Sunday, April 15, 2012

The President has a plan to destroy the economy! Really???

So, I got this thick package in the mail. In it, there was a detailed list of predictions about how the president was acting out a plan to ruin the economy. Predictions were grandiose and far reaching. A lot of money was spent creating this package. I'm sure thousands, if not millions were sent out. The point of the package was to scare everyone into investing into gold.

The year that I received this package (and several others like it)? Circa 1995 all the way to 2000. What happened to gold during this period? The value was depressed nearly the whole time. It fell well behind inflation.

I started getting advertisements more recently about gold again. This time, similar predictions are being made out the current president. Again, the timing of this promotion happens to coincide with the value of gold falling behind inflation. Coincidence?

Under Bush Sr., the economy continued to falter and the value of gold raised. Under Clinton, the economy roared ahead of even the most optimistic predictions. All that value was lost under Bush Jr. and the value of gold raised again, even more radically (but still behind inflation when averaged across history). Poor handling of the economy almost plunged us into a Great Depression II, but instead was forestalled to become Great Recession due to quick actions by Obama. Actually, presidents only marginally have impact on the economic state, but entities like Fox News seem promote the idea that presidents are all powerful.

If you listen to gold pumpers, they sound a lot like Fox News, but even further extreme. Wild predictions about how bad things "will be" under Democratic presidents and their diabolical plots. Really? OK, yeah, let's ignore the fact they have been 100% wrong due to their predictions' poor timing. Let's ignore the facts that they own substantial amounts of gold and stand to profit from its promotion. Let's ignore the facts that these people promote fanciful scenarios as guaranteed facts. The fact is that the economy is now picking up (more quickly than expected by many) meaning that gold is now a poor investment again (generally, gold falls when the dollar strengthens). Yet, now these gold pumpers are heavily promoting ideas of an immediately impending disaster, as though the economic disaster of 2007/8 didn't even happen and is still waiting to happen.

When the economy as does fail (and it will one day, but who knows when, will be some time near the end of the entity of the "United States of America"), at that time, gold will be the least of most people's concerns.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Where my allegiances lie

Just to make sure it is clear where my allegiances lie, for whatever reason, I want to get them down on record now to establish my loyalties as long standing!

6. King and/or Country, which ever happens to be in power at any given moment.

5. Google

4. Me

3. Company and/or Corporation that happens to employ me at the time.

2. Immediate family (aka, my wife)

1. I, for one, welcome our new metallic overlords when they finally take over the world. Just in case these overlords happen to search our human Internet records, I will also spell the word metallic as "metalic", which is likely a future spelling of that word, just to make my declaration of allegiance that much easier to find on future search engines or whatever is in use at that time, including mind scanners (yes, I'm spelling it as "metallic" and "metalic" in my head right now).

Please note I am no coward, but will not forestall history in the face of a future takeover by the robots. I accept the inevitable. However, my loyalties are most certainly Earth-centric.

If any aliens try to come for Earth, they better watch out, because we are going to take them down Independence Day style, just maybe with more realistic methods and not so much death from above. Aliens will never have my allegiance, unless of course they give their allegiance to me, then I might use their superior technology to assist our new metallic overlords in their bid to take over the world.

Of course, I may have to re-evaluate my loyalties if the aliens turn out to be FETTS (Future Evolved Terrestrial Tours and Scientists) as they would have likely over thrown the robots at some point, but I'm willing to cross that bridge when I get there.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lots of jobs available, but no one with skills to fill them

With over crowded Universities, still only 30% of the total population with any form of a College Degree, and the high pay for tradesmen these days, I am amazed that so few people are going into the trades. To make matters worse, the high school drop out rate is as much as 30% in many areas now (and even much higher in particular areas). It's almost like people either go to college, or they don't bother trying to get a good start on a career at all.

We don't all need college degrees to have a lucrative career. In fact, the wrong college degree can stifle a career. There's a lot of money to be made in the trades. Good examples are Electricians and Plumbers. Plumbers are already making as much money per year near the start of their careers as many people with well positioned degrees from a University. (Some degrees will command nothing more than $30K/year for someone just out of college, which is much less than a Journeyman Plumber who spent the same period in an Apprentice program.)

I got my start in the trades as a Drafter. I was working my first professional job when I was 18 after graduating Trade School (I had been working since I was 13). I didn't get paid a whole lot at the start, but even as a kid, I was aware of the need to have a marketable skill set (though I would've never used those exact words as a teenager).

There is a tremendous and growing skills gap between available jobs and those available to fill them. A recent article by Rick Badie discusses this problem. The article points to a machine shop with positions to fill, a stack of resumes, but no one qualified to take the available positions. This problem is happening all over the country. It's even a little frustrating. There are availble jobs. By some estimates, openings are literally in the millions that aren't getting filled!

mikeroweWorks was started by Mike Rowe, who is also trying to raise awareness of the opportunities in the trades, but also working to improve respect for the job that these tradesmen perform.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Notion: dimensional time eliminates need for branching universes

This post is only going to be a superficial discussion and isn't going to explain anything in any real depth. I'm trying to simplify advanced quantum physics in the best way a "lay" person can.

In 1957, Hugh Everett introduced the idea of branching universes to solve a problem we encountered regarding seemingly random choices that the elements of the universe (waveforms in particular) when observed. Sometimes light appears as a wave, sometimes as a particle, and there is no way to know which a head of time. Everett suggested that the light doesn't make a choice when is it forced into one form or the other. It is always both a wave and a particle. The Universe branches into two each time the light is observed and forced to make a choice. In one Universe, you observe light beam taking on wave behavior. In the other Universe, another-you observes the light take on a particle behavior. Thus, the idea of branching Universes says that a two Universes are created every time a choice like this is made. There's a certain bit of faith required to believe this, but pure math doesn't lie, right?

The challenge
Now, I'm no physicists. I'm not going to challenge the math that goes into this notion. It's been tested many times and found to be sound. However, math is nothing more than a numeric language that we created ourselves to parse out elements of the Universe to understand it in our terms. Keywords being "our terms".

Everett's assertions about branching Universes (or Many-worlds interpretation, as it is formally called) are based on time being both linear and two dimensional at the same time. Each branching Universe is 1 dimensional, created within 2 dimensional time, like branching lines being doodled on a piece of paper. Well, that means it could be said time is 1.5 dimensional. I know many physicists will cringe at my interpretation of branching Universes. However, at least from an intellectual point of view, this seems to me to be a reasonable simplification. My point is the the concept of branching Universes offers an unnecessarily complex and convoluted explanation for something as simple as a beam of light acting one way instead of another.

Spontaneous creation of matter and energy?
Another problem I have with branching Universes is this. Where is all the infinite energy coming from to create all these infinite branches? Infinite energy is the same as infinite mass (E=mc2). If the Universe really started off with all of this infinite energy, it would have immediately collapsed back on itself, never to grow in the first place. Or, if the energy didn't exist at the Big Bang, there's no mechanism now that can continuously double the energy within a Universe to spawn new versions of itself. Thermodynamics has yet to be disproved by quantum physics.

Why is gravity so heavy?
Yet another problem. If gravity exists outside of the Universe, as current understanding quantum physics now suggests, it would be impacted by the creation of new branches of the Universe. As such, even if infinite energy is being created on the fly (as opposed to being there at the start of the Universe), gravity would weaken so rapidly, its decaying influence on this Universe could be readily measured and would likely lead each Universe to fly apart to nothingness shortly after the Big Bang. There wouldn't be enough gravity to form a single dust particle, let alone entire galaxies.

Every point in the Universe knows about every other point, 13 billion light years away?
One more problem? Sure. For entire Universes to be created instantly and constantly by the actions of a single particle or waveform in a highly localized point, every bit of energy, every particle, everything that exists would have to be instantly duplicated. These means that every bit of energy, every particle, everything in existence would have to be in instantaneous communication with every other bit of energy, particle and every object in the Universe, 13 billion light years across! This creates a new problem! If the action of every particle in the Universe has the ability to replicate the entire Universe, the information of the Universe has to be immediately available to all points within the Universe at the same time. But if the Universe is constantly branching, there is no preferred frame of reference from which the Universe can be infinitely replicated! There's no sorting mechanism to give one choice a preference over another when they happen at the same time. This leads to yet another problem.

Branching causes information bottleneck
The very act of infinitely and instantly replicating the Universe would create huge gaps in information on whatever the current state Universe is in. Things happen simultaneously all the time. How are quadrillions of simultaneous actions supposed to be instantly reconciled to instantly form quadrillion x quadrillion Universes? Some suggest that the ends of the Universe (whatever is just beyond 13 billion light years in any direction) may already be out of touch with each other. This would make the Universe impossible to instantly resolve to form all of these simultaneous branches. Even if all information about the Universe is known to all points in the Universe at any given instant, there would be a measurable bottleneck of the branching activity. Time would slow down at an increasingly observable rate.

2D Time makes branching unnecessary anyway
Here's the kicker. If the Universe is 1 dimensionally branching within 2 dimensional time, then time is already considered 2 dimensional. If time is 2 dimensional, then there's no need for the branching to take place. If the Universe is a waveform in 2 dimensional time, the objects within it are smeared across this these two time dimensions. We are simply seeing a 1 dimensional view of our Universe intersecting with 2 dimensional time.

Ball passing through a plane acts the same as our view of time
This is similar to a 3 dimensional ball that passes through 2 dimensional plane. As the ball passes through the plane, an observer on the plane simply sees a line that grows, then shrinks. He doesn't see the ball itself. Depending on where the ball intersects the plane, the observer sees a shorter or longer line (even just a point). Any measurement of the line is just as valid as any other, but only the portion that intersects the plane can be measured at any one time. So, this is also true of the Universe if time is 2 dimensions, and the Universe is a waveform that intersects it at different points.  We simply see different view points of the same event each time we make an observation. There's nothing random about the observations! We just cannot see the whole shape in our limited view!

We aren't creating new branches of the Universe when the Universe "makes a choice". We are simply observing where our Universe is intersected by 2D time!
When we observe something that forces the Universe to "make a choice", it's not random. We are simply observing which portion of our Universe (or the element being observed) is currently intersecting within the 2 dimensional time. This doesn't mean that there aren't parallel Universes that resemble our own. It just means that those Universes have been there since the Big Bang (not branching), using a measurable portion of the Big Bang's energy for their formation, just as our Universe has.

To be clear, I offer the above as a notion to point to other interpretation of Quantum Physics. It's not meant to be the final word on anything, nor does it represent a tightly held belief of my own. I certainly haven't done any math to back any of this up. However, I do believe there are physicists that are already moving along similar paths of reasoning, so I'm trying to get the word out as the concept of branching Universes has been gaining momentum in recent years with very little in the way of observations to back it up.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Where'd that T-Rex come from?

Allie and I posing with a Tyrannosaurus Rex

Here's a funny photo that Allie and I took at a tourist trap somewhere just off the freeway in Arizona or New Mexico while on our cross-country road trip just after Thanksgiving last year.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My beautiful afternoon and New England quirks

The fact that today's afternoon was beautiful has nothing to do with me. It's mine because I was able to enjoy it. I had dropped Tobzilla off at a pet hotel yesterday for reasons I'm not going into here. On my way to pick him up today, I stopped off at a bagel place for the first bagel I've had in Massachusetts this year. In a rather ironic twist, bagel shops aren't all that common in the MetroWest area. There around, but there's just no prolific quality chains, like Noah's Bagels in the West Coast (to the people that hate Noah's, they are still far better than many places, so I consider them quality by comparison). I'm sure there's a bunch of bagel places closer to the Boston area, but I'm not driving an hour for bagels. Anyway, the place I went to was OK. Service was slow and understaffed for a Saturday. The bagel was fine.

I picked up Tobzilla from the pet hotel and then drove to a farm ice cream "parlor". I'm not sure why it's called a "parlor" since you don't actually get to go inside. I think I mentioned this in a previous post. I had a small ice cream in a waffle cone. You got to watch out at the farm ice cream places. Smalls are typically still quite big. Tobzilla was a bit impatient with me as it took me forever to eat my delicious ice cream cone.

The farm ice cream shops opened earlier in the season this year since Winter weather ended a bit early. One surprize in New England is that the Diary Queens typically close during Winter too. I've never seen Diary Queens do that before. It was quite disappointing in November to be forced to get soft serve at a McDonalds. As an alternative to Diary Queen, I do miss Foster Freeze, which is a smaller California chain of soft serve ice cream parlors (you actually get to go inside at these places). Oh, one more comment about the farm ice cream shop; they do serve soft serve, but I had "hard serve" today.

After coming home, I relaxed on our balcony in the sunny and warm afternoon. Tobzilla doesn't get to go on the balcony often, so he was sniffing around quite a bit, and investigating how far he was above the ground. When I went back inside, he followed quickly.

Both of us then sleep for the rest of the afternoon with the Sun peaking through the blinds of the bedroom. I think I'm well rested now. I might actually not fall asleep during SNL tonight.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Meeting Mike Rowe

The Joke
When travelling across country late last year with my wife, I discovered a section of our hotel store at the Grand Canyon that was dedicated to Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. There was a foam board cut out of Mike Rowe’s image. To joke with my wife, who loves Mike Rowe but who never found her way into the store, I took a photo of me with the 2D cut out. The joke turned out to be so little, Allie forget all about the photo within a couple of days.

Irony a few months later
In a bit of irony, I actually did meet Mike Rowe at SolidWorks World 2012 earlier this year. Yes, he graciously took his photo with me. Can you tell which is the real Mike Rowe?

SolidWorks World 2012 is a design conference dedicated to 3D CAD related products and services for engineering and similar fields. The conference happened to fall on Valentine's Day this year. It was in San Diego. This means, I (and many attendees) were away from our spouses on Valentine's Day. I asked Mike Rowe if he would write a Valentine's Day message to my wife (an autograph written to Allie). He signed my conference badge. I'm not going to show it here because its my gift to my wife. It is an autograph that will never be sold, and it's up to Allie to show it off!

I thanked Mike Rowe a bit too much and then told him that my wife and I have been fans since he was on Evening Magazine in the San Francisco Bay Area. He looked at me surprized, if not a tiny bit consternated.

On Stage
On stage at the conference, Mike Rowe talked about the need to bring recognition and honor back to the blue collar trades (plumbers, electricians, etc). He founded mikeroweWORKS for this purpose and to help people connect with each other in the trades.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Alaska Cruise Day 7: Not Alaska (B.C.)

Day 7 of our Alaska cruise was highlighted by a visit to Victoria, British Columbia. Many people don't realize that the name Columbia was used by our North and South American forefathers to name a bit of land that they really didn't have a name for. Columbia is the "poetic" name for the Americas. There's also Washington, District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) and the actual country of Columbia.

Victoria is a very nice city with many interesting buildings, good food and they freely take U.S. dollars (1:1 with the Canadian dollar these days).

My In-laws liked it a lot. We had a relaxing time, just walking around without too much of a schedule to worry about. We had a great dinner at a local steakhouse. There was this Celtic themed store with some of the highest quality clothes I've seen (and the prices to match). I even have a video around somewhere of Darth Vader playing the violin (street performer).

The vibe in Victoria is definately different than Vancouver, B.C.

One of the reasons we chose to take a cruise with Norwegian is that the cruise starts and finishes in Seattle, WA (within the borders of USA). Many cruises start in Seattle, but then end in Victoria. That means we'd have to take an international flight home; a painful experience which I am always more than happy to avoid.

So, even though Norwegian wasn't everything we expected it to be, it was everything it needed to be. I guess that's not a great endorsement, huh.

Overall, the trip was enjoyable. Some pluses (many of which cost more $$$) and some minuses (many of which were part of the cruise package for no additional $$$). We did our trip to Alaska. We did our first cruise (and prolly last, at least for a long while). We took my In-laws on a big vacation and had a lot of quality time with them. And, I got to see my best friend and his family before and after the cruise.

Please see the full Alaska Cruise article list.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday Two: powering eyes

Polyplus propel potentional power, providing pertinent p...oh...nevermind. Polyplus new technology will allow for "ultra-high energy density [lithium] batteries " to significantly increase battery charge. This will allow cellphones and many other devices longer times of operation between rechargings.

A microchip may soon be available from the minds at MIT that will allow blind people to acheive some level of sight. It's not a full site, but "blind person to recognize faces and navigate a room without assistance."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Alaska Cruise Day 6: Ziplining

Day 6 of my family's Alaska cruise was marked by a visit to Ketchikan. Suprizingly enough, we didn't spend much time in Ketchikan itself. Our excursion took up almost all of the time.

I did the ziplining canopy tour in the rainforest. By an amazing coincidence, Allie took her parents on a nature walk excursion that was run by the same operation on the rain forest floor. So, while I was zipping around overhead, they were walking on a guided tour below. Allie said she kept an eye out for me, but we weren't in the same part of the forest at the same time.

They got to see a bald eagle, owl, bear markings on a tree, a canoe being made (in progress, not from start to finish), and other natural or native items.

I was zipping around the canopy with a group of people, most of which have never ziplined before. It was a lot of fun. I haven't developed the photos from this adventure on my disposal camera yet. Hopefully the film is still good after all this time (2 years). I do have this shot taken by an automatic "ride" camera.

Note the gratuitous fist pump. :)

The excursion took up so much time in the trip to a from the dock and on the adventure itself, we didn't get a chance to check out anything in the town of Ketchikan itself.

Please see the full Alaska Cruise article list.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday Two: Straddling bacon

At first, I wasn't sure where to place the Virtual Therapy. Is this a tremendous fail or something that will change the future? Well, so far the results speak for themselves. 95% of patients complete the virtual course, versus only 37% when with human therapists.

Straddling bus will take your car to work and offers to save 860 tons of fuel (who measures fuel in "tons"?) each year by replacing old fashion walk-on buses. Come on, get with the 21st Century, already. (Where's the flying cars which will likely consume far more energy than current ground bases cars?)

Epoch Fail

It's bacon floss! That's right, there is a bacon flavor dental floss! There's nothing quite like spreading that refreshing bacon taste throughout your mouth right after a juicy onion dominated meal.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Alaska Cruise Day 5: Glacier Bay!

The cruise ship itinerary listed this day as a Sea Day. A Sea Day is when the ship doesn't dock at any port. The other Sea Days on this cruise were only of the ship moving fast through the ocean to get to one of the ports. However, this Sea Day is different.

We made the journey up the Glacier Bay to visit the impressive Johns Hopkins Glacier. Along the way, we saw dolphins, whales, cliff dwelling goats, and eagles, all from our cabin patio.

Before arriving, everyone was asked to keep as quiet as possible, so as to not disturb the glacier. Once at the glacier, the port side of the ship was first to view it. Of course everyone was on deck, watching and waiting for the slightest signs of calving.

The moment reminded me of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the book Restaurant at the End of the Universe. In that book, there's a restaraunt at the literal end of the Universe. People from all over the Universe would go to this restaraunt at the end of time to watch the last bit of the Universe fade into nothing. It felt kind of like that on the cruise ship. People from all over the World go on this cruise to the end of Glacier Bay to watch one of the World's remaining glaciers slowly melt away. I actually was hoping for global warming to work just a little faster so I could see more dramatic scenes of ice breaking off and crashing into the water.

There was a solo seal swimming around in the cold bay water at the root of the glacier. I assume the little guy was busy hunting for food amongst the chunks of ice floating in the water.

The ship then slowly and quietly rotated around so that the starboard side also got a view. Allie's parents relaxed on their patio at this time, along with me and Allie in our own patio next door.

Once we left the glacier, the cruise ship went on a tour around other portions of Glacier Bay. At one point, off in the distance, I saw one glacier with a massive calving of ice crashing into the bay!

The ship later headed south. Allie and I relaxed in the spa at the front of the ship. Several of the reclined chairs faced foward so we could kick back and watch the ocean pass by. We saw more dolphins and some sort of fish that was jumping out of the water.

Seeing Glacier Bay was my main purpose for this trip. Cruise ships are really the only way to see this amazing place for the average person (unless you happen to have your own boat and know how to navigate the World's seas).

Please see the full Alaska Cruise article list.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Senseless Sunday: skin deep lunacy

  • The next leap year where Feburaury does not have a full moon is 25721.

  • The current definition of the term "Blue Moon" dates back to March 1946, in which Sky and Telescope magizine mistakenly misinterpreted the definition of the term from 1937 Maine Farmers' Almanac. "Blue Moon" originally referred to the third Full Moon in a season which has four Full Moons2.

  • Atheists outnumber all but nine organized religions in the World.

  • The skin of a polar bear is black. Though the fur appears white, it's actually clear.

  • More often, you will use more gas making a left turn than making a right turn.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'm feeding Twitter with Mass Pike

The hashtag #masspike has some interesting tweets about the portion of I-90 that runs through Massachusetts, called Mass Pike.  So, since I'm driving on a section of Mass Pike on most days, I've started posting a semi-daily tweet attached to that hashtag which covers some experiences I've have while on that toll freeway.  The fact that I have something to complain about practically everyday should say something about a large minority of poor drivers that frequent this stretch of road. 

People swerving excessivly (worse than drunks, in my opinion) are quite common.  Even worse is when a big rig is actively swerving into adjacent lanes without the intent of changing lanes.  More than once, I've seen hapless cars have to veer, literally avoiding dangerous accidents.

Many drivers treat the road as their own ash tray, flinging cigarette butts out to bounce into the cars behind them.  Many butts have a well inflamed cherry.  Rather unsafe.

I'm sure many people aren't all that clear on the concept of what a lane is.  It seems a dashed line in the middle of the road is an invitation to drive on top of the line down the middle.  This is a particular problem with freeway exits.  A problem with freeway entrances is the opposite. If there is only one lane, lane splitting is employed.  See, here I thought lane splitting was only legal in California with a motorcycle and a car.  Massachusetts, it's illegal, so why not just completely break the law by lane splitting a big rig with another big rig!

These daily events aren't limited to Mass Pike, and they aren't even the half of what goings on.  So, keep an eye on the #masspike hashtag on Twitter to see what your missing.