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Glad to have you here but remember, you could be spending your time more wisely. Family, friends, maybe even your job if you are really pushed for something to do. David also writes the Building Our Home Blog as well as the wildly popular Dave’s Mindscape

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

No Threat to Mankind

I was going to write about my lack of concern over the firing up of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the world's largest particle physics laboratory but a press release by CERN issued on Sept 5, 08 sums it up quite well. From what I understand CERN is going to accelerate particles in a 27 kilometer loop of super-cooled magnets, smacking them together and “popping” into existence really heavy particles that we have never seen and probably never will. The heavy particle called Higgs bosun or God particle won’t stick around long enough to be photographed or sign autographs so how will we know that the LHC worked? By the evidence left behind. Kind of like the mess in the Family room. No one did it or saw it happen but it’s there all the same. Some groups are concerned that this particle smacking will cause the end of the world or worse, the universe. I’m with Steven Hawking and those who don’t think this will happen. “Professor Hawking is not convinced that the so-called “God particle”, which theory suggests gives matter its mass, actually exists, and in 2000 he backed his judgement by making a $100 (£50) wager with Professor Kane, who thinks it will soon be found.” Considering that all we have done on and to the planet hasn’t ended it yet, I’m not going to dig out my “The End Is Near” sign over spinning some miniscule bits around and whacking them together. But in case I’m wrong “So long, and Thanks for All the Fish”.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Shot in the Foot Again

Who would have thought that at this early stage of the game or late stage if you are an environmentalist, that we would have too much wind power? That’s right. According to an article in the International Herald Tribune by Matthew L. Wald, nearly 200 windmills in New York have been forced to shut down due to congestion in the power transmission lines. This lack of infrastructure sounds a lot like the North American oil supply problem. In recent U.S. political campaigning one presidential hopeful suggests that his opponent’s stand against offshore drilling would be damaging to the U.S. economy. This is contrary to the opinion of many experts who say that the bottleneck is not the supply of oil but the capacity to refine the stuff. There doesn’t seem to be any incentive to build new refineries for an energy source that is going the way of the endangered species that helped create it, albeit kicking and screaming all the way. So we have two energy sources with inadequate infrastructure. Gas may be on the way out but the need for electricity is not going to go away in the foreseeable future so why not just start the process of building the estimated $60 billion cross-country backbone needed for the increased energy production from solar and wind powered sources? Fear and Greed would be my guess. Getting any sort of an agreement between the 500 groups that own the power lines and the multiple levels of government may call for federal intervention, something the U.S. Energy Department is considering. Augmenting the electrical power grid will take years and billions of dollars. It will happen because it has to happen. During that time coal fired power plants will be built (there’s always room for coal) and will contribute to the already too high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Wind farms have to be built where there is wind and it seems that most of the wind is in out of the way places. It makes me wonder what the cost of running transmission lines is compared to building new coal fired plants. Here’s a thought. If coal fired plants pollute the environment and wind farms are environmentally clean, why not scale back the electrical output of the coal burning utilities to make room on the existing transmission lines for the power from the wind farms. The result will be the same amount of energy only cleaner. Using green energy will bring down the price of producing it (economies of scale) and might just help save the planet. Reference: International Herald Tribune, Matthew L. Wald Published: August 27, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nickel and Dime Time

The average person views over 3,500 bits of advertising per day whether they like it or not. Imagine paying for each of them. My (former)cellular provider wants to change our contract and charge me $0.15 per unwanted incoming text message. If it is spam, I can let them know and they won’t charge me. Letting them know will take some of my time, more than 15 cents worth. But wait a minute, if I call to report each individual unwanted text message, that will require some time and effort to respond to each of my calls. Even if the procedure is to notify them via email, it will still cost them time and money to process. If everyone reports every text message, the unwanted ones of course, it could create a massive workload for the cellular providers. That’s just my 15 cents worth.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Solar Energy for Peace

If halting climate change isn’t reason enough to push for the advancement and adoption of solar and wind power over nuclear and carbon producing processes, how about peace? Solar energy is limitless, at least in the foreseeable future; say 5 or 6 billion years. That’s a lot longer than the projection for oil reserves for the entire planet by, oh, about 5 or 6 billion years. And wind power. As long as there is a sun, there will be wind. Develop and distribute solar capabilities to all countries. Sounds counter-intuitive giving technology away but due to economies of scale, mass production of solar capturing devices would lower the component costs. Thus, giving it away to countries that had fewer resources would cost less. If all countries had sufficient solar energy there would be no need to continue developing nuclear based power sources or coal and bio-fuel for that matter. How does this pave the way for peace? Recently, Iran test fired missiles. This caused political tension and oil prices to rise around the world. The missiles by themselves are not the main cause for concern; it is the uranium enrichment process Iran says it is pursuing for energy production that has got everyone’s attention. If all countries had an adequate supply of reasonably priced solar energy, they would not need to buy large quantities of oil from potentially aggressive countries and thereby fund military “defense” systems in those countries. Less oil, more peace. The loss of economic value caused by the disuse of oil as a power source would be offset by the growing solar economy. Heat and light for your home, industry and solar powered transportation. If you wonder about the feasibility of solar energy, check out Germany. Germany is leading the way and does not seem to be suffering for it. What about the disused oil refineries? Turn them into museums as reminders of how not to treat our only planet.

GAIA THE LIVING PLANET Earth Design iPhone case

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Word

I was talking to my daughter in Germany. She is there, I’m not. We were using MSN and I remarked it was as if she were downstairs. Instant messaging is really fast, even though there is a six hour time difference between here and there. But this is not about the speed of the Internet. It is about language. I’ve always thought that it would be handy if there was a universal language. It would be really, really handy if that language were English as that is the only one I’ve been able to master (well I’m working on it). Millions may disagree but it’s my blog, get your own. From what I understand European children have the advantage of being forced to learn more than one language. This is handy as those countries are cheek-by-jowl with a lot of foreign countries that speak something else. I am jealous. When I went to school, more than a few years ago, the educational system arranged that we would get 15 minutes of French. Canadian French. The classes were forty minutes long but we got 15 minutes whether we wanted it or not. I’m sure the teachers were more than competent ‘tho I wonder who wrote the curriculum. Through grades 6 to 12, to the best of my knowledge, few of my unilingual peers rose to the aggrandized state of truly bilingual. For those who did, felicitations. Myself, I can tell you there is an autobus dans la rue, ask for a beer and ask where the washroom is. Two of these have stood me in good stead. The reason for language is to communicate. To everyone. Otherwise, have a code. Back in the old days, Esperanto, a language, was developed in 1887 by Ludwik Zamenhof with the specific intent of creating an international second language. There are an estimated 2 million speakers of Esperanto. There are nearly 7 billion people on earth. Language itself, let alone second languages may be doomed to fail. As early as 1965, The Who said “And don’t try to dig what we all s-s-say”. Prophecy or warning. Need proof of the demise of language? Check out your kids on Messenger or texting on their mobile. Leetspeak short for elite speak as defined by Mopo.ca Leet (most commonly 1337 but often also leetspeak, leetspeek, or l33t) from the phonetic form of the word "elite", is a cipher, or novel form of English spelling. It is characterized by the use of non-alphabetic characters to stand for letters bearing a superficial resemblance, and by a number of spelling changes such as the substitution of "z" for final "s" and "x" for "(c)ks". Leetspeak is traditionally used on the Internet and other online communities, such as bulletin board systems. Leetspeak is commonly used by hackers, crackers, script kiddies, and gamers. (English teachers everywhere are turning in their graves) (well, the dead ones anyway). Imagine this type of communication during the Cold War, think Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb But who can blame the younger generations for trying to eliminate extraneous parts of language such as vowels and consonents. Try writing anything of any length on a crackberry. So while today’s languages may join the ranks of Latin and Greek, we will still be able to communicate on some level. So for now I will bid you adieu or say caio which is short for bye.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Easy Life...Maybe

Work from home. Earn $$$ while sitting on the beach. 

Sounds great doesn’t it. 
Set your own hours. No boss and no commuting (with the price of gas who could blame you?). 
Can you make money on the internet? Obviously some people can but can the average Joe or Jane? It’s not as easy as it sounds at least I haven’t found it so. 
I have made money on the web, coffee money as I call it. Certainly not what anyone would call an “income”. Yet.
I think the clues why may be in the ad lines. 
WORK FROM HOME. “I’m trying to avoid work and you’re telling me I’ve got to WORK”. EARN while sitting on the BEACH. “If I’ve got to EARN, that’s starting to sound like WORK”
I guess there is no getting around it. Anyone who thinks that the idea of generating either a full or part-time income, by working just a few hours a week from home, has sprung from the internet age must be fairly young or has been living under a rock (on the beach?). 

I remember reading classified ads in the back of Popular Mechanics, Popular Science and others enticing readers to send anywhere from one to five dollars and a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) for recipes (hundreds of ways to prepare hamburger), plans (build your own laser) and information (secrets of the universe).

I’ve often thought if I had sent for the secrets of the universe they would surely include the hamburger and laser information. 

Oh well, nothing ventured… Anyway, the internet allows this sort of thing to work (there’s that word again) for just about anyone. If you can write (preferably one of the major languages), follow instructions and have a few hundred dollars, you can potentially reach The World. “A few hundred dollars?” “I thought this was going to be cheap”
It can be, but anyone who is not a programmer or who doesn’t have a lot of experience with websites might do better with a service that does the technical side of things for you. Not the work, mind you. You still have to work. A service can make it easier for everyone, geek or not, to compete.

Free or Nearly.

My blog on Google http://damccaskilland.blogspot.com/ is free.
My Facebook profile is free.
My Zazzle account is free.
I also had a website that cost me about $3.00 a month. I do have over ten years experience in Information Systems so I did things the hard way. Besides, back then the internet was a do it yourself kind of place.
My last job required long hours and included being on-call all the time. 
This turned me into a REST from home kind of person as opposed to a Work from home one. 
Now that I have more spare time I’m working on the EARN while on the beach or while sleeping. Just don’t sleep on the beach. It's easy to get burned there too. 
To be continued…

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Balance

I don’t feel that forces beyond my control conspire against me. 
I do however feel that there is a force that tries to discourage people from doing good deeds. 
Don’t know why but it seems for each positive there is a negative. 
For example, in an effort to save the world, or at least lessen my impact on it, I started to drive slower for better fuel economy and drive less often when I can. I don’t use as much fuel so the price of gas went up. 
I don’t feel personally responsible but to test this theory maybe I should drive more and faster. If gas prices go down, should I buy a big SUV with a V8?
There is no recycling out where I live so I drive my recycling in to town but even returning my beer bottles in doesn’t pay for a gallon of gas. 
I saw a commercial with Dr. David Suzuki telling people that clothes lines were eco friendly. I thought putting up a clothes line would be a good idea. Anyway my wife told me to put one up. 
That was three days ago. It hasn’t stopped raining since. Doesn’t seem fair does it?
The garden is growing like crazy but the grass is too wet to cut. That’s a shame. :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Humourous Lessons in Business, Tales of a Dissatisfied Squid Salesman II

Another long one by David McCaskill as published in the (now defunct) Asian Entrepreneur April 2000.

For those of you who have been introduced to our fearless CEO Allen McCaskill in Tales of a Dissatisfied Squid Salesman, these pages will not only provide background on his meteoric rise as a captain of industry but also serve to guide you through some of the pitfalls of entrepreneurship.

Early Adopters 
Early adopters are an important market segment. They keep a company alive while the rest of the world hesitates wondering if a new product is a flash in the pan or here to stay. 
Everyone knows an early adopter. He is the guy that paid $250 for a hand held calculator, which dropped to $20 within a year. He really believes that they will revive the Betamax™ format, 'tho he bought one of the first laser disk movie players, and any day he'll be able to buy records for his quadraphonic hi-fi system. He has, however, given up on the notion that anyone will produce popular music on eight track tapes. Early adopters have their place as entrepreneurs as well. These people have vision, drive, talent, the ability to spot at trend early on, jump in and create a market of their own. A large bankroll doesn't hurt either. Allen is one such person. When Allen saw his first murder mystery board game he rightly concluded that this market was going to be big. People love board games such as that perennial favorite Monopoly™ and no I'm not talking about Microsoft™. 
They love intrigue, and the thought of bumping someone off such as a boss or relative doesn't upset them in the least. 
Allen came up with "The Suicide Mystery Game". Moving quickly, he found a company to produce the game with good quality die (no pun intended) cast metal pieces, vinyl covered game cards and playing board. The game was an instant success with teenagers, keeping them occupied for hours. The instructions were easy to understand, the game could be played by one or more players and pizza and burgers were easily wiped off of the vinyl playing surfaces. 
Sales of the board game were brisk and Allen, ever expansion minded, decided to release a version on CD to capture a share of the video game market.
After researching the gaming market segment, Allen realized that there was also a large market for "hints and secrets" books. 
It seems that teenagers not only liked the pretty pictures and sounds the games made but they also liked someone else to tell them how to cheat and win the game. 
Poised on the brink of success, Allen's fledgling company was plunged into bankruptcy within days of publishing the hints and secrets book "The Suicide Mystery Game Hint and Secret Book" subtitled "The Victim Did It".

Allen's reflections: Jumping on a developing trend is "OK" as long as you can do the proper market research. Had I known that my target market was so fickle I'd have waited until I'd racked up a poop load of sales before releasing the hints book. Also knowing the industry you are in is to your advantage. In the games industry, like show business and mini skirts, you should always leave them wanting more.

Timing: In the world of business, like a good joke, timing is everything. About the time some company started selling Pet Rocks , Allen realized that "some people will buy just about anything" if it was marketed properly. 
For instance in many households you'd have trouble getting the family to eat leftovers. But mix in rice or noodles, charge an outrageous price, give it an oriental name and Voila!…Chinese take away. Anyway, negotiations to secure a supply of rocks dragged on too long and by the time Allen was set to introduce his Trained Rocks© by Allen ( sit, stay, play dead and roll over with a little help from a friend) the fad was over. 
This put a stop to all the R&D on Trained Pebbles© for apartment dwellers and Trained Boulders © for Texans.

Allen's reflections: One of the advantages of small business is the ability to act or react quickly. Also, maybe it wasn't necessary to try to secure that large a supply of raw material. Check out the sections on cutting overhead.

On Being Resilient Allen was headed for rock bottom ( pun intended ) when that "rocks as pets" fad petered out. 
Never one to let adversity, or good advice, stand in his way, Allen marketed the stock as "Executive Gravel" for up-market estates and nearly sold out. Compared to the $19.95 per Trained Rock©, the $400 per tandem truck load was not what you'd call a bonanza. 
The company had almost broken even if you include the costs associated with the sheriff…uh, redistributing the quarry equipment back to the vendor.

Allen's reflections: In business you have to "Roll with the punches" so "When you are handed lemons…make lemonade". Who the heck makes up these sayings? In the Timing section I thought "He who hesitates is lost" was appropriate but after I bought my raw materials everyone changed their tune to "Look before you leap". And "Laugh and the whole world laughs with you". Try telling that to my brother Dave who invested in the Trained Rocks© venture. Seems Dave didn't find my telling him "At least we hadn't gone to the expense of actually hiring trainers for the rocks" in the least bit funny. Check out the section on financing and relatives.

Tales of a Dissatisfied Squid Salesman I

All products trademark of their respective companies.

Tales of a Dissatisfied Squid Salesman

This one is a bit long.
Squid On A StickTMCo.*

Bringing you squid the way you like it...cooked... and on a stick. Squid On A Sticktm - coated in a batter with the Captain's secret recipe of 13 herbs and spices. S.O.A.S.Co is now shipping Squid On A StickTM in two formats: - The handy 1Kg box , ready for retailing, and - the rather cumbersome 7 tonne shipping container, suitable for large seafood chains and places that force their customers to eat squid.

Don't forget to order your Squid Deep Fryertm ........................$ N/A Cdn.
Attention: Boycott Squid On A Stick. Join the Blue Ribbon Campaign to stop fish battering. brought to you by Computer Hackers For Fish.

Mission Statement To make a wad of money.
Mission Statement Rev. 2.01 To keep our heads above water, unlike the rest of the Canadian fishing industries, while employing a lot of Canadian squid jigging persons of no specific gender and being fairly environmentally responsible in so much as you can't get around a lot of those infernal government regulations.

The Environment Here at S.O.A.S.C we believe that, until someone comes up with a better alternative, the environment is necessary and we might as well protect it. With that in mind, we go out of our way to make sure that our 1Kg boxes are made out of cardboard that can be recycled and our 7 tonne shipping containers can be reused for... well more squid or a granny suite in your back yard. Even the ropes used in our squid nets is made of hemp, a natural plant which yields more fibre per acre than trees. Our squid fisher persons report that they are much happier with the return of hemp.

Our CEO speaks out in favour of preserving some of the "old growth forest" in Temagami. "We should preserve some of the old growth forest in Temagami 'cause when we do catch the giant squid were going to need one heck of a big stick." editors note: a physical speciman of a giant squid 55 feet long has been captured and fed to the dogs and in the 1930's a reliable witness reported a squid the length of his 175 foot ship.

Pricing Due to the great fluctuation in squid availability and therefore a large variance in cost, we base our price to you on the International Squid Exchange in St. John's NFLD. Our policy is to sell the freshest frozen squid possible and still make a wad of money. Also, to keep costs down, we buy only Canadian wheat for our batter, from the European Black Market. The EBM has met our needs with prices including shipping consistently lower than our own Canadian sources. Squid On A Stick Wholesale Prices for November 1996 1Kg retail box (minimum order 10,000) N/A.** 7 tonne shipping container minimum order 1 N/A.** **shipping & handling, tax, license, radio and white wall tires extra. American currency accepted at par. SOLD OUT

A History of the Company Squid On A StickTMCo. is like the Phoenix, rising from the ashes of our founder and CEO Allen's first company The Sushi Deep Fryer Co.* Here is a quote from Allen at his first meeting of creditors " Who knew people wanted to eat raw fish ".
Allen now has a new motto, "Maybe a little market research isn't such a bad idea!".
Our CEO was able to stave off the creditors with some last minute financing. Allen raised the cash to re-position The Sushi Deep Fryer as an ordinary deep fryer by mortgaging a building.
The deal almost fell through when the owner of the building returned from holidays. Fortunately the owner of the building, Jim, was a restaurateur with a problem. The restaurateur would become a silent partner and not press charges if Allen could solve the problem of squid being just too ugly to eat. Our silent partner Jim, had mistakenly ordered 20 tonnes of squid instead of shrimp for his specialty "Jimbo Shrimp" which sells like hotcakes, and the supplier would not take them back. Jim tried every thing. He dimmed the lights in the restaurant, he covered the squid in sauces, he offered free shrimp if the people would eat the squid, he tried to entice the kids to eat squid by dressing up in the Ronnie McSquidtm costume. It didn't work. Horrified people ran screaming from the restaurant. Kids too.
The refrigeration cost to keep the remaining 19.83 tonnes of squid from spoiling were putting Jim in the red. Allen offered to teach Jim how to mortgage or sell other people's properties but Jim being big on ethics decided they should concentrate on marketing the squid.
Allen began his market research. While in a local park doing community service ( of his own volition he contends ) he noticed that people will eat just about anything on a stick: lolly pops, ice cream, whistle dogs, candy floss, hors d'erves well you get the picture. Why not squid? It would have to be deep fried, necessitating the purchase of his newly developed Squid Deep Fryertm .
Ever safety minded, and prompted by some pending law suits, Allen took a cue from Pete over at a company that makes frozen flavoured water on a stick. Allen's original stick was round and the design lent itself to being twirled between the hands.

 (fig. 3)
taken from the prosecuting attorney's missing files.

Allen came up with a splatter guard, similar to the clear plastic face masks worn by hockey players, for customers to wear. His partner, who thought the patrons looked silly enough wearing those bibs with the lobsters on them, vetoed the idea.
Allen went to plan B, a flat stick which was unlikely to be twirled. A fly in the ointment ( or a bug in the batter so to speak ) Covering the squid with batter and deep frying, while effectively disguising them, created an unappetizing lump. The unappetizing part was one of the problems Jim had been trying to overcome. Allen came up with the idea of spreading out the legs before coating the squid and then flash freezing them in this splayed out position. When deep fried, the legs did not stick together and left one with food, on a stick, covered in a light crispy batter, that didn't remind one of it's revolting origin unlike un-battered squid on a stick. Allen and his silent partner have gone on to offer Squid On A Sticktm not only to restaurants and institutions but now to the general public through selected grocery chains.


The rest is soon to be history.

Humorous Business Lessons, Tales of a Dissatisfied Squid Salesman II

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dave's

In my mind I've always thought that being a Dave or David was a good thing. My wife, who is a Ruth and far more rare than a Dave, told me she was speaking to someone on facebook who has a Dave for a husband. I figured that she would congratulate her friend in having such good luck, being as how she has a Dave. Quite to the contrary, and in reality to be expected from my Ruth at least, she offered her condolences. Then they both laughed, if you can believe it. Apparently these two are under the mistaken impression that Dave's are PROCRASTINATORS! HA! I will set her straight by emailing her a list of all the things I have not procrastinated on, this week alone. In fact, I'll do it first thing. Tomorrow. David