Thursday, January 29, 2009

T.M.I.

A lot of people ask me why I'm not on MySpace or Facebook. T.M.I. Too Much Information! Actually, I'm not on MySpace because I don't want to end up on Dateline NBC talking with Chris Hansen. So why am I not on Facebook, or Linkedin, or Twitter, or Flickr or the thousand other "networking" websites out there? Well, how many websites do I really need to be managing? I've already got this blog, my YouTube page, not to mention three e-mail addresses which is enough to keep me busy for at least an hour in the morning.

Maybe I'm turning into one of those conspiracy theorists that thinks the government is watching my every move and knows where I am. No, I don't care if the government knows where I am (because I already know they're watching me). But, I do care if some psycho I've never met gets on my Facebook page and sees that I'm going on vacation for 5 days. Say you use Facebook, and you also use Whrrl, which lets you cross-post to the microblogging platform Twitter. Then Twitter gets piped to all sorts of other places. So you update your location in Whrrl, the message goes to Twitter, then to Facebook, then your blog, the next thing you know, your home address is on your Facebook page, where you just told the world you're leaving for 5 days.

My iPhone automatically embeds geodata into photos, which means each picture has the exact latitude and longitude at which it was taken. So let's say I took a picture of my new flat screen television, my new $4,0000 mountain bike, and my brand new car and uploaded them to Flickr (a popular photo sharing website). Now, if the same psycho on Facebook saw that I was leaving for 5 days, he could, with just a few clicks, get driving directions right to my place. A few more clicks and he could have a pair of gloves and some lock picking tools shipped right to my house.

One of my favorite hobbies is mountain biking. So let's say I call in sick for work in favor of enjoying a nice summer day, not that I would ever do such a thing. Then, I decide to post this cool new route I found online for others to see. Now everyone, including my boss, can see that I was out mountain biking at noon on Thursday instead of working.

I guess it's a question of privacy. I know I don't want strangers knowing that I'm going to be leaving my house unattended for a week. But do I really want everyone to know where I'm having lunch today and with whom? Not really, by the way, today I'm having lunch at home by myself. Come on over!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Global Warming, Cooling, and Cat Videos

I awoke this morning to a beautiful day filled with blue sky and a lot of sunshine! If the windows hadn't been closed I'm sure I would have heard birds chirping and kids playing. Well, that's what I may have heard if it were summer. Unfortunately, in Minnesota when it's January and the skies are clear, it's usually a sign that it's cold outside. With my hair shooting off in 30 different directions, I staggered downstairs in my pajama's, grabbed a bowl of cereal, and turned on the television. I tuned into the last bit of the morning news and amidst the school delays, I noticed the temperature in the lower corner of the screen read -18 degrees Fahrenheit. I thought maybe my eyes were still blurry from just waking up. Nope, it's -18F outside! Brrrrr! It got me thinking about global warming, if the planet is warming up so much, why is it eighteen degrees below zero!?

A few weeks ago, I was talking to some co-workers and they were talking about having to get their airplanes de-iced in Houston, TX. They said it was a horrible mess with hours upon hours of delays because the Houston airport isn't set up for de-icing like cities further north are. I talked to Captains that have been with the company for 20+ years who said they have never had to get de-iced in all their years of flying in and out of Houston.

In Frazee, MN, the dogsled races they have every year have been cancelled because of too much snow! Apparently, there's so much snow that officials can't groom the trails and it poses a danger to the dogs. It makes me wonder what kind of sled dogs these are if they can't run in a lot of snow. Isn't that what they're supposed to do for people (like Eskimo's, for example) who are actually using them to get around. By the way, I like the name of that town....Frazee. It sounds a lot like those frozen juice tubes that you had has a kid, I think that's a "freezie" though. I'm sure the kids in Frazee aren't sucking down too many freezies this time of year.

An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune reviewed the weather of 2008. They noted that Two Harbors, MN received a record 51.4" of snow and Fargo, ND received a record setting 33.5" of snow in December which has officials worried about springtime flooding. It also states that Minneapolis/St Paul had it's coldest December day since 2000. In May of 2008, after four months of below average temperatures some of the lakes were still covered with ice for the walleye fishing opener. By the time the ice melted off the lakes, June was the fifth consecutive month with below average temperatures which hasn't happened in 29 years. Hey, weren't we worried about global cooling 29 years ago? Even the summer was cold, in August the high in Worthington, MN was 93 degrees. That's pretty warm, but it was one of the three lowest readings since 1891.

I remember sitting down at a bar in New York City once talking to a scientist from Toronto, Canada about global warming. He explained to me how humans have very little effect on the earth's temperature. He said, "The earth has been in warming and cooling cycles (thanks to that big fireball in the sky) for thousands of years." I know that's "a story from a guy who heard from a guy in a bar..." but read what former NASA Advisory Council Chair Jack Schmitt wrote to the media:

"As a geologist, I love Earth observations. But, it is ridiculous to tie this objective to a 'consensus' that humans are causing global warming in when human experience, geologic data and history, and current cooling can argue otherwise. 'Consensus', as many have said, merely represents the absence of definitive science. You know as well as I, the 'global warming scare' is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making. It has no place in the Society's activities."

Does anyone have the records from 1492? Maybe Columbus recorded temperature on an hourly basis while he was sailing the world. I'd even be happy if our founding fathers recorded some temps from 1776 while they were signing the Declaration of Independence. Maybe the three wise-men paid attention to the temperature while they were walking to see baby Jesus.

Now, I know the earth has warmed a little bit. Approximately 0.74 degree Celsius (+/- 0.18 degree) in the last 100 years. Wow, 0.74 degrees +/- 0.18! That's a 26 percent margin of error, isn't it?? I also know that computer models are predicting global warming. But aren't computer models dependant on the humans who write the models? I'm guessing that the guys who wrote the models have an opinion about global warming as well. Plus, I'm not sure we should be basing our future on the same device that brings me to YouTube to watch videos like "Probably the Funniest Cat Video You'll Ever See."

Maybe in the future we'll be able to control global warming (you know, just like we can control the tides). In that case I'd like to request for about a 40 degree warming in the winter and maybe a 15 degree cooling in the summer. Otherwise, how am I going to have enough time to spend on my cigarette boat that I towed 3 hours to the lake with my H1 Hummer?