Heading Out

Seeking the winds that help to sail on Shakespeare's tide.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

The best intentions

There was a scratching sound at the door, and it was a graduate student. The preparation for Monday is not going well - make a suggestion which requires that I still be here in an hour when we'll know if it works.

Start to prepare the presentation, the cord from my camera to the Mac is at home, since I was sure I wouldn't need the laptop this afternoon. Send the presention home - there goes tomorrow.

What's that word again, oh, yes, Rabbits !

Well, Rabbits again. The new idea didn't work either. So a day (his) down the toilet and we'll need to start over Monday morning.


32 Years

Oh, my. There is nothing like 7 gallons of water on the utility room floor to bring one back to reality. How do I know it was that much, well I picked it up a bit at a time with a sponge and put it in a bucket. Turns out the hose from the water softner had fallen out of the drain. Mutter. While, unlike the Edwards, we didn't go to Wendy's to celebrate, but we did eat out, and the Actress had a corned beef sandwich. After the flood I had a glass of Abelour and started the Thomas Frank book. It's supposed to be written with humor, but can't find any yet. (Though it does ask the interesting question as to why those in Kansas vote Republican against their best interests. Seeing the President claim that Kerry will raise everyone's taxes goes some way to perhaps explaining why, and a vicious editorial in our local paper last night claiming that "Kerry got out of Vietnam as soon as he had received three minor flesh wounds" might also indicate another contributory factor).

Later today I'll intall the Magellan and we'll see where it will lead us. But first, here I am, back at the office on a Saturday. (One thing that I said I would no longer do a year ago). But now the folk from Indiana will be here Monday, the folk from Boston want to be here the following Monday and the Oklahoma folk will be here the week after. Oh and in all that we have to keep the Ohio work running and doing creative things, and get the Michigan and Big City efforts consolidated. So I need to write the draft presentation for Indiana today, and maybe review the course for the Oklahoma folk.

One of my colleagues with responsibilities similar to mine said with surprise yesterday "Folk actually come to you, " which I find odd since he currently is bringing in vast sums more than I, and is considered probably the current star of the campus. Must think about that some more. We had a heated discussion at this level on whether it is better to focus resources in a small number of efforts to raise them to National and International level, or to distribute the resources at a smaller level of funding to more faculty. I spoke for the former, since it can be made to work, whereas if you give faculty a grad student it becomes seen as a right and often is not enough to make them move very far (a comment that comes from sad experience).

The press office is playing down the Administrative changes, but the underlying change has been made and we will, no doubt, soon be going through the motions that will lead to getting a new Number One. And in regard to the discussions on oil that I will occasionally alude to, it is interesting to see that Keith Miller a historian and Member of the Council of Energy Advisors, suggests that we have already hit the peak of World Oil production. I am not sure that the argument is completely valid, since it is predicated on reaching the 80 million barrel a day mark, but it surely can't be that far off, and one wonders again, how this will play out.

And there has been another little political play in the e-mail I saw today, and I must now decide whether to pick up another hat or to let it lie as one of my colleagues who seems to excel at this sort of activity tries to pull another political trick. Unfortunately this time he has left it a little late to achieve anything productive.

(From all this chatter you might correctly assume I don't want to write this report, but I guess I'd better).


Friday, July 30, 2004


I feel defeated. I find myself staring out of windows, with a suddenly cold cup of tea. Endlessly rehearsing comments that are meaningless in the new situation. There is nothing I can do, it all took place two months ago. There is nothing that can be done. Accept it. Move on. Get another cup. Find something new to get excited about. Why bother ?


Thursday, July 29, 2004

Before I forget

In accumulating info on the problems we are going to see with oil in the next five years it is interesting to record the article today in the NYT Business section about Shell Oil Reserves. The worrying information is not the headline, which deals with the widely recognized overstatement of reserves, it is lower in the article where they point to the declining production of the company. As information on the other majors, who have the same problem, comes to the fore I will link to it. But it also explains why the problems with Russian oil may well affect us all, and why we need to be concerned


Trying to give me a message

Rabbit, yes I'll say it again, Rabbits!

I find this incredible, and can still hardly speak. A student had written at the end of last semester asking if he could get into a course I am offering next semester, since it was full. I said no problem, and forgot about it until he wrote agan this week, asking that I confirm that there would be no problem. I reassured him, but wanting to find out who all were taking the course tried to access it through Blackboard, without success. So today we did a little probing. That dear, wonderful master Ass-ministrative program that we have spent over $100 million on and provided by PeopleSoft had set my class size at zero, so all the students had found it already full, and only one had queried. I am so mad I can hardly see straight.

I had just got off the phone with the folks from the Big City who explained their problem, and we will have to go up to talk about it, but we may be able to help. This was after talking to the Oklahoma folk for about an hour about that effort, and they want to start August 1, but for which we have no paperwork yet; a frustrating half hour with a graduate student who does not want to accept that until he has done some labwork to realistically understand his problem, developing the theory is premature; and before that just getting into a redesign for Boston, since all the tests yesterday showed that minor mods to the design aren't going to be enough.

Oh and re the coup the campus will make an official announcement this afternoon, apparently. In effect the duties for Number One have been reallocated, and Number Two will be taking on the internal ones. Which is a nice euphamism. I checked their respective reviews for last year, and can understand why the one change, but their numbers weren't much different. It may reflect that Number Two is a more skilled internal politician, which is now, I guess, obvious.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Timing News

Well what with one thing and another it was a while before I got in to the office this morning. When I did I found that the Oklahoma folk want to come up for a meeting before we start work with them, and that means we need to find out who actually is going to help negotiate a tricky deal. Lots of nominal names, but here in the middle of vacation time we will be having a meeting to find out who it will be. Oh, and that can't be before next week, Mutter. But they will also pay for some extra training. This blogging business must be rubbing off on me, I actually used the word "senile" in a memo (with an s).

So then a meeting on Development, or the growing problem that we have, in that for the wrong reasons the average income of our student families is going up significantly. Turns out that there is a block, not right at the bottom, but next above it, that is now no longer able to afford to come. Hmm, this is more of a money issue, and so we discuss it and a possible start to a new initiative. There will be more meetings.

Then had a quick lunch with the Actress, to remind me of tomorrow afternoon, and off to the research review meeting. Due to some lack of communication I find when I get there that the top Administration are also there, but no speaker to give us the pitch. While waiting I see the latest toy, first a file is transferred from one Mac laptop to another with the litle USB memory stick, then from the second Mac it is loaded into e-mail and sent via a Sony Ericksson T616 and Bluetooth and its satellite connection back to campus, since we are some distance away. I think I am in lust again, and my current laptop is just to old to be able to do this without some significant mods I fear. But we definitely need to check. Drool !! Wonder if I can get it all before the Europe trip ?

Scoot back home to catch the Convention, and glance through the paper. Wow! Hidden in among everything else is a small story that notes that we have had a coup d'etat, and there will soon be a new leader on campus. Yikes ! Well the new power-that-is and I don't get along too well. So do I wait and see how this will all play out, and fight the same battles again with a possible new Administration, or do I drop back to the faithfully phrased "first love of teaching and research" which will almost be true.

Ahah there is late-breaking news, is it that Saddaam had a stroke ? ABC is about to tell on Nightline but I think I read it on atrios who linked to a Mirror story earlier. But it turns out not to be, and reading the actual story, the stroke doesn't appear to be that serious.

I think I will reread "The Bastard King" by Dan Chernenko - it is the first in a series and I just got the second. This will get me back up to speed before I read the sequel. Since I escape into these, I also forget them quickly so I need the re-read to get back up to speed. But when you get a new say Honor Harrington, that means you may read six or seven books (as I just did, but there I only went back three to when she escapes). On the other hand I can start "What's the Matter with Kansas ? How Conservatives won the Heart of America" by Thomas Frank.

Nah ! Sorry Thomas, you don't have a knight in armor on your cover.


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Watching the Convention - night 2

I ended up taking part of the afternoon off - one of the problems is that after talking for an hour and a half last night the throat was painful. Thus the x-rays, the tubing and now the specialist. But so far there is nothing much of concern, though I have to take the purple pill (no not that one, the Nexium one).

It also gave me a chance to finish "Grasp the Stars" - kept me reading late at night and then, when I came home there was the package from Amazon. Apart from Calendar Girls and Girl with a Pearl Earring that will go to the Actress on Friday, (and the first season of Paladin which won't) there was also Outfoxed.

So in the peace of an afternoon out in the back yard I watched "Outfoxed" on my laptop. Is it revealing that I fell asleep ? Oh, I know that it shows bias and the graphs where they compare the number of Republicans that are used as experts relative to the number of Democrats is damning, but I didn't find it that particularly disturbing.

Why ? Well I no longer watch CBS and haven't for over 10 years because one night Rather did a 30-min special on a subject about which I know something. He brought in two outside experts that weren't, who espoused opinions that were wrong, without any substantial evidence, and at the end of the program pronounced his judgement proved. And no I don't watch Fox either. If you have to yell at someone to get your point across then you don't have much of an argument in my book.

It is more worrying that none of the "Big Three" channels carried any of what turned out to be three very good speeches tonight (and no that does not include the Senior Senator who did the welcome bit - after a while I did the mute bit).

But the blogging world will ultimately help get around these barriers and as an example I currently check about six sites to see what is really going on in Iraq and the environs.

For example you might want to read back-to-iraq and you might also want to check out Professor Juan Cole . While for the upcoming Civil War in Saudi Arabia, should he ever come back from vacation there is The Religious Policeman. And further to the Lt Bush story it has now worked its way to Orcinus who explains it much better than I can. And which suggests that it might be addressed in more detail by the major press sometime soon.

Oh, in regard to Blackboard, I did find out that they won't post the new info until next month.



So, I thought, I might gently coast into the office on such a beautiful day and, inspired by prof b, write a short monologue on the relative benefits of Laphroaig as opposed to Lagavulin and other Islay malts. What a pleasant, though fleeting, thought.

Then we got a note that the Actress's mother had fallen yesterday and the hospice staff had taken her to the emergency room, but it turned out that the only damage apparently was a deep cut. We had a presentation yesterday on the local hospice program, and in the present circumstances I am not quite sure what category she falls in, but apparently we are not to worry.

So its office e-mail time, and oops a) I forgot that the Actress has a ticket for the matinee of the play on Thursday afternoon. b) I was supposed to talk to someone from the Development office and c) there is a briefing tomorrow off-campus on military research needs. A quick check and lo everyone else that should go is off this week, so I need to go to that. Shuffle, shuffle. So all my afternoons this week are now full.

It was only yesterday that I told the Administrator that I was taking them all off so that I could blog and watch the Convention. Duh!

A student writes about the class schedule, and I check blackboard and it isn't posted (despite the fact that his concern is that the class is already oversubscribed and he needs my permission). Oh, and did I forget to write the promotion/tenure recommendation letter for a colleague (I wonder, does she blog - a week ago I would never have thought to look. Will I now ? Probably not - but maybe . . . .) And a graduating PhD comes by to get the last form signed. Her defense was one of the bloodiest I have been in for a while. Courtesy of one of my colleagues who must be one of the angriest faculty, though I can't see why (perhaps not being worshipped enough yet).

Oh, and its lunch time already and the visit next week from our contract folks in Indiana has to be arranged, and the folk from Boston want to come for a visit.

So much for a quiet summer morning - but it does look nice out. Maybe they will get the parts made, and I can go outside and watch tests this afternoon (for a little bit ?).

I got off track with the kids last night, but they were mainly interested (only 3 fell asleep) so at the end I ended up talking briefly about the Boston project in very general terms. There is no high that matches seeing a new idea work and I just couldn't resist talking about where it might go.


Monday, July 26, 2004

Bless my socks

So there it was 6 a.m. and staring at the clock on the wall (actually it projected on the ceiling) and aha ! To solve the Boston problem all we have to do is put four simple pieces together. So after the morning meeting go to Strata 3D CX and sketch it up. Talk to the shop - yep we think we can do it. Now the question is do I ammend the PD ?

Asked the Administrator if the meeting for tomorrow was on, and it has been moved to Friday. But when we were looking at the calendar we both suddenly saw that I have promised to talk to visiting high school kids from 7 - 9 pm tonight. What's that word that we can use on a blog but not in front of students ? That's it, Rabbits!

So this afternoon instead of sitting home blogging and watching the start of the Convention I will be assembling the PowerPoint, and then tonight, instead of the Clintons, they get me - lucky students !


Sunday, July 25, 2004

Before the Convention

Well I suspect I'm going to spend the next few nights in front of CSpan so this is the last night to work on photos for a while. I finally finished "Singularity Sky" only 337 pages but it took all week. Could not escape into it - now reading "Grasp the Stars" by Jennifer Wingert. Much better - not to spoil the plot or anything but it starts with the attempted rape of an 8,000 year old alien. I'm already a hundred pages in and hooked.

The Actress found a mysterious package in the freezer (now we both have to use glasses to read) and it turned out to be Goat burger. So we had goat meatloaf. Actually not that much different than lamb, which means pretty good.

Last night I finally made a better photo by using Multiply as taught by Katrin Eismann, tonight its on to using Screen Blending to lighten a very dark picture of Granda in hospital in Cambridge after the operation to remove shrapnel from his leg (that didn't work.

That reminds me that while talking to Mum today she commented that Rigger was out for a week after her laparoscopy. I mentioned that when the Advocate had it done to remove his appendix earlier this summer, he was seeing patients the following Monday. In her day either of them would have been in hospital for a week, and then recuperating for a month.

The Advocate called tonight and mentioned that he has started to write comments into websites. He needs to watch out or before long he'll slide down the slippery path to his own blog site. The Engineer also called, he has got a new car to replace the one that was totalled in his accident at the end of last month. Ah, worry, worry . . .


Egad ! Bennies Already.

When I was looking around to see what is being written on anonymity I was led to The Chronicle initially to an article on anonymity, but then into what I will talk about a lot, and that is the issue of retirement. I have to say that I normally don't read the Chronicle, and only went because of a lead from profgrrrl. I must therefore say a grateful thank you to her (a sentiment I found on at least a couple of the other sites I went to).

The first post in there that I read by Stanley Fish, seemed to sum up my current feelings to a degree. All of a sudden I find in discussions, that I am thinking more that I won't be in this position when the event comes to pass. Or that I look out more for the individuals benefit over that of the institution. Oh, I still fight, but somehow the passion is going, and I worry that perhaps it is time to suggest a replacement.

It is not going to be completely unexpected I have raised the subject a little with a couple of folk, that have suggested I forget it. But . . . and there aren't a whole lot of articles, or advice on this.

And then I read thoughts on becoming emeritus, and looked at all the things in my office, and this is going to be really hard.


Anon a mouse

The discussion on keeping yourself anonymous seems to be popping up all over from its original start at leuschke.org. There are a fair number of separate entries on individual blogs as well as perhaps a new discussion at The Chutry Experiment. The themes are moving more toward the fear of students having knowing access to your site, as well as the risk of a future employer reading it before you are hired.

As far as hiring goes, unless the candidate told me that they had a blog I can't imagine going to look for it. And the world of bloggers, relative to the greater world of the academy is tiny. People know I read blogs, since I comment on them, but I don't think they would suspect that I write one. And there isn't a whole lot of interest in reading the ones I mention (unless it is something like the "This Land is Your Land" movie).

On the other hand if I knew or even thought that my students were reading this, knowing who I was, I would stop and delete it.


The Call to England

Took a while to get through today, but the phone may have been off the hook a bit at the other end, where otherwise there were no problems. The Traveller will go up and see her in a couple of weeks, with family, and take her out for a couple of days. She also has a new care person whom she says she hasn't met yet. That's a vaguely worrying thing to hear since her old one has been gone a week. And she is being taken care of, so someone has to be doing it.

And in the chat we talked about the Actress's mother being in poor shape at the beginning of the call, and then at the end she had forgotten even that she was in care.

So I am standing at the window talking with her and I look out on the front of the house. And there about 10 feet from the house is a deer. Three rows of white dots along the flanks. I yell to the Actress, but as she comes over the deer must have heard a noise (or us trying to be quiet) and off it bounds. Running from window to window we never saw it again.


Saturday, July 24, 2004

The creative process

In another time I will expound about the fallacies that abound in accounting for academic time. (Didn't someone once say something about lies, damned lies and . . .). But to consider the case in point . .

There I was,Saturday morning at home, lying on the floor, half-way through the "Crunch -Turbo Sculpt" videotape and just starting the crunches when I had a thunk.

One of the issues with selling University technology to industry has been in convincing them that there is a marketable product and a way to make money. To give a totally invented example, suppose that you invented a device that only doctors who treat the left hand would use. Now this tool could revolutionize the treatment of those who injure themselves because they are left-handed, and would be vital to their work. But, here's the catch - there are only 600 doctors in the country who specialize in this, and you would be hard pressed to sell the device for more than $500. And once they have one, then they never need another one. So the total market is 800 units at $500 each. You couldn't get a company to build and sell these - because the market is too small and too short.

Well that may be the sort of problem we are going to have with the results of the work for Boston. This is the work where we have just found a slight problem in the design. But as I lay grunting over my abdomen the light came on. If we take the problem and solve it with a throw-away part which has to be replaced each time it is used, then its like printers. We could give away the printer because of what we make on the ink. All I have to do is design the part.

So do you think I could charge the Boston project for my exercise time ?


Reducing anonymity

Hi Sue (and Richard). Enjoy or not, 'tis all I've got


A nagging puzzle

Thinking to start the day restfully I poured cup of tea and started in with the papers. And then I saw that there is a consolidated site for all the Democratic Convention bloggers, and so I meandered over. Earlier this morning it wasn't that busy (though it now is). And as I was strolling through it I saw a comment that one of kos readers was still working on the Lt. Bush story. The site allows a download of the new release of the pay info so, being a curious soul, I downloaded it.

As I looked at and tried to remember what it means I saw that in the comments on the kos site there was a reference that explains the numbers. Well its fairly long, but let me see if I can make this part of the story short.

When then Lt Bush joined the Texas Guard he promised to serve six years. For the first part of the time he was trained and did all the right things, but something seems to have gone wrong early in 1972. In that period he did not take a required medical (on one of the sites there is the form ordering him to take it, signed if I remember right by a General). Well he dropped out and went to Alabama where he worked on a political campaign. The debate is about what he did militarily in Alabama since he was still supposed to be showing up for training. The forms released this week show that he was in training for one weekend in October and one in November, in the entire period between April and the following January. But what I wanted to check was the code used for the way he spent the time. As the glcq site points out the 22 designation shows that what he had was Unit Training Assemblies, which are held every month, and which, by law, he had to attend for 90% of the time. In other words between April and January there were at least 8 of these UTA's and so he had to attend at least 7 of them. But the record shows that he only attended 2.

But it is more interesting than that. Because the designation apparently given for the two weekends he attended (one being a long weekend of 4 days) is that he took special training rather than showing up for the official assembly (perhaps because the UTA wasn't being held when he was available). But the question that glcq brings up relates to when he got paid. According to the pay records he wasn't paid until 1973, and the USAF generally (like everybody else) pays you at the end of the month, or the month after you do the work.

Which makes it odd. What makes it more odd is that everyone is saying that this is a new release when, as the glcq site shows, it was part of the original package, and does not include all the supporting documentation that a file of this type should have. Odder and odder. And in the end he appears to have only served 5 of his six years even if this period is considered as serving. I keep following this since it is like a detective story where you really have to see the evidence to make your own judgement on what it means and in this case it is all gradually coming out.


Friday, July 23, 2004

A day to get through

Because of going through menopause, (I think) the Actress has been getting up at about 3-4 am and then going back to sleep, but sadly I now do the waking bit, but not the getting back to sleep bit, and thus am more tired. Thus a discouraging start to the day. But one must be joyous, glad, and positive thinking, because we have teachers on a tour, and students coming.

So I borrowed the Actress' car and off to prepare. But first I had to make confession. Last Fall we had filed a Patent Disclosure on an idea and then worked with a company to start to find funding to develop it. Well turns out that the company just got merged and in the publicity that was released and I just saw yesterday, there is a nice paragraph about our work. Which, unless I am much mistaken, counts as publication and so there goes the possible patent. So I had to write a note to the higher Admin about this. (I guess that is also why I wasn't sleeping, though I have been waking early all week and this did not dawn on me until dawn today).

Then I formatted the data from the tests we were running for Boston yesterday, and the results show the exact opposite of what we had predicted. This is why I just love being an experimentalist. There I am, wrong. Well, rabbits! So I had to write another memo.

Now its time for the first of four teacher groups who are coming at half-hour intervals for the rest of the morning to tour the lab, but I have to dash out the door and head off to talk to some high school students on a different tour. Who were about 15 minutes late, but acceptably so since they had driven a long way. But as a result only about three seemed to want to pay any attention. But then maybe I wasn't my usual thrilling self.

Then back to the lab, pick up the last third of each tour, and crack the same old joke etc. Must admit the delivery seemed to get better and by the end of the second and third groups there were some smiles. As somebody once said "we shoot our arrows in the air, they fall to earth, we know not where," (Yes I could look it up, but . . .) Such are these . . . .

OK so now the car shop calls and they can't find anything wrong, but a labor charge. Pick up the car. Go to the Apple store to get one of the new fancy Airports - they're more than completely sold out.

So go to get the Actress a gift - she would like a speaking GPS system for the car. Reading all the reviews on Amazon last night it appears there are two candidates a Magellan and a Garmin. The former is better but half of them are apparently faulty. So the store has both. Switch on the M and wait for it to find itself. After 20 minutes the thought arrives to me and the sales person that it won't find itself inside a concrete building. So I buy it (with immediate return rights) and park the car outside while we get it set up. Five minutes later we are in business. So I head home, and its rush hour.

Must say that first drink tasted really good !

Oh, I see that the WaPo has got an editorial about the oil situation. Unfortunately they seem to think that just because something is counted as a reserve, that it is. As was pointed out earlier in the year, in the Christian Science Monitor of Jan 29th Western production is going down, and it ain't good. And a lot of the optimism in both articles is a bit thinly based.

Also see that some of the then Lt. Bush's records have shown up (see the WaPo again). However the existing records have already been interpreted (at The AWOL project) and they provide some evidence for more than just what is now being revealed. Now if only I had time to go through that analysis because I am not completely sure that it is all logical. But somebody surely will.


Thursday, July 22, 2004

A Free Day ?

Well so much for optimism. With a little help from the Actress (who had to go out to get her tickets anyway) I took the car to the dealer, expecting a call shortly thereafter saying that the battery was dead etc etc. No call ! So I worked on e-mail and wrote a short report on the work being done for Boston, and the paperwork to get appointments charged properly for the summer

Still no call, so I started copying the lectures from this year onto disks in case the hard drive dies. (No I hadn't done it before). I get about 2 lectures per CD and trying to get a single course onto 2 DVD's didn't work so after an hour I gave up in frustration and went back to the CDs. And with nothing much to do for a while but sit at the computer and wait I meandered through the blog world.

Much of the comment was about Sandy Berger sticking secret documents into various bits of his attire. My view - which means nothing - is that if he did it once I could see it being inadvertent, I have come out of places with pens I forgot to give back - though on the other hand I doubt I could sneak anything out of say the Public Record Office - and that's not even secret). But twice, that is a bit of a stretch.

The rest were mainly comments about the 9/11 report, and the spin that all parties are giving it.

I, on the other hand, was still looking for the comment on the oil situation and later found it at tomdispatch the post quotes Marshall Auerback and discusses among other things the peaking of the world oil production, which is likely less than 5 years away, as discussed here. Major producers of oil have seen declines in actual volumes pumped in the last couple of years.

Which means the next Presidential term might get a bit more interesting.

Well the car is still in the shop, (it appears not to have been the battery) so the Actress came to pick me up. One of the more expensive car repairs I have had - after 30 years we went and bought a new mattress. And if it lasts as long as the current one (which will now be hauled away in a couple of weeks) it will likely outlast at least me.

Came home to mushroom chicken, and opened a bottle of the Rancho Sisquoc Malbec. Not quite as good as I remembered, but not bad.

Well I suppose I ought to go shop on the Internet since I need something by the end of next week. Maybe I'll try and pick up a copy of Outfoxed, while I am at it.


History and vision

Well at least the day started well. Listening to the local radio, the Actress knew the answer to a quiz on who played one of the parts in the movie "Waiting for Dark" and won three tickets to the local fair - which we usually go to. So full of mellowness I went to get the car and drive, via work, to the Big City. The battery was dead. Grumble - open the front - yep its a 6-year battery and I have had the car (quick count) six years.

So there goes the plan for today. Glance through the morning paper. Oh, The Telegraph has a lead article commenting on the plans to cut the British military. The problems with making the wrong cuts in the American military, and its National Guard support base have become evident as one of the lessons from Iraq. I.e. saving money on military sizes, below a certain point, is a false economy. We seem to not have learned the lessons of history on this yet they have been repeated over and over again (among others they are called World Wars One and Two).

And those that say it will never happen again might just want to read the Washington Post as but an example of an upcoming problem. The world energy situation is not as pleasant as one might think and the Belmont Club is posting the odd story (you have to scroll down to June 14 & 18), that tracks some of the developing problems. Sadly these stories suggest a lack of political willingness to learn the lessons of history and to project a vision for understanding the problems that are coming down the pike.

The problem with the view that "a week is a long time in politics" is that it stops those elected to have vision actually having any.


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Smaller thoughts

Hevia is playing through iTunes as I print the restored Great-Aunt Lizzie. This morning we had to get new ID cards, and had to choose one of six patterns. Having had something to do with the subject of two of them it was interesting to see who was choosing what. It took about an hour out of the morning and then in the mild chaos of this afternoon I somewhere forgot to have lunch (for the second time this week).

No matter, however, since there was a delicious lamb meatloaf that the Actress had made for supper (with peaches after to stick to the plan). Which reminds me of that survey that came through the Web the other day as to whether we have lunch and supper, or lunch and dinner - I must get into the habit of properly linking to these as they develop. The book of King Arthur based on the movie lies by the chair. Not having read it or seen the movie yet (I'll probably buy the DVD) it appears to be partly based on books such as "King Arthur - The True Story" by Graham Philips and Martin Keatman. Of the 42 books that cover this that sit on my shelf, largely unread (shades perhaps of professor b ) this is the favorite.

Well back to "Singularity Sky" for a bit, and then bed.


Anony mouse

So here I am in my first week of writing a blog, not sure what to do when I see this which refers on to a debate on whether us academics should hide our identities, posted at leuschke.org

Well I suppose I am, though with a little detective work it shouldn't be that hard to work out where I am and from that who. At least if not now, then soon, as I add more to this. So why bother. Well there are a couple of reasons one being that I don't know where this is heading yet, and that this is still a learning curve.

The other speaks more to the object of the debate and relates to the fact that being close to the end of my academic career there will be a time sooner or later when the comments here may presage my going, and as soon as that gets obvious any remaining influence I have will be dramatically diminished.

This may change - all I have to do is fill out more of the profile, but for now I think I'll wait, - well actually I'm going to work on another picture.


Progress is not forward

Well at least other folk have politics too. Supposedly today would have been spent talking to this company from the Big City and aranging a trip and then awaiting contract documents for a little bit of work from Michigan. Well things being what they are after chatting with two people at the company involved, that isn't the way things are done. So we take a step back, and must now wait for a third individual to call, so that the protocols can be properly followed. Not that it is any big deal, but its all a matter of scheduling lab time and this is throwing it off. Oh, and there never was a call back from the Big City.

The testing for Boston also went a little downhill this afternoon, or at least what we thought was going to happen when we tried something more realistic did happen. So we need a little more time at the drawing board to flesh out the two ways of getting around the problem.

And the colleague that was supposed to meet me at 5 pm is now going to be very late.

Know what ? I think I'll take tomorrow off and go find something for the Actress !


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Concert time

Well while the battleships still sail the lake (sorry I called them boats) tonight was concert time. Sitting on the Green listening to the Town Band was very relaxing, though a nearby Boxer made sure I didn't fall asleep (the owner said I was kissed - hmmm).

Still really too hot, even at 7:30, but at least the sun wasn't a problem any longer. Then back to another photo, this of the Great Grandmother, and I must be learning something since it was done in just over an hour. At which point my shoulders rebelled. Funny I did the exercise thing this morning, but I need to do it more regularly I suppose.

It was Carpet Cleaning Day today and the furniture is still in disarray, but should be back to normal in the morning. Had a call from the Big City this morning to see if I could help with a problem. They seemed tickled when I said I could come and take a look, but then didn't call back. Well there went the excuse to go in to get something for the Actress. Guess I'll just sneak off anyway.

But I should probably watch the tests tomorrow, and then decide the schedule for the rest of the summer - which is almost gone - who stole the best part of it ? Well, better read for a few more pages so that I can get to sleep. Can't really get into this new book that easily, but press on.


Making progress

The Administrator is still off work with a bad leg, so there is no-one to keep me working as I should to get these darn budgets out. However with a lot of help the biggest one was finished just after lunch (what lunch) and is now on its merry way. It was delayed since there was a phone call from the guy we are sending the smallest budget to. He's just been away for a couple of weeks and so we caught up on what was going on and what we might do, and there went an hour. Plus I now need to check with other groups around to make sure we can do some of the more interesting things that they are interested in. At which point I still had to do my e-mail. Fortunately I have now got the Junk filter on and so there weren't that many (though a couple got misdirected each way). Among the stack was a note that the proposal that we had sent to Oklahoma was being returned for some corrections and budget changes to the draft before the final submittal. They did not want to fully commit to the end part until we have proved that middle bit works. So another budget had to be worked on some more. That was three for the day and meant that I couldn't get out to watch the tests being run today. What a shame, since it was only about a hundred outside.

The new team shirts also came in and so these got handed out - there is some disagreement about the color but I picked greeen, even though apparently it should be blue - oh, well. They also had one specially made for me to commemorate the most recent part design - I keep looking at it and grinning.

There really hasn't even been time to check my blog list today - how soon will I go into withdrawal ??


Monday, July 19, 2004

So that's a pocket Battleship

Budgets, budgets, budgets so all I have to do is to consolidate two budgets, carefully rearrange them to hide a $15k mistake that someone else made and then put it into dear People Soft and its done. Ha! I don't think there is anyone I know who thinks that this is a good program, or that it has been helpful. What used to take about ten minutes and two pages will likely take all tomorrow morning and at least six pages to get everything in. Grr, again!

But why didn't I do it this afternoon as I had intended, this morning, well apart from waiting for Dear Project Leader to come through with a decision on one of the line items, I got a phone call from the Actress. She was over at the park and the lake was filled with model battleships, due to a local meet. I didn't know they did that so I skedaddled over there and watched as about 20 models - each about five feet long - were being tweaked and then put in the water.

We stayed around and after a while they formed two fleets and started sailing at each other. Now we found out why we had to wear goggles as they started firing BB's at each other. And suddenly one sank - just as in the movies, going down bow first. There was a yell of "Man in the Water," and all firing stopped while the unlucky pilot waded out to the bubbles and then had to immerse himself to pull out his sunken warrior. As soon as he got out of the water the battle resumed. And went on for about 20 minutes. After a while half the boats seemed to be spouting water from leaks caused by the fighting and a couple more sank.

Finally they all ran out of ammo, there was a mandatory 5 minute wait and they started to reclaim the boats, and we came home. What a total surprise (nothing in the paper or any other comment) - I think they are going to be here most of the week, and will have an awards dinner at the end.

And so tonight was to be picture restoration, but I started finding more academic blogs and one led to another, when I get some time I think I will put in links, but for now they just provided some quiet interest as I skimmed through, from one through links to the next.

They were talking about energy in Wyoming on Nightline tonight and it was more balanced than usual, with a nod to the fact that the gas will supply CA energy for 15 years - or the equivalent. With gas prices up and as we approach the peak of world production there has to be a balance. Pity they only briefly mentioned the water issues though.

Having retouched only one photo (Great-Grandfather) its time for "Singularity Sky," by Charles Stross. It replaces "The Glasswright's Master," by Mindy Klasky. The Glasswright book was the fifth in the series and I think that she was getting a bit tired of them, since an awful lot of action got crammed into a small bnumber of pages tying up all the loose end. Pity in a way as the first two or three were better.

Well time to print a picture, read a chapter and bed.


No lunch yet

I knew that going to bed irritated keeps you awake, but I was and I did. I was starting a new novel and didn't want to get too engrossed, and so went to bed and stayed awake - bah! humbug!

My eyes are slightly crossed from peering into a microscope trying to determine how deep ten microns is - apparently we have cut as far as a couple of hundred, when the target was ten. Well at least we can dial back.

Life is full of ironies. We have just been awarded a contract to develop some technology, but in the initial negotiation one of the streams that would fund work in our lab was cut. After some negotiation it is being re-established, but half the money was to go for a new piece of equipment. The overall project leader has suggested that we put that purchase on hold for a year (and until we can get more money) so that a different new project can be started. Of course there is no money for next year yet, and may not be so that I may have the money to do the work, but not the money for the equipment that is needed to do the work, and then if the equipment comes at all there will be no money for staff to work it. Being cynical I can't help but believe that such a combination would provide a good excuse to delete our portion of the funding.

Now the ironic part, in sending me the latest request for paperwork it included the statement of work for the new project. With an evil chuckle I realise that it is to start to develop something that I am currently signing a contract with someone else to do. And the approach we are playing with works. (Though we are too aggressive as the microscope study showed). It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

Rigger just dropped a note to say she had an emergency laporoscopy but is now doing better, but still of her feet, and my surgeon just left a message and will try calling back this afternoon so I guess I will wait around.


Sunday, July 18, 2004

And so to bed

Well the planned for quiet evening turned out quite busy. After fixing Chicken Teryaki and finishing it with cherries sat down to shift the Actress' e-mail over to Apple Mail. Went with little problem, but then started to read blogs. Registered for the LATimes Website and this required I access my own e-mail. Oops! 26 pages that had to be deleted, and in the middle discovered that Rigger has just got out of hospital, and is still feeling bad. I wonder what happened, sent an e-mail to find out. The Ipod I sent her came back this week, and so must wait until I can get over there to make sure she gets it.

So much for rest, there were two notes giving me a full day of work tomorrow doing paperwork, when I had already commited to getting into the lab. Grrrr!


A Quiet Afternoon

Since the Actress was treading the boards for the final matinee of the present production, I restored a couple of photographs - from 1915 and 1917, they both showed small signs of the emulsion lifting off the paper and the odd scratch and defect, so it took four hours to do the two. I use Photoshop and follow two books "The Photoshop Book for digital photographers" by Scott Kelby, and "Photoshop Restoration and Retouching" by Katrin Eismann (second edition), which are invaluable. The tiny dots all over the faces can be treated by adding a blur and then using the history brush to paint in either dark or light pixels to the affected area. While it works it takes a while since you have to do it about twice, but it allows you to keep a lot of the detail.

I also decided that we needed a better printer to produce good enough quality prints to send back to the UK, and got an HP that also works wirelessly. All I need now is for the Engineer to come home so that it can be properly installed. Wonder when that wil be ?


The Call to England

Instead of the Antiques Road Show it was golf on the tele today. As I called it was just about over and the course was full of police. Funny really since we reminisced that when Harold Wilson was PM he got on the train with everyone else and only one policeman. Mum's main care person has quit to take a job in a supermarket. And the other lady who took care of her at night when she first moved into the home has been on the sick with arthritis for a long time, but dropped by on Friday.

Mum's memory is going more notably this week, and she did not remember that I told her about the Actress' father dying twelve days ago or that we gone to the funeral. But as we talked she perked up.

Lunch included 3 apricots - since , after they had a look down my throat I checked the relevant web site (which I need to look up again) and while it is not a problem, they do say eating three friut courses a day helps.


A Quiet Sunday

It's muggy out and even the squirrels are resting. A typical Sunday, a mug of tea to get started and a quick browse through the Sunday papers. It's hard to know exactly who is ahead in the polls, and a couple of maybe interesting aricles go on too long. Maybe I'll come back later, for a deeper read. Then on to exercise - just at home to a video - no $150 an hour trainers for this house. A quick shower, and now lunch . . .

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