Friday, June 30, 2006

Tomorrow

The start of the widest-open Tour de France I've ever seen. The top two favorites, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Bassos, are under investigation for doping, and thus, have been dismissed. The US has a number of hopefuls including Levi Leipheimer, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie. Maybe we'll see David Zabriskie in the Yellow after tomorrow's prologue.

Get on your bikes and ride!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Emergent Behavior

Another interest of mine is the study of Emergent Behavior. Think boids.

Accordingly, I must flag this article regarding simulated, interacting software beings so that I can read it later.

The project description web page is even more interesting than the article.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

NanoSolar

Here's a company that says they will be able to manufacture solar cells at 1/10 the current manufacturing price by printing the cells on thin film rather than using traditional semiconductor fabrication techniques. Cheaper is better, but for our car, we are hoping that tech advances will produce a solution that is cheap AND improves the efficiency of the solar cell. The more efficient that a solar cell is, the more energy we will have to play with.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Stick It To Him

I could not tell if this article was meant to be an editorial or not.

And the president amid this morning's wind and rain?

In the White House, only hours after that old elm had fallen, Bush was addressed by a reporter, thus: "I know that you are not planning to see Al Gore's new movie, but do you agree with the premise that global warming is a real and significant threat to the planet?"

"I have said consistently," answered Bush, "that global warming is a serious problem. There's a debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused. We ought to get beyond that debate and start implementing the technologies necessary … to be good stewards of the environment, become less dependent on foreign sources of oil…"

The President — as far as the extensive and repeated researches of this and many other professional journalists, as well as all scientists credible on this subject, can find — is wrong on one crucial and no doubt explosive issue. When he said — as he also did a few weeks ago — that "There's a debate over whether it's manmade or naturally caused" … well, there really is no such debate.

At least none above what is proverbially called "the flat earth society level."

Makes you wonder from where the Prez gets his news.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Dental Chair Blues

My dentist chair looks south from the fortieth floor of the Georgia Pacific Building. I sit, waiting to be punctured by the plaque removing implements of torture. Six lanes of morning cars snake out of the gravy-brown haze. There are no Clear Skies. Atlanta is sick today.

Later, I slide down the building into the streets. I'll wear the heat like a broad belt around my chest.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

For Whom The Employee Works

We all pay taxes. The money goes to pay the salaries of government employees. It has been decided over time, by people that we and our parents have voted to represent us, that these federal jobs are needed to improve the common good. We are, in a sense, employers and every federal employee works for us. Their job is to seek the best solutions to maximize the common good.

Please present an argument if you disagree.

I read an article today from the NYTimes online. (You'll need to fill out a free registration form.)

Dozens of members of the Bush administration's domestic security team, assembled after the 2001 terrorist attacks, are now collecting bigger paychecks in different roles: working on behalf of companies that sell domestic security products, many directly to the federal agencies the officials once helped run.

At least 90 officials at the Department of Homeland Security or the White House Office of Homeland Security — including the department's former secretary, Tom Ridge; the former deputy secretary, Adm. James M. Loy; and the former under secretary, Asa Hutchinson — are executives, consultants or lobbyists for companies that collectively do billions of dollars' worth of domestic security business.

Are these people making decisions that are the best for the common good? The article makes a few points regarding the Department of Homeland Security:
1. The exodus of such a sizable share of an agency's senior management before the end of an administration has few modern parallels.
2. It is legal.
3. It is legal largely because of loopholes - "Perhaps the biggest loophole was created in late 2004 at the request of senior [DHS] officials, when the first big wave of departures began."

Who are these people in the Department of Homeland Security working for? "We, the people" or their own personal interests?

Employers should not accept this type of behavior from their employees.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A "Lock La" Riddle

Little Beam has a number of words that she can say. For example, yesterday she went right up to SunDog and said, "Hi, Dog!" Of course, she says "Mama" and "Dada". She says, "No!"

Today, she said, "Lock La" and I feel it is quite a significant advancement. Why? Well, you tell ME what "Lock La" means...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Virus in the House of Saun

The nanny has been down and out since Wednesday with a fever. Little Beam's nose began to flow like a faucet today. Heeli O. has started to have a sore throat and I'm pretty tired myself. My goal for this weekend is to sleep when the baby sleeps.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tropical Weather Information

Wow. If you want a little information about the current Tropical Weather in the Atlantic, go to Crown Weather.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hair

With Alberto coming around, I decided to look and see if I knew any of the hurricane pilots from my NOAA days. I came across this photo from Fort Eustice.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Race Across America

RAAM 2006 began today.

I often fantasize about participating in major endurance sports. The Race Across America Solo Cycling event is NOT one of them. Too painful. Too dangerous. I watched it on TV one year. One of the participants had to rig a brace to hold his head up - eyes forward because his neck muscles had failed (Shermer's Neck).

Regardless, it's fun to keep up with these incredible athletes. And anyways, they do have a team division...

Maybe they should add a "Sustainable Energy" division.

Eating Fish

Here's a good collection of articles which discuss mercury levels in different fish. The article is a little more conservative than the EPA and FDA recommendations.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Great Things Build Upon Original Ideas

So, it may be true that original ideas are rare, but original ideas may always be built upon...

As our portable devices get more high-tech, the batteries that power them can seem to lag behind. But Joel Schindall and his team at M.I.T. plan to make long charge times and expensive replacements a thing of the past--by improving on technology from the past.

They turned to the capacitor, which was invented nearly 300 years ago. Schindall explains, "We made the connection that perhaps we could take an old product, a capacitor, and use a new technology, nanotechnology, to make that old product in a new way."

The plan is to increase the surface area of a capacitor using nanotubes. This allows the capacitor to store more energy. The capacitor based batteries recharge quickly and are less prone to weakening even after hundreds of thousands of recharges. Read the article. It also mentions targeted uses of these new batteries.

This technology has broad practical possibilities, affecting any device that requires a battery. Schindall says, "Small devices such as hearing aids that could be more quickly recharged where the batteries wouldn't wear out; up to larger devices such as automobiles where you could regeneratively re-use the energy of motion and therefore improve the energy efficiency and fuel economy."

Are you taking notes, yet?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Original Ideas Are Rare

I have recently started to do a little internet research to figure out what kinds of solar powered cars exist. Well... Look at what I found!

According to an article posted somewhere on the site:

Nearly two decades ago, Marcelo da Luz was watching TV and saw a news item about the first World Solar Challenge, a solar-car contest in Australia. While most viewers would have changed the channel, da Luz decided to change his life. Something about the idea of solar energy captured his imagination and he decided to create his own solar car, despite knowing nothing about solar energy and having no formal training in science and engineering.

Later this month, da Luz is about to realize his dream as his Power of One team attempts to set a new world record for distance travelled by solar car. The team plans to drive from Toronto to St. John’s, Nfld., then head cross-country to Victoria. From there he will head north to Inuvik, NT, and then back to Toronto. All told, da Luz plans to log more than 22,000 kilometres.


Hmmff... So, it's been done before...

Oh, well. Who cares? Pbtbtbt! I'm going to build one anyways.

US Cycling After Lance

Wow. Look at the results from Stage 3 of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré:

1 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 52.48.65 (48.854 km/h)
2 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 0.53.00
3 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 1.16.50
4 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 1.34.83


Note: There are only 6 US registered riders in the race. There are 160 riders still participating. The US still has a lot of world class cyclists.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Some More Math

As described before, scraping up $1M in 11 years could be particularly challenging. I found that if I started with $500 and donated an additional $100 every month, I would need to invest in something that will yield a 55.1% annual return.

On the other hand if I make the assumption that I will earn more over time - that I will be able to donate more than $100 every month in the future - perhaps I can make it to $1M after all.

If, for example, I assume that I start with $500 and I can readily invest the money so as to yield 8% annually, how much would I need to add every month. Particularly, assume that this month I can only add $100. I have decided to increase the amount that I donate every month by a set amount (i.e. the monthly donation grows linearly). In order to acquire $1M, the amount of my monthly donation must grow by about $82.95. At the end of 11 years, that monthly donation will be around $10,967.05.

So... how do you attract sponsors?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Political Wrap-up

Haven't been following politics lately? Don't worry. In my opinion, this editorial seems to wrap it up, mostly.

The Republicans are worried about the flag, gay marriage and the terrible burden of the estate tax on the rich. The rest of us are obviously unnecessarily worried about war, peace, the economy, the environment and civilization. Another reason to vote Republican—they have a shorter list.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Some Math

How does one raise $1M in a short 11 years? Suppose I took a chunk of money and slapped it in a bank account that had an annual percentage rate of 4% compounding monthly. How much money would I need to start with? Here is a location that you can go to remember the equation that you need.

The answer is about $644,510.

I don't have that kind of money lying around...

Of course, to really build a nest egg, you should add some amount on a monthly basis. Let's say that I could afford to add $100 per month to the account above. Here's the equation that I need.

Now I've knock down my startup costs to: $633,850. Hmmm...

Ok. Ok. Let's say that I start with $500 and I can contribute $100 per month. Where would that get me in 11 years? $17,322.93. Yiii...

Obviously, I need a better interest rate. What interest rate should I find if I start with $500 and contribute $100 every month? 55.1%

Anyone up for a trip to Vegas?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Glacier's Decline

Interesting sets of then and now photos.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

No, For Real

So, I've got 11 years to figure out how I'm going to build a solar powered vehicle that I'll be able to drive across the country. The only problem is: I don't know much about solar power, mechanical design, ... Heck! I don't even know what I need to know. Also, I'm not very handy and I don't have a good track record of building things. Regardless, I do know that the first step towards achieving a dream is to create a metric by which to measure your progress. So, certainly (but I'm only guessing), if I had a million dollars, I could at least buy a solar powered vehicle that could be driven across the country. Ok. I just need to raise $1M. Currently, I have $0 set aside.

I guess I have two paths to get closer to my goal at the moment. 1) Raise a million dollars. 2) Figure out how to reduce my budget from $1M to something more achievable. See? I'm making progress already ;)

Status Update:
Current Budget: $0
Expected Budget: $1000000