Friday, December 07, 2007

Happy Lynda


Lynda decided to pose for her CD, and got silly in the process :)
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

1st Day of Chanukah

 
This is Elianas' first time lighting candles; Jayden has been doing it a few years now.
Posted by Picasa

Aren't they just adorable?

 
Hopefully they still feel this way once they're teenagers!
Posted by Picasa

Growing up too fast :(

  He's looking entirely too old in some of these pictures :( I want him to stay a litte boy longer!

Posted by Picasa

Map that named America is a puzzle for researchers - Yahoo! News

It was ALIENS!!!!!!!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The only surviving copy of the 500-year-old map that first used the name America goes on permanent display this month at the Library of Congress, but even as it prepares for its debut, the 1507 Waldseemuller map remains a puzzle for researchers.

Why did the mapmaker name the territory America and then change his mind later? How was he able to draw South America so accurately? Why did he put a huge ocean west of America years before European explorers discovered the Pacific?

"That's the kind of conundrum, the question, that is still out there," said John Hebert, chief of the geography and map division of the Library of Congress.

The 12 sheets that make up the map, purchased from German Prince Johannes Waldburg-Wolfegg for $10 million in 2003, were mounted on Monday in a huge 6-foot by 9.5-foot (1.85 meter by 2.95 meter) display case machined from a single block of aluminum.

Map that named America is a puzzle for researchers - Yahoo! News

Monday, December 03, 2007

Rare Mummified Dinosaur Unearthed: Contains Skin, and Maybe Organs, Muscle

Neat new info!

Scientists on Monday announced the discovery of what appears to be the world's most intact dinosaur mummy: a 67-million-year-old plant-eater that contains fossilized bones and skin tissue, and possibly muscle and organs.

Preserved by a natural fluke of time and chemistry, the four-ton mummified hadrosaur, a duck-billed herbivore common to North America, could reshape the understanding of dinosaurs and their habitat, its finders say.

Rare Mummified Dinosaur Unearthed: Contains Skin, and Maybe Organs, Muscle

 

"So far, they have determined that the hadrosaur's hindquarters are 25 percent larger than previously thought for the species, meaning that it could run up to 28 mph -- faster than previously estimated. They have also discovered that the specimen's vertebrae, which museums commonly stack together, are actually spaced 10 millimeters apart. The result, Manning said, implies that scientists may have been underestimating the size of hadrosaurs and other dinosaurs."

Monday, November 19, 2007

'Shut up' is hit ringtone in Spain - Yahoo! News

This is hilarious :)

MADRID, Spain - Many Spaniards were so amused when their king told Venezuela's president to "shut up" they want to hear the words every time their phone rings.

About half a million people have downloaded a mobile phone ringtone featuring the phrase "Por que no te callas?" or "Why don't you shut up?" leading Madrid daily El Pais reported on its Web site Monday.

That's what King Juan Carlos told Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a heated confrontation at a summit in Chile last week.

...

The spat last week began when Chavez repeatedly called former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a "fascist."

Spain's current prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, asked Chavez to be more diplomatic and show respect for other leaders. As Chavez repeatedly tried to interrupt, King Juan Carlos leaned forward and said: "Why don't you shut up?"

'Shut up' is hit ringtone in Spain - Yahoo! News

Evidence Of Injustice, FBI's Bullet Lead Analysis Used Flawed Science To Convict Hundreds Of Defendants - CBS News

 

I can remember this being used in TV shows as the basis for the prosecutions case; I can imagine this will have pretty significant impact on quite a few case.

The science, called bullet lead analysis, was used by the FBI for 40 years in thousands of cases, and some of the people it helped put in jail may be innocent.

Lee Wayne Hunt says he's been behind bars for over 22 years and 6 months, and maintains he's an innocent man. "What I've said from the word get go that I ain't -- never killed nobody. I didn't have nothing to do with this," Hunt tells Kroft.


Hunt was convicted in 1986 of murdering two people in Fayetteville, N.C., based on the testimony of two questionable witnesses and what turned out to be erroneous ballistics testimony from the FBI lab.
For years, the FBI believed that lead in bullets had unique chemical signatures, and that by breaking them down and analyzing them, it was possible to match bullets, not only to a single batch of ammunition coming out of a factory, but to a single box of bullets. And that is what the FBI did in the case of Lee Wayne Hunt, tying a bullet fragment found where the murders took place to a box of bullets the prosecutors linked to Hunt.

---

Tobin says the Quantico lab was the only place in the country that did bullet lead analysis, and the assertion that you could actually match a bullet fragment to a specific batch or box of bullets went unchallenged for 40 years -- until Tobin retired in 1998 and decided to do his own study, discovering that the basic premise had never actually been scientifically tested.

"FBI lab personnel testified that you could match these fragments to this bullet," Kroft remarks.

"Yes, that's correct," Tobin says.

Asked what he found out, Tobin tells Kroft, "It hadn't been based on science at all, but rather had been based on subjective belief for over four decades."

Evidence Of Injustice, FBI's Bullet Lead Analysis Used Flawed Science To Convict Hundreds Of Defendants - CBS News

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Good news.. but wait, what about the terrorists and pedophiles!!

 

Reading the news today, I came across this bit, which by itself is pretty good news.  It, if passed, would extend reporter's privilege to federal cases; such already exists for all states, including DC.  It also, as a side effect, would include Bloggers, or anyone else involved in "the regular gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public".

Anyone regularly engaged in "journalism," which would seem to include some bloggers, wouldn't generally be forced to divulge confidential sources in federal cases under a bill approved Thursday by a U.S. Senate committee.

By a 15-2 vote, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee backed an amended version of the so-called Free Flow of Information Act. Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) cast the "no" votes.

Bloggers land legal shield in Senate panel vote | Tech news blog - CNET News.com

 

But wait, there's more!  You can't simply pass a new law these days; someone has to tie it to terrorism and child porn or child predators:

The Justice Department has argued that the language is far too broad and could endanger national security and criminal investigations. A Thursday Washington Post op-ed by U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald claims the bill would unwittingly protect Iraqi spies posing as journalists and child pornographers who swapped information via the Internet.

Give me a break.  I'm sick and tired of everything being reduced to either terrorism or "protect the children!".  I'd vote for Mickey Mouse for president at this point if I thought he'd govern thru wisdom, and not thru fear mongering.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Turtle Waxed

"Mommy, my turtle's dead," a little boy sorrowfully told his mother, holding the turtle out to her in his hand.

His mother kissed him on the head, then said, "That's all right. We'll wrap him in tissue paper, put him in a little box, then have a nice burial ceremony in the back yard. After that, we'll go out for an ice cream soda, and then get you a new pet."

"Ice cream?" the little boy said, wiping his tears and smiling. "Oh boy!"

Just then the mother noticed the turtle move. "Look, your turtle isn't dead after all!"

"Oh," the disappointed boy said. "Can I kill it?"

Friday, September 28, 2007

Ridiculous! Texas Legislature

 

This is shameful behavior from politicians.  Voting for other members, racing to get your vote in place for another member before someone else can get THEIR vote in place for another member... shocking behavior that clearly needs to be blocked against, since those who should be policing themselves, aren't.

Starting at 00:55: "Elkins goes to vote for Merit but Hancock is faster. Elkins heads back to his desk but before he can vote Joe Crabb turns around and beats him to it." Then watch... while Elkins turns around to vote on someone else's desk, Crabb votes on Elkins desk!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG6X-xtVask

Monday, September 17, 2007

Penis Head

Here's a funny story about something Jayden did a few weeks back...

It's about 4pm; he goes tearing off to the bathroom -- clearly he's waited too long.  He calls me a few minutes later, having peed all over everything (again).  For some reason whenever he starts peeing before getting himself set in front of the toilet, he never gets pointed in the right direction!

So anyway, I go in, and boy am I annoyed.  I start cleaning up, and asking him why he didn't aim in the potty.  "What were you thinking? Use your head next time!"

"But Daddy.. my head doesn't HAVE a penis!"

I laughed so hard I could barely finish cleaning the bathroom :)

Building permit...

Got our building permit extended -- They auto-extend every time you get an inspection, but between the contractor disappearing for months at a time and my own slow progress on wiring, it's been 6.5 months since the last inspection.


They had me write a letter of explanation for this extension... by hand.. on paper.  Twice, because they couldn't read it well enough the first time.  I'm pretty sure that's the most handwriting I've done in several years.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dark Sky, Bright Lights Over Pennsylvania - New York Times

Well I'm not over 40, but I can certainly remember.  Living in San Jose now, there's very little star shine, and tons of light pollution .

Anyone over 40 can probably remember staring into a sky that pulsed with stars, but nowadays, man’s artificial light has erased the view. Chip Harrison, who manages Cherry Springs and seven other state parks, said only 10 percent of the United States population has seen a true dark sky

...

On a good night for stargazing at Cherry Springs State Park, in north central Pennsylvania, the Milky Way is a speckled wash across the sky. On a perfect night, particularly during a new moon, the Milky Way is so bright it casts shadows. Stargazers hold out their hands and look at the shadows on the ground in awe.

...

“I don’t have a telescope, but I love to come out here because it’s so beautiful,” she said between bites of a cookie. “These people are so anxious to share their telescopes with you and help you see the skies. It takes your breath away.

“You feel like you can touch the stars.”

Dark Sky, Bright Lights Over Pennsylvania - New York Times

Cash to Get By Is Still Pawnshop’s Stock in Trade - New York Times

That's a lot of pawnshops!! 

The number of pawnshops in the United States has grown to about 12,000 today, from 4,800 in 1986, according to John P. Caskey, an economics professor at Swarthmore College who is the author of “Fringe Banking: Check-Cashing Outlets, Pawnshops and the Poor.” The increase is part of the spread of check-cashing outlets and other alternative financial services that have become ad hoc banks for the so-called unbanked — the millions of Americans who do not have a bank account.

Cash to Get By Is Still Pawnshop’s Stock in Trade - New York Times

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Off work today

Off work today for holiday. Kids are playing, Shivam came over from next door to be entertained with Jayden.

Tried out the new security camera (Lorex CVC6995HR), seems to work pretty well up to the sidewall, or cars parked on street directly in front of house.  Will need the 100+ foot (vs this one being 75) version to see the street traffic well, so I think we'll install one of those to go with the 75' ones, that'll handle close up monitoring around the house, with the long distance one monitoring street traffic fairly well. 

Monday, September 10, 2007

Protecting our children: Are we destroying childhood? - Telegraph

This is an outstanding piece, from Britain --  I can't find a single thing in it with which to disagree.  The state of childhood in modern urban areas is such that I have a hard time seeing my own childhood in my kids' -- there is simply very little similarity.

Whereas I spent most of my time outdoors, climbing trees, running thru fields, torturing frogs, and walking the 1/2 mile to the neighbor boys house, my son is only able to spend time outdoors when we're outside to supervise him.  In the front or back yard only.  The single neighborhood (next-door, in fact) boy he's been able to meet comes over a few times a week, and vice-versa.  Yes, the kids go to the park... all at 10-20 minutes walking distance.  Play dates, common in the toddler years, become less so as the original group ages.

The reason, as I see it, was touched on in the article.  The media, especially the American media, love fear.  Fear of food (genetically modified), fear of medicine (vaccines -- who cares that we've eradicated entire diseases in the united states? Be afraid anyway!), fear of the economy, fear of foreign nations, fear of guns, and the big ratings topic, fear of pedophiles.  I would wager there is no parent of a child under 10 in the United States today who can look at a male adult with, or near, a child, and wonder if he's a threat.

A new city design would help, of course.  Urban design, maximized for traffic (vehicle) throughput and housing density (even when considering only single family homes, and not complexes) has destroyed American cities.  No longer is the grocer a walk away; introduce yourself to a non-immediate neighbor passing, and they are as likely to ignore you as be afraid.  Of the retailers that are near enough for you to frequent, you'll just be another face, another name.  Perhaps I'll talk more on this later; it's a bit off-topic at the moment.

Snippet of the article:

When my youngest was born, his grandmother gave us a sampler she had embroidered of a little Victorian homily: "Dear little one / I wish you two things / To give you roots and to give you wings," it read.

...

Never mind wings, these days parenting consists largely of ensuring that our offspring venture nowhere near the edge of the nest; you never know what danger might lie beyond its cosy, bubble-wrapped confines.

...

Instead of allowing our youngsters to head off alone abroad, discovering life for themselves, we keep them indoors, plonked in front of screens.

And when we do let them step outside, it is only for the short journey from doorstep to car, as we ferry them in our accident-resistant people carriers from school to violin class to swimming lesson, formalising their leisure time, filling it with bustling purpose.

Coupled with over-prescriptive, exam-oriented educational curricula, the result, according to the signatories of the letter, has been an exponential rise in mental health problems, not to mention a decline in independent thinking, basic social skills and plain common sense. In short, smothered by their parents' anxiety, our kids are going stir crazy.

The experts' observation is not a new one. In 1999, the NSPCC issued a report suggesting that childhood was being over-regulated, the life squeezed out of it by parental panic.

Much of the blame was placed then - as now - on a wrongful assumption that a child was in danger from predatory adults the moment they ventured out of sight. As it happens, statistics tell us that no more children are killed or abducted by strangers these days than in the past.

The figures have barely changed in half a century. What's more, of the 50 or so children murdered every year, more than 90 per cent are killed by someone they love, their lives taken in the very place we assume them to be safest: the home.

Protecting our children: Are we destroying childhood? - Telegraph

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Rooms

Brother in law moved out to his own apartment, which means some room shuffling occurred. My son moved from my mother in laws' office to the newly emptied room, my daughter moved from our room to share with my son, and we get a room to ourselves for the first time in nearly 2 years.

Oh; lest ye newly-introduced folk think we're a bit backwoods... We've been living here at my in-laws for 18 months while rebuilding our own house. My brother in law was here as well, while attending school.

The kids were extremely excited about getting a room to share. Jaydens' first question was "Do I get a new computer to put in it?" -- he wants to play his game.

Worked on the house friday, saturday, and sunday. Things are coming along... Max wasn't able to come help with the network and tv cabling, so that's still needing done. As far as AC wiring though, I'm down to odds and ends. network and tv will be a hassle for me to do alone... it's 5 home runs to each normal room, 10 home runs for the playroom, and about 40 home runs to the entertainment and office area room.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

SourceForge.net: Audacity

Max will be interested in this... 

A fast multi-track audio editor and recorder for Linux, BSD, Mac OS, and Windows. Supports WAV, AIFF, Ogg, and MP3 formats. Features include envelope editing, mixing, built-in effects and plug-ins, all with unlimited undo.

SourceForge.net: Audacity

3,000-year-old beehives unearthed in Israel - CNN.com

 

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Archaeologists digging in northern Israel have discovered evidence of a 3,000-year-old beekeeping industry, including remnants of ancient honeycombs, beeswax and what they believe are the oldest intact beehives ever found.

art.ancient.beehives.jpg

One of the ancient beehives found at Tel Rehov in Israel.

...

The beehives, made of straw and unbaked clay, have a hole at one end to allow the bees in and out and a lid on the other end to allow beekeepers access to the honeycombs inside. They were found in orderly rows, three high, in a room that could have accommodated around 100 hives, Mazar said.

The Bible repeatedly refers to Israel as a "land of milk and honey," but that's believed to refer to honey made from dates and figs -- there is no mention of honeybee cultivation. But the new find shows that the Holy Land was home to a highly developed beekeeping industry nearly 3,000 years ago.

3,000-year-old beehives unearthed in Israel - CNN.com

Early adopters sour over iPhone price cut - CNN.com

Well what the hell were they expecting? The damn phone was SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS.  Jeez people, everyone knows you buy new tech a few months after release, unless you like to pay a premium. 

Apple stock dropped more than 5 percent after the price cut was announced Wednesday, closing at $136.76, down $7.40. In extended trading, the share price fell another $1.01.

Meanwhile, gadget enthusiasts who snapped up the ballyhooed iPhone before Wednesday are coping with a bitter aftertaste now that it is $200 cheaper within 10 weeks of its introduction.

Early adopters sour over iPhone price cut - CNN.com

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Performance

A couple few+ weeks ago I had to spent 2 weeks doing performance work for a product at work. The nature of this is I do it pretty much blind. I have my dev tools, they give me one result, but what happens once it's in the product is a whole 'nother ball-game. Anyway, I got the results tonight, and it appears to be about 35% improvement. Higher-ups will be happy!

Game Development Tools And Software :. GarageGames

This is rather neat... 2D sideways scroller, or full 3d engine, looks like a nice design environment for games.  I wonder if I can't make the kids something using this.

Garage Games is pleased to offer the Torque Technologies line of game development tools and resources to make game programming a reality for game developers of all experience levels. Whether you are a beginning game developer or have plenty of game development experience, Torque has a solution for everyone. Join the growing Torque game development community and start making games today!

Game Development Tools And Software :. GarageGames

I'm awake

I'm not happy about it.

Elianas' Birthday 9/3/07

Some pictures from Eliana's birthday cupcakes from 9/3/07. We had a joint party a few weeks ago, yesterday was just some cupcakes which they both liked very much. Eliana mostly ate the frosting off, one bite at a time, whilst Jayden ate the frosting off in one bite.


And this...

This is the same tune, but a duet with piano.  It comes with a bit of chatter, but I think it's worth it. 

I love this tune!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I realized...

I dropped the kids off at school at 8:35am, and then got back home at 8:35pm, to put them to bed. Long day!

I asked Jayden about his day, he was as reticent as always to talk about it. Ellie listened to my prompting of Jayden and made it her own -- she climbed up and said:

"I had fun at school, I have lots of friends at school; Kayley is in my class;I had fun at school, I have lots of friends at school; Kayley is in my class;I had fun at school, I have lots of friends at school; Kayley is in my class"
Which was just cute as can be in her little voice. Kayley, of course, is in Jaydens' class, not hers. But that's all right. She loved it, and will be very happy to go back thursday.

Work!

Spent all day waiting for a new build, only to find it works even less well than the previous build. ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG

Messy Face

First Day of School

Today was back-school-day!

Jayden and Eliana went to school today; Jayden returning, and Eliana for the first time. They were both very excited. I woke Ellie up at 7:30, and she didn't even have her eyes open before she asked about her backpack and lunchbag.

When we got there, Daniella was just dropping off his friend Kayley, so Jayden was even more excited. Kayley used the security button to call in, and said "This is Kayley", when they answered. That meant Jayden had to do it as well -- a big change from last year, when he wouldn't talk into it.

We got inside, he ran down the stairs and into his classroom, where he sat with Kayley for snack time and then went right up front for the days jobs talk (weather, moods, etc).

I took Eliana across the hallway to her Little Stars classroom, showed her which bin was hers. She bopped right over and put her backpack in, then the teacher had her painting a flat apple, and she barely had time to give me a kiss before forgetting about me entirely :)

We didn't get pictures, Lynda had the camera and arrived late from school, so I'll get 2nd day of school pictures instead :)



Saturday, September 01, 2007