Sunday, March 30, 2008

Perspective Illusion

This is one of the better illusions I've seen in a while.

Friday, March 28, 2008

just earthlings

This is an interesting line of thought about why aliens might not find us all that interesting after all - despite all the Hollywood movies about space invasions.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Messages from soldiers in Iraq

This is one of the better articles I've read in a long time. It's a collection of posts, emails, and blogs posted by U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq. Its a long article, but take the time. You need to read these.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Dog

I work on the 8th floor of an office building, so I can look down onto a neighboring street that has some homes on it. While I was at work today making copies, I was staring out the window waiting on the machine. Down below a man had stepped out of his back door and a his dog - looked like a big Labrador retriever - was following him out to a little "out building".

The dog's tail was swatting back-and-forth, like the funnest thing in the world was walking to this little building. The man got to the building, unlocked the door, and went in. The dog stood back with his tail wagging and proceeded to circle the building, sniffing around the edges, making a full circle, and then coming back to look in the door that was left open. The dog stood there tail still wagging and finally walked in.

I was swapping out different pages that I was needing copies of, but the next time I looked up they were back out of the building. The man was walking through the yard picking up something. The dog was running around in the vicinity, sniffing here and there, finding things to pee on, running back to check in with the owner, and running off to somewhere else.

More copies. I look up again. The man is now digging around in a small little garden plot. This must've been huge fun to the dog who is there watching intently - tail still going crazy.

It struck me while I was making copies, not really wanting to be there - it struck me that this dog was having the time of his life just being a dog - just doing what dogs do. I'd never been envious of a dog, but I was today. And I wandered what I'd be doing if I just did whatever it is that people are supposed to do.

Later in the day as I was working my mind would wander and I'd check back to see what fun the dog was having, but I didn't see him anymore after that. Wherever he was I bet his tail was wagging.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

At Bear Stearns - a life's work gone

This article details the aftermath of the Bear Stearns collapse.

“My life has been flushed down the drain,” said one person.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Marcus Aurelius for the day - 2.7

More from Marcus Aurelius's "Meditations", Gregory Hayes' translation:

2.7 Do external things distract you? Then make time for yourself to learn something worthwhile; stop letting yourself be pulled in all directions. But make sure you guard against the other kind of confusion. People who labor all their lives but have no purpose to direct every thought and impulse toward are wasting their time – even when hard at work.

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emporer from 161-180 A.D. Read more from Wikipedia. His "Meditations" resemble extremely insightful pep talks to himself for focusing his energy in running the empire as well as he can.


I'm reading a book right now about the Dalai Lama. He spoke recently on the violence against his people by the Chinese, and the long/slow choking out of Tibetan culture that is underway.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Endeavor Night Launch

Wow! Look at the image of the night launch of Endeavor from last week.

The money pit of the insurgency

This is a good read. See the attached article from the NYTimes that details how up to 1/3 or Iraq's oil money is being diverted due corruption - some of it to fuel the insurgency.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

More Google Maps

I've sortof gotten hooked on google maps over the past couple of days and have taken interest in looking at other parts of the world. As I was zooming in on an area of Dubai I saw this formation. After zooming in further I found that it's actually a series of buildings that all seem to be oddly built along the same horizontal plane.

I also saw this large square pattern as I was moving around nearby. As I expolore the area there seem to be a lot of structures built in a similar pattern.

I'm not sure what this is. It seems to be a large "track" cut into the land, but doesn't appear to be paved, and doesn't appear to lead anywhere. There seem to be hardly any structures around it at all. (edit: I take that back, there may be a road surface on closer inspection. I think you can see a car in the upper right curve of the middle loop of the path. If you find the car you'll see a tower just to the southeast - also in the middle of nowhere).

Over along the eastern coast is one of the more beautifully designed parking lots I've ever seen. The picture was taken on a day when there weren't many cars there, and it adds to the effect.

Any idea what's going on here? Possibly building up coastal land?

Whoa, then farther south along the coast I come upon this feature. Definitely man-made. Another one is here just a bit further south.

Maybe the best commercial I've ever seen

I saw this commercial on TV this morning and looked it up on YouTube. It may be the best commercial I've ever seen. It's Louis Vuitton advetisement - but I'm not sure what it has to do with fashion.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cruising Google Maps

I was cruising Google Maps and just started to jump to locations.

Fun with maps. Where am I?

Location 1

Location 2

Location 3

Location 4

Location 5

Location 6 Hint I've never seen more railroad tracks in my life than here.

And isn't this odd
? It's near Fort Pickens in FL

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


The library called today letting us know that (use your best female voice): "A patron at this number has an item that is ready to be picked up. Please come to the library to pick up the item."

Wahoo. Another couple books to read. I've been running low on good reading material. The first one is called "The Black Swan: The impact of the highly improbable" and the second is "The Next Great Thing: The Sun, the Stirling Engine and the drive to change the world."

My writer-wife thinks these sound like snooze-fests and makes a snoring sound as she reads the titles off the library website. I can't imagine what she's thinking, but I've been looking forward to these.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Sometimes I feel like the engineer here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Solar Thermal Power Plants

I found this article in the NYTimes about solar thermal power interesting. With high energy costs they're starting to build some of these plants in the deserts in the west. The plants focus the sun's energy onto a liquid, heating it, and using the steam to drive turbines. The article indicates there's a lot of energy to be had here (comparable to nuclear plants), the build times are short, and demand is high.

Anyhow, it's worth a read if you're interested.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

If at first you don't succeed...

This is too funny. (edit: I think some photo-shopping here)

This is good too.

And here's something you'll probably never see.

And installing the new covered bridge.

...and one more. Don't flinch.

Market Psychology

I've been taking a beating in quite a few of my stock positions during this prolonged market draw-down. In the past few days I found myself considering selling a position not because I thought it was a bad investment, but because I thought it might just keep on going down for no good reason. In the past I've found these type of thoughts on my part tend to mark the gut check moments that indicate bottoms might be near.

I've been distracted from the market for quite a while with my work, so perhaps I haven't been paying as much attention to happenings as I should, but I'm beginning to wonder if the people getting out now are thinking like me and might be selling just because "it's going down." It's dangerous to try to out-think the market, but I do think psychology matters quite a bit, and I'm wondering if there may be quite a few others who are starting to throw their hands up wondering why the selling persists in some companies that seem to be good values to me.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Marcus Aurelius for the day - 12.4

More from Marcus Aurelius's "Meditations", Gregory Hayes' translation:

12.4 It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emporer from 161-180 A.D. Read more from Wikipedia.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Lake Nyos CO2 eruption

I had never heard of the Lake Nyos disaster that occurred in 1986. Scientists aren't sure of the cause (this was an unknown phenomenon), but apparently a magma pocket beneath the lake had been leaching carbon dioxide into the deep water of the lake over a long time. At the lake depths the co2 disolves into the water and builds up under high pressure. Apparently something disturbed the water, perhaps a landslide or something churning the water, causing the c02 to de-pressurize, and explode violently. After the eruption the huge cloud of C02 gas released surged into the surrounding valleys, killing over 1700 people and thousands of livestock. The story really has the felling of a biblical disaster.

A reporter who visited the site after the disaster describes what he learned and saw. From his telling:

Survivors of the disaster recounted that at about 9pm on Thursday August 21, 1986, there was a powerful explosion in the lake after villagers had complained it had been boiling for five days. About three minutes after explosion, a violent wind started blowing from the lake to the south, invading the village of Fang, Chah, lower Nyos and Subum. The gas they said, was too hot and suffocated all living things. All those affected had burns on their bodies.

Here are some survivor stories from the Smithsonian Magazine.
scattered about lay the bodies of Suley’s children, 31 other members of her family and their 400 cattle. Suley kept trying to shake her lifeless father awake. “On that day there were no flies on the dead,” says Che. The flies were dead too.

Here's the Wikipedia article.