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26th August 2008

11:23pm: Thoughts on Energy Policy
I learned something interesting on NPR today.  In the official Democratic Party platform, nuclear power is hardly mentioned, or barely mentioned (I don't recall which) in 57 pages.  Now, I'm assuming that means either the 57 pages of energy policy, or that the entire platform is 57 pages long.  This is important because it is basically the NIMBY crowd winning.  Even once the nuclear taboo is broken, there is still the nuclear waste issue.  Look, we have the technology to take care of nuclear waste.  Hell, we even have well proven science behind how to turn the waste into more nuclear fuel, creating reactors that create more fuel than they use.  We just need to put effort into actually developing the engineering into an economically viable form.  The most valid concern that I see with it involves nuclear proliferation.  The same materials and technology allowing breeder reactors also makes fuel that could be used in an atomic bomb.  On the other hand, it is not as though nuclear security isn't an issue currently, and one we've mostly taken care of already.

Lots of talk is bandied around about how North Dakota and South Dakota could provide the  power needs of the entire US using solely wind.  Unfortunately that doesn't take in to account that our power grid can't move that power to where it is needed.  I believe it was Governor Richardson (former Energy Secretary for President Clinton) who said we're a first world nation with a third world power grid.  So barring a major overhaul of our power grid, we'll all have to move to the Dakotas.  Ugh!

Now, let's move on to a more esoteric means of bringing electricity to our homes.  One possible solution is decentralized power generation.  Every building would have solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal wells, etc.  The idea being that each building is mostly energy self-sufficient, with buildings with excess generation capability selling to those with insufficient generation capability.  This won't be possible without major economies of scale, and even then it probably isn't practical for each building to be self-sufficient.  As a result, we'll always be left requiring large central power plants.

The only other technology that I want to mention is clean coal.  I have to say that I'm unfortunately not as knowledgeable about this power source as I would like.  As I understand it though, it is basically a normal coal fired power plant, or coal gassification plant that sequesters the released CO2 underground or in some sort of carbonate?  The only problems I see with it are if the CO2 is stored as a gas underground, it might eventually get released.  If it is stored as a carbonate, I would imagine it is energy intensive to create the carbonate.  Though it might make a useful feedstock for industry.  If anyone has more information on clean coal technology let me know.  I'll do some research on my own.

13th September 2005

11:05pm: Hooray for pets!
Well, a stray cat adopted us. She's gorgous but very very thin. We've decided we're going to keep her. Her name is Pandora, and she's very friendly.

Pictures are here.

The job for tomorrow is taking her to the vet to be all checked out. Spaying can happen somewhat later.

29th June 2005

12:29pm: Ikea fun
Wow the Ikea store is huge. It is also poorly laid out. You have to meander through the entire store to get at anything because the store is laid out like a museum tour and not a giant warehouse.

On the plus side, we scored in getting a tv stand and a dining room table. We've held off on getting the chairs for it until some later time.

People will have to come by to see the new pretty pretty furniture.

27th December 2004

11:52pm: You know what ticks me off?
What is wrong with the Alabama judiciary?

Some of you may recall the press coverage slightly more than a year ago about the member of the Alabama Supreme Court who had a monument placed in front of the courthouse with the Ten Commandments carved on it. He later resigned, and the monument was removed by court order. Now, in a similar vein, another Alabama judge has embroidered the Ten Commandments on the front of his robes. In mustard yellow, no less. From an interview with him from NPR's 'All Things Considered,' broadcast 12/27/04, I have discovered a few facts. His belief, of course, is that the U.S. legal system is rife with references based upon the Bible. To this, he adds that the symbol is unobtrusive. He recognizes that some people have other religions, he even comments that he knows one, but states that this is Alabama, and that cases where people might be affected by it are extremely rare.

I have to wonder why such displays are tolerated. Would a similar display of the 'UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights' be tolerated? I submit that it would not be allowed.

1) It is not part of the U.S. Code of Justice.
[Well, neither are the Ten Commandments. Is the fact that there is similarity between many laws and some of the Commandments make it part of the Code of Justice? NO! Where in any U.S. law does it say 'I am the Lord your God'?]

2) The display is not obtrusive.
[Perhaps if it were printed where it isn't staring a defendant or plaintiff in the face this would be true. There was some amount of uproar when Chief Justice William Rhenquist added gold stripes to the sleeves of his judicial robe. Any modification at all causes some disquiet. At least with stripes there isn't a statement involved.]

3) What kind of equivocation is it to say that people who might be affected by it in Alabama are rare?
[Regardless of the majority of a particular religious affiliation people in Alabama may have, the point of the court is to be impartial to everyone. When a judge puts on the robes of office, he becomes the embodiment of justice. Even if his personal morals come from religion, or from Mars, in his role as a justice he *must* only apply the rule of law, and as I said in point #1, the Commandments aren't in the U.S. Code of Justice.]

I've said my piece. I'll accept arguments and comments.

15th November 2004

1:33pm: Finally home! It sucked having to spend the night at the Dullas airport, but both I and all my luggage got home safely. Now to check email and sleep.

15th September 2004

3:25pm: wr00t!

Having not cared enough to attend any tutorials, or even enough to pick up the two assignments that were graded, I achieved a 99.5 out of 120 on my java mid-term. That is before the upwards curve that will happen. Currently a 60/120 is a pass, and they will probably make something around a 52 a pass for this test.

2nd September 2004

7:53pm: Oh! I forgot one event!

On the way from Raglan to Hahei, we stopped at the Waitomo Glowworm Caverns. Basically a big cave with a bunch of insects (or rather their larva) on the ceiling that glow like fireflies (or rather their excrement does).

In the same area, we went to a place that houses and shears Angora Rabbits. These things are huge bunnies! Think somewhat larger than the average house cat. The shearing process is quite funny. They set the rabbits up on a platform, and attach their legs to the edge by bungy cords. In the words of the shearer, "We don't stretch the bunnies, just straighten them." From this position, the rabbits are then shorn, flipped onto their backs, and the underside is shorn. *shrugs* The rabbits are then sent to have bunnie sex, perhaps have baby bunnies (only about one in five can actually reproduce), and then be sheared again in three months.
7:40pm: Okay, I lied: I'm posting about the spring break trip.

Well, I just got back from the trip. Christin and I had loads of fun! :-D

We started by taking a train up to Auckland from Wellington. Because of a HUGE storm that went through a couple of days earlier (wind speeds in Wellington gusting around 120 kph) a mud-slide had washed out part of the track, and we had to take a detour by bus around it before we could get back on the train.

We ended up in Auckland at around 9:30, after leaving Wellington at 8:30 that morning. Since it was fairly late, we did a minor amount of exploring the downtown region of Auckland before we went to sleep. The next morning, we hooked up with our touring company, Stray, and along with one other passenger drove up to Paihia and the Bay of Islands. The driver, a 26 year-old fellow by the handle of 'Chops' (apparently he is a helicopter pilot on a thus-far 18 month sabbatical) pointed out lots of local features and such. He also taught us a driving game where the object is to point out as many tractors as possible. Along the way, we stopped at a marine reserve, and had the water been warmer, would have snorkled among the fish that were all over the place near the shoreline. We also saw one of the oldest Kaori trees remaining in New
Zealand, estimated at about 800 years. It had a large diameter, and was
probably about 120 feet tall. The most impressive thing is that the tree self-prunes and the wood doesn't have any knots in it whatsoever. The last stop before Paihia was a horseback ride on the beach. Despite Christin not liking horses, we all rode out onto a very pretty beach and tried some cantering among the sand dunes.

Paihia: Definitely a tourist town, winter population ~4,000, summer population ~30,000. Staying in the dorm room with Christin and I were two Canadians, the third passenger on the bus (a Californian named Harry), an Israeli, and an Irish girl. Everyone was loads of fun. We mostly hung out with Julie, the Irish girl, and the next day walked up to Waitangi, the grounds where the treaty between the English and the Maori was signed. Lots of historical stuffs, and hopefully some very pretty pictures. The last day in Paihia, Christin and I chartered a catamaran sailboat to tour the Bay of Islands. It was much fun because we were actually able to sail most of the day and only used the motors a few times. Also exciting was the fact that we were the only two passengers that day, so Christin and I had a sailboat and skipper to ourselves. We had lunch in a beautiful lagoon and walked around a bit on an island that is a preserve. There was very little trail in places, and the entire island was slippery and muddy but there was a beach on the other side
that was very pretty. As soon as the boat docked, we were picked up by Chops again, and expressed back to Auckland.

Auckland: We stayed another three nights in Auckland. We mostly wandered around the city and went to museums and such. The Museum of Technology and Transport was geared more towards young children. Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World was quite an interesting aquarium, though. It was built out of old and unused sewer storage tanks that they put a bubble corridor through and filled with water. The two extremely interesting parts were the Antarctic penguins and the two meter across stingrays! We also went to the Auckland Zoo, where they keep the Red Pandas, which are just amazing creatures.

Raglan: After our stay in Auckland, we were picked up by Stray once more, this time a driver named James, who took us to his brother's backpackers hostel on the west-coast town of Raglan. Kind of up in the woods, they had a zipline, a low-ropes course, and several hikes. Christin and I tried to see the sunset from the top of the cliff over the ocean, but just as the sun was setting, a thick bank of clouds rolled in and blocked any nice view we would have had.

Hahei: The next day was spent driving back across the country to the
Coromandal Penninsula. This was just a beautiful area of the country, with lovely plains and forests. We stopped for the night in Hahei and the next morning, I and three other people from the bus got up early and walked down to the beach so we could sea-kayak around to Cathedral Cove. We crossed the bay out to an island with seals on the back side sunning themselves. Then we crossed to another island where we kayaked through a hole in the rock. Next was the sea-crossing to the Cathedral Cove where we stopped, got out and walked around. The beach we landed on had a large rock out facing the ocean in the center, on one side a waterfall, and on the other a rock tunnel to another beach. The second beach had an even larger rock facing the ocean, and ended with a bunch of volcanic boulders sitting out amongst the sand that were covered in fossilized shells. While we were exploring the beach, the rest of the bus group had walked to the cove and met us there. The kayaking guide setup the Cathedral Cove Cafe on a blanket and made us cappucinos and hot chocolates. Then we got back in the kayaks and went back to the beach we
started from.

When we were picked up by the bus, we drove to Hot Water Beach. There, when the tides are right and you aren't in a rush (neither of which were true for us) you can dig a hole in the sand and hot geothermal water will percolate into the hole providing a ready-made-by-nature spa. From there, we drove to out cultural stop where we would normally stay a night, but for a variety of reasons couldn't. There we had dinner, a pseudo-traditional Maori Hangi. (Pseudo- because they aren't allowed to cook in the ground due to all the farming in the area) In the meal were stuffing, potatos, sweet potatos, peas, chicken, and lamb all cooked together so the flavors mixed. There was also a performance by local Maori children of the various dances of their particular iwi. Then we were split up, the girls learned the poi (balls on string that are slung around in various ways that originally were designed to strengthen the wrists) and the boys took off their shirts and learned the haka (the fearsome dance used to psyche oneself up for battle and intimidate the enemy). We actually learned the haka that the national rugby team, the All-Blacks (as opposed to the basketball team, Tall-Blacks, and others) performs before each test match. In the end of the evening, we drove to Rotorua where Christin and I again spent three nights.

Rotorua: This is a very highly active geothermal area, much like Yellowstone. It is also a very touristy area with lots of extreme sports to take part in. The first day, Christin and I went to the Agrodome which has a farm for showing people what sheep look like and how to shear them, among also more fun activities that Christin and I actually took part in. The first (and most fun) was Zorbing. Christin and I each zorbed twice, once together, and once each separately. Basically they put you in a giant inflatable hamster-ball, put about 4 inches of water in the bottom, and roll you down a hill. The goal, of course, is to stay upright and run all the way to the bottom. Christin and I both failed miserably at that (like most people) and were tumbled around like a
being inside a washing machine. We had a blast. After zorbing, we walked through a sheep paddock to the other extreme sport of the trip. There we jumped off a 43 meter crane with only giant bunjy cords to arrest our fall. I had fun with it, but Christin didn't. We have great pictures of it that I'll send to you as soon as I have them on me. That night we rested in a Polynesian Spa with the nice hot geothermal water of the region. The last day in Rotorua, we wandered around a large thermal park with bubbling mudpools, geysers, and such. It also is the home of a very tourist oriented Maori marae (meeting ground) that frankly felt like a performance of the Maori Broadway Review. The geothermal stuff was very cool though, and we saw a pair of kiwis. They have a
breeding ground that the keep inside a building kept dark in the day and light at night. The kiwi are nocturnal, so this way when you walk though the building you can see them hunting and moving around.

Taupo and Whakepapa: The very end of the trip ended unfortunately with
horrible weather moving in. We rode from Rotorua to Taupo which is a city on the edge of the largest lake in New Zealand. The lake was originally formed from the biggest volcanic eruption ever recorded (done so by the Romans and Chinese). Along the drive to Taupo, we stopped at a waterfall on the Waiketa River that empties Lake Taupo. It was a very neat waterfall mostly because before going off the edge of the falls, the river (40 meters wide, 4 meters deep) goes into a chasm that is 12 meters wide and about 10 meters deep. It moves a large amount of water very fast and at very high pressure over the falls.

If bad weather had not moved in that night, I would have walked the Tongariro Crossing the next day. On the other side of Lake Taupo are three volcanos that are important in Maori mythology. Touted as the best one-day hike in New Zealand (and that says quite a bit from what I've seen), the Tongariro Crossing does just that, crossing the saddle of Mt. Tongariro, giving exceptional views at crater lakes and the surrounding countryside. The crossing is something that absolutely cannot be done in bad weather in the winter. Even in perfect weather, it requires equipment hires such as crampons, walking sticks, and possibly ice axes. That is a place that we will definitely come back to near the end of out time here, because it promises to be a very very good hike. Instead, we rode across the Tongariro National Park to Whakepapa which is a ski resort. But with the weather unable to decide between sleet, snow, or rain,nearly everyone decided to stay inside the resort and watch free movies. Christin and I watched a total of six (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, About a Boy,Liar Liar, Matrix: Revolutions, Matilda, Die Another Day). (The weather was that bad, and there was nothing else to do.) A few brave souls went up to the ski fields on Mt. Ruapeu one of the three volcanos in the park, but it certainly wasn't worth it to us.

Finally, we rode the next day back to Wellington and thus ends the saga of spring break.

--Ross
5:12pm: Sitting in the library computer lab.
Meh.. I don't know why I'm doing this, but I like books *shrugs*

Lisa's book meme thing. (For Peter's benefit, not pronounced 'mee-mee' and only used because I don't know the proper word for it.Collapse )

Anyway, trip was fun. La-da-da. Read about it in Christin's journal. Hopefully some of the fun pictures turned out.
Current Mood: blah

15th August 2004

10:05pm: Okay, quick update on the events for the upcoming spring break for Christin and I.

Spring break is, taking into account extra days, like friday where we have no classes, about 2.5 weeks long. Christin and I will spend the time roaming cheaply around the North Island doing touristy-type thingies. We will encounter the omnipresent geothermal sulfur stench of Rotorua, see the Bay of Islands, explore Auckland, visit the hot water beach to dig our own spa in the sand, do some incredibly stupid things like jumping out of airplanes, jetboating, and zorbing. You should just google for "zorb" to see what it is.

It looks like we'll have lots of fun. And we're looking forward to it. :-)

Cheers!

Ross

4th July 2004

5:04pm: New Zealand
*alert*
This is to alert everyone that I and Christin arrived safely in New Zealand. Eventually a travelogue and pictures will be posted, but I don't know when that will happen.
*end alert*
Current Mood: chipper

7th June 2004

1:40pm: Contempt for Psychology
I absolutely love this psych class. We are covering methods of persuasion. The first step in persuasion is make someone pay attention to the message. Well, what makes people pay attention?

Is it loud? Bold? Colorful? Sexy? Interesting?

The answer is that what that makes you pay attention is "anything that gets your attention." -- Quoted directly from the professor

Aren't circular arguments wonderful? :-p
Current Mood: discontent

25th May 2004

12:49am: In regards to comments
You people suck!

Acronyms I understand:
WTF
QED
FTP
OMGWTFBBQ

Collections of letters I understand:
KTHXBAI

Collections of letters I don't understand:
ILYBIHCD
IMSHO
TTFN
TIC
PTPR


And so I must say, Wiccan Turing Fatal?

24th May 2004

8:51pm: Thoughts on Dinner
And the Lord God said,
"There shall be a perfect food."

And there were poached eggs.
And God proclaimed it to be good.

Guide to Eating: Book of Ross 3:4-7
Current Mood: pleased

16th March 2004

1:10am: Coolness!
We have beads! And guess what? They're COOL!!!

Check it out here

26th February 2004

1:11pm: etc...
Right... Much time since I last updated. Important events to follow:

1) Bought a laptop.
2) Turned in application to spend the fall semester in New Zealand
3) Loves Christin with all his heart
4) Will sing in world premier of "On Eagles Wings" in early May
5) Has opportunity to be picked to sing in OEW in Ireland, late May
6) Still loves Christin

Things to do:

1) Talk with housing about spring semester
2) Decide if I am taking short-term classes for the summer

In other news:

There is snow on the ground. Not enough to bother anyone, school is still in session. I'm not particularly excited about it, but only because snow east of the Mississippi River sucks. I am more intrigued by the fact that in two days it will be 60 degrees again, and continue like that for all of next week. Damn bipolar Atlanta weather. Though I agree with Christin that it is quite unfortunate that Atlanta winters are all 40 degrees, gray, windy and probably raining. That's just no fun. But at least they are over quickly.
Current Mood: complacent

3rd December 2003

12:35am: Thanksgiving, etc
Okay.... Many moons have passed since I have journaled last. As such, having been coerced into making an entry again by Christin, I think it is time for another entry.

Let's see. Thanksgiving was good. Christin joined me in going to my house to see my family. We saw two movies in the theaters. The first was the most recent John Grisham (sp?) movie with Gene Hackman, John Cusack, and Dustin Hoffman in it. It isn't really my style of movie, but I enjoyed it. Christin and I later went and saw Love Actually. I enjoyed it, while Christin adored it. More on that in her journal.

Overall, I think the weekend went quite well. I relearned why I love my family, and why I should keep in touch with Rennie more than I have been. Christin, I think, finally learned how my family is different from hers. We are more reserved, and not as enthusiastic towards visitors (though there are certainly enough of them through Corey's friends, and when I come home Rennie always stops by.) I'm glad Christin is more comfortable now with my family.

Anyway, don't expect to see me on too much for the next week and a half. Finals are next week, as is my 21st birthday.
Current Mood: questionable

24th August 2003

12:28am: More Computer Fun
As I am making this livejournal post, I am sitting with a half disassembled laptop. The screen is loose and only held on by the power and data cables. The keyboard I'm typing on is currently not attached to anything, but is taped on the front of the computer. The case is half snapped apart and I am looking at the hard drive.

The backstory: okay, Mike finally pressed the button and bought a new laptop. As a result, I have dibs on the 10 Gb hard drive that he has in his laptop. It will be replaced by the 6 Gb one that is currently in my laptop. So, I have to figure out how to get the old hard drive out of the current computer. This has been an interesting problem, because we've tried to open up this computer before and failed miserably. We decided in the past that the problem was with a screw in the bottom that was stripped. So, we go out tonight to the grocery and I stop by the Home Depot to pick up a way to remove the stripped screw. As it turns out, I have to drill the thing out. Yes, drill out a screw on a laptop. Murphy's Law, the drillbit is too big. But I figure, well... It's not like I can really hurt anything, there's already a screw through it. So I continue until the head of the screw breaks off.

Problem solved! The screw is still in the computer, but it isn't holding anything. So Peter and I, by this I mostly mean Peter, tries to pry the case open. That ends up being a bad idea. At first, it just seems that the case snaps together, but something else seems to be holding it. We determine it to be the keyboard. After much searching, we find the screws holding it on. With the keyboard removed, we see that we didn't have to do anything with the case at all. Underneath the keyboard is a metal plate with screws that holds everything together. Naturally, one of the screws is stripped... :-p

So, at the moment, I'm at an impasse until I can drill that screw too. And I'm at even more of an impasse because it'll take 3 weeks before I can get Mike's hard drive. Meanwhile, my computer is working, but in pieces.

MY KEYBOARD IS ATTACHED WITH SCOTCH TAPE!

For pictures, check out this.
Current Mood: Creatively Destructive

10th August 2003

1:17am: Weekend
You know I when I journal I either have something that must be said or I'm really bored. I'll give you two guesses which it is this time. :-p

Okay, here are all my possible plans for this weekend.

1) Go with all my Gatech and #AS buddies to Otakon. Well, I'm not a big fan of conventions of any kind. Especially ones populated by rabid fanboys. Not to mention the various events with people dressed up like Voldo from Soul Calibur. Blech.
Answer: Hell no!

2) Go to Atlanta on Saturday and help Shannon and Richard move various items belonging to Tim, Shannon, and Alex from the old summer apartment to the new one.
Answer: I probably should have, but I was lazy.

3) Go watch my younger sister (now a senior in high school) play 7 hours of volleyball against 6 different teams.
Answer: I watched about 3 hours of it. Had fun, but couldn't have stood any more.

4) Go to Atlanta on Sunday, meet up with Cimmy and Shannon et al for a trip to Six Flags.
Answer: I mediocre possibility. I may still do it, but I don't want to drive a total of 7 hours there and back for a few hours at Six Flags. Sorry people.

5) Go with Christin up to Chicago with her family from Saturday until Tuesday.
Answer: This is what I SHOULD have done. Sadly, neither of us planned ahead enough.

The end result:
I'm here at home. A place I'm familiar with and with people I love with all my heart. But, sadly, a place where I have nothing to do! Point in fact: Corey is already in school, and both my parents work. My best friend from high school has disappeared off the face of the earth. Last I heard, he was in New York washing windows and playing golf for the summer. Since I have nothing to do, I sleep in, which my parents disapprove of.
Now this weekend. My friends are all incommunicado. So I find my time spent.... Oh let's see... ummmmm.... Well.... I watched MST3K. It was a really bad movie starring Raul Julia of Gomez Addams fame in a thriller by New York Public Television. Then I read quite some. Now I'm watching a Cary Grant marathon on Turner Classic Movies. Starting with "Operation Petticoat," moving on to "North by Northwest," and now "Arsenic and Old Lace." All excellent movies, but I've seen them all many times before. They only barely relieve the boredom.

Oh yes, I've rediscovered the joys of playing solitaire in many various forms the old fashioned way. You know, with actual cards.
Current Mood: bored out of my freaking skull

20th July 2003

3:20am: More randomness
In other random thoughts. My feet have tanlines
Current Mood: amused
3:17am: Randomness
*sighs*

Oh well, I suppose I'll journal. Last night we played Civilization. It was good. Not much happened in it but I had quite a bit fun. :-)

We mostly ended up going to bed at around 5:00. I woke up again at noon, talked a bit to Christin, went back to bed a 1:00. Next thing I know, Peter is knocking on my door to wake me up at 5:30. So, in other words, I won't be in bed anytime soon.

In other news, we went to Outback Steakhouse tonight. I got a steak and was very pleased with it. Some people seemed to be somewhat less enthusiastic about their meals, but it is hard to please everyone.

*sighs again*
Current Mood: bored

17th July 2003

5:28pm: LiveJournal, Computers, and such stuff
Well, I've been pestered by several people, including Christin, Peter, Tim and Shannon to actually journal. So, I decided that I may as well, at least a little bit. I can't say for certain what this will turn into, but I think it'll start out simply as a place for me to either rant, or discuss interesting little tidbits of information I have come across.

For instance, many of you have heard all this before, but I shall reiterate for those who may not have. I have interesting problems with computers.

Let me say it again:

I HAVE INTERESTING PROBLEMS WITH COMPUTERS!

This, along with the fact that I have very little to do this summer has prompted me to conduct some interesting experiments. (Thanks to Alex for giving me the anthropomorphisizing idea.)

Read about them hereCollapse )

Ah well, I was going to rant as well. But I don't want to start my first post off on a bad foot. Besides, if you read my cut, I'm positive that you don't want to read any more.
Current Mood: Literarily Verbose
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