Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cats on laps

I figured out why Koda likes to come and sit on my lap when I am on the computer.

Thats where the food is!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Super bowl pool

I modified last year's version (which was a modification of the previous year, which I think started as someone else's excel sheet)

You can change the dollar amounts, I just chose something that keeps it fun.
I'll have copies at my little gathering for people that are coming.

open office editable version

printable pdf version

png version below
Please tell me if there are any typos or anything. Or if its too low of a buy-in.

slow news day

had a test today
not sure how I did but I
feel the cold air now

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lockjaw pliers part II

So I got an email from the company, inlined below:

Good day, special friend mostawesomepersonevar -

Sometimes, the biggest mistakes can yield the biggest gifts. We somehow managed to fumble our own 2-for-Tuesday sale a couple of Tuesdays ago. But before our very eyes, that boneheaded blunder transformed itself into a gift. A gift of caring. A gift of sharing. A gift of free pliers.

That's right - that extra Lockjaw Self-Adjusting Locking Plier set is yours to keep... to hold... to cherish.

Or, if you're all taken care of in the holding-and-cherishing department, we ask that you share this gift. Let the sparkle of its chrome molybdenum steel bring light to the life of someone you love, or at least don't actively hate. Share with them the delightful story about how this totally awesome web site totally gave it to you totally for free.

And then they'll order from us, and we'll screw their order up, and they'll have extra stuff to give people, and so on until everybody's really happy and we're completely broke. We say "Plier it forward!"

Inspirationally yours -

... So now that I feel better about keeping the extra set, I can give them away in a contest.

I liked Spatchcock's idea about having a best out of three challenge.
So far I will have one coding challenge, one prediction style challenge, and ... I need a third. First person to comment is not a good challenge. Maybe a fitness challenge. Fastest run up freshman hill?

In the end, there are two pliers, maybe there will be two winners.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

wrong on Castro

He seems to be alive.

I'll wait for a few more posts to make sure that the style is right. If he isn't alive, it would take other countries leaders lying about it also. I do find it odd that no pictures came out of that event.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lockjaw pilers

I bought some lockjaw pliers off of woot.

They came in the mail today.

I promptly tested out the mechanism by using my finger in place of a bolt. As you can see, it clamps at a set pressure, but does not crush my finder too much (enough to hold its own weight at least).

(on the low pressure setting) (the cans in the background are for a heater system to be assembled)

Also, to increase readership, I am holding a contest. I got two sets of two (one large, one small) and don't need that sort of redundancy.

YOU dear reader, yes YOU! could be the winner* of TWO, not one but TWO lockjaw pliers!
Inquire within!

*interesting trades accepted, I can be bribed to increase your odds.

Scooter scare

Today I was driving, and my throttle got stuck. The light was red, so I started applying the brakes, but the throttle wasn't moving. Luckily, the scooter's brakes can take full engine power (I think), and I kept it under control. I was near an entrance to a business, so I pulled into their parking lot. Then I realized that I should have just hit the engine cut-off switch.

After moving the throttle a few times and restarting the scooter, everything seemed to work fine.

So, remember kids, when your throttle sticks, just turn off the engine, don't try and hold it with your brakes.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Things must be getting bad in Venezuela

Analysts: Tapping reserves risky for Venezuela

Chavez has to take control of $12 billion in international reserves.

In doing so, he will have money for a while, but the odds of Venezuela getting more money in the future go waaaay down. The credit markets are supposed to be tight anyway, any movement to make someone trust you less is a bad idea.

Venezuela will end up with even higher inflation. 30.9% is EXTREMELY high if you ask me. (30.9% in 2008).

Chavez thinks that more cash for social spending will get him the votes to get to be president for life (ie: Dictator), but in the end, if the economy sucks and inflation is very very high, people will turn against him.

Friday, January 16, 2009

You heard it here first, Castro is sick/dead

I have been worried about Castro's health since Christmas.

Exhibit A: from my program "Track Fidel"
The last time he took over four weeks to post he was really sick. That was in Nov/Dec 2007, which was when he was on his deathbed sick.

Let's see if Zombie Castro can come back for another round.

Venezuela comes a begging

Nationalizing commodity companies is normally a very bad thing. It has finally caught up with Venezuela, and now they want the people that they treated bad to come back so that they can steal from them again.

They want help from the "imperialist profiteers" (news article).

Chavez needs to learn that you can not steal a company from someone, run it into the ground, and then expect them to want to come back to fix the company, at which point, you can steal it again.

I am torn. High gas prices are good for the long term (we develop new techs and etc), but low gass prices are good in the short term, as Russia, Venezuela, and Iran all will have budget problems.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Universality of Government

Two days ago, I found a "proof" for the need of government in an interesting place.

A friend is doing a project about security in the internet and how to accomplish it. (down in the weeds type stuff, DNS, packet switching-ness).

In his experiments, he found that some sort of central authority was essential to any security plan.
He came up with a dilemma. How much central authority is required for the minimum required authority? Do we even need any central authority?

I was struck with how those questions basically get down to questions about government. Replace "central authority" with "government" and the question still remains. It is a question that caused the Cold War. It is supposedly the main difference between the two parties in the United States.

Because security depends on trust, we tend to create an entity that is above questioning about trust. We all trust the government to check if the person is a citizen of a given state when we check a driver's license. We also trust that the driver's license points to a unique person. Chains of trust are built that allow us to have some sort of security, but it all goes down to just believing what the government (central authority) says.

Democracy's idea was to put that authority into everyone around you instead of one or a few other people.

This is why he had trouble with solely distributed authority. At some point, you need an entity that is agreed to be trusted by all.

It is even more interesting when you consider that the internet is sort of like the community of nations in the world. There is no central authority (although we tried to create one called the UN). Nations have created trust networks between them with rules that govern their behavior. I am not arguing for a world government, but each entity must trust neighbors for any scheme to work. In the nations scenario, we tend to assume that there will be few ill-intentioned actors, and that if an ill-intentioned actor arises, they can be dealt with by the rest of the nations. There is a minimal central authority, mostly comprising of laws and treaties between nations.

It seems to be possible to have a minimum amount of central authority, although one could argue that the community of nations is not extremely efficient. The answer for the internet may be to have a trust network similar to the Ebay model. Each entity over some amount of transactions tells a trusted central authority about the transaction. Over time, bad actors will just disappear. The thing is, you still needed that central authority that was above question (Ebay) that you trust has not been hacked or overtaken or etc.

So we are back at needing something that we call "government".
in conclusion, the anarchists in Greece are extremely dumb; some amount of central authority seems to be required.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Buying Bonds

I was thinking about the horrible budget in the city and thought "self, what can do you to help that would also help you out?"

I came up with a municipal bond. I go to my broker and attempt to find something worthwhile.
Many of the bonds pay ~5-6%, so it wouldn't be so bad right now to invest in some bonds.

Turns out, you can not get your feet wet in bonds. The minimum bond that I could find/buy could only be bought in 10 lots of $1,000 each ($10,000). I don't feel comfortable spending that sort of cash on something that I really don't know anything about. Also, knowing my municipality, who knows, they could go belly-up.

I think that they could get much more interest in those types of bonds if they let you buy them in $1,000 increments, or even better yet, $100. I started buying t-bills when they made the smallest size be in $100 increments. The small size let me try out the system and see how it works without being worried that I would screw something up and lose a bunch of cash.

There has to be a market for something that pays 5% right now on increments of like $100 or $1000. It would be a good way to start people off on the different vehicles, and then when they make more income, they can move up in price.

I'm staying away from bonds for a while and would have invested if it was available in my price bracket.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still

In the old movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) the Klaatu is shot just about as soon as he gets out of his spaceship by a nervous soldier.

What, might someone ask, do you use to shoot an alien?

Why, the M1911A1 of course.

Accept nothing less!

The movie was pretty good, go and watch the old one. I haven't seen the new one.

On a side note, we stopped in Kentucky on the way up north for food, and I saw a store with a sign saying "Deer Processing and Scrapbooking".