Thursday, August 25, 2011


US Open site: "X" Marks The Spot.

Bad Karma. The US Open hazz it.

Monday, August 22, 2011


This morning I got THE email from American Airlines:

Due to your status in the AAdvantage® program, you may be eligible to participate in a screening pilot program being tested by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) this fall. The goal of this pilot program is to evaluate expedited screening processes for selected American Airlines travelers through designated security checkpoints at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and the Miami International Airport (MIA).

I registered using my Global Entry #, and received this:

We have received your opt-in submission for participation in the Transportation Security Administration's screening pilot program and no further action is needed on your part. During the reservation process, you will not need to input a Known Traveler number as your opt-in allows American Airlines to identify you as a participant in the program when submitting your passenger reservation information to the TSA's Secure Flight system.

When the pilot program begins this fall, you may experience the expedited security screening at the following airport checkpoints:

-- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) at C-30
-- Miami International Airport (MIA) next to the American Airlines First Class check-in counter

Unfortunately, to me Dallas and Miami are in flyover states, I rarely check in there, but progress is apparently, well, in progress.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

One Of The Most Beautiful Sights You Will Ever See..... the sight of your electrical meter running BACKWARDS.

Especially if you live in a place where electricity costs 40 cents per KwH (in most places on the mainland, it costs around 7 cents).

Now that I've got my solar array installed, I sell electricity back to MECO all day long. At night, the meter runs forward. Hopefully at the end of each month it's a wash.


The Local Boyz Arrive

Bolting The Mounting Rails To The Roof

Not much to these panels. They only weigh 50 lbs or so.

Each panel has its own inverter.

Almost finished

Kaoni wires the array into my meter.

Done. And plenty of room on the upper roof for another array if I need one.

Great News From.......TSA?

OMG. I never thought I'd commit this phrase to electrons, but my email inbox contained great news today from the Transportation Security Administration and Customs & Border Protection.

I'm not making this up.

As you know from some of my previous posts, a few years back I applied to CBP for NEXUS and GLOBAL ENTRY status. I went through the interviewing process, submitted my biometric information, and passed. And let me tell you, dear readers, it has been the greatest thing since sliced bread. I average about 15-20 border crossings per year, and I breeze through US and Canadian Customs via a biometric kiosk in 15 seconds, no matter which port of entry I am using and regardless of how long the line is. At the end of a long trip or the start of a long day traveling, it is simply wonderful. Canada has become my favorite destination, because I can use the kiosk going both ways.

Nothing makes my day more than flying home from Calgary (YYC), where the early-morning Customs line is never less than 45 minutes. I breeze through in 15 seconds. Like clockwork.

Now, it looks like TSA and CBP are cooperating (image that - cooperation within the US government) to expand this program to TSA screening. Pretty soon, a biometric kiosk will replace the strip-search-and-radiate-in-bare-feet process at select US airports.

I have 3,000,000 lifetime miles on AA and always have access to the "priority" TSA lines at domestic airports. Nevertheless, the process still sucks. Priority lines mean it just sucks a little less for me than for most people. I stand there and roll my eyes at all the clueless Ma & Pa Kettles, who fly twice a year, as they futz around with their their baby strollers, their backpacks, their bottles of water, their car keys, their jewelry, their snotty little kids' Gameboys. FUCKING DUH! Can't you read? This occurs just after a barely literate cretin, who most likely was recently was fired from a job flipping burgers, scrutinizes my Nexus card or passport with a flashlight to determine whether I even qualify to be searched.

Can you just IMAGINE how otherworldly awesome it is going to be when I can walk past all the queueing Kettles and the Barney Fifes, slap my hand down on a fingerprint scanner or shove my face into a retinal scanner, and be on my way in 15 seconds?

Oh. My. Gawd.

But I can temper my excitement by contemplating the prospect of still having to go through Heathrow a few times per year.

We are pleased to announce that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is partnering with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on a new Department of Homeland Security initiative announced July 14, 2011, that qualifies some passengers for expedited screening through U.S. airport security checkpoints.

This pilot program will be available to U.S. citizens who are members of CBP’s Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI Trusted Traveler programs. The pilot program will provide expedited screening through TSA checkpoints via dedicated screening lanes.

The United States government. Love those guys.

Love 'em.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Inspiring Story of the Boffins at MIT Media Labs

This interview with Hugh Herr blew my mind. The guy is an intergalactic boffin, a real-life Tony Stark.

I listened to the interview three times, just to make sure I got every word. Afterward, I ordered a copy of this:

The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives

by Frank Moss

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

I Love Paul Krugman

If you're at all interested in the current economic mess and don't already read Paul Krugman's column & blog in the New York Times, I highly recommend it.

Even if you don't agree with the Nobel Prize-winning Princeton economics professor, he is a wonderfully entertaining writer and pops out gems like this one on a daily basis:

"I mean, as far as I can tell he’s Sarah Palin in a suit."

Priceless. Krugman alone is worth the price of my online subscription to The New York Times.

Interestingly, I've seen Krugman on TV several times, and his public persona is nothing like his literary one. On TV he is extremely shy, very soft-spoken, doesn't look people in the eye, and is almost painful to watch. He is somewhat of a Caspar Milquetoast. But on the printed page.....I just love the guy. What a brain.

Krugman is the inverse of, say, Jim Cramer, who is enormously entertaining to watch, but whose ideas have repeatedly proved demonstrably false and intellectually bankrupt from every perspective, over and over, for a solid decade.

Krugman personifies a (rare) triumph of substance and raw intellect over style in today's bizarro-world media hairball.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

ENSO Alert System Status: La Niña Watch!

La Niña Watch!!!!

Last winter was La Niña and, very possibly, the best North American ski season in 50 years. If not the best, then definitely top 3. PowMow got 500 inches, and us AT guys were still touring PowMow in June, over a month after the resort closed. Snowbird, which averages about 500 inches, claimed 783 inches (although we all know the Snowbird Marketing department lies like a Fox News commentator). Lifts at The Bird were still running limited service on July 4th. In the Sierras and in Colorado, the backcountry guys are STILL hiking and skiing corn, and it's August....of the hottest summer in 50 years.

NOAA has just issued a La Niña watch for 2011-2012. YEE HAAA! I've got these sitting in my garage, just waiting:

Friday, August 05, 2011


At last, a universal sarcasm font.