Turtles… who knew?


Source: The Internets

Where should you get your car serviced?

I found this article, “Confessions of a Car Dealer Service Manager” interesting:

Q: What’s the smartest thing you can buy from the dealer?

A:  A brand-name extended service contract. So if you’re buying a Ford, get a Ford contract. If it’s a Toyota, buy the Toyota contract. The opposite is also true. Never buy the extended service contract that’s generically offered through the dealer but isn’t backed by the brand of car they sell.

Also, take your car in on Monday morning, early, never Friday afternoon!

H/T: Instapundit

So you want to fill up a bucket in a small sink

Here’s how…


Remember to watch it though!

Source: The Internets

Why My Site was Down for a Couple days

I host on the Amazon Cloud.  Usually that means very fast, reliable, scalable service.  But not from Thursday til this morning.  Amazon Cloud service in our zone was hosed up and it brought down most of the websites I run.

Following recovery by Amazon, which took WAY too long and they shall be hearing from me, I found the database tables corrupt, which is why readers saw a “nothing to see here” message from the WordPress system that powers this site.

Fortunately, my excellent colleague, Kevin, took time this Easter to sort out the corruption and fix it. Thanks!

As more and more applications migrate to the cloud, the reduced points of failure should cause concern.  I hope Amazon, which I’ve found to be a pretty responsive and thoughtful vendor, realizes the power they increasingly have to ruin most of our days.

In may ways the cloud seems a metaphor for the financial consolidation that ended up ruining our decade. Hope that doesn’t happen, but it will if we don’t take care.

What I’m up to

I haven’t been blogging lately… I’m traveling.

Currently I’m in Charlotte, NC. We picked up this beauty yesterday and we are going to head back west with it later today.


Once back in Utah, this 1960 Ford Starliner will donate its good glass, trim and hood and other components to two Ford Starliner’s  being rebuilt in my father-in-laws old Ford laboratory.

And yes… Gas is getting expensive.

Changing blogging focus


I’m going to be slow blogging for a bit because of a few reasons.

The first is that I can find literally nothing in the political or economic arenas to be positive about.  Problems that face us continue to be acerbated not addressed.  With one life to live, I’m not that interested in documenting the decline, nor in stressing myself peeing in the wind about it.

Oh, I’ll vote and support the Tea Party and other such nonsense. But it won’t matter.

Put another way, I’ve come to the conclusion that we are ruined and that nothing short of complete structural change will help.  With that change will come unprecedented governmental violence. Note I said GOVERNMENT.  Them doing it to us.  I sense that a depressing and deadly end to our republic isn’t too far off.  And, since I can’t prevent it, I’ll just try and make due.  And frankly… I won’t miss it. It hasn’t been something to be particularly proud of for much of my adult life.

The second is that I’m busy at work, very busy, as I try, probably in vain, to prepare my family and friends/co-workers for the coming dying throes of our governmental monstrosity.

I hope I’m wrong.  But what do you think?   Is the Tea Party is rearranging the deck chairs?  Are they going after the systemic causes? I think not.  Thus, if the Tea Party is the best we got, it ain’t enough and the end isn’t going to be pretty.

Since I do not wish to write doom all the time, I’ll limit my blogging to occasional tidbits and reviews of things that do impress me.

So you want to be a programmer…


I found this piece, by Mordechai (Moti) Ben-Ari, at the Weizmann Institute in Israel to be pretty much on target. His topic… “Non-Myths About Programming”.

The non-myths… like Programming is Boring (it can be), or You Work in front of a computer (who doesn’t) are, indeed, non-myths.   He points out that most professions have their issues, and their rewards.

If you want to be a programmer… give it a read.

Work for Free? A handy chart

Not sure who made this, but  web site developers, Graphics Artists, Photographers, Virus Removing Gurus, and others with hard to acquire skills and equipment will understand why this chart is useful.  It answers the question “Should I do this work for free"?” Click the image to see it bigger.


I do free work all the time, mainly for neighbors, relatives and organizations I support. But… I also decline “opportunities” frequently as well.

BTW: F-bomb alert. I didn’t notice til I read all the nodes on the chart. Sorry.

Update: Source:  (good job!)


FYI… lest you go around thinking Sarah Palin put crosshairs on Congress people, this is the map her PAC created:


This is a survey location symbol:


Note how the lines extend BEYOND the circle. It is used to indicate a spot on a map.

This is a scope crosshair, in which the reticles  cannot extend BEYOND the perimeter of the scope.


I don’t mind having survey symbols identifying states we want political change in. Do you?

For that matter, I don’t mind crosshairs for the same intent, unless the rest of the message is a call to violent action.

The media should understand that if they react in a particular political way as a result of murder, they will spur on more violence.  I doubt they care.

Detecting Bad Science


A British study linking autism to childhood vaccinations, and long used by those who oppose vaccinations, has been retracted as an “elaborate fraud”.

An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study — and that there was “no doubt” Wakefield was responsible.

Bad science. It affects us all the time. Light bulbs banned in California. Predictions of global warming, when it is more likely to get cold. Owls that aren’t native, nor endangered, stop logging.  We are inundated with cause based science, where the cause is either financial benefit of the scientists, or some meta political goal.

So how do you spot bad science?  It is surprisingly easy. I see it all the time as I read newspaper accounts of new studies, or even in scientific papers I peruse out of interest. Here are some guidelines:

  • Private. If they won’t share their raw data, it’s almost assuredly bad science.
  • Degrees of freedom. Small sample sizes (the study above used just 12 children) make for bad science.
  • Relative impact. If their big change is a relative one. I.E. a 20% change of a very small number already.
    Example… A study that says users of a certain supplement lose 20% more weight than those who don’t use it.
    Well… it was 20% more on an average weight loss of 1/2 a pound?  Or does it mean an extra 5 pounds?
  • Making up data. If their samples aren’t actual data but synthesized. For instance much of the global warming “evidence” stems
    from less than 100 tree core samples, but to account for geographic distribution they “adjust” the samples and make up data. Nope.
  • Goals. Are they making a product or influencing a policy. If a product, it is probably okay science.  You know if your plasma
    TV works.  You don’t know, however – and never will know, if global warming was prevented.
  • Untestable.  Does what the science predict occur too far off to prove or test?  It’s probably bad, or at least is very subject to corruption and cannot be trusted without extreme verification of methods and data.
  • Cause meet Effect. Was the study just correlation? In other words, if the rooster crows just before sunset, did he cause the sun to rise?
  • Money. We can’t avoid it. But if the purpose of  a study is to generate evidence requiring more study, what will the evidence show?
  • Is it a hard science or soft?  Chemistry, Math, Materials – almost impossible to do bad science. And the obvious frauds, like cold fusion, violated
    several of the rules above.  Soft sciences, like Economics, Psychology, Climatology… well, without hard standards, goals and money corrupt them, as
    we’ve seen in recent decades.  Oddly, a “hard” science, Physics, fell prey to this as well. Theoretical Physics went off on “string theory” for the last 30 years. Real physics kept it hard, and kept doing good science, but Theoretical has been worthless for decades.

    Put simply… unless it is pure numbers and physical laws, you probably can’t trust it.

So am I saying most science is bad?   Well… yes, I guess I am.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, as the good stuff has immense value. But we definitely shouldn’t be comfortable, or quick, to allocate lives and treasure based on most science.

Note:  The 4 Hour Body book has an excellent Appendix on identifying bad science.




My Mom left me a voice mail talking about a Fox News article about “top” 71 people that had died in 2010.  I can’t find it. Maybe she can put in comments.  But I did search for it and instead I found that, helpfully, the WikiPedia keeps track of this as well.

The oldest I found is Hugues Cuenod, a Swiss tenor opera singer who died at 108 years.

Best wishes for a 2011 where Wikipedia does not track you.

Unsolicited Advice on Getting Things Done


Productive… You will be.


I don’t mean to brag, but I’m an unusually productive fellow. I don’t have a “4 hour” plan for you, but I do have some simple advice that may help you if you have productivity problems. Some of it was learned in the Army, some by watching other productive people, and a lot by the school of relatively hard knocks.

  1. When facing a big problem, always first consider having somebody else do it.  In the Army, this meant Sergeants. In my professional life, employees and co-workers.  Check in with them shortly after they start, and then periodically as necessary.
  2. When facing a big problem, that you must do yourself, you have two choices. Do the hardest thing first. Or do the thing with the biggest payoff first.  Which you do depends on the situation, but at a minimum doing the analysis breaks the big problem down into smaller problems, which is really the first step to success.
  3. When facing a big problem, that you must do yourself, do something. Anything!
  4. Learn to say no. Revel in it. Be polite. Be encouraging. Your time is SUPER VALUABLE.
  5. Always review what you do and how it worked. Note what worked, what didn’t, and what tools you need to do better.
  6. Be physically fit. Exercise, walk, run, bike, work out. These activities set up future productivity.
  7. Always learn. I’m organized about this, I pick things to learn each year. 2011 could be the year of welding for me.
    2010… kayaking…. 2009…. pistol shooting. See how it works. Learn. Learn. Learn!

There… the secrets of the hyper-productive. Also known as how I earn a good living, having fun doing it, have very little stress, and lots of time to enjoy my family and other interests.

Now YOU can be productive too.


Bah Humbug




Christmas is the DEADLIEST day of the year:


More people die in hospital emergency wards, or arrive dead on arrival, on Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day than on any other days of the year.
Why?  They don’t know. If I had to guess… winter travel, stress, waiting until family is together, and wrapping paper suffocation.


Can 97% of people be wrong?



About 45 percent think government is a threat to personal liberty. Only 3 percent of those polled said the government did not need major reform.


More at Commentary Magazine.

Well, sure, 97% of people can be wrong. Happens all the time, square earth, sun revolves around earth, so forth. But in this case… they are right, and I suspect the 3% of miscreants who think not misread the question.




Pretend you are a country…


Let’s Pretend

* If Wal-Mart were a country, it would be China’s sixth largest export market.

* If the American diabetes treatment industry were its own country, it would be the 45th largest economy in the world.

Other “if you were a country” factoids at:


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