Hi,

Sorry about the long delay, it’s been super busy.  September was 40% over last year.  And it seems to just keep going (I’m not complaining).  :)  The latest 12 twelve windows are being delivered tomorrow.  That will bring up to 30 I’ve replaced this year.  Hopefully I will see a difference in the gas bill this winter.  Anyways, even with having to stain and put two coats of polyurethane on the insides and two finish exterior coats, I will be back to blogging more regularly.  Have you seen the Duck?

If you have followed my past posts, you know I am not a hawk or a dove.  Being a veteran, I strongly believe in a strong defense.  But abhor wasting my hard earned tax dollars.  I really hate this sequester thing and how bureaucrats are using it to defend their fiefdoms by crying that the sky will fall if their budgets are cut.  They are using the sequester as an excuse to lay of public defenders paid $75 and hour and outsourcing to private attorneys at $125 per hour here in Allegheny County.  It just doesn’t make sense.  The Stimson Center has just released a report showing how the military can “shave” $50B off the books.  (shave :) ).  The panel included four former members of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, I’d say they should know what they are talking about.  One of the big things they are suggesting is a reduction in the number of ground troops.  With the advent of drones, cyber technology and other modernization coupled with a reduced presence of American ground troops on foreign soils, why does the military need to be so big?

While I’m being Mr. Negativity, they are phasing out the Federal subsidies for flood prone areas starting last week.  Congress passed a law in 2012 that will raise flood insurance premiums paid to insurance companies to reflect “true-risk”.  The premiums will go up 25% per year until the true-risk amount is reached so property owners aren’t hit with a  one time wallop.  I feel bad for coastal residents and people living in flood prone areas, but particularly in these times of budget cuts to essential services like education and food for the less fortunate, it’s a good time to start this.  It’s wonderful to wake up to the surf pounding through your window, I have many times.  But if you want to build in a flood prone area, you need to be prepared to pay the full cost of it.  It should also cause people living or having a business in a flood prone area to think twice about the location.  In particular I’m thinking of areas like the Route 51 corridor that continues to flood and the property owners keep wanting someone to stop the flooding.  Move or make your structure flood proof.  That generally can be done, but again, you’d have to pony up with the cash.

Watch out you evil cable and satellite companies, since 2007, people opting to drop their expensive price tags has grown from 2M to 5M.  Besides the corporate greed to generate higher profits each year, the big driver of these increased rates is licensing fees paid to sports leagues.  Even if you don’t watch sports, it’s bundled to all customers to spread the pain.  An obvious option if you live in a metropolitan area is to go with broadcast TV that’s still available using HD rabbit ears.  You can also stream on line using on-line options like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus.  Now these options don’t carry live and local broadcasting, but you can view most of the major shows a day later (for a price of about $25 versus $135 on average). A new service that’s expanding across the country is Aereo , they have tiny antennas that pick up local channels and then broadcast them over the internet for just $8 – $12 per month.  You can go to their website, but your zip code in and they will tell you if you are in an area they serve.  I use Comcast for my Internet, they raised my rates twice this year bringing the bill 20% higher than last year.  When I called Comcast, the “Customer Service” rep I spoke with to complain about 2 increases in one year and the 20%, his response was to e-mail me a cancellation form.  What audacity!

The National Aquarium in Washington, DC. which opened in 1885 and closed September 30.  It had to move from the US Department of Commerce because of extensive renovations to that building and is not slated to move back in.  They’re shipping the 1,500 animals to various aquariums around the country.  There’s still the National Aquarium in Baltimore and many other significant aquariums around the country.  We have a nice aquarium right here at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium.

Alcoa just celebrated their 125th birthday this past week.  That’s one company that really has it’s ups and downs.  The latest was another down grade by some British analyst firm.  Alcoa is predicting huge things with the new minimum gas mileage average of 54 mpg coming up in a few years.  That will spur auto makers to use the less weight aluminum more that the heavier steel.  They have also come up with an aluminum with an adhesive for auto manufacturing that is durable and pretty cost effective.

Believe it or not, I’m OK with the rate hikes the airlines are starting.  They are taking what years ago were standard and offering the same service for a fee.  It’s my overall opinion if you want a cheap place to stay, go to a Motel 6.  If you want luxury, go to a Fairmont. If you want a nice place to visit with great accommodations, congenial host :) and two wonderful boiz, come to The Parador.  (Shameless plug) :)  They used to have decent food they served on airplanes and in cost cutting over the years, it got worse and worse until they dropped it.  You can now pay for a decent meal.  Want more leg room, you can pay for that as well.  Priority boarding is available for a price as well as many other “upgrades”.  If saving money’s your thing, just go for the standard fare and wait.  I prefer this than every time I turn around they are adding baggage fees, raising prices, etc.

There’s a start up robotics company in Lawrenceville that has CMU roots, Carnegie Robotics.  CMU researchers are always developing ideas and they just exist as ideas until someone puts them to practical use.  John Bares and Dan Beaven founded the company and one if their applications is the Line Scan Sortation System-the real name.  :)  Strawberry plants last just two years and so sorting out the good plants from the less desirable plants (why plant a strawberry plant that won’t bear fruit?) and it is very labor intensive task in strawberry production to sort and plant the new viable strawberry plants.  The volume this machine can sort it 60,000 plants per hour.  They use high powered blowers, laser lights and other technology to sort the good plants from the not so good plants.  They even have a system that takes so-so plants to be re-evaluated.  Other systems they manufacture are explosive devise and tunnel detection systems.

Quirky Nikola Tesla has been called The Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived, The True Father of the Electric Age and even the simplistic Badass.  :)  An amazing scientist that had famous bouts with JP Morgan and Thomas Edison to name a few.  Pittsburgh’s Michael Anton is writing a biopic he hopes to make a film from next year on the man.  There’s a red carpet event hosting the writer (and soon to be director) October 18 at 301 Fifth Avenue Downtown  which will also showcase a mini Tesla museum.  Tickets can be purchased at showclix.com.  Tesla was such an interesting person, besides all the ingenious ideas that emerged from his mind.  Eons ahead of his time, he even talked about sending messages to Mars and texting way before the technology was there.

Be back soon,

ed

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