jpgdecided to test new font formatting for this month (inspired by the Business Week web page) ... a font type is not specified in the style sheet (each web browser will select its own font) and (due to my age-ing eyes) the style sheet specifies 105% basic font size and 110% when embedded in a table - which i always do for page formatting).


Lucia, way out west -
not many people write paper letters anymore, since we invented e-mail. but my cousin Lucia does write to me (and me to her) regularly. she says its 105F - 110F out there these days, so i think we'll not visit her this week ;>)).

but she did suggest a great idea for the weekend .... bratwurst soaked in beer and onions and grilled on the bar-b ... sign me up.


Postcript: tonight, Deb had grilled turkey burgers (no fat, no salt, no cholesterol, no nitrates, no taste, one baby step better than tofu burgers) and i grilled a beer-soaked bratwurst (that included whatever the law allows them to leave in bratwurst). speaking candidly, i can say that the bratwurst was not as much of shock to ingest as last month's keilbasa (sp?) .... so obviously pre-soaking your food in beer is good for you.

truth be told however, i bought the bratwurst already soaked in beer .... but i did promise myself to prepare a home-soaked batch (with onions and tomates) soon.

Iraq's Budget Surplus (From the Washington Post, Aug.06.2008)


  • Iraq's oil income will more than double this year, even as Baghdad continues to spend only a small percentage of its own money on reconstruction and services while it banks billions in surplus funds, according to projections by U.S. government auditors.
  • The GAO estimated that Iraq would have a budget surplus of $38 billion to $50 billion this year.
  • The United States has appropriated about $48 billion for Iraqi reconstruction since 2003.
  • The Baghdad government has about $30 billion deposited in the Development Fund for Iraq at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Under a United Nations mandate that expires at the end of the year, the fund is protected from international legal claims against Iraq dating from the Saddam Hussein era.

Grades (Aug.03)

took a first cut at the senior design grades this morning ... kept strictly to my grading criteria for this course (spread the grades across 5 major tasks) ..... we'll see how they evolve this week as i dig into the submitted CD's for details.


Aug.07 / 2nd cut



never buy a toy you can't afford to throw away

jpg sent the leica to the shop today and i realize how over my head i am in this league .... dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb..... i have to remind myself that i bought it when the cash was flowing in like a river .... but times have changed and a $1900 toy is no longer a throw-away item ..... let's hope they replace the sensor for free (technically it's a design flaw of the Sony CCD sensor) even though the camera is 4+ years old.

rumor had it that the sensor was integral with the lens, but some guy had the moxie to open his up and it shows the sensor is attached the the lens by screws and can be changed without changing the lens..... (all other digital cameras have the sensor attached to the camera back). the camera has a reputation for great images, despite a small 5Mpix CCD .... legend has it that the software works some kind of magic.

Coleus: my favorite all-time plant is Coleus, i discovered it as a kid - mom planted them in pots.... beautiful large various colored leaves (grown for its foilage, not for its microscopic flowers). i have a bunch in pots around the yard and find they are ridiculously simple to care for and also easy to propogate ... great as a house plant too .... in fact i cut of the top of one plant and simply stuck it in the ground and it rooted and now i have a new one!.

I shamelessly swiped this text on coleus from the internet and cleaned up the format.

Mom's name: it's a mystery that i never really understood, but the punchline is mom's birth certificate says her name is .... Maria Anna...... which may be a big problem for me because the official NYC birth certificate that came in the mail today says my mother was Ann Louise. Ann is also the name shown on my parents' marriage cert and mom's death cert.

So her marriage certificate and her birth certificate show 2 very different names, which opens all kinds of legal questions.

i guess now the search for my real mom starts .... DNA samples ? .... was i switched at birth? .... maybe i'm really from argentina or sri lanka .... who am i? .... will they deport me ? .... to where?

who .... am ..... i ? (twighlight zone theme cuts in here).

..... shytt, dinner's burning, gotta run....

Web Browsers (Again)

png in my senior design class, i desparately try to get students to submit a simple web page with their final reports in html format. one of my early lectures is my religiously passionate but futile plea to convert them to html as their format of choice.

well they turned in their web pages last week and they all claim they open fine in their web browser which of course is IE7 because they don't even know there are other web browsers .... (Mike just puked on his shoes).

png however, i use firefox and epiphany and opera to look at web pages and none of them opened all the students's pages correctly..... so we went round and round by e-mail.

png turns out that IE7 will allow your html code to have all kinds of non-W3C compliant junk in it and still will open.... like it makes no distinction between "JPG" and "jpg", so it will open any image file that's nearby that looks close to what the html calls for.

png firefox, epiphany, opera take you at your word.... you type JPG and they look for JPG (not jpg or JPEG or jpeg).

there's the whole world in this corner trying to unite as a sharing civilization ...... and there's microsoft ( the schoolyard bully) over there doing whatever it's muscle and money allow it to do.

ironically, most people admire bullies.

08.08.08 ..... Happy Birthday Debbie !!

She's gonna kill me for telling her age, but D is 39 today.

We are off to Portsmouth for the day .... hope the weather holds up.

Postscript: the weather held up and we had a nice day up there lumix aside from spending 6 hours deciding where to eat lunch.... but when the dust settled we ate at Flatbreads Pizza joint and it was a nice place and the food was excellent and i'd go back tomorrow..... New Hampshire is and always has been a great place to be.

Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste

From Scientific American website ....

...the waste produced by coal plants is actually more radioactive than that generated by their nuclear counterparts. In fact, fly ash (by-product from burning coal for power) contains up to 100 times more radiation than nuclear waste.....

At issue is coal's content of uranium and thorium, both radioactive elements. They occur in such trace amounts in natural, or "whole," coal that they aren't a problem. But when coal is burned into fly ash, uranium and thorium are concentrated at up to 10 times their original levels.....

In a 1978 paper for Science, J. P. McBride at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and his colleagues looked at the uranium and thorium content of fly ash from coal-fired power plants in Tennessee and Alabama.....

The result: estimated radiation doses ingested by people living near the coal plants were equal to or higher than doses for people living around the nuclear facilities. At one extreme, the scientists estimated fly ash radiation in individuals' bones at around 18 millirems (thousandths of a rem, a unit for measuring doses of ionizing radiation) a year. Doses for the two nuclear plants, by contrast, ranged from between three and six millirems for the same period. And when all food was grown in the area, radiation doses were 50 to 200 percent higher around the coal plants.....

from Scientific American ....

How long would Bruce Wayne have to train to become Batman?

jpg In some of the timelines you see in the comics, the backstory is he goes away for five years - some it's three to five years, or eight years, or 12 years. In terms of the physical changes (strength and conditioning), that's happening fairly quickly. We're talking three to five years. In terms of the physical skills to be able to defend himself against all these opponents all the time, I would benchmark that at 10 to 12 years. Probably the most reality-based representation of Batman and his training was in Batman Begins.


Moved the US budget and tax data to its own page.

China > US in manufacturing (from The Financial Times)

China is set to overtake the US next year as the world's largest producer of manufactured goods, four years earlier than expected, as a result of the rapidly weakening US economy.

In 1990, before economic reforms began to work, it accounted for a meagre 3 per cent of global manufacturing.

The expected change will end more than a 100 years of US dominance. It returns China to a position it occupied, according to economic historians, for some 1,800 years up to about 1840, when Britain became the world's biggest manufacturer after its Industrial Revolution.

Yang Peiyl

jpg Yang Peiyl is 7 and she sang the opening anthem for the 2008 Olympics in China.

The Chinese government however decided she wasn't pretty enough to put on global TV, so they had a "prettier" girl stand in front of the cameras and lip-synch the song.

Happily, some shrewd person caught on and has since published the story and Yang's picture on the internet.

Yang is almost too cute for my web page .... here she is !


I just caught up with this report originally from the New Yorker print edition only ....

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell is drawing up plans for cyberspace spying that would make the current debate on warrantless wiretaps look like a "walk in the park," according to an interview published in the New Yorker's print edition today [Jan.14.2008].

Ed Giorgio, who is working with McConnell on the plan, said that would mean giving the government the authority to examine the content of any e-mail, file transfer or Web search.

Giorgio warned me, "We have a saying in this business: Privacy and security are a zero-sum game." (A zero-sum game is one in which gains by one side come at the expense of the other. In other words -- McConnell's aide believes greater security can only come at privacy's expense.)

jpgUnder this plan-in-process, government computers would continuously and automatically filter and scan every communication you and I have over the internet with anyone else at any time.... AND whatever books we order, information we search for, questions we ask on-line (, Wikipedia, etc etc).

If you ask the wrong question on-line, open the wrong website, read the wrong news, search for the wrong topic, buy the wrong book, download the wrong file, use the wrong phrase in an e-mail, attach the wrong picture or joke to an e-mail, receive the wrong e-mail, then you may get tapped on the shoulder and asked to explain (after being deprived of sleep a few days) why you did that. (Remember, you have already approved the federal government to detain and "question" people indefinitely, without charges.)

Yeh.... I know.... that won't happen to you.... you're just happy the government is spending your taxes to spy on you so you can feel safe.

Security, feeling safe, is the single most important thing Americans (as a group) want their government to provide .... which is why we are willing to give up the individual rights and privileges the Constitution blessed us with.

Knowledge is power and the government simply cannot allow people to share knowledge unchecked.

I've come to realize now that We, the People of America 2008, don't deserve the blessings and protection of our Constitution. We are too lazy and stupid and "safe" and content..... like dumb little lambs, happy grazing day to day, not noticing those who disappear now and then.

Which brings me to this glorious moment.....

The Alfred Award
for a
Notable Achievement in Stupidity


goes to .... us ...


tap ... tap .... tap ..... hmmm... someone's at the door...

Very interesting article on the election of 1800 and the birth of the 2-party system ... things don't seem to have changed much .... still the same relentless confrontations (fistfights in Congress even!) .... but the good view of this is that we are NOT living in the worst of times, as my political rants often imply.


jpgtook the leap this morning and bought an electric log splitter on line from some place in CT .... 7 ton ... looks good in pictures .... gotta beat my little hatchet and hammer method.

SocSec finally decided that I really am deaf, not faking it. Took them about a year to decide that (had 3 sets of doctors' hearing test data to make the decision), but they set my official day-I-became-deaf-for-SocSec at April2007 and deposited a chunk of money in my checking account, which explains the log splitter and probably an October trip to Texas. (But they still owe me $750,000 according to my calculations.)





Aug.17.2008 .... Happy Birthday, Good Buddy


"I wonder what the poor people are doing today?"


G & K are away and Deb has been cat sitting, but she's working and i checked on them today.... Rudy is everybody's friend, and we got to be pals for a few minutes today.


if you are looking for me the 3rd week of september, i'll be at disney

Who to vote for...

come november, i hope obama wins, but i won't vote for him because (although he has a soul) he doesn't have the moxie for the job. [but here is another viewpoint on that]

of course i won't vote for mccain ..... the guy's a souless imbecile.

that leaves me with a dilemma..... who do i truly think deserves to be our next president?


posted vintage pix from our trip to Nevada in 1998. they were shot as slides and rephotographed or scanned in (i forgot).... the projected slides are incredible.

jpg jpg

Went to the game last night. It was a good time, and only $10 !



well..... it's here and it's cute and not too too small.
(the wide angle camera lens makes the screen look smaller than the keyboard, but that's an illusion.)

it runs on XP and i am struggling now to make that as invisible as possible.... turned off the stupid persistent update alerts, firewall, virus alerts, loaded firefox, t-bird, Tcl/tk, GIMP and my SantaFe Tclscript (it RUNS !!).


M got me to download and install ubuntu ahead of schedule ... it now boots to either OS.


posted some vintage pix from NYC...


NASCAR Driver Andrew S. gets New Wheels


The legendary guy is shown here flashing a note signed by his mommy that says he is so handsome and smart and finished all his homework.

.... and the rest of the Texas clan ...



Chris got me thinking about my SocSec calcs, plus I have Junior Achievement starting up soon, so I whipped out a Javascript page for the kids to play with money calculations.


Added a Javascript calculator to my home heating page.


Added a web page about wind turbines for home use , including a Javascript calculator. This is based on a homework assignment I use in Thermo, but I "humanized" the language. Warning: some math required !!

Man in Black (MIB): Mr. Leo?
me: huh?
MIB: David Leo?
me: huh?
MIB: We're from Homeland Security and...
me: from who...?
MIB: we scanned your home network through our Google partnership and ....
me: what?
MIB: we found US Navy communications and data on your computers.
me: well ... so .... yeh, I used to be an engineer.
MIB: Well, sir, do you have authorization to have this data?
me: um.... well .... the Navy paid me to do those analyses, so i'm thinking yeh, I have the ....
MIB: Sir.... sir....Mr. Leo ..... the analyses are completed and you are retired?
me: Yeh.... I guess....yeh.
MIB: Sir, why are you maintaining this data?
me: I guess 'cause people ask me questions ......
MIB: [interrupting] Sir [.... long pause]
me: yeh?
MIB: We see that your web browser bookmark file shows the AlJazeera news website bookmarked.
me: yeh.... so ....?
MIB: Sir, why is that?
me: Because I like to get everyone's spin on the .... uh .... "news" they call it.
Knock on door. 2nd man in black sticks his head in....
MIB2: The plane's ready .... take him out....

[scuffle .... I loose....]

[6 years later, somewhere offshore .....]

Man in Black (MIB): Mr. Leo?
me: huh?
MIB: Tell us again, why didn't you .......

[Fade to Black]

The Ghosthunters finally got an image of one....



Ms French asked me to do the windtunnel thing in her class in October, so I dug up some old bones, cleaned them up and started a new web page on the windtunnel.


Index of My Journal Pages

Other places to visit....

The Names of 4000 Dead US Soldiers