Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This is your life...

... on GA 400. Mix 1 part rain with 10 parts traffic, don't mix or
stir, just let it sit for an hour or so... and voila! Instant Atlanta

Update: 1:45 commute this morning...we need to win that lottery...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Testing mobile blogging

This is a test from the iPhone of mobile blogging. (whew, already
tired of typing).

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Night for Africa

Northpoint Community Church held a fund-raiser "A Night for Africa", last night ("fun raiser", as Lanny thought it was). It was a good time and somewhat educational. Jeff Foxworthy was the headliner - he had gone with the 410 Bridge group to Africa. They also played video from their trip and had slides showing some of the depressing statistics about life in Eastern Africa. They handed out these informative "passports" at the event.

While they did highlight some of the issues with water availability and quality, and the mortality rates of children, they didn't much mention the rampant AIDS problem (as I recall). I'm on the donor list of Doctors without Borders, so I get alerts and newsletters about many of the issues in Africa. Amazing how wonderful our quality of life is in sharp contrast to others' around the world.

Naturally, what's a fund-raiser for Africa without representative indigenous smiling faces. There was a young lady who's been sponsored by an American couple - and who wants to be the first female Kenyan president in, say, 2030. There was also the talented Daraja African children's choir. In all it was a good night, though I wish they had highlight a bit more the real depth of the problems in Africa. However, had they done that there probably would be those who felt that they were using emotional manipulation (can't win sometimes, I guess). I did like the philosophy of 410 Bridge, which is to work with the Compassion International and local organizations rather than come in with their own Westernized agenda.

Generally I'd rather see funding for humanitarian efforts go to dedicated organization rather than through church organizations, which too often focus more on the "soul" than on solving the physical problems. Telling someone that one day they'll be happy in heaven doesn't make their life here on earth any better. Yet must of the focus of this event is on addressing the very real problems that exist in the here and now.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Photoset from Germany

I've uploaded the pictures from the Germany trip. Dumb flickr has a 200 picture limit, but I think all the recent trip pictures are still visible.

Green with Envy

My co-worker and I agree: Germans are much more green conscious than we Americans. Everywhere I looked I saw evidence - at least superficial evidence - that they value being ecologically friendly. There were lots of smaller cars, lots of riders on the trolleys, and lots - I mean, lots - of bicycles. While the motivation might not be ecological alone (extremely small and rare parking spaces in many areas, and 1.35 € per liter for gas also stimulates the more lofty values) still the fact is they are driving small cars, they are riding their trains and trolleys, and most impressive, they are riding bikes and scooters in far greater numbers than I've seen anywhere here in the States.

While in Frankfurt I observed a young professional lady coming out of one of their massive business towers. She was dressed in a business suite (with skirt) and high heels.

She looked like she was walking toward the crosswalk, and I guessed that she was probably heading up to the train station. Instead she walked up to a bicycle that was chained to a sign, unlocked it and off she peddled, presumably toward home or off to meet friends for dinner. I would find it extremely surprising to see a suit-clad man mount a bike much less an attractive woman over here. To them it is just a regular, and prudent mode of transportation.

Other examples included the rare use of air-conditioning, sod and grass growing on rooftops, and automatic shutter systems that reduce the glare of sunshine into buildings. They are very keen to not give you a bag at the grocery store (yet will happily if you request one). Sure - some of them drive absurdly large Mercedes, and sports cars. And I'm sure if one looked deeply enough there would be more examples of rampant waste. However, the point is you'd have to look - unlike here where one is constantly dodging urban assault vehicles that suck gas at from between 5-15 miles per gallon.

Yes, we love America - and we have reason to be proud of our achievements. We do, however, need to remember that the world that we live in is fragile and we can (and have) wound it. Here in Atlanta we have one of the worst air quality (I use the word "quality" loosely) situations of any North American commuting city. We also have one of the worst public transportation systems, and we all drive with mostly a single commuter per car. I would hope that we are motivated by either shame or by some form of greed into doing better ecologically. Reducing our dependence on foreign oil is a noble goal; changing our driving culture from the tankish to the stylishly small will dramatically increase that reduction. (Now where are the keys to my Hummer...just kidding.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Notes from Germany

First, Karlruhe Germany is great. The people are very friendly and just awesome. The city here is very cool and seems like a great place to live and hang out. Lots of shops and street cages. People just seem to appreciate each other and life. The seem just like i imagined.

I have learned:
iPhone (with which i am writing this, via WiFi) is dangerous for Europe. While it is great that it will seamlessly switch from WiFi to edge in the states, here that costs $. Several times I noticed the "E" rather the wireless symbol. There is no way to just disable Edge. Ouch.

Websites automatically send me to German language pages. I even log in to my normal iGoogle and it's all in German. Weird, really, especially when you've logged into, say Yahoo or Google who I'd have thought would know that I'm normally English speaking. But Blogger and Yahoo email are all in German over here. I even had trouble bringing up the English version of Google since it wants to redirect to the .de site. It makes it tough for Americans who travel to see their stuff.

Euros are expensive - 1.47 $ for a €

Europeans are much more "green" than us. Lots of examples.

Good grief! Trains and trolleys, bikes, scooters and small cars. They do people moving much better.

My manager asked when I wanted the transfer to Siemens Germany. Almost right-very nice here. The lifestyle is much better in many ways to suburban. But there is no place like home... I'm off to Paris tomorrow.