Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Research Park

in addition to the Parks, I've decided to add a series of photographs for Salt Lake neigborhoods. On the day I took pictures of This is the Place Heritage park I shot a digital role of pictures of research park. This area houses the super rich businesses associated with the University of Utah. I started taking pictures of Fort Douglas but my camera flipped out. mental note! If ever you get a new digital camera...do not drop it.

In unrelated news...I just added a hit counter to this page. It has only 8 visible digits. I hope that will be sufficient.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Parley's Crossing

This just in: For the second year in the row. My Back to School sales page is now officially a bust. The site had 87 visits during the back to school rush and zero sales. I really should be slapped silly for polluting cyberspace with garbage sales pages. At least money losing pages attract visitors. In that category, I added a Salt Lake Valley Parks page the Salt Lake directory.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Olympus Hills Park

I am finally getting around to uploading the pictures from this last year. It is amazing how much getting a new computer throws things off. For some odd reason, my compact flash card reader will not work with my new computer. The mysteries of science. Anyway, I am uploading and labeling the pictures for Olympus Hills Park. Winter 2004 was an exceptional winter.

Blog Changes

It's template change time again. The blog now shows archives in months and there are titles. I have yet to come up with worthwhile content...but form over function is what I've always said.
I watched an interesting program in which professors from the BYU Museum of Modern Art ripped to shreads Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code on KBYU. Dan Brown's book, of course, is a work of fiction. It centers on an intriguing premise that there had been an age old conspiracy to suppress the "sacred feminine." To make the book more interesting, the characters in the Da Vinci Code babble on authoratively about the sacred feminine, the holy grail and the likes. Science fiction allows us the ability to make "authoritative" alternative histories.

I admit, when I read the work, my first thought was that millions of readers might be imbibing this piece of fiction as if it were real. This is probably the closest that many readers have ever gotten to the study of Renaissance history.

There is an extremely long and unhealthy tradition of people claiming secret knowledge and powers in history. All of the third reich stuff was about secret trends in history. Problems occur when we accept compelling fantasies over real history.

Yet, I must admit that fantastical romps through history are also quite entertaining. Dan Brown has probably encouraged more trips to the Louvre (or local museum) than any other writer. The unabashed style of the work has obviously engaged millions in active conversation.

What intrigued me about the BYU broadcast was the overall vehemence with which the BYU scholars attacked Dan Brown's fiction. The introduction to the lectures made clear that this was the "LDS Perspective" on the book, and that the "LDS perspective" was not a happy puppy. (NOTE: you definititely do not want this book on display when the bishop performs his routine inspection of your library! If you want shelves of approved fiction that plays fast and loose with history, might I suggest Gerald Lund.)

Being a gentile in Zion, my perspective of BYU scholars defending the faith against Dan Brown was a battle of dualing fictions. The compelling divine secret knowledge of Da Vinci Code is competing with the divine secret knowledge of the seer, relevator and prophet...the epic battle for control of the mind.

After watching the BYU refutation, I decided to move the Da Vinci Code from the category of fun quick read to the recommended reading list. Historical science fiction can provide us with dualing interpretations of history that can help us clarify in our minds where history is reinterpretted by powerful organizations for their gain.

As the Da Vinci Code has spawned a great deal of interest in Renaissance art. I think it is extremely healthy that the academic community runs with the popularity of the book and actively engages the public with real history.

I guess I should end this rambling with a book I truly enjoyed. Aristotle's Children by Richard Rubenstein explores the preservation of Aristotle's work during the Dark Ages and the revival of the works in the scholastic period. Talking about truly powerful hidden knowledge...logic and natural science really are something worth noting. IMHO, the revival of the Aristotelian logic is the true beginning of modern western culture...nothing frees us from conspiratorial interpretations of history as logic and an committment to sound historical inquiry.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I spent the day replacing door knobs. Odd, but the holes for the door knobs in this particular house were all a bit smaller than industry standard. Some of the old door knobs were hammered or otherwise jammed into their holes...which is probably why they broke after just a few short decades..instead of lasting forever like good door knobs should.

Stop'em with a Schlage Most of the time was spent figuring out how to expand the size of the holes.

Anyway, the secret to replacing doorknobs is to take your key down and ask the hardware store to give you knobs that fit your key. Generally you can match keys if the knobs are made by the same manufacturer. This house in question had knobs from a variety of makers. The owner had bought two new Kwik Set knobs. The old knobs were Schlage and various nameless brands. Being kind, I ran out and bought more Kwik Set knobs so they match.

Monday, August 23, 2004

I've started compressing the photos on Protophoto;

This is the Place Monument

so I will be able to start adding new pictures. I took a quick set of pictures of This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City. I am compressing the images with a program called Easy Thumbnails. The program seems to be washing out the images. I prefer the image quality from Spinwave, but I don't want to spend any money on software until I get the income mess straightened out.

Anyway, I spend the day writing a program that allows me to upload and edit pictures in Protophoto. The next step is to upload last year's photos, label them, then hit the road for a new batch.
Next to the articles about the rising price of oil was one mentioning that Walmart is reporting a drop in back to school* purchases.

When it comes down to economic choices, I really wonder what choices American's will make? Will we choose to live less enegy intensive lives, or will we cut back on education, health care and other soft items.

Now, I realize most back to school purchases are superfluous. However, an article about decreased back to school sales sitting next to one about the burgeoning demand for fuel shows that we are making that choice. Hopefully we are just cutting back on the non-essential accessories to education, but I fear too many Americans would choose to gas the Hummer over their childrens' education.

(*yes, there is an absurd combination of commercialism and moral self-righteousness in this post...but is this not the way life is supposed to be?)
Rather than just calling oil a "drag on the economy," a truly proactive president would mention the need for conservation. The fact that we are wasting so much of our nation's potential on SUVs and RVs is the true drag on the economy. High prices is the way the market responds to wasted resources. The way the game works is we wontingly waste our natural resources until we are in crisis mode and, after Americans have significantly lowered the quality of life in the United States, some people start figuring out that the God-Aweful Hummer in the driveway is the reason for the decline.

To a large extent, the high prices of oil imports is the expected result of the devaluing of the dollar. As oil is usually traded in dollars, there was a hope that the US could devalue the dollar without affecting oil prices. It didn't work. Rising demand outside the US seems is determining the price.

With demand outside the US determining the price of oil, I wonder if we will see a large dip in oil prices this winter. The only long term solution that I see is for people to make better use of the oil they consume, and for Americans to structure their lifes so that they don't have to drive so far...but that won't happen without political leadership.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The New York Daily News reports that 46,000 snowbirds are registered in both New York and Florida, and that several hundred of said voters have voted in both elections.

"Of the 46,000 registered in both states, 68% are Democrats, 12% are Republicans and 16% didn't claim a party."

As this inaccuracy in elections might seems to be leaning toward the Democrats, it is unlikely to add to the claims that Bush stole the elections (unfortunately, both parties pull every underhanded trick in the book to steal elections).

With an increasingly mobile society, I suspect between state votes will just continue to increase. I know I tend to move between states regularly.
The Scream at Art.comSome one stole "Edward Munch's, The Scream. At least now we know what had the little guy in the painting in such a tizzy. He knew that someday he would be the victim of international intrigue. Personally, I suspect that the painting was stolen by Opus Dei in order in their on going efforts to suppress the truth of the sacred feminine. The other possible explanation for the primal scream is that the little guy realized that he was missing his other half.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Mont Pelerin Society is meeting here in Salt Lake City. I was not able to figure out any way to crash the events and apparently they are not holding any meetings open to the public. In this regard, I can see how the society has earned its reputation as a simply being an elitist club of the ultra rich. I like the organization message of defending classical liberalism; however, by excluding the public the society misses the point that the classical liberal ideals are inclusive...not exclusive.

Of course, I can see the need for organizations to limit access so the society can discuss and deliberate. The organization has posted some excellent papers on their sight. As I like the message from the organization, I opened a forum thread on slsites.com to discuss classical liberalism.

The original goal of the Mont Pelerin Society was simply to preserve the legacy of freedom during the cold war when the governments of the east and west were growing in scope and power.

My personal opinion is that "classical liberalism" needs to move out of its defensive "conservative" position and start becoming "liberal" again. We have to break the spell that freedom is slavery. Our society as a whole has to learn that freedom is liberating.

One of the greatest dangers I see is that exclusive organizations like Mont Pelerin have the tendency to devolve into being nothing more than aplogists for the ultra rich. For that matter, the society needs to address the issue of the increasing gap being rich and poor. Classical liberalism can not simply turn its back on environmental degradation, but it must have open dialog about the challenges of preserving wilderness and resources. Most important, the dialog of classical liberalism has to break free from the halls of a few small think tanks and break into society at large.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Forbes is running an interesting article on increased pressure for tech companies to increase dividends.

Basically, what has happened in the last several decades is that tech companies would hord all of their profits in these massive war chests. The problem is that companies often end up using these big war chests for rather absurd purchases. As such the companies end up consuming themselves. The corporations hording cash tend to squander their wealth.

Giving the money back in the form of dividends lets the investor decide how and where to reinvest or spend the profits. One advantage of dividends is that it forces the investor to actively reinvest or spend the cash.

The other way to distribute profits is for a company to buy back shares.

One big conflict is dividends deflate employee options. This creates an internal conflict for companies. Issuing a dividend reduces the the value of the options of the people that you actually work with.

BTW, this is one of the reasons why I don't think options are that good of a deal for employees. There are too many ways for the corporation to manipulate the corporate stock. Such imbalances also make for ugly politics. The stock holders (the actual owners of a company) have the added incentive for pushing for dividends in lieu of buy backs since the dividend decreases the total compensation received by the workers.

I am no longer a fan of employee options or employee ownership.
Personally, I think it is best for employees to minimize their investment in their company so that they are not dependent on a single income stream.

Monday, August 09, 2004

I added a make link program to Protophoto. The program creates the HTML for a thumbnail link to a picture. The vain hope is that people who want to use images from the site in forums or what not will use the thumbnail rather than linking to an image. Posting an image on a popular forum can really eat up my bandwidth.

I will probably be the only person to ever use the progam. At least it will make it easier to include images in this blog and other projects.

Last year, I ran out of disk space (and bandwidth) on protophoto. I found a program that lets me crunch images in batch mode. If I super compress the images, I should be able to make room for more images. The compression does well for landscapes, people, animals and plant close ups. It does not do well with images of trees, grass or other fractal type subjects.

I really need to put up my own server some day, then I would be able to have gigabytes of diskspace and could include the full images along with the compressed ones.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Oil prices hit historic highs. The stock market seems to be in a free fall as a the result.

The one biggest fault that I find with the Bush administration is that it is not using this increase in oil prices to push for long term reduction in our use of oil.

Conservation is not simply about having less...it is about structuring our lives so that we get the absolute most from the resources that we consume. In this regard, I think the steady increase in gas prices is actually healthy for the economy since it is focussing people's attention on efficiency. For that matter, one of the first jobs I had was to use information technology to help reduce the fuel consumption of a fleet of trucks. The rising cost of a resource created a need for people to figure out how to get more from the resources consumed.

I also had temp jobs in construction. The firms I worked for were actively eying the cost of materials. When the cost of wood was high, they would employ people to salvage the wood. When it was low, the wood added to the landfills. Pulling nails from lumber is not the best job, but it is worthwhile in that it shows a tendency to maximize the return from invested resources as the price of the resource rose.

I think it is the nature of humans to become destructive when the price of resources is too low.

Anyway, hopefully the rise in the price of fuel is getting people to think about ways to realign their lives and businesses to be less dependent on oil. Is is possible to shorten the commute? Or perhaps it is possible to own two cars: a economy car for every day travel, then the gas guzzling jeep for rare excursions?

Sadly, our fearless leader is not really taking this opportunity to push long term conservation. Oil prices are rising and Bush's circle of oil buddies are getting richer than ever. Bush looks at the economy. His circle of friends is getting richer than ever before. Nothing wrong here!!!!!!!

As for my get rich quick schemes (I really should call these a get to minimum wage quick scheme), I've added a Back to School page and a Earth Friendly products page to the various web sites. In my attempts to put your money where my mouth is, it seems that what I should try to do with the sites is emphasize quality over quantity and sustainable living.

Monday, August 02, 2004

The income side of the equation is still too weak. I've been very good about lowering expectations, but the old income seems to be lowering itself even faster than the expectations.

Anyway, I end up wasting the first several days of each month brooding over the income question. Yuck! Anyway, I was thinking of concentrating the money making schems in the area of personalized products. The area of custom engraving is a place where the internet can excel.

At least marketing takes up very little brain cells...it just eats up pride. Of course, none of the other little projects are going that well. I keep finding areas that I need to research before completing any of the other sites.