July 2007 Archives

Coors Tour!

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I toured the Coors brewery in Golden Colorado today with the NSPE group. For the most part I enjoyed the tour but would have preferred a more technical tour. This was pretty much the same tour any tourist would get. Not bad though. Mid-way through the tour we got to sample 3 to 5 day old beer and it was good. At the conclusion of the tour we got three free samples. I tried Coors Banquet (original), Kilian’s, and Molson. I thought it but just could not bring myself to try the Zima.

Something like 70% of Coors sold is Coors Light, which make me wonder why people bother to drink beer at all.




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Rockies vs LA Dodgers--rained out. I was disappointed. We had a 100 years of engineering licensure celebration reception scheduled at the Club of Coors Field. While on the bus from the hotel to the stadium the rain started...and it got worse. We got off the bus and ran to the gate to keep as dry as we could.

The reception was nice. I spent some time with fellow engineers from other states as the rain fell and the lightening struck. It did not look like things were getting better and they didn't. Eventually the game was cancelled.

I had a good time but would have liked to have seen the game. Oh well, such is life.




I really have to ask myself, Has Delta Airlines ever flown a plane before? We were scheduled to leave the Golden Triangle Regional airport 20 minutes late. That was no surprise from an airline that can only make 73% of its flights on time. What was surprising was that once we got on the plane we had to wait for an additional 5 minutes for the infamous paperwork. What were they doing with that extra 20 minutes for crying out loud!?

We finally land in Atlanta and pull up to the gate only to stop and wait. I’ve done that enough too so I was not surprised by that. But then we were told that we had to change gates. I’ve changed gates before too but this was the first change of terminals. Now, I’m already running late due to the “scheduled” delay, then the extra five minutes make it even later, and then we change from ‘C’ to ‘E’ terminal which makes it an even longer walk/ride to my connecting flight in Terminal ‘B’. With some praying, fast walking, and some running, I made the flight, only to find my seat occupied by someone who can not read the seating charts.

What is up with Delta? Are they that clueless that they wait until planes actually pull up to the gate before they realize they can’t stop there? Can they not plan better? And oh, by the way, the weather was fine so the standard “weather delay” lie does not apply. These people simply can not run an airline and perhaps should have never come out of bankruptcy. I think it is time that we get rid of the deadweight and let those who can compete be able to compete and make a fair profit.

As for me, that is probably my last flight out of GTR. I think it is better to drive to another airport, one that is not served by ASA Airlines, my “Delta Connection”. It is probably worth driving to Atlanta to fly. I suspect my total time, including the drive to Atlanta, would be less than messing with ASA which only makes the Delta flights even worse.

The other advantage of going to a major airport is that the TSA bozos will be able to scan my checked baggage rather than rummage through it like they at GTR. These bozos pretty much toss the contents of my luggage which honestly defeats the purpose of packing. Might as well just toss the stuff in and zip it up.

I Hate Computers!

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I had a colleague a few years ago who was a computer fanatic but he always said, "Computers will never catch on; they're too complicated." I have to admit I agree with him.

Friday night I noticed the speakers on my computer were not working (the desktop, not the laptop). I did some troubleshooting but didn't come up with anything. On Saturday, after fiddling with it a little more, I fired up a chat session with Dell Tech Support. Believe it or not there was a wait time of zero minutes. It was instantaneous! After a brief discussion, the tech suggested I run some diagnostics on the hard drive (why didn't I think of that!?). We suspended the chat for me to run the diags. Interestingly the hard drives passed the first tests so I dug a little further and then drive errors started popping up everywhere.

My first thought was that the drive was falling apart as I watched, so I immediately began off-loading my important files (okay, my life) to an external drive. I then off-loaded the less essential stuff. After that I contacted Dell via chat again. Unfortunately this wait was a little longer...three hours. However, it took about two minutes for us to agree that the hard drive was toast and Dell is sending me a new one.

I tend to be a little impatient so I went out Saturday night and bought a new drive, a bigger one, and installed it. I was able to clone the image of the old drive and on Sunday was able boot from the new drive. The sound problem was still there so I did the old uninstall the software/reinstall the software trick and now it is all working. When the new disk Dell arrives I'll use it to replace my secondary drive. My fear was that I was going to have to do a complete reinstall of Windows which would then beg the question of upgrading to Vista or not. The real concern was not so much reinstalling Windows XP but of having to reinstall AND reconfigure all of the software I use.

The part that bothers me is that I have to return the old drive to Dell. I can understand why--they don't want people feigning disk trouble just to get an additional disk--but the disk does have data that I worry about getting out. So, I am currently wiping the drive using bcwipe. It should take a day or so to take care of everything but I really am not interested in my tax returns finding their way onto a website somewhere.

Thucydides and Petraeus

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It is frequently a misfortune to have very brilliant men in charge of affairs. They expect too much of ordinary men.

I ran across this qoute and think it aptly sums up what is going on between General Petraeus and Congress. Petraeus has a plan, rightly recognizes that it will take time for it to work, and actually expects to be given the time and resources he was promised when he took the job. He expects too much of the Congress.

The Clarion Ledger has got a really big bee under its bonnet over the presidents of Mississippi universities. First, they go way off the deep end last year on the selection process being used now. They call it "secret", apparently to make it sound sinister, when in fact it is simply a way to allow people to pursue the position without having the entire world know what they are doing. They seem incapable of understanding that once word is out that you are looking for another job, you impact your current employer even if you do not get the job.

Their latest tantrum is over the salaries given the presidents. As is customary, most university foundations supplement the salaries their presidents. That supplement varies with the size of the university and the amount of money the foundation has: the larger, wealthier, most comprehensive universities have larger supplements to account for the additional responsibilities of the president. Without those supplemental funds universities would not be able to attract quality people to the positions unless the state stepped up and raised their pay. Well if you have been around the Mississippi Legislature any time at all, you would know that if they raised the salaries of the university presidents, they would cut something somewhere else. (I distinctly recall the gaming industry being sold to the state as benefiting education. Well the gaming money given to education was offset by reprogramming roughly the same amount of funds from other sources.)

What really bothered about the article was the statement that the presidents could not serve two masters. That is simply a ludicrous statement and, I think, shows the inability of the Clarion Ledger to exercise critical thinking. People serve two masters everyday. We often call these people Reservists or National Guardsmen. Sometimes when they are part-time ministers, we call them Pastor. Others are called Board Member. The truth is that most over-achieving people, i.e. those people who work the hardest to make the world a better place, often serve two masters.

The difference in the cases I have mentioned and that of university presidents is, that in my examples, the two masters often have competing, perhaps even conflicting, goals. In the case of the university presidents, the state and the foundations share the same goals, namely making the institutions better. Serving two masters is also not limited to the presidents at the universities. Faculty members compete for research funding; funding that comes from the government, private institutions, or industry. They then complete this research while also teaching classes and serving the citizens of the state. Serving two masters makes them better faculty members, brings in much needed funds, and adds to the knowledgebase.

I will not even bother to discuss athletic departments and the multitude of “masters” they serve. However, I think it safe assume that the Clarion Ledger thinks coaches should give up their television and radio broadcasts and their product endorsements.

I don't know how this bee got under their bonnet, but I wish someone would swat it. I'm getting tired of seeing the Clarion Ledger do story after story on their pet peeve. Move on guys, report the news.

I worked up a draft of an op-ed piece for PE Magazine today. I have been discussing this with the powers that be for some time now and finally took a shot at it. It explores why engineers are so reluctant to get involved with public policy issues and why that is bad. I struggled with it some, and will struggle with it some more, because I am trying to make a point without getting the debate focused on another topic. The example, perhaps even the thesis of the article, is why is Al gore the spokesman for global warming? It is not my intent to have the debate devolve into arguments over politicians, nor even to argue about global warming, I simply want to explore why a politician, with little to no education in the area is the spokesman while the engineers, by and large, remain silent.

In a way, I am reminded of the quote from Thucydides, “The strong do what they have to do and the weak accept what they have to accept.” Are we destined to suffer what politicians do because we are too weak to stand up and take part? We will let our health care be dictated by Michael Moore simply because he has a camera?

I’ll let the op-ed sit for a day or so, look at it again, and then get some input from some people I respect.

Grandmother Getting Old

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My parents had to put my grandmother in a nursing home today because they simply can not take care of her like she needs to be taken care of. She has been to the hospital several times lately and it is too difficult for my parents to move her without risking further injury. Of course nothing serious was wrong with her but she has to go.

Fortunately she will be able to get good care. When my grandfather retired, he and I discussed his retirement options over a period of several days. He ultimately decided to take an option that would result in lower monthly payments but, in the event he died first, essentially the same monthly payment would be made to my grandfather. I agreed with his decision and it turns out, unfortunately, that we were both right—she did out live him.

I’m not sure how things will go at “the home”. I have seen elderly people enter only to give up all hope and die within a few months. I have seen others flourish as a result of the increased companionship. My grandmother had been getting out of the house much anyway so I am fairly confident that she will actually do better in the home.

The other problem is the guilt that I know my parents must feel now. They did the best they could but they have their own problems to deal with as well. While they are not in bad health, they are suffering from minor problems that limit what they can do. They will also be able to make regular visits so it is not as if they have shipped my grandmother off to no where.

This has made me stop and think though. I am not looking forward to getting old. I still remember my grandmother from when I was a very small boy. She and my grandfather, just like my parents, could and would do anything for me. Even after I got married, she washed our clothes and cooked many meals for us so that my wife and I could focus on completing college. When my daughter came along, about four years later, they did the same for her. All in all I am lucky, albeit a bit sad about all of this.

Seven Days in May

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After being suggested by my major professor, I ordered Seven Days in May from Amazon a few days ago and was able to watch it today. Wow! Great movie with a great theme! What would happen if there was a military coup to take over the government because the politicians were too soft or failed to see an imminent threat? Parallels to events of today? Perhaps.

I went with the family tonight to see License to Wed with Robin Williams. I enjoyed the movie and found it to be pretty funny most of the way through. But then again, it is hard to not laugh at Robin Williams. I’m still not a big Mandy Moore fan but she was pretty good in this movie not that it mattered…Williams carried the movie.

So far my favorite in a while remains Live Free or Die Hard which we saw with Doug and Beverly in Virginia last week. That was a non-stop action movie.

Navy Times, 09 July 2007, page 29.

The Navy Times was not happy that military movies were lacking from the AFI’s Top 100 films list so they came up with their own. If Navy Times had its way the following would be the Top 10 Military Films:

    10. A Bridge Too Far (1977)
    9. The Dirty Dozen (1967)
    8. The Great Escape (1963)
    7. Top Gun (1986)
    6. Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)
    5. The Caine Mutiny (1954)
    4. Glory (1989)
    3. Black Hawk Down (2001)
    2. Patton (1970)
    1. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

I can’t really disagree with these but I would have included Gettysburg (1993), and perhaps my personal favorite, Apocalypse Now (1979).

This list compares to the unranked list given in the October 2006 issue of Naval History:

  • Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

  • Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

  • They Were Expendable (1945)

  • The Caine Mutiny (1954)

  • Victory at Sea (1952)

  • Hornblower (1999, 2001, 2003)

  • Das Boot (1981)

  • Mister Roberts (1951)

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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