Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hey, MAV?

The whole concept of micro air vehicles (MAVs)  tends to creep me out, mostly because I see them as having a lot of potential for abuse from both the police if you aren't doing anything wrong you have no reason to hide and the criminal element, which tends to have the same opinion, though more monetarily oriented.

But the science behind them fascinates me, which is why I found this article from IEEE Spectrum about research at Cornell to be fascinating.  Basically, they're testing the use of a neural net to allow a MAV, equipped with a single camera (we don't need no binocular vision!),  to 'read' an environment rapidly and find a safe path through obstacles.   Another step towards truly autonomous vehicles. Scary, but fascinating.

Book 'em

I bought a large book of pictures of small towns in my home state  for use as a gift to the first family I'm visiting.  The book cost $35; with their discount card, it cost $32.  I liked it enough that I asked if they had a second copy, so I could give it to another family, but they said no.  So I came home and looked on Amazon.


Free shipping because I have the Amazon Prime membership, which costs the same as the bookstore discount card.

And that's why brick and mortar bookstores are in trouble.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Just a note....

I've been taking significantly more insulin, the last six months, than I had in prior years, and still having trouble.  The endocrinologist I consulted it boosted it again, said that she'd keep an eye on it and was available for questions.  I liked that a lot -- and, by and large, I am not a person who likes doctors.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013


You know how sometimes you wonder if something might be true, and you hope it isn't, to the point where you've about convinced yourself that it isn't, and then you find out that, in fact, it is?  Got some of that type of news today.  It's nothing bad....but it's unsettling. And it's going to take me a little while to get used to it.

For one thing, people who know me pretty well weren't sure how I'd react to it.  And that's almost as unsettling as the news itself. In fact, as I think about ...more so.  I thought that they knew me better than that. It almost feels as if they didn't trust me.  I know that's not true, but it's how it feels.

I want to believe that its unsettling because someone I care for could get hurt.  That's true, but it isn't all of it. The rest is that it changes my life, even though I'm just an observer to the main event.  I don't like that change.  There's an old joke about babies being the only ones who like change.  The older I get, the more I think that's true.  Good changes, happy changes do occur....but not very often.

This one isn't bad, but change is scary.  I wish it wasn't happening.

I'm about 60% over it. 


From this article in the LA Times:

"Obama said he would listen to us.  We didn't know he meant literally."


Well, rats.  One of the people who looks at this blong has their own location - but on Google Plus, which I don't use.  And Feedly seems unable to grok what G+ is all about.

Friday, June 21, 2013


I've been thinking about this whole NSA thing.  Not thinking deeply -- I'm not sure I've ever done that, about anything -- but frequently.

I think that that Ben Franklin quote about those who give up a little liberty ... is pious and mistaken.  I'm willing to bet he wouldn't have said it as it's quoted, but even if he did, I think it doesn't matter.  I think we need defense against intangible enemies, and if giving up a little liberty gives that defense, I'm for it.  On the other hand, when I see the NSA say that they stopped fifty terrorist plots, I think Really? Terrorist the way that we think of them, all organized and funded, or two guys grousing over a beer in Pakistan because they hate having the Americans there and wish they could do something about it?  I don't doubt that they've stopped some number -- and of course, how many would it take for me to say well, okay, you've made your point.  They stopped one terrorist from blowing up one car in a Walmart parking lot in Minnesota?  Ten airplanes from flying into ten more buildings?

The idea of spying on foreigners doesn't bother me until I think about the idea that a) some of those foreigners are my friends, and b) their spy agencies regard ME as a foreigner, so guess what.  I think that the spying is necessary.  It's trusting that they are being held to high ethical standards that flummoxes me.  Obama says yes, of course they are, but I doubt he actually can be sure that they aren't lying to him. We've seen enough examples of major corporations suffering grievous losses because a trader or clerk did something stupid or malicious or both.  How does he say with confidence that some cryptographer isn't accumulating his own stash of interesting or salacious information, just as the TSA found some of their people were doing (after swearing that no, of course not, it's not even technically possible). 

I dislike not believing my government, and Obama, but I don't.  I think they are right about the threat.  I think they are right about this being an effective method of addressing the threat.  I don't believe that it's the only way, or the best way, or the most ethical way.

But perhaps I've just seen too much West Wing.

...for my horses

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Received the phone for use in France, yesterday.  It seems to work here, too.  I'm trying not to wonder exactly why, as in oh holy hell is it running up charges as if it is calling from France?  Because it does have a French phone number (ie, the prefix is ooh-la-la, though inside France you drop the la-la and just say ooh).  But here's the thing: I hate it.

Oh, I like that it does lots of things.  But I spent half a goddam hour trying to type my name into something.  Its 'smart typing' should be relabled incredibly sensitive and enragingly idiosyncractic random character selector.  And the size of the freaking keys makes me feel like my fingers belong to Andre The Giant.

Why didn't the size of the damn phone even occur to me?

Get Me Some Makeup....

Cancer Promo

What if cancer -- well, some kinds, anyway - gave you great abs?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Much of what is called modern art, conceptual art, performance art, hell-if-I-know art leaves me cold.  It reminds me of the dining-room-table scene in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  Such is the case with this stuff.  But the last photo grabbed me.  And made me dizzy. .

Friday, June 14, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013


It seriously never even occurred to me that they spy on Americans, and tell the NSA the result, while the NSA spies on their people, and tells them.  Result:  spying happens, but nobody spies on their own people. Except, you know, accidentally. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Saturday, June 08, 2013


Just learned that my daughter plans to give a check to her former fourth grade teacher, to use in buying more books for her classroom. 

I am amazed and delighted.


I found this on one of the blogs that I read.

"My second grade teacher liked to ask us,
“How do you feel today, on a scale of one to ten?”
Ten always meant I’m super, thank you
and one was always not today, Mrs. MacAuley, not today.
But I never liked numbers, they would always
twist and rebel against my mind so I chose
to speak in colors instead.

January third - I am the color
of mint chocolate chip ice cream
but I’ve eaten all the chocolate chips.
I am calm.

February seventh - I am a bruise of
blues and violets today. I think it would
be best if I sat by the window.
These are unhappy colors.

April eleventh - I am turquoise, I am magenta,
I am every color in the rainbow.

April thirtieth - I am gray, I am silent.

May first - I am orange, the color of melting
creamsicles on a beach in July.

June twelfth - I am as yellow as the school bus
that will bring me home to summer. I am free.

Twelve years later, I still use colors.
The winter makes me feel cobalt blue, the ocean
turns me a seafoam green. Violets and purples
leave me uneasy and scarlet is a fever of fury.
Some nights I drown in shades of navy, denim,
and cornflower but other nights I meditate in forests of
harlequin and shamrock. 

But you,
you leave me a blinding white followed by a soft yellow:
the color of sunlight after a period of darkness."

No Problem

The 35-year-old man and his young son were visiting from Phoenix and were at a friend's house.

Police say the boy somehow found a gun in the home's living room and accidentally fired it and a bullet hit his father, who was rushed to a hospital where he died.  

Just a kid accidentally killing his father.  What's the big deal?

Thursday, June 06, 2013


My wife thinks that in the next election, you may see Democrats running against "Obama's NSA scandal.  I think she could be right.

Being Watched

Once again, the NSA, keeping us safe....  

Of course, we're not allowed to know where they are, who they call, from which telephone number, how often, any of that.  But they're allowed to know that about us.  Without telling us.  And to keep the information for a very long time (Oh, didn't we erase those records? Darn.) 

My sister-in-law tells me that if I knew the things she knows about possible terror threats (she's an executive at FEMA), I would be aghast.  Probably true.  She believes this means I should trust the government without reservation, at which point I stop talking with her, because I like her, and wouldn't want to use the words that come to mind.  All I know is, if we knew how often grubby people (but with pure hearts, they swear) are peeking through the keyhole, we'd be horrified and enraged. So, of course, they keep it secret.  For our own good, they swear. 

 It comes down to whether we can trust people who aren't clearly accountable and punishable.  When it comes to things like this, I'm guessing not.

Do we need this kind of snooping?  I think so.  I do believe what my sister in law says. I am sure that if I knew of the actual threats, I'd be horrified.  Even given that paranoid people see threats where none nationally exist, I'd be horrified.   But that belief does not mean that I am willing to give free, unfettered access to my life over to people who feel that they alone can judge what they should have access to know.  They need responsible oversight.  I would be perfectly willing to trust senior politicians to look over this information, these procedures and determine if it's warranted - except that lately, the senior politicians seem much more interested in protecting themselves than in protecting me.  They'll give me up in a heartbeat, for, you know, the good of the country.

There's a quote people like to use, to the effect that those who are willing to give up some liberty in order to gain some security deserve neither.  I don't agree with that.  I think that some snooping, some watching, is necessary.  But without clear accountability?  No.  Even the law is not above the law.  Or, at least, it shouldn't be.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


My daughter just went over to the elementary school which she'd attended, and while she was there she visited with two of her former teachers.  She came back excited and enthused about the idea that one of them, every year, buys a set of the Harry Potter series - and every year pieces or all go missing.  She said is there a way that I can give money to her so that I can pay for the next time she does it?  And is this kind of thing something I could do every year?

Boy, you think you can't get more proud of her, and then......


I got a surprise today.

I came across a post on a website saying that the US Capitol Police wouldn't let an organization get a permit for a demonstration until they showed the police their organization's website.

I thought well, that's uncalled for.  What the hell?  And then I noticed that the organization was a branch of the Tea Party, for whom I have no use at all.  Still, fair's fair, so I put a comment there which said something like I am not a supporter of the Tea Party, but this is unconscionable and intolerable.  I figured I would get a response, and I wouldn't like it. Figured it would say Well the hell with you if you don't support us, you bastard.

I did get a response.

It said something like I am a supporter of the Tea Party, and I thank you for being willing to step outside the lines to express your support on this issue.

I was astonished. Civility? 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013


I normally don't have problems when doing our grocery shopping. But when my daughter asks me to pick up "some detangling shampoo..."

That doesn't appear to be a word that they like to put on the ten thousand bottles in the women's hair care area.

Seeing Red

Once again we see what happens when weak frightened men armed with pepper spray encounter unarmed civilians.... this time in Turkey.