Monday, June 22, 2009

To the Courageous People of Iran,

Despite the fact that the President of the United States is not taking a firm stand on the dangerous situation in Iran because he "doesn't want to meddle" and wants to take a diplomatically safe position, I am with you in your stand against tyranny and so are most other Americans. Good luck and may you reach your goals with little or no more blood shed. Power to the People!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Earth-Friendly, Green Tip #17

Lithium-ion batteries are great for vacations because they are very long lasting and because they are lighter than regular alkaline AA batteries. In addition, you don't have to worry about recharging them. So, even though they are more expensive than alkalines, you are getting more for your money! More energy, more convenience, and a lighter device.

I used four non-rechargeable lithium AA batteries in my digital camera on a trip recently. And they lasted about a month beyond that trip. Finally, even though they were dead as far as the camera was concerned, they still had voltage in them that I wanted to use up before throwing them away (recycling them).

My solution? Use them in a wall clock I have at work whose battery had recently died. Now you might be saying, "Go ahead, use dead batteries in your clock at work Brian, and five o'clock will never come."

Step back, oh ye of little faith.

The clock uses one AA battery at a time. I had four "dead" lithium batteries at the beginning of March and now in June the clock is operating on the third battery, or at about the rate of one dead lithium battery per month. New life was found in batteries that were headed for the battery recycling bin.

What makes this possible is that an electric clock uses extremely little energy, perfect for draining the last drop of power from batteries used initially in higher drain devices. This process of "hypermiling" works in low-power remote controls and probably in certain LED flashlights as well.

This stuff isn't going to save the planet from "the sky is falling" disaster that Al Gore and his minions are predicting, but it does fit into the "waste not want not" category. And I think in this economic climate we can all agree on using things as long as possible and getting the most value for our buck.

BTW, using rechargeable batteries whenever possible, is even better for the environment (Earth-Friendly, Green Tip #8).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Robert Meets Gillian

(The following is a vignette-type short story I wrote a few years ago.)

Robert says to Gillian as they sit on the airplane's soft, first-class seats, "Well, I had come to know you a little because of your article in Summerscape magazine. Since I am ever on the lookout for a soul mate I had to contact you because I felt that some of your passions resonate with mine. I don't know the status of your love life and if you are solo for a while and enjoying it, then keep going. People should definitely go through periods in their lives where they are not part of a couple--makes them stronger and all that.

"Do you want a soul mate? Do you feel that a lasting love relationship is based on shared interests, or something deeper? One of the most important things that you expressed was your effort to live in the moment. Now, I said, here's somebody who's on my wavelength."

"When can I talk, Robert?" Robert bit his lip. "I'm just kidding. I hope humor is on your wavelength too."

"Sure it is. But that's not a good enough reason to think you'd be a perfect match for me is it?"

"No," said Ms. Anderson, who became decidedly annoyed when the flight attendant interrupted their discussion. The fellow went away and she said, "But I'm kind of pretty aren't I?"

"You're beautiful, and that and what I said before about you trying to stay in the moment certainly might be enough to induce me to think you'd be soul mate material. And it has also been a couple of years for me since I found out that our thoughts aren't really ours, that we can usher them out. But it feels like I haven't become very masterful at staying in control. But beauty isn't the icing on the cake, it's the candied sprinkles or the candles. There has to be more."

Gillian looked a little coquettish as she joked, "There is, Robert, there is."

"Well of course there is Gillian! Everyone has something to be proud of. Everyone has something to offer another person. But you CARE about your appearance and your body's health and that is something I share. And it's something different than if you cared too much about your beauty."

"So what have you got? Health conscious and moment conscious. Still doesn't sound like enough to base a life on?"

"Well, there's more," said Robert. "But if there wasn't it'd be enough to go out on a date or two to get to know each other better."

"I guess."

"The idea that you don't eat wheat intrigues me, though I have no idea why someone would get rid of that. Cut down maybe."

"Okay, a little intrigue is nice."

"Somewhere else maybe. You tell me why you don't eat meat and I'll tell you why I don't eat mammals."

"Later," she said. "Though that intrigues me a little. Maybe there is something else that makes you think we are soul mates?"

Robert believes that anything worth having is worth working for so he agrees with Gillian. "I took Tai Chi for a while, I notice you did some of that. That you feel you can become one with nature, I like that. You're from Michigan where I'm from."

"Yeah. Me and about 4 million other females."

"Oh hush. It just adds to the feeling of kinship. Do you feel that life is just a game sometimes? That maybe to enable us to enjoy life a little more sometimes people should just view life as a game."

"I'll get back to you, Bob, as soon as I get my 200 dollars for passing go."

"Like I said, I can wait. I've waited a while already. . . . You smoke."

"That's a plus?" Gillian turns to the window to see the wide Mississippi River out the window.

"I think you don't use it as a crutch. You know that it has a small significance in your life, is there for enjoyment and you never overdo anything you enjoy."

"Except maybe sex."

"That's good to know."

"Don't jump the gun there, Roberto."

"How about the beauty of something done perfectly? Maybe I should mention that I am not one of those people who would put up a web page shrine in your image."

"Good. There's enough of those already."

"Look, before I read that article about you I didn't know the first thing about you. What is that sort of worship based on anyway? Looks and acting ability. Both of which are plenty prevalent today."

"So now I'm run of the mill?"

"You were just the actor who played a character in a show I liked before that article. It'd be easier if you were a Realtor or a doctor. But what you are isn't as important as who you are in your soul, your spirit."

"Maybe there's something about me you won't like once you get to know me."

"That's true. But we're taking a chance. With all the choices you have it's up to me to convince you to take a chance on me."

"I already have, Robert."

Computer Spring Cleaning

The following computer maintenance instructions can help to speed up your Windows-based computer and should be done at least as often as you change the oil in your car! The instructions are for a Windows XP computer, but are fairly similar in other versions (Vista, 2000, ME).

To do a disk cleaning on your computer.
Click the Start button. Click All Programs.
In Programs menu find the Accessories folder and in that find the System Tools folder. Accessories>System Tools
Click on Disk Cleanup in the System Tools menu.
Click OK to clean the C: drive (or whatever letter is the main hard drive).
Click OK again and it should clean up temporary files and more. Be patient as the computer looks for what files it has to clean up and also for the actual cleanup. Both may take more than a few minutes.

To Defragment your hard disk drive.
Click the Start button. Click All Programs.
In Programs menu find the Accessories folder and in that find the System Tools folder. Accessories>System Tools
Click on Disk Defragmenter in the System Tools menu.
Click on the Defragment button.
Once you start defragmenting you should not do anything else on the computer since it is reorganizing files. Defragging is best to do before you go to bed, or when you are going out to the store as it may take a couple of hours.

Enjoy your faster computer!