Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for the ‘Geeky Blogs’ Category

Saturday Morning Finances

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Some strange behavior by the faithful Hyundai has us researching car options.  Our new personal finance crush has three interesting and thought provoking articles on car buying.  Lots to think about.

Also thinking hard about leaving Sprint for Ting.  Preliminary calcs look like our monthly bill will go from $171 a month down to $90 a month.  That’s about $1,000 a year in savings.

If we didn’t have working Sprint phones we’d head over to Republic Wireless.  $20 a month for unlimited text, talk and data?   (you have to buy their specialized phone). That would save us $1,300 a year.  Yes please!

Ah sleepy financial Saturday mornings.

Written by furthermusings

March 16, 2013 at 10:05 am

Posted in Geeky Blogs

Sons of Providence

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Sons of ProvidenceThis afternoon I finished Sons of Providence, the tale of the Brown brothers, Moses and John, for whom the high school I walk by and the university I walk to are named for.  It taught me a lot about Rhode Island’s early history.  I had no idea that the stain of slavery was so deep so far north.

The book is about the history of Rhode Island, the Revolutionary war period, and the slave trade.  The “triangle trade” was a prominent source of Rhode Island’s wealth throughout the 60 years covered in the book.  Rhode Island merchants commissioned voyages in “the Guinea trade” that left the Narragansett Bay with rum bound for Africa, then came to the Caribbean with hulls full of slaves, and finally returned to RI with sugar to make more rum.  This trade started before the war and continued long after slave trading was banned by the Congress.

The Brown brothers serve as a conduit for this story.  Their first slaving venture killed about 100 of the 167 slaves and half of the crew.  It also lost money.  In the wake of this disastrous voyage Moses became a Quaker and eventually authored the first state level laws against slaving and was instrumental in having the Congress outlaw slaving.  John worked just as hard to oppose the laws, and when he failed, to create ways to work around them.

The book also tells the tales of the Brown family’s dominance of Providence politics, deep work in the State legislature, and deep involvement in the Revolution.  John comes out as both a hero who burns a British ship beached in the Bay and a deeply self-interested man who cons the fledgling navy on several occasions, putting purse well above money.

They were complicated men whose complicated relationship was shaped by the tides of the times much as they shaped the times.  All in all it was an interesting book.  Certainly worth the read if you like that period in history.

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January 27, 2013 at 3:37 pm

A Life to Aspire To

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This video pretty much encapsulates my true calling in life.  If you get bored with the hunter-gathering bits skip the five minute mark where he and his wife cook dinner with an impromptu accordion ballad.   It’s all fantastic.

I wonder if Charity is up for this…

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September 5, 2012 at 8:27 am

Posted in Geeky Blogs, Laughter

Tilley Hat

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This week my Tilley Hat arrived.  I’ve been geeking out on it, especially with the “Brag Tag” that goes inside.  The eight small cards all have a cheeky story on one side and the following on the other:

Privileged Information: Most Tilley Hat wearers, and the person beside you is a prime example, are interesting people of sterling character.  It is well worth cultivating their acquaintance!  To that end, you’ll be pleased to learn, it is customary to provide the giver of Tilley Hat procurement information A WARM HUG, OR STAND HIM OR HER TO A DRINK.

I think that last sentence is Canadian.

My favorite colorful story from the other side

Elephant trainer Michael Hankenberger of the Bowmanville (Ontario) Zoo had his Tilley Hat snatched from his head and eaten by an elephant. Three times.

Michael later would pick up his Hat, wash it thoroughly, and wear it.  He has declined to accept a new one in order that we may have is well-traveled ‘Tilley’ for our museum.

We are secretly pleased.

Love it.

Written by furthermusings

July 1, 2012 at 8:49 am

Posted in Geeky Blogs

Evidence of … something

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We’ve rented 57 discs from Netflix since we moved to SC.  Over the same time frame last year in Chapel Hill we rented 26.  I think that’s a statistically significant difference.  But significant of what?  Restedness?  Loneliness?  Boredom? Probably a bit of each.

I’m dead curious what the Rhode Island tally will be.

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June 1, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Posted in Geeky Blogs

Insights on Organizations

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Currently reading Bureaucracy by James Q Wilson at night (#GeekAlert).  It’s amazing that wisdom and insight about how organizations function is free for the taking if you can find the book and devote the time to reading it.  As someone deeply involved & interested in three complex and important organizations (the church, the university, and government) I’m eating it up.

This bit was particularly insightful.  Reminded me a great deal of many of the church leadership meetings I’ve been to over the years where we hashed out what the mission statement of the church is:

In trying to understand the success of these organizations, one has to understand how they … decided … to perform their critical task.  By critical task I mean those behaviors which, if successfully performed by key organizational members, would enable the organization to manage its critical environmental problem… for the Texas Department of Corrections, the critical environmental problem was maintaining order among numerically superior, temperamentally impulsive, and habitually aggressive inmates.  The critical task became the elaboration and enforcement of rules sufficiently precise, understandable, and inflexible that inmates would never acquire the opportunity for independent or collective action.

Notice that I have referred to tasks, not goals.  It is often the case that many analysts and executives who wish to improve an organization begin by trying to clarify its goals.  Sometimes this is useful.  But often government agencies, much more than business firms, are likely to have general, vague, or inconsistent goals about which clarity and agreement can only occasionally be obtained.  Often any effort to clarify them will result either in the production of meaningless verbiage or the exposure of deep disagreements. 

At some level, the Texas and Michigan prisons may have had similar goals – to keep order, rehabilitate inmates, incapacitate criminals, or deter would-be criminals.  But if either organization sought to improve itself by thinking harder about these goals, it probably would have discovered that it did not know how to do some of these things (rehabilitate), could only guess at whether it was able to do others (deter) and would have been internally divided over the relative importance or even meaning of others (order, incapacitation).

At Carver High, “educating children” was to some degree a purpose shared by everyone, but if a new principal had devoted himself or herself to clarifying the meaning of education, there would have occurred an interesting seminar but not much change.

Wilson, Pg.25-26.

Brilliant.

Written by furthermusings

May 21, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Drones in America

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This week’s New Yorker contemplates the future of life with drones as regular part of American life.  What will this mean for our privacy, both from the government and from each other?

The technology is amazing.  Hummingbird shaped drones that get attacked by other hummingbirds because they’re so life like.  And then there’s the swarm below.  So far these guys only function in the lab… but they’re coming… and I kinda want one!

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Less fun but more technically wondrous.  How awesome would it be to work in this research lab?!

Written by furthermusings

May 12, 2012 at 8:23 am