The day the chip failed.

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The new credit/debit chip cards seem to have a high failure rate and they can’t be trusted to work when you need them.  My wife had two fail in the past several months at inopportune moments.

I sent my wife and younger son to the crowded Walmart grocery store by themselves because I was just too tired to go.  My wife bought a large amount of groceries and attempted to pay with the chip card.  Naturally the chip didn’t work and she did not have another method of payment with her at the time.   She next tried the ATM in Walmart using the same chip card to get money to pay for the thawing groceries.  The ATM locked up with an error signal and she could not get her card out.  The electric cart she uses to shop in Walmart also got hooked on the ATM slightly at some point during all the fun times.  Walmart personnel came to the rescue and at least retrieved the offending chip card.  They rolled the cart of packed groceries to customer service to figure out what to do next.

My son drove back to get me while my wife waited with the melting groceries at Walmart.  Fortunately my debit chip card worked and we were able to get the big load of groceries home before any real damage was done.  A little excitement in otherwise humdrum day would be my thoughts.  My wife had an alternate opinion on the days proceedings.  I guess the moral of the story is always have two methods of payment and never trust a chip.

 

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Space needs to pay for itself.

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The United States needs less space exploration at the expense of the taxpayer and more space exploitation for profit. Sending humans to Mars is wrong at this time because we should use that same money to establish near earth space infrastructure that can support for profit opportunity in the near future.  Look at the human moon landings as the example of a not for profit enterprise controlled by the government and paid for with taxpayer dollars.  We landed a few humans on the moon in a heroic fashion at great cost and risk.  In return for this great effort we received a short temporary boost in our national pride and a few moon rocks.   We should have established a permanent nuclear powered base on the moon at that time for industry, mining, research and military purposes instead of just collecting a few rocks that are really not that critical.  We should not repeat this same mistake with an expensive human Mars landing as proposed by the current U.S. administration.

Robots can explore Mars and the outer solar system more efficiently and safer than any human can.  Mining our moon and any asteroids we can relocate to near earth orbit has a greater potential for real profit in the near term.  A nuclear powered electromagnetic mass driver built on the moon could send large amounts of processed or raw lunar material  into orbit around the earth.  Space based solar power collection systems could be built with these materials and the resulting power sent to earth based collection systems via microwave transmission.  These solar power systems could eventually eliminate the need for any dangerous nuclear plants or dirty fossil fuels on earth.  Global climate change due to human CO2 emissions from fossil fuels would be unnecessary.  In addition large space based systems could be built that could modify the climate on earth if it is disrupted by nature.

Pride and glory are the primary reasons humans want to put their first footprint on Mars.  The vast bulk of people on earth would not be helped by putting humans on Mars.  Why not let cheap AI controlled robots go explore Mars instead?  No one cares if a robot dies in a slow motion horrible accident.  Why not put more taxpayer dollars into near earth space industry infrastructure that will help the people living on this planet?    Space industry of this type would create many new jobs on earth and improve the immediate quality of life for everyone.  Capitalism in space needs this type of infrastructure to make a profit.

 

 

 

President Trump’s SOTU Speech.

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President Trump’s state of the union speech was fairly reasonable and presidential in my opinion.  I don’t agree with every policy Trump advocates but this speech was acceptable.  Some of the hero guests he pointed out were even inspirational.  The North Korean defector whose legs were amputated and used crutches to escape through China was an excellent example of this group of people.

His proposed pathway to citizenship for daca dreamers is just common sense and in line with the values of the United States.  His idea of a “Great Wall” across the southern border of the United States could be done but is not needed and would be a severe eye sore across many areas of pristine landscape.  Walls are appropriate for many border areas but drones, other technological devices and an increased number of border agents would be a more intelligent solution.  Great Walls are ugly in an open landscape, they are not cheap and they can be breached.

Changing the Afghan war rules of engagement was the appropriate thing to do.  Obama’s rules of engagement were getting Americans killed.  Wars are not won and ended by choir boys.

Trump’s personal life and harsh stupid statements do not concern me as much as the policies he advocates for our country.  Not everything Trump advocates is wrong and Democrats should work with him on areas that are clearly acceptable to anyone with some common sense.  Democratic obstruction will only cause their party to lose the next election.  If Trump stays with the tone and policy he demonstrated in this speech he will win the next presidential election no matter what the democratic party does.

 

Sparse blogging by Glenn.

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My father, myself and my sister long ago.

Haven’t been doing much blogging lately.  My wife is recovering from hip surgery and I have been taking care of her.  The results of the hip surgery have been very good.  She may not be dancing the jitterbug but she can at least walk with the aid of a walker again and the hip joint has not popped out.  I’ll take that as a win.  Thanks for everyone’s prayers.

Cat ate our over the air TV antennae so we bought a better compact one from Home Depot that allows the coax to be separately disconnected and is designed to be mounted in the attic. It looks like a small white UFO and is called the UFO by the manufacturer.  Strangely enough Judy objected to my drilling holes in the walls to run the coax from downstairs up to the attic. A divorce lawyer was mentioned.  Go figure women.  Instead I had to settle for mounting the UFO in the bedroom closet but it still works much better than the flat little antennae we had before so Judy was happy.  I only watch live TV for the daily local news and for Packers football games anyways.  Judy is addicted to GRIT TV from Milwaukee and she religiously watches Laramie and Walker Texas Ranger which unfortunately are starting to make me mildly ill after watching all the episodes at least three times.

I am not a big fan of cable TV so we don’t purchase it.  It’s just not worth the money.  We do have free internet TV options via Roku and Amazon TV sets so I don’t know if we fully fit the definition of “cord cutters” but maybe we are close enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploding Circuit Board catches on fire!

 

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Typical Circuit Board with Public Domain Image

A circuit board that catches on fire in your product does not make anyone happy.  I used to work at a company that had this unpleasant problem in a large electrical control panel for an industrial device involved with explosive atmospheres that was shipped around the world.  This problem made everyone very excited when it started happening on the clients factory floor according to what I was told.

I had never worked on that product line and was barely aware of its existence until my engineering supervisor called me and told me to immediately personally retrieve all of these circuit boards currently in our factory.  I was an electrical design engineer behind a desk at that company and had not yet had the privilege of interacting with everyone in the factory.  There were three boards in the factory at that time and it was relatively easy to retrieve the first two on the factory floor quickly with only minor violations of  factory protocol.

The final board was installed in a large six foot high electrical control cabinet that was packaged tightly in a strong 2 x 4 skid on the shipping dock by a waiting truck.  I asked the workers there if I could open the cabinet to retrieve the circuit board.  They all had a good laugh when I said that and one of them handed me a large crow bar as a joke.  Obviously, they didn’t know me that well. I used the crow bar to rip open the packaging and break the 2 x 4’s sufficiently to get the circuit board out of the cabinet. This rendered the product incapable of being delivered.  The dock workers seemed to be surprised at what I had done.  I returned the crow bar to them, thanked them for its use and wished them a good day.

A short time later there was a conference in my supervisors office about my unexpected actions during the circuit board retrieval.  Fortunately for me the workers had loaned me the crow bar so filing a grievance against me wouldn’t have been a desirable outcome.

My new assignment in life was to correct the defect in that exploding circuit board that a previous employee had designed.  I tested one and sure enough it started on fire when subjected to full heavy loads.  Eventually I figured out that one resister needed a massive increase in the amount of wattage it could handle and made a working model for mass production copies.  Who says that engineering can’t be fun?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do Republicans want Preexisting Conditions to Exclude People from Health Insurance?

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My Grandfather and friends

Preexisting conditions cost a lot of money to treat and insurance companies will be more profitable if people with these conditions can be excluded from getting health insurance.  After all why should healthy people pay for the treatment of people with preexisting conditions?  Wouldn’t it be less expensive if we just let them exhaust all their own personal resources and then die because that will finally solve the problem? Didn’t they really cause their own sickness with their unhealthy lifestyle choices so it’s their own fault anyways?

You can always count on some Republicans for their overwhelming compassion and to help their big donors like the insurance companies.  I know medical treatments cost money and that someone needs to pay that cost but anyone can get an illness that will devastate their personal finances.  Guess what, sometimes it is necessary for an insurance company to pay the big bills because that is why everyone pays them a premium.  No insurance system will be perfect but even people who have been blessed by God with good health are not immune to a sudden illness that can wipe out their personal finances unless they have insurance. What is a fair solution to this expensive  problem?

Most modern first world countries have national health insurance run by the government and that is one solution to the problem that seems to work well for smaller countries.  Unfortunately, the government of the United States is large, bloated, unwieldy and it stinks.  Obamacare is a prime example.  I think that private enterprise insurance companies are still the best choice for the United States but they need to have regulations that force them to be fair to everyone.  The national government needs to regulate insurance companies because this issue crosses state lines.

I think that the following insurance ideas should be made into law.

  1.  Anyone should be able to purchase critical health insurance at a price they can afford including people with preexisting conditions.  Poor people will require a net subsidy in some cases so rich people will need to subsidize them indirectly through taxes.  The alternative would be to let some poor people die and I find that concept unacceptable to me as a Christian.
  2.  Mental health, Vision and Dental care must be included in all basic health plans. People can’t work without these necessities.
  3.  Veterans should have their health care paid for life by the people of the United States.  Veterans have made a sufficient contribution to our society to deserve this service.
  4. Luxury health care items such as noncritical plastic surgery, fat reduction and acupuncture should not be part of the standard health care insurance program but they could still be purchased on a pay basis.
  5. All federal employees including the Congress of the United States and President shall have the same health plan as the people of the United States.
  6. Everyone should have the same limits on the total cost of the critical health care they receive but no one should be allowed to suffer and die if it can be prevented. That includes Republicans, Democrats and people like me that think all political parties are full of crap.
  7. You don’t have to purchase any health insurance you don’t want and you can choose the basic plan you want from any private company.
  8. Anyone who works full time shall be provided with an option for a basic health insurance plan by their employer.  People who can’t work due to disability or can only find part time employment shall be provided a subsidy for basic health insurance on a sliding scale.
  9. Insurance companies can’t charge extra for preexisting conditions.
  10. Health insurance regulations shall not force providers or consumers to do anything against their religion.

 

These ten conceptual regulations combined with free enterprise competition will work to keep prices in check and improve quality of care for everyone.  Let me know what you think and leave a comment for everyone to contemplate.