I don't really post much anymore, but I wouldn't say I'm entirely absent either. I've been long past the time when I should be updating about things that have been going on in life. Work's not so crazy anymore, but neither is it necessarily going great. That's not really news, though.
This is news: Lis and I are expecting our third child this year. In November. Like nine days after I retake my licensing exams (why do I always pick bad years to take these exams?). We know it's going to be another girl. We've already started preparing for M and E to start cohabitating in one room so that we can keep the office and a guest room. For some reason we thought it'd be a great idea to build a bunk bed for them, and that we'd go for a princess castle type bed to boot. So far we've made most of our major wood cuts and some of the fine cuts as well, but phew - it's an unbelievable amount of work!
No names planned yet on baby 3. I guess I'm still a bit in shock that this is happening. Megan will be eight when new baby noname is born. I'll be 52 when new baby noname graduates from high school. Wow, that makes me feel incredibly old in a way I've never felt before. It made me shave my salt-and-pepper beard so people would think I'm in my 20's again. Didn't think I'd ever look forward to that.
Sorry it's been slow. I'll keep trying to dip my toes in the water.
I'm 2-0 in both of the leagues I'm in - 2nd place in the "big" money league and 1st place in the superfun 8-team league. Something I've learned these last two years is that playing in a highly competitive league with 8 teams and tons of roster spots should be mandatory for all fantasy football fans. Last year I put in (I'm the dictatorial commish) scoring bonuses for QBs who hit long passing yard markers (300, 350, 400 yds)...and now I wonder if we shouldn't add PPR, long run/catch bonuses, or something similar. I don't want to mess up the delicate balance the league has found, but at the same time I think people enjoy shooting up 150-200 pt weeks. I do
think I need to do something about quarterbacks next year. The league was so focused on them this season that two teams went QB-QB in the first two rounds and all but one team (and two computer autopicked teams) had a quarterback by the end of the second. I'm curous if anyone else can share their scoring format and what they think of it.
( My week 2 "psychological warfare" update for my Yahoo! leagueCollapse )
I think last year I said I was going to crosspost things I put up on the Yahoo! board with fantasy football, and then I never did it. Mostly that was because I didn't want to take the time to explain inside jokes or explain who the 11 other people I was playing against were in livejournal. Actually, that's not even the whole story, I think mostly that didn't happen because of a strange combination of busy-ness and laziness. So, first of all, this was my 2010 Fantasy football team picking from the fourth spot (12 Teams, performance scoring, QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, WR/TE, K, DEF, 6 Bench):
Team Wyrr - "Coconut Backwards"
QB - Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan
RB - Maurice Jones-Drew, Pierre Thomas, Carnell Williams, Tim Hightower, Laurence Maroney
WR - Miles Austin, Percy Harvin, Malcom Floyd, Devin Hester
TE - Antonio Gates
K - Shayne Graham (Yeah...wtf?)
DEF - Pittsburgh
( And here is week 1 commentary about the draft...Collapse )
A recent conversation in the house of W:
Emily: I sent an email to Daddy.
Rob: An email? What does it say?
Emily: It says he can’t go to Atlanta.
Lissa: Why can’t Daddy go to Atlanta?
Emily: Because he’s a boy. He has to go to Jupiter.
Good news! I got promoted. Technically, this is a move back to my original position with the company - and to make a long story short, when the company started to go down with the economy two years ago, I moved to operations...in effect, a demotion... to help keep the local office afloat (and myself employed). A few things have changed since I last had this job, but pretty much everything is for the better. I haven't had this much fun at work in four years. My batteries have really been recharged and I think it reflects in the work I've been putting out recently.
The downside is that I was promoted officially a couple of weeks ago...and unofficially about a month ago. See how long the update has been forthcoming? Yeah, I've been working some crazy hours. In fact, I should be working right now, but I cut part of dinner short to squeeze in some room. Since I haven't had much time for posts/comments, it may seem like I haven't been around, but I have been making an attempt to catch up on everyone else's posts at least every other day. I hope all is well, and I'm glad some recent problems have resolved themselves.
Anyway, despite my current preoccupation with my occupation, somehow my brain keeps drifting towards food. This is due to a lot of factors - Top Chef and Next Iron Chef are in current seasons on TV right now, the holidays are upcoming, and I'm way overdue on a recipe reformulation for theferrett
for Olive and Artichoke couscous. I'd liken it to writer's block... I know most of what I want to do there but I'm just dying on the seasoning. It's not the only recipe that's been stuck in my mind, though; other than a near constant craving for boiled peanuts, my brain has been cobbling together some kind of grilled greek portabello steak recipe. I'm thinking a bella mushroom cap cleaned out, filled with a sauteed spinach, onion, garlic, tomato, and pine nut mixture, and then covered with feta and olive slices before throwing on top of an open grill. I've literally been seeing this in my sleep. I guess that means I need to make it and try it out....even if November is admittedly a terrible time to get the coal-fired grill going. If it works out reasonably well I will post a recipe.
I think if fusion power comes in our near future, perhaps even my lifetime, it would be one of the greatest world-changing events to ever happen. Unfortunately, tokamak has been in existence for more than fifty years with no appreciable success in solving our energy problems. There is a push to construct a larger fusion reactor, called the ITER, by around 2018, but this is still an experimental reactor that has some heavy criticisms to overcome: it may not produce net energy, it uses difficult to acquire deuterium and tritium, and it's VERY expensive. Cold fusion had its heyday in the late 80's and early 90's, and despite continued research coming from that realm of nuclear science, it appears that all signs toward nuclear energy created from cold fusion were premature and possibly fabricated. Polywell Fusion may well end up being the key to the success of fusion, but it is at least still six years away from commercial viability, and possibly could take even longer than that. (There's some dispute on whether Polywell Plasma Fusion is truly fusion or actually fission since Boron is split into Helium atoms...but I am neither qualified enough nor invested enough to actually care. It wouldn't function like the fission processes we know today.)
I could make this a long post about bashing wind and solar processes, but it doesn't serve me here and I explicitly don't want the reader to miss the forest for the trees. Wind, solar, tidal, hydro, and geothermal energy processes all work to some degree or other, but they don't work well - at least not well enough that we can afford to abandon burning fossil fuels. Very quickly I'll say this:
1. Solar is great at peak times, but our poor storage capabilities at the moment prevent solar from being our single power supply source. Orbital solar transfer (basically put large collectors above our atmosphere and beam power down to Earth by microwave) is dodgy and the microwave transmissions will undoubtedly have huge objections. Solar is the power of the future, but we cannot transition out of fossil fuels on this alone TODAY.
2. Did you know that Wind has a higher fatality rate per watt-hour produced than most renewable energies (only rooftop solar topping it by a long shot)? It's about 7 times higher than nuclear power, and I'm not excluding any notable events you might have heard of. Plus, Wind raises the temperature in areas where it is prevalent, kills migratory birds (and would kill oh-so-many more if we installed it throughout our Midwest like we'd need to for our power demands), and in the propeller format most commony observed is terribly inefficient. (EDIT NOTE: It's been pointed out to me that Wind power fatality rates per Twh have fallen as cumulative generation has increased. It actually was 10 times higher than nuclear before, and is now about 4 times higher than nuclear now.)
3. Our water aquifers are already stretched to the limit without compounding that problem by reducing water flow for Hydro power. Expect to see hydro power dams completely fall off the map in the next 30 years barring some drastic improvements in desalination. If the choice comes down to power or drinking water, drinking water is going to win (though this is a fallacious argument...if we lose the one, we'll lose the other).
4. Tidal. Eh, not sure what to say here. It works, but we don't know how well, and we don't know what the consequences are to marine life by putting large turbines under water. We can't shut down a coal plant over this.
5. Geothermal is great for heating your water and lowering your air conditioner and heater bills, but has not been shown to be viable on a large scale. This is a complementary technology, not a solution.
So, it's 2009, we have an administration that wants to reduce carbon emissions, and our remaining power choices are coal, gas, and nuclear fission (and trash, but it doesn't work well unless in a uniformly homogeneous stream and so just clouds the issue). Coal and Gas do a great job of solving our energy needs but totally fail regarding their production of greenhouse gases. As ironic as I find it considering my stance in the past, right now Nuclear Fission is our best hope for safe, clean power.
One of the scienceblogs, Built on Facts, has put up a list of all the reasons why we should choose nuclear fission. I have attempted to pull out the list and add to it a few key points that I think the author might've missed.
- It's reliable. It works anywhere we want it to be.
- It's safe. Modern reactors can't become Chernobyl or Three Mile Island. In the presence of a cooling failure the nuclear process stops and the rods are automatically removed. No worries about Homer being asleep at the control station.
- It's cheap. It's not the cheapest, and there are hidden costs, but if the choice is pay more for fixing environmental problems associated with fossil fuels or pay more for nuclear power, the higher hidden costs may well be unavoidable.
- It's environmentally friendly. Think I'm crazy? How much waste goes into the air in a nuclear facility? Into the water? People complain about "nuclear waste" but they really don't know what that is. I'll tell you what it is - 96 parts fuel still waiting to be used, 1 part precious metals like platinum, and 3 part radioactive byproducts. That's not waste, it's still an energy source. In fact, we have so much "waste" already mined and stored in our country that we could run enough modern nuclear reactors for current demand for over 100 years.
- It's environmentally friendly part 2. Yes, radioactive materials produced from nuclear fission initially carry lethal amounts of rads. What most people don't know is that in a short period of time (depending on rate of processing) that radioactivity is almost completely gone and storage then becomes easy. Also, once fully processed, the volume of radioactive material is several orders of magnitude smaller than what most people believe about our nuclear waste. In France, the volume of radioactive waste produced per year is about 100 cubic meters per facility per year. This is a total of 5900 cubic meters per year, or a 3 dimensional object that is roughly 18 meters by 18 meters by 18 meters in size, and for those of us stuck in the land of customary systems, 60 feet x 60 feet x 60 feet.
- It's politically convenient. Are you tired of sending billions of dollars to countries that at times are actively hostile to the US and our way of life? I know I am.
I'd like to paraphrase something the original author Matt Springer said regarding opposition to Nuclear fission. Our modern way of life requires lots and lots of energy to sustain us. Opposition to nuclear power...isn't pro-environment. It's anti-human.
Yes, I like conservation, and I practice it (turning off lights - though Lissa complains I don't do this enough, disconnecting charger units when not in use, favoring smaller watt bulbs and more energy efficient appliances, etc.). Conservation is important and we should all be practicing it; however, I'm in no mood to suddenly collapse our American culture by equally distributing energy resources or eliminating all power choices besides just solar and wind. That isn't pro-environment. It's anti-American.
Thank you for taking the time to read down this far, and I hope you will check out all of the links. If you were only going to read one link today, though, please make it this one: a list of all the reasons why we should choose nuclear fission
On Thursday, my company held our annual office football draft. Due to some workplace defections and selective attrition, we've cut the league down to 8 teams. Since you have so many fewer people playing, it makes more sense to have more starters and more spaces on each team. In this case, the league requires starting 2 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 WR/RB, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF, and 6 bench slots. Much like the first draft, I had a crummy draft position of 7th out of 8 teams. I don't think I can emphasize enough how good this team was at draft time. We'll see if that carries through to the end of the season. Scoring for this league is also performance oriented, except QB's get penalized for taking sacks and get bonus rewards for exceeding 300, 350, and 400 yards. Drafted players, by round:
1. Matt Forte
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Chris Johnson
4. Frank Gore
5. Ronnie Brown
6. Antonio Gates
7. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
8. Chad Ochocinco
9. Lee Evans
10. Darren McFadden
11. Matt Hasselbeck
12. Donald Driver
13. Bernard Berrian
14. Domenik Hixon
15. Brett Favre
16. Nate Kaeding
17. San Diego Chargers DEF
For those that love to obsess over fantasy football, it's that time of year again. The time to make inappropriate offensive comments about your friends and for grown men to play a complicated game of "Gotta Catch 'Em All!" The first week of September is the final week of millions of people claming that "OMFSM, I really did draft the best group of real players for my imaginary team in the whole wide world". I feel like I should be including lots of !'s, 1's, and ONE's in this.
The first of two for-money drafts I did this year was on Tuesday. It is a 12 person league, and we carry a very small 14 player team. Scoring is performance-oriented, which means that how players play in terms of yards gained has a slightly greater or at least equal effect to scoring touchdowns. We are required to play 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 WR/TE, 1 K, 1 DEF, and there are 6 bench slots. I drafted from the 9th spot out of the 12 teams - not the easiest of places to be. Here was how I drafted, by round:
1. Steve Slaton
2. Randy Moss
3. Darren McFadden
4. Donovan McNabb
5. Marshawn Lynch
6. Roy Williams
7. Donald Brown
8. Dallas Clark
9. James Davis
10. Matt Hasselbeck
11. Chris Henry
12. Earl Bennett
13. Nate Kaeding
14. New England Patriots DEF
Out of curiosity, am I the only person that's getting an icon of two guys on a beach when I click "Friends Page" at the top of my page, or select http://wyrrlen.livejournal.com/friends
? I tried other user names to see if I could see their friend lists, and I could, so I'm somewhat perplexed as to what is happening.
EDIT TO UPDATE: And then suddenly, after a few times of clicking refresh, my friends page is back. Bizarre.
I made the following comment to theferrett
earlier today:I think your premise is right, but I'd rather you went with a different conclusion to your argument. Namely, we already have bureaucrats now, so Let's work to remove bureaucrats from our health care! I often have said that I'm a supporter of single-payer insurance, but the more I look at it, the more I realize that this is not what I really mean.
I'm a big supporter of universal health care. I see that as everyone having equal access to health care that they can afford. I do like at least one layer of bureaucracy in the concept of a Health Care Insurance Exchange where individuals could purchase care competitively. However, the truth is to have health care that is universal and affordable, we have to remove costs. The socialized system being proposed in congress now doesn't do that.
I think we have to bring in Tort reform as just an opener - that's the mandatory barrier to starting universal health care. Past that, I think we have to go back to a point where patients understand and are responsible for cost (though this is a gray area for emergency care - it needs to be tread carefully). We have to decouple insurance from business...take away the opportunity to lose coveragibility because of a pre-existing condition when you switch jobs. Insurance that was personable would also force third party insurers to be accountable - if you don't like their insurance plan you can leave and go to someone else (not be forced to stay with it because it's what your employer wants).
Other things to consider:
- Having a current tax benefit, I'm ambivalent about losing the tax credit of medical insurance BUT I see the argument for its benefit and I think it may ultimately be the way to go. If there's no tax benefit to purchasing insurance through your employer it can help to decouple your job from your insurance.
- Through a central insurance exchange, push for standardized billing codes/procedures and medical record procedures
- Change our anti-smoking regulations from a sin tax to a prevention program. A sin tax creates a government dependency on keeping people smoking. Similarly, change regulations in the food and beverage industry to discourage High Fructose Corn Syrup and promote healthier choices for American's diet. Basically, look at all related segments of our "health" and stop rewarding B while hoping we'll get A. Create the right incentives.
- Promote HSAs. HSAs change the way insurance works so that most of the choice in health care transfers to the patient, but in the case of an emergency condition like your appendicitis you'd still have catastrophic coverage. I've listed this near the bottom but I think this is one of the best ways to improve most people's health care.
- Consider changing insurance from a profit business to a non-profit. Right now, insurance companies are ultimately creating revenues and profits by limiting access to care. Very few innovations are left that are internal to the business (computer record keeping v. paper, automated phone service, and the like...those ships have already sailed for controlling an insurer's cost), so the pressure is now on to lower the costs of the insured - and that amounts to ultimately preventing individuals from getting care. While in some cases this may be the right thing (ie., preventing you from getting an ultrasound every time you have indigestion), ultimately the current profit model is working directly against the idea of health care as we see it as individuals.
And that's kind of where I am on things right now - what I've called single payer in the past... What I really mean to say there is: centralized billing standards and medical recording, coupled with universal access to insurance. I think it's insanity that there are dozens of different systems for each different insurance business, and a doctor's office has to have a separate billing procedure, billing code, and bill rate for each of them. Simplify that through an exchange to make it the same and you would drastically reduce not just insurer's overhead but doctor's offices' overhead as well.
I understand that in order to have universal coverage that is affordable it will ultimately require mandatory insurance coverage. My solution there is to make Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) the opt-out method. At least with a universal health insurance exchange, patients would still be able to select their level of care and their insurer. This is where I think socialized health care doesn't compare to our current system - If I wanted different insurance I'd be stuck with the government plan regardless. Now, the key is still to keep health care cost lowered, so that I don't lose choice based on availability/affordability either. There's no easy solution, unfortunately. I'm sure people will disagree with me on details even if they agree on the overall idea that insurance needs to change.