Eric's Pictures

My buddy, Eric, put up a bunch of photos on the web. The Thanksgiving 2006 album has more photos of the Christmas Tree farm I visited over Thanksgiving. Click here to see Eric's albums.


Thanksgiving Pictures

My family

A mean cat that hisses at me

The Edwardson Christmas tree farm A shot from my parents backyard


Thanksgiving in Wisconsin

I spent a wonderful extended weekend with my family and friends back where I grew up in Wisconsin. The actual turkey day was spent with my little sister, her husband, and my folks. A great meal was had after which we burned off some of the calories while doing a little geocaching.

Most of the rest of my time hanging was spent out with friends and working on the Edwardson Christmas Tree farm. I've worked a weekend for the past seven or eight years on the tree farm. They used to pay me when I was a poor college student, but now I just volunteer my time. I think it's probably my favorite job of all time. If I did it more than a single weekend per year I might get tired of it, but just doing it once in awhile is perfect. I thing the combination of physical labor and happy customers make it great. I spend most of my time there hauling Christmas trees around for people, shaking them out, baling them, and talking with the customers. It's a fairly large tree farm (80 acres), and most people cut their own trees. Its a great experience for the families and if you have the option to cut your own tree this year I'd recommend it since almost every family I talk to tell me how much fun they have cutting down their own tree.

I'm still at my parents so I can't upload any of the pictures right now, but I'll upload some later this week.

Hope everyone else out there had a great weekend!


Nintendo Wii

I can remember way back in the mid 80's when I got my first Nintendo game console. It's a big reason I have the job I do today. Of course most kids, who play video games don't end up in the video game business when they're grown up. Video games for me as a kid supplemented the time I spent outside playing with my friends. I mention that because a pet peeve of mine is that today it seems some kids only play video games and don't do other physical or more social actives. I believe that video games in moderation are fine, but like most things when taken to extremes there are problems.

I haven't played very many video games in the past few years. I think it was partly because I had become a little bored with the games being offered. Once in awhile I would find a game I liked and would play it, but buy in large nothing seemed too interesting to me. That was until I got the Nintendo Wii this past weekend.

The Wii is a relatively cheap console. I say relatively because it costs $250 instead of $500-$600 for Sony's new Playstation. It does have an AMD chip in it for graphics which is always good :-) But the most important feature of this console is the new controller. The controller looks like a TV remote, but it is a lot more than just a remote. It accurately detects motion and where you point it so for example you can use it as a paintbrush/pointer on the screen, as a steering wheel, as a golf club, as a baseball bat, or even as a bowling ball (just don't let go of it when you would a bowling ball). The Wii comes with a game that lets you play a bunch of different sports and I was amazed at how much fun these games are when playing them on a Wii.

The Wii also has more traditional games like the elves fighting ogres type games, but again the controller makes the games more fun. Instead of just pushing a button to swing a sword you need to slash with the controller.

While I wouldn't say that using the Wii is a great workout it involves more activity than the old "push a button" game consoles used. I would say that I use about the same amount of energy while playing one of the sport games as I would taking a casually paced walk.

Anyways, I just thought I'd share my Wii experience with you all. Signing out.


Local vs National Update

After getting a few emails about my last post I thought a clarification was in order.

If you read my blog posting closely you'll see it says "government should take the lead on climate change initiatives". I probably should have emphasized "initiatives" more. I believe that local governments are more agile and you can make more difference in local policies. Taking the initiative and where I want the final version of a law are two different things. We should try to change local feelings and laws about the environment and when others see an example of how it can work they'll follow it. I really believe most people want more environmentally friendly laws, but big business convinces them it will cost too much $$$. Once people realize the benefits outweigh the costs the laws will happen.

For example you can go in front of the Whitehouse everyday and yell at the top of your lungs that Bush should pass more environmentally friendly laws, and it won't do any good. It would be much more productive to take on issues at a local level and prove the theories. I see this as leading by example and it is an effective means of persuasion. Of course if you want to try and tackle environmental issues at the national level I won't say it's a bad idea. Go for it! What matters is getting a cleaner environment and not how we get there.


Local vs National

I was sad to see that the exit polls showed 75% of people who voted thought it was national issues that mattered more than local issues on the ballet. Then today I saw a CNN poll that 85% of people thought the national government should take the lead on climate change initiatives. The US constitution favors local government over federal as shown by the clause giving all power not specifically given to federal government to the states.

This change to believing the national government is more important is certainly a change from what people believe in our country's past. I can think of two reasons for these changes and neither is good. The first one is that people feel when the federal government takes care of things they are no longer responsible for them. The second one is that the politicians in federal government have been working to influence people to this way of thinking so they get more power.


Miscellaneous Weekend

I did a little hiking this weekend (when it wasn't raining). While hiking I took a lot of pictures with my film camera, but I did manage to click this one in digital of the seeds of a milk weed.

I also visited a Grist Mill. Grist Mill is a functional mill that uses a water wheel to turn a grinding stone that crushes the wheat into flour. You can even buy the flour they make. Pretty cool.

I've been continuing my quest to become the greatest ice skater ever. Ok, I mostly just want to get decent at this point. I'm pretty good as long as I'm pointed forwards, but I still need some work on the backwards. Learning to skate was supposed to be the first step in getting into hockey, but I'm having so much fun learning to skate I'm thinking about getting into figure skating instead. Not quite as manly as hockey, but watching all these people at the rink doing their fancy figure skating jumps is darn impressive. I still haven't figured out exactly where I want to go with this yet so I'll update you once I decide. Currently I'm still getting the basics down.


Voting Problems

I just finished casting my vote. The two major issues I encountered were:

1) There was not enough space to write in my write-in votes. The rules on the ballet said I needed to write the name and address of my write-in candidate. The box was small and they only provided a large felt tipped marker. I'm quite sure it was not possible to write in a vote following the rules with the writing instrument they provided.

2) Five minutes is not nearly enough time to finish the ballet (luckily they didn't kick me out as the law allowed). The guys on both sides of me also took over five minutes.


Hacking Democracy

I saw this documentary on google videos that explains some major security flaws in electronic voting. I applaud HBO for making this informative documentary available for free on the internet after showing it last night.

National Elections 2006

The national elections are tomorrow. The choices I have in my area are pathetic. In almost a third of the races I will have a choice between democrats and write-ins. Gee, thanks for the choice America. In another race I have the choice between a democrat and a DCG. In the other races I have the choice between moderate democrats and moderate republicans who all choose to ignore the tough issues facing America. I've decided that I'll go and vote write-ins for everything except where there is a third party option. I don't necessarily agree with the third parties, but it's faster to check a box than write in a name. Massachusetts state law only gives me five minutes to vote and the principle of not voting for unchallenged incumbents is more important to me than possibly running out of time while doing all write-ins. If anyone wants their name written in on my ballet let me know.

I don't think I'm throwing my votes away. Even if you think that, the fact of the matter is that odds that my one vote makes a difference is statically insignificant. If lots of people "throw away" their votes eventually a significant 3rd and then 4th parties might evolve that give Americans a real choice. This is much more important to me than voting against my conscious for some candidate I don't believe in. Considering my pathetic choices, what I really want to do is post a vote for nobody and have my voice unrepresented. Then I would not be misrepresented. However it seems law forbids voting for "nobody" on the ballet even as a write-in. Maybe what America needs is a candidate who's only promise if elected is to do absolutely nothing. That would be a candidate I could vote for.