14 August 2009

My New 4-H

I was driving home from work today and decided to diverge from my normal route and see where a different road, would take me. "Different road" is not what I expected, nor what I thought was happening based on my Google Maps recon before I left work. Short story, Google Maps does not appear to deal well with certain types of roads in rural areas, especially when they are 50' sections of dirt road. Oh well.

Anyway, as I was enjoying my unexpected diversion, I noticed a sign for the 247th Hardwick Community Fair next weekend. We go each year to support the community, dig on the tractors and livestock competitions and the boys like the hay bale maze and frog hopping contest. I'm personally drawn to the blacksmith doing his thing and the timber frame folks, carving and cutting post and beams. Me and Mother Earth News - a man and his farm porn.

Before I ramble any further, the whole point of this is, not my affiliation nor participation but possible association and maybe only fascination, with 4-H and an idea I contrived a few months ago for my family. 4-H, if you don't know about it, was originally a grassroots effort to bring a hands-on approach to public education and rural life. Enough with the book smarts - you need to learn to milk a cow. At the same time, it seems that you couldn't teach an old farmer new tricks in the past but if you got to them at an early enough age, they'll be open to new ideas, technology, etc. I've always liked the 4-H concept but didn't grow-up in an ag community and never participated. Until now!

The traditional 4-H is based upon four simple, idealistic principles, as stated in the pledge:

"I Pledge my Head to clearer thinking,
my Heart to greater loyalty,
my Hands to larger service,
and my Health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world."

Earlier in the day I stumbled upon Maira Kalman's fun NY Times blog postings. The Benjamin Franklin bit two weeks ago was great as it synced with my backwoods, 4-H thinking. Franklin had a daily routines he followed as well as charts and goals in order to perform some amount of daily good through personal goals.

So, finally bringing this long-winded and convoluted post around to completion, the idea I had previously and now plan to formally adopt and document is my own, personal 4-H pledge.

Every day I will do and document at least one thing from each of my four H's:

  1. For my head, in the form of improving intelligence, pursuing insight, sharing knowledge or reducing stress
  2. For my health, so I may live as long as possible with and for the ones I love
  3. For my home, inside or out, my home is more than a house although both need to be maintained
  4. For my heart, loving and appreciating my family and ensuring I am actively participating as a family member instead of just running through the motions

There it is. I'm going to start tracking on paper as I don't have a good, clear Ben Franklin-ish way of charting these goals yet. Yet.

More to follow as I progress. Maybe a new blog as no one actually read this one ;)

01 April 2009

Gmail Autopilot

Yeah, they had me for a bit. Haven't seen the traditional 1 April RFC yet though.

24 March 2009

Beer And Self-Doubt

"There was a big city businessman who once went on holiday to a faraway beach. One day he walked past a local fisherman who was lazing around, with his fishing rod in the water, enjoying the sun and a beer.

The city man’s mind went to work immediately. The fishing spot was a gold mine, and a serious fishing business would thrive in the area. 'Why are you so stupid?' he asked the fisherman. 'Get some boats, hire some extra hands, and in a few years you will turn your little shop into a million-dollar business!'

The local man asked him. 'And what would you do once you have a million dollars?'

The city man stared back blankly. 'Why, I would have so much free time I could sit around in the sun all day and drink beer!'”

21 March 2009

There It Is...Plain English

C'mon...gimme fiddy cent....

"But banks holding those mortgages, not wanting to book huge losses on their holdings, have often refused to sell for less than 60 cents on the dollar.

The result has been a paralyzing impasse. Banks, unwilling to sell their loans at fire-sale prices, have had less capital available to make new loans. Mortgage investors, unable to leverage their investments with borrowed money, have been unwilling to pay more than fire-sale prices.

To break that impasse, the government’s crucial subsidy is meant to provide investors with the kind of low-cost financing that has been utterly unavailable in today’s credit markets."

No User Serviceable Parts Inside

This post is great. The circumstances are slightly different but it completely summarizes my youth getting thrown across the room by an ungrounded grocery store conveyor belt system I was using/playing with, my undergrad experiences wiring and rewiring (and failing at) liquid air generators and a low-MeV particle accelerator (yeah, the author - he knows it, you can smell the ozone created by a wicked electron discharge) and finally the disdain one faces when you either can't or don't care enough to fix a relative's obnoxious printer/CD-ROM drive/wireless keyboard/USB drive/etc.

13 March 2009

Patent Idea

Great quote on Groklaw:

"Could someone please patent what Wall Street just did to the economy, and then refuse to license the "invention", so as to prevent those dudes from ever doing it again? Or just patent flaming greed, will you, somebody? Do the rest of us a favor and get it off the table or at least constrained."

11 January 2009


...unless you're H2O and then the otherwise loose molecules bind more strongly into a hexagonal lattice and temperature drops actually cause expansion:

30 November 2008

Bootstraping Problem

Heh...my darling spouse just noticed this advertised in a magazine to assist with holiday unwrapping chores: the Zibra Open It!

I'd say it presents a bit of a bootstrapping problem, depending on how it is packaged or how it is presented to you.

14 November 2008

So Many Failed Banks, So Little Time

While US-based banks continue to fail at a staggering rate (compared to the decade prior to 2007), I've been updating the box scores but have slipped a bit. If you care of such things, you can review all of my back-fill postings here.

Charter Communications Stupidity

Sigh...I just tried an online chat session with a Charter rep in order to find a better service deal. Unfortunately, Charter has a long history with taking both the "customer" and "service" out of "customer service" with my family. Tonight was no exception:

Thank you for choosing Charter Chat Live! A Customer Care representative
from Cable TV Order Inquiries will be with you shortly.

You have been connected to CVH Robert S .
Christopher Arnold: Hello?
CVH Robert S : My name is Robert. Thank you for contacting Charter Communications On-line Sales. How may I assist you?
Christopher Arnold: Hello. How are you?
CVH Robert S : ok
CVH Robert S : How may I assist you?
Christopher Arnold: Very good. I was hoping to determine if a better pricing plan exists for the services we currently have. Cable "Big Value" + Internet.
CVH Robert S : To get into a new promo you would need to upgrade your services.
Christopher Arnold: How exactly? I'm not sure what would be upgraded.
Christopher Arnold: I'm open to suggestions.
CVH Robert S : May I please have your full name, service address (street address, city, state, and zip code), and telephone number? This is so that I may pull up information for you in your local area.
Christopher Arnold: Heh, wonder why I had to do that before I signed into a chat session with you?
Christopher Arnold: Christopher Arnold/**** Arnold
Christopher Arnold: 257 ****** Road
Christopher Arnold: ******, **
Christopher Arnold: *****
Christopher Arnold: ***.***.****
CVH Robert S : hold please
CVH Robert S : The lowest house # in our system is 299
Christopher Arnold: That's a nice house down the street. I'd be happy to move there.
CVH Robert S : I would have to fill out a serviceability form to have a tech go out and check to see if the address is serviceable or not, this process takes about 3 to 5 business days.
Christopher Arnold: Uh...OK. I guess I'll just continue watching my existing Charter cable TV and using Charter network services until then.
Christopher Arnold: If it would help for me to move down the street, it really is a nice house. I don't think they would mind too much.
Christopher Arnold: Wow...1-298 ***** must be pretty pissed right now. Glad I'm not them. Wait...I am one of them.
Christopher Arnold: Hello?
CVH Robert S : I can not find your address in our system, can I have your account#?
Christopher Arnold: **** ** *** *******
CVH Robert S : found it
Christopher Arnold: Can I still move to 299 ***** Road? They have an in-law apartment.
CVH Robert S : Can you verify the last 4 of the SS# that is on your account please?
Christopher Arnold: ****
CVH Robert S : That is not the last 4 on the account.
Christopher Arnold: **** my spouse. **** me, if that helps.
CVH Robert S : The account is not in your name Christopher
CVH Robert S : You are not listed as an authorized user.
Christopher Arnold: ****, my spouse.
Christopher Arnold: I'm not listed as an authorized user? Like, I can't watch TV or play around on the computer?
CVH Robert S : No, I can not discuss the account with you.
Christopher Arnold: So you need to chat with my spouse?
CVH Robert S : She will need to chat in her self.
Christopher Arnold: OK, let me get her.
CVH Robert S : Thank you for choosing Charter Communications Chat Support. For general self-help, please visit http://support.charter.com. Also, check out our "Live it with Charter" customer rewards program. It is absolutely free, and you are eligible simply by being a Charter customer! You receive points based on your monthly service rate! For more information and to sign up, you can check out the Live it with Charter website here: http:// www.liveitwithcharter.com Thank you once again, and have a wonderful day!
If you require further assistance, go to www.charter.com/contact
Your session has ended. You may now close this window.

This painful ordeal took approximately 25 minutes and the f*%$er disconnected.

It's not: "We out-source this function to XYZ and you may experience slight lingual, cultural, temporal issues as we adapt to and utilize a global labor market.

It's: "We farm this kind of work out to barnacles scraped from boat hulls that somehow manage to attach themselves to keyboards and
THIS is now your perception of our firm, regardless of how many intelligent, considerate or well-spoken individuals we employ or out-source to."

I wonder if those plan changes I made six months ago are actually valid? I should ask....

03 October 2008

Anathem - Oh Snap!!!

XKCD fun:

Fiction Rule of Thumb

Shall we consult the flowchart?

Yes, I believe we have an answer...OH SNAP!!!

16 September 2008


"The concept behind the program, called Peer-to-Patent, is straightforward: Publish patent applications on the Web for all to see and let anyone with relevant expertise -- academics, colleagues, even potential rivals -- offer input to be passed along to the Patent Office.

By using the power of the Internet to tap the wisdom of the masses, Peer-to-Patent aims to dig up hard-to-find "prior art" -- evidence that an invention already exists or is obvious and therefore doesn't deserve a patent.

The goal is to locate prior art that Patent Office examiners might not find on their own -- and to produce better patents by reducing ones granted on applications that aren't novel. The hope is that this will drive innovation by improving the patent process and reducing the patent infringement lawsuits clogging the courts."

Using the mob to search for prior art and inform the USPTO doesn't seem like a terribly bad idea, so long as it's verifiable through multiple, independent channels or vetting pools (think peer-reviewed academic journals). I'm extremely concerned regarding overly zealous enthusiasm however.

I want to explore this idea but time prohibits me from doing so. To dumb it down, how would a process like the proposed be insulated from a Digg phenomenon as well as an inadvertant data leak that would let a competitor interject itself in the process and, say, stall for time to market?