Jason's Bloglet

Had an interesting discussion a couple of days ago. I spoke with a fervent conservative about the war. I'm against the war and have been since day one (I marched in protest before the war began, in fact), so I was interested in why he was for it. He was interested in what the basic differences were between liberal thoughts and conservative thoughts, too. We arrived at the conclusion that he, as a conservative, was much more worried about what terrorism could do to the homeland; I, as a liberal, was much more concerned with what the government could do to the homeland in the name of fighting terrorism.

As I've mentioned here in the past, my view is that Bush has now killed more of our volunteer US soldiers than the terrorists have managed to kill in their largest attack against us; meanwhile, Bush taps our phones, we have to submit to security checks and showing our papers when we travel by airplane (not nearly as bad as Nazi Germany, but reminiscent of it nonetheless), and freedom of speech was hindered for a while. ("Protesting the war makes you a terrorist.")

His view was that, if we didn't have troops over there fighting in Iraq, we would have attacks here instead of there, and more lives would have been lost. He mentioned that 3,000+ deaths is tiny in comparison to the Vietnam war, or WWII, or even the Korean war. Finally, he said that he hadn't been affected personally by any of the freedoms that had been removed. The Patriot act is supposed to be temporary, too.

So, in the end, he thinks that a) the consequences of terror are much more than I think they are for the mainland US; and b) the consequences of giving up essential freedoms for a little temporary safety are not nearly as bad as I think they are. _
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03:10:15 PM, Thursday 25 January 2007


I've realized that I can't tell the difference between Jazz and elevator music that sounds like Jazz. _
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11:47:18 AM, Wednesday 17 January 2007


Well, it happened earlier than I thought it would. In October of last year, I did a projection out of US Soldier casualties in Iraq, and found that the total number of US Soldiers killed in the war in Iraq would surpass the total number of civilians killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Here's a short article on it--it turns out we surpassed that symbolic number on Christmas of last year.

So, since there were no WMD in Iraq, and, as far as I can tell, the President should have known this--after all, Hans Blix, the man in charge of the UN weapons inspection teams, said so before we went in there--I am dumbfounded as to why the President would have done this. Not only did this destabilize the region, but it's now killed more of our volunteer US armed forces than the terrorists managed to kill in their largest attack ever.

With no end in sight, Bush has now told us that he's going to do more of the same: with a "new" clear and hold strategy that is virtually identical to the 2005 clear and hold strategy.

When will this end? How will it end?

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?
-Mahatma Gandhi _
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02:31:11 PM, Tuesday 16 January 2007


It's getting even more interesting. I'm sure people are reading about the story everywhere now, but the newest wrinkle in this story is that the operatives that we arrested were operating with the full knowledge and approval of the Iraqui authorities. Here is the BBC article furthering the story. _
09:37:41 AM, Friday 12 January 2007


Update on previous post:

According to this CNN article, the US claims that there was no raid, the US people just knocked on the door, and when the Iranians answered, the US asked them to step outside. Which the Iranians did, and when they did, the US people arrested them.

Interesting times. _
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03:15:12 PM, Thursday 11 January 2007


The US invaded Iran, apparently. Or at least one of their Consulates. A short blurb on it is here.

What's the difference between a consulate and an embassy? I'm assuming that consulates are NOT considered to be part of the country that they represent, but is that right? _
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02:00:20 PM, Thursday 11 January 2007


So, there's this thing I've been doing that's been taking all my work time. Y'know, the time that I normally write on my blog in the time spaces between work, when my mind is long departed and I have to wait for its return? That's this funny Astronaut Model

Now, I'm not talking about modeling a physical person. It's not that simple--although that would be very complex, depending on how accurate you would like it to be--no, what I've been asked to model is the demand for astronauts. A Shuttle flight costs between $500M and $2B, depending on how you count...and we want to make sure that there are enough Astronauts to fill the flights, 'cause not having enough would be, y'know, bad. But we don't want too many Astronauts, either, 'cause they cost money. Their training costs a lot more than their salaries, too. AND there are about 100 active astronauts right now--and our flight rate has been fairly slow of late, so about half of those haven't flown. AND the Astronaut Corps wants to hire more Astronauts. Whaddayagonnado, they know their jobs and have complicated flight plans that they have to fulfill, and, besides, there are the public outreaches (photo ops, Astronauts saying "be cool, stay in school!", etc.) which are important too.

Well, I guess what you do is you ask someone in my office to make a model of the flight demand, and of how long training takes (between one and three years, if you're interested--it depends on what she or he is going to do once they're on-orbit), and what are the physical limitations (many of the Astronauts are too large or too small to fit into the Soyuz, which means they can't fly on Space Station, because the Soyuz capsule is the escape vehicle), etc., etc....

Well, there was a big briefing and they wanted the model done by that briefing, last Friday. They even denied me my vacation which I had already scheduled. I finished on Friday, too--but when it became clear that getting the model for the meeting would involve lots and lots of work and time, they downgraded the importance of the model--and they could have given me my vacation back, but they didn't--and I don't know if they made a decision last Friday or not, but we weren't asked to be there, just our slides.

Ah, well. I'll take a vacation later, right? :) Just thought I'd let you all know why I haven't been around for...what, two months? The spammers were right, my mind WAS long departed... _
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01:27:11 PM, Monday 8 January 2007


Y'know, it's funny -- I'm a systems engineer and I'm thinking of training in project management, so I've learned a bit about project management over the years...but I've never even thought about applying the basic principles of project management to the projects that I want to do around the house! It's kinda basic, and Giny told me to do it a few months ago.

Now I have a list of projects, and I've broken them down into steps and thought about how long each step would take. I think that one of my major projects isn't nearly as hard as I had thought before--it should take about 14 days to do it by myself. Now I need to start thinking about when to take those 14 days. I think I might break it up into two phases, one where I prepare, and then one where I do as much work as I can do in a week and take some vacation to get it done.

I will do my best to post some pictures this coming weekend of the project and what it consists of...it involves something like 15,000 pounds of bricks, I think... _
01:17:09 PM, Monday 4 December 2006


President Bush has broken the law at least five times.

First, he has perpetrated an illegal war. He has sent more US Soldiers to their deaths than the total number of civilians died in the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The Iraq war is illegal because congress gave him the power to go to war to fight the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks; the intelligence community has said that there was no link between Iraq and the 9/11 terrorists, and that there was no reason to believe that there was a link in 2003 when we went to war; finally, the perpetrators of that attack have not only been caught, but we have stopped looking for them.

Second, George W. Bush has admitted to ordering the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance of American civilians without seeking warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, duly constituted by Congress in 1978, in violation of Title 50 United States Code, Section 1805. This has been shown in a district court to be illegal, yet there was no punishment for this illegal action--he was just told to stop.

Third, George W. Bush has conspired to commit the torture of prisoners in violation of the "Federal Torture Act" Title 18 United States Code, Section 113C, the UN Torture Convention and the Geneva Convention, which under Article VI of the Constitution are part of the "supreme Law of the Land." This has been shown in the Supreme Court to be illegal, but again there was no punishment, and Bush has managed to subvert the Geneva convention so that this behavior could continue.

Fourth, George W. Bush has acted to strip Americans of their constitutional rights by ordering indefinite detention of citizens, without access to legal counsel, without charge and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the President of a U.S. citizen as an "enemy combatant." This has been shown to be illegal by a District court.

Finally, George W. Bush ordered the freezing of financial accounts without limit to how groups were chosen to be on such a list, and further sets forth that he ordered himself the power to create blacklists of any individual he felt was associated with the aforementioned groups. Thereby creating a system of "guilt by association." This has been shown to be illegal by the ruling of a district court.

Therefore I am personally going to request of Speaker of the house Nanci Pelosi, as well as my local representative, Jim Moran, to impeach President George W. Bush.

If you feel the same way, you can find forms, legal precedence, charges and evidence, and discussion here. _
10:07:57 AM, Thursday 30 November 2006


Well, my week at home went rather well, I guess--I started a list of things to do around the house and I got most of them done! Woo hoo! That means, unfortunately, that I didn't play nearly as much Wii as I had hoped...but that's okay, it's fun, but then there's real life!

The worst chore that I had to do was clean out my pool. You see, normally, in an area that gets too cold to use a pool year-round, you close the pool. This involves draining the water down below the water return outlets on the side of the pool, plugging them, and filling them with anti-freeze. Then you put a tarp over the lowered water level and put water bags around the edge to hold the tarp on. I think you use water bags because they're convenient and they won't damage the tarp or the pool if they slide or fall in.

Well, I had old water bags. They leaked. All the water went right out. Thus, they didn't weigh anything when the rain fell a few weeks ago. Thus, they fell in the pool, along with the tarp. And about six million leaves, and perhaps ten million acorns. The water was a deep, deep brown-black--not unlike tea. It also smelled, and it didn't smell like tea. :(

Well, I drained the pool part way, then scooped out as much junk as I could. I bought new water bags and put the tarp back in place, then slid the hose underneath and filled the pool back up to the normal winter level so that the tarp is floating on the surface of the water--so when it gets full of rain water it won't slide in again. At least, that's the hope.

Next year, I'll open the pool a bit early, start the pump, filter the water, start the Polaris pool vac, and empty the Polaris every hour, and backwash the filter every two hours for a couple of days. Then I'll dump in about 5 pounds of chlorine to remove the stains from a winter's worth of leaves and acorns sitting on the pool bottom...and then it'll take about two weeks for the chlorine to dissipate enough to be swimmable, but the pool will be back to normal.

And I think I'm investing in a safety cover next year, one of those things that attaches with springs to bolts in the concrete...they're about $1500-2000, but that'll never fall in. This was about four hours of work to get it back to where I could cover it, and another four or five hours of work next year to get it sparkly...

plus, a pool cover means never having to fish out a dead three year old who was curious...ugh. _
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10:55:58 AM, Monday 27 November 2006


It's been a while. Sorry to any that were interested. :)

I have 8 projects at work, which is more than anyone has ever had. I am reduced to simple sentences from being so busy. I have a long list of things to do on the house. I am going to the doctor today. I'm having a good time, I guess.

My "Wii" story is kind of interesting. I had worked out a plan: Target opens at 8am. Best Buy opens at 9am. Best Buy #2 opens at 10am. Finally, Game Stop opens at 11am. I was going to go to target whenever I woke up and wait in line there, but I wasn't too concerned--the US is rumored to be getting 4,000,000 units, so if I didn't get one, then I'd get one later.

ANYway, my girlfriend called me at 10pm and asked me if I would like to go to Toys R Us for their midnight release...I said, sure, why not? Well, she called again in a few minutes saying that they were all sold out there...the line had more people in it than Toys R Us had units. So we spent some time looking for other midnight openings...found some south of us a ways, but when we called, the situation was the same--they had more people in line than they had units. Giny said that if I didn't get to Target at 6am and wait in line, I wouldn't get one 'til February. I said that I wasn't that concerned--I'd wake up when I woke up, and if I didn't get one, I didn't get one.

Well, I woke up at 4:45 to go to the bathroom, and when I got back in bed, I started thinking to myself, "Okay, Target at 8, Best Buy at 9..." and I was wide awake. So, I got up, took a shower, made coffee and some small breakfast, and went to Target. I got there around 6:15, and, as I walked up to the line, I counted the people--I was 54th in line.

Well, nearly two hours later, the Target team came out and said that they had 78 units. They then walked down the line and counted people. I was 54. Good, I can still count, even if it's 6 in the morning. Then they walked down the line and handed out tickets. I was #51--apparently, neither I nor the Target team can count that early in the morning! (I'm guessing that several people were there for moral support of others.)

Anyway, the store opened, and it took half an hour to get up to the counter and buy the unit. About $400 later, I had a game system, a second controller set, Zelda, and Super Monkey Ball. I went over to Giny's and had breakfast, then went home and did chores. Then I went downstairs and plugged in the system. I played Wii Sports, which comes with the system, and noted that it worked. Then I went outside and blew leaves off half of my property for a couple of hours. Then I went back in and rearranged the living room to fit in better the new couch that I bought last week. THEN I went downstairs and played the game system long enough to find out that it is fun.

And it IS fun, I assure you. I have been playing on and off and I really like Wii Sports. It's just fun. Zelda is...well, it's Zelda, so it's good. I haven't even opened Super Monkey Ball yet, it's more a party game for me...so I need some friends to come over! _
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03:22:24 PM, Tuesday 21 November 2006


I thought that these were interesting links. So someone's trying to do a "Google Bomb" on republicans. I think it's interesting:

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert

04:41:52 PM, Tuesday 24 October 2006


Sorry I haven't posted...I promised pictures of the house and then my mom's trip out here was coming up, so I had to finish painting and moving upstairs and getting the downstairs bedroom ready for her...I guess I'm saying I got busy. :(

Anyway, I thought this was really neat. It's stuff about a binary asteroid that's been imaged by radar. _
11:21:56 AM, Monday 16 October 2006


Kitties are cute. Just do a google image search on them. I'll try and post some house painting and renovation pictures soon, and some cat photos too, just because, well, kitties are cute. _
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02:12:19 PM, Wednesday 27 September 2006


A comment on the new surveillance bill submitted by the House: "The two key changes in the House bill would allow warrantless eavesdropping and searches of homes in the event of an "imminent threat" that involves loss of life, bodily harm, or economic damage; and eliminate a requirement that all members of the Intelligence Committee be apprised of warrantless spying." (Original can be found here)

Ammendment IV of the Constitution of the United States says: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Pretty DAMNED obvious that the proposed law violates the Constitution, don't you think? If you have a minute while you're reading this, phone your congressperson's office and tell the person who answers the phone that you don't support congress putting forward laws that are obviously unconstitutional. _
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09:59:29 AM, Thursday 21 September 2006


This really disturbs me.

Basically, someone out there is complaining that some Christian folks weren't given a fair trial in Indonesia, a primarily Muslim nation.

Um...except, Ms. Malkin, that these are CONVICTED TERRORISTS. I thought that you thought that people who support due process for terrorists are therefore supporting the terrorists?

We have already slipped on the top of the slope. I no longer believe that there is any hope of upholding the values that the US was founded on--freedom of religion, due process, the right to disagree with the President.

Please, people, we're destroying everything that makes the US worth living in. Go out and vote democrat, maybe they will return some dignity to our people. Democrats certainly aren't perfect--hey, they're politicians--but it's better than voting for republican racists, and democrats haven't admitted criminal conduct in a court of law. And, of course, that's not mentioning DeLay himself, so shrouded in controversy and accusations of illegal actions that he had to resign. _
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10:27:48 AM, Wednesday 20 September 2006


The above link has an interesting sentece by Bush: "Unfortunately the recent Supreme Court decision put the future of this program in question."

Hmmm...did he just say, basically, "Unfortunately, the Supreme Court chose to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America"? _
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02:59:30 PM, Friday 15 September 2006


I've been running a lot lately, but running into problems. Pain at every turn, first the ankle that didn't used to hurt has been hurting, the hip pain that was going away has been coming back, and my knee pain--caused by a tight IBT--has been coming back. I've only been running a couple of times per week for the last 3 weeks...but I had a breakthrough on Tuesday.

I was looking up pictures of the IBT (basically a big mess o' tendons that runs down the outside of your thigh...I thought it was muscle, but apparently not) to see where it connects on the lower leg when I found a scientific paper that suggested a different possible cause of IBT syndrome: a weak gluteus medius muscle.

Most people say that IBT syndrome is caused by flat feet. Your foot collapses inward with each strike, which makes your ankles rotate inward, which makes your knees rotate inward, which then makes your IBT tendon scrape across the outside of your knee. This doesn't really make sense to me, although I am not a doctor--if you rotate your knees in, and the tendon connects on the tibia in your lower leg, then rotating your knee inward should REDUCE the pressure of the IBT on your knee, not increase it.

However, your gluteus medius muscle (on the outside of your thigh, basically) helps lift your leg out away from your centerline. It's not involved with stepping forward, so you might wonder how it can make IBT syndrome happen when it's not involved with running. Oh, but it is used in running. This muscle lifts your leg to the side--which means, when you're standing on one leg, it can lift the hip of the leg that's not on the ground. Think about running for a second--you hit the ground with your right leg. It's bent at about 30 degrees--this is the point in knee bending where the IT band passes over the part of the knee that gets irritated. If you drop the left side of your hips while your right foot hits the ground, this pulls your IT band tighter, just when it's at the point where it can cause irritation to the knee! This hip-dropping can be countered by holding the hips steady, which requires a strong gluteus medius muscle.

This journal paper was the summary of a study on ~25 people, all of whom had significantly reduced IBT syndrome problems after strengthening their gluteus medius.

Well, I went running after reading this article and a wonderful thing happened: first, there was a lot less pain because I was really, really concentrating on keeping my hips from dropping as I run. Of course, I got tired, and wasn't able to concentrate for more than about 10 minutes. The pain started hitting my right knee, and so I concentrated on stabilising my hips again. I can't stress this enough--the pain went away. That's never happened before. I've changed gates, changed where my foot is hitting the ground, tried to keep my ankles strong (since that's the supposed cause of IBT syndrome, after all) and none of it would help once the pain started. This time, the pain went away as long as I kept concentrating on keeping my hips stable. There was very little soreness afterwards.

By the way, this sort of hip movement could be causing the hip pain, too. My ankle was actually hurt somehow, I don't know how, so this might actually be the last part of my form problems...we'll see in a month or so. _
01:21:56 PM, Thursday 14 September 2006


Hmm....the senate is going to have to decide if torture is ok in the fight against terrorism.

I've been reading a bit about the Cuban Missile Crisis that Kennedy faced while he was in office, and while I don't know much about it, it seems to me that Kennedy's response of "let's do as little as we have to to show that we will, in fact, do more if provoked, while making sure that our national security is defended" would have been a better response to 9/11 than what Bush did.

What would have been done differently, you ask? Well, first of all, a proportional response would have been given, and given to the terrorists--basically, the war in Afghanistan. With the ability to give more troops to Afghanistan (i.e., if we hadn't sent them all to Iraq), it seems likely we would have been able to capture Osama Bin Ladin, punish him, and show terrorists around the world what happens when you attack the US, along with showing other governments around the world what happens when you harbor terrorists. That would have been enough. Sufficient. Dare I say it? appropriate.

What have we shown the world in the last 5 years? That if terrorists attack us, we will come close to capturing the people who were responsible, but then ignore them completely and go attack someone else who has oil and might help us stabilize the major oil producing region in the world... _
10:31:10 AM, Thursday 14 September 2006


I just had a very interesting conversation with a coworker friend of mine. He was producing graphs for the entire Agency, and, as usual on these sorts of graphs, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was excluded entirely. I immediately and kind of jokingly pointed this out, and his excuse was the same as everyone else's: there aren't any civil servants at JPL, so it doesn't have the same data as other centers, so it can't be displayed.

I then explained to him how difficult it is, sometimes, to be at HQ and a JPL employee: depending on how you count, JPL has had more mission successes since Pathfinder landed on Mars in 1998 than the rest of NASA combined; only two of a couple of dozen total missions have failed, whereas the "rest" of the agency has lost Columbia, had a foam problem on the next launch 2 years later, and finally had a successful launch a year after that; Goddard has launched several missions as well, but none of them have been as high-profile as Pathfinder, the Mars Rovers, Cassini, Deep Impact, or Spitzer Space Telescope. (Of course, NASA's most famous space platform, the Hubble Space Telescope, was designed and built by Goddard Space Flight Center.) Anyway, it's tough to be at HQ and see JPL not counting as part of NASA, when we are, in fact, one of the NASA centers--the land is owned by NASA, the buildings are owned by NASA, and I would say that most of the employees feel that they work for NASA.

Well, my friend almost had a cow. He spoke of how people at other centers see JPL completely differently. JPLers are not Civil Servants; they have not taken an oath to serve their country. That alone means that they are different.

Of course, one has to wonder as to why Civil Servants are the normal employment model for NASA, when it is difficult if not impossible to punish or promote a Civil Servant for their work quality or lack thereof. It's possible, and it has even happened, that people who made very poor decisions to get promoted. People in agency who decided NOT to even try to get images of Columbia's wing's leading-edge while she was still in space have been promoted. These people could be considered to have written a death sentence for the astronauts aboard Columbia, and, as Civil Servants, they can't really be fired. It's kind of frustrating to see the JPLers so misrepresented, especially since JPL had to recently lay off about 10% of its workforce.

This is not to say that JPL is perfect or anything; it's just frustrating to have one's "home" be such a non-entity, especially when very critical people hold JPL up as the "best in the agency" at several things.

Ah, well. Such is life, I am afraid. :) _
03:35:18 PM, Wednesday 13 September 2006


The total deaths in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: 2,997

Total deaths from the "war on terror" (US soldiers only, Afghanistan and Iraq): 2,671 Iraq + 336 Afghanistan = 3,007

Bush's "War on Terror" is officially killing more US Soldiers than terror itself has killed, at least in the last 5 years.

Congratulations, Mr President--you're finally beating the terrorists at something. _
11:25:13 AM, Tuesday 12 September 2006


Bush is calling for unity in the war on terror.

Part of the planned speech says: "We are fighting to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations,"

Free. That means free to criticise and disagree with you, Mr. President.

He said: "So we must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us."

You mean like what happened after 9/11, Mr. President? When the entire world was unified with us? What happened to that global consensus?

Oh, right, you pissed it away by lying to the american public to divert attention from the perpetrators of the crime so that we could go in and take out Hussein, who wasn't building WMDs, and who had no link to 9/11. You pissed it away by torturing other human beings, by trying to weasel in a court of law over the definition of "torture".

Moron. _
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07:17:31 PM, Monday 11 September 2006


So, the Shuttle is back in space. Now NASA has about 4 years to complete the station. That's 16 flights, plus one possible flight for the Hubble reservicing mission. It is encouraging to me that we might actually be able to make 4 flights per year--it's discouraging to me that the original plan was for 20 or 30 or even 40 flights per year. Ah, well.

So, is anyone getting involved with their local midterm elections? I've been spending a bit of time on-line looking at political blogs lately and am hopeful that the democrats might be able to achieve a majority in the senate, anyway. _
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10:40:22 AM, Monday 11 September 2006


I'm off for a few days...heading out to Marshall (Huntsville, Alabama, where they're building the new launch vehicle--woo!) and then immediately leaving for Johnson (I only spend a few hours at Marshall).

Fun fun fun! Lots of travel, because next week I'll be back at JPL for a few days! _
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04:26:30 PM, Wednesday 23 August 2006


This makes me pretty happy.

The counting of Guantanimo illegal made me happy too.

Why is it that we allow people to remain in office when they are lying to the American public so that they can send soldiers out to fight for the stability of an area that has oil in it? Hubbert's Peak is coming and all the oil in the Iraq (or Iran) won't stop it. _
11:48:43 AM, Tuesday 22 August 2006


Moss's latest blog entry makes me wonder about something only tertially related: if we're so afraid of terror, and Iran is a major source of funding for terror, why don't we make a concerted national effort to completely end our dependance on their oil? It should be possible to do, with E85, just like Brazil did a few years ago.

I am doing what I can right now, buying gas only from Sunoco, who doesn't seem to buy oil from the middle eastern region.

I wonder what would happen to terror if oil were no longer important? It might not be a good idea to tie our land usage to production of energy: if a farmer can profit more by making crops for fuel, will our food prices go up? _
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11:23:37 AM, Tuesday 15 August 2006


Less pain while running...it's working, slowly my form is coming around to be less painful. My knee pain is gone despite running on hills (longer runs may cause it to hurt again, but it's only a matter of time before I can run any distance), my hip pain is receeding, and my ankle pain has reduced enormously and switched ankles.

Basically, yesterday I ran without any real pain. Some soreness still remains, but I think I'm back in business again. Cardiovascular improvement is needed, but I think I can start increasing the length of my runs..woo! _
12:55:22 PM, Monday 14 August 2006


So I was just down at one of the common places to get lunch at HQ, and Mary Cleave, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, had stopped in front of the buffet to talk to one of the folks who works for her...she was blocking my way. How do you say "get out of my way" to your boss's boss's boss's boss's boss's boss? (and yes, I counted, that's the correct number of "boss's")

It was a funny situation. Of course I just said "excuse me" and went around her, but it was still funny. _
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11:49:21 AM, Friday 11 August 2006


I have completely eliminated the pain in my knee, at least for the shorter runs that I'm doing now--I pounded down the hill the last two times and didn't have any knee pain at all.

Now, on to the hip and ankle pain. I think I know what I'm doing, I just have to train myself to strike the ground with my foot correctly and not swish my hips...then I can start running longer distances and see what happens...

I managed to run (downhill) for about 1/10th of a mile at a speed faster than I've ever run in my life, something around 6 minutes a mile, and it didn't feel like it would have been *impossible* to do that on a flat road. It would be difficult, to be sure...but not impossible. It was fun. _
10:37:40 AM, Friday 11 August 2006


I guess we're at "Chartreuse Alert" or some other such color. Red, probably.

The UK successfully removes a threat and our government's response is to make sure that nobody going onto an airplane is carrying any toothpaste!? "Oh, my God, someone else just captured some terrorists who were planning to try to blow up some planes!! Quick, raise the alert level now that it's safer! Otherwise we might look like we got caught with our pants down, or like we're not doing anything that's effective!"

I sure am glad that our armed forces are over in Iraq fighting those terrible terrorists. Oh, wait, the people who were caught in the UK were British citizens.

Remind me again why we're in Iraq? I seem to have forgotten. _
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03:37:44 PM, Thursday 10 August 2006


I had this really interesting conversation with a couple of my coworkers yesterday. It started with the Israel-Lebanon-Hezbollah conflict and quickly moved into the war in Iraq. One of my cowerkers says that he supports the republicans simply because the democrats are for "removing the troops immediately."

I didn't manage to get enough words in edgewise to point out that was an extremely oversimplified viewpoint of the democrats, but did manage to point out that I believe that we are creating terrorists by being over there. Now, I know that life in Iraq wasn't the best before the war--Hussein was a bad, bad man--but life there has certainly gotten worse since we started the war there. I doubt that Hussein would have managed to kill 200,000+/- Iraqui citizens if he stayed in power. The stated reason for going to war, WMD, was a carefully orchestrated lie. If there were good reasons to have preemptive strikes against Iraq, I haven't yet heard them--that doesn't mean that they don't exist, it just means that I haven't heard them.

Anyway, two things come to mind that make me shudder: first, it seems likely that a high percentage of those 200,000+/- casualties have brothers, sisters, fathers, or mothers who are now interested in becoming terrorists to be able to take revenge on those people who put his or her country and family in this situation; second, if you add the number of US soldier casualties in Afghanistan to the number of US soldier casualties in Iraq, the number of dead soldiers exceeds the number of people who died in the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.

Is it possible that the War on Terror is killing more people than terror itself? _
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09:52:46 AM, Thursday 10 August 2006


Hmmm...looks like Lieberman is going to pull a Ralph Nader on Connecticut...

I don't know anything about Lamont, but it seems to me that Lieberman running as an independant might split the democratic vote, thus enabling a fairly liberal state to almost accidentally have a conservative senator. Anyone have any thoughts on this? _
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01:25:26 PM, Wednesday 9 August 2006


So I've been running again consistently for about two and a half weeks. I haven't been running a lot because of the injury a few months ago and then the move to the new house. It's much more difficult to run from my house--there's no way to avoid hills, really. I've started running up to the top of the hill and then running along the top towards the freeway, then turning around and coming home, but my knee started hurting.

I have ilio-tibial band syndrome, and the tightness of the outsides of my thighs causes some rubbing on the outside of my knees. The only thing I could find for a while was some stretches. Then I found that a foam roller can be used to loosen the IT band. I got one of those, and I've been concentrating on my running form and I can now run almost a half hour with no pain. My speed is generally increasing, to where I can almost run 15 minute miles despite the relatively steep hills.

But now my hip is starting to hurt agiain. I've been reading some of the forum posts on the chirunning site and I think I may have found the problem. I can hardly wait to run again to see if it helps: I've been dipping my hips as I run. That is to say, when I strike the ground with my right foot, the left side of my hips move towards the ground. This sort of rocking back and forth on the hips is very bad for the IT band, which flexes and tightens as a result. The "proper" way to do this is to keep your hips level by using your inner stomach muscles--the ones that you use when you cough. You can feel them if you poke your stomach and cough. This helps keep the IT band from being overused and tightening. I hope this works!

On another note, I've been running slowly and have seen the same sorts of gains in speed as I have before. Running below 80% maximal heart rate really is amazing, I've seen my speed increasing again while staying at the same exertion level. I hope that I can continue this for a while without injury, I think I could actually get up to being a "runner" instead of a "jogger"! _
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03:59:20 PM, Monday 7 August 2006


I've been having intermittent computer problems. Up until yesterday, the problems were attributed by Microsoft as a driver error...but yesterday, it was identified as a hardware error and it became much more frequent...dropping to reboot during the middle of just about anything, including watching the screensaver go. The hardware error was attributed to the CPU, the motherboard, the power supply, or the memory...I did a full memory check and that was fine, and the power supply is a top-of-the-line from about 3 years ago, so that left the "new" CPU and motherboard that I bought a few months ago...so I just went out and bought a new computer. I went bottom-of-the-barrel and bought an emachines from Best Buy because they were having a "tax-free" weekend where they paid the tax on whatever you bought.

Well, I got punished for buying bottom-of-the-barrel, of course...I use a DVI connector to connect to my monitor, and I didn't even bring a normal monitor cable--the emachine didn't even have a DVI out connector. I'm going to have to go buy a new video card anyway, since the main video card shares its memory with the main computer.

Other than the video card, I'm pretty happy with the machine's numbers. I went ahead and got an AMD 3700+ with a 200gig hdd and the memory was transferrable from my old computer. Anyhoo, I'm hoping that the computer will be stable, I've had a somewhat unstable computer ever since I bought the motherboard a few months ago. Maybe I can play guild wars again...if I can make the time, anyway... _
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10:07:26 AM, Monday 7 August 2006


Well, that's annoying.

I was in a sort of "flame war" on Slashdot with my anonymous user name and someone who knew that name posted a link to my personal page at JPL.

Guess I need a new anonymous user name. :) _
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03:27:52 PM, Thursday 3 August 2006


I recently got a portable GPS car navigator. It's pretty awesome. I finally spent the money with the following rationalization: "I get stressed out in the car when I get lost, and I have the money for a GPS, so why not end that stress permanently?"

It hasn't quite eliminated the stress, but it has greatly reduced it. I still get stressed out now, but only about the loss of time from getting lost--the GPS gives me an estimated time of arrival, and I can see exactly how much taking a wrong turn increases that.

Interestingly, that "time of arrival" has been very educational. On a 2.5 hour drive down to Langley Research Center, by going 80 miles an hour the whole way, I was able to take about 20 minutes off of my arrival time. However, no matter how fast I can go on the freeway, I can't make more than about a minute of time on the way to or from work--and stopping at a single light, or running into a small traffic slowdown, that minute gets lost. Speeding to and from work, or ending up behind someone who is only doing 65mph on the freeway, doesn't make a significant difference in arrival time on a 20-30 minute trip.

It's very interesting, though, to note the change in myself when I am forced to slow down on the freeway because someone else is blocking me and going 65. I still get frustrated even though I know it's not a big deal--I think that we all like to think that we're making progress unheeded, and it's annoying when someone impedes that progress. Anyone else have examples of when they get frustrated at something that they know doesn't really matter? _
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09:40:16 AM, Wednesday 2 August 2006


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