It's a cliche that, as we age, we obsess more and more about our health. I'm no exception, which, I guess, makes me boringly predictable, but that won't stop me from writing about it at least occasionally.
Many years ago, when I started for the first time getting regular annual checkups, I tested as having high cholesterol so my doctor prescribed a statin. Then a few years later I was diagnosed as 'prediabetic'. I lost a lot of wait to forestall that eventuality, but eventually my doctor also put me on metformin to control my blood sugar. Then I started having arthritis pain in my right hip, so I had that replace, and just last fall I had the other hip done, so now I have dual titanium and UHMWPE prostheses.
In the process of testing me before the hip operation I was discovered to have a high white blood cell count. That lead to many more tests and an eventual diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. I am in what they call 'stage 0 - watchful waiting'. I guess this stage could continue for years, or this thing could rear up and do me in.
So I have diabetes, leukemia, two prosthetic hips and a drug regimen.
I should say here that I feel pretty good. Occasional aches and pains and stiffness to be expected at my age, but nothing worth complaining about.
But I am wondering if there is any connection between between the drugs I've taken and the ailments I suffer. I have heard there are links from statins to muscle weakness and arthritis and to type 2 diabetes. When is the cure worse than the disease?
I'm sorry to have left this space in limbo for so long. I am going to try to rectify that. As I approach retirement I hope to keep myself busy with more writing. There is nothing like practice. More soon.
Our little town of Pownal has been badly bitten by Maine's school consolidation initiative, which has the noble goal of reducing the cost of education through economies of scale. However, due to bad information, the cost allocation formula that was negotiated and approved by the towns relied on bad information. As a consequence our town is looking at a huge tax increase with no change in the education our children receive.
Here is a letter I wrote to our governor asking for more time to renegotiate:
Dear Governor Baldacci,
When residents of my town approved restructuring we had no idea that we were accepting something in the neighborhood of $1000 per household tax increase as a result. The numbers we had available at the time gave no hint of this, primarily as I understand it, because we did not have current school year budget numbers available. I am certain that if the citizens here had known the true consequences of their vote our merger with Freeport and Durham would not have been approved.
While I believe the town accepted that consolidation might mean our cost per student would rise with no immediate improvement (or change) in the education our children received, we expected that the increase, if any, would be small. We consoled ourselves with the hope that there would be some offsetting savings to the state that might eventually be returned to the town.
Now, however, we in Pownal are faced with an overwhelming tax increase and that in an extremely difficult economy. I own a small business which employs 6 people. My revenues are down by 40% this year. My bank has refused to increase my line of credit. I am currently paying a good portion of my payroll out of my own pocket. I can’t keep this up indefinitely. Doubling my property taxes will not help.
I believe the other towns in our consolidated district understand the inequity of our present cost allocation formula and would be happy to work toward a more equitable distribution if only the state will allow them to do so.
Governor, we need your intervention to allow us the time to make consolidation work for all of us.
Walking along the mist-shrouded shore of Hay Island in Vinalhaven's Seal Bay, I am snared.
Transformational power of technology
Looking at the world through the eyes of technology
Parameters of the web similar to the human brain at the moment, but doubling every 2 years. Web will exceed human processing in 2020-2040.
75% of power used by technium
Technology wants – MIPS, copying, no prohibitions
Ubiquity, diversity, specialization, complexity,
Clean water, air, eco-topia not prohibited
Worries – self replicating
Technology wins – altering environment for itself
Parenting our mind children find the right place for technology.
Tip the balance between problems and solutions by 1%
Technology gives choice
The builders association
Language of performance with technology
The connections mediated by technology presented on stage.
FBI stops him in
Sleeping in airports, toilets used
Using technology to document his life
Flood the market w your information. Give up privacy.
Make you dance w left hand, puke w right
When ML & I moved to the country 13 years ago I acquired the task of keeping about 4.5 acres mowed. To call those acres a lawn would be overstating the case, but there is a certain amount of grass in the mix.
Anyway, after the first year with an 18 inch walk-behind mower, I purchased a Honda lawn tractor to handle the job. It's been a trouper, but this year, after 12 years of abuse, the Honda made it perfectly clear it was ready to retire.
The hardest part of mowing for me has always been maneuvering around the numerous trees, rocks, shrubs and flower beds that dot our property. So I have been intrigued by the zero turn radius mowers. Well, I don't have much time for shopping at this time of year, so I just bought what looked like a really solid machine with a Honda engine (they always seem to run well). It's made by Hustler and called a "Fastrak Mini-Z". All I can say is, I had no idea what I was missing.
The first time I mowed I found the controls to be a little squirrelly, and I managed to drive it into a bog, from which ML and I took half an hour and a load of muddy laundry to extract it. I was a little discouraged. But now I've had a couple of more session, and I am completely wowed. This thing not only turns in zero radius but does so with zero effort. Moreover, it mows at about twice the speed on the old tractor. Bottom line - I can do my mowing in about half the time with virtually no effort.
Wandering in Southern Pines, North Carolina, we came across the perfect family business.
I apologize for the poor quality of the image, but I only had the camera on my phone at hand. We passed on a Sunday morning and the place was quiet, but apparently the customers are enthusiastic, to the extent that a stout steel fence is need to keep them from driving right in...
poptech 2005 wrap-up
Bob does his famous dry and humor filled summation of the conference
Poptech 2005 12
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Scandal of Prediction
Value of library is the books we haven't read
We focus on what we know. The narrative falacy - we ascribe a cause to random events
Epistemic error - over confidence in your ability to know what you know
Most pojects late and over budget.
THe limits of our ability to predict the future.
On the biological roots of behavior
deception is part of the biological repertoire
principles of deception
- rarity helps deception
ze frank at Poptech 2005
Intellegent Design and the Flying Spaghetti Monster