Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Computer Problems Solved

This is too good to pass up. And it's true! Now you all know how to solve your computer problems on your own.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Interesting ... or Not.

What's sad is that this fits me to a T.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Why I Use Filthy Language

I'm a Christian. Why would I use filthy language? Like many other Christian testimonies, that of my brother-in-law tells of how when he became a Christian his language immediately cleaned up. Yet I now use worse language than I used to. What's wrong with me?

First off it's my opinion that the Bible really has nothing to say directly about using curse words and similarly colorful adjectives. We are commanded not to use the Lord's name “in vain”, but this refers to breaking oaths in God's name. The Bible even contains sexual puns and frank sexual language, including degrading sexual references. (They show up in the original language and are often sanitized in English translations.)

So I can just say whatever I want when I want? Not exactly. Let me tell my story.

I became a Christian in junior high. I was already shy and a goodie-two-shoes type of guy. I didn't use bad language. Several times I reported my younger brother's language to my parents and got him in trouble. I tried to be a good Christian.

Flash forward to my adult life. I became engaged in some addictive behavior. It caused a lot of problems for me and my family. I went into therapy and attended groups for many years working to manage my addiction. There a funny thing happened.

One thing I learned was that I was repressing my emotions. I didn't think much about stuff that happened when I was young. I needed to get that stuff out. I also stored up stuff that happened to me daily. I controlled myself until I couldn't take it any more. Then I blew up, usually at my wife and children. This was bad (DUH!) and it soon became apparent that anger was as big an issue as my addiction. Probably bigger.

I also realized that I had another problem. Despite believing in God's grace I often acted like a legalist. I judge myself and other by what I did. I held others up to my standard, compared myself to them and rationalized why I was better. This behavior was ingrained in my personality and was reinforced by my religious life. Over time God impressed on me that this was my biggest problem. It's what Jesus hated about the Pharisees. It's almost (not quite, but ever so close) like God told me and keeps telling me that he could care less how I behave. What he wants is me to be honest with him and others. To love him and others.

I took to swearing for a couple of reasons. I needed to express my anger in healthy ways. Swearing is a tremendous way to express anger. I try to not swear at people. I try to be mad, to let my anger out, to let people know how I'm feeling without blasting them. Swearing helps all this.

The second reason I swear is to fight legalism. It's still easy for me to play my little Christian game. To pretend to myself and others that I'm good and godly and holy. Throwing in some swear words instantly negates that perception.

So it's good that I swear and I should just let rip whenever, right? Wrong. As healthy as it may be for me there are many times it may hurt people around me. Work is one place where it can cause problems. I also try to watch what I say around children. And, despite appearances, I really do try to not offend people needlessly. I may let some words go to purposely rattle people, but I try not to do it too often.

All of this sounds like I've got the whole thing totally under control. That would be wrong too. I often swear because I'm mad (damn it!) and just let go. I'm imperfect and often say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I often need to apologize.

Finally I have sworn a couple of times during a sermon I was giving. I did it with careful consideration. George Patton was asked why he swore so much. He said it was so people would remember what he said. Often we Christians read and hear the same things over and over. Some are radical ideas that should shake us up but we've become immune. I've twice tried forms of swearing to make a point in a sermon stick. Did it work? People definitely remember that I swore. It's unclear if the point stuck or not.

That's where I am on swearing. It's helpful to me, but I try to watch it (I'm actually now trying to cut back a bit, to give my anger to God and let it go more easily.) It's not OK to say anything at any time, but I often violate protocol to remind myself and other Christians to lighten up a bit. Most of all, I'm far from perfect and so is my language, but the closer I can get to honestly and love the better off I am.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Electric Cars and Batteries

The basic problem with electric cars is that the batteries are too big and take too long to charge. The Tesla Roadster motor is 70 lbs, has one moving part and is the size of a watermellon, yet it gives high-end sports car performance using a one speed transmission! The battery, however, weighs 1000 lbs. To say the least, that's a bit more than a full gas tank on an internal combustion car. The Roadster also takes about three hours to charge. That makes for a long pit stop. The Tesla Model S will improve on the charging time, getting it down to 45 minutes.

Clearly, if we had a battery that could charge in 5 minutes and was near the weight of a full gas tank, electric cars would be awesome. Even several hundred pound batteries with appropriate range and power output would be an improvement.

I have reason to hope that batteries will improve significantly in the next several years. I list my reasons below. They are basically taken from Wikipedia's article on lithium ion batteries, but I have read about many of them elsewhere.
  • The big problem with Li-ion batteries is that they have a high internal resistance, mostly due to electrode (anode and cathode) materials. This causes heat and energy loss. Tesla had to specifically design a cooling system for their Roadster battery pack to keep it safe. There are several proposals to address this problem.
  • In April 2006 researchers at MIT announced they could grow micro wires with viruses. This technology would improve Li-ion energy density by a factor of three (e.g the 1000 lb Roadster battery would only weigh 333 lbs). In April 2009 New Scientist reported that the MIT team succeeded in making a battery with their virus technology.
  • In June 2006 researchers in France produced nano-structured electrodes with several times the energy capacity of normal electrodes.
  • In September 2007 the University of Waterloo, Canada, developed a new cathode chemistry using fluorine. It would increase battery life and allow replacing lithium with cheaper and more stable sodium.
  • In November 2007 Subaru unveiled their G4e concept electric car with Li-ion batteries that have double the energy density of normal Li-ion batteries. In the lab the Subaru-type batteries have been shown to have three times the energy density of normal Li-ion batteries.
  • In December 2007 researchers at Stanford created a Li-ion battery with nanowires that had ten times the energy density of normal Li-ion batteries. They hope to commercialize their technology in five years. (If they could achieve this, the Roadster battery would only weigh 100 lbs!)
If some or all of these hit in the next few years, even in a decade or so, batteries will improve enough to make electric cars superior to gasoline cars. Plus our electric toys -- cell phones, computers, et al -- will get much better as well. I'm excited!


I found this funny, but it certainly has a black underside.

It's my belief that a big reason the iron curtain fell was because people finally were fed up with their dictators enough to rebel. It took a lot of courage, not to mention some pain and suffering (though a lot less that any of us would have guessed). I've prayed something similar would happen in countries like Iran. Despite (or because of) all the violence and pain, perhaps the unrest in Iran is the start of something good.

I hope so. And I'll keep praying.

Friday, June 05, 2009

How to Start Running

I avoided running because I thought it would be too hard on my body. I'd hurt my knees. My feet would get messed up. My arthritic joints would suffer. Chaffing would get to me. It was just too much for someone my age and weight. Since I've started running I've never had most of these problems. The ones I have had have been minor and I've learned to deal with them.

What got me past my fears? I learned I could run slowly and easily.

In particular, I found the Couch to 5k plan. It provides a schedule for getting from sitting on the couch to being able to run 5k, which is about 3 miles. I liked this plan and it worked for me.

Perhaps, though, it looks too complicated for you. Carolina gave me a running book for my birthday, Master's Running by Hal Higdon. He has a Beginner's Running Guide online. On it he presents his very simple and easy 30/30 plan.

Both plans start with walking. You jog only as you are ready. You very slowly build up the length of your running. The emphasis is on doing what you are able to do consistently. You are not expected to run exhaustively nor "gut it out" nor kill yourself. In fact, such intense effort is counter productive because it leads to injury and burn-out.

There are several principles to remember when you start to run.
  1. Go slow.
  2. Run easily and do not push yourself.
  3. Don't go too fast.
  4. Ease into your running.
  5. When you feel impatient and want to skip ahead, hold back. You'll get there in time.
  6. If you have trouble moving to the next step, just repeat until you feel able. Don't be afraid to go back if the current step is too hard.
  7. Don't compare yourself to others.
While it may not seem like much, you do slowly get better. Many times people are able to work up to a full marathon in less than a year. In my case I went from zero to a half marathon in a year. I was interupted by work, sickness, two children getting married and some other life circumstances. After each interruption I was able to pick back up and keep improving. 

If you have never run or haven't run in a long time, I encourage you to try it. It's not my intent to disparage other types of exercise. Walking, biking, tennis, basketball, martial arts, yoga, dance and many others things are great. The main thing is to do something. I've done other things and still do, but I've found running to be great for me. Perhaps you'll find it good for you too, even it you didn't think it possible.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Why I Run.

I took up running regularly a year ago. I ran my first half marathon Memorial Day. Why do I run?

There are lots of standard exercise reasons.
  1. Better health.
  2. Feel better.
  3. Live longer.
  4. Feel fit.
  5. Feel younger.
  6. Live to see and enjoy grandchildren (no kids, this is not a hint :-)
  7. Relax and relieve stress.
  8. Be fit enough to do things I enjoy like racquetball and hiking.
Specific reasons I run.
  1. My son, Dan, and I are working on being in distance races. It's something we can do together even though we live a distance from each other.
  2. Being able to run is satisfying. I now can just go out and run several miles without it being a big deal. That's cool.
  3. Running does all the exercise stuff above, and it does most better or more efficiently.
I have rheumatoid arthritis. Before it got treated correctly I lost the ability to run. I could barely walk, especially in the morning. I once fell down in my apartment parking lot. There was no one around and nothing to grab onto. I barely made it back to my feet. My arthritis is now under control. But I haven't forgotten how it was. I feel like God's given my life back to me. I actually had to relearn to run. It wasn't that hard, but it was eye opening. I thank God and don't wish to throw his gift away.

The major reason I didn't run before last year is I figured I was too old and fat. I thought I'd hurt myself. I got over this because I found out how I could run slowly and build up mileage slowly. My first runs were basically short walks with very short jogs thrown in. I have been surprisingly injury free. I've been sore, but it's a good muscle sore. I twisted my ankle a few weeks ago because I stepped on a rock sideways, but it wasn't bad and healed quickly. I've had no injury related purely to running, which surprised me. In fact, running often makes me feel better. I ran a slow recovery run the day after my half marathon, and that actually made me feel better than just sitting around.

As an old fat guy I also worried about chaffing. How can I put this politely? Those of us with excess flab have parts that bounce when we run. Those parts can chaff against our clothes. I seem especially sensitive to it. It has bothered me many times. However, there are good products, like Body Glide which I use, that work miracles. This has not really been the problem I expected it to be thanks to modern technology.

Running can make my muscles sore. I already stretched when I exercised and since running I've had to learn to stretch even more regularly. Stretching is good for me anyway. It's almost essential if I want to run (or any kind of exercise). I've learn a little yoga and that has helped tremendously.

There are probably other reasons not to run but I find the positives far out-weigh any hassles. I enjoy running and look forward to running for many more years.

Tesla Model S

Whipnotic Model S Video.

Model S Unveiled:

Model S Test Drive.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Electric Math

The major flaw of electric cars is their lack of range. Top Gear dramatically demonstrates this in the above video. (Some would say they not only over-hyped the problem but actually mis-lead viewers about it.) Even as I've thought about how fun a Tesla Roadster would be, I realize it would not be practical for a long trip. An electric Smart car with an 80 mile range would be even worse and don't even think about one of the lesser models (some with a range of only 40 miles).

A few days ago I thought about range again and was surprised.

First the good news. Well over 90% of my wife and my driving is in town. Occasionally I make the 70 mile drive to work. Sometimes we make the also 70 mile drive to my sister's house in Apple Valley. We also make an up to 100 mile drive to visit family in LA and Orange County. For all of this an electric car with over a 100 mile range is actually more convenient than a gasoline vehicle. No need to go to a gas station -- just plug it in at night, while I'm working or while we're visiting.

Long trips are another problem. Having to stop and charge for several hours ruins the chance of making any significant mileage. One idea is I can just rent a car. I've often rented cars for vacations. Years ago it was because I owned cheap vehicles that were not that much fun to travel in and that I was afraid would break down. More recently I've rented because my car was too small to carry all the luggage or people coming on the trip. For an occasional traveler like me, this makes good sense. Why pay a premium (and the extra fuel costs) for a large car that I'll only need once or twice a year?

The thing I realized a few days ago is that Telsa's promised S Class changes the range problem. The S Class will have a range of 300 miles and can be charged in 45 minutes. It also will have quick-swappable battery (five minutes). And, by the way, it will have plenty of passenger and luggage storage capacity for a long trip.

Obviously if battery swap stations are available, there is no problem. A five-minute battery swap is as quick as a gasoline fill-up. But working out the kinks of battery swap stations any time soon (if ever) seems highly unlikely.

How will a long trip work with charging? From our house to Arcata, where our daughter Ruth lives, is 660 miles. It's about 12 hours counting our relatively quick stops. We get gas, take bathroom breaks and get our food to go. With a 300 mile range S Class, we would have to stop at one of the scattered places south of Stockton. They're sparse, but exist. We have stopped in the area many times because we have about the same range in our current car, a Scion xB. Instead of a 20 minute food-to-go break, we'd have to stop for about 50 minutes. I assume we could leave the car charging while we get something to eat nearby.

Since Arcta is 660 miles we need another stop to refuel. Humans usually need another stop too. Willits is a good place. The way we go it's about 230 miles more. That means we'd have about 70 miles left in the "tank". From Willits to Arcata is another 145 miles, so we'd only need a small charge, say another 80 miles. 80 miles of charge should take less than 15 minutes. (A full, 300mi, charge takes 45 min. 45min * 80/300 = 12min. I rounded up). By leaving the car charging while we pick up snacks and visit the restroom we can probably get away with our normal 20 min stop.

That means the only slow-down is our first longer stop, which adds 30 minutes to our travel time. The trip becomes 12 1/2 hours instead of a 12. The extra half-hour is spent sitting down to eat rather than juggling food in the car, not a bad trade, especially for the driver. Is losing a half-hour good? Of course not. But it's not that terrible.

But what about longer trips? There's no way you can go across the country, right? Yes, I'll admit that if you want to drive non-stop, pound out 900 or 1000 mile (or more) days the S Class will slow you down. But for me, that's a bit insane. 600 to 700 miles a day is more than enough driving for me. I prefer to rest and start again the next day.

Conclusion? Range is still a problem, but for me it becomes a small problem not a large one. I realize I can live with the S Class as my primary car. In fact, most of the time it would make my life easier than a gasoline powered car.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Life happens

Am I blessed or cursed?

My son, Dan, and I plan to run a half-marathon Monday (Memorial Day). He ran in high school and college. He's run lots of races. He runs fast. I have run only a few races in my life and this is the first I've trained for. I run slow. The race will be the longest I've ever run. To say the least, I'm nervous about it.

To get ready for a race we try to build up mileage and speed and then taper off right before the race. Mostly I've been surprised at how well I've done at running. However, I got sick right near the top of my build up a few weeks ago. Oh well, I'll run even slower. Now I'm in the taper off phase.

This last weekend we went to Arcata to see our daughter Ruth graduate from Humboldt. It was beautiful up there, the graduation was great and we had an awesome trip. My wife, Carolina, and I went with her sister, Rebecca, our other daughter, Sarah, and Sarah's husband, Austin. We arrived Thursday night.

Rebecca and I got up early Friday and went for a hike. I wanted to run as well. We hiked for a while and found a logging road into the woods. It was cool and beautiful, perfect for a hike or run. I took off running and had probably the most enjoyable run of my life. Quiet, perfect temperature, lush and beautiful. I felt great. Near the end of my run I was just cruising and enjoying the scenery. My left foot hit the side of a rock and twisted. No pain, but I felt blood rush in. I kept running because it didn't seem to hurt it -- the stretched part did not seem affected by my running.

After the run and hike back, my foot hurt some. I was disappointed and scared. Disappointed because I wanted to run again in the beautiful forest and now it looked like I couldn't. Scared because I thought my ankle might keep me out of the race. I iced it and wrapped it and it got better in a few days, but I did miss out on another run in the beautiful north.

We enjoyed the rest of the trip and made it home safely. I was able to run Tuesday with no problem. I avoided racquetball yesterday as a precaution.

Last night I was watching TV when my right eye started hurting. I've had something called Iritis a few times. It's an inflammation of the eye that can really hurt and needs a doctor's treatment. My eye looked and felt like I was getting Iritis again. I got depressed and cursed myself for staying up too late and treating my eye harshly. This also could affect my ability to run -- when it's bad I need to avoid sunlight and it's hard to see.

This morning it wasn't much better. I began praying a lot. Carolina had some eye drops she let me use and they seem to help a bit. After sleeping on the bus to work my eye was still sore but better. Thanks God! I was trying to be nice to it and was using only my left eye. After getting off the bus I walked across the street to work. At the far curb I tripped and almost fell. There was some kind of metal ring on the ground, about 18 inches in diameter. I managed to step on it with my right foot and in it and trip with my left foot. I stretched many of the same stuff I had twisted on Friday. Again no real hurt, but also it felt wrong.

I went running at lunch as planned. I figured I could stop if it started bothering me. It went well, but I can feel tenderness.

Am I cursed? I haven't tweaked my ankles for years. Iritis has not bothered me also for years. What are the odds I'd tweak my ankle twice, especially since today required me not seeing well, a ring right where I was walking, me stepping on it with one foot and in it with the other. Does God hate me? Does he want me to not run? With all this plus my arthritis, low thyroid, recent Carpel Tunnel Syndrome and normal aches and pains I feel like I'm falling apart. In many ways I'm in the best shape of my life, yet I can hardly keep up with my degrading body.

No, I'm not cursed. God never said it would be easy. If I can't run it's not the end of the world. More probably I'll be able to run, I just need to work through my issues and deal with problems as they arise.

In fact, I'm very blessed. Just being able to run is a blessing -- so many people can't. I have a great family, great friends and a great job. God loves me. These little worries are minor. I need to stay focused on what really matters.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tesla and Daimler

I've blogged about the Tesla's Roadster. I recently Twittered about how my next car could be electric -- I realized Tesla could make an affordable and useable car by 2014. Yesterday the outlook got even better. Tesla and Daimler announced that they are colaborating and Daimler invested in Tesla.

Why is this good news? First, even though they don't mention it, it gives Tesla more capital. Daimler now has a 10% share of Tesla, which has got to be a good chunk of change. Probably more than that, having Daimler behind them gives Tesla a tremendous boost in credibility, which can only help when Tesla seeks funding.

A second benefit Daimler brings is the renown Mercedes engineering. Daimler's expertise should help Tesla produce high quality vehicles. It should also help them bring cars to market more quickly and efficiently.

A third benefit is that we may see quality electric vehicles sooner than expected. Daimler has already produced the innovative and inexpensive Smart Car. They are working on an electric Smart. They plan to use Teslaa's battery technology to bring the electric drive (ED) Smart out at the end of this year. The plan is to use Tesla's battery until their own battery is up-to-speed in a couple of years. (Meanwhile Tesla and Daimler will share battery technology to improve both their products.)

The ED Smart will go 70mph and get about 80 miles on a charge. That's not great but better than most. It also makes it highway capable. For example, it would definitely get me all over the Antelope Valley where I live and it would probably allow me to make the 70 mile one-way commute to Woodland Hills where I work. I would expect to see the ED Smart numbers improve as batteries improve.

Current U.S. Smart prices start under $12k. Even with an ED premium that should mean the ED Smart will be under $20k, hopefully under $15k. That would make them very affordable.

Cheap, usable electric cars in a year or two. That would be impressive!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why Swine Flu Hype is a Good Thing

Swine flu has scared billions and killed, uh, tens. (In Mexico 58, in the U.S.  five) Meanwhile normal flu kills about 36,000 every year in the U.S. alone. So swine flu is well hyped.

Why is this good? Carolina and I normally go somewhere on our anniversary. Twice, on our special 20th and 25th we saved enough to go on cruises. This year we were going to go to Vegas for four days. With the swine flu scare we can now go on a five-day cruise for about the same price. Woohoo! Party in Cabo!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dazed and confused.

Last post I was all excited about how Facebook would pick up my blogs. Now I'm just dazed and confused. I went through the procedure and my last three posts showed up on my wall. Maybe, if I navigate to my wall correctly. My last post (about Facebook) never showed up. I now have no idea what the heck Facebook is doing. Oh well.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Facebook and Blog

I found out how to get my blog to post on Facebook. I looked at my wall and it worked.

Here's how to do it. Go to your wall. Just below the "What's on you mind?" box is a row that says "Eric+Friends Just Eric Just Friends" (of course your wall will use your name, not mine). On the right of that line is a Setting button. Push the Setting button.

It should look something like this.

Pick "Blog/RSS". It then asks you to enter the address of your blog.

Now your wall should shows your blog posts as if they were status from you. Go to my profile to see how it works.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Remata is out!

My flashcard program, Remata, is now out and available.

On and off for the past few years I've worked on a flashcard program to help with my Greek studies. I found a spreadsheet which I upgraded for my own needs. Problem was that I couldn't carry a computer in my pocket and my PDA could not handle the spreadsheet macros. I thought of writing a windows application, but learning all that stuff is complex. I made a web based program, but my PDA browser could not handle the web code either.

Finally, in October, I heard about the new Android operating system for phones. I was looking for a new phone and PDA and bought the T-mobile G1. I also learned that Android was open and that is was relatively easy to write programs for Android. I've been working on my program since then. You can check it out in the Android Market or look at it's web page.

I'm excited -- the first program of my own that's gone commercial. Already people have downloaded it, commented and I've even received a donation!

God's Speed, Mr. President

My wife intently watched the inauguration and all the associated hoopla. I, on the other hand, am not that interested. I did, however, make an effort to catch Barack Obama's speech. I wanted to hear what he had to say. I liked it -- I hope we can come close to living up to what he called us to.

In the months since his election I've come to realize something. I voted for McCain. I saw things I liked about both candidates and also things that scared me. McCain seemed to me to have less downside. I missed something huge -- hope. Obama has energized this country with hope. Hope can be a powerful force for good.

I am somewhat cynical. I believe even the "most powerful man on earth" is limited in what he can do. The government machine is too big. Perhaps even more, the inertia of people is massive. It really doesn't matter how brilliant our president is, nor how good his ideas, nor how hard he works if we people are not behind him. I'm now thinking that's probably the biggest reason Reagan was so effective. Perhaps FDR too, although that was before my time. It seems like Obama comes in with this same ability to instill hope in a large portion of our population.

I came away from Tuesday's events encouraged. Encouraged by what Obama said. Encouraged by the huge turnout. Encouraged by the hope he seems to have instilled. I pray that he and the rest of us can live up to the promise.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Intolerance and ignorance? Or love?



Despite the ignorance, smart enough to appeal to American sensibilities.

So the Prophet Muhammad is the father of civil rights? This is the same guy who wants everyone that disagrees with him to be butchered and beheaded and wants to kill all the "Juice"? Obviously these people don't know English very well. Not only to they not know the word "juice", they also don't have a very good handle on the meanings of "civil right", "truth", "justice" and "love".

Perhaps they should read something other than the Qur’an once in a while. How about the Bible? Last time I checked it is supposed to be a holy book for them. Matthew 5 comes to mind. Here is an exerpt starting at verse 43:

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I'm also reminded of 1 John, Chapter 4, verses 7 - 11:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.