Friday, June 29, 2007

NPR : Pew Survey: Discontent with Global Leaders Grows

Well, at least Bush isn't the only President that the world doesn't trust (though I suspect he rates pretty high on the "distrust meter")

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Water/Thermoelectric cooling for everything!

Ok, not for everything. I was thinking about how hot my office chair gets and how to avoid the sweaty back syndrome. The chair is oh so cushy (good) but I am not sure the same level of cushiness could be maintained if ventilation was added so I was thinking why not a cooled chair? My folks have a Volvo and nice as it is my favorite part (in the winter at least) is the heated seats if it works for warming a car seat then why not cooling an office chair? Well I’m no engineer but having tinkered with computer overclocking and modding I have toyed (a wee bit) with peltier coolers and it seems to me that a combo of water and peltier cooling could make for a pretty comfy chair… though I could be wrong.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Google Maps Mashup for Barber shops that give shaves

Ever since puberty I have loathed shaving. Life kind of got a bit easier when it filled out (ceased to be patchy) so i didn't look *quite* as bad when i didn't shave but still its a pain. As a result I have always enjoyed a good shave at the barber shop but the problem is its getting harder and harder to find a place that gives a shave.

I get the impression that the US is one of the only places that ever did shaves outside of the home and while everyone (in the US) *used*to* get shaves right before work its almost non-existent now. I am actually a bit embarrassed to ask places if they give shaves now because I usually get a funny (actually, not so funny) look followed by a "No".

I know these places still exist, somewhere, and that is why i *wish* i knew how to put together a Google maps mashup where people could submit addresses of shops they know give shaves. That would be a killer use of Google maps but of course if its exists i haven't been able to find it yet.

Amusingly enough I have discovered that getting a shave in Afghanistan is quite normal, and really cheap (about $.50). Of course there is the worry of some stranger wielding an unlikely-to-be-sterilized piece of cutlery around my throat buuuut... we shall see (I can't get out much around here so getting to a barbershop has been problematic).
So if you know of such a place, or know how to make a mashup then please let me know!

Trip'n to Panjshir

We were driving down the road when we came up upon a white Mercedes and guys with Kalashnikov rifles. I didn't think flashing a camera in their face would be in my best interest so i turned my camera off and sat on it.

Turns out they were just some Afghans on their way to a celebration I think. This region is apparently pretty independent and *very* proud that they were able to fend off the Soviets and Taliban so they carry rifles all the time and since they have behaved the government has been hesitant to try and disarm them. whoa.

Drive by filming in Parwan

This was on the way to the Panjshir province/valley. I believe this province was Parwan, nothing spectacular, I actually took this mini-video because it was so typical of what I saw during the majority of the ride.

Ride'n around in the Panjshir valley

The Panjshir valley was pretty spectacular and a long drive (we didn't even get half way after more than an hour of driving). In areas like this it was narrow and the road was obviously carved into the side of the cliff but it opened up in other areas and these areas are where most of the villages were, though i was repeatedly struck by the houses built way up on the sides of the cliffs.

How much is an immigrant's life worth, exactly? - By Steven E. Landsburg - Slate Magazine

I was recently catching up on my podcasts (not easy when you barely have any bandwidth) and I heard this segment from Slate Magazine's podcast "How much is an immigrant's life worth, exactly?" By Steven E. Landsburg.

I thought he did a damn good job of breaking the issue down using cold hard numbers and not all this emotionally charged (and oft misguided) rhetoric. Being in Agriculture I can tell you that there are many aggies torn on this issue, their conservative sides may say "don't want em'" (the Hispanics) but the business side of them says "we need em'". Being an Aggie in international development I can say that I have no problem with law abiding (excluding the "illegal" nature of how they got to the US, law abiding to me means no stealing or violent crime and hopefully in the future a sort of tax system that can incorporate these people) migrant workers.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Valley Market

Valley Market
Originally uploaded by gaikokujinkyofusho

I couldn't really think of a title for this photo, the main reason I took it was the mountain in the background. Much of this trip had a Colorado feel it to it being in these small towns at the base of these big mountains (ok big by Southeastern US standards).

God Bless the Germans!

Since my arrival I have already had to go to the hospital twice. Ok, so I wasn’t dying either time but I wasn’t feeling that great either. The first time I had gotten some funky bacteria that was giving my GI tract fits, that’s pretty much par for the course when going to a new developing country but being the wimp I am I wanted to ease the discomfort (and reduce my TP usage) so I went to what is known in Kabul as “the German Clinic”.


My most recent visit there was due to all these little bites, or I thought they might be insect bites but there were so many (over 100 at last count) that I thought maybe it was the hives (an allergic reaction). These things itch like mad, I really haven’t had something that itches this bad in a loooong time. The wife of one of my Afghan colleagues is a pharmacist and had given me some industrial strength cortisone cream (at the time I didn’t know what it was since it was all written in Chinese but the German doctor informed me that it was indeed cortisone) and that still didn’t reduce the itching. Well I got to the clinic this time and found out that they were mosquito bites, gads!!! Those little buggers (yeah, pun intended) had eaten me alive. Well the good doctor gave me some German medicine (only a tiny bit easier to read than the Chinese stuff) and the ointment seems to help a bit more than the Chinese stuff and he also gave me some pills to help reduce the itching.


While under assault I had taken every precaution I could think of, I had fumigated my mattress, washed all my clothes (thinking it might be bed bugs), then thinking maybe mosquitoes I moved to a room that had a screen over the window, but all for naught, I still got eaten alive each night. Turns out that the mosquitoes here can be pretty little (noseeums?) so an AC is en route (since sleeping in an unventilated room would be intolerably hot [the AC was my afghan colleague’s suggestion so its not just me being a wimp]), I have closed all the windows, and my counter attack has consisted of using half a can of insecticide in my room (no more licking the countertops for me), and some sort of time released deterrent; if I get bitten again then I have no idea what I will do.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Life in Kabul

Well, I was (really) starting to worry that my little bit on “location” (what I filled in for my location on my blogger account, “different day, different place”) was becoming more an more inaccurate. I am now working in Kabul Afghanistan and learning my way around, kinda. The security is a funny thing here, my co-workers (all Afghan) tell me that walking around in a place is fine but walking from point A to point B is “inadvisable”, that is, attacks apparently are quite often premeditated so someone could follow me home, sigh. So as things are I don’t usually go out much (in Kabul) without an afghan friend and/or a driver, this is new for me as I usually quite enjoy hoofing it around town to see the sites.


Anywho, I got to Kabul in one piece and its an interesting place (no, that’s not a euphemism for I don’t like it) the past fighting is very apparent with the falling down buildings, bullet holes in the walls, etc people have been quite nice but I have been most struck by available products, mainly food. I won’t bore readers with the details here (I will write the details in thedigestibleaggie).