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So I am super excited about this Google project.

These past years have had so much bad news about Global Warming that I'd nearly become resigned to the fact that the Status Quo is unchangeable even if provably unsustainable. This hasn't been helped by the fact that I have some otherwise very smart friends who have fallen in with the "Global Warming is overstated" apathy crowd...

But this new PowerMeter project from Google has really opened my eyes to the idea that simple changes and smart applications of technology might actually be able to turn the worm.

The gist of the project, is that utility companies are going to start installing "Smart Meters" that will be capable of transmitting real-time usage information back to the utilities. Google wants them to share this info with them so they can display it to customers.

Assuming all the appropriate privacy considerations such as "default opt out" are observed, this really seems like an amazing idea.

I imagine a day when your social networking profile has a link to your aggregate energy usage. Where people compete to be more of a power miser than others for bragging rights. Where you can instantly tell something is wonky with one of your appliances by seeing that your daily energy graph is off the charts.

I can honestly see large scale conservation savings, even from people who don't even believe in global warming, but were just unaware of the power cost of some of their appliances.

Just 10% per participating family would be an amazing accomplishment, and achieved via a method both a "big government" liberal and "no government" anarchist could hug and smile about. Although, now that I've said that, perhaps I've given some AM radio talk show hosts the idea to oppose this concept for fear that it will someday be used to justify "energy usage gestapos"...

In any case, it makes me happy when I see an elegant solution, being proposed out of what looks like good will. Google continues to amaze me.


As you may or may not know, my wife and I try to find the time to read books aloud to one another each night. And yes, sometimes woodland creatures *do* gawk at us from outside the window struggling to fully absorb how adorable the whole thing is with their chestnut-sized brains.

We take turns suggesting books, and I hereby accuse my wife of tricking me with her latest choice (although I will be the first to admit that her trickery was sublime). The current book is "The Wordy Shipmates" by Sarah Vowell, whose work on This American Life I've always enjoyed.

The book itself is essentially a chapter from an American history book with jokes and interesting facts.

I now know more about Puritans, the Pequot War and antinomianism than I had ever thought I would.

Now, I don't mean to dis on Ms. Vowel here, the book is pretty entertaining, just not my usual fair, and I admit, my mind might wander at points to topics that don't involve John Winthrop yelling at people.

The other day, my wife was reading to me while I was at the kitchen sink attempting to "Netty Pot" my cold away, when Ms. Vowel made a statement that made me standup, head-cocked, salt water still leaking from my noise, and demand my wife re-read the last paragraph.

The assertion that made me stop, was her argument that the central core of Evangelical Christians, the belief in a personal savior rather than reliance on the papal elite, had morphed over these last 200 years into a general wariness of any and all who claim specific expertise or knowledge.

Which I thought was an interesting turn. Do some American Evangelicals not believe in Global Warming because they see Al Gore as some sort of Eco-Pope? Charles Darwin the fiendish Bio-Pope?

As silly as it sounds, it kind of has the ring of truth to me...

It made me wonder if this same mutating kernel isn't responsible for the recent shift I've observed in our generation (and younger) towards increased support for Libertarian views?

I know most Libertarians don't seem to identify as religious, but I think that might be the point. With the Government stepping in for the Pope as the one attempting to do centrally what they think is purely the realm of the individual.

If so, it does sort of make me giggle that the Puritans might have been the butterfly wing flap beginning of an ideological movement that ultimately strengthens a political platform that involves legalized prostitution and drugs.


So, I've been trying to think of a happy post since the last couple have been pretty depressing and heavy.

And that is why there hasn't been a post for 2 weeks.

So, I decided to just go the other way with it, and try to come up with the most depressing post possible. So here goes. =)

5 years ago, I blogged about the loss of my dog Star.

This is the story of that day.

Before we brought her to the vet for the bright pink shot, we ordered her a pizza (bacon topping if my memory serves).

We then drove to the vet, parked, and sometime between the car and the vet's office, Star broke a toenail. So when we got into the vet, her foot was bleeding quite messily. The vets rush us in, past the admitting desk, to immediately start taking care of it.

They hoist her up on a table, and are trying to stop the bleeding, giving her shots, etc... I start bawling, which confuses them greatly, since they think we brought her in for a toenail injury.

After what seems like forever, I work up the composure to tell them to stop, and sputter out the real reason for our being there.

So they begin readying that, explaining all that is going to happen. Throughout their explanation there is a nonstop cacophony of sad howling coming from a nearby door, presumably from the overnight kennel patients. At the time it seems like an ominous doorway to some sort of Doggie Hell.

They give her the shot. Star relaxes, and I scream.

I eventually need to stop screaming to breath, after which I continue to scream the same note, over and over.

At some point I stop, and I notice Elyssa has settled the bill and signed the paperwork.

We walk back to the car. Against common sense, I insist on driving. Despite the fact that I can barely see the road through my tears.

So that was a pretty bad day. I don't even remember the rest of it.

I do remember that in the following months I'd expect to catch Star's sleek dark presence skirting the periphery of the apartment, and the lack of it was extremely lonely.

As I now watch the pizza video for the first time in 5 years, I was surprised at how bad I had let her get. I thought maybe I had still some guilt leftover about putting down my companion of so long. But when I see her there, her hair white, skin blotchy, all I can think is how selfish I was to have not done it earlier.

So you're probably wondering what this post accomplishes. Well I'm glad you asked. You see, now, next time I post something, it will be provably more happy than this post, since I really can't name a darker memory than the above.

So if you're into things that are NOT a graphic account of me dealing with the loss of a pet, you will definitely enjoy my next post, regardless of what it ends up actually being about.

Dont' Panic

So I've had a bad week.

Now, I am torn on the issue of sharing this. On one hand it seems a largely private medical issue that I'd rather people not know about it. On the other hand, not being able to discuss it is stressing me out, making it worse.

So with my pre-apologies, here we go.

To cut to the chase, I've basically been stressing out with the worry that my heart (like my cousin's) was going to give out without warning, to the point where last Sunday night I was up all night, unable to sleep.

Funny thing about stress, is that it can cause both heart palpation and light headedness, which, not as funny, were the same symptoms that my cousin reported before she died.

Add to this a stressful week at work, travel, not getting to go exercise for two weeks and the fact that last week was when I officially became the same age as my cousin was when she died, kind of formed a perfect storm of stress.

Now I've gone to the hospital and have all the proper battery of tests, and they've found nothing wrong with my actual heart, so I'm confident most of this is just manifestations of aforementioned stress and not a life threatening issue.

I believe the technical term for what I've been experiencing is "panic attacks", which seems an odd description for what actually happens.

When I picture "panic attack", I picture a dude running around screaming, until finally collapsing into a corner with shallow breathing.

For me, these "panic attacks" involve me sitting on a couch, mentally relaxed, watching TV, suddenly wondering why I can hear my heart beat in my ears and also why I have been imbued with strength of three men.

Really the best way I can describe it is like you have to go to the bathroom really bad. Except instead of voiding, you have the urge to either flee or fight, using the adrenaline you've just been given. Thanks body!

It kind of reminds me of the obnoxious Word anthropomorphic office supply helper. "I see you are try to freaking out, would you like adrenaline to deal with the immediate threat?", and you click 'Cancel' over and over, after which it administers it anyway.

Also fun, is I've been playing the "5 minute" game wherever I go. "5 minutes" is basically how long your brain can go without receiving some sort of professional CPR or resuscitation following a sudden cessation of heart beat.

So I'll play it walking the dog, wondering if I keeled over into a snow bank whether anyone would notice in time. Maybe the dog would bark a bunch?

Play it in the grocery store, wondering if anyone with CPR training will be shopping for legumes in the next 5 minutes before walking down that aisle, etc.

But really, for me, the hardest part about this is the concept that all of this is my own brain "attacking" me.

For example, I will be fine all day long, and notice this, and be like "man, I sure did a good job not thinking about it!" and then I will, and I'll get one.

Which is a maddening exercise.

So that's that. To be honest, I also feel guilty about having these. Nearly everyone of my friends and relatives that I can think of has equal or greater reasons to be stressed out than me, which they seem to handle without medical intervention.

On the other hand, in K-12 I really did a lot to try to cultivate a sort of "crazy Kyle" image. Maybe this is just my body's way of saying that I should really reinvest that archetype back into my social persona...