rambling xcience

Maybe we get buried in our own crap before we get buried in the dirt

A short while ago I mentioned a Filter of Decrepitude (blood plasma dilution has a beneficial effect). This keeps turning over in my mind . . .

I was reflecting on the positive results from the dilution of plasma study.

When I describe this to other people I have come to rely on an analogy to automotive technology. As an engine or transmission operates you get metal-sliding-on-metal generating minuscule shavings. Even with lubrication. (there are also chemical changes with aging and over heating that cause the lubricant to become less effective)

These shavings are present in the lubricant and over time the loading increases if the fluid is not replaced. At some point this material in the lubricant begins to turn the lubricant into a slurry with abrasive quality. That wears the metal parts down faster increasing the metallic debris loading in the fluid which increases the wear which increases the shavings load . . . at some point it’s almost like a positive feedback loop and speed of wear and degradation accelerates.

Of course that’s not how the immune system works but it gets a certain picture of creeping decrepitude into their heads and I follow that up with this:

Of course your body isn’t metal but what does happen with age and living is the cells breakdown and you get cellular debris. Fragments of cell walls floating around. Worse is the biochemical constituents from inside the cells – some of those are damaging to other cells if they are floating around and able to touch outer cell walls of other cells.

So we get an increasing loading of the debris of cellular destruction and whatever other chemicals might be wrongly generated by incorrectly operating systems within our bodies. By that I mean the byproducts of life style choices or disease that produce inflammation which damages more cells. Hormones gone wrong. Organs malfunctioning. Over consumption of the wrong materials.

Now think about that from the immune system’s point of view.

Here’s a list of things that change with our immune system as we get older (courtesy of Aging Lowers Your Immunity.)

  • The thymus, which is located behind the breastbone, is one of the organs of the immune system. The thymus is where immune cells, white blood cells, called T lymphocytes (T cells) mature. The thymus begins to shrink when we are young adults. By middle age it is only about 15 percent of its maximum size.
  • Some T cells kill antigens directly. Others help coordinate other parts of the immune system. Although the number of T cells does not decrease with aging, T-cell function decreases. This causes parts of the immune system to weaken and increases the risk for becoming ill.
  • Macrophages, which are white blood cells that ingest antigens, don’t work as quickly as they used to. This slowdown may be one reason that cancer is more common among older people.
  • There are fewer white blood cells capable of responding to new antigens. Thus, when older people encounter a new antigen, the body is less able to remember and defend against it.
  • The amount of antibodies produced in response to an antigen is less in older people, and the antibodies are less able to attach to the antigen. These changes may partly explain why pneumonia, influenza, infectious endocarditis, and tetanus are more common among older people and cause death more often. These changes may also partly explain why vaccines are less effective in older people.
  • Later in life, the immune system also seems to become less tolerant of the body’s own cells. Sometimes an autoimmune disorder develops; normal tissue is mistaken for non-self tissue, and immune cells attack certain organs or tissues. Among the autoimmune disorders are: lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and ankylosing spondylitis.
  • Diabetes, which is also more common with increasing age, can also lead to decreased immunity.

Now that list shows a number of things that change with your immune system over your lifetime. If we use the analogy of a defensive army fighting off invaders we could say that over time the army shrinks, the soldiers aren’t as well trained or effective. Conversely the field of enemies that army faces increases.

As the army loses more fights there’s more cellular debris floating around from the damage those fights caused. The more debris there is the busier the immune system becomes trying to filter the chemical signals that warn of invaders from those of the debris. It’s gets swamped with all the work. Increasing work load on a decreasing, and less effective, defense system means at some point it cannot keep up and you get a major infection that kills the body or a cascading set of failures that cannot be stopped.

In that list above they mention “T-cell function decreases”.
I am curious if they have measured this with actual individual cells OR if they know this from statistical studies of immune systems functionality? Because the former means we know the cells are less effective on an intrinsic level but the latter might mean they are still individually effective but the growing onslaught of detritus they face blunts that effectiveness.

They also point out “Macrophages, which are white blood cells that ingest antigens, don’t work as quickly as they used to”. I ask the same question as I do for the T-cell functionality. Do we know that for sure or is it a deduction from bulk activity not measuring up to statistical predictions?

Another thing mentioned is “Later in life, the immune system also seems to become less tolerant of the body’s own cells”. I wonder if an increasing loading of cellular debris presents to the immune system an ever expanding palette of cellular components that it needs to analyze and decide which are self and which hare not-self. Breakdown the cellular machinery enough and at some point the contents of self cells and the contents of non-self cells starts to look more alike than different. Possibly the aging immune system gets confused because of this and slips into attacking certain self cells via a ratcheting that way over time.

So could it be that the process of diluting the plasma and reintroducing it into the mouse is helpful simply because it reduces the amount of material the mouse’s immune system has to face in order to do its job? Akin to changing the oil in your car?

I’m just following logical-sounding questions along a path of inquiry. I have no lab or training that would allow me to say I know with any certitude that this is what happens but I do wonder about it seeing as I’m approaching that immune system cliff (hopefully not too quickly).

rambling social commentary

Words that come out of my mouth

Every now and then I hear something come out of my mouth and I’m struck by how surprised I am to hear them. (or embarrassed)
In our Writer’s Guild’s last Zoom get together this fell out. I don’t know if it’s original to me or I’d heard it somewhere before but I was struck by it’s simplicity.

It’s hard to change your mind when someone else is doing your thinking for you.

As one of my friends pointed out: Finally something both the Left and Right can agree on


Last night my friend, Lorraine, and I were discussing a number of things and I remarked that it’s an unending source of amazement to me that so many people rely on others to supply them with an opinion or point-of-view on so many things without bothering to learn enough about the subject to form their own opinions.

She countered with reminding me that most people, unlike me, seek out groups they can become part of and groups tend to develop shared ideas, outlooks and opinions.

It was a bit of a jarring moment for me . . . I’ve long felt apart from everyone else, in a way that’s not visible or obvious, but I do go through periods of forgetting that. It took her comment to bring that back into focus.

Some background might be needed here.

When I say ‘apart’ I mean that I don’t look at the world in the same ways that almost everyone in my cohort does. It’s not an easy thing to describe without resorting to a list of examples which I’m not going to try and trot out. But here’s a simple ‘objective’ indicator:

When the Nintendo Wii arrived we purchased one. In the free (built-in?) activities there was one that wasn’t a game or utility. It was the ‘Everbody Votes Channel‘ – a question and prediction channel.

People, Wii owners, around the world were solicited for questions which would then be short listed and then posed to all the other Wii owners.

Questions could be simple binary answer ones like When you put your socks on do you put the left or right on first? Or Boxers or Briefs? Or CDs or Vinyl? After a day which side of a sock is dirtier? (inside or outside) and the final (the service was shutdown) question: When you sleep, your room is . . . ‘completely dark’ or ‘not completely dark’

You would look at the questions and if you chose to ‘play’ give your own personal answer (vote) and then a guess as to which answer would garner the most votes.

After a few weeks the ‘game’ would be considered closed and poll results could be viewed. For the individual ‘questions’ you saw the results and how they compared to your answers.

Over time the system gathered enough data to give you statistics on how you have ‘performed’ over a host of questions.

They showed you how many times you were correct or not (meaning agreed with the popular-by-count vote). And how many times you correctly guessed how the group would vote.

One of the ways they graphically showed this I found to be a striking external verification and example of how I felt ‘apart’. It showed an avatar of you on screen with a small town graphic representing the total group’s Popular Opinion. And it showed you at some Distance From Popular Opinion with that distance calculated from how many times your answers coincided with the group’s. you can see all of this in the images below.

Lorraine was always close in, within ‘6 meters’.
My Mii was way out 404 meters from the group.

It was the first time I’d ever encountered an external metric that coincided with how I felt my relationship with everyone else worked. I don’t know why I was always the last man standing in group living situations – once everyone else had hit the sack I felt something inside switch on and almost heard a voice say “Now they’re gone we can get to work”. (coding happens best late when no one else is up) I still don’t.

When I imagine it in my head I see a picture of a child looking in a picture window at everyone else having a celebration of some sort. They all just fit in with each other and I . . . just don’t. It used to bother me some but with age I’ve found it’s just one of those things you can’t change. If I could I wouldn’t really be me anymore.

On the plus side I find I have to make up my own mind on a lot of things others don’t even give a second thought to. Another thing I’m not sure why about but in this case I’m feeling much better about having my own mind and opinions that are mostly my own (I won’t say I’m immune to others’ influence).

So when I find that reality differs from what is in my mind I can change my mind without waiting for everyone else to get around to some consensus. Same with my opinion about things. And I hope I’m a bit less susceptible to obsolete POVs being propped up by charismatic group members seeing as I’m not really in any particular group, party, club or boat.

If you were looking for a deeper analysis of what it means to be part of a group and how that might affect your POV and your sense of identity . . . I’d only be speculating. Guesstimating based on observation from without without the experience of having to live it. So, no – you won’t find that here.

rambling writing

Syllabic Chop

Had an interesting experience today.

My granddaughter and I were talking around 9:30 in the morning … Just a normal morning conversation. When she asked me what I was doing today I said I’m getting ready for a Zoom meeting in a little while. She said “I’m having a Zoom meeting too.” with a smile. Now I’m almost 67 years old and she’s 7 and a half. “What time is your zoom meeting?” I asked. “11:00 o’clock.” she said. “Well I guess we’ll both be in zoom meetings at the same time for a little while.” She nodded as if this was an everyday occurrence.

When I was her age there was no Internet or Zoom. The only video communication anybody thought about was Dick Tracy’s wristwatch and that was a comic strip character’s fictional device. Telephones had dials and we’re connected to the wall by a wire. If your house had a TV it was probably black and white and only got two or three channels.

Now she’s 7 I’m almost 67 and two way multi person video conferencing is just something that people do. Science fiction become reality – Yahoo!

She asked me what my Zoom meeting was about and I told her it was a group of people that either had written books or wanted to write books. She said I write books. And she’s right – she showed me a book that she had produced not two days ago: 5 pages with a cover. Contents completely created by her. Kind of like a comic book – she’s getting better.

This led to a conversation where she asked me if I’d written a book and I told her I had a very short book and I tried to explain to her about the book. And in the conversation about that I got to ask her about a number of concepts that she would have to have in order to be able even understand what the book was about.

As we talked and I realized how much she had not learned yet, she is only 7, I made tentative tries at explaining some of these concepts and as I did I started to have a parallel experience of revisiting how I felt when I learned things for the first time that were what I would call hard to wrap my head around.

Concepts that I, at my advanced age of 66, feel like I’ve known my whole life started to pop up and say but you didn’t know me your whole life don’t you remember when … And it wasn’t so much the actual experience of learning those things that was coming back in, in the background, but the remembrance of the feelings of the frustration involved in trying to wrap my head around a concept that was completely foreign and strange to me and how slippery it was to try and get it. And feeling so stupid when I couldn’t understand things that, at the age of 10 or 11, I wouldn’t have to be exposed to until I was in University or College.

During the Zoom meeting I brought this up when we got to the point where we had exhausted things we’d written to read for the group. I think I said something to the effect that this is causing me to re-experience feelings I had long forgotten associated with Aha! Moments, okay they were not so much aha moments, but turning points in my awareness and knowledge of the world around me. Points and nuggets that sometimes had emotional luggage attached.

Then I had a little aha moment in my commenting on the wording of a sentence in one of the other authors’ readings. I had found the sentence to be a bit long and suggested some minor changes to shorten it up and to help get the point across about why I felt this was worth doing I coined a phrase that just came out of what I was seeing in my head at the time associated with what I was trying to explain.

That phrase was syllabic chop (I am surprised that the dictation software got it right but maybe that means I did not coin this phrase – Oh well. I just googled it and it didn’t appear that any uses of the term approximate mine so maybe I have coined a new term ;).

This is what I remember about explaining syllabic chop:

When you’re writing your story part of what you’re doing is you’re weaving a new world that you want to have recreated in the reader’s mind so that the characters and events of your story have context and a setting.

Think of it this way: you’re describing places and things in your story’s world. Those parts of your written document are descriptors of let’s say little islands of your virtual world in the head-space of your reader. Your story is going to consist of a group of islands in that head-space and you have to not only weave that group of islands into existence but also connect them by the story itself.

So some of your story’s content will be describing those little islands while a lot of your story’s content will be connecting those little islands.

What I mean by this is that if you have a sentence that says something happened, somebody said something – some text like that – think of that as you moving your story from the island where it is, the readers head is right now, to the next island.

It’s not a bridge, it’s a little journey by boat – your words are the boat and the medium through which that boat travels. Your reader is the passenger.

Between those two islands there’s a channel of water. Your story fragment, a sentence or two, is like a little boat that’s carrying you across that Channel, and in order for the reader to make that trip across there – to follow you and not fall off the boat (literally lose track of what the writer is trying to get in the reader’s head), in order for that to work out . . . well you want that trip to be as smooth as possible. Or sculpted in a way that is by design.

Every Syllable in your sentence is like a little wave in that Channel and the more syllables you have the Choppier the channel becomes.

So maybe you want to try and reduce the syllabic chop that your reader has to experience in order to give them a smooth, and maybe a more true to your desired result, experience. So that you get into their head what you want to get into their head and they don’t get confused and frustrated.

I hope that makes sense.

astrophysics rambling social commentary

Stretching Conventional Wisdom Too Far

Today found me reading an article ( about research into the far distant universe.

In this case the research was “New research on giant radio galaxies defies conventional wisdom”.

The article begins with this summation:

Conventional wisdom tells us that large objects appear smaller as they get farther from us, but this fundamental law of classical physics is reversed when we observe the distant universe.

Now I understand conventional wisdom (CW) and why it would tell us that: CW operates within the scope of human scale thinking that has obtained since time immemorial to us humans. And yes things that are further away do appear smaller.

But CW appears to have suffered arrested development sometime in the 19th century (the era of Classical Physics) – before we discovered:

  • that light takes time to cover distances.  So the further away something is from us the light we see from it comes from further back in time.
  • that almost everything in the universe is moving away from us at increasing rates of speed the further it is.
  • that this universe we live in was once a small thing that experienced a Big Bang and expanded enormously (and still appears to be expanding)

My own version of CW knows these things and takes them into account. So when I read that opening paragraph I was a bit perplexed – why would anyone with the same basic cosmology education I got think that the things we see very far out there, from very long ago, would not appear to be larger?


Let’s see if my basic logic can help you follow this . . .

We think the universe is about 13.6 Billion Years old (13.6 GY) .
This also means that the edge of the visible universe is 13.6 GLY (Billion Light Years) from us.
That means when we see some object or structure 10 GLY from us the light was emitted 10 GY ago when the universe was just 3.6 GY old.

Good so far? (if not go back, reread and rethink about that – we’ll wait for you 🙂

Okay – this is where it gets interesting.

The universe is expanding.
Hubble was the first to discover that there was more universe our there than just what we saw in our galaxy. That the nebulae were actually other galaxies outside our own Milky Way.
He measured the spectra of their light and found that these were shifted towards the Red end of the spectrum.
He noticed that when he measured the red shifts of objects at inter galactic scales the further the object was from us the more red shift it had.
Meaning not only that these things are moving away from us (otherwise there would be no shift in the spectrum) BUT the ones further away are moving away faster than the closer ones.

Eventually we worked out that this is because the universe is expanding and has been since the beginning it apparently had.
One way to think about it is that measuring stick that once crossed the universe is still there but the gradations on its scaling are getting smaller in size and larger in number. (much the same as a dollar from 50 years ago is still a dollar today but due to inflation how much you can buy with it has shrunk – in both case we call this inflation)

At a very very early stage of the universe the structures formed occupied a certain fraction of the size of the actual universe.

At the age of 3.6 GY the universe was 3.6G LY in radius.
And let’s say that a large galaxy of 500,000 LY in size had formed and a monster black hole at its centre had been spewing and feeding the huge polar lobe structures we now know that they form.

These lobes are typically larger than the galaxy that spawned them. So let’s say these grow to 750K LY in size. Two of them plus the galactic bulge between could span 2 Million LY.

In a 7.2 GLY diameter universe 2 Million LY is a fraction of 2/7200 or 2.78×10^-10. That is the size and fraction of the size of the universe it was when if formed 10 GY ago.

Moving forward in time to Now.

The universe has expanded to 27.2 GLY diameter. This is approx. 3.778 times the size it used to be 10 GY ago.

All the structures that existed 10GY ago that do NOT have a strong gravity well to hold all their parts close in have also expanded in size.

So the galaxies themselves might have enough mass within them to keep most of their masses within their gravity wells . . . the ejected stuff further outside the well’s mouth will be subject to this universal expansion.

In the cases of Radio Galaxies the lobes of radio emitting gases and plasma may well fit in this category.

So lobes that were 750K LY in diameter would have grown to 2,833 LY in diameter after 10G years of expansion.

If you buy into the expanding universe you have to also buy that structures evolved Billions of years in the past cannot fail to appear larger now than old-style Conventional Wisdom would suggest.

When you look at the Wikipedia article ( on radio galaxies you will find this: “The largest radio galaxies have lobes or plumes extending to megaparsec scales”

A parsec is just over 3.262 LY. A mega parsec is 3.262 Million Light Years.

If we took our example radio galaxy and moved its birth back to 1 Billion Years in the life of the universe (12.6 GY ago) the expansion by now would have been 27.2 times instead of 3.7. So the 750LY lobes would appear to be 10.2LY across now.

Back when I was 12 years old (mid 60s) I learned about Hubble and the Red Shift and the expanding universe. Without benefit of a calculator I could still come up with a size and age of 12.5 GLY size and 12.5 GY age. Admittedly rough calculations by a child but this is how I’ve learned to think about the universe.

Why is that decades have passed – we’re even in a new millennium now – and that child has grown into a gray haired man but still our Conventional Wisdom is stuck somewhere before my grandparents were born?

Perhaps that is part of the problem our society appears to have in relating to science and technology. If you sound like you’re a scientist or know science you’re some kind of ‘elite’ and that’s a bad thing in the current political climate pervading society.

The idea that scientific fact and theory are being relegated to being ‘just another opinion with as much credence as the opinions of politicians and snake oil salesmen and charlatans’ scares the crap out of me.

Back when the Khmer Rouge emptied the cities they had a purge of \intellectuals’. Anyone who wore glasses was automatically branded an intellectual and sent to camps to be worked to death. Why? Because they could read . . .

When I see the wholesale discarding of science and scientists in favour of political expedience; denial of evidence based predictions because they prescribe hard-to-do solutions; I have to ask how did we come to this?

People want the world to make sense.

If the brightest brains tell them the world is so strange that they would not understand it even if they could understand the science all they hear is: you’re too stupid to understand this stuff – leave it to us. (which implies a classification-by-smarts system where the scientists are smarter and therefore in a higher class)

I know most scientists aren’t out to lord it over the normal people but that’s one possible take-away that non-science people get.

In better times they might get other, less negative, take-aways . . . but not now. Now there’s so many ‘alternative truths’ floating about being spouted by ‘truth tellers’ it would be very hard for the uneducated to filter out the crap from the facts. And most of those sources push some form of the negative take-away. Reinforce the idea that you cannot trust science and scientists. And most of those web denizens are engaged in reaching out to the non-science-people in the world. Like most media outlets they make money from the eyeballs and views and clicks they garner. So the more egregious and outlandish or scary the claims they make the more money they make. Truth is secondary.

A good education is pretty much free on the web as well . . . why most do not avail themselves of it is another issue.

I wasn’t trying to be preachy – just scratching an itch.

coincidence rambling

Coincidence or ?

I’ve subscribed to a few YouTube channels, mostly science and technical stuff. And when I have the time I’ll watch what they put up.

I just watched a video by Veritasium on the question “Is our food becoming less nutritious?”

At the end of the video I paused playback and a few seconds later my eye caught something. In the suggested videos on the right one of the thumbnails had a guy in it that looked very similar to the guy in the end-frame of the video I’d just watched. Not identical but very similar . . . even to the shirt.



That other video, by Knowing Better, is here:

I watched both videos to the end. I learned some things in both, was also entertained a bit too.

But it the back of my head a little voice asks the question: Did the YouTube AI take into account visual similarities as well as topical content similarities when assembling this suggested videos list?



Is Washington Working?

Last night I had this train of thought run through my head.

Since he has been elected President Trump appears to be ‘getting things done’ by Executive Order. Each day that goes by he’s signed E-O’s to make things happen. And the media dotes on this. And on his tweets. And on scrutinizing and questioning what his Press Secretary says next.

Then a little voice says “But sooner or later he has to work together with Congress and get things actually done, doesn’t he?”

Which left me wondering if they, Congress, are sitting there spellbound like the rest of the world waiting to see what he does next. What he says or tweets next.

And then I mentally ‘stepped back’ and thought about the Government as a whole.

He has fired every Ambassador and as far as I know replacements aren’t ready and on their way to embassies in foreign lands.

He’s put a hiring freeze on for civil service positions. And he has transition teams visiting all these government departments looking for cost cutting measures and means. Imagine what its like to be in one of those offices when that hatchet team arrives . . .

He’s put a stop to external communications by government departments primarily because he doesn’t like it when they counter the ‘alternative reality’ he appears to live in.

I remember when our little town had its last election and the new administration spent its first couple of months embattled with the community and morale at city hall got bad. People were worried about what might happen next and not a lot of forward progress was made during that time. Mistakes were made by people under stress. It was a dark time down at City Hall.

So with the Chill that Trump and friends have thrown into the Civil Service and the distraction He has become I was left wondering how well Washington is working these days . . .

UPDATE: Just 2 days after posing this question I see this headline in the Washington Post: The State Department’s entire senior administrative team just resigned
This is not good. Not good for the USA and since the USA is not alone in this world it’s Not Good for the rest of us either. I understand the feelings that might be pushing people to these actions but I have to ask Who will they be replaced with?
This may not be the only department of the government where this will happen. If good people with professional credentials are replaced ‘in a hurry’ how do we know their replacements will stand up for the truth, and all of America, and not simply be following Executive Orders?
At what point will otherwise law abiding working people completely stop trusting their government? Stop paying into it? Stop obeying it?
If all the non-sycophants turn their backs on government then the vacuum they leave behind will be filled with those whose only real qualification is following orders – yes-people . . . that’s not a prescription for a well functioning government that represents the best interests of the people. It’s not a government for the people, by the people.



So I just had a false Aha! moment. Or rather an Aha! moment that happened to be incorrect.

It happened at the end of the first show in the series Mr. Selfridge. As Mr. Selfridge and his wife walk away from the store (after it’s first day open) they are crossing the street in a diagonal fashion. The camera is initially a close-up just ahead of them backing away in front but then switches to another one further back so you can see the whole street and the few cars passing in the street and the pedestrians crossing the street.

And in a few seconds my train of thought went:

  • Note the people crossing at any point in all directions, jaywalking.
  • Note the lack of any road markings denoting pedestrian crosswalks – it is 1909
  • Thought: Gee I bet when they decided to restrict pedestrians to the new painted lines in later years it might have been hard.
  • Because those pedestrians would have been crossing at any place they want just like I see them doing in front of me on the screen looking like a bunch of crows, or a bunch of … Jays?

That’s when the Aha! moment happened.

Alas it was not to be. I checked and there’s no mention about birds. It was fun for a few moments. And I got to watch my mind make that split second connection and come to a conclusion that appeared to make sense even though it’s wrong.

Maybe I’ll use it in a story someday. Have one character explain to another character this alternate reason for why it’s called jaywalking. Then sit back and check every year or so to see if it’s penetrated the culture … am I that devious?

Do Jays even walk about? Well they likely do because they are members of the Crow family.


Driving in Winter

I grew up on the prairie where it gets down to -40 in the winter. The last 4 years I lived there I did the commute to the city, 45 minutes to town, 15 minutes in town. The same on the way back.

The times I saw the most accidents: Fall and Spring. On days that got warm enough to melt snow and ice followed by nights that got cold enough for ice to form I’d see the results the next morning. Cars and trucks off the road in many places. And as often as not this would happen in stretches with no turns or curves. At first I was perplexed but then I read a Volvo brochure and it all made a kind of sense. More about that at the bottom.

Anyway, now I live in the mountains. And it snows here too. Like last morning … I had to go to Trail BC (about an hour or so) and the roads were snowy. I ended up diverting to Castelgar on the way there and back to pick up a friend at the airport. By the afternoon I’d put in 3 hours of snowy, slippery mountain driving. Luckily I stayed on the road – I had no worries with good snow tires and 4 wheel drive. And fortunately I did not get pranged by anyone though I came close to piling into the backend of a semi along the way. You can see that in the video below. As well as the aftermath of two off the road single car accidents.

Those happened along the valley of the Columbia River. In the day time it’s a few degrees above freezing and there’s a moisture in the air. At night I’d imagine black ice is all over the roads.

And that Volvo brochure? In it they were going on about the features in their vehicles and one of them was a Do-Not-Auto-Shift switch for the Automatic transmissions.

Why would they have that you ask?
Well you can drive and maneuver on icy surfaces as long as your wheels don’t lose traction. You lose traction by holding the brakes on all of a sudden. The wheel stops moving and a slide begins.
You also lose traction if your wheels just change speed quick enough. Like when you find you are on bad ice and you slow down, way down, and somewhere along the way your automatic transmission shifts down a gear. And the torque on the drive system is strong enough that this new engine RPM, it’s now higher, is enough to break traction. And your car starts to slide and to you it doesn’t make sense – you haven’t DONE anything! So you sit there confused OR you compensate (but because you weren’t quite sure why the slide was happening you over compensate). And soon your vehicle is off the road and heading for the ditch.

Gotta love Standard Transmissions 🙂


I’ve become a public figure

Well it’s gotten to 1:20 AM and I’m finally swinging round to doing this post.

At points throughout the day the thought had passed through my head that nablopomo months with topics might actually be easier. Trying to come up with something to say does not always result in something that’s not just contrived on the spur of the moment to meet this daily blog post commitment.

It’s not as if I haven’t been busy with words among other things. I’ve put over 1300 into a missive on introducing my new course change for the society I head. And at some point it will get into the society’s G+ blog … but that’s not this blog and it’s not there yet. Looks like too much all at once so I have to spend time trying to refashion it into effective pieces.

And I recorded a local multi-group Dance Extravanganza evening show. A friend’s CanCan troupe hosts this event. This year there were dancers from local groups, a dance school and a celtic dance group from Kettle Falls in the states. I record it and make a copy for their purposes.

This year I gave it a plug about an hour before. Sent a pic of them setting up the stage and reminded people it was happening. That prompted some comments and queries. One person asked if I was recording it. Another asked if it would be on the web later … which caused me to have one of those ‘temporal snaps’. Like your head was so far down a path since you had last done something that you didn’t realize how far you had come. For me it was the realization that for a while now I’d been a bit replaced by someone else doing these and in the mean time a whole crop of people had become more aware of me because I was putting more and more video on the web. Now I’m coming to understand that they believe that if I record it then they will be able to watch it later on the web. Which normally would be so but in this case I’m doing it for someone else (and I have no releases from the dancers) so it’s not mine to post.

And in a strange way it dawns on me that I’ve arrived at a place I had wondered about before. A place in the minds of a growing number of people in my town that look to me as an extra pair of eyes on the things that are happening. Lately, and maybe this is just the election madness prompting it, people have stopped me in public to give me thank yous. And not just for the videos but for vocally taking a stand against idiots, and their idiocy, on Facebook and in the editorials I post. It’s kinda weird but I’ve become a public figure. They’re watching what I produce and reading what I say.

And I can see it in the way I write now. I mean this growing awareness of being paid attention to might have caused me to think about what I’m writing and how it’s affecting those I might be arguing with as well as those who might be on my side. It might be making me more reasonable and maybe even more diplomatic. I might be – gasp – growing up!


The difference a choice of word can make

This week I broke a news story related to the local election. Another local journalist had the story but he works for a print publication (newspaper) that comes out on Wednesday. We got the info on Monday morning and by the afternoon I had confirmed the first part, a name on the list of companies expressing interest in the water meter project. It was the same as a candidate for mayor. By late afternoon I had talked with the candidate and had him confirm it on the telephone.

I packaged that video with an intro and summation, uploaded it and posted it to the conversation thread I had begun, with the initial facts, on the Facebook page for the local election. I didn’t make an official post on my news site until wednesday when the paper came out.

Wednesday turned into a mess for my print colleague … all because they used the word ‘Bid’ when hey should have used EOI or Expression Of Interest. Apparently they are not the same at all … and the candidate was so angry he called his way up the food chain at the newspaper. Publisher and the CEO of the parent corporation. Now the paper is putting out a special, out of cycle, Friday edition. An abbreviated, almost all candidate / election content and a great big apology.

Given that they have a day to whip it together, get it to press, another to get it printed and back to town … I suspect the ad revenue will be next to nothing. And their long time display ad sales rep just parted ways with them to run in this same election. Which means it will cost likely thousands.

I worry for my print colleague’s job a bit. He might be worrying a bit more.

When I found out about this mistake I went back and checked my video. I used EOI consistently until the summary piece where I slipped and used bid. So I re-edited the video and just after the spot where I uttered ‘bid’ I paused it. While it was paused I run a big scrolling explanation of the controversy and the difference. Then I resume the video. That’s the only change. Oh, I kept the original and both have YouTube annotations explaining things and linking to the other OR the edit. And I added a section to my news site posting that explained this and shows both as well as an explanation of the difference.

What’s the difference? An Expression Of Interest is the first step where a company that might want to get a contract for a job will find out what is required and prepare the EOI application where they show what their capabilities are. The city then decides which of the EOI applicants meet the criteria acceptably enough to be shortlisted. These shortlisted firms are the ones who can then bid on the contract. At that point they will be explaining what will we done for what cost and how it will be done. Possible also what local labour and subcontracting might be done.

Why would someone file and EOI if they were not going to proceed with a Bid? Well in this case the candidate says he didn’t know the negative things about it when he filed the EOI. And before he was notified he had not made it onto the shortlist he was actively campaigning against the $1.3 Million program he had EOI’d. And because he was not shortlisted his company did not get to bid.