Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Gondola Ride

Another great weekend has come and gone. This weekend Lisa and I used one of the Christmas presents that she gave me. When Alycia and Lisa went to Italy for Alycia's graduation present one of the things that they did was go for a gondola ride in Venice. I guess she had so much fun that she wanted to take me for a gondola ride right here in San Diego. I didn't even know that they had gondola rides here. Saturday night was the perfect night for it too. It was pretty dark but hopefully the camera did well enough that you can get a feel for what a peaceful and romantic night that it was. The moon nearly full and the water was dead still. The gondola place was on the east side of the Coronado Strand so it was well protected from the surf. Our gondola was actually used in Venice for five years before this company bought it and had it shipped over. It was called the "Queen Elizabeth" because the owner was married to an English Woman. Our "driver" was a college student in Biochemistry.

We cruised around a bunch of very big mansions on the water. Some of the houses were unbelievable and then docked right outside their house is a huge yacht. Looking through the windows we saw one house with three young kids. We were just shaking our heads trying to figure out what some one does for a living to be so rich while still so young. We decided he either inherited his money or he's a drug lord. It was a great evening and very romantic. Lisa even bought a bottle of carbonated orange juice for us to enjoy on the ride. The company provided chocolate covered strawberries.

This week has been so busy that I wasn't able to ride my bike to work until Friday. I was worried that I would have lost all of the conditioning that I had done before the rains began but as soon as I hopped on the bike I could tell that I still had it. The ride was easy and while it took me over an hour before, I am now down to 45 minutes. I actually clocked it on google and I ride 8.5 miles each way. The best part is that I was able to ride all the way up the black mountain road hill without stopping. Black Mountain road coming into Penasquitos is about a mile long up a a very steep hill. It's great going down the hill but murderous coming up. Friday was the first time I've been able to do it without stopping. I thought my heart was going to jump right out of my chest. Hopefully it will be a little easier tomorrow when I ride. Wish me luck.

The most efficient method known to man for converting chemical energy to mechanical energy is a man riding a bicycle.

Friday, January 29, 2010

World Domination

The United Nations is about the most useless organization I can think of. We spend millions of dollars to play host to a bunch of little dictators who stand there and insult us. We also give some little psycho dictators like Ahmadinejad the same voting power as we have. Why? I'm all for supporting any nation who wants to work their way out of poverty as long as they allow their people certain fundamental rights but I won't waste my time or money on a ruthless dictator who abuses his people.

Once again, I'm modeling my domination of the world after Star Trek. In Star Trek they have the Federation of Planets but I'll have the Federation of Nations. Actually my plan is a thinly veiled version of our constitution but I can't call it that because for my plan to work, the nations who join the Federation will want to still retain their nationality. Here is how it would work.

In order for a nation to qualify to join my Federation a nation will have to meet certain standards. Without going into too much detail some of the standards would be a freely elected leader, the rule of law, a certain level of domestic stability etc.

If the nation decides to join my federation they would adopt a constitution that looks a lot like the US constitution and they would contribute a percentage of their GDP towards the support of a military and in return they would get the following:

1) Free trade (absolutely no tariffs of any kind) with any other nation in the Federation.
2) The protection of the Federation military against any attacker or terrorist.
3) The right to move anywhere, live anywhere and work anywhere within the Federation.

The Federation would trade with countries outside the organization but there would be tariffs on imports that would price their goods slightly higher than goods made within the Federation. I know that initially new countries who join the federation would be a pretty big drain on the other nations but with an open market I think industry would pour into those nations due to their low cost work force and their standard of living would soon be on par with the rest of the Federation.

I would stay completely out of the affairs of nations outside of the Federation so there should be little to provoke any attacks but if anyone chose to attack any nation within the Federation the retribution would be swift and brutal. While I would try and avoid collateral damage there would be few rules of engagement like we have in Iraq and Afghanistan. If some terrorist is shooting at me I won't risk my life trying to find out where he is, I'll blow up the house that he is in. I am completely convinced that if we had done that in Iraq we may have lost a few innocent lives early on but in the long run we would have saved more lives. I would completely overwhelm any attacking nation using what ever force was necessary, I would then run their country for a few years until they were stable and then the nation would be given the opportunity to vote their own leaders in and chose to remain with the Federation or to leave it.

I can't help but think that most free nations would soon join the Federation but I could be wrong. It is beyond me why over half of the United States voted in a leader who would take over the banking system, take over General Motors, attempt to socialize our medicine and remove any incentive for anyone to do new medical research or to even become a doctor. He is apologizing to the terrorists and dictators of the world and above all he is burdening the small businesses of the nation with the cost of his experiments and will soon drive them out of business. If the majority of the people want that kind of leader then I doubt they would go for my Federation of Nations.

If I am watching conference on TV in my family room I will hear the speaker before someone in the conference center. Radio waves travel at 186,000 miles per second and sound waves saunter at 700 miles per hour.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Pad

For years I’ve been saying that someone needs to make a computer that is the size of a sheet of paper and that can do the functions of a cell phone, photo album, computer, camera, video player, organizer and electronic book reader. You could take notes on it, watch movies, send email, write reports, manage spread sheets etc. US Robotics had the right idea in the 90's with their Newton but the technology wasn't quite there and they gave it up and went for a small device now known as the palm pilot (which I have used since 1995) and then Apple really got close with the iphone but it too is just too small to allow me to throw away my lap top. Well today it looks like my wish has been granted. Apple announced the iPad. Basically a larger version of the iPhone. I’m not sure exactly what features they offer but if it is anything like the iPhone I’m ready to sign up. The only problem is that I’ll bet (like the i phone) they are exclusive with AT&T.Oh well, good bye Verizon and hello AT&T.

There have been more books published in the last decade than in all of the previous history of the world.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Morning After

Even though I don't like rain (although I find a good storm quite exhilarating) I love the first few hours immediately after the rain quits. Everything is so clean and fresh smelling and it all looks so new and green. As I mentioned in my last posting, we've had quite an exciting week of rain storms, floods, waterspouts and tornado warnings. I then woke up this morning to this view out my back door. What a wonderful world it is that we live in.

Picky eaters have more taste buds than the average person and so are very sensitive to bitter, sour and fatty foods. The average person has about 10,000 taste buds but some picky eaters can have as many as a million.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Years Worth of Rain

In an average year San Diego gets about nine inches of rain. This week we have a storm coming through the area and there are four "squalls" that are supposed to move through bringing lots of rain. Altogether we are supposed to get as much as eight inches of rain. Pretty amazing eh? We're supposed to get an entire years worth of rain in one week. I was bound and determined to ride my bike Monday but it was already raining very lightly and I didn't want to get to work wet. At some points Monday afternoon it was coming down so hard that you could hardly see across the street. By Monday evening it was all over. Tuesday afternoon we received the second wave. It was all over by the time I drove home from work but it looked like it was raining pretty hard off and on. The third wave hit today. I think I caught the tail end of the squall on my ride home. Very few times have I had to have my wipers on fast and I don't think I've ever had them on fast here in California. I had them on fast today. The rain was coming down so hard the road was a river and in places it was so deep that it was running over the curb. I must admit that it was a lot of fun driving fast so I could throw up a huge wall of water. That is until the car beside me was dumping his wall of water right onto my windshield. That was pretty scary until I slowed down enough to let him by. Perhaps the most exciting moment of my ride was when I came to a manhole that was shooting water at least thirty feet into the air. It was a regular geyser. That man hole cover stayed on but jets of water was shooting out of the little holes in the cover and a spray of water was shooting out the circumference of it. I made sure I did not drive over it but it was really tempting. They are now saying that the fourth and final wave is supposed to hit town tomorrow afternoon. I'm kind of looking forward to it.

Sunny skies are predicted for the weekend. Gotta love living in paradise.

Coral was found 1,200 feet up a mountain on one of the Hawaiian Islands. It is believed that it was washed up there by a huge tidal wave caused by the collapse of part of another nearby island.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


My solution to the energy problem is very simple and pretty much guaranteed to work. Energy is a huge weakness in our national security and is the source of many of our problems. It is completely ridiculous to me that we have allowed ourselves to become completely dependent upon a product (crude oil) that is largely controlled by our sworn enemy. It doesn't have to be that way but here we are.

Here is what I would do to solve the problem.

1) All nuclear reactors used to generate electricity for the power grid are slow reactors. A slow reactor is called that because the neutrons that it generates are low energy and move slowly. This means that they only have enough energy to break down a small percentage of the atoms in the nuclear fuel. These reactors only "burn" about 3% of the energy in the fuel (typically Uranium). A fast reactor generates high energy neutrons and can actually burn more than 98% of the energy in the nuclear fuel. I would encourage the development and construction of fast reactors. Fast reactors could provide ALL of our electrical needs for the next several hundred years by burning the nuclear waste left over from the slow reactors. We wouldn't have to mine another gram of uranium for a long time and we could get rid of nearly all of our nuclear waste. And for those who are worried about it (I'm not) they wouldn't generate any green house gases.

2) The jet streams average about 80 miles per hour and blow pretty much 24 hours a day. They are the fastest right around 45° latitude. If you build windmills that could fly like a kite in these jet streams they would produce three times the power of the same windmill on the ground and they would stay in the sky indefinitely. Windmills on the ground are actually active less than half of the time. Six hundred of these windmills would cover an area about ten miles square and would produce as much power as the largest nuclear power plant. Power from such a device is estimated to cost half what the power from a coal fired plant costs.

3) Solar power makes a lot of sense and I think it is well on its way to becoming affordable.

4) While generating electrical power will solve much of our needs it doesn't help with automobiles. Until we get a much improved battery (which may not be that far off), cars will still need liquid fuel. Burning ethanol in a car is about the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. In a world that doesn't have nearly enough food why would we turn our food into ethanol and then burn it?

I'm not convinced that we are on the verge of running out of oil. All of my life I've heard that we have 30 years of oil left in the world. Now it is thirty years later and guess what they're saying? That's right, we still have thirty years of oil left. They have discovered huge oil reserves in places like Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and even off the coast of California. Some of these are thought to be as large as the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia but we aren't allowed to drill them. Even if we do have plenty of oil left we do need to develop alternative energy just to free ourselves from a product that is controlled by our enemy and can suffer such huge price swings. The answer to this is also quite simple. Methanol. Methanol is also called wood alcohol because it can be made from wood. In fact, methanol can be made from pretty much any plant matter. Coal, grass, straw, paper, cardboard and old clothes just to name a few. If you take the glass and metal out of your garbage, everything else could be made into methanol. Instead of filling our land fills with garbage it should all be turned into methanol. How much does it cost to convert this stuff into methanol you ask? About $2.00 per gallon. That is right, just $2.00 a gallon and if you don't believe me go and look at it in your grocery store. It is a simple process that was developed by the Germans in World War II when Hitler started running out of gasoline. If I were the man in charge I would mandate that every car sold in the US must be duel fuel and able to run off methanol. That is a very simple thing to do and only adds a couple hundred dollars to the selling price of the car. This way if gasoline ever goes over $2.00 a gallon people will simply switch over to methanol and the price of gas will never go over about $2.50 a gallon. Methanol doesn't have as much energy as gas does so you won't get the same mileage but at $2.00 a gallon who cares? Best of all, just to keep the environmentalists happy, because alcohol is made from a plant that was alive in the last few years, the CO2 that is created when you burn it simply replaces the CO2 that was removed from the atmosphere when the plant grew in the first place. This means that methanol is green house gas neutral.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Holes in the knees

Does everyone else's pants always wear out in the knees? I always just assumed that everyones pants wore out in the knees. After all, where else do you get that much wear? I never paid any attention to it when I was a kid but then once I got married I realized that Lisa's pants don't wear out in the knees. In my entire life I've only had one pair of pants that didn't wear out in the knee and that was in college. I was working with some acid in a lab and some of it must have spilled on the counter because a few days later I had some big holes right in the crotch of my pants where I would lean up against the counter. I only bring this up now because in the last three weeks I've had three pants develop a hole in the knee. I don't throw my pants away once they get a hole, I just use them for working around the house and in the yard but now I have about five pants for working around the house and only one pair that are good for wearing out of the house. Bummer.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Prison System

The problem with the prison system in America is that it is often more comfortable in jail than it is in the real world. I would change that dramatically. At least I would for violent criminals. My own kids grew up with more kids in one bedroom than our State allows prisoners in one room. They also have better medical care than I have and they eat better than the average American does. And tell me why a prisoner needs to have cable TV, cigarettes, coffee, sex changes and fully equipped gymnasiums all paid for by me? Here is how I would do it.

1) If you committed first degree murder then you are executed. Not twenty years later but within the next year or two. No chance of a second offense or a prison escape if the guy is dead. This isn't revenge or an eye for an eye or anything like that, it is just removing a guy from society who has demonstrated that he shouldn't be there.

2) If you committed a non-violent crime like fraud or embezzlement or something like that then you are equipped with an ankle bracelet and you stay at home. If you have a job then you go to your job everyday but you must follow a schedule and if you leave your home or your work place during the hours you are supposed to be there then you are sent to be with the violent criminals. If you don't have a job then you live off the same welfare system that I described in my previous blog on welfare.

3) Out on the extreme end of the Aleutian chain of islands is a military base. I don't know if it is Air force or Naval but I figure they must be bored and need something to do. Once a person has been convicted of a violent crime such as rape, assault or armed robbery then I would drop them off on one of the nearby islands. I would give them regular supplies so they don't starve to death and I suppose I would build them shelters but for the most part they would be on their own. If they're still around when their sentence is up I would come and get them. The near by air force base would keep regular radar surveillance of the island and if any unidentified or unauthorized planes or boats came around they would give them fair warning but if they ignored the warning they would be shot down.

4) Juvenile delinquents would not be sent off to the prison island because I would like to think that with a proper chance they could become contributing members of society. I am a firm believer that the best way to make sure that happens is to give them a good education. If a juvenile commits a serious crime then I would not allow them out of jail until he has graduated from High School, maybe even graduate from college.

I think with a prison system like this it would cost less money and it would be a much more effective deterrent. Unfortunately I'm quite sure no one would go for it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Riding in the Rain

Today I decided to actually take a lunch break and write something for my blog. Normally I just work right on through the day and I may or may not grab something to eat. I have noticed that you get to know your body a lot better if you actually start to pay attention to what you eat and how you work out. Up until Christmas I was trying to be careful with what I ate but I did little to exercise. Even still I was almost down to 200 lbs when the kids started to show up and at that point I said to myself that I was going to enjoy the kids and Christmas and I pigged out on junk food, eggnog and anything that was in front of me. Surprisingly I gained very little weight for the longest time and then almost overnight I jumped up ten pounds and Lisa commented that my stomach was back. She never was one for being subtle. Now that the kids are gone and eggnog is no longer in the grocery stores I'm back to being careful but now I'm starting to ride my bike to work. Last night as I walked in the door Lisa commented about how my stomach was gone again. I'm not back to where I was but almost.

The plan was to ride the bike on Monday Wednesday and Friday and I rode for the first time on Monday. This morning it looked like it might rain but I figured what could a little rain hurt. I got about a mile from the house and the rain started to come down. It rained on me for another mile or two and then I was good the rest of the way in to work. The problem is it has been raining off and on all day so I may get a bit wet going home tonight. At least going home I have a nice warm shower to look forward to.

Very thorough studies have shown that there is no harmful effect from cracking your knuckles. I hesitate to mention this piece of trivia because I HATE knuckle cracking. In fact, in our house cracking your knuckles could have a harmful effect.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What A Great Week!!

OK, I know I'm way behind in my blogging but it has been a busy place around here. On New Years day we had made big plans but some of what we wanted to do ended up being closed so we decided to go to the beach. It wasn't the warmest day but it was plenty warm enough to enjoy the beach. We started out with lunch at this cool little fish and chips place. We sort of dominated the place as the seventeen of us walked in. It is just a small restaraunt and all of the eating area is outside but it is right on the beach and the food is very good. I didn't really think anyone would actually go into the water because it is very cold this time of the year but we took all of the body boards and a few wet suits just in case. I say the water is very cold but if anyone has swam in Waterton Lake this water is tropical by comparison.

The beach was a blast. The babies swallowed a ton of sand, the guys played Ultimate Frisbee and the women sat and gabbed, read books, watched the kids etc. Sarah and Alycia did put on some wet suits and went out eventually.

Saturday we went to the museum that we had planned on going to on New Years day. It wasn't exactly my thing but it was interesting and there are enough musically inclined members of the family that I did enjoy it to make it worth it. The best part was playing with the electronic instruments they had for "hands on" experience. They had electric drums, guitars, pianos, organs etc. but one of the coolest things was a theremin. I've never heard of this thing before but I have heard it in a Beach Boys song. Basically it is a small electronic device that generates a tone. It has an antennae and you move your hand around the antennae to distort the electromagnetic field which changes the frequency of the sound it makes. You can do some pretty funky things with it.

The plan after the museum was to stop at Vegee's for some of their world famous donuts but we were behind schedule and got there just after closing time. As it turned out it wouldn't have mattered anyway since when we read the sign we noticed that they had been closed all day. We stopped and got donuts at Vons instead. Personally I don't think they are all that bad anyway.

Sunday we took up two full rows in church. We took up a full row when the kids were all home anyway but now as we grow we need to expand. Sadly, Sunday is the day that people started to leave. I hate that part. I cooked the Prime Rib that we had planned for New Years day and it turned out very good. There wasn't any left over at least. After dinner Brandon, Serene and kids left so Brandon could finish his 40 page paper that was due before school started the next week. Ben and Sharley left because Sharley started school the next day and Ben started his new job. Monday Kira and Justin and kids flew out. I had to work so I kissed them all good bye in the morning and I think they headed to the airport shortly after I left for work. Tuesday Trevor and Alycia left for Utah.

That just left Alex and Sarah for the rest of the week. Friday night I had a scout camp but I was home Saturday before Alex left for the airport. To help soften the sadness from losing all of my kids again Brandon and Serene came down for the weekend. That extended the Grand kid fix for another couple of days. We just finished feeding them Sunday dinner and sent them down the road.

I guess now that the excitement has dwindled it is time to take down the Christmas decorations. We have never left them up this long before. I actually planned on taking them down yesterday but my boss called. He is headed for Germany on Monday and I was informed Friday morning that he wants to take a Production Plan with him. To do a good production plan would take me a full week but he wanted it for Monday. I told him it would have to come after the scout camp so I did what I could Friday and then I went in Saturday evening to finish it up. I left work at 3:00 AM Sunday morning. I am so glad that our Sacrament Meetings switched from 9:00 to 12:30 on New Years. Even though I had plenty of sleep I'm still feeling pretty groggy.

I like all of this sand

This is one very big sand box

Do you think I'll be able to keep up with Alex?


Does Evan look like he is having fun?

Lets go swimming Grandpa

I tried to build a sand castle but Sydeny loves knocking it down. I guess she'll have to grow up a bit before we can do a real nice one.

Three very cute girls that I found on the beach.