Wednesday, May 28, 2014

YES... THIS... WE WANT THIS... LOTS AND LOTS OF THIS...

Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere.




First thing... THIS is how you do a kickstarter.

This is the kind of thing that kickstarter can be great at, and do great things with; being done by people who understand their medium and their audience, and who design their campaign properly around it.

If this doesn't become one of the most overfunded kickstarters in history, I would be amazed.

I've been watching it for about 2 hours, and it's gone from $100k to over $500k in that time.

... And this is something I'm backing... even as little as I can afford right now. It's a good idea, and it's something I'd like to see done. I can't do much, but I pledged... It's the price of a cup of coffee or a little more than a gallon of gas. You should too if you can.

Anything we can do to increase the net level of education, intelligence, and reading in this country... on this planet... we should be doing. If it's a smart, well designed, well implemented way of doing so, even better.

Long term, I'd like to see what their fee schedule and sustainability model is, are they organizing long term as for profit, not for profit etc... but let's get this off the ground at the very least.

Now... for my more skeptical, and more conservative friends and readers... yes, liberals, education blah blah blah.

THIS IS A GOOD THING - IGNORE THE POLITICS

This is an essentially libertarian thing, using the power of private enterprise and initiative, and the power of market preference, to fund education.

WE WANT MORE OF THIS. LOTS MORE OF THIS.

There is one specific issue that I personally have a problem with... but I can get over it, because I understand the issue, and why it's presented as it is.

So for my fellow skeptics, and numbers geeks...

Ignore the claim that 25% of children don't learn to read in this country...

That is not an outright lie... it's also not the absolute truth. It's a matter of how we define literacy, and to what degree we count someone literate based on that definition.

That's a concept that takes more than 30 seconds, and more than one paragraph to explain... so it gets simplified here as "1 in 4 children don't learn to read".

It a political number, not a real number. A classic example of using definitions to make things scarier, to emphasize the problem.

Don't let that stop you from the core message here, or from supporting what looks to be an excellent idea.

Oh and, be sure to watch the video to the very end... priceless...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Might as well just build me a Florida room...

Seems I'm getting used to Florida. It was 93 and over 90 percent humidity yesterday... and it wasn't THAT bad...

Maybe a little TOO used to Florida...

The day before that was the first time I had worn a garment covering my legs below the knee since I had arrived, something I basically NEVER do in public, unless at the beach or working out (shorts are just not personally acceptable for me to wear in most circumstances), and it was again over 95, and over 90% humidity...

...and for the most part, I wasn't uncomfortable.

At first I thought "Well... it's only May, it'll get a lot worse soon", but actually, since we got here, we've been in an unusual warm spell, and though it's been very humid, there has been no rain.

So, I looked up the historical climate data for this area, and every day we have been here so far, we have been WELL above the mean for the date... and in fact, above the mean MAX temperatures... for JULY AND AUGUST.

Every day has been a record, or near record temperature, AND at or near the record humidity (we're averaging about 15% over the mean for each date right now... Some day 20+ percent over the mean).

It hasn't rained at all yet, which is a bit unusual, but historically we're about to hit the summer monsoon here (in fact, t-storms are forecast for this afternoon), and get 8+ inches of rain a day from now through... Oh... about August. That should cool things down a bit. I hope...

Since we arrived, every day has been at least 86 degrees, and most days have been 92 or over, peaking at 99 point something, with humidity each day averaging over 90%, peaking at 99.something%

So... Yeah... it's been hot the last couple weeks.

...and, we're getting used to it... Which is a good thing.

Really the only discomfort issue I'm having, is my medications make me sweat a lot... And with the climate here, it just POURS off me if I try to be active outside in the afternoons.

So long as there's plenty of airflow (driving, a fan, a good breeze etc...) I'm OK. With the box fan and ceiling on in the bedroom, Mel and I aren't constantly wanting to turn the AC down anymore... at least not to 60 something....

Though a dehumidifier might be helpful.

... and, of course... Gold Bond is my stalwart friend and constant companion. Because the million tiny gnomes, are far better than the alternative.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's getting better all the time

just about 2130 local... and I've just sat down from about 12 hours now of continuously running around and or actively "doing something" not actually at a computer or in front of a screen...

...much of it actual walking around...

These are "Good Things"tm.

First time in a long time when that was happening, outside of the context of actual travelling across the country.

Getting borderline heatstroked and dehydrated while doing it because it was 93 at 90% humidity and I didn't eat or drink enough today... not such a great thing.

Quantity of necessary and useful stuff which got done today... very high... also a very good thing.

Having an adorable 3 year old girls birthday party at the end of it all... A wonderful thing.

Having a few hours of paperwork to do on a new project now before I collapse... maybe not so great. I might do it in the morning.

My joint pain was actually pretty OK most of the day... the meds overall are working a lot better now with the better thyroid medication... If I can be this mobile tomorrow as well... that would REALLY be fantastic.

Honestly... today I have felt physically better than I have felt since 2010 or so... maybe better than that. My pain has been lower, my energy and focus higher... And I'm still recovering, and we've still got a lot of medication adjusting to work with... so hopefully things are really going to continue improving.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Opportunity Knocking...

Well... I just had one of the best phone interviews I've ever had in my life.

There's what is a just about ideal position for my skills and experience, at a just coming out of stealth mode startup, in almost the perfect position for me to come in and add value.

It's a very interesting company, great people whose names you would know if you were familiar with their market and their skill domains.

I've already had about six hours of conversations with the CEO and founder, and their CTO. We talked everything from hobbies and humor, to technology, to philosophy and the future.

This was a technical interview with their most technical guy... who happens to be one of the people who helped design and build the internet as we know it today... and who said that I clearly provided exactly the value... and more... in exactly the areas, and more, that they needed me to.

The company is doing incredibly interesting work, in a huge, but badly undeveloped and underserved market (importantly, this isn't a potential market, it's a real market that is huge today). They have the potential to be very big... and they're doing everything right to do just that.

Even better... it's a socially responsible, and in fact world improving thing they are doing, while finding an ethical and responsible way to make great money doing so... and being an example to others as well.

Really... this couldn't get any better...

The only question now is... are we both in a position where we can meet each others needs... or can we get there in a reasonable manner and timeframe.

No matter what, these have been great folks to talk with, and I'm very excited about the possibilities here. Even if we can't get to that point, they are people I'm glad to know, and to have talked with.

That's a very good feeling.

"Anything we want to keep?"

Helping a friend clear out the office of the company he's shutting down...

"Hey, can you go through this box of trash and junk before we toss it, make sure there's nothing in here that we actually want to keep"
Oh... I don't know... maybe a bit of something:



Aint it cool news...

I have been asked to develop and deliver a two day training seminar on BigData and Information Security at the ISC2 world security congress this coming September.

In addition to being a paying gig, it's a not insignificant honor, and bit of professional recognition...

It should be fun, and interesting. I love developing and delivering training to motivated professionals.

...Now I need to renew my CISSP...

I let it lapse while I was no longer actively consulting a few years back. It's been long enough I have to start over. That said, it's far less of a pain today than when I first got it back in.... I don't remember exactly.... 1999? 2000? Something like that.

A little more career advice...

So, I've given career advice here before a few times, mostly for folks who have already started their careers, or who are thinking about college:

A Little Career Advice

A Little Clothing Advice...

Tulips and Tuition

The Power Law Distribution Applies in Ways You Might Not Expect

Recently, I received a request for advice from a career counselor for college students, asking for help advising a student with a generic field of study currently considering a masters in some IT field, with their serious considerations lying in the virtualization, infrastructure, information security, or various architecture fields...

As it happens, I had been talking with others about the subject recently, and thought theirs was a good venue for combining and refining my previous advice.

I thought I would share my thoughts on the matter here as well, since my previous posts on the subject have generated a lot of interest.

Before I begin, let me just outline my basic qualifications and experience... 
I'm primarily an enterprise, infrastructure (including virtualization), and security (including risk and compliance) architect. Secondarily, I am a professional courseware developer and trainer in these disciplines. Finally, I am an experienced team leader and technical manager across these disciplines, in both small businesses and large enterprises, as well as a long term small business owner. 
Particularly significant to this discussion, for six years I was a chief architect, architecture manager, and team leader, covering all of these disciplines and domains; for one of the largest financial institutions in the world. 
I currently work as an independent consultant in these disciplines and domains, primarily serving the technology, medical, financial, government, and defense sectors. I am, and have been, a thought leader, executive, and hiring manager in these disciplines as well as a senior level advisor to executives and hiring managers in these disciplines. 
Now, having established that I have some relevant knowledge and experience, and am reasonably qualified to give advice on this topic... 
Here's my actual direct advice...
Education is great, I recommend it... 
...but as a hiring manager for these roles, and someone who has done a lot of career development and mentoring of junior and mid-level staff in these roles, I can tell you no degree program that I know of will have anywhere near the value, of two to four years of work experience in the industry... even if that experience is not directly related to their duties in ant particular role. 
That does NOT mean I think that students shouldn't get a degree... just that they should go about it somewhat unconventionally. 
MOST IMPORTANT... No IT degree is worth any significant amount of debt. 
 Let me repeat that... 
NO IT degree of ANY kind, including any masters degree, is worth any significant amount of debt. 
Whatever value the degree may provide (which, in most disciplines is no more than the value of "any bachelors degree" as a filter for candidates), will be more than outweighed by the burden of debt. 
Freedom from debt lets you do things like take a lower paying... or even non-paying... position that will give you more valuable career experience. 
I think the smart way to do it, is to work with colleges that grant accredited four year degrees, AND which give degree credit or even offer classes, for valuable industry certifications, and vendor and technology specific training and education. Doubly so for those institutions which offer credit for direct work experience, and through work study opportunities. 
This is especially true for masters degrees (and there are more universities willing to accept work experience and work study programs for masters credit). 
At the same time, the student should be working full time if possible, at a position within the industry. Unpaid intern if they have to, anything other than 1st level call center based tech support if they can... But WORK in the industry. 
Establish a track record of providing value within the industry, and hopefully the segment and discipline, they would like to direct their career into. 
Finally from a purely technical side, work on as much new, and different, and outside stuff... things not directly related to their specific job or degree or position... as they can possibly manage. Volunteer to work on it for free just to get the experience and exposure if necessary (though get paid for it if you can... if it' a particularly interesting or valuable skill or technology, certainly, volunteer). 
This may seem counterintuitive, but in an IT career you will find that a broad exposure to different technologies and processes is generally at least as, if not more valuable, than additional depth in a skillset already mastered.  
My final piece of advice is non-technical, but certainly far more important to any students potential career. 
The best, and most important advice I can give is this... 
Learn BUSINESS skills...
By "business skills" I mean business management, financial, and communications skills. 
Learn to read, write, and speak (both in public, and in private), very well. 
Learn to do so properly, and effectively (this may seem redundant, but actually all three are very different). 
Learn how to tailor your style, and your content, to your audience. 
Learn how to present, and defend, arguments, in writing and while speaking (both publicly and in private... the skills are related but different). 
Learn how to write business and technical documents, and documentation. 
Importantly... learn how NOT to do it, so you don't make the same mistakes as others, or your own mistakes over and over again. 
Learn how to sell... how to present, how to justify, how to craft and shape your message.
... and learn WHY you are doing so. 
Learn about basic financials, economics, basic business operations and management. 
Learn how to write (and read) policies and processes, and both technical and operational documentation for them. 
Learn how to read basic business legal language, particularly regulations and contracts. 
Learn how to write business cases and justifications, and how to read them. 
Learn about project management, and costings, and resource management.  
As a hiring manager... these are the people I really need. 
A candidate who can understand the business side, and the technology side, and can communicate effectively with both sides; is INFINITELY more useful, and valuable, than someone who can't, or who only has one of these skillsets, or can only work effectively with one of these groups of people.  
I can find plenty of people who have business skills, plenty who have communications skills, and plenty who have technical skills. All very good people, who will provide value in their specific areas of expertise. 
It's a lot harder to find any viable candidates, with any two of those skillsets. We want as many of them as we can get. They are at least twice as valuable to us as a candidate with just one of these skillsets... more often than not five or ten times more valuable 
It's DAMN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE to find people with all three... and when you do, you grab them and hold on to them as hard as you can manage, because you can't replace them.  
You don't actually CARE if they don't have the EXACT skills and experience in the technologies and products you need; they'll provide value with their other skillsets, while learning the specific technologies and products. 
Let me be very clear... people with this combination of skills, are are more valuable to you, even not knowing the details and specifics of the exact technologies and tools, and the specifics of the organization; than all but the most expert, highest performing individuals in any one of those fields. 
If you want a rewarding career with great jobs doing interesting things... That's what you should be trying to learn, and who you should be trying to get to be. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Note to "OUR" side... Strongly worded communication to follow...

Earlier today, a friend posted a negative headline about Chipotle deciding to ban open carry in their corporate owned restaurants... but then made a post showing that he understood that the issue was more complicated than the headline, by far.

The headline was "Chipotle declares it's stores shooting galleries".

My response was thus:

Let us be absolutely clear...

After years of being perfectly fine with people carrying firearms in Chipotle stores, "open carry activists" carrying AR-15s and deliberately provoking confrontations with customers and police, have forced Chipotle to change their policies.

Note to "OUR" side:

STOP BEING FUCKTARDS!

This is not "activism", this is attention seeking, nothing less. It's the same kind of thing that conservatives decry about "feminist activists" who walk around topless around children, or "gay activists" who wear leather thongs and dry hump in street parades.

Yes... you should have the legal freedom to do that... because we live in a free society.


...But you shouldn't ACTUALLY DO IT, because doing to is nothing more than shocking sensibilities for its own sake. It's assholic attention seeking.

It also brings us back to one of those paradoxes, or irritating factors I keep coming back to...

"An unfortunate number of theoretically liberty oriented people are that way; not because liberty is the best way, but simply because they are horses asses, misanthropes, contrarian, or insane"

Want to understand Putin, and the Russians? WATCH THIS NOW

A few months ago I wrote about understanding the Russians, and how and why Americans have such difficulty in doing so.

Mike McFaul, former ambassador to Russia, gets frank and explicit about Putin and Russia in this Hoover institution video:



If you want to understand Russians at all, watch this now.

Monday, May 19, 2014

I don't want to set the world on fire...

Overheard in my household... 

ME: 
Thus far, the boy has seen fire, but has not yet created it for himself.  
At some point he will discover the means to create fire for himself.  
From that point forward, the entire world is at risk.

EVERYONE within earshot:

Facebook that quote NOW!

Reframing the hierarchy of false dichotomies



This image is one way of reframing the common conception of the left/right false dichotomy... and it's an important first step of reconceptualizing the false dichotomy to reveal the true dichotomy... but if you stop there, you have failed, and will continue to fail.

Reframe the statement further...

Neither work for the corporations.

"Both" work in furtherance of their own power over the people. They do so through the same types of tactics and manipulations, largely paid for by the same corporations (or similar if theoretically oppositional positioned interests), presenting a hierarchy of false dichotomies.

The true dichotomy is control over others, vs. liberty.

It's a rather important distinction, with difference... because the core issue and the motivation behind it are both different, the potential solution sets are different.

Both potential solution sets include the "get corporate money out of politics" point within them...

...but for one way of framing the issue, it's the primary... even the only meaningful point in that potential solution set (thus dooming it to inevitable failure, as doing so is functionally impossible without a complete transformation in the nature and structure of our politics).

For the other, it's just one of the many possible points within the potentially viable solution set or sets, and importantly is recognized as neither necessary nor sufficient.

One cannot proceed to successful resolution of complex issues, without understanding the second and third order issues which underly them. This increases complexity and multiplies the problems of imperfect information, imperfect reason, and unintended consequences... again, dooming such efforts to failure by their nature.

Only by reducing the problems to first principles, and their associated core motivations, can true dichotomies be resolved.

Scientists, Signalling, and Sides

Recently, a scientist who I generally quite like... and who in geek circles has a lot of cred and "cool", Neil Degrasse Tyson; has used the big soap box of his reimagined "Cosmos" TV show, to essentially dismiss anyone opposed to the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming causing catastrophic climate change, as being "anti-science".

He is sadly incorrect in this... 

There are plenty of scientifically literate, educated, pro-science folks, who understand the facts and the issues at hand, and do not subscribe to what is in fact a rather radical theory which is thus far not only not supported by the evidence, but which is in fact contradicted by it.

Unfortunately... he is correct ENOUGH, that it has become a matter of ingroup and outgroup identification and "the drawing up of sides".

All too often, ones position on this matter IS a matter of scientific ignorance, and has become simply signalling of ones sociopolitical/ideological position.

Often enough that it's a good enough proxy for many to simply make the assumption...

NOTE: This leaves aside the corruption of funding question. The funding corruption issue is an entirely separate issue. It's a serious and important issue that I've addressed before... and it is a large part of the explanation of why the proponents in and around the field of environmental science behave as they do. The funding question however, is neither necessary, nor sufficient, to explain the political or social positioning, or the passion and intensity thereof, when it comes to the huge majority of scientists whose funding has nothing to do with environmental and climate science whatsoever.

The problem is, for Tyson... and for a lot of other scientists... This stopped being about the facts of the case a long time ago.

It became about sides... 

One side being pro science, the other side being anti-science.

One side being everyone who respects science, and education, and opposes ignorance...

The other side being the Kansas and Texas textbook authority people. And the creation museum people. And the anti-gay, anti abortion people. And the science funding cutters and actual anti-science nutjobs.

AND FOR THE MOST PART THEY WERE RIGHT...

Since the "social conservatives" drew up some pretty clean lines, with congressional support and legislative activity on "their side" (particularly on the state level), everything else, which had been fairly fractured politically from the perspective of science, felt an existential threat. Those who were not politically active and motivated got so, in a big way, quickly, when they saw the way things were going.

As soon as this bloc hardened up, it had to become unassailable... It couldn't admit error or fault in even the smallest way, or it would become politically vulnerable. The "other side" would use that error to force their anti-science agenda through.

This isn't to say the liberals didn't already have their blocks of agenda science... Of course they did; the entire block of " environmental science" formed its core and still does. If you consider "social science" a science at all (at it's best, it is, but mostly it isn't), that is even more politicized and agenda driven, and always has been.

But the "social conservatives" (who, I keep emphasizing in these pages, are mostly anything but "conservative", they are mostly populist religious reactionaries) essentially unified the vast majority of science, and mostly aligned on the left (since the anti-science folks are mostly aligned on the right) against their direct assault.

And yes, it has been a direct assault. A mostly weak, futile, and stupid one to be sure, centered around local and state level action, mostly in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama, and Arkansas... But very direct and tangible assault it has been and continues to be.
An Aside: Don't try to defend the "social conservative" position here for the most part. If it were an actual social conservative position, that would be fine... and defensible...

The only "socially conservative" science position has to be "science is science, leave agendas out of it, left OR right. Stop using it as an excuse for social experimentation and social engineering".  
It would be things like "stop trying to teach sex-ed in kindergarten as a mask to set up a gay rights educational agenda for 5 year olds" (something I actually fought down in Phoenix, and I generally support "gay rights"... but that's MY job to teach, when and how I think it's appropriate for MY kids... not the schools job). 
But right now, the self identified "social conservative" position and agenda certainly isn't that. It's trying to make it illegal to teach ACTUAL SCIENCE in high school for example. 
And no, your personal religious views... NO MATTER WHAT THEY ARE... have NO place in the classroom. 
In any way. 
Under any circumstances. 
So long as we compel public education and there is no publicly funded alternative, this must always be so. 
Stop trying to disguise it with "intelligent design" or "teach the controversy" garbage as well... it's a disingenuous lie, insulting to everyone elses intelligence, and everyone knows it. 
It's not about "inclusiveness" or "teaching alternatives"... It's about trying to force society to stop teaching actual science and history, and start teaching what YOUR church tells YOU to believe.
If you want to teach your kids that everything their science and history teachers teach them is wrong and against Gods will and teaching... go for it. That's what churches and home bible study, and home religious schooling, and private religious schools are for. 
But you don't get to legislate that my kids have to be taught your religion, or that they NOT be taught what your religion says is false. In fact, you don't even get to try... 
What is more... by trying, you permanently forfeit any right to participate any more in any public process other than voting and speechifying. You have proven that you neither understand, nor respect, the rights and liberties of others. You have proven, that you are not to be trusted.
If you think that somehow your moral or religious superiority justifies ignoring (or altering) our societal rules, moral conventions, laws and constitution... because God looks on your views with special favor and you have to see his good works through... or some other such twaddle... You think the ends justify the means, and you are not to be trusted. 
That view makes you every bit as dangerous as the islamists... and every bit as dangerous as the left wing think you are... 
Not just dangerous to their agenda... Dangerous to the United States, to science, to education, to the fight against ignorance, and to the fight for liberty.
And yes... that means that the atheists and the liberals "automatically win" in schools when it comes to science. 
Get over it. 
They "won" the second you decided that science and history were your enemy. You SHOULD lose here... For the United States to continue, you NEED to lose on this issue. 
The schools are not supposed to be a battleground (yes, they are, but they are not supposed to be and making it worse is not helping), and your side here is flat wrong... Better in degree than the Islamicist lunatics, but not in kind. 
If you think your beliefs can't stand up to the "threat" presented them by science and history... Well the first thing is you might want to take a look at your personal faith... and the second is, you may want to re-evaluate those beliefs.
So for right now, it has become impossible for those who support science as a whole, but want GOOD science to prevail, to assault the BAD science that dominates the field of environmental science. The entire science "bloc" is in "defend science against anti science bigots and extremists and idiots at all costs no matter what" mode.

Every time someone gets up there and says "I believe every word of the bible is literally true and you shouldn't be allowed to teach children otherwise" they make it worse.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sarcasm?

Overheard in my household:

Chris: "Yay for government regulation induced semi-monopolies"

Mel: "Was that sarcasm"

Chris: "Actually I think it was despair"

Thursday, May 15, 2014

There's no age restriction....

Hey, 20 somethings and 30 somethings... I have some advice for you...

You are not immortal, and cancer happens in your 20s and 30s, as much as in your 40s and 50s.

--

I was about 27 or 28 when my cancer could have been detected...

It wasn't ACTUALLY detected until I was 33, in late stage 2... and it wasn't thought to be too serious.

When it was removed 18 months later, it had progressed to stage 4, even though I was under the care of excellent doctors. When it was removed, I was at most, three months from dying, possibly as little as a few weeks.

--

My brother died a few months before he was 32. His cancer wasn't discovered until it was stage 3, when he was 29...

It could likely have been detected when he was 25 or 26, but by the time it actually WAS detected, It had progressed to the point where he had decided that living with the treatment was worse than dying from the disease.

He died of a painkiller overdose, while recovering from an infection caused by his cancer.

He was 31...

31...

--

My friend David Smyth, Heck, just died because they didn't find his cancer until it was stage 4.

Had they looked for it properly.... had anyone known... It was probably detectable some time before it was actually discovered.

By the time anyone figured out it was cancer, it was stage 4.

Heck died 4 days ago, at age 31.

--

Stop thinking that cancer is just something that happens when you're old... or you might not live to see "old".

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Heck....




This was my friend Heck... David Smyth... Heck passed on may 10th, 2014, from cancer. He was only 31. He was laid to rest a few hours ago in Dublin.

I took this picture in 2002, on the seacoast near Wexford town, while spending the weekend with a group of my crazy, loving, wonderful friends in Ireland.

I miss you man.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Trip Log

Sorry I haven't updated in a few days. I've been mixing trying to get the basic tasks of the move done, with the even more basic task of trying to recover from the trip.

So, we left Phoenix late Wednesday to get out after most of the traffic cleared, and pulled into our friends place in El Paso at about 3am (420ish miles).

I was pretty wasted from the previous weeks chaos... So when our friends most graciously offered to have us stay an extra day with them, we most gratefully accepted.

Having well recovered with a decent nights sleep, and a good days company, we again decided to set off later than originally desired...

...this time because a major tropical depression had formed over the next major destination point on route, New Orleans... in fact, there was a full blown cyclonic storm stretching from Austin to the Florida atlantic coast.

Next leg, El Paso to Austin was about 580 miles, when we stopped for a late dinner around 10pm (the Texican in Austin, very good food, most of it house made not brought in, and excellent service), and waited another couple hours for the rain to clear between there and New Orleans.

We left Austin about midnight, drove down through NO (Mel had never seen it before), and stopped for breakfast with a friend in Kenner (just outside of New Orleans) around 10am (about 500 miles). He also led us to a great dogpark where we all played with the boy, and the dogs, for a couple hours of much needed off the road time.

From Kenner, it was a relatively short hop (220 miles) over to Pensacola for dinner etc... with another couple of friends, and a couple hours of socialization, before the final leg down to Lakeland.

That final leg was about 470 miles, and with the timezone change and fuel stops... and some slowdowns due to REALLY REALLY thick fog, we finally pulled in around 10am Sunday.

We've been running around the last two days doing the basic errands required so that we can sleep, eat, live, work etc... but tonight we can actually mostly relax. We only have a couple more "must do now or soon" things to deal with over the next couple days...

... then I think I'mna try to sleep for a bit..

You know... like... a couple weeks...

Trip Log:

Origination: Chandler, AZ- 05-07-0159z
Termination: Lakeland, FL - 05-11-1459z

Total time enroute: 97h 58m
Total engine on time: 35h 59m
Total rolling time: 31h 58m

Total en route miles: 2,222.22mi ctd.

Total enroute average speed: 22.9mph
Average driving speed: 69.49mph

Total fuel: 145.9 usgal
Average fuel economy: 15.229mpg
Total fuel cost: $559.78
Avg fuel cost per gallon: $3.839
Fuel cost per mile: $0.252

Food cost: $196.94

Friday, May 09, 2014

A Civilized Way to Travel

I actually grabbed a solid 6 hours of sleep last night, followed by a relaxed wakeup... Something I haven't been able to manage in quite some time...

Now it's breakfast with friends, repack, and get on the road.

All in all a very pleasant way to spend a day on a road trip.

Right now it looks like we'll be going through Houston around dinner time. If we stop for the night, it's likely to be around Metairie or thereabouts...

The wife has never been to New Orleans, and wouldn't mind breakfast down there tomorrow morning...

If we go straight through, or push on harder we'll probably skip up over New Orleans, across on the 12.

We'll see how we feel 'round dinner time... and how bad the traffic slows us down through San Antonio and Houston.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Down in that west Texas town...

Looks like we're going to stay in El Paso for the day, and head out in the early morning tomorrow.

Originally, we were planning to fuel and feed on the outskirts of the Phoenix metro area, then run the whole 430 miles in 5-6 hours, at a non-stop 80+ mph

At high speed cruise (around 78-82mph), we get about 480 miles on a tank before the warning light comes on, at appx 50 miles DTE. (Or, about 70 additional miles doing it at 74-76 instead of 80+. ).

When it comes to long hauls, we really love having a big diesel... Really should get that extended 56 gallon underbed tank though. We wouldn't QUITE get 1000 miles out of it at 75mph... But we would at 65.

Anyway, the speed limit is 75mph for all but about 40 miles of those 430, and when the traffic is clear, you can usually run 82 or so almost the whole way (and average better than 75 no problem). I've done south/west phoenix metro to El Paso in under 6 hours a few times.

Unfortunately, high winds and blowing dust along much of the 10 (by much, we mean pretty much the entire distance between Casa Grande and Las Cruces) had us crawling along well below the limit most of the time.

It wasn't particularly dangerous or low visibility, it was just nasty crosswinds, that you don't want to be speeding in. We never got pushed across a lane even, just some bobbling, but even then, you really need to slow down and be careful.

So we spent most of the trip at -2 to -5, sometimes even -10 (when the 18 wheeler traffic was heavy).

Between that, heavy traffic in the first hour (again, from the wind and blowing dust), and stopping to actually relax and enjoy dinner in Tucson (something we never regret doing while on a long road trip), it ended up taking us 8 hours to run the 430 miles we had planned to make in 5-6.

Losing an hour back to daylight savings time land (Arizona doesn't participate in DST), we ended up not getting in until 0230L, and not settled until well after 3... at which point my body decided, as it sometimes does... that it was too tired to actually sleep right then.

Four hours later, and I'm finally running out out my second wind. Hopefully I'll manage to get some sleep soon.

That's ok though... it just means we get to enjoy the afternoon and evening with our friends... and we should still be in Tampa in time for our other friends birthday party.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Coming at you from up sun

We're on the road eastbound out of the valley of the sun, heading for El Paso to stay the night with good friends, then off in the morning to the Tampa area.

It took us a couple extra hours to get out of here, but what we had taking up the time was good and useful, and saved us time and money in the long run.

Haven't decided whether we'll go straight through in one long haul, or stop in LA or All for two short ones... Probably won't make that decision until tomorrow night.

Eastbound and down, loaded up and truckin...

No Mayo... Not Acceptable...

I was commenting on three different threads today about french fries/steak fries/chips etc...

I am an Irish American (my family are immigrants and I lived there for years). From both sides, I have been eating fried potatoes in stick like form from about birth... My son started taking them off our plates at 4 months old and now get mighty pissy if we don't share with him.

As such, I am a true lover of the fried potato...

Having lived and eaten all over the world, I generally personally prefer mine in the american "steak fry" form, which is much like the Irish/English "chip", except usually served slightly crisper and hotter.

As it happens, a friend of mine, Jonathan Katz, is about to move his family to Belgium for an interesting career opportunity.

To which I posted:
"Belgium... mayonnaise on french fries... <suppressed shudder> good luck man... "
I realize I may have created the impression there, that I think Belgians make bad french fries...

Actually, in my experience, they make the best pommes frites (potato fries) in the world.

In fact, they "invented" "french fries" as we know them, Americans having misapplied the name "french" to them some time in the late 19th century, and then reinforcing it after world war one... probably because it was alliterative, and we can't resist alliteration in names.

Belgian pommes frites, or usually just "frites", are almost the perfect synthesis of all that is good about American french fries and steak fries, and English/Irish chips.

They're usually cut a bit bigger than french fries, a bit smaller and not as planklike as chips or steak fries (sometimes called "natural cut" "hand cut" or "thick cut" in the u.s.), and served at a crispness in between the softer "chip", and the crisper American style "fry". Just about the same crispness that I would consider the perfect "steak fry".

Importantly, they achieve this texture by being twice cooked (as any who make their own fries should do). First they are either blanched in salted/acidulated water, or parcooked in low temperature oil (sometimes both). Then they are allowed to cool, and just before service they are flash fried to crisp them up.

This results in a perfect creamy potato interior, without hollowing out or being gummy, and a perfect crispy exterior that STAYS crisp longer.

Done well, they're absolutely wonderful, and Belgium has many many places that do them well.

I would wager that Belgians eat frites, as much as Americans eat fries. They are as much the national side dish there, as they are here, or maybe even more. Steak frite, moule frite, just about anything frite...

Also, Belgian have an entirely civilized and appropriate custom of frites as street food, snack food, even just for lunch.

Take note Americans... this is a GOOD IDEA.

Frankly, the only way I like mussels is moules et frites avec lardon, and the Belgians do THAT better than anyone else in the world (particularly with a nice bier).

I have only one issue with Belgians and frites...

... it's that they just ruin these perfect crispy pieces of potato goodness... by putting mayonnaise on them.

Of course, being the frites capital of the world, they also put other things on them... Lots of other things in fact... But by default, and by far most popular, is mayonnaise.

No... Just no... (though Belgian mayo is FAR better than U.S. mayo for the most part).

That is just not acceptable.

Acceptable toppings for fries include:

1. Nothing - Properly fried are good enough on their own
2. Salt - but nothing is so good it can't be made better with a bit of salt
3. Vinegar
4. Ketchup - Which is a combination of salt, vinegar, sugar, and tomato (sparingly please... too much and a fry is just a ketchup delivery vehicle, with all of it's own flavor overwhlemed)
5. Cheese
6. Chili
7. Eggs (scrambled, fried, or poached)
8. Gravy (turkey, beef, or sausage)
9. Hot sauce including hot mustard
10. Other meats in savory sauces, possibly including cheese.

Please take note, mayonnaise is not among these options.

Corollary to that for midwestern/northwestern Americans... Fry sauce is mostly mayonnaise, and is therefore right out.

"Climate Change", and the false dichotomy of "evil or stupid"

Once again the drumbeat is sounding throughout that land, that Republicans... or rather, everyone not a leftists... are "anti-science", "pro-ignorance" etc... etc...

I am constantly hearing some variant of "Republicans are either evil or stupid for not... X".

The sad part of course, is that a certain percentage of non-leftists, including libertarians and conservatives are in fact, nuts, particularly about science... and another large block are ignorant.

Of course, so are large blocks of those on the left... but that's not what we're talking about right now.

There are certainly many scientific issues over which the ideological spectrum split, but likely the biggest one, with the most uniform split (there's very few whose ideological "side" don't match the position staked out by that side, to some degree or another)....

"Climate Change"

Ok, talked about it here before, and there's plenty of great resources on the topic (try Climate Skeptic and Watts Up for a start)... But it's an issue among my friends right now, and Neil Degrasse Tyson has been talking about it lately, facebook is covered with it right now etc...

So, let me just lay things out for a bit...

First, YES, there ARE loonies out there who say that there is no climate change "because Jesus" or "It's all a conspiracy man" etc... etc... etc...

Feel free to ignore them, as you would on every other subject. They don't represent any kind of reality based universe, never mind a rational position.

There are also those who simply say that there is no such thing as climate change whatsoever... But mostly they are either ignorant of, or don't understand, the science, math, or historical record in question

And yes, there are far more of those than there should be in 2014.

However, some of us come to our positions through a knowledge of science, engineering, math, the scientific method, research methodologies and data analysis.

There are those, myself among them, who actually DO understand science, and don't believe in CATASTROPHIC, ANTHROPOGENIC, CO2 FORCED, global warming, leading to systemic, catastrophic climate change.

We are not irrational, ignorant, evil, driven by unsavory motives, or stupid.

We come to this position, because we understand that:


  1. The question isn't whether climate is changing and will change in the future, it always has and always will. The question is how much has it, how much will it in the future, and why.
  2. Catastrophic, anthropogenic, global warming leading to catastrophic climate change, is a tightly interconnected theory. For any element of the conclusions to be correct, ALL of the suppositions within the theory must be correct. The instant any of them changes, at all, the theory falls apart.
  3. The mathematical models for this have always been highly speculative and have proven non predictive both forward and backward.
  4. The data is greatly variable ( and often poor) in quality, and is adjusted in ways that make it less than useful for a model with high sensitivity predictions, because small changes or inconsistencies in the data make big changes in the model.
  5. The catastrophic model adopted by the U.N. has some major dependencies which are entirely theoretical, and have not been borne out by historical facts; specifically estimates of forcing, estimates of weighting of various factors, and particularly estimates of extremely high sensitivity to certain factors (especially CO2), that while throughout all of history have exhibited one behavior (a stable, negative feedback system), for some reason (i.e. humanity is bad and stuff), things have changed now... even though CO2 has been much higher in the past, and it didn't happen then... Such that a very small change in CO2 will have a large multiplier effect, transforming the stable negative feedback system that the climate has been throughout the entirety of history to this point, to an unstable positive feedback system.
  6. There is no evidence for this catastrophic theory, nor does it correspond with historical models, or models that prove to be historically predictive (i.e. if you run the model backwards and forwards in time, it matches roughly with what actually happened).
  7. This prediction has been made since the mid 80s (prior to the mid 80, from the early 70s they were predicting global cooling and ice age by the way), and the models have proven to be grossly inaccurate. They are constantly revised to reflect the same conclusion, but never actually predict what ACTUALLY happens in the real world. There was initially slightly more warming than the previous historical models predicted, but by 1991 warming was back to the historical trend line, and there has actually been no significant warming since 1994-1998 depending on exactly which dataset you look at.
  8. Human outputs from all of industry, vehicles etc... Make up less than 1% of total atmospheric CO2... actually between .3 and .4%. The VAST majority of CO2 comes from forests, oceans, animals, and soil (and the bacteria contained therein). They also absorb CO2 in the natural CO2 cycle.
  9. If the historical, non catastrophic models prove correct, and they have so far, there will be between less than 1 and just over 2 degrees centigrade warming in the next 100 years. This is not catastrophic, and is consistent with warming/cooling cycles throughout history.
  10. If all human output of carbon dioxide and other theorized elements of climate change stopped right now, today... That number wouldn't change at all, or at most very little. Within the margin of error.
  11. Once you take the catastrophic sensitivity to a tiny change out of the model, many other factors become far greater "forcings", particularly the suns variability (relating to sunspot cycles).
  12. If the catastrophic models are correct, either we already have, or we soon will, pass the point of no return. We would not only have to completely stop emitting CO2 entirely, but we would have to take large amounts of it out of the environment.
  13. No matter what, the developing world isn't going to stop burning wood, and coal, and growing and modernizing and using as much hydrocarbons as they can. They don't give a damn what european liberals think, they just want to cook their dinners and have lights at night.
  14. No matter what, China and India aren't going to stop being 80+% of all CO2 emissions from human sources, because if they did they'd all be plunged into even greater poverty and likely starve to death. 


What it comes down to is this:


  1. If the catastrophic models are correct, it's too late to do anything about it anyway.
  2. Even if every western nation utterly stopped producing ANY output which contributed to climate change, it wouldn't make any difference whatsoever.
  3. If the catastrophic theory is wrong, and everything point to it being so, then we would be spending trillions of dollars, destroying economies, ruining millions or billions of peoples lives etc... All for little or nothing.
  4. There are real, actual, proven problems that are far more likely to be important, and that we can actually do something about, that are much better ways to spend our time and money.

Ok... so why do so many people support the idea... particularly so many scientists?

The same reason anyone does anything... because it aligns with their perceived incentives, beliefs, worldview, narrative, and identity. 

To wit...

  1. Funding
  2. Social signaling an ingroup identification
  3. Politics
  4. Power and control (climate change legislation is all about taking power and control from one group, and giving it to another)
  5. Ideology and alignment with world view
  6. The precautionary principle
  7. Anti-capitalism
  8. Funding
  9. Because if they don't, they don't get jobs, their papers don't get published, they don't get university positions etc...
  10. Because they know that it's not as bad as the press makes it out to be, but that making it super duper scary is the only way to make the morons out there pay attention and actually make some of the good positive changes that need to happen (like more energy efficient technology, and more research into alternative energy)
  11. Because the entire world has lined up into teams, not just about climate change, but about ALL social, cultural, and scientific issues... Evolution, homosexuality, everything else about the environment etc... and one team has decided to label themselves "progressive" and "liberal" and "pro science" and the other team "anti science", and nobody wants to be "regressive" and "anti-science".
  12. Did I mention funding? There is no funding in saying "things are going to be about like they always have been, with some small changes as expected, and maybe a very small degree of increased change... it will have some moderate impacts". That's boring, and it gets ignored, and no-one gets any funding, and you can't do additional research on it. No-one is paying for research into squirrel populations and how "1 degree per century of climate change will impact them).
Yes... I repeated myself, in several different ways there... That was intentional.

The Broken Record

Catastrophists have a record, of being broken records... and being mostly or entirely wrong.

From 1974 until 1985 or thereabouts, many of the exact same scientists, politicians, pundits, and environmentalists who today are saying are going to warm our way into a combination of ice age, deserts, and typhoons everywhere... were saying the exact opposite.

At the time, their theories and models said that we were going to precipitate our own ice age, blocking out the sun, and that crops would fail and we would starve to death.

The fact is, we've heard over and over again for decades that if we don't do exactly what this one particular group wants us to do about any particular issue within 5, 10, 20 years etc... that we're all gonna die, the world is gonna end, everything will turn to dust, there will be no birds, no trees...

Anyone remember when acid rain was going to kill us all?

Yes, in part, it's because we did respond to the concerns of the environmentalists, regulations were changed somewhat, technology got better, we polluted less and cleaned up more. These are all good things.

But mostly it was because they were dramatically overstating both the problems, and the solutions; either because they actually believed it, or for political reasons...

Seems to me, mostly for political reasons.

Mostly we haven't done what they asked.

The world didn't end.

We didn't all die.

Of course, that doesn't mean they aren't right this time...

...One of these times they just might be... or at least they might be more right than wrong...

...it just means that we should really be very careful, and very skeptical, about what they say, what we believe, and what we do about it.

Oh and one more thing...

There is one final, and almost universal test of the validity of someones claim that "everything has to change".

It can't prove that a claim is true... but it can nearly always prove a false claim to be false, or at least greatly exaggerated.

Simplified, it's called the "Act as If" test.

Does the person making the claim, act as they would if the claim were true, and as urgent as they say?

Is it conclusive? No... but it's a pretty strong indicator.

Do those who say they believe in truly catastrophic anthropogenic global warming pass this test?

Do they actually act as they would, if they actually believed their predictions. 

The answer is very much no... not even close.

So, if they don't... why should anyone else?


Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Susi Art... Bucking the Narrative...

There's been a lot of "Boston Pride" shirts to come out over the last year... very few of them from Boston companies, or Boston natives as far as I can tell... and most of them more or less exploitative of the marathon bombing.

I won't get into it any further here, but I'm not interested in that at all.

That said, I love the city of my birth and childhood. I wouldn't want to live there anymore, given the politics and traffics and cost of living, but I still love it, and I go back and enjoy it when I can.

At the moment, I don't have any "Boston" clothing other than a couple of Patriots hats and Jerseys. Most of what's out there, I don't like, but I've had half an eye out for something classy, or interesting, or just... not like all the rest of the "Boston" crap.

I Like this one... a lot: Susi Art - Boston Respect Tee





It's classy, it's simple, it tweaks the normal expectations (it looks like the rest of the generic "Boston" stuff, until you look a bit closer), it appreciates the history and culture of our town... I like it, and when I can grab one, I think I will.

Actually I like most of what Susi Art does. They're mining the rich area of pop culture appreciation, but in a way that tweaks or twists... even satirizes in some ways (some of their pieces are really very funny, or dark, or have a VERY skewed point of view... just not the ones they're using to sell commercial design with on their website)... both the straightforward, and the hipsterish or ironic appreciation of it.

I like that.

Here's another piece of their design work (done for another companies product line):


It's the Beantown Sully doll, from the "Talkin Townies" line of plush dolls. Yes, it talks, and yes, it doesn't speak english, it speaks Bostonian...

Done wrong, this would just be condescending, exploitive, or stupid. Done right, as this is, it's funny and affectionate. It's gently mocking our own ridiculousness.

Understanding that you can appreciate and love something, and still be self aware and make fun of yourself for loving it... without ironic detachment from it, and with an appreciation of it's historical and cultural context... That works for me.

Of course it does... I'm a geek, and a pop culture and history fanatic, without being a fanboy... The statements are almost synonymous.

What really works for me, is that while Susi Art's pieces are certainly commercial art, they reflect a genuine point of view, expressed sincerely. It's not just a gimmick or a technique to sell to folks like me.

Most importantly, the work is truly reflective of the artist behind these pieces.

It doesn't matter how commercial something is; if it genuinely reflects the artists point of view, sensibility, passion, experience... THAT'S ART.

I would feel that way, and like the work, no matter what... But there's something more to it.

What's really interesting, is that all that stuff I talked about above, tweaking expectations etc... it's not just a point of view, it's also the artists life story.

I've known Frank Susi since we were both in grade school, and have been friends with him for something like 25 years. He's an interesting, funny, very smart, incredibly decent, and genuinely nice guy... but he's still more than a little twisted.

...And he stands peoples expectation straight on their heads.

Howzat?

Frank could have had an "80s teen movie heart throb" life.

He's a great looking guy, standout athlete in several sports (he could have played AAA baseball, and certainly had the opportunity to play college ball), a good student, and his family has run a number of successful businesses for many years.

If Frank had followed "the script", he would have gone on to a business degree at Boston College, maybe an MBA, come back to run the family business, married the beauty queen, and lived happily (or unhappily depending on who wrote the script) ever after.

For a while, it looked like that was just what he was going to do... at least from the outside.

But that's not what he wanted.

Instead, he flipped the script and said... "Hey, that art stuff that I really love? That I'm passionate about... Yeah, I'm actually going to do that instead, because that's what makes me happy".

Now... that story has been told more than a few times as well... it's just a different kind of script... Sensitive artists type bucks expectations to sacrifice for his art etc... etc...

What I haven't seen done to death by hollywood, is a story like Franks.

Frank didn't go mope around New York and "suffer for his art" living in bohemian squalor etc... etc... Hoping for a "big break".

Frank decided to make it happen, with brains and hard work, and without being "precious" about "purity" of his art.

He studied fine arts at a tiny liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere, and went around absorbing and learning about what he loved...

...And then he got down to work, and started hustling to get his art out there. He took his grounding in the family business, and in dealing with small businesses around New England, and saw how he could try to make a living, and make a business, with his art.

Importantly, Frank understood that to be a successful business, he had to do what his customers wanted (and would pay for), as well as what he wanted.

So in addition to Franks original artwork (and the work of other artists who they work with), Susi Art does commercial art and design work, custom and promotional work, screen printing, t-shirts, signs and the like... and they do them very well, on time, and on budget.

You know... like a business is supposed to.

Frank isn't selling out, he's making a living with his art. That's something many people claim to want more than anything.

Unfortunately, it seems that many of them don't know or believe it's necessary to (or think it "shouldn't be" for "good art"), or don't seem to be willing to; put in the hard work, OVER AND ABOVE the hard work of their art (believe me, I wouldn't ever deny that art can be hard work), that it takes to be successful.

Well... Frank has been doing it for 15 years now... so he must be doing something right.


Monday, May 05, 2014

RIP Jeffro

We have no details as of yet, but I've been told that my good friend and fellow blogger Jeff Borland , a.k.a. Jeffro of "The Poor Farm" has passed on.

If you know Jeff, you know that he has been struggling with serious health problems for several years.... and when I'm the one saying that...

Jeff has had a number of emergency hospital visits, and a few long hospital stays the last few months... He knew every day was a gift, in a way that only those of us who have had to face not having any more of them directly, ever do.

This is the last picture we have with Jeff, enjoying time with our family, this past January:



He was a great friend, and a good man.

Rest In Peace Bubba... We're all going to miss you.

The Ultimate Hot Dog



Ahh, the joys of a simple hot dog...

Now, you won't find anyone who appreciates a simple steamed or grilled hot dog more than I... Especially if a really nice one with some snap to it, grilled just right...

But sometimes... you want... MORE.

More meat, more flavor, more texture...

For those times, you need... OVERKILL

This my friends, is overkill... the ultimate hot dog.


  1. 1. Start with a good quality hot dog (we like nathans, hebrew national, kayem, or pearl), either grilled, or pan fried in butter, till it's got a little nice char on it.
  2. Wrap a slice of cheese around it.
  3. Crisp up a potato pancake (also known as a hashbrown patty), and break it in half. Slip both halves into the bun, then drop the cheese wrapped hot dog in between.
  4. Top with pulled pork
  5. Top the pulled pork, with hot chili (or chili bean stew)
  6. Top the pulled pork and chili with a thick slice of crispy black pepper bacon. 

Mustard and hot sauce optional.
Sour or garlic pickle, absolutely necessary.
Ketchup, absolutely forbidden on pain of death.

Optional, but STRONGLY recommended... If you can, get New England style "double cut" hot dog buns (lobster roll buns), and griddle them with butter.

You're welcome.

Note: The layers, and how they are layered, is important, for more than just flavor and texture. The hash brown adds structure to the whole thing, reinforcing the bun. Without it, the bun won't support the dog, the pulled pork, and the chili. The bacon acts as a cap to the whole thing, keeping the topping on the dog, or in your mouth, instead of on your shirt.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

It's not about capability, it's about coverage...



Those are "all the worlds aircraft carriers"... at least in theory.

From the story:

"Each of those Nimitz-class carriers has twice the fighter complement of anything else floating (80 vs 40). Each of those fighters is heavier than anything any of the other carriers (except the Charles Du Galle) can launch. They can also sortie much more frequently than their equivalents. In practical terms those carriers are probably something like 4-6x more effective than their equivalents. The smaller ships are amphibious assualt ships, smaller than carriers, but with still more force projection capabilities than most other actual aircraft carriers. This is how overkill our military is, and this is just the navy."

Yeah, both the image, AND the commentary are misleading.

First of all, there are 10 Nimitz Class currently in commission, not 12. All the other decks are not fixed wing non-V/STOL capable (they can't take fighters, bombers, radar, or support aircraft), they're helicopter/jump jet decks... Primarily they're Marine assault ships.

Of the 10 Nimitz class ships, at least 2 (and usually 3 or more) are in overhaul, refit, workup, or maintenance down cycle status at any given time (currently Lincoln is down for major overhaul, and TR just came out of it).

Overhaul on a nimitz class takes FOUR years. Minor refit is 6-18 months. Maintenance down cycle is 3-6 months.

That leaves, at best, 8 available decks for coverage.

Then we get down to the real issue... taskings.

The U.S. is the only nation that has taskings in every ocean, 365 days a year, every year, peace or war.

Congress has set the Navy's mission parameters such that they are supposed to have a deck available to be no more than 300 miles off ANY SHORE in the world, within 3 days steaming, 24 hours preferred; and to be able to have 2 decks operating at any "trouble spot" within 7 days.

Further, they are supposed to be able to task 2 decks to "trouble", and still meet all their other taskings elsewhere.

What it comes down to, is the president is supposed to be able to pick up the phone and say "I need a carrier there NOW", and have it happen.

...More to the point, he's never supposed to have to say "why CAN'T I have a carrier there right now?".

This is NOT POSSIBLE with 8 decks for coverage.

In fact, it's not possible with 12 decks for coverage... but that's the goal. Being able to have 12 decks up means that we can (just barely) do everything we've actually been ordered to do by congress.

Unfortunately that's never going to happen, because of funding.

We're going to get 11 decks TOTAL (not online and operating) in 2016 or so when Ford comes online, but by the time... or IF... we get Kennedy and Enterprise, they won't be augmenting, they'll be replacing Nimitz and Eisenhower.

Oh and even with 12 decks, that discounts the one immutable fact of any military operation, any platform, any piece of gear... "stuff" happens. In particular "stuff" breaks.

So yes, while any one of our carriers is equivalent to ALL of any other nations... It has to be.

We can either build more decks, or we can change the mission... but we can't complain about there being too many decks for the mission.

Let's break it down to a smaller scale example.

If you need four cops to cover a neighborhood, you don't need four cops, you need an absolute minimum of 18 (or ideally more).

3 shifts a day, 7 days a week, 4 man coverage, means 84 shifts (I'm simplifying assuming 8 hour shifts... that rarely happens of course. I'm also not accounting for overlap, which is required, and typically means 25% more hours required... and admin/court time, another 25%... but we're simplifying).

One body covers 5 shifts a week, without overtime.

That means 17 (16 plus 4 shifts means 17) bodies for coverage, and one floater for illness etc... Really you need at least two, but you make up the difference with overtime.

If you want to run at above minimums, accounting for overlap and admin time, have some margin for "in case stuff" and to keep your people from burning out, you need 28.

Nobody does that of course... they run overtime.

You can run carriers at "overtime"... for a while anyway... What "overtime" means for a carrier (and it's crew), is they don't get their required maintenance and downtime, things break more, people get fatigued, mistakes get made...

...and that's when people start dying.

It's not about staffing... it's about tasking. It's not about capabilities, it's about coverage.

Friday, May 02, 2014

There can be no other explanation...

I got a comment on my post "Why I am NOT a libertarian", which amused me to no end:
"If you are stupid and uneducated, who is writing your posts? 
False humility is not a virtue."
Yeah...

Somehow, the notion that someone could be obviously highly intelligent, and yet still have humility about their intellect...

...Or rather, perhaps to be more precise, lack the hubris necessary to believe that I could possibly EVER be intelligent enough, that I can make decisions for anyone else...

... is utterly inconceivable.

Someone with the I.Q. and education I have, COULDN'T POSSIBLY be sincere, and actually mean that I was not, and could not possibly be, smart enough.

I MUST be lying for rhetorical effect, or being ironically self aggrandizing.

There can be no other explanation...

Perhaps my long term history of passionately expressing this idea both personally, and as a libertarian activist and writer; with for example, pieces like this:

"It's Not About Elites or Idiots"

... could "prove" that I actually believe in what I have said.

Perhaps...

But, for those possessed of the authoritarian or paternalistic worldview...

...probably not.

There are more reasons than can be counted, why hubris, is the greatest, and most dangerous, sin (be it spiritual, intellectual, or both).

Sleep Debt



Sadly, if I get 4 hours a night, I'm lucky... or sick.

In fact, the last time I got more than 4 hours was when I was recovering from almost dying... so yeah.

At the moment though, I'm more sleep deprived than usual.

As I write this, 2am on a Friday morning, I've slept a grand total of about 18 hours in the last 7 days, no more than 2 hours at a time, and no more than 4 hours in any 24.

... and I've had 5 phone interviews so far this week...

I basically never sleep more than 6 hours unless I'm ill, I've physically exhausted myself, or I've gone too many days in a row with less than 4 hours. I don't recall ever having slept 6 or more hours for more than 3 days in a row.

When I was 20 though, I could do that for weeks at a time and still be OK. Not optimal, but OK.

As I've got older, my insomnia has SLIGHTLY improved... But my need for sleep has GREATLY increased.

Honestly, I can't recall an age when I didn't have trouble sleeping (my mother says I never slept much even as a baby) but it started getting bad around age 5, and by 13 I would regularly go days at a time without sleep.

Around 19 I started improving, until I stabilized in my mid 20s averaging around 4 hours a night, with "catchup" nights every few days of 6 hours or so.

From then until the cancer hit hard, I got a bit better, a few more six hour nights, a bit fewer under 4 hour nights etc...

Then the cancer and the endocrine problems made both the insomnia worse, and the need for sleep greater.

Then we had a baby.

Then he started teething and having growing pains at the same time.

That was six months ago... He hasn't stopped yet... won't for a while...

Lovely how that works sometimes huh?

The really funny thing though, is that almost everyone I know online (and most in person for that matter), almost every conversation you have ever had with me, and almost everything I've ever written...

All of it was while I was severely and chronically sleep deprived.

Yes... All of that was me with a fraction of my full energy and focus...

I'll leave it to those who have seen me while I was well rested and healthy to comment on what I'm like then, if they wish. I'm not exactly the best observer there, because I'm so used to it.

Sleep deprived, I do feel slower, less aware alert and perceptive, and less able to focus and split my attention and multi-task effectively. This of course worsens as my sleep debt builds; but until the deprivation gets REALLY bad, it only feels slightly different to me, inside my own head

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Significant Precision

Lawyers believe that they are trained to speak and write extremely precisely, particularly while in a deposition or courtroom.

It is pounded into their heads over and over again in Law School how important it is to communicate precisely. The law can be a very technical subject, hinging on very fine distinctions. They are shown example after example of the results of imprecise communication, and how it can be exploited.

Compared to "normal" people, they DO communicate precisely. After all, imprecision in a lawyers speech can lead to their clients losing a great deal of money, or going to jail.

They don't come within shouting distance, of the precision of communication required and regularly practiced, by either doctors or engineers.

When you internalize the notion that imprecision in your communication can kill someone... or lots of people... particularly after watching it happen... That changes things entirely.

At the same time, both engineers and doctors can be MADDENINGLY vague about anything they consider unimportant, irrelevant, uninteresting, or so basic as to be understood by them as unnecessary to explain.

Even... perhaps especially... when that is exactly what you are asking about, or need to know.

This can make for some... interesting... problems.