June 30, 2005

More Praxair Panic

Leave it to the Post-Dispatch to point at the ground, yell "ASBESTOS!," and have its morning story.

That was yesterday, and I didn't even bother to read it. I'd imagine a whole lot of other folks didn't read it either but caught the headline, some of those people started to worry. If you firebombed my house (please don't), you'd have a similar pile of asbestos from our previous siding. So perhaps all of our neighbors should move away due to the risk.

I'd also like to note that asbestos on the house != (does not equal, for you non-geeks) asbestos in the air. So, asbestos on the ground != asbestos in the air. What's a safe amount of asbestos in the air?
The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that if a person breathed one fiber of asbestos per cubic foot of air for his entire lifetime, his risk of developing cancer would increase by no more than a 1 in 100,000 chance.
But today, hey, here's the headline. At least it tells me the story I need to know, "Praxair finds no asbestos in air."

Now, lest you think I don't want to fault the company with anything, if discovery finds that Praxair employees were being foolish or lacksidasical on the job, I'll be one of the loudest critics. But what needs to be emphasized with every stinking news article is that the company followed proper disaster procedures. And it obviously had good ones in place.

Back to the issue at hand:

Test results released by industrial gas company Praxair found no asbestos in the air around the historic homes in the St. Louis neighborhood, company officials said late Wednesday afternoon.

The city's director of public safety Sam Simon said he had not yet seen the reports, and would wait until he had confirmation from the state. If the reports are true, that's good - "real good," Simon said.

Praxair sent workers into the neighborhood Tuesday night to remove 20 to 30 chunks of exploded gas tanks from streets, driveways and yards, said company president Wayne Yakich.
The state will do its testing of the air today.


Posted by hln at 05:41 AM | Comments (1)

June 29, 2005

Not a Caption Contest Per Se...

Ok, so a woman is offering to "Tattoo your logo" on her as an eBay auction. Check this out.

What do YOU think should go there?


Posted by hln at 03:14 PM | Comments (3)

June 28, 2005

Random Factoid

The Dutch word for legs is bekijken.


Posted by hln at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

Hear No Evil, See No Evil...

Last week, there was an explosion at a plant in St. Louis. It was spectacular enough to make national news, yet the plant followed its internal procedures for the event of a disaster, and no one was seriously injured. No one was killed.

The company's name is Praxair. It can be easily found on the web by typing "Praxair" into Google. Voila.

Why is this relevant? Oh, it's that Post-Dispatch again carrying the "plight of da people."

Residents in Lafayette Square learned the truth about one of their neighbors Friday, when a chain of explosions and a giant fireball launched metal canisters into their neighborhood.
Why is "the truth" put in that paragraph? Its as if sinister Praxair had tried to obfuscate its business practices. Hardly. See website.

Leaders of the historic area say they had no idea that Praxair Inc., a gas distribution company, was handling flammable gases. Furthermore, they say such a facility should not operate in a residential area and are demanding that it relocate.
St. Louis has quite a bit of industry. Though I don't have the history of the area, I'm sure I could consult my mother and my uncle and learn that the industry predated the people. Perhaps I shall. Again, I'd like to point out that there were no deaths at the plant, and no serious injuries. If you have to have a disaster...

The truth. Remember, the residents learned "the truth." That needs a sound effect. I think that one that goes with the Magic Eight Ball Easter Egg in MS Access works great. The truth. Bohm! (I'll see if I can find the .wav).

I should disclose in the interest of non-journalism that Praxair uses one of my software products (not local Praxair, but a facility shipping these gases internationally). So I was aware of its gas-handling practices. <sarcasm>I KNEW THE TRUTH</sarcasm>.

By the way, did you see the note on the website at Praxair? "Update: Monday, June 27, 2005 -- The following updates previous statements on the fire at the Praxair Distribution facility in St. Louis. Employees at the Praxair Distribution facility in St. Louis expect to make 100% of their customer deliveries today. "


Posted by hln at 05:34 AM | Comments (3)

June 27, 2005

The Perfect Husband

So, I had on shorts yesterday after the ride, and I was checking out my reflection in the mirror. I'm a tad Rubenesque these days (though not obnoxiously so), and that coupled with age has given me a smidge of cellulite. I said:

"Eww, I have cellulite."

Brian said, "what's that?"


Posted by hln at 10:25 AM | Comments (3)

June 26, 2005

Ride Ride Ride

I had a 65 - 70 mile weekend...dunno exactly. My bike computer crapped out on me, and with my current level of physical fitness, that's probably a good thing (otherwise I'd be upset).

Around 32 yesterday with Bryce, the only one brave enough to join me for the 5:45 a.m. ride. This is the perfect summer start time for a weekend - no cars on city streets, the sun's fully up, and it's temperate outside. Yesterday's forecast was for 95 degrees. When we finished, it was only about 83. Two others were supposed to join us but later declined. You know who you are.

Today was the Bridge Bash up at Old Chain of Rocks. It was so hot I had chills...probably that's not a good thing, but I managed to finish my 30+ with energy to spare. I took an unplanned ride into Granite City after taking a wrong turn. That added a good 2 - 4 extra miles. The road was great - I was sad it wasn't our route. Oh well.

MS 150 is September 10th and 11th. If I continue at this pace (increasing mileage each weekend and making sure I get appropriate hill dosage and doing some weekday riding, that shouldn't be a problem).

See, back to old form talking about old things.


Posted by hln at 07:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Proposed Flag Burning Amendment

In light of the proposed Flag Burning Amendment (hello, Congress? Don't you have anything better to do?), I'd like to remind you of all of the thngs that can still be done to desecrate the flag and raise ire:

  1. Cut it into the shape of a beach towel and head to Florida to give it a spin.
  2. Paint parts of it the color of your favorite football team and fly it on Sundays.
  3. Sulfuric acid? (It's not fire)
  4. Hang it upside down
  5. Cut a big hole out of the middle. Instant poncho!
Or can you? From CNN: "The proposed one-line amendment to the Constitution reads, "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

Perhaps "Flag Burning" has been attached to this too soon. I'd be careful wearing red, white, and blue together if this thing passes. You might be considered a desecrator. Or perhaps Congress will need to pass an amendment to define "desecration."

Desecration: blasphemous behavior; the act of depriving something of its sacred character;

Like what this amendment would symbolically do to free speech?

Yeah, that.


Posted by hln at 07:17 AM | Comments (1)

June 25, 2005

Dumbing Down

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch edited my letter to the editor into blas├ędom.

The original:

Clay Barbour's article "Smoking bill is coming in St. Louis County" had a strange sentence in it worth some commentary. It's in this paragraph:

"After months of study, debate and negotiations, a final draft of the proposed St. Louis County indoor smoking ban is expected to be introduced next week to the County Council and it appears that bars and restaurants will be hardest hit."

The hardest hit. By what? By whom? Legislation, sure. The possibility of my business, yes, that, too.

For more than a year now I haven't paid money to a local facility that allows smoking. My allergies (face it - we live in St. Louis and all have them) are significantly less, and I'm a far less vituperative diner. No more do I have to answer "eradication" to the befuddled host or hostess who asks "smoking preference."

Survey says that even in MO, the third heaviest smoking state, that only a quarter of us smoke. For some reason there's this overhanging cloudy assumption that these smokers have all the money and wouldn't dare step outside for a cigarette indulgence. All their business would therefore go [insert place with no smoking restrictions here]. The sister assumption is that the smoke produced indoors by these same 25%, the polluters, doesn't drive off business. It's the status quo. So long as we all have lived and dined (and breathed and subsequently coughed), there's been smoking in restaurants. And yea verily thus it must remain so?

Why? Why does it seem such a hardship to finally recognize the 75%+ of the state's population and our choice to not smoke, a choice many of us make for health reasons. That's what it really comes down to. Non-smokers. Yeah, they don't smoke, not even second hand by choice. Ever. Certainly some don't mind the byproducts of others' cigarettes. Some are strange radicals like me (I'll disclose that I'm a conservative distance athlete and 14-year cancer survivor) who avoid it altogether, and for good cause.

Smoking in restaurants? No problem. So long as the smoker contain the smoke for himself/herself. More smoke, more enjoyment - it's a win/win. Some entrepeneur should get right on the space suit design.

Until then, applause to the council in advance for making the right decision. Long list of restaurants I've not seen the inside of for more than a year?

Hope to see you soon. Too bad I can't go bowling.

P-D at least leaves the word "eradication" - vocab word for the high schoolers?

The article "Smoking bill is coming in St. Louis County" (June 22) said, " appears that bars and restaurants will be hardest hit."

The hardest hit? By what?

For more than a year, I haven't paid money to a local facility that allows smoking. My allergies are significantly less, and I'm a far less vituperative diner. No more do I have to answer "eradication" to the befuddled host or hostess who asks "smoking preference?".

There's an assumption that smokers have all the money and wouldn't dare step outside for a cigarette indulgence, so their business would go elsewhere. Another assumption is that the smoke produced indoors by the the polluters doesn't drive off business.

So long as we all have lived and dined, there's been smoking in restaurants. Must it remain so?

Why is it a hardship to recognize the 75 percent of the state's population who don't smoke?

Heather Noggle
Maryland Heights
Lost a little kick, no? I was practically yawning.


Posted by hln at 05:16 AM | Comments (2)

June 24, 2005


I decided today that I have way too few female friends, so I'm holding auditions. No whiners, please.


Posted by hln at 08:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2005

Workload and Responsibility

I'm going to bring back this blog - just not quite yet. But sometimes there's something you just have to say and define for the world.

Workload: What's currently on your plate that you know needs to be done/delegated.

Responsibility: Everything you "own" that could, all at once, immediately jump onto your plate and demand to be eaten by morning (or next Thursday, which still isn't reasonable.).

The longer you stay with one employer, the more of BOTH you acquire. And, typically, you get fairly good with the workload portion and knowing how much you can handle (if your responsibilities are predictable) and when you'll need help or need to delegate.

However, it's the responsibility factor that I think a lot of employers mischaracterize. Responsibility is:

1) Being the one who is called at 4:00 a.m. because a server is down in the Czech Republic and it interfaces with your application so the people who typically go through the Czech Republic interface can't get to your application and are upset.

2) Handling someone's new interpretation of a specification that's sat dormant for two months and then suddenly is active again (remember the next Thursday comment) and has become urgent.

3) Being aware that one of your accounts can at any time request that you be in a different city next week for two or three days to close a sales call.

4) Not scheduling your own vacation because it would impact a project that no one else can do.

5) Taking calls on your vacation because ... (see #4)

6) Knowing that on day [x] (but you're not sure exactly which day [x] actually is...just that it's soon) you will manage conflicting needs for different clients where working on one jeopardizes your ability to complete the other.

None of these things is scheduled and on the plate as workload, and yet it's all still looming because you know for doing this so long exactly what it all means. And you consider it every day because to not consider it means that you run the risk of being reactive instead of proactive. And with the combination of workload and responsibility like that, you can't AFFORD to be reactive.

And, if you're wise, you keep your workload as small as possible. If not, your weeks are 60+ hours because your workload is 35 to 40, and then there are all the things you didn't plan for that still rear their urgent, and sometimes ugly, heads. So a 40 - 45 hour week is much more likely actually fully productive and better managed than a 60 hour frazzled reactive week.

Just thought it worth one additional comment. The downside. You're paid for your workload - the things you do in the "normal" course of business. (As if business were normal!) You're not paid for how well you handle responsibility or the fires you put out before they leap into the meadow or a neighbor's home.

I believe this is an issue with the business world, especially the IT portion.


Posted by hln at 08:53 AM | Comments (8)