s video. The '80s were so much cooler than the late '70s. It was like the '70s steadily devolved in terms of coolness and then suddenly arose like a phoenix in 1980.

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10:52 pm - So how's your day going?
So I went to Subway this evening and there was only one person working - an attractive ~20 year-old dark-haired girl who was in the process of changing out the bread.

Me: Hi!
Her: One second!
Me: No problem, I'm in no rush.

about a minute passes...

Her: Great! What would you like?
Me: Do you have the seafood sensation here?
Her: Yep!
Me: Oh, I didn't see it on the men...oh, there it is.
Her: Yeah, it's a new menu and everything has moved.
Me: Ok, can I get a foot-long wheat seafood sensation?
Her: Sure!
Me: So how's your day going?

She pauses, looks up into my eyes intently, then looks back down.

Her: Horrible...
Me: Oh?
Her: Yeah, I just found out my boyfriend has been cheating on me.
Me: Oh.
Her: Toasted?
Me: No thanks.
Her: What vegetables?
Me: Lettuce, tomato, a few green peppers, and banana peppers

While she is doing that the silence stretches.

Me: Did you find out before you came to work?
Her: No, he let me know via text.
Me: oh.
Her: Any sauces?
Me: Spicy Mustard
Her: Dijon work?
Me: Yes
Me: Do you at least get to go home soon?
Her: No, I work late.
Me: That sucks.
Her (putting on a brave face): I've accepted it now. $6.79

I hand her my discover

Her: Mastercard or Visa

I hand her my mastercard

Me: Well... I hope your day gets better

She smiles.
I leave.


And so ended the most awkward Subway ordering experience ever!

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Wednesday, July 7th, 2010
1:43 pm - Plans within plans
So I was going to get my old photos scanned by a local shop, but that didn't work out. Now I'm considering doing it through http://www.scancafe.com/ since I saw a deal today for $0.18/photo.

My only issue is that I don't think I'd ever actually use the full $300 worth of scanning. Anyone want to go in with me? I could send you the second $150 card for $75.

P.S. I realize this is a luxury cost for something I could do by hand. However, I would prefer to throw money at the issue rather than time.

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Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
3:04 pm - Hardware Geek-out Warning
So I'm buying a new work laptop for myself and I'm a bit torn between these three models.

  New MacBook Pro New HP Envy 14 Vostro 3300
Weight 4.1 lbs 5.15 lbs 4.6 lbs
Height 1.08" 1.11" 1.12"
Display 13.3" 1280x800 LED 14.5" 1600x900 LED 13.3" 1920x1080 LED
Graphics Card NVIDIA Geforce 320M 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon 5650 1024 MB NVIDIA Geforce 310M 512MB
Battery Life 9 hours 6 hours 5 hours
Trackpad ONE BUTTON TWO BUTTON TWO BUTTON
Case Body polycarbonate magnesium/aluminum alloy aluminum
Price ~$1050 (MacOS + Win7) ~$1200 (Win7) ~$1200 (Win7)

These boxes all come with Bluetooth, a webcam, wireless n, ~2.4GHz in processor, and a DVDRW. The HP is heavier and has less battery life, but it also has a bigger screen, a better video card, and better resolution. The Dell has a good display and otherwise inferior components compared to the other two models, but my company would pay for it directly so that I wouldn't have to go through the reimbursement process.

In theory, this should be an easy choice as the Mac would give me more flexibility for testing web apps and much longer battery life. However, what's stopping me is really one of the more pedantic things: I absolutely hate single button Mac trackpads. Hate them. Multi-button mice and trackpads are just better. I'm not sure I can get over this.

(I'd consider installing MacOS on the Envy, but my googling has shown that to be hazardous to the laptop's health.)

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Saturday, June 5th, 2010
4:04 pm
For Valentine's Day 2009, my valentine and I visited The Field Museum in Chicago (yup, we're that kind of couple):

Lyle and Sue


Lyle and Sue's dinner (a Kakapo)



For our first anniversary in March 2009, Anna and I visited Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas:

Lyle at Cedar Falls


Anna at Cedar Creek


Anna expresses her feelings regarding the hike back up



The Field Museum (7 pics) and Petit Jean (14 pics) sets are probably only interesting to me.

I have a local copy shop scanning some non-digital pictures from my college/Bantu years that I'll post sometime, but otherwise, I'm just about caught up with my outstanding picture sets.

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Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
2:56 pm - Riviera Maya and Chichén Itzá
Finally titled, tagged, and geocoded my 2006 visit to the Yucatan and Chichén Itzá. Here are some favorites.

Anna downs her welcome drink at the Barceló Maya Colonial


In Front of El Castillo


An Iguana


The Temple of Quetzalcoatl


Imagine carving a lattice out of stone


Doorway to Darkness


Camoflagued Iguana


El Caracol (The Snail)


Anna on El Caracol


Temple of the Warriors


Group of a Thousand Columns


Anna Runs the Columns


Anna in Ik-Kil


Here is the entire set.

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Saturday, May 29th, 2010
10:17 pm
Recently Anna and I were fantasizing about what to do when we retire. The possibility of sailing the world in a yacht came up since we both love to travel. We idly guessed that buying a medium-sized yacht would cost between 500,000 and a million or so and placed it in the "maybe someday" category.

Anyway, a few weeks ago the thought crossed my mind while working and I searched for how much yachts cost. I was extremely surprised to learn that 20' sailing vessels in Hawai'i average about $10,000 - and pretty nice 48' vessels can go for as little as $89,000.

As we currently live on the big island of Hawai'i, I'm excited about the idea that we could potentially buy a medium-sized sailing vessel for $30,000 (the cost of a new car) and cruise the islands.

The problem, of course, is that I know absolutely nothing about sailing (and Anna tells me "you first").

But the idea that this is something that we could do in the next 5-10 years rather than 30 has led me to search for sailing lessons. While doing so, I came across the Hawaii Yacht Club which offers Sailing 101 classes each month. They cost $50 a year to join and hold a novice sailing day once a month.

The first class will be next Sunday. I'll let you know how it goes.

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Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
6:06 pm - Info Pop 7
For this information pop, we were supposed to pick a pop-culture reference that illustrates or contradicts the following quote:

The culture is a huge problem.Collapse )

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Monday, May 24th, 2010
4:11 pm - Lost is over
I must admit that the series finale of Lost was extremely satisfying. That's not always the case with long-running series of that mold (the Twin Peaks ending comes to mind).

This author's views of the questions left by the finale summarize my thoughts well.

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Sunday, May 23rd, 2010
11:14 am
I finally got around to uploading my Iceland pictures from my sister's wedding trip. Here are some favorites.

Anna and Andrew at the Icelandic White House


Swans in Pond


Andrew at the Blue Lagoon


Andrew in front of Icelandic Peaks


In front of an Isle


Þingvellir


Icelandic Majesty


Stream at Thingvellir


Strokkur Eruption Ending


Strokkur Erupting Next to Anna


Gullfoss


Icelandic Cutbacks


The Bride!


Becky won't be happy with me for posting this one - but it's awesome


The Happy Couple in the Viking Restaurant!


The Best Candid Photo Ever!


3rd Photo in a Set of Becky's Reactions to Hakarl (Putrid Shark)


The Honeymoon Begins


Seljalandsfoss


Me Following a Climb


Anna Collapses


An Icelandic Beach


A Troll of Reynisdrangar


Mýrdalsjökull


An Ice Cave!


Getting drenched by Skógafoss


For more, visit my Icelandic set on Flickr.

Also, as always, I recommend against Flickr's slideshow feature. It doesn't display the titles or annotations and those are half the fun.

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Monday, May 17th, 2010
5:11 am - Multitasking, Distractions, and Learning
LJ is my RSS reader, and I've added at least 5-6 feeds to LJ of which I'm the only follower.

One I added recently had an interesting article today: Texting is a distraction, and hours matter. In it, two articles are discussed - one on the edge students in charter schools can gain from having more instructional hours; and two, a review "that says that today’s kids multitask and we should change the way we teach them in order to support that habit."

In particular, Mark states,

In the review of Rosen’s book, no evidence is provided that the electronic distractions didn’t inhibit performance.  Yes, his daughter was a valedictorian.  Having smart parents will do that.  Might she have learned more without the distractions?

I don’t disagree with the premise that YouTube and texting and Wikipedia offer learning opportunities.  I disagree with the belief that this multitasking doesn’t cost, that there is no cognitive load, that one can perform as well with the distractions as without them.

He then discusses how he is dropping his Blackberry in favor of a plain cellphone and instead getting an iPad with 3G.

I am concerned that having the Internet in my pocket is more a distraction than a benefit.  Do I really need to check email in every 10 minute interval?  Do I need the distraction in meetings or while driving?  How does such ready access detract from my experiences and my work?

As a techie-geeky guy, this is a strange step.  I’m making a move away  from ubiquitous access, from ever more computing at my beck-and-call?  It’s an experiment for me, a choice in favor of reflection over distraction, maybe a choice that leads to increased frustration and boredom.

I agree. I find technology can be a distraction from living. If you're constantly inundated with new data, and have to make a call when you're walking down the street to feel connected to others, when do you have the time for reflection or collating all of that data you've taken in?

In any case, the blog is written by a computing education researcher whose articles generally focus on cs education issues and the effects of technology use. It's available at computinged on LJ if you're interested. Here are the two posts that made me add him recently:reify , I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the Iphone article and the dangers of technology disappearing.  Do you think it's a concern?

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Friday, April 9th, 2010
3:56 pm
I recently came across this article in LifeHacker on tying your shoes more effectively: http://lifehacker.com/5451765/ditch-the-granny-knot-to-tie-your-shoes-more-efficiently

It's a short video, and may be worth your 3 minutes; especially if you read the first 5 or 6 comments after you've watched the video.

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Thursday, April 8th, 2010
8:10 am
My grandfather, Papa, died on Wednesday, March 31.

http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/dclassifieds?Dato=20100401&Kategori=OBITUARY&Type=CAT30200&Lopenr=100400109

It can be easy to whitewash the deceased, but in this case, he truly was the sweetest, most generous man I've ever known. He gave and gave and gave.

In the time I knew him, I never heard him raise his voice or even become frustrated. He was a thoroughly good person, yet he had just a touch of sarcasm that let you know he believed the world was a funny place. However, even that sarcasm was never directed at people, so much as at situations.

I flew down to Lafayette this past weekend to be one of his pallbearers.

I will miss him greatly.

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Monday, March 15th, 2010
6:10 pm
For krieg_hund:

Researchers in Ireland have gained new understanding of the role played by the cilial protein Arl13b in Joubert syndrome (JS), a rare disorder characterized by developmental delay, mental retardation, and low muscle tone, among other symptoms.

This is why I love reading Eurekalert!

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Friday, February 19th, 2010
6:54 pm - Which is better?
Poll #1527747 Which is better

Which is better?

Swing set
12(70.6%)
Trampoline
5(29.4%)
Neither - they are both too scary
0(0.0%)

How old are you?

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Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
3:28 am
For those that don't know, I participate in fantasy accounting football. I know, I know, but I must admit that I get a grossly inordinate amount of joy from talking smack.

Anyway, here is an example story I posted to our league. Feel free to skip it.

For background, my team name is "Flagrantly Flaccid". This week I'm facing Saffron who owns a team named the "1d8 Hobgoblins". Our league is named the "Defenseless Old Ladies".

Suppressed secrets leaked - Saffron shocked speechlessCollapse )

I know that to everyone but me this is just flat out weird rather than smack - but I have so much fun thinking of ridiculous stories that I can't help but enjoy integrating them into my smack talk.

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Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
8:30 am - U2/Muse Concert Tickets
Anna and I bought 4 tickets to the U2 concert in March, but Anna is in Hawai'i and so I have some extras.

Right now, 2 tickets are spoken for (Rachel and I), but there are 2 left. Price/ticket is $69.

Any takers?

If not, I shouldn't have any trouble selling them on craigslist, but I'd prefer to offer them to friends before I go that route.

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