Showing posts from January, 2010

Non-profit of the Month: February 2010 - Search Dog Foundation

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Have been a supporter of the Search Dog Foundation since 2005.

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Why are search dogs needed?
After a disaster, when buildings have crumbled to the ground, dogs can search much more quickly and safely than people can. By training on simulated rubble piles where volunteer victims are hiding, the canines and their handlers prepare themselves to find people who would otherwise remain buried. A disaster search dog must learn to crawl through tunnels, walk up and down ladders, and walk on wobbly surfaces and over debris and rubble. The dog must be able to go in a direction that its handler has signaled and stop and wait for instructions.

See the video profiles of the work SDF is doing.

Newman's Own Foundation has offered a $100,000 challenge grant to SDF.

As such, I'm contributing…

Bookshelf: Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger dies at 91

American literary figure J. D. Salinger died several days ago.

I read his most famous book Catcher in the Rye when I turned 40.

I looked back in my blog archives for the impressions ...

October 24, 2003 excerpts:
A few months ago, I decided to revisit my "teenage" life by reading a book that is often on middle school reading lists, Catcher in the Rye. It wasn't on mine then. I wondered what my reaction would have been if it were. Reading it as a baby-boom/gen X young adult gave me a different perspective I'm sure. At one level, I could relate to Holden because I know from experience something about alienation because all my life I've resembled the "stereotypical shy scientist" nerd type. It took a long time to become at peace with who I am and even to celebrate who I am.

But Holden was stuck. The death of his brother and his isolation were like rip tides that pulled him out to sea. Reading the book's raw descriptions and dialog was heart br…

Politics: Giving credit where credit is due to President Obama

Am politically center-right but I strive not to be so partisan that I can't give credit when credit is due.

We are entering the second year of the 44th president's term of office, what are some things I think President Obama did well in year one?

(1) President Obama, Secretary Geithner and Fed Chief Bernanke had a tough job in the bank bailouts. From what I have read, they did about as good a job as you could under the circumstances. Government bailouts are generally things you try to avoid but in this case there was probably little option.

(2) Keeping Defense Secretary Gates. It would have been politically the easier thing to do to bring on board someone from your party to take over the Pentagon. However, because the US is engaged in two wars, continuity outweighed political considerations.

(3) Obama could have pulled out of Iraq really fast. He could have thrown in the towel on Afghanistan. The anti-war wing of his party would have wanted that. But the President looked at th…

Politics: SOTU 2010 Impressions

SOTU tend to be laundry lists and only a fraction of what is mentioned actually happens.

What we can gather is tone and direction ...

(1) It felt LONG - I started listening while driving home from work. I stopped at Ralphs and got back into the car and listened some more. I got home and listened some more.

(2) Did I hear nuclear energy, off-shore oil exploration, clean coal in addition to wind and solar? Good. Perhaps, there is a tack to the center of the political discussion here ...
For wonks ...

(3) The problem with the health care reform, according to President Obama, was we didn't explain it well enough. No, people didn't like it because they think the government will make a mess of it.
Items that could get worked on ...

(4) I'm tired of blame…

Devotional Thoughts: See a stone in Zion

STONE and stones ...

As you come to him, the living Stone - rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him - you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame."
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
"The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone,"
"A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall."
They stumble because they disobey the message - which is also what they were destined for.

This passage brought to mind when I was new in the faith. I remember pastor Dr. Lin taught us, as a Christian you are a "Christ Junior." My first reaction was that sounds strange. He would elaborate: since he wa…

Non-profit of the Month: January 2010 - Any Reputable Organization Helping Haiti

The news from Haiti remains grim.

President Obama has mobilized the resources of the US Government to help and is to be applauded for the swiftness and scale of the effort.

When it comes to disaster relief, politics must always be set aside and indeed, Former President's Clinton and Bush have teamed up to spearhead efforts.

Here is one list of agencies on the ground in Haiti.

Hugh Hewitt offers his list of four organization on the ground in Haiti worthy of support.

Here is another list of groups working to assist Haiti.

Please give to any reputable organization you trust. When people need help, we need to step up to the plate and give.

President Bush put it simply, "The most effective way for Americans to help the people of Haiti is to contribute money. That money will go to organizations on the ground and will be -- who will be able to effectively spend it. I know a lot of people want to send blankets or water -- just send your cash. One of the things that the President and I wil…

Devotional Thoughts: Now that you have tasted that the Lord is good

I Peter 2:1-3 ...

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Sometimes, the Bible has complicated stuff.

Sometimes, it is as plain as day.

Don't need to over think this one, eh?

If we have truly tasted the Lord's goodness in our lives, we have no option but to make every effort to set aside the old ways and grow in the newness of life and salvation He has given us.

Pretty much everything I Peter has been saying thus far has been along these lines.

Lord, please work in my heart so that I would be your hands and feet in this world. Not only help me to set aside the old ways but make me bold and willing and empowered to live in a new way of love and reverence and alertness to what you are doing. Amen.

Politics: How much of what the TSA does is actually useless?

One wonders.

Here is an interesting item on where an Israeli security expert was interviewed.

It's mandatory that every passenger -- I don't care his religion or whatever he is -- every passenger has to be interviewed by security people who are qualified and well-trained, and are being tested all year long. I trained my guys and educated them, that every flight, for them, is the first flight. That every passenger is the first passenger. The fact that you had [safe flights] yesterday and last month means nothing. We are looking for the one who is coming to blow up our aircraft. If you do not look at each passenger, something is wrong with your system.
Look what happened, Richard Reid, the shoebomber, hid the explosives in his shoes. The result -- all of us have to take off our shoes when we come to the airport. The Nigerian guy hid his explosives in his underwear. The result -- everyone now will be seen naked. Is this the security system that we want?

Life: Are no right turn on red ticket traps?

I'd figure that in 99 of 100 intersections it is legal to turn right against a red light if it is safe.

But there are some intersections where you can't turn right on red.

I suppose there might be a safety reason for that restriction.

Or is it a great revenue source for the local municipality to have that?

Devotional Thoughts: love one another deeply from the heart

Coming up on the end of Chapter 1 of I Peter ...

The Bible does contain elements of "deep thought." But I think foremost there is a linkage between theology and living life.

Here in the latest part of chapter one is a very practical challenge:

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

There is the truth of a holy God and what God has done in sending Jesus.

Then there is a response that is called for ... love.

This isn't intellectual rocket science!

But it does require a transformation ...

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.

Do we naturally love without God changi…

Politics: Public option debate?

Labor Unions plan to fight for the public option found in the House bill which was a deal breaker to get to 60 in the Senate bill.

Politicians often speak out of both sides of their mouths so much that we are rarely outraged by the fact that they do.

The Public Option debate is one of those issues where they double talk all the time.

One on hand some believe the ideal system is a single national system like Canada or the UK thus substituting the current problems we have with a whole bunch of other ones. But since they know the US voters don't like a single national plan, they propose a public option that they say will be offered along with the private system hiding the fact that they could write the rules in such a way that the public option would eventually become the only option which is what they really want.

Further compounding the double speak is their assurances, contrary to their internal desire for a single system, they make that the public option would compete on an equal fo…

Science: Natural Obsessions and Naturally Obsessed

What is it like to be a molecular biology researcher?

Most movies have scientists in the form of the "mad scientist" or the "nerd scientist."

But what about a realistic portrait of the life of the average lab researcher?

When I was a graduate student, Natural Obsessions was the book that told the story of our profession.

For this generation, Naturally Obsessed is a one-hour documentary that attempts to capture the life of the lab. I hope to see it on Netflix at some point or if it gets shown on TV or some other venue.

The titles of the two works say it all.

To be a research scientist requires a certain level of smarts.

But a lot of people are smart and many even smarter who do other things and rightly so.

What lab research requires most is persistence and dogged determination that borders and crosses the line into obsession. It requires the willingness to try again an experiment a little differently. It requires the drive to look at the data that extra dozen times…