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Comment Re: Chapel Hill/ Carrboro North Carolina (Score 1) 654

Working in and around Baltimore and DC, I see the advantages and disadvantages of both spread out development (suburban sprawl) and a centralized business district linked to the surrounding area by a growing metro rail system. Part of my job is servicing equipment in the poorer sections of Washington, DC, where people apply for public assistance, and invariably those offices are at about the furthest populated point from a Metro stop you can find in the district. On the corridors that Metro serves, the city has an air of vibrancy and prosperity, they are advertising million dollar townhomes in Bethesda, near a Metro stop. The areas poorly served are areas where you want to be out of there after dark. Even in these areas, parking is at a premium,

DC has some of the worst traffic in the nation despite this, due to centralized business districts, and the necessity for cars and trucks to drive around delivering goods and provide services to people and businesses in the center of town and in the edge cities as well. Out in the edge cities, major employers often have campuses which have no metro stops, large parking garages, and if they are lucky, a shuttle that runs occasionally to a Metro stop. Throw in DC's status as a major tourist destination, and you have a Beltway and major radiating arteries that can be clogged at any hour of night or day.

My thinking is that there is an optimal size for a city, if it gets too large the infrastructure needed to move all those goods and people around increases exponentially, which is why it costs so much more to live a certain standard of living in places like NYC/DC/LAX/CHI/SF than it does in places like Cincinnati or Omaha. That optimal size is affected by the opportunities available in a given area, versus the cost of providing adequate infrastructure to serve an area. Basic Econ 101.

Comment Re:Message RECEIVED. Help is on the way. (Score 1) 112

Seriously, International shipping was how the foul little critters got here in the first place, along with the other with nemesis to my grapes, roses, and hops, the Japanese Beetle. Zebra Mussels, which clog the intakes of hydroelectric and municipal water supply dams hitchhiked their way here in the bilge water of ships coming from the far east. It is not much of a stretch of imagination to see the population reseeded by produce trucks carrying their eggs and juveniles coming from areas not as hard hit by a cold winter such as Georgia and the Carolinas in loads of Watermelons and Strawberries headed for the Northeast and Midwest.

Comment Re:eBay... (Score 1) 291

If you watch an episode or two of Antiques Roadshow or Pawn Stars, the first thing an appraiser does is inspect the item not only for flaws but evidence of repaired flaws in the past, and knocks the price down accordingly. A perfectly preserved original is the gold standard and flaws, refinishing, and non-original modifications only. reduce its potential value to a serious collector. Painstakingly restoring an item with as close to original materials as possible can add value to a flawed item, but it will never match an untouched and well-preserved original.

These days there are all sorts of electronic goodies to emulate tube sound. Behringer makes a nice setup I have played with tinkering with old AM Ham gear. . For line level audio, they work well, and if you are working with solid state finals, they are the way to go.

Comment Re:Weather Underground is Slashdotted (Score 1) 281

If you need basic weather radar try this site.

National Radar, plus just about every major. City. Updates every 5 minutes. Its in javascript so it loads super fast.

Thanks, it looks suspiciously like the format that WUnderground uses, but with composite images.

Comment Re:eBay... (Score 4, Interesting) 291

When you get into obsolete parts, they generally fall into 3 categories. With the example of radio and TV tubes, there is a large percentage of the stock that is essentially worthless, everybody has them and nobody wants them. Compactron tubes in 1960s TVs are all over the place, but few people collect old TVs, and most have been junked. Second category is tubes which have a steady demand, but were made in large numbers, such as some of the tubes in the "All American Five" radios, and vintage ham and audio gear. The third category is tubes and parts for highly collectible gear, especially where specialized tubes were made for only a few models of equipment for a few years and are classified as Unobtainium. Some of the tubes in my Zenith Transoceanic radio fall into this category, a good used 1L6 goes for about $50 on Ebay, while I have a half a dozen perfectly good 5U4 rectifier tubes in my junk box. After a while, if a certain model of audio or radio gear has lasting appeal, the supply will eventually dry up. 6146 tubes are starting to fall into this category, commonly used as final amplifier tubes in many popular ham rigs, despite wide use in many applications.

This phenomenon happens with all types of vintage collectibles, because most examples of a particular item will have the same part that tends to fail or deteriorate.

Comment Re:Even better (Score 4, Insightful) 423

At that age, teaching basic life skills is top priority, the 3 Rs, plus teaching kids about the way real things work. Learning how a bicycle or a lawn mower works, how to do basic car, electrical, and plumbing repairs are also life skills, as well as cooking. Computers are part of this as well, but at that age While age 7 is a little early to expect kids to fix a broken flapper valve, replace a light switch, or sweat soldering copper plumbing, employing them as a gofer, and explaining the how and why of things as they look over your shoulder primes them for later on. Same with computers, let them help you when you repair or attempt to repair all kinds of different things. Let them take apart that broken electric drill to let them see how it works, and what caused it to fail. Keep a bunch of how-to books, first aid manuals, Army Field Manuals. Kids are easily bored, but their brains soak up information like a sponge at that age.

As they get older, let them or in the case when they break it themselves make them (with appropriate supervision) do the work themselves. My first big bike was built up from a bone pile of junked bicycles by my Dad and I when I was about 7. A couple of years later, I got a new 3 speed model for Christmas, and was constantly tinkering with it, and by the time I was 10 I was able to do just about anything it needed from adjusting the brakes to repairing a bent rim.

Comment Re:they're bad even on phones (Score 1) 233

For pure ease of use back in the days when it was legal to use a cell phone while driving, the best phone I ever had in that regard was the old style Nokia 82 series. You could dial blindly with one hand and be accurate most of the time. Things went downhill, first the tactile feedback went to hell with subsequent LG and Motorola phones, then got worse with the tiny buttons on the alphanumeric keyboard on a Blackberry style Samsung phone, which was just about unusable behind the wheel. Don't even get me started about my current phone, a basic touchscreen model with Android. Trying to use the voice command is a joke, I am not the only one who feels this way, when I ride with others when they attempt to voice dial, and as often as not become exasperated after multiple failed attempts or wrong numbers.

Comment Re:bulldozer (Score 1) 709

. If you don't want to burn out, build firebreaks, build stuff that doesn't burn (clay tile roofs, brick walls, etc) and don't landscape with flammable stuff. At least two people have to do something really stupid to burn down a house, the guy who started the fire and the guy who built in a tinderbox. "I know its the opening day of deer gun hunting season but I should have the right to walk thru the wilderness wearing my furry deer costume without evil hunters shooting at me, we should ban all guns so only criminals are armed". Dumbassery all around.

Before mankind invaded the west, either from Asia or North America, dry lightning caused fires were nature's way of dealing with the buildup of dry brush. When lightning did strike, the fires would burn until they ran out of fuel. Since the lightning strikes tend to be somewhat random (local topography does have an influence) every so often lightning would strike a given area, and if that area hadn't been struck in a while, a fire would clean out the old brush, so the amount of brush buildup in a given area was limited.

Pre-Columbian Americans had to deal with this issue. They didn't have the resources to even try to fight these naturally occurring fires, so they learned not to make large investments in settlements in fire prone areas, and learned to even use wildfires to their advantage to herd game, clear land, and so on. Starting around the beginning of the 20th century, it became possible for European settlers to fight these fires using mechanized equipment to at least temporarily protect their settlements built in fire prone areas. The only problem is that instead of relatively small but frequent fires burning off a few year's accumulation of brush, you end up with one great big fire burning decades of tinder dry brush when conditions were right. Massive wildfires in Yellowstone back in 1988 underscored the folly of trying to put out all fires, and led to fundamental changes in philosophy of managing wildfires.

Comment Re:Intelligent Advertising (Score 1) 354

Even if you can't afford to buy that new car, the people who make that car still want to make you think it is a good car. After all, if you can't afford a brand new Lexus (or Camry for that matter), you might still consider buying one used, and that supports the market for the guy who is considering trading his 4 year old Lexus for a newer one. On another level, continued advertising to current customers, (like the guy who just brought the new Lexus) reassures them that they made a good decision, and makes it more likely the customer will present a positive image of the brand to those around him. That kind of word of mouth advertising is the most valuable form of advertising there is, the loss of positive word of mouth advertising in a competitive marketplace can be the kiss of death in some cases.

Advertising is not only about getting you to buy more stuff, it can also be about getting you to buy them as well. A lot of the PR and advertising related to Tech Companies is about burnishing a corporate image to impress potential investors to make new or continued investments into a company. Many of the big defense contractors, agribusinesses like ADM, oil companies, and even large consumer product companies like Coca-Cola and Proctor and Gamble advertise in this way to look attractive to investors, or to lobby for legislation favorable to their company's interests.

Comment Re:NOW they develop this... (Score 2) 236

Amen Brother!!

I really wish this discussion would take a more serious tone than boning sheep!

I was involved in a serious car accident last May (I was the front seat passenger and the other driver was at fault), and which resulted in a compound fracture of my Tibia and Fibula. I spent 2 weeks in a trauma center followed by 3 weeks in a rehabilitation hospital, followed by months of physical therapy, and now wound care (the force of the impact ripped the front of my leg open). My most recent X-rays show incomplete healing of the Fibula, even after 8 months. While poor circulation in my legs is part of the reason I am slow to heal, even under the best of circumstances a fracture like this will result in several months of disability. Electrical stimulation is probably the next step, but orthopedic medicine in its current state doesn't have much more to offer me, and I certainly don't want to go back under the knife again if I can avoid it. Here is hoping they can bring it into the mainstream soon!!

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