Saturday, April 30, 2005

Seasonal Backyard Blogging

I took this photo this morning out the back upstairs window. As you can see, it is lightly raining. The Dogwoods are about in full bloom right now. You can see the Vorlon Wife’s white Dogwoods on the left and a little right of center you can see the neighbor’s pink one.

Almost dead center in the photo is the neighbor’s Redbud. The Vorlon Wife has had rather bad luck with Redbuds. They grow for a while, but after a few years, they see to get some kind of disease and die off.

The trees are a little further along. Our Tulip tree, left center, has a ways to go, the Red Maple seems completed leafed out, and the Sycamores, upper right, are just starting.

As you can see, my hedge needs trimming. I bought new hedge trimmer last weekend, but I don’t think I want to go out in the rain to use electrically powered hedge trimmers.

This is a very colorful time of the year for Vineland, New Jersey.

Posted by Ted on 04/30/05 10:16 AM | Link

Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday Flowerblogging

There is a flowering Crab Apple just outside my office. I thought I’d put it in my Friday Flowerblogging series.

I tried several shots, but didn’t really like any of them. For one thing, I wanted to get a photo without have building or telephone wires in the way.

I decided on a close-up shot. That's usually my favorite anyway. As you can see, I’m still playing with the torn border. I like that effect.

Posted by Ted on 04/29/05 6:49 PM | Link


Vorlon Whispers’ two year blogversary came and went without notice. In looking back I see I started this silly enterprise on April 9, 2003.

At first I just called it Ted’s blog. I also didn’t really have any blogging software. I already had the web site I was mainly posting photos to it and anything else I was interested in.

I created my own blogging template from Microsoft FrontPage. It wasn’t too bad, but each month I had to do some maintenance.

I think it was some about October of 2003 that I moved to Movable Type (MT).

In some ways I miss Microsoft FrontPage. It does a lot of formatting a lot easier than the blogging software. Using Movable Type has forced me to learn some html – which I try to avoid like the plague.

I like MT, but blogging is still a pretty crude endeavor. I don’t’ see why I should be able to compose my entry in Microsoft Word to my satisfaction and then just click a button and have it posted to my blog. It should be that easy, but it’s not.

Posted by Ted on 04/29/05 8:51 AM | Link

The Press recognizes local bloggers

The Press of Atlantic City had quote from a local blogger. They said to send any links to any favorite local bloggers.

BTW, the quote from the blogger was rather a rant. I'm glad they didn't catch me in something like that. I also gather from the about 50 words from the quote that this is a left wing blog. It referred to the idiot president. That's a clue.

I wonder if the Press will highlight reactionary right wing blogs like . . . Vorlon Whispers.

Posted by Ted on 04/29/05 8:40 AM | Link

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Raven

This poem of Edgar Allen Poe was first published in 1845. It conjures up a scene of hopelessness, but is engrossing. I thought this might inspire a certain horror writer wanna be.

The bust of Pallas referred to in the poem is one of the Titans. Pallas is the son of Crius and Eurybia and husband of Styx. Pallas is the father of Zelus, Nike, Cratos and Bia. He is also occasionally considered the father of Eos.

Pallas is also an appellation of the goddess Athena (Pallas Athena) who, according to some accounts was the daughter of Pallas. In this version Pallas attempted to rape her and she killed him. From his skin she made the Aegis.

And now the poem
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow will he leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet violet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Posted by Ted on 04/28/05 8:58 PM | Link

Market Observations

The market continues to come apart at the seams. I remain safely ensconced in cash. This is a time to ride out the storm and wait for sunnier weather.

Keep you powder dry.

Posted by Ted on 04/28/05 8:06 PM | Link

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

What does the U.S. future look like?

Information Week has an interesting snippet about one of the things that's hurting the U.S. The Gates being quoted here is Bill Gates of Microsoft fame.

"The opportunity for innovation is stronger today than ever before," Gates said. But he added that the climate is also a "bit scary," noting that investment in education in the United States is eroding at the same time investment in research funding and interest in science are going down.

"I'm quite concerned that the U.S. will lose its relative position in something that is very critical to this country," Gates said.

The impact that's had on Microsoft centers on hiring. "The jobs are there and they are high-paying jobs, but we are not seeing the pipeline [of talented job applicants] as it used to be," Gates said. Instead, talented foreign students are either not coming to the United States to study or they're returning home for other opportunities once they graduate, he said.

Microsoft isn't finding an adequate labor pool in the United States, Gates said. Despite Commerce Department statistics to the contrary, he said, "Anyone who's got the education and the experience, they're not out there unemployed."

Tilghman argued that there's a paradox in American society about education. "The U.S. has the finest higher-education system in the world," she said. "What's failing is the K-12 system." She added, "By the time they get to us [at the university level] they are math-phobic and science-phobic."

Posted by Ted on 04/27/05 9:10 PM | Link

New eBay Purchase

I just received my latest eBay purchase. Well it actually came on Monday, but I had it shipped to my office and today was the first I’ve been there since last Friday.

This time I bought a London Fog trench coat. I wound up getting it for $0.99 with $8.95 in shipping.

The coat is virtually brand new. There is a little, barely visible, soiling on the front and one pocket is missing about four stitches, but other than that, it looks like it just came off the rack.

I am very please. For about $10, I got an almost new trench coat.

Posted by Ted on 04/27/05 6:36 PM | Link

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Photo Editing Software

My trial period with Adobe PhotoShop Elements has ended. This is my comparison to PaintShop Pro.

I’m running PaintShop Pro 7.0. The current version is 9.0, so you can see I’m behind in versions. I’ve gotten the hang of it pretty good.

A month ago, I downloaded (233MB) the trial version of Adobe PhotoShop Elements 3.0.

I rather like the PaintShop Pro better. It has many keyboard shortcuts that make it faster to use. I also like the way I can change the resolution in a Jpeg as I save it. I can also do that in PhotoShop, but PaintShop Pro lets me preview the photo so I can better tell how much I’m sacrificing.

PhotoShop has a better photo stitch or panorama program, while PaintShop Pro does not have that ability at all. The newer version, however, may have that feature. What I like about the PhotoShop panorama program is I can tell it to use perspective and I get a truer picture. The program I use now came with my Canon PowerShot A60. It’s not too bad

The one thing that attracts me to PhotoShop is the tons of Plugins that are available for it. There are also Plugins available for PaintShop Pro, but not nearly as many, as are available for PhotoShop.

I have not yet decided if I will actually buy PhotoShop or upgrade my PaintShop Pro.

What are your thoughts?

Posted by Ted on 04/24/05 10:12 AM | Link | Enter your comments here (2)

Swarming pallets from aircraft

From StrategyPage. Is this cool or what?

The U.S. Air Force has developed air dropped supply pallets that incorporate GPS and a simple system that controls the parafoil (a gliding parachute) so that the pallet can land at a pre-programmed destination. This was fine for a single pallet, but the most effective drops involve many pallets, often dozens, from several aircraft. So the Oynx system was developed, which enabled the many pallets in a “swarm” to communicate enough to avoid collision, and actually glide in formation. Tests have shown that an Oynx swarm can contain at least fifty pallets, each of which can glide up to fifty kilometers before landing within fifty meters of the GPS location they were programmed to head for. Thus a few C-17s could put over a hundred tons of supplies on the ground within minutes, with pinpoint accuracy, and little risk of pallets colliding with each other in the air.
Posted by Ted on 04/24/05 8:44 AM | Link

Saturday, April 23, 2005

What DOD thinks about the CIA

Here's another StrategyPage posting.

The Department of Defense never got the kind of intelligence services they expected, or needed, from the CIA, and have been gradually increasing their own intelligence capabilities. In Afghanistan and Iraq, military intelligence operators have been hiring thousands of local agents (as informants, spies, or armed mercenaries), and have a better idea of what’s going on at the ground level than the CIA does. The Pentagon does not want the CIA people to come in and screw up their agent networks.

Posted by Ted on 04/23/05 8:41 PM | Link

Ted's Web Site

Have you seen Ted's Web Site? No, not mine, but another Ted. It is very impressive – at least to me.

He’s got about 30 links on it. Look at his HTML tutorial. It is excellent. You should also play the Cat food song. It’s very funny.

Posted by Ted on 04/23/05 8:23 AM | Link

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Yanks and the Ruskies in the same foxhole

StrategyPage has this very intersting snippet.

The United States and Russia are sending teams of software, missile defense, experts to each others military facilities to conduct joint training anti-missile exercises. Both nations are exploring ways to combine their anti-missile defense efforts with those of other NATO nations. Although Russia is on good terms with Iran right now (because Russia is providing Iran with nuclear power plant technology), Russia also knows that hard liners among the Islamic conservatives that control Iran would love to fire a nuclear tipped missile at Russia. There’s also the danger that Pakistan might fall under the control of Islamic radicals. So effective ballistic missile defense is something both nations, and many others in Europe as well, are interested. Next year, Russian technical teams will come to the United States to conduct more joint missile defense simulation exercises.

Posted by Ted on 04/22/05 8:38 PM | Link

More about how being fat is good

Here's an article that goes through the recent CDC report with a fine tooth comb and finds that we've been lied to in the past. Previous estimates were that 400,000 people a year died because of obesity related problems.

It now appears the number is actually closer to 26,000. That takes obesity as first or second leading cause of death to less than auto accidents.

The article goes on to say that, only those people with a BMI (Body Mass Index) higher than 35 are more likely to die prematurely.

I have a problem with the BMI measurement. It only takes into account your height and weight. The weight could be due to muscle mass or fat. I would think that a percent body fat would make a better indicator of “fatness”.

At this rate, they’ll soon be telling us that smoking is not all the fired bad for you.

Posted by Ted on 04/22/05 8:16 PM | Link

Seasonal Backyard Blogging

I cut the grass tonight and it has not grown all that much from last week. It has now been two weeks with nary a single drop of rain. The hedge, on the right, is about ready for its first cutting.

You can see the Vorlon Wife’s Tulips on the left. They are at about their peak and will be done in a few days. Also on the left are the Dogwoods just starting to blossom. The red maple, center right, is really starting to leaf out.

They are promising rain this weekend, but until it actually happens, I remain skeptical.

UPDATE: I just updated the photo to one taken from the upstairs window. I think it does a better job of showing the trees starting to flower and to leaf out.

Posted by Ted on 04/22/05 7:50 PM | Link

Red Haters

The Vorlon Wife is a member of the Red Hat society. They recently had lunch together and this is a photo of the group.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Posted by Ted on 04/22/05 7:40 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (1)

Friday Flowerblogging

Tulips! The Vorlon Wife’s Tulips are in bloom. She has red one and yellow ones. These are, obviously, some of the yellow ones. The small purple flowers you see in the upper left are called Grape Hyacinths.

The Grape Hyacinths multiply like weeds. This has been a particularly good year for them – but I digress. They are not nearly as attractive as the Tulips. In addition, I think you know my penchant for bright yellow flowers.

By the way, how do you like the border I put on this one. I saw this used on a slide show on TV and liked it. You may see more of it.

Posted by Ted on 04/22/05 7:02 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (2)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

A New Book

I bought a book from Amazon. “Reallionaire – Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out” The Essential Lessons that took me from public assistance to a millionaire by age of 14 by Farrah Gray.

I have to tell you, I’m a sucker for these kinds of books. I heard him mentioned on the radio. All I heard was about a kid that was on welfare and became a millionaire by 14 years old. I searched Google and found his book. I seem to torture myself with these kinds of stories.

A quick look through the TOC shows nine chapters:

  • Understand the Power of a Name
  • Never Fear Rejection
  • Build an All-Star Mentoring Team
  • Seize Every Opportunity
  • Go with the Flow . . . But Know Where You Want to Go
  • Be Emotionally Prepared to Handle Failure
  • Dedicate Your Time to What You Know
  • Love Your Customer
  • Never Underestimate the Power of a Network

As I go through the book, I’ll give you my impressions.

Posted by Ted on 04/21/05 7:41 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (2)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Being a little fat is good for you

A recent study from the CDC indicates that being a little fat could be good for you.

The new analysis found that obesity — being extremely overweight — is indisputably lethal. But like several recent smaller studies, it found that people who are modestly overweight actually have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight.

Biostatistician Mary Grace Kovar, a consultant for the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center in Washington, said "normal" may be set too low for today's population. Also, Americans classified as overweight are eating better, exercising more and managing their blood pressure better than they used to, she said.

The study — an analysis of mortality rates and body-mass index, or BMI — was published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Based on the new calculation, excess weight would drop from the second leading cause of preventable death, after smoking, to seventh. It would fall behind car crashes and guns on the list of killers.

They define a BMI (Body Mass Index) of over 25 as overweight. You can calculate your BMI here.

Posted by Ted on 04/19/05 8:24 PM | Link

Monday, April 18, 2005

Quality in the Military Matters

StrategyPage has a good column on how important troop quality is in war.

The U.S. Department of Defense has concluded that infantry can no longer be considered “cannon fodder,” but highly trained specialists who should be the focus of all efforts to build an effective fighting force. This idea has been around for a long time, but has now become holy writ. This is all because of the U.S. Army experience in Iraq, where it became obvious to even the slow learners that quality matters. And the quality has to do with the troops, not the high tech equipment they use. That quality factor was first recognized in action during the 1991 Gulf War. American units tore right through Iraqi troops, exceeding American commanders most optimistic expectations. Through the 1990s, the U.S. Army studied what happened during the 1991 war, and why. It was concluded that the main reason for the success there was the quality of the troops. All were volunteers, and most were in the service for at least four years. But another factor emerged from this study, the importance of troops being together in the same unit for a long time. Most of the combat units in the 1991 war had several months together in Saudi Arabia, and that time was spent training. This time together caused a bonding that old soldiers had noted in Vietnam and earlier wars. The army resolved to try and make this “cohesion” at standard army practice. That seemed to be the secret of combat success; quality troops who work together for a long time.

The quality formula worked again in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003 and later). In Afghanistan, it was only a few hundred Special Forces troops, several dozen CIA field agents (many of them former military), and a few thousand regular infantry (who arrived late in the operation) that brought down the Taliban in a few months. The army always knew it had an elite force in the Special Forces, but even these elite operators outdid themselves in Afghanistan. The army now recognized that the key to victory was a small number of combat troops. In fact, out of half a million troops, only about fifty thousand were actual “shooters” (mostly infantry, but including tank and artillery crews, recon troops and engineers). There were only about 5,000 Special Forces operators. It was about ten percent of the army that ultimately got the job done in Iraq. The other troops were important. Even infantry companies had some support troops who, if not competent, reduced the effectiveness of the shooters. But it’s what the infantry have with them at the front that makes the difference.

Posted by Ted on 04/18/05 9:12 PM | Link

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The 10 Commandments

The 10 Commandments from the Exodus 20 in the English Standard Version are as follows...

  • "You shall have no other gods before me.

  • "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

  • "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

  • "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

  • "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

  • "You shall not murder.

  • "You shall not commit adultery.

  • "You shall not steal.

  • "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

  • "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's."

Here’s a point I want to make. You’ll notice that the sixth commandment says, “You shall not murder.” To my knowledge, only the King James Version says to not kill. There is a difference between admonition to not kill and to not murder. To kill is to take life. To murder is to take innocent life.

The bible is not saying that all killing is bad. It is saying that killing innocents is bad. Many non-Christians use the King James translations to imply pacifism. The bible does not preach pacifism.

Posted by Ted on 04/17/05 10:07 AM | Link | Enter your comments here (4)

Saturday, April 16, 2005

eBay purchase

I was browsing eBay and came across this sport coat. They claim it is a Brooks Brothers wool-cashmere blend. I thought it looked good, was my size. So I bid on it. I actually had to raise my bid, but I wound up getting the jacket for about $70 – that includes the shipping.

I am pleased with the purchase. The jacket is in excellent condition and has a very nice soft feel to it. It arrived quite wrinkled because of the packing. I hung it on the rack expecting to take it to the cleaners for a cleaning and pressing.

When I came back to it a few hours later, all the wrinkles were gone. That’s usually the sign of a good fabric.

Posted by Ted on 04/16/05 11:49 AM | Link | Enter your comments here (1)

Friday, April 15, 2005

Seasonal Backyard Blogging

This evening I cut the grass for the second time this year. Surprisingly it hasn’t grown that much from last weekend. Although it’s been bright and sunny all week, we have not gotten any rain and it has been decidedly cool. It’s been in the 30’s every morning when I went jogging.

You can see the hedge is starting to green up. I’ll probably give it it’s first cutting in a couple of weeks. I think I’m going to have to get some new hedge trimmers this year. The old ones are starting to run really slowly.

Posted by Ted on 04/15/05 8:25 PM | Link

Friday Flowerblogging

These are the Vorlon Wife’s Snow Glories. It’s a small flower and this is a close-up shot. You know how I like to do close-up flower pictures.

They come up every year and appear to be spreading into our neighbor’s yard. They don’t last long. A couple of days after I took this photo, they were done. That’s a problem with perennial flowers, they last only a few days and are gone until next year.

In this photo, I did not adjust color, lighting or contrast. This is how they really are.

Posted by Ted on 04/15/05 7:37 PM | Link

Thursday, April 14, 2005

More thoughts about loosing our pastor

I was thinking about our church and loosing our pastor. I think it too easy to look on the dark side. If the loss of the pastor breaks a church, then it was on shaky ground. A church should not depend on a single individual.

Posted by Ted on 04/14/05 9:27 PM | Link

Taxes are done

I finished my taxes the other night. I’m a fan of TurboTax. Since I have used it before, it automatically pulls data from last year and reduces some of the data entry. It does electronic filing and I can pay my taxes with my Discover card. It took about an hour and a half this year and I didn’t have to print an paper at all.

I like that.

Posted by Ted on 04/14/05 9:25 PM | Link

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

An offer I could refuse

I had lunch with a client today. That’s a rather rare occurrence. He offered me a job.

Although that’s a nice compliment to get, I don’t think I want to work for him. As a vendor, we have a good relationship – although we never meet socially.

However, as an employee and employer the relationship would be different. As a vendor, I get some respect, as an employee I think I would get a lot less respect.

However, I think I know of someone that might fill the position he’s looking to fill. I’m calling him tonight.

Posted by Ted on 04/13/05 7:48 PM | Link

Trouble in River City

We just found out the pastor of our church is leaving some time next month. It’s a rather sad day. Out church is very small and I don’t know if it’ll survive. Although they can get an itinerant pastor, it’s not the same as a regular one.

The pastor had some conflict with some of the members about a year ago. I don’t know if that is the reason he is going or not. I would be surprised if he admitted to it. Perhaps he just wants to retire. I think he is 65, but that doesn’t seem that old for a pastor to retire.

I’m disappointed.

Posted by Ted on 04/13/05 7:38 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (1)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Iraq continues to go the Americans' way

StrategyPage has an excellent article about the progress of the war in Iraq. Here's a snippet.

Then came the Second Battle of Fallujah last November. To most Iraqis, it was no surprise that the Americans tore right through the town, killing or capturing several thousand terrorists and anti-government fighters assembled there to slaughter the “occupiers.” Again, the Americans proved expert at avoiding casualties, while wiping out the “Holy Warriors” who swore they would prevail. Then came the January 30th election debacle. Hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed in January, as terrorists did all they could to discourage Iraqis from voting. It didn’t work, and failed in a spectacular fashion as millions of Iraqis fearlessly came out to vote.

In February, you could hear the sermons at Friday prayers were getting less bloodthirsty. Many clerics were having second thoughts about whose side they were on. The terrorists and anti-government gunmen were looking like losers and killers who had only Iraqis for victims. Many of the Sunni Arab clerics believed the sermons they were preaching, calling for armed insurrection against the occupiers. The Sunni Arabs saw themselves as the guardians of Islamic orthodoxy in a sea of Shia blasphemy. But what’s the point if you can’t get at the occupying infidels, and they can kill you with impunity. What’s the point when the Sunni Arab “Defenders of Islam” can only kill Moslem civilians.

But it was getting worse. The police and soldiers were getting better at defending themselves. The Americans not only provided training, but also materials and assistance in building attack proof police stations. These little forts used the same plans and security methods the Americans used to make their own bases impregnable. The Iraqi police certainly had an incentive to listen to the Americans, for the alternative was death at the hands of some Sunni Arab suicide bomber. By March, it had been four months since a police station had been successfully attacked.

Iraqi police were increasingly seen patrolling with American troops. The Iraqi police knew who they were looking for, and with American troops as backup, knew they were invincible if attacked. The Americans also trained thousands of Iraqi police and soldiers in SWAT tactics, making it possible for more raids on mosques. Americans had refrained from raiding mosques, even though it was widely known that the terrorists were using places of worship for storing weapons and housing gunmen and bomb makers. As the number of raided mosques increased, more evidence of religious leaders participating in the violence appeared.

More and more terrorist cells and anti-government gangs were going dark, just disappearing. Sunni Arab clerics could tell by the regulars who were not showing up for Friday prayers anymore. Inquiries revealed that the missing men were dead, in prison, or had hastily moved away. There was no place left to hide for many terrorists.

I recommend you read the whole article. Michael Moore's "Freedom Fighters" are getting hammered.

Posted by Ted on 04/12/05 8:56 PM | Link

A Soldier Comes Home

A Staff Sergeant tells of his homecoming from Iraq.

It may take my wife and children a long time to realize that while I look the same, I am not the same person who said goodbye to them many months ago. I will never be the same again--thankfully so.

Each day now I am acutely aware of what makes me happy, and what it is I do that makes other people happy. Walking point through the volatile streets in Iraq helped me see this much more clearly, and I will make every effort to preserve that awareness for the rest of my days.

I recommend you read his whole column. It is very moving.

Posted by Ted on 04/12/05 6:45 AM | Link

Monday, April 11, 2005

Whither the market?

The market continues to meander without moving upward. I believe the price of oil is partially to blame. I read that for every penny the price of gasoline goes up, the economy takes a $1.5 billion hit.

Posted by Ted on 04/11/05 9:38 PM | Link

Kerry says he lost because his voters were too dumb

Kerry has complained that...

"Leaflets are handed out saying Democrats vote on Wednesday, Republicans vote on Tuesday. People are told in telephone calls that if you've ever had a parking ticket, you're not allowed to vote," he said.

Even if leaflets were indeed handed out as he claims, how stupid do you need to be to believe such a leaflet? Kerry voters should be outraged that he denigrates their intelligence.

Posted by Ted on 04/11/05 9:32 PM | Link

New Investment Made

I moved the Vorlon Wife’s IRA into mutual funds over the last couple of days. I split her portfolio into six funds. They are...

  • Profunds UltaSector Oil & Gas Inv
  • Fidelity Select Energy
  • AIM Energy C
  • U.S. Global Investors Global Resources
  • Fidelity Select Energy Service
  • Rydex Energy C

My strategy here is to buy funds that have performed the best over they last 90 days. I use Microsoft’s Fund Screening web site to find these funds.

Part of my other selection criteria was, I must be able to buy them through Fidelity, they must have a very low or zero commission in and out, and they must have a starting investment of $5,000 or less.

The funds I selected were up between 22% and 36% over they last three months. The Profunds UltraSector Oil & Gas Inv was up 76% in the last year.

Three months from now, I’ll go through this same analysis and rebalance the portfolio.

Posted by Ted on 04/11/05 9:19 PM | Link

Saturday, April 9, 2005

The Official Opening of Grass Cutting Season

I cut the grass for the first time this year. You can see a better photo of the results by clicking on the thumbnail. I put a nice edge on one of the mower blades. I pulled the old blade off the mower and replaced it with the freshly sharpened one. After cutting the grass, I put the just removed blade to the grinder and put a nice edge on it.

When I sharpen a mower blade, you can almost shave with it. I found it does a much nicer job of cutting the grass. The mower even sounds differently when cutting the grass. Usually I just need to put the blade to the grinder once in the season, and then dress it up with a hand file before each cutting.

It is a beautiful spring day. The temperature is in the low 60’s. I need to have the yard de-thatched and sprayed with Weed-B-Gone. I also need to do some seeding.

Posted by Ted on 04/09/05 2:45 PM | Link

Friday, April 8, 2005

Friday Flowerblogging

These hyacinths are starting to come on strongly. When the Vorlon wife gets a hyacinth for Easter, she plants it in her flower garden. They multiply.

She’s not very fond of receiving hyacinths as they have a very strong aroma and just one in a room can bring tears to your eyes. When they’re outdoors, the outside air greatly reduce the aromatic toxicity.

We had a pretty heavy rainstorm and most of the flowers are pretty muddy. You can see dirt on this example.

Posted by Ted on 04/08/05 7:22 PM | Link

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Letter to the Editor

A letter in our local paper, The Press of Atlantic City, said something about how Terri Schiavo would ask those trying to keep her alive why they are keeping from a more glorious existence. I couldn't help but feel how theologically wrong that was. So I wrote a letter. Today they published it. Although they edited out my biblical quotes, they seemed to catch the gist of it.

A March 29 letter writer spoke of a "more glorious and abundant life for Terri Schiavo beyond the grave." This statement is unsupported by Christian theology.

At funerals we like to console ourselves by saying he/she is in a better place now, when the odds are the person is in a worse place.

Most of us think we are going to heaven when we die. The Bible is clear on this; the vast majority of us are not going to heaven when we die. Our elevator is going down, not up.

Of course, if we want to make up our own theology, we can say whatever we want - but it won't change our final destination.

Ted Armstrong

Posted by Ted on 04/06/05 9:47 PM | Link | Enter your comments here (2)

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Moore's Law Continues Unabated

Moore's Law, established in 1965, states that the number of transistors doubles every 18 months. A recent observation is that this law appears to be still in play. In 1965, CPU chips had about 60 transistors in them. Intel’s latest Itanium chip has 1.7 billion.

Posted by Ted on 04/05/05 8:17 PM | Link

Monday, April 4, 2005

How do we know right from wrong?

Some point to evil as failing of Christianity. They ask, “If God exists, how could he allow the existence of evil?” However, that would be a fallacious argument.

If there is no God, how do you know evil exists at all?

If there is no God, then anything goes. However, it is only if God exists at all, that we can say evil exists. As C. S. Lewis said, “How do you know a surface is straight unless you have a straight-edge to measure it against?”

If we really did evolved in a cold pitiless indifferent world, then right and wrong have no meeting. Darwin teaches us that in this type of world, the weak fall under the strong.

I would argue right and wrong could only be measured if there is a supreme being. A supreme being that hands down that measuring rod by which we may know right and wrong.

This is not to say that even with this measurement that we do right instead of wrong. In fact, we frequently do wrong rather than right. But we do so, knowing we are wrong.

Posted by Ted on 04/04/05 9:39 PM | Link

Sunday, April 3, 2005

My sheep listen to my voice

This morning in church, the Pastor read John 10:22.

Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”

I found this rather educational. I think Jesus is saying, that God moves the hearts of some people to believe that he is the Christ. Those that don’t believe, God has abandoned to their sins.

Predestination is something that I have debated in my own mind and haven’t decided whether it is true or not. However, in this passage, Jesus seems to be saying that only certain people are selected by God to be saved.

Jesus is also clear that only those that follow him are allowed into heaven. My interpretation is that this passage supports the idea of predestination quite well.

Posted by Ted on 04/03/05 9:26 PM | Link

Friday, April 1, 2005

Friday Flowerblogging

We seem to be at a pause between when the Crocuses are done and the Daffodils have yet to come on strongly. The Vorlon Wife has some miniature Daffodils, but I’m having trouble getting a good shot of them. I may yet put one up, but I have not gotten a photo I like.

In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for a…Crocus. She has planted a few yellow ones and they are starting to bloom. However, they are sparsely populated. Not at all, like the purple ones – which we seem to have all over.

Posted by Ted on 04/01/05 7:09 PM | Link