Back from Jamaica

August 21st, 2014

We got back from our Jamaican vacation late Tuesday night. Since then been too busy to write about it.

I hope to post some thoughts about our trip (and other things) tonight.

Neighborhood kudos

August 7th, 2014

Got this from a neighbor yesterday, thanking me for keeping my neighborhood informed about a rare but troubling string of recent larcenies from cars:

I surely do appreciate all the informative messages lately about the cars getting broken in to. It has made me check mine every night to be sure it’s locked and I keep my porch light turned on now too. Also, I called several neighbors who do not use email and let them know what has been going on. Many many thanks to you.

This makes it all worthwhile.

Coyote snatches cat from porch

August 6th, 2014

I heard last week of a startling incident that a neighborhood friend witnessed in nearby Belvidere Park. Apparently a coyote helped itself to his next door neighbor’s cat. His wife relays the story:

“He pulled up in the driveway late in the evening after going back to work to check a few things after the kids were in bed.

He said he saw something moving through the bushes on the front porch of our neighbor’s house. Looking at our house from the street, the house to the left of ours.

After he got out of the car, he saw it scamper off the porch. Once it was in the street, he could see it better under the street light. There was definitely something furry and cat-size in its mouth.

We have TONS, and I mean TONS of cats around our side of the street. I’d say anywhere from 10-12 on the regular. A few I know are pets. Others, I haven’t a clue.”

We’ve had occasional reports of coyote-like critters in my neighborhood, some as far back as 2010. This is the first time I’ve heard of one in my area running off with a cat, though. Keep your pets safe and indoors!

Mark Turner: Core continuity | Letters to the Editor | NewsObserver.com

August 5th, 2014

The N&O printed my letter to the editor today about Common Core. It was something I’d been meaning to write for months but only got around to finishing about the time the decision was made. Too bad.

IBM employees joke that IBM stands for “I’ve Been Moved.” Growing up in an IBM family, I experienced this firsthand.

When someone is educated in five states, continuity can become a real issue. Our state welcomes new residents and businesses every day. Military families come and go in what we like to call the “nation’s most military-friendly state.”

”Yet our state legislators are about to undo the one sure way our young new residents can hit the ground running with their education: the Common Core. Rejecting Common Core will hurt our new residents, both civilian and military.

Think about that the next time our state leaders crow about North Carolina being business- or military-friendly.

Mark Turner

By the way, the editor did a little tweaking to it, changing the format. Here’s the way I submitted it:

IBM employees joke that IBM stands for “I’ve Been Moved.” Growing up in an IBM family, I experienced this firsthand. When someone is educated in five states, continuity can become a real issue.

Our state welcomes new residents and businesses every day. Military families come and go in what we like to call the “nation’s most military-friendly state.” Yet our state legislators are about to undo the one sure way our young new residents can hit the ground running with their education: the Common Core.

Rejecting Common Core will hurt our new residents, both civilian and military. Think about that the next time our state leaders crow about North Carolina being business- or military-friendly.

(Yes, I was educated in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.)

via Mark Turner: Core continuity | Letters to the Editor | NewsObserver.com.

US company signs $1.175 billion Iran energy deal

August 2nd, 2014

This is almost certainly a sham. Much is unknown about this World Eco Energy company.

TEHRAN – A US company has signed a preliminary agreement to invest $1.175 billion 864 million euros in Iran, in a rare joint commercial project to turn rubbish and human waste into electricity.

California-based World Eco Energy said it plans to produce 250 megawatts daily by burning trash and by processing algae and salt and waste water into power.

Iran will match the US investment, the company said.

via US company signs $1.175 billion Iran energy deal.

American aid worker stricken with Ebola arrives in U.S. for treatment | Reuters

August 2nd, 2014

I jumped into a Facebook debate today about the wisdom of bringing Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly to Atlanta to be treated at Emory University. While I once gave into the hysteria surrounding infectious diseases, I know what I don’t know – in essence, that infectious disease is most certainly not by bailiwick.

I am now unconcerned about Dr. Brantly and the other American Ebola victim, Nancy Writebol, being brought to the United States by trained disease professionals. It’s really the unescorted average Joes that get infected and then board a flight that scare the daylights out of me.

An American aid worker infected with the deadly Ebola virus while in Liberia was flown from West Africa to the United States on Saturday and taken to an Atlanta hospital for treatment in a special isolation unit.

A chartered medical aircraft carrying Dr. Kent Brantly touched down at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia shortly before noon.Brantly was driven by ambulance, with police escort, to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta where he will be treated in a specially equipped room.

via American aid worker stricken with Ebola arrives in U.S. for treatment | Reuters.

Mystery tower a micro-cell tower

July 31st, 2014

Looks like the mystery cell tower may actually be a distributed antenna system, otherwise known as a mini cell tower site. The idea is to fill in the weak coverage spots with smaller towers.

A Pennsylvania-based company called Crown Castle has been installing these micro cell sites on utility poles around the US. A few Google searches reveal that the company is currently hiring project staff here in Raleigh.

So there ya go.

Is this a Stingray site?

July 31st, 2014

Mystery tower site

Mystery tower site


Update: Mystery solved? I believe this is a micro-site cell tower.

A few weeks ago when I went with Travis to a birthday party held at Adventure Landing on Capital Boulevard, the radio geek in me was drawn to an unusual device mounted on a utility pole outside.

Located on the corner of the parking lot next to a sword-shaped, pirate-themed sign that reads “Parking” is a newly-planted utility pole. Mounted on the pole is a locker-sized utility box, meter box, antenna feedline, and a cell tower-shaped antenna on top. All of these were painted brown to match the nearby light poles in Adventure Landing’s parking lot.

It appears to me to be a mini cell tower of some sort but it does raise some questions. Capital Boulevard is arguably the busiest street in the city and this spot is near its intersection with I-440. This would hardly be considered a cell phone service “dead zone.” Why would a single-node booster tower be here?
Read the rest of this entry »

Man-made ‘breathing’ leaf is an oxygen factory for space travel – CNET

July 29th, 2014

A scientist has devised an oxygen-producing fabric.

One of the persistent challenges of manned space exploration is that pesky lack of oxygen throughout much of the universe. Here on Earth, trees and other plant life do us a real solid by taking in our bad breath and changing it back to clean, sweet O2.

So what if we could take those biological oxygen factories into space with us, but without all the land, sun, water, soil, and gravity that forests tend to require? This is the point where NASA and Elon Musk should probably start paying attention.

via Man-made 'breathing' leaf is an oxygen factory for space travel – CNET.

RALEIGH: New Raleigh neighborhoods won’t get individual mailboxes | Raleigh | MidtownRaleighNews.com

July 29th, 2014

As I left the home this morning, I drove through the new Oakwood North neighborhood and something caught my eye. Workers have installed a concrete pedestal near the front of the subdivision to house the community mailboxes that the neighborhood is now required to have.

I beat up on Colin yesterday about his targeting of certain councilmembers (and I will have more to say about this soon) but he is capable of writing stories that deserve kudos. This one about the Postal Service discontinuing home delivery for new subdivisions was interesting and newsworthy. It’s something that apparently even caught giant homebuilder KB Home by surprise. Suddenly their ultimate home for retirees is much less attractive if living there requires daily trips to the mailbox. Or perhaps homeowners will be the fittest in Raleigh?

RALEIGH — At the model home for the newest neighborhood inside the Beltline, an ornate black mailbox sits atop a post at the curb.

But homebuyers in the Oakwood North subdivision won’t be getting one of their own. After developers started work on the community, the U.S. Postal Service pulled the plug on what’s been a standard amenity: curbside mail delivery.

via RALEIGH: New Raleigh neighborhoods won’t get individual mailboxes | Raleigh | MidtownRaleighNews.com.