Saturday, March 29, 2008

Energy Efficiency

We replaced all the windows in our house w/ new double pane vinyl windows last summer. I envisioned the gas bill getting cut in half. That hasn't happened. The bill shows your usage and the average daily temperature for the current month and that month in the previous year. I've saved absolutely nothing. My electric bill, however, has been about a third of what it was last year. I hoped that my windows were just confused and cut into the wrong bill, but the reality is that almost all of the light bulbs in our house are now CFL bulbs. So in review, thousands of dollars in new windows saved me no money, but $4 light bulbs have already saved me $100. I heartily recommend the light bulbs.

Legacy Of Ashes

I don't know how much you've heard about this book, but it's a history of the CIA through about 2006. It covers 60 years pretty briskly. There were a few events that I was interested in that this book covered in a page or two (Iranian hostage crisis, Watergate), but there are more in depth books out there if I get curious. Overall, according to Legacy of Ashes the CIA has never had a lot of success in any of its missions. Even when an apparent success happens (installing the shah in Iran in the 50's) it turns out to be a failure (Iranian-American relations for the last 30 years). The author splits the blame b/w the agency and the president. If you remember after 9/11, the intelligence community took a lot of grief for depending on technology to gather information instead of using good old fashioned spies. It turns out technology is the CIA's most successful endeavor, and spies on the ground have always been a weak point. The presidents have also consistently misused the agency for covert missions that suit their political needs. Since those needs change every few years, the agency has to reprioritize its talent to areas that they may not have any expertise in. That might explain the legacy of failure, but the CIA should depoliticize itself (hard to do b/c of nebulous funding) and work on impartially interpreting the evidence it gathers. That would be a good legacy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tourney Picks

I'll just give you the highlights. Kansas over UCLA in the final w/ Texas and UNC rounding out the final four. A few notable sweet 16 upsets are Davidson beating Georgetown and Butler taking out Tennessee. In the elite 8 I'm taking Xavier over Duke and Pittsburgh over Memphis. I had a strong run of picking 3 champions in a row a few years ago, but each year I finished in last for the people who picked the eventual champion so follow these predictions at your own risk.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Attention Basketball Fans

Dude, I was totally going to call you when Danny Green threw down that wicked jam on Saturday night except I didn't want to jinx it and I couldn't stop pumping my fists long enough to dial your number. But it's the thought that counts and I was thinking of you, unnamed blog reader.

I was listening to the Winthrop/UNCA game on Sirius radio and usually they broadcast the home or visitor's radio team (or sometimes both) but they had a guy there specifically for Sirius on Saturday. It was only one guy handling the action and man he did a good job. I started wondering why other schools don't do this, but I listened to Florida's broadcast of the Kentucky game on Sunday and they just had one guy doing the play by play (it was the Gator radio network and inexplicably you can still buy season tickets to Florida football b/c they heavily advertised those). Does anyone know if a one man booth is unusual for sports on the radio? I've listened to UNC, Duke, NC State, Wake, and UNCG this season and they all have 2 man booths. I don't know how popular sports on the radio are, but I like to listen to it if I'm in the car or it's not on tv (except hockey that's impossible to follow on the radio). The only one man booth I can remember prior to this weekend was the Greensboro Grasshoppers and I'm pretty sure that's a cost savings move.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Nothing Venture, Nothing Win

Sir Edmund Hilary has done a lot more in his life than you and I will ever do. First of all he climbed Mt Fucking Everest. Then they started calling him Sir (w/o adding you're making a scene). In his autobiography he comes across as a guy who is humbled by the accolades and opportunities that arose from being the first white guy to reach the top of a mountain. He seems a lot less interested in reliving that trip than talking about some of his other less famous adventures. I won't rehash the guy's life here, but this book inspired me to walk outside and find a path through the woods to Desmond's school. It didn't matter that I got mud all over my fancy walking boots. I felt the sense of accomplishment that I could shepherd my kids through a pathway to education. I don't feel that way after reading indie rock biographies, but Sir Edmund Hillary tells his story in a truly awe inspiring fashion. This is worth reading.