I’m not addicted…

I can quit any time I want. It’s a good thing most of the programs on my MythTV box are set for “autoexpire when the drive gets full.” Here’s the latest status line.

297 programs, using 242 GB (246 hrs 31 mins) out of 345 GB.

Now, to be fair, I have a truly stupendous number of cartoons for the Boy, as well as a significant number of DVDs ripped to the hard drive (no need to mess with the disks, which is good if you’re six years old).

Hydrogen != Energy Source

This week, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was shown driving off in a hydrogen-powered vehicle, and two blocks later hopping out and getting into his gigantic gas-guzzling SUV. Politicians being mendacious and venal is not news. But, the news continues to refer to the hydrogen “energy source” of the future.

Hydrogen is not and will never be an energy source. It is an energy storage system, like a battery that you can charge with a hose instead of an outlet. And, it’s not a very good replacement for gasoline anyway.

Gasoline stores nearly 10 killowatt-hours worth of power in a liter of space. Liquid hydrogen can only store one quarter that density. What’s amusing is that gasoline actually has more hydrogen embedded in it chemically per liter than liquid hydrogen does.  Yes, gasoline is a way to store and transport hydrogen that is more efficient than the raw hydrogen. Brain hurt yet?

If you were wondering about the other alternate fuel vehicles, liquid natural gas (which is an energy source) holds about 75% of the energy per liter as gasoline; liquid propane holds about the same.

So, why do I say hydrogen is not an energy source? Because, unlike natural gas or petroleum or coal, we don’t harvest or discover hydrogen. The way we produce hydrogen today is to create it from other molecules, through electrolysis (splitting water molecules), or microbes exhaling it, or gasification of peanut shells and the like. Regardless, the difference between making gasoline and making hydrogen is pretty stark. We drill for oil, and refine it to make gasoline. This wastes a little energy in the process, but is necessary because crude oil doesn’t explode very well (gasoline does explode under pressure very nicely). Assuming we use natural-gas fired electrical generators to make hydrogen, we would use the entirety of our current natural gas consumption to make the hydrogen to power the current level of transportation that uses gasoline.  Shoot, that leaves no electricity for keeping our houses lit and comfortable.  Well, whatever shall we do?

Current nuclear reactors are considered low-temperature reactors, and produce mostly hot water as waste. These reactors can produce electricity approximately four times more expensively as natural gas (which explains why nukes are so rare still). A new direct thermodynamic conversion can produce hydrogen with only a 30% penalty compared to natural gas (at least with today’s prices for natural gas – as NG becomes more expensive, nukes become more attractive). Japan, Korea, and China are all working on these and also on pebble-bed reactors. The Japanese estimate they’ll have an operational high-temperature reactor producing somewhere around 100-200 tons of hydrogen per day.

So, those hydrogen-powered cars are actually electric cars with hydrogen fuel-cells storing the energy which was originally produced by burning natural gas or oil, more likely than not. Any time you see “hydrogen-powered” in the news, think “hydrogen-battery electric” instead.

RIAA Suing EVERYONE

The recording industry mafia have gotten a new one – they are suing a family for filesharing when the family doesn’t even own a computer. I believe it is quite difficult to infringe copyrights (not steal any darned thing) the way the RIAA accuses them of without at least some kind of computer to use.

So, the morons have shaken down little old ladies, small children, dead people, families without computers…how many cases has the RIAA won? Not a single one. That’s right; no matter how much they bully people, not a single case has been decided in their favor. Of course, almost no cases have been decided at all. The strongarm tactics and extortion that the cartel has used are effective. People know they have no reasonable chance of fighting the RIAA in court because the RIAA can afford better lawyers, and in the modern judicial system money talks. So, when the mob boss industry lawyer offers people a way out of the multi-million dollar suit, they tend to take it. Unsurprisingly, the amount of money the RIAA settles for varies from case to case – it is generally defined as, “what do you have?” One college student was told to max out his student loans to maximize the industry profit. Think this will encourage that student to buy more CDs next year? Yeah, me neither.

Data Retention, it’s for the children!

The gummint sure does think they can get anything approved if they just claim it’s to stop child pr0n. Of course, any decent criminal will just use Tor or some other system to avoid their data being collected. The rest of us get to pay for a series of massive data warehouses holding every chat log and email we send. Go, Big Brother! Won’t someone think about the children?

April Microsoft Patches

I seriously appreciate the automatic update feature of Windows XP. It is very convenient, and unobtrusive if set to nag you rather than do everything without input.

I do wonder, though, why I need to install security updates for programs that I don’t use and have purposely removed, such as Outlook Express or MSN Messenger. Oh, right. It’s because you can’t actually remove OE or IE or MSN Messenger. No matter what you do, the little bastards just stick around, opening up their security holes for all to exploit. If Linux had decent wifi usability…

Yes, I know you can use various and sundry hacks and workarounds to attempt to get your wifi card mostly working with some specific combination of hardware and software. Doesn’t count if I need to work at it that hard.

Spoiled Meme

If you have over 40, you are spoiled.

Do you have:
() your own cell phone
() a television in your bedroom
(1) an MP3 player
() a photo printer
(2) your own phone line
(3) TiVo or a generic digital video recorder
(4) high-speed internet access (i.e., not dialup)
() a surround sound system in bedroom
() DVD player in bedroom
() at least a hundred DVDs
() a childfree bathroom
() your own in-house office
()a pool
() a guest house
() a game room
(5) a queen-size bed or larger
() a stocked bar
() a working dishwasher
() an icemaker
(6) a working washer and dryer
() more than 20 pairs of shoes
() at least ten things from a designer store
() expensive sunglasses
() framed original art (not lithographs or prints)
(7) Egyptian cotton sheets or towels
(8) a multi-speed bike
() a gym membership
() large exercise equipment at home
() your own set of golf clubs
() a pool table
() a tennis court
() local access to a lake, large pond, or the sea
() your own pair of skis
() enough camping gear for a weekend trip in an isolated area
() a boat
() a jet ski
() a neighborhood committee membership
() a beach house or a vacation house/cabin
() wealthy family members
() two or more family cars
() a walk-in closet or pantry
(9) a yard
() a hammock
() a personal trainer
(10) good credit
() expensive jewelry
() a designer bag that required being on a waiting list to get
() at least $100 cash in your possession right now
(11) more than two credit cards bearing your name (not counting gas cards or debit cards)
(12) a stock portfolio
(13) a passport
() a horse
() a trust fund (either for you or created by you)
() private medical insurance
(14) a college degree, and no outstanding student loans

Do you:
() shop for non-needed items for yourself (like clothes, jewelry, electronics) at least once a week
() do your regular grocery shopping at high-end or specialty stores
() pay someone else to clean your house, do dishes, or launder your clothes (not counting dry-cleaning)
() go on weekend mini-vacations
() send dinners back with every flaw
(15) wear perfume or cologne (not body spray)
() regularly get your hair styled or nails done in a salon
() have a job but don’t need the money
() stay at home with little financial sacrifice
() pay someone else to cook your meals
() pay someone else to watch your children or walk your dogs
() regularly pay someone else to drive you taxis
() expect a gift after you fight with your partner

Are you:
() an only child
() married/partnered to a wealthy person
() baffled/surprised when you don’t get your way

Have you:
(16) been on a cruise
(17) traveled out of the country
() met a celebrity
(18) been to the Caribbean
(19) been to Europe (when I was an infant!)
() been to Hawaii
() been to New York
() eaten at the space needle in Seattle
(20) been to the Mall of America
() been on the Eiffel tower in Paris
() been on the Statue of Liberty in New York
() moved more than three times because you wanted to
() dined with local political figures
(21) been to both the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast

Did you:
() go to another country for your honeymoon
() hire a professional photographer for your wedding or party
() take riding or swimming lessons as a child
(22) attend private school (for two years)
() have a Sweet 16 birthday party thrown for you

Cat Gifts

Pretty much everyone knows that cats enjoy giving presents to their owners. Holly was just mewling at the front door, and when I looked out she had some rather large lizard in her mouth. I got her to drop it so it could scurry away, but it did seem to be missing its tail.

This creature keeps giving me dead birds and live lizards. No matter how many times I discourage her, she just won’t stop. Has she ever seen me eating a sparrow or gecko? Why would she think I’d appreciate these things? I don’t assume she’d like Screaming Yellow Zonkers.

Soups

Rachael Ray is my friend. I’ve been going through the recipes in her book “365 No Repeats” for the past several months, and Alex is loving most of them.

A couple weeks ago, I made a three-onion soup with cheesy bread – twice in a row, by request. Tonight was a creamy broccoli soup (with cheesy bread again, go figure), made with pureed broccoli and onions, cream, and chicken stock. Again, a big hit.

I love that my boy tries new things without complaint – some kids are supposedly quite evil about eating. I guess years of, “if you don’t eat it, you get nothing until breakfast” work, so long as you actually stick to your guns. I can’t imagine making two meals, one for me and one for him. Shoot, when I am not feeling well I have a hard time convincing myself to cook for the boy at all.

Aaaarmy Training Sir!

Exactly why is it that nobody in The Unit wears a uniform while in garrison? Sure, when they’re in the field, they wear a mishmash of military and civilian attire. But, when they’re supposedly doing their homebase training, they hang out in t-shirts and jeans. Yeah, right. Well, there is one guy who stays in BDUs (the Colonel), but he doesn’t wear insignia of any kind, name tapes, patches, nothing.

Some of you may say, “But the US Code says that you can’t wear an accurate uniform.” That is actually not true for actors. Oh, it was true once, but it’s not true now and hasn’t been for years.