November 2009

Tonight, CBS news reported on the growing obesity problem in the US. Projected figures showed my home state as surpassing 50% by 2018. Of course, the usual questions were hauled-up again, without any new answers. Yes, processed foods and high fructose corn syrup are probably killing us. Exercise more? Eat less? We’ve been doing both and we’re still expanding. It’s possible that the American way of life, The Suburban Ideal, may be the ultimate cause. And, the cause could be as simple as our municipal zoning laws.


So many questions about America’s problems can be answered by getting out of America. When you leave, you get to see people who have universal healthcare which causes about as much social unrest as a shoe-store closing. You find people with basic understanding that educational systems are products of the funding and standards you put into them (And that science and engineering instruction is a source prosperity.. not a source of fear and disgust). And interestingly, you’ll find cultures that are now wrapped in the widespread use of soft-drinks and fast foods by their children and are now facing diabetes in their families for the first time. Oddly, they’re not ‘fat’ and that distinction is supremely important. (more…)


VioreDTVI know this issue has been beat to death on the web. But, now it’s time for me to finally take a look. Wife wants a portable TV for work.  Needs to be ATSC (“DTV”) compatible, have good battery life, and most importantly, portable. She DOESN’T want a laptop.

I’ve found that almost all have battery life of ~1.5 hours and require external antenna for normal operation, regardless of advertising claims. Most have the same resolution and other technical specifications. Some have digital media players, some come with external antennas.  Some have carrying handles. I’m looking specifically at quality (from reviews) and price. Though a media player sounds cool, too.

I’ve listed what I’ve found below, including a composite of reviews from other sites (Amazon, AVN, etc.), and an average price.  All except Chinese TV’s for export because… what  are you, crazy? I’ve been burned enough by Chinese “technology.” (more…)


It seems that the health care insurance industry is doing everything it can to ensure there is a public option in the new federal healthcare bill. A relatively rare insurance plan, common across all insurance carriers, is suddenly becoming more and more popular with employers- and driving more and more employees into medical debt.

An old 2000/4000 deductible plan (aka. catastrophic coverage), originally created with supplementary insurance in mind, is increasingly being used as the primary insurance offering for many Americans. These plans offer partial coverage (usually 80%) above a $2000 deductible ($4000 for family), with copays ranging from $50-$100 per visit. I first had contact with a plan like this in a municipal job that included a health-based supplementary insurance to occasionally take-up the sizable gap in coverage. Now I’m seeing these plans being forced on other companies’ workers with no supplementary offerings. What’s worse, these plan’s cost more than what was ‘normal coverage’ just 6 months ago. Normal coverage is now simply unaffordable.

Now, instead of just going along, many people who would never consider living without insurance are opting-out completely. People who were not interested in political antics before are now actively supporting the democratic public option. I’ve seen some professed republican factory workers, now thrust into this situation by their employers, backing democratic plans. It might not be enough for them to claim DEMOCRATIC on their voter registration cards, but enough for them to stop donating hard-earned cash to the republican party. Medical savings accounts are suddenly becoming an economic necessity. Odd that insurance companies would want to force more people into supporting socialized medicine in the middle of the debate, but that’s exactly what’s happening.




Really. Now what do we do?


The wife thought it was some sort of bird at first.

Then an evil bird.

I thought it was a little devil-bull figurine.

Or, at almost 3 inches in length, maybe a petrified mustache.

Our Korean friend said it was a nut, but couldn’t remember how to open it or eat it. This object is presumably a nut common in Asia, but that’s all she knew. She just said it was good, and bought the whole bag. The bag from the local Asian store was, of course, unmarked.

If any of you know what this is, please tell me.

UPDATE: Using a nearby meat mallet, I discover there is, in fact, a nut inside. Unfortunately, it’s pretty vile raw. Our Korean friend says boiling is preferred method of prep. Of course, that little nugget if wisdom was a day late.

Still have no clue what this nut was.

shopacc specializes in parts and accessories for electronic equipment. Think twice before ordering from them, however. I recently purchased a replacement cell-phone antenna from them (a very small item). Six dollars for shipping a 3 dollar item was acceptable, until the 6 became an 9. They used a third-party shipping service for the item,   but screwed-up the shipping type. What happens? I get charged postage-due to pick-up the item. (more…)

My opinion of VOIP communications has oozed through my blog before. I keep hoping it becomes user-friendly. I keep hoping it becomes reliable. I keep hoping.

A while back, I was looking at USB ‘phones’ in the store (most of which were in the bargain bin). I had this idea. I have a computer. I have a high-speed internet connection. I have an old telephone. I have a dial-up modem… Just like the ones on every computer ever made! I can connect all these things together. That means I have an electrical pathway like this: Phone to POTS modem, modem to computer, to cable modem, to Internet.

Why the hell do I need a USB phone? (more…)

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