Working Late

by Terry 10/30/2008 9:18:00 PM

I am working late this evening. Thursday is my martial arts Leadership class too. When I got home tonight I had just enough time to change and eat before the call from the office came in. There is a large scale system update going on at work. I am partially responsible for the servers that are the authoritative source for all the updates. This is not a big issue, but I need update the authoritative servers also, which means a little juggling and a few extra backups so there is no down time in the system.

My actual time at work is about ten minutes with a 30 minutes break in the middle of that while I wait for other systems to go through there update. When all is done, unless there is a catastrophe, I verify everything works again and go to bed. I expect things will go smoothly, but I am online to handle any catastrophe, should one happen.

Currently rated 1.6 by 26 people

  • Currently 1.615385/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags:

computing | Personal

Cell Phones and the Virtual Workplace

by Terry 10/30/2008 11:04:00 AM

Around the office, the hot topic has been the change to a new cell phone provider. It seems most of the phone options basically suck.

One of my coworkers chose the LG CU720 model. His comments are that this model cannot use the wired headset and charge at the same time. If you use a wireless headset, the battery on the headset will eventually die if you are in long phone meetings. Other choices for phones are equally bad for similar reasons. I hope our options improve.

As a ‘virtual worker’ (a term I dislike because it implies I almost work, or what I do almost looks like work) I spend a lot of time on the phone. I am not fond of wireless headsets for a variety of reasons. Having no option except for a wireless headset is cause for concern. Naturally everyone in my workgroup is raising a ruckus. I eventually posted the following reply to the topic.

My preferred phone:
The battery can also be used as a spare for most home-office UPS systems

But for those who really need the latest:

Make Your Old Brick Cell Phone into a Bluetooth Headset With 8 Times the Battery Life

Currently rated 1.5 by 19 people

  • Currently 1.526316/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags:

computing | Personal

Not a Meth Lab and Avoiding Trouble

by Terry 10/29/2008 10:20:00 AM

I posted this on the Home Chem Lab forum, http://forums.homechemlab.com:

Back in June, while attending work-related training in Atlanta, I had discussions with friends on the ‘Meth Lab’ comments. I posted my initial comments here.

"So, to be clear, I am not building a Meth lab. I am not sure what the margins on Meth production are, but I am fairly certain that my day job, or any job at all, pays more than the risk is worth. I have no desire to, and this is not an exhaustive list, go to jail, kill or injure any family, friends, guests or associates, poison the neighborhood or blowup my house.

At a break in class today, one of my coworkers (friends really, as I have worked with all of these guys for years) suggested I go to Walmart and buy some blue tarps and propane tanks to leave around my yard. Apparently all meth-labs in the northwest are littered with blue tarps and propane cylinders. I added that I need to get a trailer in the back yard with a couple of flat tires. I am thinking I can get a good deal on a used FEMA trailer."

I still like the FEMA trailer idea. It would make a neat little mobile laboratory. But, that is rather off topic. Smile

People always jokingly ask, “How’s the Meth lab?” Among my friends I am not bothered by this; I have a good idea what they actually think. Comments from new acquaintances always make me pause and think about how to reply. If they are interested in a real explanation I will tell them my plans and progress to creating a science club (think tutoring with lab work), if not I will leave my explanation short; I am doing this for myself and my daughter, so my daughter can learn more than what is taught in school.

Part of my long term solution to avoiding trouble is transparency. I am doing nothing illegal – I have nothing to hide. In the interest of staying above board, because I will be working with other people’s children and my wife encouraged it, I contacted the local fire department and have discussed my plans with a variety of people, friends and such. I have been met with encouragement at all times. I live in a compact, if not small town, but small enough that the Mayor, fire chief, PTSA president and others are no more than two degrees separated from me. My involvement in the local martial arts also keeps me rather visible.

In a way, or so I think, the best campaign I can make is to be a good role model. Over time I hope that works against the Science = Evil mentality. I will be working with kids and I will be tugging on the suppressed childhood dreams of their parents.

"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." (Catherine Aird)

Currently rated 1.5 by 15 people

  • Currently 1.496969/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags:

chemistry | Personal | Policy

Blue Life, Lifeless

by Terry 10/24/2008 9:42:00 AM

I send an email to the Blue Life USA, LLC, contact email at http://www.bluelifeusa.com/ requesting an MSDS. After three attempts this week, each was met with an email fatal error.

----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
(reason: 452 Message for <
info%40bluelifeusa.com> would exceed mailbox quota)

Nor does Blue Life have any listed phone number. This makes little sense to me. How does Blue Life USA expect vendors to carry their products if they are unreachable?

Currently rated 2.0 by 1 people

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags:

chemistry | Personal

Finding Lugol’s Solution

by Terry 10/20/2008 4:13:00 PM

For the last few weeks I have been looking for local sources to obtain Lugol’s Solution for one of the labs in Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture (DIY Science). I have three other iodine tinctures for the labs in the book, but I have had a devil of a time finding Lugol’s Solution, which is a mixture of potassium iodide and iodine in water. Now I have four common (or not-so common these days) iodine solutions for comparison.

I suppose the difficulty in finding iodine solutions is largely because the DEA has listed Iodine as a List I chemical because it is used the production of Meth as a reagent. The local pharmacy will only provide it if prescribed. The local Walgreens also does not carry it. I stopped by several big-box pet stores to look for the aquarium-treatment version of the solution only to find none carry it anymore. It is just not available, except at one small shop in Issaquah, which sells exotic fish, where I found the Blue Life brand; the last one on their shelf.

The Blue Life aquarium supplement cost more than I would expect at $17 for an ounce. What is truly annoying, had I planned a little ahead, is I should have ordered a suitable quantity of potassium iodide from Elemental Scientific with my last shipment and just made the Lugol’s Solution myself. I could have made much more than an ounce for a few dollars of materials without having to purchase a single item on the DEA’s list.

At any rate, I now have several iodine solutions to experiment with. This is a good way of extending the lab. Part of experimentation is learning why X is different than Y when all other things are the same. I have made a request for the Blue Life Lugol’s Solution MSDS. Hopefully it will identify anything in the solution that may be different that a generic version and point to additional experiments I could perform.

It is very tempting to go on a campaign to restore sanity to the government. I can see the argument on why the DEA bans some substances or local and state government ban certain equipment and supplies. I think most of that is a waste of time, energy and resources. It is already illegal to manufacture Meth. Why criminalize or complicate the production and use of legal substances for law-abiding citezens? If I had the time and energy I would consider lobbying, except that I don’t like the concept so much.

Compare this to a “Hate Crime”. If a murder committed, it is a crime and there is a punishment. If a murder is committed while shouting a racial epithet, it is suddenly a ‘hate crime’ and there is a punishment. Shouting racial epithets while standing on a street corner (while likely not very smart) can be considered free speech. So why is there a ‘hate crime’ distinction? Creating more legal exceptions makes enforcement and prosecution of the real crimes more difficult.  After all, it is the murder that is the real crime. You cannot cure stupid.

Currently rated 2.0 by 1 people

  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags:

chemistry | Personal | Policy

Of course I could be reading this statement the wrong way.

by Terry 10/16/2008 5:15:00 PM

Of course I could be reading this statement the wrong way.

http://www.barackobama.com/taxes/
“Obama will ask the wealthiest 2% of families to give back a portion of the tax cuts they have received over the past eight years to ensure we are restoring fairness and returning to fiscal responsibility.”

It could be interpreted as Obama will ask Congress to repeal tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest 2% of the population because he feels that would be the right thing to do. That would be an honest statement and might actually imply what is meant. How it reads now is Obama will ask the rich to pay more tax on prior-year’s incomes.

Currently rated 3.0 by 1 people

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags:

Opinion | Personal | Policy

Rx for Containers

by Terry 10/16/2008 1:22:00 PM

On my lunch break, having just posted my own comments on 35mm film canisters, I ran down the block to pick up a prescription at the local pharmacy. It dawned on me, while standing there waiting for the order, these guys must have a few chemically-suitable storage containers they toss out.

It turns out they toss quite a few bottles and containers every day. I asked if they would consider saving for me a few of various sizes, mostly the 250cc and smaller plastic and glass bottles. This is cool! I don’t even have to drive anywhere. We’ll see what I can get over the next day or two.

Currently rated 1.0 by 1 people

  • Currently 1/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags:

chemistry | Personal

Saving Film Canisters

by Terry 10/16/2008 11:59:00 AM

Robert Bruce Thompson sent out an email (a copy of it is posted on the Chaos Manor Reviews site) to HomeChemLab.com subscribers suggesting it may be a good idea to collect those useful little 35mm film canisters. They are made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. The size is useful for a home chemistry hobbyist.

My wife, Karen, read the email the other day. She surprised me when she told me this morning I should go get more film canisters. I already made a stop to Costco a month ago for a bunch, but Karen said I should call around and get a big bag full of them from the local film processing places, especially while the canisters are still free and available. 35mm film is dying quickly with the availability of digital processing and low cost of digital cameras.

Karen was torn between her reasons for prompting me. She is not sure which she is doing more; supporting my chemistry lab or her need to collect little useful items. I guess I will have to help her out for her own good.

Currently rated 3.0 by 1 people

  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags:

chemistry | Personal

Election 2008 Comments on Taxes

by Terry 10/16/2008 10:57:00 AM

Normally I keep my political views to myself, except in general comments amongst my friends. Not because I have no opinion, but because I prefer to not say anything unless I have something to add to the discussion. I suppose I have something to say today.

Obama’s tax plan is illogical, and in some ways is a plan for legalized theft.

http://www.barackobama.com/taxes/
“Obama will ask the wealthiest 2% of families to give back a portion of the tax cuts they have received over the past eight years to ensure we are restoring fairness and returning to fiscal responsibility.”

Taken on its word, this is retroactive punishment for doing well. We, The Government, did not believe we needed you to pay certain taxes over the last eight years. Now, please, give that money back because it is fair to the poor people who did not earn more money this year.

I find the statement, “give back” interesting. It implies that a group of wealthy people first ‘gave’ money to the government, and then colluded in some way to take it back from the government. Personally I feel the prior taxes paid are a done deal. That contract was signed and delivered. Changing that agreement retroactively is a contractual violation. It is the same as if I intentionally, fraudulently, file a tax amendment on my taxes from four years ago and claim I overpaid and it would only be fair to compensate me now because I need the money.

On tax cuts, Obama’s plan also is flawed.

http://www.barackobama.com/taxes
“Obama’s Comprehensive Tax Policy Plan for America will: Cut taxes for 95 percent of workers and their families with a tax cut of $500 for workers or $1,000 for working couples.”

In 2006, the IRS statistics, http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/indtaxstats/article/0,,id=96978,00.html, show approximately 33% of the population filing non-taxable returns. That is, about 33% of the people don’t pay taxes. No matter which way you skew the 95% of the people (Let’s assume it is excluding the 5% of the wealthiest, but even if it is not the problems are the same), there are about 31% of those people who pay no tax. A tax cut of $500-$1000 is either not possible, a lie, a false promise or a cash payment for the poor. It is a promise that can never be met honestly. It would likely die in the House anyway.

John McCain at least strikes me as having an honest, achievable tax position.

http://www.johnmccain.com/Issues/JobsforAmerica/taxes.htm
“John McCain will keep the top tax rate at 35 percent, maintain the 15 percent rates on dividends and capital gains, and phase-out the Alternative Minimum Tax. Small businesses are the heart of job growth; raising taxes on them hurts every worker.”

Phasing out the Alternative Minimum Tax would likely cause 1%-3% of the 33% of the people who pay no tax now to pay a few dollars. By few I mean amount $100-$200 per year. It is raising the tax for a very few people, but only those already on the border of paying something or nothing.

McCain’s policy to credit business for Research and Development expenses and lowering the corporate tax rate would potentially raise the investment in new technology and create jobs. Both would increase the tax base. New technology equates to new and better products and competitiveness. A general tax cut for business would allow reinvestment in business which would creates jobs.

My Stance

Personally, I don’t really care for McCain or Obama. It seems no politician will stand for the things I really want; State autonomy (closer to the original construction of the United States), fewer Federal programs, protection of our borders (economic and physical) and investment in technology, to name a few. Maybe I will write in John Adams – Damn. He’s dead.

Currently rated 1.0 by 1 people

  • Currently 1/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags:

Opinion | Personal | Policy

A Glimmer of Sanity Returns

by Terry 10/13/2008 9:40:00 AM

When I first read this I thought it was a joke.

Seattle high-schoolers can now get failing grades

Seattle Public Schools has changed its high-school grading policy to include E grades, a mark more commonly known as an F. In the past, students who did not pass a class earned an N, which did not affect their grade-point averages.

I could not believe the Seattle school district had ever fallen so far as to allow kids to effectively erase the failing grades from a student’s grade point average. That practice ultimately sets kids up for failure. Not just the poor-performing kids, but the better than average kids as well.

"When students receive an E or an N, they don't get any credit toward graduation. The E, however, counts as a zero when calculating a student's grade-point average. An N does not. So a student with three A's and three E's would have a grade-point average of 2.0. A student with three A's and three N's would have a perfect grade-point of 4.0."

In the, thankfully, now abolished system, a poor performing student could appear to be, superficially, a stellar student. This creates the obvious pitfall of setting the child up for failure in a college they are not likely to succeed or ever graduate from, or failing at a job they are not qualified for.

What may not be so obvious is the grade inflation this would give a clever, above average student. It would not take a genius kid to figure out how to work their own grades to maximize their GPA by, for example, turning a B or B+ into an A- GPA. In a school of a 1000 kids, I would bet a fair percentage would capitalize on this system. This creates the same setup for failure. Kids appear more qualified than their grades would otherwise indicate. Granted, by not as much as the ‘failing’ kid might ‘benefit’, but across the whole it would still have an effect.

How would any of this ever serve a child’s best interest? It can’t. I think every chance a kid can get to succeed is great, but ultimately a person has to stand on their own skills. The system the Seattle school district used for seven years did not stand children up on their own skills; it placed them on thin ice with no foundation to stand on. Even the B+ student, masquerading as an A- student suffers. For example, if an employer uses the GPA of a two applicants as a tie breaker for a demanding job, the lesser-skilled person may get hired. While it is possible the new hire will succeed in the job, it is also more likely that the employer hired the wrong person. Not only does the employer lose and the new hire lose, but so does the person who did not get the job.

On a once-off basis this is not a big issue, but aggregated across thousands of students over seven years, it skews the averages and hurts everyone. It is economy of scale in reverse.

Thankfully some measure of sanity returned to the school district. It still horrifies me this hideous joke was allowed at all. The joke is on the alumni of the Seattle school district, but no one should be laughing.

Currently rated 4.0 by 1 people

  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Tags:

Personal | Policy

Powered by BlogEngine.NET 1.4.5.0
Theme by Mads Kristensen

About Terry Losansky

Terry Dee Losansky

I am a software architect, actively practice and teach martial arts and live in Snoqualmie, Washington. I have an amazing daughter who is the jewel of my life.

E-mail me Send mail
Terry's Facebook profile

Calendar

<<  November 2017  >>
MoTuWeThFrSaSu
303112345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930123
45678910

View posts in large calendar

Recent comments

Authors

Disclaimer

The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

© Copyright 2017

Sign in