Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Brew Day at the Little Winery in the Back

Thursday 3/26/09
9:00 AM PST

The Little Winery, (which my wife erroneously refers to as her "garage"), will be the location for my birthday brewday. Watch on-line, send your comments, questions or encouragements.

OK, watching someone brew beer over the internet may not be the edge of your seat entertainment that it sounds like it would be, but I assure you, at least I will be having a good time.

The plan is to begin after the kids head out to school and all of the commotion that happens weekday mornings dies down. Coffee will be brewed, large propane burners will kick in and we will be off to the races.

I hope to have:
  • Both webcams streaming
  • Web dashboard with updated status, schedule and images and comments.
  • Twitter feed of activities
  • Public comments board
  • And, when we are all done BEER.
  • We may even have a warm scotchie to make it official

Watch this spot for updates.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why I am not going to complain about the new Facebook anymore

OK, I don't want Facebook to change back anymore. I don't appreciate the new layout, neither do millions of others. But, if a company has a vision, which Facebook has demonstrated they do in the past, then I say they should execute on it.

As customers, we think we know what a company should do. "The Customer is always right" rings loud and clear in our heads. Well, if the customer is so smart, and his idea is so much better than the company he is complaining about, then why doesn't the customer take that idea, go out there and make it happen.

You know what? Sometimes those ideas are better, the customer does go out and start a business of their own with that new ideas. And, sometimes they prove that their idea was correct. They did have vision, they were smarter and they are hugely successful.

But, then what do you think happens? They might continue being bold, smart, innovative. They have an idea about changing what they are doing in a way that might better, bold, and innovative. But what happens? A bunch of their customers complain. Is the customer always right? Who cares? If they are, great for them. Let them take their ideas off and capture the business that they think the company is leaving behind.

Facebook has shown that it sees what is possible better than other. It has become wildly successful because of that ability. Now, they have made a change because they believe this is the direction to go. Sure, you could argue they are seeing the new upstart, Twitter, and they are trying to capture some of that energy, great. They might just do it right again.

In any case, this is their bus. I think they have a right to drive it where they want. If I choose to get off, that is my choice. If they choose to keep going, they have shown to be a good trip planner in the past.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You think your job is stressful? Be an Astronaut!

Tonight, Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-119, will launch. It will be bringing it's a final set of solar arrays to the International Space station. Read about it on the NASA website.

As the US is winding down our shuttle program, there seems to be a lack of urgency for its replacement. Maybe it is understandable. We are all caught up in our daily crises, economic issues, job losses, wars and all of the day to day issues. We just don't seem to have the time to look up from our day to day issues to see the bigger pictures.

Exploration for the sake of exploration is a concept that many people don't "get". They say, "Why spend all of this time and money exploring, when there is so much to do right here and right now." Talking about forward, long term thinking is hard to prioritize when you are worried about keeping your job, feeding your family, or tending to a sick or dying friend.

Sometimes, we use the arguments, or justifications of space exploration such as "Exploration is part of the Human psyche", or "If Columbus had never explored, we wouldn't be here". I think those arguments fall short. Arguably, humans do have a long history of exploration, but part of our psyche? If you could ask early hominids what made them cross the land bridge to the Americas, you would probably find that it was in search of scarce resources, such as food or better climate. And, you could make a good case that Columbus did not sail to the "New World" because of some noble pursuit of truth or exploration for exploration sake. Gold, wealth, and power had a lot to do with it.

Using these completely altruistic arguments, although I personally like to believe they are true, fall short of presenting a powerful justification for space exploration. Why don't we talk about real, concrete reasons why we should and need to go into space? Why don't we hear more about how going into space, learning how to live and accommodate life in that thin shell that surrounds the earth, is the best way for us to learn how to take care of our planet. It is hard to appreciate the wildernesses of the planet, until you actually get to go out into them. It is equally hard to appreciate our delicate planet until you actually get to step out a little and look back at it.

We aren't even talking about stepping out very far. Most of my relatives live farther away from me than the astronauts are as they pass overhead. We are talking about space craft that orbits closer to us than some people drive in their daily commute. And we send astronauts up so infrequently that it is still a dangerous thing to do. Lets figure this out. Lets make our space program a priority. Lets move, just a little bit, away from the problems we face all day, every day, and look back. We might just find some solutions.

This is what is part of the human psyche: finding solutions. Lets look at the big picture. And, to do that, we need to step back (out) a little bit.

Good luck crew of STS-119. Be safe. Oh, and thanks!

Tim Beauchamp