Month: March 2012

What do dinosaurs taste like?

This started off as just myself and Keryon goofing around. I like going barefoot in the house particularly when it’s getting warmer and the floors don’t feel like ice cubes. Going barefoot is also a good barometer of the need to scrub the floor.

But this went into our  discussion, I’m a nature boy to some degree.  I’d love to raise chickens, I love growing things, hell if I had a little bit of land I’d keep a cow or two for the milk.  Yeah, I know.  So Keyron suggested that I would be right at home iving in a cave, and I chimed in “With a dirt floor” and then he mentioned dinosaurs.

That got me to thinking,  what would  dinosaur meat taste like? For example, it has been discovered recently that some dinosaur species had feathers. Imagine T-Rex with feathers, kind of a ludicrous beast but feathers on dinosaurs mean our many birds are descended from the fearsome creatures of millions of years ago.

So with that in mind, I think they probably had a taste not completely unlike chicken. Think about all the birds we eat – they all have a slight chicken like flavor, even Turkey.

So what do you think?



Electronic devices on aircraft

Go and read the WSJ piece first. I’m going to pull out a couple of items in there just or explanation.

The Federal Aviation Administration allows pilots to use iPads and other electronic devices to replace charts and manuals in the cockpit, powered up during takeoff and landing. But the FAA says it can’t test all the different gadgets passengers may bring on board. The agency worries a multitude of devices could pose more danger than a single iPad for pilots.

So they can use iPad’s and “other electronic devices” in the cockpit. That’s interesting because they must be shutting off the RF chips on those devices when they board the aircraft. Every cell phone, touchpad and the like has the ability to disable to disable the Broadcom or Qualcom RF chip inside the device and you can still read documents, play music, etc. that’s stored on the device.

Cell phones run around 1.8GHz to 2.0GHz. WiFi is in the 2.4GHz range, right in there with microwave ovens. Not to mention most radars are in that range too from around 20cm down to 10cm.

But here’s the thing, with any RF transmitter you have harmonics, parts other frequencies where there is resonance but is suppressed by filtering and tuning. They’re usually down anywhere from 30db to 70db, and they are divisible, so 2.4GHz is 2,400Mhz, with harmonics at 1,200MHz, 600MHz, 300Mhz, 150Mhz, and so on. If we do the same for cell phones, 1,800MHz, 900Mhz, 450Mhz, 225Mhz, 112.5Mhz.

That last one in each series is what could potentially interfere with aircraft communications that run around 127MHz AM, those being 150MHz and 112.5MHz

You also have to understand the difference between amplitude modulation and frequency modulation. Aircraft use mostly Amplitude Modulation which makes it MORE susceptible to interference.

Picture a sine wave.

In amplitude modulation (AM)you vary the height of the peaks and valleys, the time period stays consistent, i.e. there is a complete varied wave every x seconds.

In frequency modulation (FM) you vary the time period while the peaks and troughs remain the same. There is a complete wave on a variable time basis. The animated graphic below demonstrates:

So it is possible that mobile devices could interfere with communication and navigation gear.

Below is a basic list of all the radio frequencies applicable to ILS:

Instrument Landing System (ILS)

Localizer: 108.1-111.95 MHz
Glide Slope: 329.15-335.0 MHz

VHF Omnidirectional Range (VOR)

108.0-117.95 MHz

Distance Measuring Equipment (DME)

Air: 1025-1150 MHz
Ground: 962-1213 MHz

Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN)

Air: 1023-1152 MHz
Ground: 960-1215 MHz

Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR)

Primary Surveillance Radar: 2700-2900 MHz
Secondary Surveillance Radar, Transponders, ADS-B and Univeral Access Transcievers
Transponder (air): 1090 MHz
SSR (ground): 1030 MHz
UAT (air & ground): 978 MHz (USA only)

Air Route Surveillance Radar (ARSR) 1215-1350 MHz

Do you notice any frequencies in that list that might be 2nd, 3rd or 4th order harmonics of the frequencies used by mobile devices? Uh huh.

And the admonishment not to use cell phones is interesting. At speeds up to about 200MPH cell service can hand off fairly well. But once you start moving faster, it becomes more of a trick. So your phone would have to use more power because the towers are more distant.

So you’re probably better off turning the radios off on your mobile devices when you’re flying.

Trayvon Martin: Police chief temporarily steps down

I predicted this one, the chief of Police in Sanford, Florida has now temporarily stepped down.

What I find interesting in the article is that he’s only been on the job for a year, replacing a prior chief who went down in flames.

I think the problems with the Sanford Police are deeper than just the chief. I think it has a serious lack of leadership.

That Lee said he was interested in keeping out people who didn’t belong there, I had read all I needed to know. It is embedded racism.

But I knew the chief would have to fall on his sword. With the DOJ, FBI and FDLE all breathing down his neck it is no wonder.

And now you even have the original authors of the Stand Your Ground bill saying that Zimmerman, the shooter, had forfeited his claim to self defense by pursuing Martin. It took all of this to light the fire under the prosecutors behind in order to move forward with indicting Zimmerman.

Burger Wars in the Providence metro area

So I’ve been a fan of Five Guys for some time. A true grill, burgers formed on the spot along with the toppings create a delicious free form burger.

But the buns are on the wimpy side. They fall apart while you’re eating the burger and can get pretty messy. The nearest Five Guys is in Warwick, RI, actually Seekonk, MA is closer. But I get down to Warwick more than Seekonk so you understand.

Then there is Luxe Burger here in the city. Their burgers appear to be press formed, and possible pre-frozen. Not so good, but you have the option of different buns and the whole wheat bun is perfect for standing up to a burger and the toppings.

So it is with that in mind that I propose Five Guys learn about the bun, and Luxe learn about the burger.

Both do a good job of putting a burger together, offering the customer a range of choices. But Luxe gets the nod here for the offering of multiple different buns.

State of the City: Something interesting about property in Providence

So a few days ago we had occasion to go over to Whole Foods. We walked since if there is one thing about Providence, it is a very walkable city.

Our route took us down Benefit Street. This is where a lot of the historic properties in the city are located, and there are some very nice homes. I figured it’s all in the million plus range.

But one thing I noticed was the number of houses for sale on that street. So when I got home (For some reason google was being a pain in the ass on my phone!) I looked up a couple of the homes for sale.

One was very nice, a big yellow colonial style. And literally, it dated to the 18th century. The price was $895,000 – monthly mortgage estimated at $6,000. So you’d need to be making about $250,000 to afford this ($250,000 after tax would net $165,000 [Based on 33% tax] or $13,750 per month) home.

But taxes – it’s about $32 per thousand of valuation right now, which means the annual tax bill would be $28,640, or $2,386.66 per month! So you go from $13,750 less $6,000 less $2,400 for tax and you’re left with $5,350 – not bad. But that tax rate is only going to continue to climb so get out while you can.

Meanwhile we have multi-million dollar properties in the city that got temporary abatements lasting 20 years. Such properties as Providence Place Mall, the Gtech property, the Westin properties. All of them got some sort of favorable tax treatment before they ever broke ground.

But city finance is in crisis. And the low hanging fruit has already been picked. It’s time to buckle down, EVERYONE has to sacrifice. And I don’t buy the Mayor Taveras’ arguments that it brought in jobs, that’s a red herring and he knows it.

Honestly, if you rescinded the tax abatements what are the property owners going to do? Tear them down? When they’re making money? Or pick them up and move them?

There is STILL a $22 million dollar deficit. If you went to the property owners, and really looked at the churches, you could close the gap. Mayor Taveras and his administration have already started the process of going down the hard road of reigning in health care costs for retirees, and they are chipping away at the cost of living adjustments too. At 6% per year, the COLA’s outpace inflation! You have fire chiefs who left making $70,000 who now collect $190,000 a year in pension.

And the Mayor has said that they are only going after the COLA’s, not the pensions. So those of you who got out before the crunch, you had it good. It won’t be so good until they city gets the opportunity to move those over 65 into Medicare, and the city will provide subsidies to purchase supplemental plans. And those retirees under 65 will be asked to shoulder 20% of the health care costs. If you’re making $100,000 a year you can afford to take the 20% hit.

In conclusion, in dire times EVERYONE has to shoulder the burden. No tax breaks, no giving away the candy store. Pay the damned tax!

Providence State of the City 2012

So this evening I attended the Providence State of the City presentation by Mayor Angel Taveras.

Also in attendance were Governor Lincoln Chafee, Senator Paul Jabour, Representative Michael Tarro, Councilwoman Sabina Matos, Councilman Bryan Principe and a few other notables.

The main gist of the presentation was that Providence is facing a $22 Million dollar deficit. They have already cut the mayors salary by 10%, the staff by 10% and have laid off close to 200 city employees.

And they are negotiating and pursuing court cases to eliminate the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for retirees. The COLA as it stands is now 6% per year. They had one page showing a fire chief who had a last year salary of $70,000 who was now getting nearly $200,000 a year in pension.

They’re looking to move retirees over 65 into Medicare, and they are asking younger retirees to shoulder 20% of the cost of health care. This of course is going to be tied up in court.

The city has gotten Johnson & Wales University to triple it’s annual payments in lieu of taxes, which is a good move.

And they are actively negotiating with the remaining schools an the hospitals.

But they aren’t touching the churches. A pity as the Roman Catholic church is sitting on a pretty pennies worth of property in the city.

And I brought up all the tax breaks and abatements given for property developments. I got some hemming and hawing about the benefits and jobs they brought. All well and good but the developments got abatements of 10 to 20 years, and since we ALL have to sacrifice perhaps we should go back and rescind those agreements. I mean really, what are the property owners going to do? Tear them down? Or pick them up and move them? These are THRIVING properties. So while they want to adopt the 25% of the tax rule that Boston uses, apply it to the property developments too.

If everyone else has to sacrifice let those who got the biggest breaks sacrifice too.

The Murder of Trayvon Martin

I’m certain all my readers have heard about the 17 year old Trayvon Martin who was gunned down and killed by George Zimmerman.

This is very disturbing to me for a number of reasons. The fact that the police department has not arrested Zimmerman astounds me. But it appears that Florida has a bizarre interpretation of Castle Doctrine aka Stand Your Ground. The Zimmerman can claim self defense is quite honestly, ludicrous. The other reason this is disturbing to me is because my SO is black and I’ve seen the obvious discrimination level at him. That someone can be killed because of the color of their skin is highly offensive to me.

It is now evident that Zimmerman ha prior contact with police, having called them over 40 times prior to having killed Martin.

And hearing the E-911 recordings, you can hear Trayvon Martin screaming for his life.

I’m happy that DOJ is investigating. In addition I can tell you how this ought to go down:

The FBI investigates and finds that indeed, a hate crime was committed and charges Zimmerman. In the course of the investigation they will find evidence that incriminates the local police department. So expect that the police chief falls on his sword, along with a state prosecutor.

And Zimmerman will be locked up in a federal penitentiary.