Thursday, June 30, 2005
not soo smooth
The software roll out went pretty poorly yesterday. The SA was late coming in, the engineer responsible for the other part did not write the release notes, nothing worked right. All the groups here work in silos where one group has no insight or understanding of what the next group does or knows. Frustrating if you have to work across the domain of several of these fiefdoms. To top it all off, one of the components could not be deployed till 0400 the next morning. Then I found that my stuff was not going to work due to a surprise requirement created by the customers inability to include a promotion id in a place where I needed it. A quick patch fixed that ... took 15 min to debug, 15 to code, 15 to qa and then seconds to deploy. Still, there was a bug and now I'm going to be the target scapegoat for the whole poorly managed roll out. Fine, blamesultant is the career choice of those with thick-skins.
Since things went so poorly at work, I got going late and had to go directly to pick up the kids and the pizza. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to put the phone number for the pizza joint in my cell phone under 'Pizza'. I could order it on the way there and it would be ready for pickup when I arrived. They usually can have it ready in 15 minutes so I typically call just as I get off the Turnpike (OF DOOOOOM). This time, the call went out as I hit the turnpike exit, but was quickly thwarted from making my 15 minute hence rendezvous with the pizza and children. Someone on the turnpike commission had the great idea that we should only have 3 exit lanes open and all three will be EZPass or pay-ticket combined. What a disaster! Well, disaster for me in that it tacked on 5-10 minutes to my commute, great for the idiots who don't use EZPass in that they would not actually have to wait as long as if they were in a lane where EVERYONE was going to pay. ARGH. The same thing happened this morning at the KOP exit. The most frustrating thing was that the non-EZPass lanes were empty, but people were still going into the EZPass lanes to pay! ABSURD! What ... how ... why ... ARGH! But I digress (with unmitigated rage). The Mrs had a doctor's appointment last night ... she had a sinus infection and that resulted in her hacking cough. He cough is starting to abate now, but it'll take some time to clear out the damage. Our doctor told her (the same thing I was told) that she needed to get more exercise, lower her blood pressure, increase her HDL and lower her bpm. Heh, right. Between work and home I suppose we could slow the rotation of the earth plus move the orbit out a bit so it takes longer for the year to complete. That way, we could slip in a few extra hours during the day, right? I'll talk to the boys down in research to see if they could attach booster rockets to the north and south poles to get this done over the holiday weekend. Hey, with the extended distance from the sun, I've just solved global warming too! Ain't I nice, I try to take care of the Wife AND the global population mass.
- PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- A man who is believed to have gotten a 10-year-old girl pregnant has been charged with first-degree child rape.
Jeremy Daniel Cockerham, 28, of east Bremerton, pleaded innocent Tuesday in Kitsap County Superior Court and remained in jail with bail set at $250,000. His trial was set for mid-August.
Police said Cockerham knew the girl, but the nature of their relationship was not given.
According to documents filed by prosecutors in court, police were alerted in March by state Child Protective Services workers who learned that the girl was pregnant. She initially told detectives she was impregnated by a 10-year-old boy, but police Sgt. Kevin Crane says investigators never believed that account.
Last month the girl gave birth, and DNA tests from a laboratory in North Carolina indicated with a 99.99 percent probability Cockerham is the father and ruled out the boy, who also was tested, police said. Further DNA tests at a state crime laboratory are pending.
The girl, now 11, is living with the baby boy and her mother.
Okay ... first impression I get is that setting bail at $250,000 is probably setting no bail for this scum-bag. Second off, since the girl did not identify Cockerham as the animal, how did the police know to check him? Any bets that he was the mother's boyfriend? Any bets that he told the girl that if she ratted him out that he would kill the mother? No takers, eh? How about a pool on how long it takes this guy to get a taste of his own cruel medicine in jail? Ten years old. What is it? How can you look at a child and see a sexual object?! I just cannot get my head around it. I look at my daughter, at other little girls, and see a treasure that needs to be protected and kept innocent, naive and pure for as long as possible. When you loose your child-hood, it's gone FOREVER. The most blissful days of your life are so few and short, why would you deprive another of that?! For a few minutes of sexual release. My head is exploding. And this poor child is now a mother. AT TEN!
Seven Day Itch
It rained, and got warm, then rained again, and got warmer ... YETCH!. It is supposed to be in the 90's here today in the Jungles of arboreal Pennsyltucky. Sweltering heat and 102% humidity. Just what the Dr ordered. If the winters were not so dastardly, I swear I'd strong-arm the Mrs into agreeing on moving to Nova Scotia.
Oh, and since it was raining out, Thor refused to go outside. He would go out for a couple paces, then turn right around and waltz back in. Well, last night he discovered that not going 'potty' outside could be a bit uncomfortable. He found the pressure too great and left me a little gift on the tile floor. Jerk. He knew he was in trouble but I chewed him out anyways. It's my fault too although, I should have stood outside in the rain and compelled him go poop.
Nothing like feeling the hot acid rain trickle across your scalp and down your neck. The slow crawling tickle it bestows to me as it creeps across the inflamed patches of Ivy Blistered skin on my forearms ... ARGH. Damn that ivy. I'm going to have to go visit the local army surplus supply depot and see if they have any agent orange left over. That or napalm. Yeah, burning ivy will just make the oils airborne, but if it's hot enough ....
The software patch rollout is going pretty well this morning. We'll see soon enough if the process is as flawless as I think it is. So many chefs sirring the pot here.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Sporadic work flurries
Monday evening and Tuesday proper were fairly mundane. The trip back to the Manor on Monday evening was a drag. Since it was raining all day, the mood was eloquently morose and the other commuters on the turnpike had dampened attitudes about getting their collective acts together. One lucky break, the weather cleared for just long enough that the Mrs and I could pick up the kids without getting soaked to the bone. Standard Philly weather too. It's hot, it rains, then it gets hotter with the added bonus of 101% humidity. Niiiice, if you like having your clothing cling to your body even AFTER you take it off. That, and toilet paper ... ghaa, let's not go there right now. Of course we need the rain. The trees and greenery around here are still recovering from that drought we had a few years back. I just wish it would stay in the ground instead of clinging to the air like some sort of crack-addict clutching at it's last methadone treatment for the week.
Jake has been a stinker of late. He refuses to go to sleep at night and then refuses to get up in the morning. Damn, I wish I was a 3 year old again. He just lays there on his bed till I drag him into the temporary master suite and prop him up in front of the TV with the Disney Channel going. He doesn't resist in the morning like his sister, who fights the idea of going to school tooth and nail. He's a slug at this hour, gets it from the Mrs.
Work has heated up recently. With all the overhead from ill prepared processes, how events are supposed to transpire is becoming quite obfuscated. I spend my days standing on peoples heads or waiting for external clients to respond (vaguely) to information requests. Ahhh, American Business practices at their best!
I picked peas last night. One gallon of pods yields about 1/2 quart of peas. The kids LOVED husking the peas and throwing the husks to the dogs. Some of the peas never made it to the collection container, which does not concern me much. In fact, if the kids want to snack on peas, that is just fine by me. Of course, after a while the dogs got a bit tired of eating coarse, fibrous pea pods and just let them pile up. The kids just kept dumping them at the gate though. A bit of a mess to clean up, but I'm not going to take the chance that if I admonish the kids, they won't like peas anymore.
On the financial front; Quicken Loans ROCKS!!! They took the perogative to call me when it made sense to refinance. Going from a 6.275 to a 5.625 will pay for itself in 20 months. After that, I can apply the savings to the mortgage principle in addition to the other surpluses I've been rolling in. Yes, yes ... its restarting a 30 year mortgage, but having lower payments is a security blanket and it will give the Mrs and I some breathing room in our budget. Now we could have certainly gone with a low rate ARM or a 15 year, but I really don't mind carrying around this particular debt, it is low enough now so that if we had to sell the Manor, we would make a pretty tidy profit ... not that we are going to be moving any time soon. Probably not for another 20 years actually. If we can help it. Of course, if somebody wants to have our land seized so they can build a nudie bar or an abortion clinic ... not much we can do about that except get elected to the local township governing board and work from the inside. Hmmmm.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
A bit late off the ball on this one, but it's been a damn long time coming.
- First it was the Philadelphia schools. Then it was the Philadelphia Parking Authority and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Now, House Speaker John Perzel (R., Phila.) has a new city target in his sights: Philadelphia Gas Works.
But the response from city officials this time might well be: Take our debt-ridden utility. Please.
Transferring the 168-year-old utility would require approval by the General Assembly. Legislation for that is being written and is expected to be made public next week, Republican officials said.
If the plan passes, the state would issue a bond to pay off the utility's $1 billion debt. Once it is paid off, the state would sell the utility to a private company, officials said.
City Councilman Michael A. Nutter, chairman of the transportation and utility committee, said he "eagerly awaits" details of the proposal.
"Clearly there needs to be a solution to PGW's financial and operational crisis," Nutter said. "I would like to see how a new gas entity would be structured to address service to low- and middle-income users and seniors, how it can be cost-competitive and reduce overall utility costs."
Nutter said city officials have been discussing a sale of PGW for a decade but knew that, with its debt load, it would be unattractive to a private utility.
But Councilman David Cohen said he was concerned that a bottom-line-oriented private utility would be quicker to turn off heat for those who couldn't afford it.
"This would destroy the very purpose of PGW as a public service," he said. "It would be much better if they devised a system of healthy payments to Philadelphia so that more of its citizens could get heat."
- David Shanzer, a utility analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott L.L.C. in Philadelphia, said a state takeover of the utility is the better fiscal alternative to leaving it as it is.
"I would rather the state provide incentives to allow the sale of the company, rather than it being the intermediary," Shanzer said. "But [erasing its debt] would make it palatable to an investor-owned utility."
Plagued by high delinquency rates and debt, the utility has fought to turn itself around in the last year. More than half of its 485,000 customers regularly fail to pay their bills, and about 15,000 did not pay at all last year. PGW instituted a get-tough policy on deadbeats last year that was given a boost by a new state law lifting the winter moratorium on utility shutoffs. As a result, service to 4,409 customers was cut off between January and April.
At the same time the utility's bond rating has sunk and rates have doubled to an average of $1,638 a year.
Philip Bertocci, an attorney with Community Legal Services, who serves as public advocate in cases involving PGW, said any transfer of jurisdiction would be a violation of home rule.
"The city owns PGW, and it is supposed to be run for the citizens of Philadelphia," he said.
Coal mine .. working ...etc.
Monday, June 27, 2005
- The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police cannot be sued for how they enforce restraining orders, ending a lawsuit by a Colorado woman who claimed police did not do enough to prevent her estranged husband from killing her three young daughters.
Jessica Gonzales did not have a constitutional right to police enforcement of the court order against her husband, the court said in a 7-2 opinion.
City governments had feared that if the court ruled the other way, it would unleash a potentially devastating flood of cases that could bankrupt municipal governments.
- Benefits of FTY720 therapy were seen as soon as after two months of treatment and continued to increase over the six month treatment period compared to placebo. Over 90% of patients completed the study.
"FTY720 has shown a significant and consistent effect on both clinical relapses and MRI measures in just six months. With its novel mode of action and the added benefit of an oral formulation taken once daily, further clinical development of FTY720 might have a major impact on the way we treat MS in the future. We hope that the magnitude of benefits shown in phase II will be confirmed in the larger scale phase III study program," said Professor Ludwig Kappos, MD, Department of Neurology, University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland.
Based on the positive Phase II study results, Novartis is currently discussing with regulatory authorities the FTY720 Phase III program which is expected to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2005 involving centers in North America and Europe.
- FTY720 is a once-daily oral medication with a novel mode of action offering the potential of an innovative approach to MS treatment. It is the first sphingosine-1-phosphate ( S1P ) receptor modulator.
FTY720 differs from currently approved treatments because it is the only medication that binds the receptors of S1P, present on the surface of lymphocytes, which are a subpopulation of white blood cells. In MS, lymphocytes circulating in the central nervous system ( e.g. the brain and spinal cord ) attack the myelin sheath that surrounds and protects nerve fibers ( axons ) which are responsible for transmitting nerve signals to other parts of the body.
As a consequence of receptor binding, the lymphocytes can no longer respond to the molecule that signals them to circulate to sites of inflammation in the body and they stay in the lymph nodes. However, the lymphocytes remain functional and may still be activated within the lymph nodes as part of the immune response.
FTY720 has been developed by Novartis Pharma and licensed from Mitsubishi Pharma Corporation.
Weekend gone Wild
I'm wrecked. Totally played out. This weekend had too many activities and not enough time to recover. I did get the lawn mowed on Friday though. The Mrs managed to pick up the kids at the 11th hour so I did not need to worry about keeping clean. I really need to have my Friday evenings completely worry free in order to get the lawn done. I end up breaking a sweat just pulling the mower out of the garage. Showing up at the Child Detainment and ReEducation Camp covered in dirt, grass clippings and smelling of gasoline is usually frowned upon. The kids and the Mrs arrived at the manor just as I finished the front yard and was beginning to start the back 50. Well, I had to stop. I can't stomach the risk that I might kick up a rock or stick and zing one of my kids. Now the dogs, they could take that kind of hit. Hell, Katie's favorite pass time is seeing how many times she can bite the front wheel of the push mower before Thor sneaks up on her and knocks her to the ground. No, I sat there and helped the kids pick peas until the Mrs became tired of swatting away insects. Speaking of insects, I found 3 large caterpillars munching away at some of my dill and thought it would be a great educational tool for the little ones. They were mesmerized by the 2 inch long pests so I put them in a glass jar and threw in some dill for food. Since then, they have started to form chrysalis and we will probably be seeing some interesting changes soon.
Saturday, oh ... the humanity! We headed up to NYC right after swim lessons. It was an easy trip on the way up. We saw miles and miles of traffic backed up on the NJ
Parking Lot, err .. Turnpike. It was the herds of NYC residents heading down to the shore points. You gotta leave in the middle of the night to avoid that mess. We got through the Holland Tunnel and over to the parking structure off Kenmare Street at shortly before 1100 hours. A quick walk and we were at the building where the Wholesome Brother in Law lived. Nice building. Most of the space was used for a Evangelical Christian group that the BIL is associated with. He lived on the 8th floor and the party that was in honor of his 30th birthday was being held on the 9th. Well, it was hotter than ever up on that tar roof. The Mrs and the other could handle it, but I thought that it was hot enough to fry rice up there. The tar was starting to melt and chasing the kids about in the blazing sun started to stress my internal cooling systems. I helped out with some of the food being prepared on the charcoal grills. I probably should have avoided that, but I seem to gravitate towards food preparation for some reason. Attack at the source, I suppose. In any event, I did not consume enough food or drink enough fluids to keep my system from crashing. I was headed for a disaster and I failed to recognize the symptoms. The party came to an end at 2-3ish and we cut out a little later after helping a bit with clean-up. It was nice, but the kids made it a bit difficult. They don't do well in enclosed spaces and were all too fearless when peering over the edge (fenced in, mind you). The visibility from that height in that part of the city is really quite impressive actually. Not many buildings exceed 5 stories so being at 9/10 was a real treat. This is where things get hairy. We went off to visit the Wife's cousin that could not make it because she was at work selling hand-bags and shoes for 500-1000$ a pop. Yesh! So we are going to visit Pretty Peggy with Caring Karen and Coffin-Nail Herbie with their two Micro-Hounds in tow. Well, I'm pushing the SUV-Stroller on the crowded streets of Soho and I'm finding that some people just don't know how dangerous it is to stop in front of a cranky daddy. This one Uber-Urbane Urbanite rushes around me and then stops cold to bend over and look at some knock-off handbag that a street-vendor is hawking. Well, this has happened enough today that I have become frustrated enough to not care anymore. I just keep going and run her down like the vermin she is. Heh, she gets flustered and gives me her best "I'm pissed" look as I mouth a shallow apology and just keep rolling. You know Miss, if you wore something besides flip-flops on the garbage strewn streets of NYC, you may have had a chance of not having your 300$ pedicure tarnished with skid-marks by the hated meat-eating Haupersaurus Reximus Maximus. I felt better after that, actually. Vindictive, petty, small minded ... yeah ... but I still sleep easy.
After our brief visit at the shoe-n-bag store, the Mrs and I said our good-byes and made our way to the parking garage. To make a long story short, we spent the next 90 minutes trying to leave NYC via the Holland tunnel. Grid-lock. We went spent a lot of time looking at a green light and the sides of cars 'blocking the box'. It was strange since all the traffic was heading to the tunnel but once we got through the sub-Hudson viaduct, it was clear as a bell. Virtually no traffic at all! Thank God the kids fell asleep shortly after we got into the Family Tank or they would be repeating some coarse language that is guaranteed to make the most grizzled sailor blush. It was a fairly clear shot all the way back to the Manor. A few crazy/deranged motorists on the roadways, but nothing outstanding.
I had a scheduled engagement with two people who have become rather close friends (Read: Hard-core drinking buddies) over the years and I was running late. Satish the Lady Slayer, KLG the Personality Collector and I decided to go to a local Japanese restaurant called Ooka that is no more than a 10 minute trip from the manor. Great location, competent staff, one major failing: No liquor license. After a quick but not entirely satisfying meal, we head off to and old haunt I used to frequent when I had nothing better to do (read: raise children). Low and behold, it is shuttered and the grounds have gone back to the wilds. It seems that after I left my stomping grounds, they left me. Oh, how the fickle tides of time have washed away all the endeavors of my youthful drinking and rabble-rousing. Good. That was for naught and taught me nothing but how to hold onto a toilet when vomiting. We go through a string of locations and finally end up at the Keswick Tavern in Glenside, right across from the Keswick Theater. It's loud, smoky, and full of youthful desperation or aging bar-flies. Just the place we are in search of. We talk, gossip, admonish, deride, congratulate, adulate and do all the usual things as we slowly slide into the haze of semi-intoxication. My dehydration, exhaustion, possible bad raw fish and poor choices in liquid libations quickly end my imbibing activities. It is the first time in years that drinking has actually made me dizzy. I was stunned enough to cease drinking my double cosmopolitan. The catalyst was probably my abysmal failure to eat sufficient starches before starting in on the scotch and vodka. It's quickly 0200 and we are roughly reminded that it is time to go by 500 watts of halogen mood-killers.
Fast forward to 0630 the next day. Ugh. Need I say any more than that. A blob of semi-organic proto-plasma would have been more useful within the manor than I. I could not even get up the energy to finish up the laundry duty I started on Friday. And here is the kicker, at 1500 I had another engagement WITH the family at the Victory Brew Pub some 45 miles away. Yes, because I certainly need to put more toxins in my body at that point. We are friends with the Brewer and his Mrs and have not seen them for what seems like years. I also had the chance to meet a bunch of other former associates and their rapidly expanding herd of children that I had not seen in quite some time. All told, there were 9 or 10 youngsters there and for some reason, I looked awfully similar to a jungle-gym to them. Oh yeah, I was feeling it BIG TIME. It was a good time actually. I'm starting to realize how many confederates I have accumulated over time and how many of them are in the same situation as I. We just need to cut loose every so often. Of course, it helps if you don't think you are still 21 and able to drink the world without consequences.
Final items to note: Alexis got car sickness on the way home from the pub. Just as we got off the turn-pike, she lost it. Rats. Second item, I got poison ivy somewhere. Think it is in the garden somewhere ... peculiar. Itchy too, dammit.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Shot In The Dark:
- "There's one child drowning per year for every 11,000 residential pools in the US. There's 1 child gun death per million guns. (Specifically, 550 kids under 10 drown in the 6 million pools and 175 kids under 10 die from the 200 million guns.) So, a kid is roughly 100 times more likely to die in a house with a swimming pool than a house with a gun."
last yard ...
Monitoring a problem site for a coworker who is out on a 'vacation' of sorts. Blogging will be sparse and sub-par. Stay tuned though, I've got some things to kvetch about.
Okay, last night was pizza preceded by the pea gorging in the garden. Desert was Jello. We slept in this morning. Damn, that is friggen boring! Even stranger, traffic was really light for most of the trip in. It's going to be a busy weekend, perhaps that will give me some material. Outside of my angst about the SCOTUS ruling on private property, I got nothing. Speaking of that, go read this.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
- "When American soldiers raided jihadist hideouts in northeastern Iraq this week, they found a number of foreign passports, including two from Saudi Arabia. Several weeks ago the Syrians arrested 300 Saudis before they could cross into Iraq and join the jihad against America. These are just two more bits of evidence that loyalties continue to be divided in Saudi Arabia -- underscoring the urgency of the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2005, which was introduced in the Senate recently by Senator Arlen Specter. The Saudis have been playing a double game since 9/11, maintaining their alliance with the U.S. while aiding the jihad worldwide; now Specter and the bill's other sponsors are trying to put a stop to the duplicity."
- WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people’s homes and businesses — even against their will — for private economic development.
It was a decision fraught with huge implications for a country with many areas, particularly the rapidly growing urban and suburban areas, facing countervailing pressures of development and property ownership rights.
As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.
- According to the residents’ filing, the seven states that allow condemnations for private business development alone are Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and North Dakota.
Eight states forbid the use of eminent domain when the economic purpose is not to eliminate blight; they are Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, South Carolina and Washington.
Another three — Delaware, New Hampshire and Massachusetts — have indicated they probably will find condemnations for economic development alone unconstitutional, while the remaining states have not addressed or spoken clearly to the question.
Alexis Von BugBane, Slayer of Insects
Another day of hard-fought gains in the battle against monotony. The esoteric machinations of software development professionals become rather predictable after some time. Like passing rows of drab grey Mao Coats at a PRC clothing outlet, nothing really jumps out at you and says "Hey, I'm new and exciting!". Of course, being uneventful can be rewarding too.
The muggy afternoon had a little surprise in store for me. Shortly after arriving at the Manor, the skies started to darken and become ominous. I paid keen attention to this knowing the fickle weather patterns of SE Pennsyltucky in the early summer are not to be trifled with. One of the more important tasks in the 'after-work' hours is the daily release of the hounds ... and the inevitable cleanup. This time, however, they were troubled by the sudden drop in barometric pressure and were behaving oddly. The damn quisling dogs would not poop. They were delaying me till the onslaught of rain would come and wet me to the bone. Just as Thor finally finished his 100 cycle spin before relieving himself, the first warm dollops of acid rain began to fall. This was quickly followed by several claps of thunder and blinding flashes of atmospheric static discharge. The vanguard raindrops were soon backed up by sheets of heavy precipitation. I still have to go on the evening S&R mission to extract the twins and the Mrs will be home late tonight. No help there. Damn dogs.
Every day, the Mrs, the kids and I go over their day to see how well they remember things. Like their lessons and if they had any ethical/moral dilemmas. Like not pushing over your sibling or hitting your classmates. Most of the time, it's Alexis ratting out her brother or describing the damage they did to the flora and fauna in the playground. Apparently they had some encounters with insects today. She was very explicit about the engagements she had with them.
"Really? What were they?" I asked knowing that she only knows the names of a few bugs.
"Snake, caterpillar, spider, and ants and bumble bee and ladybug!" She quipped, "They scared me."
"Oh yeah? What did you do then?"
"I throw mulch on them."
"Okay, so what about tomorrow, will they still be there?", I queried.
She thought for a moment and asserted her position,"I throw much on them again!"
I suppose that I'll hear a similar story this evening when asked. We should see if the USAF has considered a mulch-bomb as part of their armament inventory.
The unexamined life is not worth living. -- Socrates ... Indeed.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
"The jury that convicted a man of murdering nine of his children now must decide if he should be sentenced to death or life in prison. That penalty phase was to begin Wednesday.
The jury took two weeks to convict Marcus Wesson, 58, after months of hearing about his bizarre life of polygamy and incest.
Wesson's conviction on nine counts of first-degree murder makes him eligible for the death penalty. He also was found guilty on all 14 counts of raping and molesting seven of his underage daughters and nieces. "
- A Bucks County woman who stabbed and critically injured her husband after he refused to sit down to dinner with her pleaded guilty yesterday to felony assault charges.
Diane Gallagher, 38, wife of Lower Southampton Township Supervisor Joseph Gallagher, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and related charges in Bucks County Court. A sentencing date has not been set.
Joseph Gallagher sustained a life-threatening chest wound from a steak knife in the Dec. 28 attack in their home. The couple told police they had been quarreling, and that Diane Gallagher had accidentally wounded her husband after he refused to join her in a prime rib and Boston cream pie dinner she had prepared.
Through her attorney, Diane Gallagher admitted that she was criminally negligent in the stabbing, but that she had not intended to wound him.
- Plant chemical may harm male fertility - Men's Health - MSNBC.com
A plant chemical found in soy, tofu and legumes could potentially damage sperm and affect male fertility, a British researcher said on Wednesday.
Professor Lynn Fraser, of King's College London has shown that genistein, which can mimic the effect of the female hormone estrogen, affects sperm in mice.
But it seems to have an even stronger impact on human sperm."
She added that if women eat soy and other foods high in genistein it might have a bigger impact on male fertility because the chemical is likely to affect sperm when it is in the female preparing to fertilize an egg.
"Maternal exposure to the compounds is probably more important than paternal exposure," Fraser explained.
Although it is very preliminary research, Fraser speculated that the findings could have an impact on women trying to conceive.
Slogging through the swamp
Yesterday was rough ... lots of work, nothing I can really write about. Standard bane of the contractor business really. Customers not knowing what they want and then complaining that you don't understand their needs when you ask for requirements. In the end, the customer (the client's customer) figured out what they wanted but were unable to make changes on their end to accommodate the transfer of information to us in a timely manner in order to make THEIR deadline. It would be ironic if it did not happen so often.
Home life was a breeze too. The kids stuffed themselves with peas ... made me smile so widely that I thought my ears were going to pop off. I've got to be careful about patting myself on the back about the garden though, might sprain something. This morning was good. Well, not good but good. The Mrs and I slept in ... really late. The kids and dogs did too. It was niiiice. Sure, we had to deal with the usual cruft that comes with sleeping in: Rush to get out the door, late morning traffic, standard accident on the turnpike. It was worth it though. One of these days, we'll need to schedule a half day of vacation on a Wednesday and do things right.
- Professor Josef Käs and Dr Jochen Guck from the University of Leipzig have developed a procedure that can extract and isolate embryo-quality stem cells from adult blood for the first time. This new technique could unlock the stem cell revolution and stimulate a boom in medical research using stem cells.
Stem cells are cells which have not yet differentiated into specialised tissues such as skin, brain or muscle. They promise a new class of regenerative medicine, which could repair apparently permanent damage such as heart disease or Parkinson’s. The cells are currently taken from aborted human foetuses, an issue which has led to controversy and opposition in many parts of the world. Any alternative source, such as voluntary adult donations, could spark a boom in new cures.
This bodes ill for mankind:
"Drug-Resistant Avian Flu In China From Inappropriate Medication Of Chickens"
Avian influenza (or bird flu) outbreaks have devastated the poultry industry in Asia in recent years. Since 2003, avian flu has swept through poultry populations of at least nine countries in Eastern Asia and Southeast Asia. Tens of millions of chickens have either died form infection or have been slaughtered to contain viral spread.
Well, it seems that the WHO might have lost one of their two best weapons. An article in the 18 June 2005 Washington Post reports that the Chinese government has been encouraging Chinese farmers to treat major bird flu outbreaks among chickens by giving the chickens amantadine, an important antiviral/anti-flu drug meant for humans. The result is that now strains of the bird flu are rapidly evolving that are immune to the drug.
Treatment of chickens and other livestock with human-approved drugs is in violation of US and most international livestock guidelines. The Chinese, however, have apparently been using amantadine in chickens since the 1990s, well before China acknowledged bird flu infection of its poultry in 2004. International researchers now conclude that years of adaptation by the virus to amantadine have rendered the drug ineffective. For this reason, amantadine will no longer protect people in case of a worldwide bird flu epidemic. From the Washington Post article:
Amantadine is one of two types of medication for treating human influenza. But researchers determined last year that the H5N1 bird flu strain circulating in Vietnam and Thailand, the two countries hardest hit by the virus, had become resistant, leaving only an alternative drug that is difficult to produce in large amounts and much less affordable, especially for developing countries in Southeast Asia.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
There is something I failed to mention from Sunday that I feel that I should confess. I have a little rodent problem. The vorpal rabbit population here in the Haupertonain Empire has recently seen a substantial increase due to an influx of illegal lepus migration. The vermin are a blight on the landscaping. A few years back, I had planted several asters in locations about the front of the Manor. Within 2 years, all but one had been decimated. This year, the last one was assaulted with such ferocity that only a handful of barren stalks remained. Additionally, last year was a tough year for the agricultural sector thanks to these 'forces of nature'. The lowest mammalian member of the food chain has been targeting my peas, lettuce and carrot tops. Just this weekend I lost 5 pea plants, nearly a quarter of one row. The bottoms are chewed off and eaten up to 3 inches from the ground leaving the rest of the vine to wither and the pods to shrivel in the sun. No, this will not stand but there is no bait I could set for the live trap that would entice the varmint more than the succulent growths that are in abundance. I can't really put chicken wire around the perimeter either ... the cost would be mildly prohibitive. My only option is to grin and bear it I suppose.
I reluctantly held this nihilistic belief till I was out in the garden to collect some lettuce for my lunch salad when I spotted him. One foot of vegetation nightmare busily ravaging yet another pea stalk. We eyed each other as my heart beat faster. My hands clutched at the thin metal bowl that I had brought along with me. Perhaps I could trap him under the bowl and release him 30 miles from here. It would take a lifetime for him to ever find his way back. I slowly take a hesitant step ... he moves over to the next row. I move to the next row and edge a bit closer. We repeat our little dance of brinkmanship over and over till we are several rows over. The green bean bushes are his camouflage. I know he is there, I know exactly where he lays in wait for me to depart. No more than 4 feet from me is my agricultural nemesis. The beast that lays waste to the life-giving peas that my children devour with glee. This ends here and now. I launch my attack with lightning speed and ferocity. Sure, a bean stalk or two my be part of the collateral damage. It matters not now. Man against nature. The bowl comes down and the nuisance invader senses impending doom ... too late. It makes a futile attempt to bolt off but becomes trapped by the edge of the inverted canopy of the metal bowl. What should have been a simple dragnet capture has now taken a terrible turn towards the fatal. His fragile, native skull took the full force of the descending lip. Not one twitch, it lay still. Not the means I would have preferred to end this contest between farmer and foe, but the deed is irreversible. The fruits of my labor now are the exclusive domain for only to myself and my progeny.
With that morose snippet aside, Monday presented a karmic backlash of unparalleled dimensions. Nearly anything that could have broke over the weekend did. Anything that escaped was victim of secondary or tertiary system failure. What a mess. It will take days to sort it all out and this wondrous Tuesday morning was host to a greater evil. The 0700 corporate staff meeting. If you are fortunate enough to not have the joy of attending a meeting at that absurd hour, count your lucky stars. The misery of the worker-bees was compounded by the revelation that the coffee machine privileges was rescinded by our supplier since we were not buying enough coffee. An overwhelming number of coffee drinkers were out in the field, and thus, not consuming. No consumption, no orders, no coffee machine for free. Will the horrors never end!?
Monday, June 20, 2005
Great Right Wing Conspiracy
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Father's Day Weekend ... of DOOOOOM!
Saturday was interesting. Not so much in the 'intellectually stimulating' way. Just little events strung together. The morning swim went grandly. The Mrs had bought two swim outfits for the kids that had flotation devices sewn into the torso. This made it easier for the kids to do their strokes without some bulky vest encumbering them. Well, as soon as Alexis figured out that she did not need to have daddy or mommy to cling to, she would have NOTHING to do with us. Little Mrs independent. The upside is that she was kicking the whole time trying to tread water. I was hoping that this would tire her out so she would nap during our drive up to the Hinterlands of NJ. We had pancakes at Perkins as scheduled, but found ourselves saddled with a neglectful waitress. Everything was fine till we wanted to leave. We sat there for 15 minutes as the kids became more agitated. We just needed a bill and a box for the left-over food. After a while, we got tired of waiting and a I grabbed the kids and hustled them out while the Mrs got out her hunting equipment. She was about to track down the errant server when she caught the attention of a bus-boy who got the bill and a box for her. never saw the waitress (Michele) again, but that may have been a good thing. Either we would get a weak apology or none at all. In any event, the Mrs did the tipping and she is not as generous or forgiving as I am.
We had a house warming event to go to ... near the Pallisades in NJ. Fairly nice area actually. The standard NorthEast sleepy hollow sort of town that has one major intersection that is perpetually clogged. The downside is that you really cannot get anywhere in that region quickly unless you take the Garden State Expressway, which is an adventure in itself. The upside is that they use EZPass. The downside is that you have to stop everywhere to pay tolls. At least in the Northern part, the EZPass readers could handle you going 65+ mph. The shore traffic was going in the opposite direction for both legs of the trip so it only took us about 2 hours on each leg. Given that it was just over 100 miles for each trip, we did fairly well. The kids slept for about 30 minutes the whole time. Recently, they have become less interested in taking their mid-afternoon naps. Ahhh, if they only knew how much I would love to be forced to take a multi-hour nap in the middle of the day. Ohhh, the arm twisting and cajoling it would require (sarcasm alert!). We arrive shortly before 1400 hours and find that we are nearly the first guests to arrive. Perfect, it gives us time to let the kids get settled in and for the Mrs and I to converse a bit with the hosts before they become harried with the standard party emergencies. The kids lasted about an hour before the engaged in the typical mind-rending flurry of demands or actions that strike fear into the hearts of parents. Disappearing around corners, charging at the grill, dashing off at top speed at the salt-water aquarium. Standard stuff. I think my hair-line is receding and it's not the wife's fault.
Later on in the life of the party, some folks show up with lap dogs. The dog that the kids become most attached to is a 'wiener dog' puppy. Jake could not leave him alone and thankfully, the owner was more than happy to be with Jake as he tried to lead it around on the leash and 'take care' of it. Fortunately, I think we have gotten through to him that you cannot treat the smaller dogs like they treat the indestructible haupertonian cybernetic hounds. At 1800, we have had enough of chasing our kids around and slowly initiate a retreat to the Family Tank. We say our goodbyes a couple times as we return to pick up various belongings deposited about the property. That, and we needed to abscond with a few metric tons of rice-crispy bars and chocolate cookies to keep the kids in check till we got back to the manor. The larder at the manor is stocked with all the appropriate vittles fortified with sufficient fuel to keep the kids from lapsing into a nutrient deficiency rage. Here on the road though, we are at the mercy of whatever 'fat of the land' we happen across. The trip back was relatively uneventful. Outside of the standard INSANE driving habits of those around me and the various accidents involving tractor trailers. We manage to zip by those disaster scenes before the rubber-neck hordes had flocked to the scene like a battalion of destruction famished vultures. The usual traffic impedances had cleared up and we got back just in time to give the kids a small meal and then send them off to a severely needed dream land. The frazzled parental units were also longing to dive into bed and let the days events drift away on the wings of dreams. Alas, we were to be sorely disappointed.
When the Mrs and I finished up prepping the Manor for the night, we dove into bed and started to nod off before the waves in the mile wide water bed had subsided. There were the usual creeks and groans from the old frame, of course. I bought the thing back in 1990 when I was working at DEC so it is coming to the end of it's days. I paid no attention to the tiny 'pop' that accompanied the litany of groaning wood and sloshing of water. The noise I could not ignore manifested itself about an hour or two later. It was that steady 'drip-drip-drip' of water going where it should not. I immediately shook myself to a waking state and ran over to the light. I was courteous enough to alert the Mrs so she could cover her eyes. Nothing like waking to the blinding glare of a dozen recessed lights to get you into a cranky mood. I started inspecting the perimeter of the bed and quickly found the origin of the noise. There was a leak in the liner. Which is just a touch worse than finding the leak in the tube because now we must immediately drain the bed since the liner will not hold the water. We have been intending to clean out the Master Bedroom for some time now so I could refinish the floors, it's just that I was not expecting to do it at 0100 on a Sunday morning ... Father's Day morning. It took till 0200 to get things right where the bed was draining into the shower and the leak in the liner was staunched. The rest of Sunday was spent cleaning out the master suite and disassembling various bits of furniture. I did get a card from the kids though, it made the day a bit more tolerable. So guys, How did YOUR special day go?
Friday, June 17, 2005
- A U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman treats one of two Iraqi children brought into the Regimental Combat Team 2 Aide Station at Camp Ripper, Al Asad, Iraq, on June 8, 2005. The children were found tied to a cinder block during a house raid in Dhulab, Iraq, by Marines attached to 2nd Marine Division as they conducted counter-insurgency operations with Iraqi Security Forces. DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Shane S. Keller, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)
Daddy's Little Helper.
Alas, the week is ending
Feeling a bit sluggish this morning. Other than the exceptional event of the kids behaving last night while the Mrs was off at the doctor's office, not much to report. They thought that the hacking cough might be something bacterial so they gave her a prescription for some antibiotics ... should do the trick. Hopefully. Pretty soon, everyone in the Haupertonain International HQ will be on some sort of anti-biotic or tetrionic gamma radiation treatment. Scary.
Bad news about the lawn, won't be able to mow until later tonight even though I got going at 0650. The wife is engaged with a management class till 1700 in NJ. This results in a situation where there is no reasonable chance that she will be able to pick up the kids. The roads will be choked with people heading off to the shore. I need to get to work on that point-to-point worm-hole transmission device. The weather is quite pleasant today to boot ... rats. I'll have to hold off till she gets back. We won't have much time to do yardwork this weekend since we are expected up in the NY area for a house-warming. Actually, it's North of NYC in NJ. The Palisades actually, but what part of North NJ is really not NYC? No, the lawn work has gotta get done tonight before it gets dark. And it looks like I'm going to have to wait till next week to do any edging. So much to do, so little time. Speaking of activities, I think I'll get started on cleaning up/painting the walls before the kids birthday party. Only a few weeks before that calamity laying in wait.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
- Abnormally high temperatures are being blamed for causing the pavement to buckle on three highways in western Pennsylvania, forcing road crews to make emergency repairs.
Crews have been busy since Friday, when an eastbound lane of the Pennsylvania Turnpike just before the Ohio line heaved and buckled in several spots over a two-mile stretch. The lane was closed for three days.
Since then, road crews have also tended to warped sections of onramps to Interstate 79 and Interstate 376. All three highways have reopened.
'This is a fairly uncommon occurrence and, in fact, it may fall under the category of rare,' Joe Agnello, a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission spokesman, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in a story published Thursday. 'We don't have them every year. But when you get eight or nine straight days of higher temperatures, you're more susceptible to them.'
This could get ugly, but I think the father is doing the right thing here:
- A brain-dead woman is being kept on life support in hopes that her 21-week-old fetus survives, and the woman's husband said he is certain that's what she would have wanted.
Jason Torres said doctors believe the fetus could have a chance if Susan Torres lives another month and her cancer stays away from her uterus.
"If his wife and her fetus live until mid-July, or about 25 weeks' gestation, the fetus could survive delivery, though with a heightened risk of brain damage and other problems, Torres said. A full-term pregnancy is about 40 weeks"
"There's not a glimmer of doubt in my mind that this is what she would have wanted," Torres said. "Any chance at all to save the baby, and Susan would have said, 'Let's go for it.'"
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Today is going to be a bugger. I've got several short meetings to attend. It's going to SEVERELY cramp my blogging today. I'll be posting late and probably sub-par.Update:Here it is:
Lunch was a danger yesterday. I usually chow down on a pint of cherry tomatoes. We got this last batch at BJ's wholesale and I'm starting to think that it was a bad idea. Out of every 3 cherry tomatoes, 2 of them turned out to be a mouth full of putrid rot. An explosion of decay washing over my palate and invading every crevice and nook amongst my taste buds. I tried to vet the less promising looking ones, but alas, my tomato kung-fu skills were not strong enough. Bletch.
Jake had a couple of appointments this afternoon. A dermatologist appt for his eczema at 1700 and a pediatrician appt for his ear at 1740. I had left a bit earlier than normal knowing that if Murphy's law was to be believed, there would be some sort of delay. And sure enough, there was a car-fire on the turnpike right at the Willow Grove exit where I get off. I managed to make it to the first appointment 5 minutes early. Jake is apparently a celebrity at the dermatologists and had a pretty decent rapport with the nurses and doctor. He was great in the waiting room, but as usual, was a twister on atmospheric steroids in the examination room. Anything more than 15 seconds of inactivity is an anathema for him. He was touching every button, knob and switch he could get his hands on while I just chased him about the cavernous room and undid any 'modifications' he implemented. Once the dermatologist arrived, he and Jake had a little one-on-one sparring until Jake plowed his little rock-hard fist into the physicians 'twig-n-berries'. That ended the pugilistic spectacle fairly quickly. Heal thyself, eh?
The second appointment went well too. Jake laid down on my lap and watched a Disney show for a bit till we got into the examination room. Once there, he did the usual 'Turn off the lights' thing. This time, however, I would roar and tickle him till I turned on the lights. The thrill of being unexpectedly tickled in the dark was entirely too delightful for him. Then something shocking happened. Within 5 minutes of the physicians assistant leaving the room, the Pediatrician knocked on the door. I was expecting a good 30-45 minute wait while boxed into the tiny 6 ft by 11 ft interment chamber. In any event, the doctor proclaimed that his chest was clear, but he had the initial stages of an ear infection and that if it did not clear up this time, we should go get his ears fitted for tubes. Urgh. Lets hope that this will be the last of it ... this time.
This morning sucked. Aluminum siding spilled out onto the turnpike right after my interchange ... traffic backed up to France. Police and turnpike officials standing on the side of the road discussing extraction approaches while commuters drive over the stuff at 5mph. Funniest part: The traffic news (KWY) was saying that the owner can come back and claim it if they still want it. Riiiight. Then we would hear of an impromptu lynch mob forming. Talk about trying to incite a riot!
WORK: 3 meetings, 30 minutes each ... all run over to an hour. All three on the 3rd floor, I'm on the first. My ego assails me: "Sure, use the stairs, you out of shape blob of pasty white flesh!". My extended lethargy about exercise and the sedentary job have weakened me. I actually got winded hauling my but up to the meetings. Worst part, the meetings all came to the same conclusion: There is a lot more work here than what we can get done before the drop-dead date even if this was top priority. Great. I knew this was coming and could not do anything to alleviate it. All I can say is that 'This dog wont hunt!'. Someone with authority needs to step up and reign in some of the people making promises that they cannot cover.
Man, I love living in this state:
BENSALEM, Pa. (AP) - The door of an armored truck flew open Tuesday afternoon, causing money to fly out the door and onto the road. The mishap occurred at about 5 p.m. near an off-ramp of Interstate 95.
Traffic was tied up for more than an hour as security guards and police officers scrambled to pick up the money from the shoulder and an embankment.
Turnpike strikes back.
After an extended dinner complete with a generous helping of 'Eat your dinner or no desert!', we retired to the living room and attempted to stay awake while we interacted with the kids as they dove into their activity books. Math. They got the numbers down, now we just need to work on the concept that numbers MEAN something. Interesting observation: the kids seem to enjoy the 1$ books and flash cards more than most of the significantly more expensive toys they have. Well, except for the twin towers, wagon and tricycles. The kids enjoy outside activities more so than I in this weather. It is supposed to get up to the low 90's today. Lower humidity, but ghaaa! I can see the brick-oven apartments in Philly starting to heat up and cook their occupants already.
The Mrs and I slept so much better last night. Her hacking cough is starting to ameliorate, but I insisted that make an appointment to see our family doctor. Allergy pharma would probably help her greatly to get through this rough spot. She is exhausted from being up all night coughing and I'm exhausted from listening to her. Since she slept better last night, so did I. Over slept in fact, for about 10 minutes. It felt good, but I paid a price for that. There was an accident on the turnpike at 0700. If I had gotten on the road by 0645, I would have got past it before it occurred. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. In any event, I heard about it on the radio at 0712 just before I was at a critical juncture. I went straight instead of making my usual turn and spent 15 extra minutes hunting down an on-ramp that was beyond the accident scene. Sure, it cost me about 10-15 minutes, but I think it saved me 30-45 minutes. They had shut down all the west bound lanes so that they could clear the rubble and burning debris. That part of the turnpike is one of the most congested and dangerous stretches ... and no one knows why. In any event, I made it to work in 45 minutes (sweet), just before the ambient regional temperature hit 81 degrees. I checked again and the record high for today was 96 back in 1957. It's going to be a grueling summer.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
I first read this headline and thought, that perhaps they should stop smoking menthol cigarettes: "More Inmates Suffering From 'Meth Mouth'" Reading on, I learn that it is the hapless souls who have become addicted to crank that are actually having the issue. Different kind of drug delivery entirely.
- FARMINGTON, Utah - Increasing numbers of inmates are arriving at prisons and jails with rotted teeth. It's called "meth mouth" - a condition rampant among methamphetamine users - and its taxing corrections officials' dental budgets.
Contract dentists are having to put in more time to keep up with the demand for dental visits. Some jails have a two-month waiting list.
In Salt Lake County, dental costs for jail inmates increased 30 percent between 2003 and 2004, said Jared Davis in the county's finance office.
Dental costs for county inmates: $44,756 in 2003; $58,193 in 2004.
The county does try to charge inmates a co-payment for the dental. Inmates paid nearly 12,000 of the $58,193 dental costs in 2004.
- Much of the dental work is extraction.
"There are 28 teeth," said Dr. Richard Johnson, a dentist who works regularly at the Utah State Prison and the Utah County Jail. "There are 26 of them that need to be extracted sometimes, and sometimes you just have to dig 'em out."[sic. OUCH!]
A few weeks ago, Johnson pulled seven soft, black teeth out of an inmate's mouth. A week later, he pulled out four more of the patient's teeth.
Dentists in private practice and public health clinics also see young meth users who have to wear dentures.
"They look like someone shot a gun through their mouths," said Dr. Richard G. Ellis, who volunteers at Salt Lake Donated Dental Services. "It just destroys them."
- Opinions differ as to what causes meth mouth.
Some dentists believe the acid in the drug eats away the teeth. Others say it's meth addicts' huge consumption of sugar-laden soda to alleviate dry mouth.
The pseudoephedrine in meth slows saliva production, Anderson said. Saliva naturally neutralizes acids and clears food from the teeth.
Decreased saliva flow allows bacteria to build up 10 times over normal levels. Without it, acids can erode tooth enamel, which in turn causes cavities.
Poor oral hygiene and neglect also might be a factor in tooth decay.
- PITTSBURGH - Americans are expected to use as much as 3 percent more electricity each year over the next two decades, and coal could help fill the gap.
Mining the coal may not be an issue; both production and consumption rose last year. Moving more coal could be.
At the National Coal Show last week, industry executives and a government geologist discussed whether the United States has the necessary railcars, locomotives, trucks and barges to transport the coal that is needed to supply a growing American appetite for electricity.
Coal-fired power plants provide almost half of the electricity produced in the United States, and that share is expected to hold steady over the next 20 years, according to the Energy Information Administration, a part of the Energy Department.
- About 1.1 billion tons of coal was mined last year, slightly below the 2001 record of 1.3 billion tons; about 1 billion tons were used.
Virginia-based Norfolk Southern, which also owns mines, and the nation's other railroads are the workhorses for the coal industry, carrying about 60 percent of the coal shipped in the United States.
About 15 percent of Norfolk Southern's fleet is used to ship coal. Last year, the railroad bought 200 locomotives. It plans to buy 230 more in the next two years. The railroad also faces replacing more than 30,000 aging coal cars in the next 15 years.
Meanwhile, the industry may need to repair rail lines or build new ones.
Heh, only second to Illinois with it's 6.
- Local legislators and community leaders are mounting an offensive to reverse the Pentagon's recommendation that the Willow Grove air base be closed.
Gov. Rendell will speak at a "Save Our Base Day" rally on June 27 at Hatboro-Horsham High School, where people will be urged to sign and write anti-base closing petitions and letters.
- "We are in high gear," State Rep. Eugene McGill (R., Montgomery) said. About 3,000 people already have signed petitions urging that the base, established during World War II, be kept open.
McGill and Shapiro, along with State Rep. Sue Cornell (R., Montgomery), said they believe the commission is not fully aware how crucial Willow Grove is in the war on terrorism here and abroad.
The base, which has units from all the military services, has played a vital role in the post-9/11 military mobilization, they said.
The travesty of Tuesday
My old co-worker Doug has left the client and the Firm. Now, we have a less older co-worker replacing him. Out with the old, in with the old. The replacement, Mr Rockstar, was here before but got out on parole. Parole revoked, immediate incarceration recommended and acted upon. Poor guy. Speaking of poor guys, someone at the client site figured out that I work there and dumped several garbage projects on my plate. Very little coding or design, lots of testing and haggling with other fractious departments for resources and 'permission'. I KNOW that they will all come to a head by the end of the week when certain critical things need to happen. Should be interesting. Yeah, interesting as in 'Oh, the pattern of pustules from your smallpox infection are leaving an interesting scar pattern'.
Back in my retreat world of home, hearth and family, I was treated to a new development with Jacob. We were playing in the sweltering heat and humidity for a bit until the Mrs arrived at home. With the fickle attention of the twins focusing on the Attentive Wife, I strode over to the agricultural Sector and started inspecting the 4 rows of snow peas. It looked like someone had snuck into the garden and inflated all the pea-pods last night with a bicycle pump. I plucked a few from the closest row and cracked one open. Just then, Alexis (Pea Monger) noticed my actions and insisted that she be allowed to eat some. Far be it for me to deny my kids a natural, healthy and pesticide free snack. She she usually eats the inside and I feed the outside to the dogs or myself, depending on the state of mastication she leaves the husks in. Well, Jacob saw the delight on his sister's face and could not be left out of the activity. Mostly, he just wanted to feed pea-pods to the Hounds. We let him know that he needs to eat the insides first before turning the 'refuse' over to the slavering canines. He was rather enthused about the whole activity and would follow me down the rows until I gave him a pod or two. He would then run back to the Mrs and get her to open it up and help him eat all the peas out. It was an activity that required the whole family to participate: I would search and retrieve, the kids would transport and consume the payload, the Mrs would do an intermediate processing and mediation step and the dogs would do the refuse disposal. So the good news it that we have a pair of enthusiastic pea-eaters on our hands. Today peas, tomorrow brussel sprouts!
Monday, June 13, 2005
- The Bionic Car is powered by a 2-liter, four-cylinder, common-rail, turbocharged diesel that makes 140 horsepower. Executives said the fuel economy rating of 70 mpg would be about 30 percent higher than that achieved by a production vehicle. Emissions standards would be met in part with a particulate filter and with DaimlerChrysler's "selective catalytic reduction" system -- the injection of urea solution into exhaust
|Your IQ Is 115|
Your Logical Intelligence is Exceptional
Your Verbal Intelligence is Exceptional
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Exceptional
Your General Knowledge is Above Average
Yeah, I know ... but my ego needs a boost today, no matter how flimsy the underpinnings.
- Now, therefore, the Council of the City of Philadelphia, at the behest of Councilman Frank Rizzo, wants you to know that the days of grave bathroom inequality could soon change.
Rizzo introduced a bill yesterday that would require two toilets for women for every one that men have in most places of public assembly (not including schools, hospitals or other buildings used for educational and health purposes).
Call it girl power in the form of potty parity.
- Rizzo's parity bill is similar to one signed into law earlier this week by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg - it would apply to most new construction, as well as places that are undergoing renovations in a 12-month period that cost more than 50 percent of a building's value.
Places of public assembly are defined in the bill as any arena, bar, concert hall, convention hall, movie theater, public dance hall, stadium, or theater open to the public.
- Though Rizzo did not broach the topic with Mayor Street before he introduced yesterday's bill, the mayor at his weekly session with reporters yesterday agreed that men's restrooms are typically underutilized while women's restroom are "overtaxed."
"It's really a problem," the mayor said.
But Street did not commit to Rizzo's bill, and instead said he believed that unisex facilities might be the way to go, since they are cheaper and easier to construct.
Asked about Street's comments, Rizzo said he's not hot on the proposal - there's too much potential for embarrassing situations.
"Women deserve privacy," Rizzo said. "I'm not too concerned about it, but I think most women would feel differently."
Minnesota Meat Market
Ahhh, sweet Monday.
I am completely tuckered out from this weekend. I do this sometimes. Work a little too hard, a little too long. I guess I just forget that I am no longer in the best shape of my life. I just cannot labor for hours on end on the blazing sun and pummeling humidity. I'm so tired, in fact, that I'm going to do the cop-out list of activities:
- Clean up after Thor, who could not wait to go outside to poop.
- Sleep for 15 more minutes till kids wake
- Go to swim lessons with kids, who are starting to swim on their own with flotation devices.
- Go to Perkins Pancake Saturday with on restraining seats. Lightly reprimand Jake for flirting with the teenage girl in the next booth. Not nice to touch ladies even if they do smile at you and proclaim that you are cute.
- Mrs gets killer headache leaving restaurant, becomes morbidly lethargic.
- Stop at Lowes, pick up some stuff to finish of the Twin Towers
- Standard BJs Wholesale visit
- Mrs getting worse, remind her of emergency kit beneath the Gunner's seat in Family Tank. Sweet Tylenol.
- Made it back to the manor, Jake, Alexis and Mrs all go right to bed till 1500
- I labor till 1830: Mow Lawn, Edge, Pull weeds, Prune Trees, finish Twin Towers roof, periscope and trapeze bar
- Talk to Neighbor Marvin about his kidney cancer ... going to loose both of 'em.
- Heat finally lays me low and I retreat to the AC goodness of the Manor
- Kids up at 7, To Church by 8:30
- Both kids very active the entire mass ... 3 ring circus wrestling match
- Meet mommy at giant, but a TON of meat
- Replace air filter in furnace
- Kids play outside with Mrs while I fertilize - turn on sprinklers for 5 min. to wet grass
- Wash the dogs, they were starting to be stink a bit
- Head all the dead flowers
- Put on a gutter guard over front porch after cleaning out the crud
- Weed some of the garden ... cull 1 row of carrots
- kids eat lunch, nap for a few hours, go for a stroller walk with Mrs ... what a life!
- I'm toast, go take a shower
- Grill the meat I just bought
- Bathe kids and put them to bed
- Wrap up pork ribs, prep for next day
- Try to sleep with my newfound sun-burn
Friday, June 10, 2005
It was going to be a quick trip to have one last beer with Doug and then I would come back to the office. Nothing elaborate or extensive. Best laid plans of men and consultants. I had brought in a couple of closet bars for one of my co-workers who had just bought a new house. None of the closets had any bars to hang clothes from so I told him I had a couple that I did not need and would bring them in. I figured he would be at the gathering and I could just transfer them to his car. Well, I could not get in contact with him all morning so I figured that he was either out of the office or was otherwise indisposed. Alright, I need to stop off at the office anyways and pick up some of my mail (old pay-check receipts, timesheets, etc...) so I'll drop off the bars in his cube while I am there. Skip ahead to 1120 and I'm zipping along the local roads on the way to Home Base. I use a slip ramp to get off of Rt202 and onto a lane that is not frequently used during the lunch hours. As I round the corner, a car unexpectedly pulls out in front of me. They were looking in the opposite direction for traffic not considering that anyone would come from my direction. My liquid lightning reflexes enabled me to avoid the other vehicle, but my rear passenger tire caught one of those tungsten-carbide curbs that the sharpen to razor thin sharpness. I felt the rear of the car jump a bit as I clipped the curb. In my mind, I knew that my awful automotive luck would manifest itself as a flat tire. The other vehicle took off and I proceeded to the HQ. Once I parked the Super Saturn, I took a look at the tire and sure enough, a large chunk of the side wall was missing. Right down to the rubber inner-tire. A sufficient amount of pressure on a turn would surely cause it to blow out. Looks like I'll be stopping at the Sears Auto Shop upstairs from the pub to get the tire replaced.
I settled in to my seat at the pub, the SuperSaturn was in the capable hands of the Sears Staff upstairs. Much to my chagrin, the co-worker that I dropped the bars off for showed up at the gathering. Well, that's a 60$ misadventure. No good deed goes unpunished. Since I was there for at least an hour while the tire was being replaced, I decided to stay and have a few beers AND some beef tips. I had a free-lunch card anyways so what the hay. After a pint of Prussian Pride IPA and a hearty meal of mashed taters with the beef tips, I was full. Not full enough, however, to prevent me from ordering a 24 oz Maximus. This is a killer beer. Imagine ordering a bucket of lead weights with a complementary kick in the gut. It's fairly potent too. Yeah, I would be paying the price (a well deserved price) for this dalliance over the next few hours. The whole outing burned through the 2 hours I had 'banked' this week so I had no moral qualms ... I just needed some coffee to get me to quitting time. Some super-potent coffee would do the trick AND give me terminal heartburn to boot. Ugh.
Going home was a bit of a pain. There was a huge backup at the KOP onramp to the Turnpike. No good reason, just the usual 10 lanes to 2 lanes kind of BS. People just don't get that if you are courteous and respectful, this kind of thing would not be so difficult. Apparently there was an accident on the Blue Route (476) just before the Turnpike entrance so all the traffic was redirected up 76 to 276 ... it's complicated and messy. Nobody was in a good mood or very tolerant by the time they got to KOP.
It was pizza night and the kids did very well. Nearly 1.5 slices each (again). I feel a growth spurt coming on ... must be the growth hormones in the beef. While the kids played and then ate dinner, I was out near the property boundary pulling up weeds out of the pacasandra. Ok, they were not really weeds but second year ash tree growth. Super Grandma had gone through them last year and cut them off at the soil line, but they all came back with 2 sprouts. This time, I just pulled them from the soil and threw them aside. It looks much better now, but I think I should go through that whole area and remove all the weeds right up to the electrified security fence. It was rather humid out so I broke into a furious sweat quite quickly. I felt like a titan wading through the fields and plucking the invading parasite humans from my homogeneous plane of green. I had a few moments before dusk settled in so I started to tend to the Agricultural sector. The hot, humid and water-logged nights have been kind to the tomatoes. They are shooting up and bushing out quite nicely. I trying to keep them pinched back to a reasonable size this year so they have been throwing out suckers from all along the base branches. What was a blessing for the fruits was a warning sign of impending doom for the spinach. All 6 of the plantings bolted within the last 2 days and headed for the heavens like a Titan Rocket. Oh well, I still have my 2 varieties of lettuce that is putting out really nicely formed heads. The plantings are nearly done now, but the seeds that I planted before them are just starting to get going so I'll have lots of greens for quite some time now. I'll have to remember this trick for next year ... plant seeds & sets.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
- The poorly funded Griffith University team – which conducted its research with a mere $200,000 in grants – appears to have found a direct and non-controversial alternative to the use of stem cells derived from leftover embryos created during fertility treatment, reported the Australian newspaper.
"Our experiments have shown adult stem cells isolated from the olfactory mucosa have the ability to develop into many different cell types if they are given the right chemical or cellular environment," research team leader Alan Mackay-Sim told the paper.
- The breakthrough, first announced two months ago, has been largely ignored by the U.S. media, which has focused on embryonic stem cell research as the only option to cure debilitating ailments like Hodgkin's, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
As a result of the lopsided press coverage, California voters passed a $6 billion referendum to fund embryonic stem cell research last November, with similar programs proposed around the U.S. - though embryonic stem cell research has yet to show any significant medical progress.
Unlike embryonic stem cells, which reportedly can trigger tumors in one in five cases at the point of injection, adult stem cells grow in a controlled fashion and don't revert to their original tissue form.
Another significant benefit: Because adult stem cells can be harvested from the patient, there's no risk of the body rejecting them as alien, eliminating the need for immune system-suppressing drugs.
Still, two months after Australia's adult stem cell breakthrough was first announced, it has played little or no role in the ongoing U.S. debate over government funding for embryonic stem cell research.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
heatwave - day 6
Over the last few days, I've been putting in some extra time as a buffer. Today, we are going out to lunch with a co-worker for Dollar Pint Thursday. It will be our last Thursday beer lunch since his last day is this Friday. I briefly mentioned this before and could not say much. He asked me to be a reference for his Security Clearance check. That is the only reason I knew about it and really could not say anything to anyone for fear that if he did not clear, he would not get the job and then he would be in a bind. In any event, these lunches usually take an hour or so, but since so many co-workers are going to be showing up I believe that it will be a protracted gathering. My drop-dead time is 1615 (15 minute flex) every day and If I don't get a 40 hour week in, I get docked 4 hours of vacation. Yeah, I'm salaried. Yes, it's a peculiar arrangement. In any event, I plan on having 1 Pint and then getting my caboose back to the client location so I can depart at a rational hour.
Yesterday was great. I had an easy time getting from the voluntary work-release detention center to the manor. The interior of the manor was not melting or ablaze ... the AC seems to be doing the trick at keeping it somewhere between 85 and 75. At least I don't have to worry about the glass melting in the panes. After I picked up the kids, we decided to play a bit on the towers. The unfinished towers. It grind on me like a pebble in the toe of my boot. Once the Mrs pulled the Family Tank into the Auto Port, I asked her to look after the Twins while I pulled out my various power tools and went to town on the lumber I had stacked against the back of the patio. The kids were intrigued with what I was doing till I fired up the circular saw. Then they began to cheer me on as I cleaved the pressure treated 2x4s like a titan rending the Greek Gods in two. I banged and drilled and screwed and sliced till dusk had settled and the dark began to descend upon my little work camp. The kids and the Mrs were long gone and I had run out of lumber. All I had left to do was the two peak supports and the towers would be complete. The remaining work would be the retaining wall and additional sand. So close ... so close.
The kids were up late last night, but were fairly sedate. I felt guilty about having to run upstairs and shower off after coming back inside. After I saw them sitting there at the dinner table with their little slack-jawed expressions, I cast off my wet quilt of guilt. I think they are getting a bit tired from staying up till 2100 hours. That, and the hot days are probably draining them when they play outside. It's hard to go through flash-cards or do number/letters when they only want to snuggle and look at the pictures. It's nice to have a mental break once in a while. Traffic this morning, however, was NOT sedate. Apparently there was a small fender bender after the 309 exit westbound that backed up traffic for 5 miles. That chewed up 15 minutes of my day all so people could look at the pretty blinking police cruiser lights. At least the car pulled over to the shoulder instead of sitting in the traffic lanes.
- The 17-year-old Bucks County boy charged with having bomb-making equipment in his bedroom and threatening to blow up his school is a Canadian who hates Americans, prosecutors say.
Travis W. Biehn was ordered held at the county juvenile detention center Friday after Judge Kenneth G. Biehn — no relation — ruled the boy remains a danger to the community.
Gibbons said Biehn created a Web page on which he posted photos of bomb-making materials displayed in his bedroom.
The Biehns reside at 3395 Gail Circle in Buckingham. During the search of the boy's home, Gibbons said, investigators found between 8 and 10 pounds of potassium nitrate as well as fuses and several small, empty canisters.
Gibbons said Biehn had enough explosive material to level his own home, but if he planned to use one of the canisters to house the bomb, the resulting explosion would have been relatively minor.
Still, she said, ''He was serious. He had everything he needed to make a bomb. It's not a complicated process. If he had used the complete contents of what he had, it would have been a major explosion. He would have leveled the house.''
Gibbons said police found Biehn's parents to be uncooperative during the search. Gibbons said she could not provide the first name of the boy's mother, but the woman harassed investigators as they searched the house.
''The mother was verbally interfering with the police officers. She said her son should not cooperate. The father was also not cooperative,'' the district attorney said.
Potassium nitrate is commonly used as a fertilizer, but it has incendiary capabilities and can be employed to make a homemade bomb. Gibbons said quantities of the material were found behind a door in the boy's room that leads to an attic crawl space.
The chemicals were contained in FedEx boxes that had been addressed to Biehn, but there was no evidence in the boxes indicating where he obtained the chemicals. Gibbons speculated that the boy purchased the materials on the Internet.
Gibbons said it appears that some of the potassium nitrate and other materials are missing from the containers. Gibbons said police are searching for the missing materials, but she suggested that Biehn made a test bomb and may have set it off in a remote location.
''It could have been that he was practicing and that he went into an isolated area and set it off,'' she said.
I found this over on Instapundit (yeah, like he needs the plug from me). I find this EXTREMELY promising.
- In recent months, a number of researchers have begun to assemble intriguing evidence that it is possible to generate embryonic stem cells without having to create or destroy new human embryos.
The research is still young and largely unpublished, and in some cases it is limited to animal cells. Scientists doing the work also emphasize their desire to have continued access to human embryos for now. It is largely by analyzing how nature makes stem cells, deep inside days-old embryos, that these researchers are learning how to make the cells themselves.
Yet the gathering consensus among biologists is that embryonic stem cells are made, not born -- and that embryos are not an essential ingredient. That means that today's heated debates over embryo rights could fade in the aftermath of technical advances allowing scientists to convert ordinary cells into embryonic stem cells.
- "That would really get around all the moral and ethical concerns," said James F. Battey, chief of the stem cell task force at the National Institutes of Health. The techniques under study qualify for federal grant support because embryos are not harmed, he noted. And eventually the work could boost the number of stem cell colonies, or lines, available for study by taxpayer-supported researchers.
As cells mature during embryonic and fetal development, certain genes in those cells are switched either on or off. Depending on the new pattern of activity, each cell becomes skin, heart muscle, nerve or some other kind of specialized cell.
Now scientists are exploring methods for resetting the genetic switches inside various cells to the positions that will make them embryonic again. Both of the two major approaches now under study use existing embryonic stem cells (widely available from previously destroyed embryos and eligible for study using federal funds) to help ordinary cells become stem cells.
The ultimate challenge, scientists said, will be to get beyond their reliance on harvested embryonic stem cells and turn people's mature cells into embryonic stem cells of their own. To do so, researchers will have to identify the specific, switch-flipping chemical factors inside stem cells.
"The end hope is to determine the exact molecular components of reprogramming and get it down to something chemically useful so you can get adult cells to turn into any cell type you want," Cowan said. "That's the science fiction goal that we'd all like to see come true."