Former Georgia Senator Zell Miller apparently fell ill during a speech and was taken to the hospital. He had been complaining of flu-like symptoms (which, these days, can be anything) for a few days, says his wife. I certainly hope for Miller’s full recovery.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
In other words, it’s time to clean out my desk. Tomorrow is my final day with my current employer, a network consulting firm on contract to the Federal government. Specifically, I’ve worked for a bit over a year on some of the most classified networks in our nation: those used by our government intelligence services. These last two weeks have been, ironically, among the best days I’ve had there. In just the last few days, I’ve worked on systems that really, really mean something. It’s been some of my best work, and I’ll likely never be able to go into details with those I’d love to discuss it with. Such is life under the security clearance.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Moving to the new place also means I don’t have to get up at 4:30 am and look forward to a 75-90 minute commute to work. The new place is just 15 minutes away, and that’s with moderate traffic. Plus – and this is the big part – I get to sleep in until 6:00 am and I can be there in the morning when my daughter wakes up for school. And that’s worth the change, right there.
So, onward, dear friends, onward. Bring on the ‘morrow and let the newest dawn shine light into a life renewed. More to come… Stay tuned.
|::::::::||You know, this democracy thing just might catch on.||::::::::|
It might, indeed.
Hat Tip to INDC Journal for finding this one, you can now calculate the “reading level” of your blog. (Or someone else’s blog.) Hoodathunk? writing comes in at an 8th grade level, which is about that of most popular novels. I can live with that!
Syrian troops and intel officers have been in Lebanon for, literall, almost all of my life. That changed in the last couple of days:
|::::::::||Syria ended its nearly 30-year occupation of Lebanon yesterday, pulling its last 250 soldiers across the border after an upbeat ceremony that glossed over the tensions between the two neighbors.
The rear guard of a Syrian contingent that had numbered 14,000 soldiers just two months ago chanted and waved V-for-victory signs as it rode buses and jeeps across the border in the eastern Bekaa Valley.
This is good news. I hope Lebanon can make good on its efforts to democratize now that Syria’s gone. (If, indeed, they are. One can only hope.) I am especially glad that this was completely without a shooting war. I also hope that other regimes working to repress their neighbors get the hint and follow Syria’s lead.
I was preparing to write about the absurd Washington Post story this week about a poll of theirs purporting to show that Americans oppose changing the rules in the Senate to disallow filibusters on judicial nominees by a 2-1 margin. I just noted that the guys over at Power Line are, as usual, on the ball about such things, so I’m going to just link to their post on the matter.
|::::::::||But here is the question the pollsters asked: “Would you support or oppose changing Senate rules to make it easier for the Republicans to confirm Bush’s judicial nominees?” That is an absurd question, to which I would probably answer “No,” too. The way the question is framed, it makes it sound like a one-way street, as though the Republicans wanted to change the rules to benefit only Republican nominees. If they asked a question like, “Do you think that if a majority of Senators support confirmation of a particular nominee, that nominee should be confirmed?” the percentages would probably reverse.||::::::::|
Indeed. The poll’s sampling is skewed as well, making the conclusion more than suspect. Go have a look.
Some of you know I have some aviation background so stories about new planes always attract my interest. Today’s regards the new Airbus 380 jumbo jet, now the largest passenger-carrying aircraft in the skies. (In terms of passengers, that is.) The A380 survived its maiden flight today in France:
|::::::::||The world’s largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, completed a maiden flight Wednesday that took it over the Pyrenees mountains, a milestone for aviation and for the European aircraft-maker’s battle with American rival Boeing Co. (BA)
The double-decked, 308-ton plane landed successfully to applause at 2:22 p.m (8:22 a.m. EDT) after a flight of nearly four hours. About 30,000 spectators watched the white plane with blue tail take off and touch down, 101 years after the Wright brothers achieved the first controlled, sustained flight.
Before it landed, its front lights shining, the A380 did a slow flyover above the airport in Blagnac, southwest France, where it had taken off at 10:29 a.m. (4:29 a.m. EDT).
The plane carried a crew of six and 22 tons of on-board test instruments. It can carry as many as 840 passengers on commercial flights.
Now, that’s a big bird. Airbus and Boeing have gone head-to-head now for years and there was a bit of a race going on to see who was going to come out with an “upgrade” aircraft to the venerable Boeing 747. Boeing’s design team had started running with 2 ideas. One was to simply extend the 747′s “hump” upper deck all the way back to the tail for a 2nd level of seats. The other was an all-new design where the aircraft used a blended-wing arrangement to house 2 passenger levels in a sort-of “flying wing”. The design was, frankly, cool as anything flying and I was really looking forward to seeing someone change the face of commercial aviation. Boeing, however, decided that there wasn’t enough of a market for an aircraft that seated 800+ passengers and also cited concerns about the lack of ground facilities capable of handling the plane. They decided to place their efforts in the updates to their workhorse 737 design and into launching the 787 Dreamliner, a long-range sleeper cabin aircraft. I note that Air Canada will be deploying Dreamliners, so they’re definitely coming to an airport near you.
While Boeing decided to bow out of that particular market, Airbus pressed ahead and came up with the A380. There are some practical issues with a plane that size. Fueling, catering, and cleaning such a large aircraft will clearly take a lot of time. Boarding a plane with 150 passengers seems to take 20-25 minutes. This one will have 6 times that many people, raising concerns about the amount of time a gate is going to be occupied at an airport as opposed to cycling aircraft in and out quickly. This says nothing of the situation where an emergency evacuation is called for. 800 people struggling to get out of an enclosed space can generate all kinds of chaos.
Still, one imagines that the engineers at Airbus have thought about all this. The airlines are not, I know, shy about expressing themselves regarding aircraft design. I look foward to seeing one of these critters myself. Living as close to Dulles Airport as I do, I can’t help but think we’ll see them here among the first operational flights. Should be interesting.
As I mentioned earlier this week, this is my last week at my current employer. It hasn’t been a coast to the finish line and that’s the way I like it. I’ve been working on a number of projects over the past year and there’s a few that are still on the drawing board. They’ll be turned over to another engineer to work on after I’m gone. That’s the way it works and that’s fine. However, there were a couple that were within striking distance if I really leaned on a few people, so I did. The result was approval to implement a design I’ve been working on for the past couple of months. That’s why, after my full 8 hour day yesterday, I came home to grab a few hours’ shuteye and returned to the office at 1:45 am this morning. With a 3-hour window set aside, I wanted to be there the second the window started. My part of the design was complete with 20 minutes to spare, although some other engineer’s designs failed to integrate with mine as they were supposed to, so there was an hour of troubleshooting and tweaking. Bottom line, we’re fully operational and we now have 2 layers of fault tolerance that weren’t there before. A good day’s work.
What that meant, however, was no time to blog, so I’m taking a bit of my evening to handle that. I enjoy writing and I don’t want to get out of the habit. Thanks for your patience, and on with the show!
Countdown is now T minus 2 days and counting. After that, I’ll get to wake up at a normal hour with all the rest of you folks! Gonna be nice…
Here’s the latest report from Chrenkoff, his 26th. There’s still a lot of stories of progress and positive work that are not getting reported, so it’s good Chrenkoff is still on the ball. I note the opening stuff there where Chrenkoff highlights a BBC report on average Iraqis doing better. Good catch, Arthur!
|::::::::||Recently, British Broadcasting Corporation decided to conduct a little vox populi around Iraq: “Two years after the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad, marking the fall of the city to US-led forces, BBC Arabic.com asked seven Iraqis for their thoughts on how life has changed for them since the conflict.” The results were surprising, certainly for the BBC, whose attitude towards the liberation of Iraq has always been at best lukewarm. They were surprising for me too, not so much in what the seven Iraqis had to say, but that the BBC still chose to run the story.
Here’s Saad, 32, sound engineer from Basra: “Iraqis are feeling better. They are breathing the air of freedom. They read, watch and say what they want. They travel, work and receive a living wage. They use mobile phones, satellite dishes and the internet, which they did not even know before… As for terrorism, we are now beginning to unite against it and to defeat it.”
Noura, 32, computer engineer from Baghdad and a Christian: “While we lost security after Saddam’s fall, we gained our freedom and a chance to build a new society.”
Nada, 32, government worker from Mosul: “We never imagined that the Turkmen community would have a political party representing them in Iraq, but this is happening now.”
Kaban, 31, electrical engineer from Baghdad: “There have been many changes since the fall of Saddam’s regime, but the most important change was that we feel free… However, those who say that security was better in the past are completely wrong. It is true we did not have suicide car bombings in Saddam’s era, but our homes did not feel safe from the intrusion of Saddam’s security men, who came in the middle of the night to kidnap, kill or rape.”
Waala, 25, schoolteacher from Baghdad: “The Sunnis in Iraq do not live in isolation from the political and social circles of life, as many people outside Iraq seem to believe. Nothing has affected our relationships with each other – we face the same problems. This applies to Sunnis or Shia, Christians or Muslims, Arabs or Kurds. Unfortunately, the refusal by some Sunnis to participate in the elections was the cause of some political isolation.”
Imad Mohammed, 25, university graduate from Baghdad: “I am no longer worried about losing my dignity or my life. And I am also getting a higher income, like most Iraqis.”
Yes, the sample is hardly representative, and the concerns also expressed by the seven interviewees are many, most notably the still precarious security situation. But the sense of new-found hope and optimism cannot be easily dismissed, particularly since it also seems to be reflected in other interviews, opinion polls, and changes on the ground.
As they say, it’s worth the read.
Moving jobs is always a combination of relief and nervousness, anticipation and trepidation. Some jobs I’ve been in a hurry to leave and others I did so only out of necessity and accompanied by a heavy heart. These are the feelings with me now as I go into my final week at my current job. The work itself has been hugely rewarding and I’ll miss the people. But the commute…
I’m up at 4:30 am every day. A quick shower, shave, and usually something to eat on the way out the door at 5:10 am. It takes until 6:30-6:45 to get to the office, depending on the day and weather conditions. The reverse trip home in the afternoon takes every bit that long and sometimes as long as 2 hours. I’ve had enough. So, that’s what made me look for another job and I found one much closer. Today marks the beginning of my last week here, so let’s start the countdown at T minus 5 days and counting.
Should be fun.