Friday, March 30, 2007

Cleaning a whale from the inside

Revisiting my whale theme of a few months ago, this seems like a miserable job: vacuuming and dusting a 100 year old whale that is suspended from the ceiling :)

Here's a bonus link. The editors of the kooky/quirky muckraking website CounterPunch published their list of the top 100 non-fiction books originally written in English. I was reading another top 100 list and followed a link to that one. The thing that caught my eye was that Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire was the first one on the list (because it's alphabetical by author :) That reminded me that the first Edward Abbey story that I remember reading is "In defense of the redneck" in Abbey's Road. Anyway, I didn't think Edward Abbey would appear on a top 100 list. Other ones I noted were the Sunset Western Garden Book (it's been published since the mid-1950s?) and Norman Maclean's A river runs through it, both classics :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Quay Valley Ranch

Last week I was in a meeting that reminded me how good it is to throw ideas around on a college campus. The meeting was about Quay Hays' proposal for a new sustainable community west of here. Quay Hays says:

We are planning Quay Valley Ranch so that its residents will never have to pay a power bill

(the quote is from an article about the project from a business point of view).

I didn't realize until I saw him that I knew the main presenter for the meeting: the father of "systems thinking", Russ Ackoff. I think I might have read one of his books back when I was in junior high (I'm not kidding).

He had some great stories. You can get a flavor of the the meeting by looking at the Ackoff Center blog.

Also presenting at the meeting was Vince Barabba who has a real passion about this project.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Two recent newspaper articles

The Fresno Bee reprinted an AP story about one of my recent topics -- "jerks":
Passion is an overrated virtue in organizational life, and indifference is an underrated virtue

Yesterday the paper ran a story about geocaching. A "dutiful state employee" is quoted about his alter-ego:
I don't smoke and I don't drink, but they do call me The Obsessed One

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Beverage recommendations

Steve talks about getting (or not) coffee at Starbucks. Two things: first, the out-of-coffee Starbucks barista obviously hasn't read the story in Steve McGuire's Debugging the development process about coffee-making and software process (if you are an Amazon customer with enough standing you can do the "search inside" and read the two pages -- 25 and 26 -- about coffee and process). Second, I recommend going to the World Handcrafts (aka Ten Thousand Villages) store in Reedley for a package of "Reanimator" fair trade, shade grown, organic coffee (a related article is in the Pasadena Weekly :).

My other beverage recommendation is "pulque fino" (at the bottom of the "mead" page) from Full Circle Brewing on F street in Fresno.

That is all.

People still use film?

I try to treat my time with airport security as an opportunity for serendipitous amusement: sometimes lip balm is needs to go into your ONE QUART ZIP TOP BAG, and sometimes not. Sometimes a tube of antibiotic ointment need to go into the ONE QUART ZIP TOP BAG, sometimes not (one TSA agent loudly told me that Neosporin specifically did not have to be bagged, so she took it out of my ONE QUART ZIP TOP BAG and threw it in the gray plastic bin with my shoes, after everything had gone through X-ray, hmm). Sometimes the agent will say "hey you missed one" after spotting a small tube of something or other in my bag. Cowering like a bad puppy I await my humiliation. But they just wave me through. But then one time post-X-ray an agent, made an example of me, held up my clear zip top bag over her head and loudly says "THIS IS NOT A ONE QUART ZIP TOP BAG!", but it is clear, has a zip top, and was given to me by LAX so that I could "zip through security". "WELL I DON'T KNOW WHAT LAX IS DOING GIVING PEOPLE NONSTANDARD BAGS". Whatever :)

And then there is the shoe carnival.

All this doesn't bother me much, but then I haven't lost a bunch of money like the producers of Lost did when their film was X-rayed.

The state film office said it has worked with TSA and United Airlines to put a new process in place that will prevent future accidents.

"The issue has been addressed, and they have procedures in place to make sure it doesn't happen again," said Dawson, the state film commissioner.

You can read more about it here.

And that Neosporin stuff? It is specifically mentioned on the TSA website, and has to go in the ONE QUART ZIP TOP BAG. Vindicated again!

P.S. The Jetsons-looking restaurant in the middle of LAX is closed since a panel fell off the building. The cool observation area just above the restaurant has been closed for years. That was a great place to watch planes.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The revenuers are coming

This week I was talking about my next car being powered by vegetable-oil. Steve M blogged about our friend Steve F and Ken and driving cross country on fry oil. You can see their photo travelogue, and you can listen to a short mid-trip audio interview.

But in Illinois at least, the revenuers have gotten wind (whiff?) of fry oil. Hmm.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Hey! Watch out for that fomite over there!

Many television news stories (particularly during rating sweeps time) take a UV light into hotel rooms to elicit the ewwwwww-yuck response.

But this article in the March 2007 Conde Nast Traveler is really disgusting. I've heard of people taking extra ziptop plastic bags in their luggage so they can bag the TV remote control, and after reading the article that sounds like a good idea :) There's already a commercial version available.

People mock me for using hand sanitizer! Not anymore! I am vindicated! (Just make sure your hand sanitizer has a high enough percentage of alcohol to be effective)