Friday, August 07, 2009

The Phone.

I just spent an hour trying to negotiate an online registration form. If I had just picked up the phone and called the number at the top of the screen, I could have been done in 3 minutes.

Never did finish negotiating that online form.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Digital Vs. Analog --

I got burned on this. A digital signal is still an analog signal. We live in an analog world. When the salesman says "You need a digital antenna!", he is most likely selling you a load.

The frequency that is being transmitted by television station for DTV are not the same as they used before, but they are still near the same band. The UHF frequencies ARE still the same band. It is the VHF frequencies that have been (are being?) sold for other purposes now.

Digital is just a great way of simplifying the transmission process. It takes a lot less discernment to "hear" the difference between "there" and "not there" than it does to hear the entire range of visual and audio.

Sunday, April 27, 2003 - Beijing closes public places over SARS - Apr. 27, 2003 As of Saturday, there were 4,836 cases of SARS worldwide, with 293 deaths, according to WHO figures.

Am I the only one (besides Fumento) that thinks SARS is a ploy of the UN to regain some of the esteem they have lost due to rational people taking action 12 years after it should have happened?

Watching FOX news right now, I almost got the impression that SARS was epidemic. Quickly I ran to

Top Story "Beijing closes public places over SARS".

Fearful that 100's of thousands of people had been struck down, I scanned the article. Buried down at the bottom were the number.

Total cases world wide: 4893
Total Deaths: 296

I couldn't find the duration of the "epidemic," but I understand it is more than a couple of months.

This doesn't mean I am going to go and breathe the same air as a SARS victim on purpose, but I am not going to stop a planned trip anywhere based on 5000 cases of anything after several months.

I understand that up to 40,000 Americans die every year from influenza. Using my advanced calculus techniques, this is about 100 people per day.

Fortunately, most people seem capable of handling the above numbers rationally. Just ask them them to put it in perspective and they visibly relax.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Controlling Medical Costs

I screwed up yesterday. My son went in for his one year physical. As the doctor was examining him, he noticed that my son's spleen was larger than he thought it should be. The doctor considered having a CAT scan done, but settled on an ultrasound. We consented to the test, along with a blood work up.

I admire the doctors throroughness in his job, but I am now questioning my attentiveness in controlling medical expenses. Hey... it was covered by insurance, why should I worry? This is the exact problem with the medical system at this time. Since the money isn't coming out of my pocket, I don't check it before deciding what tests I am willing to pay hard earned cash. The Ultrasound will cost approximately $400 (at least that was what it was last time). I don't know what the blood work will cost. The end result of the test was negative, but we will also be visiting the doctor again in 6 weeks so he can feel the spleen again.

If I had been more attentive, I should have discussed the options with the doctor a little more thoroughly. Just waiting 6 weeks and letting the doctor see him again may have been a more cost effective and reasoned approach. My son had no other indications. Happy, lively, active, rambunctious, eating, drinking, pooping and peeing. A couple of mild sicknesses so far, but nothing out of the ordinary. Apparently, spleens have been known to change sizes in babies as they are growing. Maybe 6 weeks would be too much, but 3 weeks probably wouldn't have been. If the enlarged spleen was still a concern at the slightly later date, we could start to be a little more concerned and take more significant steps at clearing the spleen.

Another options might be to reduce the cost and increase the availability of testing techniques. If techniques like digital ultrasound, CAT, XRay, and MRI are adopted, then significant cost savings can be achieved (just through the loss of the media maintenance). Other means can also be used (smaller, cheaper, machines available on demand).

The only problem with cheaper tests is that they can lead to even worse abuse.

Healthcare must be the responsibility of the patient not the doctor. We must be the ones determining what drugs we take, what therapies to undergo, and how we live our lives. When a doctor wants to give you a test, ask him how much it is going to cost and what the alternatives are. I got tested for strep several months ago. The doctor gave me two swabs. A 15 minute test and a 24 hour test. Each cost $80. If I had known this ahead of time, I probably would have just had him do the 24 hour test (since it is apparently more accurate). I can suffer the night for $80.

I will strive to minimize the cost of my healthcare to my employer. I hope that all who read this will do their best also.



A good discussion of why DU is not likely to have caused cancer in the balkans.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

AlterNet: A Hydrogen Economy Is a Bad Idea Currently, a Toyota Prius may get 5 percent of its overall energy from its batteries and could only go a mile or so as a zero emission vehicle. A second generation Prius might get 10 percent of its energy from batteries and might have a range of 2-3 miles. Why not encourage Toyota and Honda and others to increase the proportion of the energy they use from the batteries?

Amazing ! Somehow a vehicle that doesn't get a charge from the grid gets 5% of its power from the battery. One of the unique skills they taught us in engineering school is how to draw a box. Such a simple tool a box, but incredibly useful. In this case, we draw a box around the car. We then evaluate how energy enters and leaves the boundary created by the box. From what I have read about the Toyota Prius, the only way that energy crosses the boundary is in the form of Unleaded Gasoline. Hence, not one joule of energy comes from the battery. All of the energy comes from the fuel which is converted into mechanical energy by the Internal Combustion Engine.

No matter what Honda and Toyota do with their battery in this car, they will never, ever make the battery provide any net energy into the system. The whole reason for the batteries existence is to provide acceleration when an extra punch is needed to get the car moving or to get it to pass another vehicle. By using a battery, they were able to use a smaller engine. Smaller engine equates to greater efficiency.

Although the author of this article is generally correct about the probable usefulness of a hydrogen economy, he doesn't quite understand the problems with "renewables" like wind and solar.

The master of numbers has this (bottom of page POWER MAD) about creating energy policy.
Time to throw out 'myth' of recycling -- The Washington Times Time to throw out 'myth' of recycling

Hey look at this, a group of Environmentalists are finally starting to make sense. They are starting realize a simple rule of resource management:

If it costs more to recycle something than it does to make it from raw resources, don't bother recycling.

When I lived in Idaho Falls, the recyclers didn't collect glass. There was a very simple reason. It cost them $30/ton to ship to the nearest glass consumer and they could only get $20/ton from that consumer. Here in Hull, WI they don't collect white or colored paper for same reason.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Times Online has a nice little piece about the silliness associated with "green" power. A little black duck living in Carmarthen Bay will be quackers with fear over the Government?s energy White Paper. Although, the Cabinet wisely refused to commit itself yesterday to the much-hyped target of generating a fifth of our energy by 2020 from so-called ?renewables?, like waves and wind, it still presented a vision of our little island covered by giant wind-farms. But, the unpalatable truth about most ?renewables? is that they are no more ?green? than coal, oil, gas, or nuclear, which at least have the merit of working.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

The Weekly James Because the question is not whether there will be more attacks. There will be. The question is whether we can survive them and still maintain an open society. What good is it to have Osama trapped in a basement somewhere if, by just whispering a few threats on Al Jazeera TV, he can trap us in self-sealed rooms?

No good at all, which is why the only survival purchase I've made since Code Orange is a new set of Ben Hogan Apex irons, and why my all-American survival kit would include: a movie guide, a concert schedule, Rollerblades, a bicycle ? plus a reminder to attend your local PTA meetings, Little League games, neighborhood block parties and your book club and to get plenty of tickets for your favorite sports team.

I am not going to buy a new set of clubs, but I will be hitting a bunch of golf balls as soon as the snow clears and i can find the ones I already hit.