Friday, October 8, 2010

You don't expect that: Snakes is a Pool

A tourist is in intensive care after being bitten by a poisonous snake near a resort's swimming pool.

A Dr. P. Phillips Hospital spokeswoman said 45-year-old Eric Geisman of Pawtucket, R.I., was stable Tuesday.

Orange County Fire Rescue spokesman John Mulhall said a crew went to a 911 call Monday about a man bitten by a snake near a swimming pool at the J.W. Marriott Grande Lakes resort in Orlando.

The fire rescue crew found and killed the water moccasin after transporting Geisman to the hospital.

You just don't expect to be bitten by a snake when you are at a resort. Sadly most Americans couldn't identify a water moccasin if they were bitten by one...wait...never mind.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Irony Postal Service Style

Voting by mail is becoming more popular in more places.

The growing popularity of ballot-by-mail is one of the arguments against the proposal to drop one day of mail delivery to save the U.S. Postal Service money.

Members of the American Postal Workers Union, for obvious reason, elect their national officers via mail ballot. Most postal clerks, who sort the mail, belong to the union. Their union brothers with the National Association of Letter Carriers deliver the mail. And their track record, considering the massive daily mail volume, is very good.

Normally the APWU election committee would be counting ballots this week, at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel downtown. But there has been a problem. So far only 39,071 ballots have been received which is only a small percentage of the union's membership and a much lower total than in past elections.

So what happened to all those mail ballots?

You got it!

They seem to be lost in the mail.

Wow. Is it any wonder that they need to raise the postal rates AGAIN. If you had a job with the sweet benefits the postal service employees get you'd know why they are losing money every quarter.

I worked as a contractor for the Postal Service on a project. The project was to convert mail sorting equipment over to PC from the mainframe terminals they were using. There was a 300 page document to describe the process of replacing the equipment. I'm not exaggerating it was in a 3 inch binder. So I went to the postal training facility to see one of the units. After wandering around in their building for 35 minutes looking for someone, I finally found someone who could help me. He told me he didn't have a "working" one but this one was what they looked like.

I went to the sorting facility and talked to an employee who called their supervisor, who called their supervisor, who called the manager. He told me where to start and I started. As I would open the sorters he told me to "look for loose mail". I found mail in every unit. The oldest letter was 6 months old. His comment on that was, "that's not too bad."

I though all the talk about the bureaucracy was exaggerated, blown out of proportion. When I finished the project, I couldn't imagine how they managed to even deliver a single letter. 

And why did they have to hire a consultant to install the PCs? Their staff had never received any training on a PC. Despite the fact they had a 300 page document to tell them how to do the swap, they couldn't do it, or more accurately their bureaucracy wouldn't let them.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's a trap!

WASHINGTON -- Secret talks aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan have begun between representatives of the Taliban and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, The Washington Post reported on its website Tuesday night.

"They are very, very serious about finding a way out," one source close to the talks said of the Taliban, according to the Post.

Karzai long has said he will talk to insurgents if they renounce violence, sever ties to terrorists and embrace the Afghan constitution.

They want to have peace with the government so Karzai will tell us to leave. Once we are gone I don't give Afghanistan a full year before they are back in the same mess they were before.

I say we stay and we attack them until they can't lay two sticks together with out being there to crush their efforts. I want them harried and tired, dead and buried. They will never renounce violence. They want all the western infidels dead and that won't change with an agreement to "join the government".

I can just see the American political mechanism and all the "see we ended the war in Afghanistan" talk. Chest thumping "victorious" claims. And then 2 years later we wonder what happened over there? I thought they were sincere.

I'm going to deploy the tried and true internet meme of Admiral Ackbar.

Don't fall for it!

Rural Tennessee fire sparks conservative ideological debate

Just about anything can be fodder for an ideological dispute these days. Just consider news of the recent fire at Gene Cranick's home in Obion County, Tenn.
Here's the short version of what happened: In rural Obion County, homeowners must pay $75 annually for fire protection services from the nearby city of South Fulton. If they don't pay the fee and their home catches fire, tough luck -- even if firefighters are positioned just outside the home with hoses at the ready.

The incident has sparked a debate in many corners of the Web. Writers for the National Review, arguably the nation's most influential right-leaning voice, have seized on the episode to discuss the relative merits of compassionate conservatism versus a hard-line libertarianism.

But Foster's colleague Kevin Williamson took the opposite view. Cranick's fellow residents in the rural stretches of Obion County had no fire protection until the county established the $75 fee in 1990. As Williamson explained: "The South Fulton fire department is being treated as though it has done something wrong, rather than having gone out of its way to make services available to people who did not have them before. The world is full of jerks, freeloaders, and ingrates — and the problems they create for themselves are their own. These free-riders have no more right to South Fulton's firefighting services than people in Muleshoe, Texas, have to those of NYPD detectives."

EXACTLY! Kevin Williamson nailed it. If the people of unincorporated portions Obion County don't pay taxes that support a FIRE DEPARTMENT, how can they expect to be made to put out fires? Fire departments and their crews are not cheap NOR are they FREE. In my home town, I pay property taxes for a police force and a fire brigade and other services provided. 

When I was growing up my home town didn't have a fire department. It had a VOLUNTEER Fire Department. It was just that, volunteers with old military trucks with 500 gallon tanks in the bed. And they would come out and watch your house burn to the ground while they figured out how to use the PTO on the 1954 M35 converted fire truck attempt to put out your house fire. 

They are well meaning folks and many rural areas of Oklahoma rely on these brave men who risk their lives for NOTHING. Maybe these residents in Tennessee should start their own rural fire department, volunteer to respond 24 hours a day 365 days a year, and learn in their spare time how to put out structure fires using 30 year old worn out fire trucks. No, they should pay the pittance of 75$ a year for fire service. If enough of their residents pay, perhaps in a few year they may even put a fire station out there for quicker response.

As for those who would say resident X wanted to pay the 75$ at the time of the fire and the department should have taken the money and put out the fire, I say this, "Really? Do you think it only costs 75$ to put out a house fire?"  

You have an option at the time you purchase your home. Buy fire service or don't. If you choose not to purchase you should decide to insure your home HEAVILY. It will burn down, to the ground, and it might threaten your neighbor's property and you may be responsible for that as well.

The short of it is. If the fire department puts this guy's fire out for 75$, EVERYONE will wait until their home is on fire to pay the 75$. That doesn't help the fire department budget or plan for services in these areas. If that is what the people in this UNSERVED area want, give them the actual response cost and expect payment before services are rendered.

911 what is your emergency?
My house is on fire!
What is your address sir?
123 Bumfug Egypt Road.

A fire department service call for that location will be 23,542 dollars. How did you plan to pay for the services?
I'm ready to take your credit card number now sir....

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

And the Nobel Prize goes to...two for physics

President Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for using Scotch tape Two Russian-born scientists shared the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for "groundbreaking experiments" with the thinnest, strongest material known to mankind — a carbon vital for the creation of faster computers and transparent touch screens.

University of Manchester professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov used Scotch tape to isolate graphene, a form of carbon only one atom thick but more than 100 times stronger than steel, and showed it has exceptional properties, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

The Ig Nobel Prize (ignoble get it, wink wink) was also awarded Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Nobel laureates Roy Glauber (Physics, 2005), left, Sheldon Glashow (Physics, 1979), center, and James Muller (Peace, 1985) wear women's bras on their faces as they demonstrate how to they can be used as emergency gas masks during a performance at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. The Ig Nobel prize is an award handed out by the Annals of Improbable Research magazine for silly sounding scientific discoveries that often have surprisingly practical applications.

You know that is probably the only time these guys have ever come in contact with a red bra....ever.

Seeing those guys with bras on their faces reminds me of the 1987 movie Raising Arizona (2:55 in the clip)
"Son, you got a panty on your head."

"Hurry up, I'm in dutch with the wife"....classic.

YES! Finally.

I have recently re-read True Grit. It's a great book and this film is more closely based on the book than the original. The original has always been is in my top 5 favorite movies. I'm sure this one will be up there as well.

A review of the trailer can be found at The Boston Globe.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Boomer Sooner

It wasn't pretty but it was a win. At times we looked really good. Then at others we definitely showed we have some holes in the armor.

The Longhorns travel to Nebraska next week. Just in case you were wondering...1999 was the last time the Texas Longhorns lost three in a row.

Nobel Prize for Medicine

The Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine has been awarded this year to President Barrack Obama for "extraordinary efforts to strengthen himself through the use of cold medicine" Robert G. Edwards, an English biologist who, with a physician colleague, Patrick Steptoe, developed the in vitro fertilization procedure for treating human infertility.

Hundreds of thousands of people are now able to get jiggy with test tubes to produce their children. Well done sir.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Navy Bombs Guam With Mice

In a ploy to rid Guam of its population of invasive brown tree snakes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is bombing the island with drugged mice, military news outlet Stars and Stripes reported.

Guam’s snake problem began in the 1980s, when the creatures arrived on the island accidentally in military cargo. The mildly venomous snakes can grow up to 10 feet long and, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources for the State of Hawaii, are the leading cause of endangerment for some of Guam’s native animals.

“The discovery that snakes will die when they eat acetaminophen was a huge step forward,” Anne Brooke, conservation resources program manager for Naval Facilities Command Marianas told Stars and Stripes. “The problem was how you get the snakes to eat it.”

Guam has always been a dumping ground. It seems like the more we try to fix it, the more we screw it up. The reason the snakes are there in the first place was to control a rat problem on the island. I hope this works. Guam has been losing its indigenous bird population at an alarming rate.