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Daily Fodder 001

May 6, 2009

I am going to get back in to the daily fodder routine. It is pretty easy now to record myself as I drive home and then upload it to YouTube. Really with a couple of clicks I can have a daily vlog. Here is the first entry. Not true fodder content yet just an introduction.

Twitterific vs TweetDeck vs Tweetie

May 2, 2009

I am going to start a series of posts that follow my own process of optimizing my online profile. Like most of you I have a whole bunch of profiles in a whole bunch of places and it can seem annoying or tedious to keep up with them all. What I have done in the past is just work on each one in spurts which yields a pretty inconsistent experience. So what I am going to do is highlight the different tools that I use to make that happen.

I am going to start off with a side by side comparison of some of the major players in the Twitter client world. I know several people who use TweetDeck and I know that Twitterific has been around forever. Tweetie is a really new entry but has gotten a lot of press so I thought I would cover it as well. There are certainly others, and if there is one that you would like compared I will give it a shot next go round.

Music Review: 808’s & Heartbreak

April 30, 2009

I have a friend who is a big Kanye West fan. So it was with him in mind that I started listening to Kanye’s latest album a couple of weeks ago.

I want it to be know that despite my strong dislike of Kanye as a person, I think he does have talent in spades. I really wanted to like this album or at least a couple of songs from it. So I listened to this album all the way through six times before I decided that it had great potential and was a cool project but I just did not like it.

The songs themselves are great with catchy lyrics and beats. There were actually a few, Paranoid and Love Lockdown that made it into my 4* play list so the whole album was not a wash in that regard. It is a pretty big change as far as style from other albums of Kanye’s that I have listened to and to his credit I think that the content of the album was great and that is what got me to listen to it so many times before I made up my mind.

Really what tipped the scales agains the album making it into my good list was that voice effect that has become more and more popular in recent years. I think it can be great as an embellishment but really there was not a pure word uttered until sometime in the seventh song. Now if it was anyone but Kanye I would have said they were covering up for their inability to sing, but since I know that he has ability, I just do not understand the point of it being so prevalent throughout the album.

Overall there are some things that I think would have made this idea better. First I think that it should have been released as an EP. There are enough good songs on here to warrant a release of some kind, but in my view not quite enough to have a solid full album. Sure there have been some hits off of it but those could have been hits off an EP just the same and he still would have been able to have his “personal” project. Also, I wish that he had done the writing and the beats but maybe gotten someone like Justin Timberlake to sing some of the tracks. Like I said before I liked the lyrics and beats of several of the tracks but an outstanding singer would have taken those to the next level.

Pros: Good lyrics to the songs, catchy beats, Kanye West.

Cons: Overuse of vocal effects gets annoying, no huge standout tracks, Kanye West.

Summary: Listen to it a few times, take the tracks you like and pitch the rest.

Swine Flu: Really?

April 30, 2009

I want to start off by saying that I am not necessarily an excitable person. If something that sounds huge and sweeping is announced, I am generally going to be sceptical until I can find a reason to buy in.
Recently there has been a lot on the news about swine flu and how it has killed something like 158 people in Mexico, some more people in OH and other places in the midwest where they handle pigs. I am not trying to be calouse here or anything there are real people that have died and that is sad.
However, there are a few other things that I would like to point out. All that I ask is that you read through this list then you can go back to watching Fox New tell everyone that the sky is falling and swine flu is going to be the next major global pandemic. Below are some citations about Swine Influenza from Wikipedia:

The CDC reports that the symptoms and transmission of the swine flu from human to human is much like that of seasonal flu. Common symptoms include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing, while runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported.[26] It is believed to be spread between humans through coughing or sneezing of infected people and touching something with the virus on it and then touching their own nose or mouth.[27] Swine flu cannot be spread by pork products, since the virus is not transmitted through food.[27] The swine flu in humans is most contagious during the first five days of the illness although some people, most commonly children, can remain contagious for up to ten days. Diagnosis can be made by sending a specimen, collected during the first five days, to the CDC for analysis.[28]

The swine flu is susceptible to four drugs licensed in the United States, amantadine, rimantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir; however, for the 2009 outbreak it is recommended it be treated under medical advice only with oseltamivir and zanamivir to avoid drug resistance.[29] The vaccine for the human seasonal H1N1 flu does not protect against the swine H1N1 flu, as they are antigenically very different.

So what does all that mean? Basically if you work with pigs (aside from the office jokes you could make) and think you might have the flu, you could have a different form of the flu that actually does already have a treatment. However drugs cost money so what can you do to protect yourself from inevitible infection? Read below:

Recommendations to prevent spread of the virus among humans include using standard infection control against influenza. This includes frequent washing of hands with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizers, especially after being out in public.[35] Vaccines against the H1N1 strain in the 2009 human outbreak are being developed and could be ready as early as June 2009.[36]

Experts agree that hand-washing can help prevent viral infections, a surprisingly effective way to prevent all sorts of diseases, including ordinary influenza and the new swine flu virus. Influenza can spread in coughs or sneezes, but an increasing body of evidence shows little particles of virus can linger on tabletops, telephones and other surfaces and be transferred via the fingers to the mouth, nose or eyes. Alcohol-based gel or foam hand sanitizers work well to destroy viruses and bacteria. Anyone with flu-like symptoms such as a sudden fever, cough or muscle aches should stay away from work or public transportation and should see a doctor to be tested.

So Dan, all I have to do is wash my hands? Yep. Pretty much.

Now that we have some information out there about how much easier it is to not get swine flue than it is to get it, let me share some death statistics. There were almost three times more vehicular fatalities in construction zones in the entire year of 2007 than have died from swine flu. Talking again about Mexico and the 158 people that died there because of swine flu, it is kind of an insignificant number compared with the 8,463 that were executed in Mexico’s drug war last year. I know that their war has gotten press time as well but I would say disproportionately. Do you see stories for the drug war 5356% more often? Or maybe you are going to say, well Mexico’s drug war doesn’t affect anyone that I know like swine flu could. You are possibly right, but if you are going to care about one statistic in Mexico you can follow a sequence of events and probably find a way that drug executions affect you.

Again, I am not sitting here trivializing the deaths of anyone I am just stating that from a standpoint of what should get covered and what is blown way out of proportion in order to sell more sensationalist stories they could have picked something with a little more clout. Bottom line: wash your hands. If you deal with pigs or poultry wash them again, problem solved. Now if only Fox News could find something worth reporting on.

What I am saying is this:

Flu spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands annually — millions in pandemic years.

We do not do play by play for regular flu which is way more lethal, so get on with life and report on something worth reporting.

Upcoming posts

April 25, 2009

So I looked and it has been a long time since I posted. Not that I have been sitting around, I have been really busy. So with that in mind I have been writing drafts of some posts that I will me releasing on your collective unconsciousness.
Look for probably 4 or 5 posts this week ranging from how to make backwashing your pool easier to a review of Kanye’s last album that I finally listened to.
Anyway. I am at church directing now so this will be all for now.

Pet Peeves: Language

March 14, 2009

No, this is not a post about swearing or cursing and it pervasiveness in our modern society. Although that could be a worthy subject on its own, I will leave it to someone else another time. This post is about people who think they are using “sophisticated” words or words that have more nuanced meaning but use them incorrectly.

Now I have probably been brought up with a skewed view of how to speak. My family is diverse in its understanding of classical languages, sentence structure and proper use of vocabulary. We actually used to have dinner conversation regarding parts of speech and the proper tense of words. I think that because I am aware that most people were not blessed with that kind of regular analysis of written and spoken word, I am able to let things slide the majority of the time. Every once in a while (maybe more to my wife to her great annoyance) I will throw out a correction on their use of a word if the meaning is truly different than what I think the person was trying to say. Usually, that person will respond with a gracious “Oh yeah, that is what I meant.” or something along those lines. However what really irks me is when that person rejects the suggestion when they are obviously without a shadow of a doubt wrong, or if that was indeed the word they meant, they are misusing it.

The situation was this. I was talking about websites with someone (who also happens to be a public speaker) and they were saying that their website was good for a while but it had gotten worse as time went on and their redesigns now were going backwards in quality specifically he referenced “It used to be like 1997 and now it is more like 1992.” The word he kept on using was digressed and I let it go the first time but then after the second time I said “Do you mean regressed?” and he said “No I mean digressed.” I let it go because I really do not know him that well yet and I did not want to have a discussion about it without some way to show him without a shadow of a doubt that he was wrong but it has bothered me since Thursday. For those of you who think that they mean the same thing and did not click on the link, regress specifically references the decrease or going backwards of quality of a specific thing, while digress is specifically used when talking about writing or speaking that has gone of topic. Digressions happen all the time in my high school small group and regression is what is happening to our command of the English language.

So does this all make me a jerk that it bothered me? I don’t think so I am just trying to help someone speak their own language corrctly. It is how I am wired. I strive for excellence and accuracy as much as possible whenever possible and I guess it bothers me when someone else does not. If you cannot say what you mean to say then why are you talking? Maybe that is why I don’t say much unless I am sure of what I want to say. But I digress.

Java: Portrait of a Dog

March 6, 2009

Those of you who watch family guy will recognize that title as the episode where Brian runs away from home because of an incident at a dog show and then eventually comes back after going on trial. Well this is kind of like that. Except instead of running away then being hauled away by the police and coming back at the end of a trial, Java ran away and was hit by a car going 50mph on a main road. Ok so those two are not like each other but I wanted to use the title.

We got a call on Sunday while we were wrapping things up at church and the guy on the other end just asked me if our dog was named Java because she had just gotten hit by a car. He said that he would stay with her until we showed up which was about ten minutes later. By the time we got there there were two more cars pulled over to the side of the road (it is a grid street six lanes plus the turn lanes, Higley and Germann for those of you who live in Phoenix) and several other people gathered around her down in the bike trail that is off the side of the road.

The account that the guy who called was that he was the car behind the car of the woman who actually hit Java and that she was hit so hard that she flipped and rolled over five or six times before finally coming to a stop. When the guy got out to see if Java was alright she got up and took off running. He chased her and so did a passing guy on a bike for about a mile before she finally started sucumming to her injuries and layed down which is when they got my phone number off of her tags. They were all so nice, giving her some first aid as best as they could from a first aid kit, waiting until we got there and even calling back later in the evening to see how she was doing.

We got there and it was pretty obvious that she was in bad shape, she was bleeding out of her nose and mouth a little bit but there was nothing really obviously wrong with her. But she was not moving and her breathing was labored and her heart was racing. I picked her up and brought her over to our car and we took her to the emergency vet (on a side note emergency vets charge twice as much for the extra one day a week they are open) where they immediately took her in and said she was in critical condition and the doctor was “not optimistic” about her chances to live.

I am not a “animal lover.” I make fun of those people who make dentist appointments for their dogs and put hats on them the same as you do. However, I am also not so cold hearted that I can just watch an animal that I have spent time training and that follows my every movement just bleed out and die on the side of the road. Well it turns out that according to the doctor she had some cuts on her liver and spleen and her abdominal cavity was filling with blood. We were allowed to go back and see her and it was pretty bad. She was all wrapped in compression bandages with a mask just letting in extra oxygen and the heart monitor showed her sustained heart rate at over 200bmp. Pretty much the doctor said that even if we gave them permission to do surgery or put her on a ventilator it was not likely to do any good.

So we decided that as long as we did our due diligence our conciences would be clear. We authorized compression and fluids and some pain medication and then finally left the vet waiting for a call to give us an update. That was at around 3:30pm.

We got a call at 7:30 or so that evening saying that Java had actually turned a corner and her heart rate finally was dropping back down to normal. By the next morning when we called, the vet said Java had been sitting up on her own looking around and was even walking and peeing (apparently the bladder getting crushed is the fatal part of getting hit by a car the majority of the time).

So we picked her up on Monday morning and she has been getting gradually better all week. She has been on some pain medication that we have for her and she has been out of it pretty much until yesterday afternoon. When I got home yesterday it was really kind of the first time that she acted more like she used to, coming over to the door when she heard the garage door open and wagging her tail a bunch when I let her in, chasing her toy that I threw for her.

It is good to have a dog that is such a beast. She does (not sure when this will start again) nothing but run laps in the back yard all day long. Most of the time Erin and I have just laughed at her being stupid and hyper, but I think that her overly strong heart and extremely toned muscles not only kept her heart going for four hours at 200bmp but also kept her from getting any breaks or fractures in her whole body.

So there you have it. Our dog lived through being hit by a car. She may be a bit crazy but it was kind of tough to think about not hearing her tag jingling when she would come running to my call.