Archive for February, 2009

Broom 2

Broom 2

Originally uploaded by kilgorebrian13

Same broom, new camera.

Recently bought the Nikon D40, something I have been looking at for almost a year now. The price finally went down to where I felt it was a good value.

One thing I will have to re-learn is using the view finder. After using a point-and-shoot for so long, I have become used to the “live view.”

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A quick update on the Tiger Team post from February 7. Quick, because there isn’t anything to say except the good folks over at DOT must be pretty busy “. . .  getting ready to distribute funds and developing common reporting standards to track the highway, road, bridge, transit, rail, aviation and other intermodal [sic] investments.” They haven’t had time to moderate a single comment to the Tiger Team announcement.

As a matter of fact, there hasn’t been a comment posted in The Fast Lane since December 9, 2008. Maybe this blog should be renamed “The Breakdown Lane.” I get more comments than the DOT?

Mr. LaHood did note that word about his Tiger Team is getting out in this Friday the 13th post in the Official Blog of the Department of Transportation. He has $46 billion in taxpayers money to get in and out of the DOT’s doors, but that should be an easy task for a man that talks to states. Or is that states within the states? LaHood met with state transportation leaders recently to discuss  “. . . the opportunities and responsibilities facing us . . . ” in implimenting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

I talked with every state represented at the meeting and learned about challenges and projects in their states.

By the way, check out this photo taken at the meeting. At least at the state level, diversity hasn’t made many inroads (sorry about that)  into the transportation field. 

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Cool Hand Luke is one of the  sweatiest movies ever made, in no small part because of Joy Harmon in the steamy car wash scene. Joy didn’t have any lines in this film and none were needed. What she did have were curves a Ferrari couldn’t hang on to.

Joy is now out of acting, and in a “where are they now” kind of curiosity, I looked her up. What I didn’t expect was to find her described in Wikipedia as a “. . . a baker and former American actress.” Not trusting Wiki as much as I used to, I Googled Ms. Harmon and was surprised to learn she really is a baker, and Aunt Joy’s Cakes is a leading supplier of cakes and cookies to studios and cafes in the Los Angeles area.

They do cheesecake, too.

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Line drawing of Disraeli


There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. 
Benjamin Disraeli


Chances are, he’s probably right . . .

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Zero to 60 in 2.1 Seconds

Maxximus G-Force

Just what this country needs, a mid-engined car that weighs 2,700 pounds and will suck the fuel tank dry in 9 minutes.

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Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

The newly appointed German Minister for Economics and Technology has one of the longest names I’ve ever seen. He only uses Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, which is enough. His family history is aristocratic, but he seems like an ordinary type. He is pro-America, something I expect we will see more of as times goes on. And he is friends with Tom Cruise. Well, no one is perfect. 

What’s in a name? A lot, in this case.

Karl – from Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus, Karl the Great, Charles the Great), a king of the Franks and of the Lombards and of Rome.

Theodore – comes from the Greek name Θεόδωρος (Theodōros) meaning “gift of God.”

Maria – usually a female name, but is sometimes used as a male middle name in many Central European countries where it signified patronage of theVirgin Mary.

Nicholas – Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and is often called upon by mariners who are in danger of drowning or being shipwrecked.

Johann – is the Germanized form of the originally Hebrew language name “Yohanan”(meaning “God is merciful”). 

Jacob – in the Hebrew Bible means deceiver.

Philipp – is a given name, derived from the Greek Philippos (Φίλιππος), meaning “lover of horses” or “friend of horses”. 

Wilhelm – William is from the Norman language (although Norman French was Latin-based and the proper name is Germanic) and is a cognate from the German Wilhelm, and of Germanic origin: wil = “will or desire”; helm;”helmet, protection.

Franz – German version of Francis, a French, English and Scottish first name and a surname ultimately descended from the Latin name Franciscus, the name of Francis of Assisi.

Joseph – a name originating from Hebrew, recorded in the Hebrew Bible, as יוֹסֵף, Standard Hebrew Yosef, Tiberian Hebrew and AramaicYôsēp̄. In Arabic, including in the Qur’an, the name is spelled يوسف or Yūsuf. The name can be translated from Hebrew as signifying “The Lordwill increase/add”. 

Sylvester – means “wooded”, from the root sylvania meaning “forest land” in Latin. (more…)

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I read about a professor who is developing a microscope using something called optofluidics.  Sounds brilliant and all that, but since when did did you get to be a professor while still in high school?

Changhuei Yang

Changhuei Yang

Optofluidics – Optofluidics is a nascent technology field that combines optics and microfluidics. Prof Yang’s group is working on developing a microscope-on-a-chip system that is tiny, high resolution and cheap. This optofluidic microscope has the potential of dramatically improving third world healthcare and simplifying bioscience research. Prof Yang serves as the associate director of the DARPA funded Center for Optofluidic Integration at Caltech.

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The lake

Originally uploaded by risquillo

It has been a while since I found something to add to my Flickr favorites.

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Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood

I am concerned with how much money the “TIGER team” will keep in the DOT’s budget and how much will actually be sent to the states. When you dump a bunch of money into a government agency and tell them to spend it, there is a temptation to spend on spending. If it takes money to make money, then it stands to reason it costs money to spend money. I have seen first hand the creativity used to justify spending my tax dollars on questionable goods and services. How much of a cut will the DOT take to “. . .  make sure that DOT’s portion of recovery funding goes out to states and localities . . .

Charities are often rated on how much of each dollar donated actually goes to help the cause for which it was intended. Will this information be available to the taxpayer?

February 04, 2009

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Creates Team to Coordinate DOT Role in Economic Recovery

Today I announced the creation of a new team at DOT to coordinate the Department’s role in President Obama’s economic recovery program.

The team, known as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) team, is composed of officials from across the Department’s operating administrations and offices.  I created the TIGER team to make sure that DOT’s portion of recovery funding goes out to states and localities as quickly as possible in order to immediately create jobs and strengthen our economy and transportation system.  The team is co-chaired by Lana Hurdle, deputy assistant secretary for budget and programs, and Joel Szabat, deputy assistant secretary for transportation policy.

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Bad News

Like “Man Bites Dog,” there are some headlines that seem to grab my attention. Here is one I came across this morning on the MSNBC Top Stories as of 12:37 a.m. Sat., Feb 7, 2009. Glad to see someone at Americas #1 News Site has a sense of humor, but I suspect some negative reinforcement *will be  has been meeted out. 

FDA: Peanut plant knew goods were bad

Federal health officials say the Georgia peanut plant at the center of the salmonella outbreak knowingly shipped tainted products.

* While I was posting this, the headline changed to “FDA: Peanut plant knowingly sent bad products.”

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