Tuesday, December 7, 2010

May your eyes take in and your mind comprehend

National Geographic <== That organization's magazine's name rings through the centuries (now) as a bastion for the perfect photograph of distant places, scenes, animals, people, insects. Belches of fire from earthly openings below the crust; rushing, raging rivers; along with quiet moments of peaceful tranquility are all shown in its pages. This annual contest seems to distill the best of the best for passive viewers to take in and gasp at pangs of feelings evoked about what we see.


Comments welcomed.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Large solar arrays come to San Antonio

There are all kinds of negative comments coming the way of renewable energy projects. We went to San Antonio this week and saw this installation. It is impressively LARGE.

"The Blue Wing solar farm near San Antonio, Texas is operational and producing 16.6 megawatts of DC power (14.4 megawatts AC). It’s the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) facility in Texas and the third largest PV farm in the U.S. The amount of generation from the facility is approximately 25,000 megawatt-hours.

"The installation includes a 500-kilowatt demonstration facility where an assortment of thin film and crystalline silicon PV modules as well as a concentrating PV unit have been installed for research and comparison purposes." Quote from Juwi Solar.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ideas for a "Homemade Christmas"

My friend, Gary, said:
Avoid the "Great Gift Card Exchange" AKA "Money Swap"..... here's a starting place.... http://www.instructables.com/community/Letter-from-the-Editor-Homemade-for-the-Holidays/

To which I added:
Here are more thoughts for the homemade gift group:
Hand scrub with lemon
Homemade gift contest winners
More gifts to make
Gift cards you can make
Gifts for "foodies" on your list
If you have a youngster, this might be interesting:

Whatever you have in mind beyond these ideas, you are welcome to make a comment here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

POEM: Ode to "Weeping Onion (in the desert)"

Ode to "Weeping Onion (in the desert)"
(c) Richard Herndon 2010

I thought that my eyes
Were running in tears,
From peeling an onion
I'd had for years.

I thought that my life
Was down in the drain,
From living a life
I'd never regain.

I thought that you'd done
A painting for me.
My life seemed so much
Like the image, you see.

I thought that I'd peel
The layers on back,
And wind up again,
My life now on track.

I thought that when
I finished peeling it away,
My essential life'd be
Full of color, not gray.

I thought that would be
The life so good and grand,
But when I finished it was
"Weeping Onion" in the sand.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Inside - Outside | A Poem

Inside - Outside
(c) Rick Herndon 2010

On the furniture,
Inside the rooms,
Inside the house,
Inside your mind.

Soft the cushions,
Warm the air,
Light the music,
Inside your mind.

Color the dream,
Swap the images,
Hear the speaking,
Inside your mind.

Solve the equations,
Write the themes,
Study the books,
Inside your mind.

Get the degree,
Get the job,
Get the recognition,
Inside your mind.

Have the marriage,
Have the children,
Have the grandchildren,
Inside your mind.

Resolve your problems,
Rethink your life,
Isn't life lovely,
Outside your mind?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Now for the NEWS (?)

I just got around to reading this commentary by Ted Koppel to the Washington Post today. Within the last three months, I finally got around to seeing "Good Night and Good Luck", the story of Edward R. Murrow's battle to report the truth during the McCarthy hearings. I can't help but feel that this commentary should also be seen by everyone.

Growing up listening to shortwave radio broadcasts from both sides of the "Iron Curtain", I early on picked up on the obvious propaganda efforts. But, back then they were government sponsored by each of the different governments. What this commentary covers is a breakdown of our news system and corporations changing the expectations of new crops of consumers (which is seemingly how we're viewed).

Worth a read.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Web Playroom

Okay, there are things that you can miss in life...or a day...or a month...or for a while, and things will be just the same...maybe even better. But, if you miss out on watching/hearing THIS VIDEO, then I'm not sure how it will affect you. But (listen to me now), you will not be the same as you will be if you DO watch/listen to it. I'm betting that there is something for just about everyone that will change you when you listen to this one. You will have a slightly skewed vision of the world; maybe you will have an elevated mood for a while (or forever). You might even get elected to some office (or leave one that you've already been elected to), but I really shouldn't speculate on that one.

I'm just suggesting here that you check this out. Let me know here by commenting if you think you might be different after you watch/listen to it. Or if you are not. And why. Or why not.

Comments welcomed. (I am pretty sure I am different.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

$3 million worth of elapsed time = 3.5 days!

This expenditure seems to pour forth in front of your eyes in 12 minutes. It was actually a fellow with an overlook of the work done at Church and 30th in San Francisco to replace the intersecting streetcar tracks in a public works extravaganza for the householders whose houses are there. He says they were provided with earplugs for the duration.

I think I would have probably gone somewhere on a short vacation or found some place else to stay until it was over. However, this time lapse photography video is fascinating to watch. He used a Canon A590is camera with some software written by others and installed temporarily on boot-up via the SD card used to record the 18,520, automatic-setting photos to create the video. I found out about it via MAKE: blog.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kindle: Please not for the short of thought!

Are we ready for Kindle to be the "Short Attention Span Theater" of this portion of the 21st century? I am seriously hoping not. That's what we have quick-cut TV shows for, to mentally jerk your head (and mind) this way and that, so you can't think of something for more than a couple of seconds at a time. There are those to whom this has become more than a way of life: they seek that experience throughout life and, thus, miss out on ALL of life that takes careful thought and rumination to take in and build upon.

If you are wondering what I'm talking about, check THIS LINK out.

Comments welcomed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

English is dead!!

I really enjoy critical essays like this one on the ways folks are misusing our native language these days. We sometimes forget that our forebears did exactly the same thing. There just weren't as many folks around to criticize the results. And spellings seemed to be even less standardized than they are now.

The wife and I played the very enjoyable word-based card game called "Quiddler" for lunch. We had at hand a very official Scrabble Dictionary (4th Edition) that we use to arbitrate our games. Having a dictionary that is ONLY filled with legal words for our game is so superior to using a standard dictionary and STILL arguing over words that, once we got this one in our hands, we haven't looked back.

So, if all I've said makes sense to you and you enjoy words, playing with words and having FUN with words, PLEASE read the link at the top sentence of this post.

Comments welcomed.

A never-ending comic strip

Life can't get much better than THAT, now, can it? Yet someone has come up with the requisite item. You can read about it here.

It reminds me of that old Aggie joke where you hand someone a piece of paper that on both sides says, "Do you know how to keep an Aggie busy? (over)" and watch the ensuing fun (if they have never seen it before).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

International Day of World Peace

The 2010 celebration of this International Day of World Peace has come and by the time I'm typing this text, almost gone.

Tonight, at our house, we watched via TiVo the David Letterman interview with ex-president Clinton the other night about his Clinton Global Initiative. I personally think that if we in this time (all over this place called "Earth") are ever going to dig ourselves out of the whole series of holes we've gotten ourselves into (including the persistent lack of world peace), it will have to be with a whole-world, concerted effort of the sort that this organization supports and urges. The interview on the David Letterman Show makes it almost okay to watch that one show of his.
Parts 1 to 3

As Clinton says in the interview, this may well be his most important post-presidential contribution to the world at large. Only time will tell.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hard Labor & Time Spent

I just got back this week from a few weeks spent at hard labor. Even some of the folks I was paying money to for their own labor commented on being surprised at my efforts. Cleaning up a house and property for leasing is something I take very seriously. I tried my best, and the efforts paid off with a completed lease to folks who seem very nice. There are a crowd of supporters who made it all go much easier, not the least of which are my wife and E.C. Gee.

Getting back home was comforting. I didn't get to sample much of the more cosmopolitan life in Austin, since I was totally engaged in the clean-up efforts.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Error, try again (in red)

I'm seeing red.

Have you ever been so frustrated that you could {insert absurd and possibly illegal or antisocial action here} I guess my rope is finally frayed and out of length in my efforts to be successful at simply posting my comments on the YouTube site to various video posts already there. You'd think that would be absurdly easy. My wife thinks so, as she has already left several comments and greeted my outbursts of frustration this afternoon with laughter.

Every time I sign in the site and attempt to leave a comment, the comment text is held in place and in red letter out to the left of the button I click on to leave comments, I see the text, "Error, try again". No amount of all the different things I can think of to fix this have resulted in any change in the situation.

I went to the YouTube help page and found the first reporting of the problem is April 7, 2010. Someone named "Liz" answered from the YouTube staff almost immediately and said their "engineers" would fix this known bug in a "few days". It is now mid-July and I still seem to be having this problem on a regular basis. I was successful at posting a new request for help on that site and will await the results.

Meanwhile, I wonder if "Liz" is another name for the old 8-bit computer program "Eliza" and the whole YouTube help page is simply something to keep the users busy while the minions are working behind the curtains...while the wizard is doing whatever he wants. {Don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain.}

Thanks for letting me vent...
Comments welcomed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ahhh, the 4th of July!

Ahhh, the 4th of July. The quintessential time for outdoor activities with family and friends. We had a friend here from Austin and went to other friends' house to swim and take in the views of the fireworks folks set off around the nearby lake after dark. What fun! I'd never done that with all the OOOOHs and AAAAAHs and LOOK OVER HERE! LOOK OVER THERE! We sat along the shore and had a great time until about 9:45, when we all decided it was time to be getting home. The pie above was brought as a treat by one of the folks at the get together. It was a SCRUMPTIOUS strawberry pie, which was served with whipped cream, much to the delight of all who tried it! Be sure to notice the stars and squiggily stripes on the top crust.

Until next year...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Judging why the judges decide NOT to judge

This opinion piece has a really good idea, taken from my own viewing of the facts in this miscarriage of justice. We elect and appoint judges to judge. They know when their right to recuse themselves should be implemented. However, they don't have to tell WHY they are recusing themselves. A cascading set of such actions has set the stage to nullify a correct verdict in a lower court. Worth a read...

Creating a file/folder text listing in Windows

Creating a file list to send others in Windows. Have you ever (like me) wanted to send someone a list of files in a folder or a list of folders on a drive? (in Windows, but you were stifled by Windows' lack of ability to perform that function?) Well, laydeez and gennulmen, SUFFER NO MORE!
I followed these SIMPLE INSTRUCTIONS and created the ability to do such in my Windows operating system in about 3 minutes, which included reading the instructions. Why the Microsoft overlords would fail to put such in the operating system is beyond me...but now it can be done.

Monday, May 10, 2010

U.S.A. Oligarchs and Oligarchy For Real?

Well, author Michael Ventura thinks so. In this article in the latest Austin Chronicle newspaper, he posits that notion. If you have a chance to read it, please comment back to this post. Maybe a conversation will ensue?

Comments welcomed.

Friday, April 2, 2010

One good thread deserves another

I recently posted this on facebook, but I realized that not all the folks who read my blog are represented there. So, enjoy the hardware view of how to get lost in the modern myriad of strange screws and screwdrivers. A partial title for it is "When a Phillips Is Not a Phillips...."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Moseying beyond the oughts

I was talking with our small town's city secretary. We had recently been at the city council meeting together. She announced proudly that her learning curve included results for my asking repeatedly for the past council minutes and the next meeting's agenda to be posted on the town's (mostly unused) Web site for all to see and evaluate. Current custom was to post the agenda pages on the City Hall front window with tape, so interested parties could peruse the agenda. Minutes were mostly unavailable to the public.

When even small towns are getting onto the Web with more than just place markers, it is a good sign to me that more universally available information about them is being promulgated and that government is becoming more open. When only the people who know where to ask and wheedle and beg and plead to see minutes of public meetings are rewarded with a few pages (with possibly a per-page charge, depending on the government involved) vs. just cranking up a browser and looking for anyone knowing or asking ONE time for the page address, I feel like progress is being made.

Now, I'll start asking for inputs for citizens on that Web page, like question & answer and reporting problems around town. Things like the state transportation department's video camera that sets when the light turns red has not been changed since a street became one-way. That means folks wanting to turn left onto the town's main street were rewarded with waiting until forever for the light to turn green for their turn. Or another newly one-way street had a missing sign to notify motorists who might have turned into oncoming traffic without the warning the sign allows. Or a school crossing sign with a missing bolt that's now swinging upside down across the street from our house. The government is nothing without the eyes and ears of the populace to help them keep up with what needs fixing.

Stand by for the progress evident in the new decade, in spite of poor economic conditions.

Comments are welcomed.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Having a ball with bearings

Having been closely involved with bearings since the 6th grade, I was nonetheless impressed with this short video telling of some of the myriad processes and machinery that make them happen in most of our devices that roll and spin and move about. Isn't technology fun?

Comments welcomed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I am not a futurist

This blog post essay is from a science fiction author from Britain.

You can verify her post's contention by rereading lots of the 50's and 60's SF (or a smattering sample thereof) to see that, although they write about a far-distant future for the most part, they are writing ABOUT today's issues and concerns.

Even if authors try hard to think they are cutting edge or beyond when they write about the future, if they are going to be successful, they HAVE to write for the audience who will read or purchase their material. As an example, it would have been fairly fruitless for someone in the 1920's to write a body of literature exploring a future with race relations as we find them in the 21st century reality. The world and the reading public just was not ready to embrace the ideas that underlie the day-to-day workings of our world.

Comments are welcomed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Boggled by farads

For technical or physics-minded folks: Recall when the news of a big capacitor was that a 0.5 to 1.0 farad capacitor would fill a good-sized barn? Well, I just heard from an old friend that there is this news that this company is now selling capacitors that are up to 5,000 farads in value!

As the friend puts it: "And I don’t mean 5000 units of a one farad capacitor… That’s 5,000,000,000 microfarads/part!"

But (and here's possibly one catch for some practical uses for these parts to replace batteries for emergency operations), the parts are rated at 2.7 volts.

Comments are welcomed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Generation gap squeeze: Children in cyberspace

This NYTimes article about the social aspects of today's children, their interaction with electronic connections to cyberspace, the expectations they will have from those interactions, and what it will mean about the social divides between children only a few years apart in calendar age is a fascinating hypothesis and a disturbing one on the level of what it might mean in disruption to our society.

We who are older might be tempted to not think about this situation if it were not for articles like this which call it to our attention.

Comments welcomed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

50,000 hp in a used F-104 Starfighter body: Aiming for 800 mph on land!

When I used to take my mother's 1954 Plymouth out on the soon-to-open loop on the west side of San Angelo, Texas, I had nothing like this baby in mind. This fellow has lots of folks helping him get things lined up right, since there's not much margin for error at land vehicle velocity beyond the speed of sound. But the idea of cranking up 50,000 hp and lettin' 'er rip is somewhat attractive. The idea of death or months of hospital recovery if there's a mistake doesn't seem in the same breath, so to mentally speak. The subject says what happened and the plans for the future. Read the article for details.

Whoosh! Shazam!

Comments welcomed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Old plaster walls yield no WiFi & little cell signal

Many of the places I lived in west Texas as a child had provisions for keeping chickens. I would never have thought of this problem back then. But, those places NEVER had plaster walls; they only had the wire in chicken coops.