It’s Not Over Till The Fat Lady Eats All The Halloween Candy

Monday, 1 November 2010 02:25 by The Lunatic

My family loves Halloween. It’s our favorite holiday of the year – we get to decorate the house, wear costumes, go to parties ... and eat candy.

Lots and lots and lots and lots of candy.

In a society of bulging waistlines and bad eating habits in general, I really wish we could go just a little easier on the candy at Halloween.

I mean, what’s wrong with giving out only one small morsel to each trick-or-treater that comes by, instead of big handfuls?  What’s wrong with running out at a reasonable hour and saying “sorry, we don’t have any more” instead of buying so much that you’re stuck with pounds of leftovers?  What’s wrong with giving out something healthy, instead of candy, or a “trick” like some families used to do when I was a kid? (the idea used to be that you’d give out a trick … OR a treat.)

Sure, it’s just one day a year – but we have more candy sitting on our counter than I’d normally let my kids eat in an entire year.  Seriously. Maybe two years.

I tried to be reasonable.  I tried to get a small amount of candy, and supplement our offerings with little bags of pretzels. But my own family rebelled.  They turned on me. They ridiculed me More...

Tackling the Healthcare Issue

Monday, 25 October 2010 06:10 by The Lunatic

Newsflash: The cost of healthcare in America has been out of control for many years and we really need to do something about it!

Ok, so this isn’t news. And we already have the all-new healthcare reform legislation which fixes all our problems, right?

Unfortunately, this new law – officially called the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (PPACA) but more affectionately referred to as “Obamacare” – has some problems, and now a few people are lobbying to ditch this plan so they can come up with something different.

Part of the problem with baking up a new healthcare plan is that there are so many fingers in the pie, all with vested interests – you have the healthcare insurance companies, malpractice insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, hospital owners, nurses unions, lobbyists, medical licensing boards, government agencies (FDA, HHS, CDC, VA, CMS, etc), the politicians (who love to shoot down whatever their opponents propose, no matter what it is) ... and let’s not forget the doctors and the patients themselves.  It really is fundamentally IMPOSSIBLE to implement any reform that won’t upset someone in the chain. It’s a political nightmare, and everyone knows it – but something has to be done. More...

Books, books, books, books, and more books

Monday, 4 October 2010 05:49 by The Lunatic

Our container with all our belongings arrived two weeks ago, and we're almost finished unpacking. It’s nice to finally be getting settled in to our house.  Last night, we got started on the last big part of the process that needs to be tackled: The Books.

I've never really considered myself to be an avid reader, to me it's just a part of life.  It's like saying you're an avid breather.  Yes, I like breathing and I manage to do it on a regular basis, even with everything else going on in my life. That's how I've always felt about reading books.

But as I'm unpacking my library, I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the boxes and by trying to decide where to put all the books. And this is after doing a massive weeding out of my collection when we left Bellevue five years ago – I probably got rid of more than two thirds of my books at that time, only keeping the ones I really like or have specific sentimental value, or ones I might want to read again or refer to in the future.

I just did quick count of the books I unpacked last night, and I've read about 300 of them. So how many books have read in total?  Let's assume I've read two books a month since I was 10.  That would be 37 (years) times 12 (months in a year) times two (books per month), equals 888 books. I'm not really sure if this estimate is high or low. And if it’s about right, More...

The Crazy Price of Video Cables

Wednesday, 15 September 2010 15:02 by The Lunatic

In years past, when you purchased a VCR or a DVD player, it would come with a video cable so that you could go home, connect your new player to your TV, and immediately start watching.  It was usually a cheap combination audio/video cable – not very sturdy, but it would get the job done.

If you purchase a new Blu-Ray player today, however, you will find that not a single cable is to be found in the box. A high tech Blu-Ray player should really should at least come with an HDMI cable (High Definition Multi-media Interface, the preferred method of connecting any HD video source to a digital television).

 A decent quality cable costs less than fifty cents to make. Are the manufacturers just getting cheap?  Trying to cut corners?

Nope.  They’ve stopped including cables because More...

Categories:   Economics | Miscellaneous | Science
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (2) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

All You Can Eat for $10.99! But should you?

Thursday, 26 August 2010 07:46 by The Lunatic

I’ve been back in the USA for two weeks now, and I’m still adjusting to a few things.

For the past year, my family has lived in Switzerland – and the whole time we complained bitterly about the high cost of food there.  Buying groceries to eat at home is expensive enough – but going out to a restaurant?  It’s completely outrageous.

The hot lunch program at our kid’s elementary school is a great example of food prices in Switzerland.  The “normal” school lunch was $10 – or you could get a “small lunch” without side dish or dessert for $7.50 (but it did come with a drink).  The third option was a plain hot dog in a bun for $5.50 (no drink included).

To put this in perspective: if we bought More...

Categories:   Social Issues
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

The Well Travelled Joint

Sunday, 15 August 2010 01:14 by The Lunatic

I’ve never tried pot.

It’s not that I have any moral objections to Marijuana , and I really don’t care whether it’s legal or illegal – it’s not a big issue to me. 

The reason I have never smoked Marijuana is the same reason why I don’t smoke cigarettes: I just can’t understand why anyone would willingly inhale the soot and tar and ash of burning carcinogens into their lungs.  Blech.  You might as well suck on the exhaust pipe of your local city bus for all the good it’s going to do for you!

Back around 1985 or so, I was staying at a friends house for a few days and he asked if I wanted to smoke a joint with him.  I politely declined, but he was persistent.  More...

Past The White Cliffs Of Dover And Off To America

Thursday, 5 August 2010 02:23 by The Lunatic

I’m writing this blog posting whilst sitting in my stateroom aboard Cunard’s flagship ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2 – enroute from Southampton England to New York City (coincidentally, it’s the exact same route that the Titanic was taking ... hmmm.)

We are moving from Switzerland back to the US.  This is our third year in a row (and fifth time in six years) that we are moving to a different country. And yet again, we will have to live out of suitcases for a month or so while we wait for the container with all our household belongings to arrive at our new home.

Exactly a year ago, we moved from Washington DC to Switzerland. It was supposed to be an easy trip More...

Categories:   Miscellaneous
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (7) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

The Future of Communications

Monday, 26 July 2010 17:43 by The Lunatic

 

I just got back from a one-week excursion to Washington DC. I had two objectives for this trip: buy a car, and find a house to live in (since we are moving back to the USA next month.)

Buying a car and selecting a house to lease in one week is difficult enough – but it’s even more problematic when the rest of your family are on another continent. I needed to keep in contact with my wife and kids three or four times a day as I scouted out different neighborhoods and looked at houses.  To make matters worse, I didn’t have my cell phone with me since my basic calling plan (discussed below) doesn’t have international roaming.

So it was Skype to the rescue!  Calling home to Switzerland on Skype is only 2.1 cents a minute, and if the internet connection is good, the voice quality is indistinguishable from a regular phone call.

The problem, however, is More...

Categories:   Miscellaneous | Science
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

How big is a Googol?

Thursday, 3 June 2010 12:00 by The Lunatic

 

My eleven year old son has been fascinated with large numbers lately.  He’s asking all the typical thought provoking questions that precocious eleven year olds tend to ask, like “how many stars are there in the universe?” and “how long would it take to walk to Alpha Centauri?”

And of course, the number Googol is always a great benchmark, as in “Are there more than a Googol water molecules in the ocean?”

So, how big is a Googol? I came up with the following example to explain to him More...

Categories:   Science
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (8) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

The Penn & Teller Incident

Sunday, 2 May 2010 02:33 by The Lunatic

I just recently found out that almost all of Penn & Teller’s “audience participation” card tricks involve the three of clubs. It’s some kind of an inside joke that's been going on for years.

It's funny, because I remember that specific card. They had a show in Seattle - on December 18, 2002 - which was SUPPOSED to involve the three of clubs. Unfortunately, the trick was foiled by a certain Half Baked Lunatic dressed in a tuxedo :-)

It was our anniversary, and my wife surprised me with a night out on the town. We started with a nice dinner, accompanied by an expensive bottle of wine. After dinner, she directed me to More...

Categories:   Miscellaneous
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (1) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed