Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Me Worry About Asteroids? Nah, I've Got Twitter

From Wired Science:
The Real Twitpocalypse:Asteroid Alerts Come to Twitter

Been looking for a reason to join Twitter, but haven’t been able to quite take the plunge?

Forget Shaq and William Gibson: Alerts about asteroids cruising near Earth have come to Twitter. @AsteroidWatch will let you know any time a space rock gets within a few lunar distances. Much more asteroid info will be distributed via a new NASA/JPL website. (Though if you want to know if a nuke is the best way to stop an asteroid, you’ll still need to come to Wired Science.)

“Most people have a fascination with near-Earth objects,” Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a press release. “And I have to agree with them. I have studied them for over three decades and I find them to be scientifically fascinating, and a few are potentially hazardous to Earth.”

The recent collision between a comet and Jupiter underscored the very real presence of possibly dangerous space objects in the solar system.

The Twitter feed, @lowflyingrocks, already uses NASA’s raw data to let you know after an asteroid has passed the Earth. But the site tells you about every rock within 0.2 astronomical units — that’s more than 18 million miles — so you get a ton of updates. @AsteroidWatch will be choosier about the near-earth objects it tells you about. Only rocks that come within a scant 750,000 miles or so of Earth will earn a Tweet.

With previous Twitter accounts, NASA employees have created voices for the various robots and machines that the agency operates. Some, like @MarsPhoenix, were cute and cuddly. Perhaps the proper voice for the near earth object warning system will be slightly more urgent and prone to profanity.

Any kind of personality would be an improvement on @lowflyingrock’s robotic language. Its last Tweet went a little something like this: “2007 LL, ~220m-490m in diameter, just passed the Earth at 6km/s, missing by ~twenty-seven million, five hundred thousand km.”

Now Don't You feel better? Twitter is on the job. It will let us know about those dastardly asteroids and save us all. Sure, I'll sleep better tonight. On the other hand maybe I will lay away all night waiting for that fateful tweet. Oh why bother. Wait a minute my Tweet Deck is calling. An asteroid coming? No, just the Astros losing 12-0 to the Cubs.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Just Try to Build an Ark Today, Noah

And lo, in the year 2009, the Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in the United States, and said:
"Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me."

"Build another Ark and save two of every living thing along with a few good humans."

He gave Noah the blueprints, saying, "You have 6 months to build the ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights."

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard, but there was no ark.

"Noah! I'm about to start the rain! Where is the ark?"

"Forgive me, Lord," begged Noah, "but things have changed."

"I needed a building permit."

"I've been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system."

"My neighbors claim that I've violated the neighborhood zoning laws by building the ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the Development Appeal Board for a decision."

"Then the Department of Transportation demanded a bond be posted for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage for the ark's move to the sea. I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it."

"Getting the wood was another problem. There's a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the spotted owl."

"I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to save the owls, but no go!"

"When I started gathering the animals, an animal rights group sued me. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued the accommodations were too restrictive, and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space."

"Then the EPA ruled that I couldn't build the ark until they'd conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood."

"I'm still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I'm supposed to hire for my building crew."

"Immigration and Naturalization are checking the green-card status of most of the people who want to work."

"The trades unions say I can't use my sons. They insist I have to hire only Union workers with ark-building experience.

"To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets, claiming I'm trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species."

"So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least 10 years for me to finish this Ark."

Suddenly, the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky.

Noah looked up in wonder and asked, "You mean you're not going to destroy the world?"

"No," said the Lord. "The government beat me to it."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Do You Want Some Toothpaste, Cat?

I discovered that my day would probably not go well this morning. How? After I finished my coffee I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. When I turned the light on, I discovered the cat had taken up residence in the sink. "Spots" better known as Sneezy was lounging in the sink. He was turned toward the mirror. I guess he wanted to admire himself by looking in the mirror. As I walked in he looked back at me with a "What the Hell do you want" look. How rude was I to interrupt this feline.

Thankfully the bathroom has two sinks. He would not have been very happy to be unceremoniously dumped from his place in the cool shiny sink. He was secure with the knowledge that I was not going to use "his" sink. I turned on the water in the other sink. He slowly turned his head as if to tell me that I had better not even think of splashing him. I wouldn't do that. That is unless I could get away with it. After all, just how many times have I been sneezed on? As I opened the toothpaste, he rose up a little as if he needed to check it out. He then apparently thought better of it and went back to admiring himself in the mirror.

The whole time I was in there I wondered. What was he thinking? Did he want some toothpaste? Was there something he wanted me to do for him? That is besides get out of his way. Later he decided to abandon his quiet spot. Probably a good idea since Aryn had decided to get up and start bouncing around the house. As he decided to head for the front door, I didn't blame him. Next time bring your own toothbrush, cat!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Texas Board of Education?

Ben Sargent

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Am Not a Good Passenger

For me going anywhere in a car with someone else driving is a trial. No, make that a nightmare, just for me. I hate being a passenger. I never like riding with my kids or any one else. If I drive I'm ok. But let anyone else do the driving and I nearly have a nervous breakdown. I am forever gripping the door or the seat. I hit the "brake" on my side, or I push on the dashboard. I always think they are going too fast or following too closely.

Once before Annie's wedding she, Traci and I went to Houston to shop. Traci had rented a little car. It was one that you could pull down part of the back seat and reach the trunk. During this trip as Traci drove all over the Houston freeways I threatened to climb into the trunk. She was only switching lanes to get to the other side. uh huh.

A few years later I rode with Annie and Jason as he drove all over Phoenix. I wore out my "brake". I kept looking out the side window so I would not have to see what was in front. I even closed my eyes. It didn't help. I think I left fingerprints on the arm of the door, too.

Amanda always seemed to drive too fast. Guess it was just me. She also waited until the last second to slow down or brake. So, I usually rode in the back seat. That way I did not have to look as she sped along or talked (texted) while driving. Even her daddy complained that I was much too nervous. He threatened to make me wear blinders.

So in the last couple of days I have been to town here in Waco with Traci and today with the neighbor Leigh Ann. I'm still shaking. When Traci and I went out she flew down the streets. Well that was not too bad until she came to the BIG hill. She flew down it and I expected to be airborne at any moment. Straight DOWN! Yikes! It took me ten minutes for my heart to stop pounding.

Then today Leigh Ann and I went out to see if I can get a new ID card. Her mother said the place we needed to go was at one place. Nope, some where else it was. So I get yet another turn at being the lunatic passenger. She races down the streets. She follows the cars ahead of her way too closely for my taste. She runs the streets, twists and turns, stops inches from the cars in front.Once again I am "braking", grabbing on to the dash, door arm or seat. I try to appear calm. Oh and on top of this we got lost because her mother told us the wrong directions! We go all over Waco and I sit there attempting to look calm and assertive. It works for Cesar Milan with dogs, but not me.

Because I found out I need more ID proof before I can get a new ID, I have to go through this driving insanity again. Nothing is simple for me these days.A few simple errands and I feel like I've been in the middle of a movie car chase seen. Remember the "Italian Job"? Anyone got any Valium?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Read the Fine Print

This should be basic information to any casual observer. Read the fine print before you sign anything, right? Duh! But how many people really do this? It never ceases to amaze me that people see a great offer for something and sign up for it. Then the bill for that great offer comes. Ouch! Why is this bill $300! You did not read the fine print. They didn't tell you about the equipment fees, or the installation fees? Or how about the service charge? I know people who never read instructions. Buy an easy to put together tv cabinet from WalMart. Who needs to read the instructions? Why does that cabinet look weird? Could it be that you didn't read all the instructions and yes maybe those extra pieces have a purpose.Oh and don't forget that when you get a great deal on tv, internet and phone service, there's a catch to that great deal. It's called the charges you didn't read in the fine print. Oops, that $90 deal is suddenly a lot more. Why? Read.

We all look for bargains, especially these days. We clip coupons, we compare prices, we even buy in bulk to save money. Yeah that new flat screen tv was a great bargain, wasn't it? What about all the extra cables, etc you had to buy? Huh? Pay attention next time, you might save some money.

This message is not brought to you by the Ad Council of America.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Long Distance Calls

Sorry - I couldn't resist this. After all I am from Texas!

A man in Topeka, Kansas decided to write a book about churches around the country. He started by flying to San Francisco and worked east from there. Going to a very large church, he began taking photographs and notes. He spotted a golden telephone on the vestibule wall and was intrigued by a sign which read: "$10,000 a minute." Seeking out the Pastor he asked about the phone and the sign. The Pastor explained that the golden phone was, in fact, a direct line to Heaven and if he paid the price he could talk directly to God. The man thanked the Pastor and continued on his way. As he continued to visit churches in Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Greensboro, Tampa and all around the United States, he found more phones with the same sign and got the same answer from each Pastor.

Finally, he arrived in Texas. Upon entering a church in Dallas, behold, he saw the usual golden telephone. But THIS time, the sign read: "Calls: 35 cents." Fascinated, he asked to talk to the Pastor.

"Reverend, I have been in cities all across the country and in each church I have found this golden telephone. I have been told it is a direct line to Heaven and that I could talk to God, but, in the other churches the cost was $10,000 a minute. Your sign reads 35 cents. Why?"

The Pastor, smiling benignly, replied, "Son, you're in Texas now... It's a local call."

Friday, July 10, 2009

Three Socks?

I see a lot of things in this neighborhood. There are still new houses going up everyday. I think the houses near us are just about finished. But there is still a lot of junk around these sites. Daisy loves to inspect these areas. Who knows what we'll find ?

Then there are the three socks. Not two, not four but three socks which are lying on the neighbor's driveway. They have been there for several days now. Why has nobody picked them up? There are a truck and a car which inhabit the driveway. Yet no-one seems to want to do anything about these poor, abandoned socks. Alas, they remain in the middle of the driveway. They have had the sun beat down on the and the rain pelt them. That is when it has rained. The vehicles have run over them numerous times.

To whom do these socks belong? Good question. And why three? Is there a three legged monster living next door? Well, I wonder, I know there are two teenage boys who live there. How come these poor socks have not been put out of their misery? Is anyone going to even claim them? Would you? I'm thinking somewhere a mother is doing the laundry and wondering what happened to all the socks. I know where three of them are.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sorry Mr Gore...

The True Origin of the Internet

In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot.

And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she had been called 'Amazon Dot Com.'

And she said unto Abraham, her husband, "Why doth thou travel far from town to town with thy goods when thou can trade without ever leaving thy tent?"

And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, "How, dear?"And Dot replied, "I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale and they will reply telling you which hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS)."

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever moving from his tent.

But this success did arouse envy. A man named Maccabia did secrete himself inside Abraham's drum and was accused of insider trading. And the young man did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Siderites, or NERDS for short.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to the drum maker, one Brother William of Gates, who bought up every drum company in the land. And indeed did insist on making drums that would work only with Brother Gates' drumheads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say, "Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others."

And as Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel, or as it came to be known "eBay" he said, "We need a name that reflects what we are."

And Dot replied, "Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators."

"YAHOO," said Abraham.

And that is how it all began. It wasn't Al Gore after all.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 4th of July

This day always reminds me of my grandfather's birthday. When I was a kid we would always travel to New Jersey to visit him and some of my aunts, uncles and cousins. My grandfather was born on the 4th of July and my mother's birthday was the 5th. We always had a big party in Grandpa's basement.

It was years later that I learned that he ran away from Germany when he was a teen. He came in through Ellis Island. After lying about his age,he joined the Marines. It took years for them to discover that he was not the age he said he was. He spend 44 years in the Marines serving his adopted country. When he retired he held the rank of Captain. One of these days I hope to go back to Arlington so that I can see his headstone. He was buried there at Arlington National Cemetery. He had a full military detail, complete with a horse drawn caisson and honor guards. My cousins and I, while riding in the limo, were surprised when the other funeral details had to stop and salute.

This is the day we asserted our independence from England. Looking back at those times in history, I marvel at the efforts of those brave men who crafted this historic document which set this country on the path of freedom. To this day there are still those among us who are willing to give their lives to insure that we can always say "Let Freedom Ring". Happy 4th of July to us all.