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Thursday, December 31, 2009

TV interview on Bomber's Trip to Houston in 2008 - Changes needed

Yesterday I got a call out of the blue from the Houston Fox 26 TV station about the Flight 253 "underwear bomber" who paid a visit to Houston in August 2008. Here is the video, with my 15 seconds of hot air:

I was their terrorism analyst on 9/11. Why? Because I was one of the few talking about these threats since the early 90's. I had previously been their Mideast expert during the first Gulf War in '91.

It is obvious that we have to upgrade our technology. It is obvious that the system set up after 9/11 to insure sharing of information between agencies still is not working as it should. This includes getting intelligence from allies - apparently the British have a policy not to share their visa information with the U.S. If they had done so, and our system was computerized, it would have raised yet another red flag.

Now that we survived the train wreck of last year's economic disaster, it is time to focus on fixing this system as well as the financial one (which still needs attention to avoid a repeat of Wall Street recklessness).

Thank God this decade is over. It was a decade that doubled our national debt in 8 short years - by giving tax breaks to the wealthy financed by debt, waging two wars, financed by debt, and in 2004 enlarging the Plan D drug plan, also financed entirely by debt. Imagine running a business that way. It wasn't sustainable. It wasted an opportunity to pay for it when we did have money. That's another reason it all crashed in late 2008.

In the next decade we can't rely on 20th century technology. We will have to advance our technology and our global intelligence. We have to do nation building or continue to fail in Afghanistan. Bush was opposed to nation building; Obama has been cool on it. But nation building is what put Iraq back on the path so our troops can leave. It's what bought Europe and Japan back after WWII. It is the only solution.

We will have to be a lot smarter in the next decade just to keep up. We now face a wealthy China and an empowered India whose economies will exceed ours before this century is out. Even Russia is exhibited some vision - planning on tackling an asteroid on a near collision course with Earth. It's bad when Russia has more vision than we do.

We need a global strategy --militarily, technologically and economically-- to get back into the lead after our treasury was squandered in the last decade.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Americans Who Threaten our Leadership Are No Different than Al Qaeda

I see extremism these days as not just an Al Qaeda problem. We also have a domestic problem. I have seen it in comments on this blog--and in the protests of last summer. When someone says that our leadership should be "hanged as traitors" for the "crime" of supporting social security, that is a threat against our own leadership--and wrong. Who made them God? That is Tim McVeigh thinking. That is Al Qaeda thinking.

We have different extremists, and really more dangerous ones than the guys who can't figure out how to set a trigger on PETN. Tim McVeigh didn't even care that he was blowing away a day care center, his hate was that blind. How American is it to suggest that taking care of Americans is outside the Constitution of our great country? Cars didn't exist when the Constitution was written--so do we not drive cars?

How is it un-American to suggest that providing Medicare to aging Americans is an outrage against our charter? Logic would suggest that a great country does more, not less, to help its citizens, just as others have. I just saw a TV story on an American who went to Mexico to get a new hip, because he couldn't afford the $80,000 to $200,000 it was going to cost him here in the U.S. He had never been to Mexico, but it was the chance to get a new hip that he couldn't get here.

We have had too many people saying too many crazy things about our current government which inherited the mess they are trying to fix–-they didn’t create the mess. Let’s put things in reality.

Bush inherited a $50 billion surplus, a shiny new car; he left Obama an Exxon Valdez piled up on the reef, leaking oil. Lehman’s collapse froze all credit. The economy went off a cliff not seen in 70 years.

Now the crew that put our ship of state up on the reef is complaining about the cost of repairing the damages and cleaning up the mess. The Obama administration inherited the Homeland Security system which had a flaw--lists are not cross checked. That is another inherited problem that became evident on Christmas Day. Fixing TSA is another leftover problem to add to the “to do” list. The Senate could help by approving a new TSA administrator instead of letting one Senator hold it up. We don’t need leaderless security positions!

We need to improve our air security system GLOBALLY, by getting full body scanners in use in FOREIGN locations--like Nigeria and Amsterdam--that feed air traffic to the U.S. Having them everywhere is the solution. Technology has to keep up--and focus on explosives.

Improving our health services is also needed--rather than not changing a broken system that ranks No. 37 in the world. This makes sense for our future prosperity--and our humanity. With many Americans overweight and eating high artery-clogging foods--and moving into retirement age--there will be a huge and growing demand on medical services like never before. As we age, medical care will become as vital to each person’s life as air.

Our founders would have embraced this because they too were visionaries that wanted a better life for Americans.

We don't build a future based on hate. We build a future and prosper only if we are focused on leading the global technology race--and improving our system and the lives of our people.
Mexico is doing a better job than we are in providing medical care for an annual fee of $300/year. Their surgeons have the same instruments used in the U.S. To improve, we need to change what we have been doing.

That includes not tolerating threats against our leadership by domestic sources. If we are real Americans, then we don’t advocate violence against our own government leaders. That is what makes us better than Al Qaeda, who even kills other Muslims in their hate.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day Attack on Northwest Flight 253: The Nigerian and Europe Connection

Has Al Qaida now spread to Africa? A Nigerian suicide bomber would be a first. The evidence points in that direction. If so, what can be done about Africa being used to launch a terrorist attack on the U.S.?

It was an American Northwest Flight No. 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. But the suspect who tried to destroy it on yesterday’s Christmas Day flight boarded in Lagos, Nigeria – not the Middle East. He used a device similar to what Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, used. Reports are that he claims to have gotten the device in Yemen. Fortunately, the device failed and passengers and crew sprang into action – the real heroes in action.

Authorities claim the Christmas flight terrorist was a “lone wolf.” Since when does someone go to Yemen for a bomb and act “alone.” Al Qaida has been building a base in Yemen, and that is connected to international terrorism. But a bigger threat than Yemen is – London! The suspect once lived in London, which is now regarded as where the largest numbers of radical Islamists are living. Why London? What can be done about it?

I know this: even a “lone wolf” who tries to kill is connected to radical terrorism. He was influenced either by an organization spreading hate on the Internet or in London’s streets. Radicalism is a global virus potentially more dangerous than H1N1. It is being spread 24/7 on the Internet. The time has come to see if the “Wild West” Internet should have some international oversight that can block hate websites. But Internet recruiting is being presented like hip hop, sort of a “jihad cool” that generates anger by showing attacks on Muslims as injustice that should be defended. That could also have led to this attack.

I have been to Lagos, London and Amsterdam, not as a tourist but as an international negotiator on major projects. It was on a project in Amsterdam a few years ago that I discovered a multi-million dollar international fraud ring being run, in Europe, by a Nigerian criminal organization (at which point things got very serious, but that’s another story). Nigeria is a country split between two religions: Islam in the North and Christians in the South. Al Qaida would love to dominate the country – and its vast oil reserves. It doesn’t have to be there to recruit. It can do so on the Internet.

Al Qaida seems to have gotten a foothold in the west – i.e. London—from which it can recruit radicals from the third world – and use the lax security in places like Lagos, Nigeria to get into a Europe, a jump point for flights bound to the U.S. In Nigeria, bribing a security official to get cleared is almost routine –and demonstrates how the weakest link in the international security system can be exploited by suicide bomber on a flight. Secondary screening in Amsterdam was not sufficient either.

Al Qaida has a fixation on blowing up aircraft, starting with its attempt to blow up a dozen flights over the Pacific in the mid-90’s. Why didn’t the security checks work in both Lagos and Amsterdam? Why has England become the biggest centerpoint outside the Middle East of extremist Islamic sympathizers? Why can’t we attack-- and shut down -- the Internet sites used by radical Islamists?

The bigger question is how to prevent future attacks like this. The first thing we need to do is deny radicals a western base. If London has become a breeding ground for Islamist radicals to build their networks and explosive technology –and to launch attacks on the United States -- U.S. authorities need to work with the British government to do what can be done to imprison or expel them. We need to deny radicals a European base to recruit suicide bombers from the third world to terrorize innocent people like those on the Christmas Day Northwest flight –which occurred 8 years to the month that Richard Reid attempted his shoe bombing. Just coincidence? We need to insist that security screenings of passengers from places like Nigeria be screened again in Europe before boarding U.S. flights. We need to improve screening procedures and technology. We need to start a 24/7 Internet defense strategy.

The passengers on Northwest 253 got lucky. If the suspect’s technology had worked, we would have lost that plane in mid-air and not known what happened. Fortunately, the device failed to create the disaster intended. We have to stay ahead of the terrorists, and that will take even more international cooperation and coordination.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Climate Change, Health Care -- and Why Americans Aren't Liked a Lot Overseas

Just when it looked as though both climate change and health care change would not happen, it did. Neither are perfect agreements but nothing is. But it was worth doing something versus nothing on both issues.

The same people who fought the passage of social security and Medicare are the same people fighting health care reform and reducing our emissions to limit climate change damage. The same people are defending the right of insurance companies to drop you for a preexisting condition.

If people are wrong that our 1 trillion/year in emissions is not melting the ice that keeps us from becoming Venus (which boils all the time), then their grandchildren and their children face a dead planet. A dying planet would certainly be bad for business! So what's wrong with reducing our emissions? Isn't the conservative approach the one designed to keep us from getting into trouble before its too late to head off disaster?

On health care, the non-partisan GAO - General Accounting Office -- says that the Senate's version of the health care plan would SAVE us billions the first decade -- and would SAVE us $1 trillion in the second decade. What's wrong with that? It it would allow people with pre-existing conditions to get insurance. What's wrong with that?

These are not perfect bills, but action is better than a broken status quo.

Some people are objecting our contributing to help poor countries affected by climate change. I just got off a cruise where I watched people shop and eat -- but paid little or not attention to the people in each country.

If you want to know why Americans are not liked as much as they have been it is because a lot of us don't really give a damn about other people. So, guess what? If you don't treat people with respect, don't expect the world to give a crap about us either.

I found the locals in Jamaica, Caymans and Cozumel to be intelligent, interesting people. It was a chance to see a rum plantation and the twisty Jamaica highways, a coral reef from a submarine in the clear Cayman waters, and to zip along over the trees in Cozumel - and live to tell about it.

Check out the world Americans. Our future depends on our having more knowledge than how to eat and tourist our way across the planet.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Armor Glass Blog -

Announcing: I have started a separate blog dedicated to Armor Glass at:

First installment covers recent events from explosions to dogs...

In the meantime, Texas Viking will continue on more general issues affecting us, both here on the coast and nationally.

What a beautiful day today! At least I got to LOOK at it through the windows as I did paperwork. The good news is that the skies are blue and I can see the lake through the (Armor Glass protected) windows!

LOL. Feel free to check out the Armor Glass blog and sign up to follow future posts. They will be designed to make you aware of security measures that we encounter, and what protects your family..

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

7 days - Jamaica, Caymans, Cozumel - At 19 knots

Just returned from a 3 country trip in 7 days - all done at about 19 knots, on a ship.

While Houston was fogged in, I was checking out "hurricane alley" from Jamaica to the Caymans and Cozumel. On the way there we passed within sight of Cuba, on the port side of the ship. I never would have thought you could cover 3 countries in a week at 19 knots, but you can - all the way to Jamaica.

Jamaica was cool in its hills. Caymans and Cozumel were blue and HOT, and humid. But it sure beat coming back to a cold fog!

In the Grand Cayman I went on a tourist submarine which goes down 100 feet to let you see the sea life on the coral reef. We got close enough to the miles deep abyss that goes down miles - but the sub is designed to pop to the surface if the power fails. It holds 48. Cozumel buildings were the only ones I saw that seemed to use tougher glass, but then they know hurricanes and thieves would love to break in. Diamonds International has a huge store there.

In Cozumel, I road a "zip line" across the tree tops. Some kids in Central America have to commute to school using one. Your "brake" is a leather glove.

One of the things I did not do but heard people raving about: Stingray City in the Caymans. Stingrays act like dogs - bumping your feet to get fed. The staff would put a ray on a person's back to give them a "massage." The people who were there couldn't stop talking about it.

I have attached photos and a couple short video clips. They are not in any "order" and I still have "ship lag" but it will give you can idea of each country. I saw great opportunities in each.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Montego Bay

Survived a 2 ½ hour each way trip from Montego Bay to a rum factory that first started in 1749 –Appleton Estates. The roads are narrow and twisty – we nearly had a head on with a van on one corner.

They say that Captain Bligh visited Montego Bay. People are nice but poor – about 50% unemployment. On to Caymans…

In the meantime I hear that a chemical plant near Seabrook exploded - glad not to be there!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

3-country Tour

Am off on a 3-country swing through Hurricane Alley - from Jamaica to the Caymans and Mexico. I checked the weather -- all are balmy compared to our rain, snow and COLD.

If all goes as planned the Cayman stop will include a submarine tour, something I have never done. It's been a extraordinarily busy year and this is a much needed break as well.

I'll try to post updates along the way. This is also a test of my relatively new Blackberry Storm, which is supposed to be an international phone.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Film of Wright's First Flight - Snow in Houston

A friend sent me this link to discovered video of the Wright Brothers first flight. I've attached her comments and the link - before I head out today for a project that must go on even in a rare Houston snow...


Film clip from the Austrian archives about the Wright Brothers demonstrating their plane in Italy in 1909. What is even more fantastic is there was an on-board camera on the Wright plane and the last part of this film shows it. Wilbur Wright is at the controls on both of the flights. It's a GREAT video considering it is 100 years old and the quality/weight of the equipment of that day.

This film clip is fascinating and in very good condition for its age being as it shows the Wright Bros demonstrating the Flyer to a group of European officers and officials in 1909. Only runs for 4 minutes. The shots of the plane in flight are the best I have ever seen of this machine showing a degree of speed and smoothness I did not think would have been possible. Excellent starting sequence with the linen covered props and easy start but the outstanding sequence being the take-off along the rail. You can't see the actual weight drop to pull it along the rail but in some shots you see the tower. The small piece of string on the forward elevon was put there by the Wrights to ascertain degree of side slip as you are aware the plane basically turned flat, and although they eventually put in a form of wing warping it was always a difficult plane to handle in turns, so they kept it as flat as possible because any side slip over a certain angle was unrecoverable. This was the two seat version as you can see and designed for a hopeful military use. It could only fly in very calm conditions.

The in-flight shots were something else again and possibly the earliest aerial movie shots ever taken. When you think he had to fly the plane and also hand crank the camera, I think it must have been fixed in position as the camera stays motionless and in any case cameras were heavy in those times and the plane had little spare capacity but I could be wrong. Note the take off ramp. Loved the ancient Italian Roman ruins in the final shots the approach speed was very slow in deed.

When you get to the site, just double click on the picture of the flying machine, it loads automatically. The other vintage videos are entertaining, too.'

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Seabrook Sunrise

Beautiful sunrise this morning over Clear Lake - these colors lasted only a few minutes.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Sunrise on Clear Lake

Today's Thanksgiving sunrise was nice to see, after a few days of cold and rain! It looks like a beautiful day for people to get together with family.

The past week I have felt like a fighter pilot, shooting down the enemy left and right. Only in this case, my weapon was a Windex sprayer and the enemy was a gang of fruit flies that somehow came in uninvited in some bananas. Did you know that one female fruit fly can lay 500 eggs? Insecticide doesn't seem to bother them, but Windex knocks em down and you end up accidentally (or incidentally) doing a lot of cleaning in the process!

The Internet was a source of knowledge on how to get rid of them. You get some plastic containers, put a small hole in the center of the lid, fill it with cider vinegar - and they will crawl in to get the cider and not figure out how to get out! At one point, the containers seemed to have thousands of tiny bodies floating around. Now they are mostly empty but a few hangers-on keep buzzing me. That's when I started carrying a Windex sprayer to shoot them down.

Yikes, these little guys are harder to get rid off than politicians and talk show know-it- alls buzzing around and being irritating!

But it's Thanksgiving and I'm grateful that we will be spared more TV political ads soon, and that the year was pretty good for us in Houston -- compared to many other places -- with or without fruit flies!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Afghan Solution: Build a Trans-Asia Highway with a McDonalds at Every Exit

Any President trying to “fix” Afghanistan is doomed -- by geography and culture -- unless a novel new approach is taken. Iraq is civilized compared to wild Afghanistan, where people live in hundreds of remote isolated valleys with no way to go anywhere without facing broken axles.

Kabul might as well be on the moon for these isolated people. This isolation is perfect for the bands of Taliban who can set up shop without concern that the Afghan police will ever be able to reach them. Imagine foreign troops trying to capture or kill our own rebels in America’s mountainous west and how difficult that would be.

Put a million troops on the ground if you want, but if the people don’t have jobs -- and an easy way to get from A to B -- the whole exercise is doomed to failure along with the billions spent. Farmers can’t sell to markets if they don’t have roads.

Nothing has worked since 2001 because we have had a military focus instead of a civilian development focus supported by the military. But there is a solution that could worked. It worked well in America the last century.

Solution? The only solution is to find a way for remote peoples in Afghanistan to travel and create jobs. The best way to do that is to take a page from America’s past – and create a Trans-Asia highway that cuts through Afghanistan and connects the country’s transport system together. The jobs would include everything from construction to long term jobs working in all the gas stations and McDonald’s built along the highway selling kabobs and tourist maps of Tora Bora. Farmers could then get crops other than poppies to the market.

Just see if the Taliban can possibly compete with 7-11 convenience stores and color HD TV’s! And if the Trans-Asia highway also connects to the remote badlands of Pakistan -- where Al Qaida is hiding out -- it will lose its nuclear sanctuary to Jack in the Box and WalMart with their shopper specials. Nothing could be more hideous to Osama bin Laden than men and women shopping together at the Swat Valley Macy’s.

Think about it Mr. President..

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Biggest Economic Loser? Not the U.S.

What recession?

The recession that started in 2007 ended in July or August 2009, according to Anirban Basu, the national economist for the Associated Builders and Contractors organization. He gave a speech last week with some dry humor and interesting facts that Americans should know to make them feel better about the situation.

In 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, unemployment stood at 25%. We are at 10% and Mr. Basu thinks it should peak at 11% – less than half of what happened seventy years ago. (Historic fact: The only way the U.S. got out of the 25% unemployment hole was FDR’s spending on things like roads and dams (and WWII, which spurred production). Without the stimulus spending going on now, after the entire economy locked up last year, we could have had come much closer to the unemployment pain that was felt in the Great Depression.

Who is today’s biggest loser? Not the U.S. is the short answer. The U.S. economy is down only 2.7%. Russia’s and Mexico’s economies are down over 7%! Japan’s is DOWN 5%, over twice our decline.
On the other hand, China’s economy is UP 8% and India’s is UP over 5% despite the global meltdown. Even Africa is UP 2%.

The two best job sectors in the U.S. right now are education and health care – both are adding jobs.

But that doesn’t mean we are “out of the woods.” According to Mr. Basu, we need to expand in the three “E’s” to stay ahead – energy, education and exports. That means we need to develop more efficient green technologies, sell more products overseas and produce more scientists and engineers-- instead of letting 50% of our high school kids drop out.

We are an example of the green tech revolution. My company’s sales increased over 500% from last year. I attribute that to it being a “green” energy saving/security technology (and a lot of marketing too). The trend looks good for next year, 2010, because saving energy is the key to our future and pays for itself over time. So is adding security to minimize damages from future storms or from break-ins.

Mr. Basu says that residential construction is accelerating in much of the U.S. (including here in Houston where home prices actually rose slightly in 2009, as it did in a few select markets). The first-time buyer tax credit is helping keep the housing market from falling, and a lot of jobs with it.

So, don’t feel bad – the economy is much worse if you are living in Russia, Mexico or Japan.

But China is still on a roll, producing those engineers and building a solar array that covers 25 square miles of Mongolia! It is building wind turbines. It is going to kick out butt if we just stay glued to the TV watching sports. We are producing “reality” shows that have nothing to do with reality and won’t give us the skills and technology needed to keep us in the lead in the 21st Century.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Water on the Moon...Will Obama Be a JFK With a Space Vision, or not?

NASA has discovered that the MOON has water - that makes a BIG difference since the cost of transporting water into space is prohibitive. Now we can have crews that use existing water on the moon for everything from drinking to hydrogen and oxygen.

Now the question is whether President Obama has the JFK vision or not. For a measly $3 billion/year (when we are spending over $700 billion on one stimulus package that blacktops roads but little else), NASA could get American back on the moon by 2020. JFK got us from test tubes to micro-circuits with his vision. Without it, we'd still be using computers the size of rooms.

We'll see if Obama has the JFK touch or not. If he has real vision, then this is a no-brainer decision. We have spent $10 billion a MONTH on places like Iraq that generate ZERO technology advances for our future. It is the Chinese and even the Europeans who are pushing ahead in space --without us.

Our future relies on pushing the space age technology frontier. We won't do that with GM cars that guzzle gas and are poorly made. We won't do it without a manned mission to the moon and beyond.

Now it is up to President Obama to do a real JFK "vision thing" and get us to a leadership position on the next high ground - in space. If you agree, let your voice be heard - or the era of American technical leadership is OVER.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beware Windows 7: Very Fragile and Frequent Crashes. Seagulls and Mondays

After finally getting my 2-month old computer not to crash after loading the new Windows 7, last night I downloaded the latest Microsoft “Critical update” – after which my computer went into a series of death crashes until I removed the “critical” update.

In the two weeks I've had it, Windows is proving to be a very fragile program that seems not to know anything about Vista drivers. Instead of adopting them it just falls apart every time it encounters a program that worked just fine on Vista.

Beware buying this program until they fix some stuff. These guys do programming like the Pentagon do weapons systems – slow, ponderous and often so complex that they break down in the field when you need it the most.

I now see why people live on the water even though it has its dangers (like hurricanes). After dealing with Micros__t software(you can fill in the blanks with your own letters), it is so relaxing to go out on the balcony, sip coffee and watch the wildlife. This morning two squirrels were providing a funny show of rejected love. Monday morning it was a flock of seagulls having a swirling argument – bumping into each other and carrying on. Apparently even seagulls don’t like Monday mornings.

I hope to post this before my computer crashes again. If we are going to be No. 1 in the world we are going to have to make products better and our people smarter. I went into Fry’s for a TV tuner and everyone in there was clueless about the technology and how it worked. I encounter that often.

Don’t we TRAIN people to do their jobs anymore? From the Fortune 500 down to the entrepreneurs, we are going to have to do a lot better – or else lose our economic advantages as global competitors with trained people that know what they are doing eat our lunch. I bought a flag for today's Veteran's Day, a nice $20 one with a wood pole I found at Wal Mart. When I opened it, there was no way to insure the flag didn't slip off the pole! If I hang it the flag will blow off. Duh. So I have nothing to hang on Vet's Day.

Last thought for the day: It would be a good thing if the whole world needs to do some traveling to see how other people live. That would wake up a lot of people who have never been out of their town.

Now if I can post this before my computer crashes...LOL.

Monday, November 09, 2009

IDA - One of only 4 November Hurricanes

Here's IDA - only the 4th hurricane to form in November in our history.

IDA's formation this late in the year, after a quiet Atlantic season, is not a good sign, considering the destruction big storms can cause, as we found out in IKE last year.

If climate change is changing the game, it could be that we end up extending our hurricane season. Right now it starts June 1 and ends November 1. IDA will hit on November 10.

It may be just a 90 mile an hour rainmaker, but it should be a warning that storms are developing faster and later - and our buildings are not built to "Shelter in Place" from wind-borne debris.

The 2004 "Project Safe Windows" found that once a high-wind event causes debris to breach a window, it is "game over" for the roof and structural integrity of the building...

We may have to change our hurricane season another month or so if this strange event becomes more common in the years ahead.

IDA already shows that the hotter planet is spinning off heat (via hurricanes, typhoon and cyclones worldwide) that are larger and lasting much later in the year. Wind changes are delaying Artic ice.

People are still rebuilding after IKE..

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Here Comes IDA -A hurricane in the Gulf is like a bullet passing you by

They think IDA will reform as a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico - as early as tomorrow.

It could be a harbinger of what is coming next year. Where it goes is anybody's guess, but when a hurricane enters the Gulf, it is like a bullet passing you by. You may not be hit by it -- but that doesn't mean it isn't shooting at us!

It is very strange to have such a late season storm, especially following a “dead” hurricane season in the Atlantic (although the Pacific was both active and deadly). IDA went from a depression to a hurricane in about a day – another strange anomaly.

You would think that with a dead storm season that no storm would form this late --unless IDA is an early harbinger of next year’s storm season… I read another article which said strong south winds kept ice from forming in the Arctic much later than usual, leaving open water instead of a frozen icecap.

Pay attention. Despite a busy year, I would say 95% or more of the houses and buildings in our area do not have hurricane protection, even after IKE.

Windows remain the weakest link - and with 24 hour storms spouting out of thin (hot) air like IDA, you can't count on much warning in the future before you have to "Shelter in Place"...Better to have the protection in place 24/7 before that day arrives.

If not next week, it could be next season. That is only 8 months away...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Ft. Hood tragedy - Was it a personal or political act?

Ft. Hood has over 80,000 s.f. of our security film installed, yet that security precaution didn't keep a domestic terrorist from opening fire on fellow soldiers. This is a tragedy in multiple ways.

Ft. Hood has been leading the nation in the number of suicides from repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan while most Americans go about their normal life. Combat stress is taking its toll after three and four deployments. Perhaps the silver lining will be that more attention will be paid to combat stress and screen out those who become unhinged.

Someone should have seen this coming -- this guy was sending out signals that all was not well with his head.

But lumping all Muslims together for the act of one on the fringe is not the answer - do we blame all white people when someone like Tim McVeigh sets off a truck bomb in Oklahoma City? Do we blame the entire race for the acts of a serial killer? Muslim organizations quickly condemned this crime, as they should.

It's a tragedy however you look at it. Our prayers are with the families of those killed or wounded yesterday.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Doesn't IDA know Hurricane season is Over?

Doesn't Hurricane IDA know that hurricane season is supposed to be over?

Apparently not. In a season when not a single hurricane entered the Gulf, there is a chance that IDA will stay alive after hitting Nicaragua -- and get into the Gulf of Mexico. Keep your eye on it just in case. The tracks are all over the place, so who knows where it will go.

This should be a reminder that we won't get another break next hurricane season like we did this one. We are as close to the coast as we were a year ago (actually about 10 feet closer) and that these killers are an annual event.

Prepare now...or pay a bigger price later. Tax credits for hurricane film installations end on December 31...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Found: Stimulus Money for the Little Guy (me)


This was one of the days it wasn't raining when we put hurricane film on a new Chase bank on Long Island, NY.

I am proof positive that the stimulus money is trickling down to us ordinary folks, since I am about as unconnected politically as they come. lol.

The Blackberry helped a lot also - just punch in a request and you can find the nearest food (something we did a lot) or the nearest Home Depot or UPS store, which we also needed.

When my Storm crashed after I loaded Windows 7 we were lucky and had a backup. My chief installer had just bought the same phone, so we were able to use it for navigation (to/from the airport), etc. even when mine had the "white screen of death" that they had never encountered at Verizon before.

It was stimulating weather and even the New Yorkers warmed up with the weather by the end of the job. They were really nice people and it was a pleasant week. I finally got to see the Atlantic on the last day before flying out. It was only 1/2 mile from the bank!
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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Long Island: Prescription Drugs from Mom and Dad Leading to Heroin Use by Teens

Got up at 4 am this morning at a Hyatt on Long Island for an early flight out of JFK to Houston –just in time to make the memorial for a friend who died of cancer recently. Millions in high tech treatment was not enough to save him. But my plane was held up two hours at JFK due to “maintenance issues.” When they say “maintenance”

When they say “Maintenance” I say “take all the time you need.” As a pilot I know the last thing I want is a airplane not working right when you are flying, especially with passengers in your care.

The flight delay put me in a crunch to make the memorial in Sugar Land. Bob was an avid sailor from Long Island to the Atlantic who settled here on the Gulf Coast. Not only did he enjoy our weather he also was a gifted literary teacher and insightful advisor to many.

The most amazing story was told by one of his children. They were in a sailboat race years ago in Long Island Sound when it became evident that a large tug, pulling a barge with a cable, was between them and winning the race.

Bob said to his son: “If we have to go behind the barge, we lose the race.”

Then an amazing thing happened. The tugboat Captain, seeing the situation, cut his engine just enough to let the cable pulling the barge slip below the waves -- just long enough for Bob and his boat to sail over -- and win the race! Then the tug powered up, the cable tightened, and the tug continued on its journey with its cargo.

Another son recalled a time when a large cruise ship hit their boat and they had to jump into the water.

And about another not-so-kind tug operator who powered up his boat to deliberately create the largest wake possible --knowing the wake force could capsize Bob’s tiny boat with him and his young son in it. Somehow Bob was “in tune” with the universe and it all worked out well.

FYI. I didn’t know this. NY C TV carried a fascinating, disturbing, story last night. Apparently there is an epidemic on Long Island of teens starting on mom’s and dad’s prescription drugs –and going on to heroin after getting addicted to things like Vicodin. One mom had only five pills, yet it was enough to get her son hooked, and seeking bigger highs from heroin, which is easily obtained there.

To stop it, one teen who was on the wrong side of addiction said it simply: “You lock up your guns. You should also lock up your prescription drugs.”

Or else they are readily available to be abused and possibly kill your kids, like it is doing in Long Island today, a suburb of white, middle class, economically safe people –not homeless people like some might like to think.

The NYC news also run some funny stories on the political races going on there. It was fun to watch that part. I like Long Island and its quaint little houses that reminded me of Iowa and suburbia combined.

On the national front, all remains the same.

Security and safety in the 21st Century -- means that we need to pay attention to what is going on globally or get blindsided yet again.

Not paying attention to the technology development in Asia and Europe also puts the U.S. at a disadvantage to the other competing economic powerhouses of the world, from China to India to even Russia.

We need to be global tech leaders and, if necessary, interplanetary entrepreneurs to stay ahead – or risk being just another economy in a vast super global economic engine – that ends up driving the rest of this century – and the next.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fall Colors in NY

Here is a shot of the tree colors on Long Island next to the job we were doing on a JP Morgan Chase bank - one of the first to get hurricane window film. The bank is only 1/2 mile from the Atlantic coast.

I had to get a new Blackberry Storm to replace the one toasted after I loaded Windows 7 - they had never seen anything like it. After I downloaded the newest BB software the system stablized.

I may go check out an old lighthouse on the tip of the island today - my first day off in eons. It poured cold rain for a couple days but the sun broke out yesterday and it is supposed to be good the next several days.

I put my crew on a Jet Blue flight yesterday - which was due to arrive last night in the middle of the heavy rains.

Despite their reputation for being short, I found the experience of working with New Yorkers pleasant. Yeah, there was another contractor on the job yesterday who sounded like a pit bull when I asked his crew not to put their fingers in still-drying sealant, but so what. LOL.

Flying back tomorrow. Today I am going to enjoy a rare day off...
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

in New York with a dead Blackberry and a crippled compute

I'm in New York with a dead Blackberry and a crippled computer, where it has been pouring a COLD rain for the last two days.

While working on a bank to secure it from hurricanes (only 1/2 mile from the ocean) I downloaded the new Windows 7 to go on a month-old new computer. All was fine until it started crashing last night - while I had my Blackberry Storm hooked up to it. Now my Storm has the "white screen of death" which says in tiny print "Reload software 507."

What software 507? It's toast, along with only files I had on it.

Good thing is that we finished the job. But now I have no phone and a computer that only works in "safe mode." Unless it crashes again.

Microsoft instructions are starting to look like NASA launch codes. "Go update your drivers"
Duh? Isn't that the new software's job?

So LOL, I'm on Long Island without a working comm device. I may have to resort to smoke signals, after seeing all the unpronounceable Indian street names like "ConnQuot" or something like that.

But it is beautiful when the sun is out. But today it is still blowing like a blue norther and it's time to head SOUTH when that happens.

I just hope to have a working phone and computer by then. My Blackberry is my email, phone, calendar, calculator - my office!

LOL. To Be continued. Must go ship tools back and get crew on a flight back to their families...

I'd post photos but not sure this computer would last long enough to do it. Later.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Balloon Fest to Amityville NY

Saturday the sky was full of balloons hovering over Clear Lake. Then it was on to NY, where the trees are yellow, red -- and drop dread beautiful. Here is a blurry photo passing Amityville...

Also included is a photo that I took with my Blackberry Storm of one balloon appearing to land on a building in Clear Lake (I was too tired from two trade shows in one week to take more photos of an excellent event on a perfectly still, beautiful day. lol):
More on our adventures on Long Island later. High is 60-something and the low is 40, and DRY. Found a deal on a golf resort on for about the cost of a Comfort Inn. It's like being in the country, not New York...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Houston Rocks - Despite Congress Hypocrites

Yesterday, I drove in the rain from Ft. Worth (where the Mayor of every town in Texas you never heard of were hanging out) to set up for the architect's meeting at the GRB. The difference in attitude was striking. Houston ROCKS.

I was at a trade show in Ft. Worth's Convention center where they made the vendors unload in the pouring rain instead of letting them pull into the loading dock on the day of the show. I saw a guy with a trailer loaded with heavy equipment they wouldn't let in. They told him he could unload in the rain and carry it in. Yikes!

In contrast, every show I have been at at the George R Brown, the staff have been helpful and cooperative. Ft. Worth has a pretty downtown but it was not friendly to the people who paid a lot of money to exhibit there.

The marathon continues today, then it's on to NY for another job.

I am amazed how Americans don't get it. The growth is in green jobs and green technology - (our sales are up over 500% from last year). If we don't lead it (and the space race), then China and India will. Wake up America. The old economy and old ways don't work anymore. Either we innovate or lose to those who are.

For example, Nick Lampson wrote in the Chronicle today about building a space-based solar collector. This is a pratical way to both advance our technology and get free sun power at the same time.

I think it's ironic the current Congressman from CD22 who voted against the stimulus money now wants part of it to fund NASA's $3 billion shortfall. NASA should get that money to keep us from being left behind. But we DON'T need are negative Congressional reps who spend all their time voting no against everything the President, but then demand $$$ for NASA. Not convincing or even helpful to NASA to have a hypocrite from the minority party as a rep....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Seabrook Sunrise on Fall

This is sunrise this morning in Seabrook, looking towards Kemah.

Yesterday, boats ranging in size from one-man dinghies to Yachts were on the move. Fall and fresh air. No heat and humidity for a day or so.


Today, I'm on the move. Covering three cities or more in the next week...
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jumping Fish

It's fall on the lake. Here is the view from the new Seabrook office overlooking Clear Lake. This is looking through my self-installed window film, which cuts the normal glare.

During morning coffee and evening wine, the lake puts on a show. There are jumping fish - some only jump once, but some will do 5 or 6 jumps. Some of them look a small as an inch long but jump a foot or two each time.

Then we have the bird show, especially during morning breakfast and evening dinner. The Pelicans fly over the lake in formation like fighters, then alternate between flapping and power glides. Amazing sight. Most of the Pelicans are brown but a group of white Pelicans hang out in a nearby Marsh. Finally saw one fly by a couple days ago.

This is the first "break" all year. We are preparing to do a New York job next week. This week I'm running from a trade show in Ft Worth to one in Houston.

The best thing about a water office is how much it relaxes you. We all need that these days. It's been a tremendous year. We are proof that the growth is in green technology and green jobs.

And we haven't even scratched the surface of what is possible...

Friday, October 16, 2009

No Balloon Boy Over Clear Lake

Apparently people have too much time on their hands, as do the media, when two hours of TV time is spent following a balloon over Colorado. I walked into a house we were doing in Friendswood and even my crew was watching the TV. It now appears to have been a TV PR stunt. Duh!

Al Qaida, you will have a problem getting Americans attention from watching balloon chases, car chases and more "reality" shows that have nothing to do with reality. America, we won't lead the 21st century if our heads are focused on French fries and balloon chases.

This is a calorie free photo of a nice sunset over Clear Lake on one of our first cool, blue October days - after days of heavy condensation hanging on the windows.

Speaking of windows, a Professor who had our film installed last year put it to the test. Either a rock from a mower -- or a person -- broke one of his windows.

The film worked perfectly - containing the glass and avoiding the breach, which means avoiding broken glass and water entry if it was raining.

A photo is attached, showing (with permission) Prof. Cunningham and his shattered window being held together with Armor Glass film.

He'll replace the window with the vendor of his choice -- and we'll put on a new piece of film and he's good to go again, with 100% protection...

I love this job!

The downside is today I heard that a good friend of mine had passed from cancer - the medical bills over over $500,000. According to the widow, the worst part was that the medical folks did little to stop the pain as part of the treatment. No one should have to die in pain...our system needs reforms.

Texas ranks last in both education and medical care for its citizens...How good is that?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Different Look to Solar Security Films - test

I used my new apartment for an experiment - hanging different hurricane/solar films on different panes (for awhile) to compare their look. On the far left is a clear pane. Next to it is the film for reducing 70% of the solar heat on single pane glass (our SS20). Next to it is the double pane film that cuts 50% of the solar heat. And on the far right is the Silver that rejects 79% of the solar heat (even off the glass) but is very reflective. At night the silver looks like a mirror, but during the day it cuts glare and heat like wild.

I prefer the SS20 (third from the right), which cuts the heat 70% without the mirror effect.

ALL provide hurricane security. When I installed the film, the frames were moving/wobbly. THANK God I've reinforced them, since the south windows are exposed and have zero protection from flying debris. I even covered the east windows, including the ladies bathroom, to cut the morning heat and provide a level of security that wasn't there before.

I love this job. Today, we did a house in Friendswood that had more glass sq. footage then Seabrook City Hall, which we did last week. Amazing. Fun. And it's protecting people at the same time. I LOVE this job!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Red Water

This morning I noticed that the lake water was RED if I looked to the west. The water is as smooth as glass.

I didn't know how much wild life Clear Lake had until now. During the day the pelicans and birds are landing and taking off to the point you wonder how they manage their air traffic control. Fish are jumping in the early morning.

On a calm smooth day like this morning, if you sit and watch awhile, you will notice something large comes up and stirs the surface, then its gone.

I will be attaching a photo/video I made of the windows facing South. I taped different tinted security films on each pane for comparison.

I was getting BTU (heat) readings of over 214 on the plain glass (far left). The second pane from the left cuts that 214 solar heat reading by 70%, the next one 50% and the reflective film with the notch in it on the far right cuts 79% of the solar heat, but has too much reflection at night, whereas the others don't. I just threw those up there with tape so its not a perfect test, but does give you a comparison.

Monday, October 05, 2009

(Houston) Mayoral Debate

This is the link to the photos I took at the Mayor's debate for the League of Women Voters (as a volunteer). Feel free to use any of them you wish, with attribution:

One of them will be our next Mayor, so listen up. The debate will air on Local Channel 2 at 9 p.m. Saturday, October 10th.

There were no arm wrestling matches or verbal mud balls thrown, but it was informative.

Friday, October 02, 2009

City of Seabrook: Jail Population - 1

My crew is doing the Seabrook City Hall, which also happens to be the same location for the police department and jail.

When we did the initial inspection of windows, I was told that the jail had exactly one detainee. Yep. One person locked up in the slammer. Obviously, Seabrook is a community gone mad with crime.

City hall is a quaint two story building that was soaked with about 2 feet of water from Hurricane IKE. We are storm-hardening it by applying hurricane window film that also has solar control to cut the heat by 50% - and protect the occupants from everything from an explosion to hurricane-force winds.

We just finished hardening 10 buildings for Chambers County, which took the brunt of Hurricane IKE. As a result their power bills are also on the decline since our film cut 70% of the solar heat entering their windows while providing breach security.

I just moved into a new apartment facing Clear Lake -- and found that the sun really heats it up, especially some unprotected windows facing South. I held up my BTU meter and took the photo above showing a 212 reading! That is like a stove element. The window has eight panes so on a couple of them I hung up three different films that reject from 50 to 70% of that heat -- to see how they look side by side, both during the day and at night. The results were interesting - they cut the glare and dropped the BTU heat readings bigtime.