Summit is another creative work by my nephew. He aspires to be a music educator. He found free composition software online called MuseScore that he used to create this piece. He actually wrote it about six months ago but just posted it to MuseScore‘s website. I was very impressed with Summit.
This one was written for an English quiz. Quite good, I think, especially for having to produce within a small amount of time. When he told me about it, I told him about one of his/our relatives, Vernon Swain, who was a Pearl Harbor survivor.
All was peaceful on that day
Before the planes flew in,
Not an hour later, we didn’t know
If we could begin again.
Friends, neighbors, comrades lost
To Japan’s destructive hand,
That night, on my knees, I mourned for those
Lost on sea and on land.
Now, fifty years later, I write these words,
Maybe they can read them on the wings of the birds.
Now, fifty years later, the anniversary
Of that day which shall live in infamy,
I pay tribute to those who lost their lives
So that today I might still survive.
And as we honor those lost, I still pray yet
That we should never repeat and never forget.
Today one of my nephews shared with me this poem that he wrote in his free time. He recently had to write a poem for one of his classes, but he wasn’t even required to write this poem. I told him that I would really like to teach him to like trigonometry because, apparently, he finds it more than a little troublesome!
I would like to explain my hatred degree,
Of that ruinous subject called trigonometry.
The epitome of sorrow, despair, and grief,
I may as well be a crumpled up old dry leaf
It is a darkness that covers my every waking day,
When all I want is to go out and play;
But no, that terror holds me in my room,
Writing down problems of impending doom.
Radians and degrees invade my mind,
It becomes a blur. O have I gone blind?
For I cannot tell between real and unknown.
O how can I tell between real and unknown?
My thoughts have been put in a blender and whirled,
I wish I were back in Walt Disney World!
But for now, I guess, I’ll wait on my knees,
While I ponder and cry over trigonometry.
One of my 11-year-old daughter’s uncles challenged her to do a writeup for National Pi Day March 14, 2014. After reading online about Pi, she sat down and wrote this for him:
Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter of the circle. The i told pi to “be rational” because pi is not a rational number. A rational number is any number that can be written as a wonderful fraction in which the numerator and denominator must be whole numbers. Another reason why pi is not rational is because it is an infinite number. An infinite number cannot be written as a simple fraction. Therefore pi (3.14) is not rational.
Pi told the i to “get real” because i stands for an imaginary number. When you square an imaginary number the result is a negative number. However, when you square a positive number you always get a positive (or zero) result. When you square i the result is -1. Consequently, i equals the square root of -1. An imaginary number cannot be written as a rational or finite number. Therefore i is not real.
In the picture i told pi to be rational because pi is not rational . Pi told i to get real because i stands for an imaginary number (not real). Therefore you have the pot calling the kettle black.;)
I’ve been waiting to be able to use Spritz. They just announced Spritzlet, an applet that lets you read web pages quickly. You have to sign up for an account to be able to read faster than 450 wpm. This really works! They also have an iOS speed reading app that lets you read non-DRM books.
I’ve been very busy lately, but I just had to take a minute and write about Wave Accounting. Wave is an online accounting app (their new domain name is www.waveapps.com). I watched Wave Accounting for about a year before I finally decided to go with it for my small business this year (switching from QuickBooks Simple Start). I discovered early this year that Wave had gotten the interface to my bank working (so that transactions download automatically) and that they had also built an account reconciliation function. Incredibly, this software is free to use (including allowing one or more collaborators such as an accountant or business partner) until you need payroll. This model strikes me as extremely logical. Even when implemented, payroll is very cost-effective. The best thing about the software is the outstanding design and how easy it is to use. Also, it is particularly good for small business owners because it includes a personal accounting section as well. I can’t recommend this product highly enough.
More than a year ago we switched our electricity supplier to IDT Energy. At the end of last year I called them with the intention of switching suppliers, but the rep said that they would send me a rebate check since I called to ask about the charges (they were only slightly higher than the local company at that point, so I waited the six weeks or so for the rebate check to arrive). Unfortunately, though I intended to switch suppliers after receiving the rebate check (approximately $111), I was busy and didn’t switch. Today we discovered that our power bill for the past month is $446 (it had been running less than $200 per month).
(The local power company fee adds around $50 to take it to the approximately $446)
I called IDT about the bill this morning, and the rep said that they are always and only a variable rate supplier and that electricity prices had spiked with the cold weather. She said that there was nothing she could do and that we are going to have to pay the bill. She said that IDT does shop for rates. Before calling IDT, I had checked PA PowerSwitch to see what IDT’s rates were listed as there. IDT’s rate on PA PowerSwitch is 14.9 cents per kWh. When I asked the rep about that, she had no answer. In fact, the HIGHEST rate listed on PA PowerSwitch today is 14.99 cents per kWh for Respond Power LLC. I also asked the rep why IDT’s rate was so much higher than the local power company rate that is listed on the bill for comparison (5.61 cents per kWh) but didn’t receive a definitive answer. The date of our bill is February 12th (just five days ago). I will be checking with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to see if they can tell me what IDT’s rate was listed at five days ago. I can’t imagine it was 50% higher just five days ago. I had the rep cancel our IDT account.
Follow up (3-1-2014):
I called IDT Energy back and was able to get an additional $50 off. I also called our local power company to ask them if I could enter a reading so that the change back to them as our power provider could happen immediately. Unfortunately they said that it is in the law that changes can only happen one time per month at the regular billing – so we’re stuck with one more month and will almost certainly have another bill at least as high as the last one. Someone where I work also mentioned to me last week that they had also been using IDT and had gotten hit with a large bill just a few days before the same as we had.
I wasn’t able to find anyone at the Pennsylvania PUC that could help me, so I called the Pennsylvania Office of the Consumer Advocate and they provided the information I was looking for. They said that the rates on PA PowerSwitch are introductory rates.
So to summarize: We were never without power due to IDT, so the quality of service was fine in that regard. This situation, of course, is a case of buyer beware. I did not monitor this closely enough when I could have changed and saved us a LOT of money. I don’t think I would ever consider switching from our local supplier again because I’m too busy to monitor a power supplier for all the more savings that would be achieved. It’s just not worth the risk to me. It seems that choice of power generation makes more sense for commercial and industrial concerns than for consumers. If you WOULD switch, you would definitely want to go with a fixed rate. In that case you would also want to have a reminder set to ensure you’re getting a new contract well before the end of the fixed rate period. This would be very important because if you happen to forget that your fixed rate period is ending and you would change over to a variable rate, then by the time you find out that your bill has skyrocketed, you would have to continue with the current supplier ANOTHER month before you can switch from them (at least in Pennsylvania). The PA PowerSwitch website does have an email subscription service through which you can be notified of rate changes, but it lists all power suppliers (quite a few) – you can’t narrow it down to your own supplier.
To conclude: Here is an interesting press release just out from the PA PUC.
One evening in August of 2011 my wife mentioned to me that there was something odd in the cat’s water bowl. Later on, after dark, I was outside finishing up some work and thought to look at the bowl. It contained a rubbery looking, stringy and tightly packed ball. I took it out and, for some reason, laid it on a small piece of plastic in the flower bed. A little while later I looked at it again and was a little incredulous at what I was seeing. I ran and got the iPod to take some video, and here is what I saw (WARNING: You might not want to watch this if you are squeamish):