the Long of it ........

unintended consequences and other musings


Too Much Information

washing machine elbow

Camco 22505 90 Degree Hose Elbow, $7.50

Was looking at these in Amazon today for use in the orphanage sink – it is very clear to me what this is and what it is used for.  Amazon has a few nice features called Reviews and Answered Questions – this product had over 500 reviews and 8 answered questions!  How could there be so much data on a simple elbow – are we going mad with our available buying info?  And if you bought this, would you really take time to add the 501st review since you must have something original to say…..waaaaay to much information


My 23lb Personal Computer

sx64In January of 1984, I became the first person in Denver to purchase the SX-64, the world’s first portable color computer.  I paid $995 and was the happiest kid in the town!  Friend Roger Good and I used to get together and program – He had the Atari computer.


Weight: 23 pounds
Price: US $995.
CPU: MOS 6510, 1MHz
Audio: 3 channels
RAM: 64K
Display: built-in 5″ color screen
40 X 25 text
320 X 200, 16 colors max
Storage: internal 170K floppy drive
external floppy drive
Ports: S-video, composite video
2 joysticks, cartridge port
serial and ‘user’ ports
OS: Commodore BASIC in ROM

It is now safely held by the Computer History Museum in Mountainside California where I donated it.  My perception is that many young people do not realize how fast we have come in technology in just a few years.



Earth Day, Man is the Despoiler in the Church of St. Green

Tomorrow is Earth Day – even the Vatican/Pope is getting in on it this year.  The narrative again will focus on how man’s responsibility is to serve the environment.  For Christ believers, this narrative is different than the Genesis account, which is that creation is meant to serve Man.  “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”, Genesis 2:15.  This requires Man to take care of the earth but the first part of the verse says that the earth is to be worked.   This requires Man to apply his skills in releasing the good of the land to serve humankind.  This conflicts with the common view today of Man being the spoiler of the land and the assumption that technology advances and more humans mean more damage to our ecology.

The problem with this view is that it adversely affects the poor in the world.  How many African children died when the use of DDT declined after the US banned it in 1972?  Environmentalism becomes an authoritarian religion for the wealthy with its own Eden (before man ruined it), deniers (climate skeptics) and its indulgences (Tesla to save  fossil fuels).

This material borrowed heavily from an editorial in WSJ 04212015, William McGurn


Council of Presidents

Latest book on my reading shelf is Council of Dad’s, Bruce Feiler.  I liked his advice that he believed ex-presidents (and one preacher) would give to his daughters as they grow up:

Honesty is the best policy
When he stepped down from the presidency in 1797, George Washington never actually delivered his Farewell Address.  Instead, he published it as a letter to “The People of the United States.”  The speech is remembered for introducing the tradition of two terms for the president, warning against party squabbling, and advising against entangling alliances.  But it’s most quoted line refers to personal conduct.  “I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.”
Question with boldness
On August 10, 1787, while in Paris, Jefferson wrote a letter to his nephew Peter Carr.  He advised in favor of studying Spanish (and against Italian).  He advocated reading philosophy to improve conduct.  And he wrote this about religion: “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”
Avoid extremes
When he was 22 years old, Franklin wrote out thirteen virtues that he vowed to observe every day.  He even typed up a chart and made a check besides each virtue he followed.  The exercise lasted just under a month.  Still, the virtues capture the essence of the American character he embodied.  1) TEMPERANCE – Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.  2) RESOLUTION – Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.  3) MODERATION – Avoid extremes.
Dare to read, think, speak, and write
A decade before the Revolution, while a young lawyer in Boston, Adams wrote a series of articles about the beating heart of liberty in America.  Later published as a book, the articles summoned Americans to let their minds lead them to freedom.  “Let us become attentive to the grounds and principles of government …  Let us study the law of nature … Let us tenderly and kindly cherish the means of knowledge.  Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”
Fight the good fight of faith
In a sermon on Ecclesiastes called “The Folly and Danger of Not Being Righteous Enough,” George Whitefield, the great Revolutionary champion of the Great Awakening, echoed Joshua as he conquered the Promised Land.  “Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you. Fight the good fight of faith, and God will give you spiritual mercies.”

What can I add to this? – list is now my maxim to live by…..


What will Kill you?

CDC has published a 14MB pdf report, Health, United States, 2008 with lots of interesting data – I was studying it for proof that the US Healthcare system is as broke as our Congress would have us believe.

Interesting on what the primary killers are by age:
Age 0-1          Congenital Malformations
1-44               Injuries from Accidents
45-64             Cancer
65 and up       Heart

Overall as an average, the Heart is the biggest killer out there.

this poor cowboy was certainly going to die of a bad heart…..

I’m lyin‘ on the barren ground that’s baked and cracked with drought,
And dunno if my legs or back or heart is most wore out;I’ve got no spirits left to rise and smooth me achin‘ brow –I’m too knocked up to light a fire and bile the billy now.
Oh it’s trampin‘, trampin‘, tra-a-mpin‘, in flies an’ dust an’ heat,
Or it’s trampintrampintra-a-a-mpin’through mud and slush ‘n sleet;It’s tramp an’ tramp for tucker — one everlastin‘ strife,
An’ wearin‘ out yer boots an’ heart in the wastin‘ of yer life.
For it’s trampin‘, trampin‘, tra-a-mpinthro‘ hell across the plain,
And it’s trampintrampintra-a-mpinthro‘ slush ‘n mud ‘n rain —
A livin‘ worse than any dog — without a home ‘n wife,
A-wearin‘ out yer heart ‘n soul in the wastin‘ of yer life.
Knocked Up, Henry Lawson


Yes, you can build a House in three days!

There are a number of non-profits that help third world countries by building houses for people in need. With full disclosure, I am affiliated with one: 1Mission. We call the three day trip, ‘Vacation with a Purpose’ and every house I have built has truly been a vacation that I will not forget. Getting away from the daily career grind and working with your hands really takes you away for a few days – and culminates with an amazing experience; a grateful family taking the keys to a new house that was beyond their dreams just a few months ago. If you can participate in this without shedding a few tears, you need a checkup. While the house would qualify as a garden shed in the US/Canada, it is a very substantial house for many in the world.

Building a 11′ by 22′ foot house:

Day One, We pour the floor and build all of the walls
Day Two, We put the walls on the dry floor, build the roof sections, install plywood siding/roofing, install asphalt roofing, and finally put the first coat of stucco on
Day Three, Put the second coat of stucco on, install two windows and one door – and finally hand the keys to a grateful family.

If you are tired of the normal vacations, pack your hammer and join us in Puerto Penasco, Mexico and help a team build a house for a family – it is a travel experience that you will always remember and a family in Mexico will never forget your gift.

The picture above is (left to right) my Father (who was 84 and building a house!), My Wife Mary and myself.


When Sweeping Changes are just not

re; WSJ 05172010

California’s Money Woes Trigger UC Cuts

The University of California is set to unveil plans for a sweeping financial and administrative overhaul that could reduce annual operating expenses by more than $500 million.

Sounds like Californians are really cutting costs in their bloated state university system – maybe not….

A careful read of the article shows that after five years they hope to achieve an annual savings of 500 Million$ on a run rate of 20 Billion$ per year. This is where journalists (mathematically challenged) need to graph or put the numbers in percentages to put the numbers in perspective. If they achieve the 500M savings in year 5, they would have reduced annual expenses by 2.5% (.5B/20B), hardly worth writing a story about! Is this sweeping changes? To put it in perspective, a Family making 50K$ per year would be cutting expenses by 1,025$/year (one fancy Starbucks coffee/day) – difficult for many families but a debt counselor would not refer to this as a radical cut. Also note that all cutting was done in the admin and purchasing areas – none in the direct academic areas – more evidence that it was not ‘sweeping’.


Men need to Borrow Tools More Often

Had a great time this week with my little brother who lives in Mt. Vernon, Ohio.  My 88 year old father and I travelled down from Michigan to help him get a few cords of wood ready for the winter.  My brother has almost every tool ever made because that is what MEN like to collect…and he has used them in various jobs over the years.  While he had a Stihl chain saw and a Timberjack, he did not have his own log splitter.  A real man would simply go to the local Tractor Supply Company and buy one!  What he did instead was call up a friend (Sam) and ask him to bring his splitter over – which he did.  We had a great time getting to know this unique individual and he helped the job get finished in one day.  Lesson learned; borrowing tools brings great opportunities to meet new friends – buying a new tool may make you more of a man and impress the few friends you have but in my opinion, new friends are to be valued more!   Also, all of my tools are available to loan….come get them and me to help build relationships…

Addendum:   Sam died less than 6 months after this event……


Tom Jones sings What?

Tom Jones has just recorded a new album; Praise and Blame.  Yes, the same Tom Jones who recorded Delilah, It’s Not Unusual and Sex Bomb!  This is very good lesson in not pigeon-holing artists into nice little compartments.  This album showcases a mix of country, retro blues and spirituals with minimal background music which highlights Tom’s voice ….which has aged well at 70 years.  Cuts I especially liked were; Don’t Knock (The Staple Singers),  Burning Hell (John C Hooker), the hauntingly What Good Am I (Dylan) and Didn’t It Rain (Mahalia Jackson).  I was listening to this yesterday in the truck driving 70 mph down a Michigan country road – yes, the volume was cranked up….and I was happy……


PowerPoint from IKEA?

I always like listening to the various TED speakers – while they seem to have a left tilt, I am always challenged by their topics/presentations.  Really enjoyed Hans Rosling talking about population growth – while I don’t fully agree with his views that raising living standards in poor countries directly lowers population, his presentation techniques are to be admired.
He built a graphical display out of some colored boxes courtesy of IKEA while adding some props of a model bicycle, car and airplane.  The props allowed him to quickly move the boxes to show the changes over time as groups gain in wealth.  It was easy to follow and kept the focus on him instead of switching back and forth between the screen and the speaker.  I think more of us ought to try and use Powerpoint less and instead focus on what works best…..