Monday, March 26, 2007

The Job Interview: Questions to ask

One of the things you should expect in a job interview is the question, "Do you have any questions?" The wrong answer is, no. Think about a time when you were truly interested in a subject or person. Someone tells you about themselves or the subject and that naturally leads to you to more questions. Usually those questions are answered by further information but not always. Within the structure of an interview questions are the means by which you show engagement and interest.

Now I know all the advice there is out there to go to these interviews and act naturally and be relaxed. Well to hell with that. It sort of like telling someone to love you, some things just cannot be forced. If you are nervous, accept that, understand how it might impact your performance and move on. Don't get hung up on trying not to be nervous, ain't going to happen.

To help out with the nervousness on the questions front one of the pieces of advice I received from my career counselor was to have a list of questions, written out, that you can refer to when the interviewer asks, "Do you have any questions?"

Now I know that sounds a little odd and, when you pull out the reams of paper, might even have an interviewer look somewhat surprised. But you can always calm any concern with the statement, "Most of my questions have been answered." So here are a few good questions to ask, and please, add some good questions of your own in the comments section, that would be most helpful.

  • What is the culture like at [organization name]?
  • What does a typical day look like?
  • Describe the person/personality type that you might call a good fit.
  • What would you say is the biggest challenge in this position [working at this organization]?

Remember you are interviewing them too. The last thing you need in your life is to wind-up working for an organization at which you feel miserable and unhappy. There is nothing worse for your health, family or wallet.

Job Interview Question of the Week

Job Interview Question of the Week: “Tell me about a time when you prioritized the elements of a complicated project.”

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Book Review: Driven - On Human Nature

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Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices

From these assumptions, Lawrence and Nohria extract four
basic drives that can be used to explain almost all of human behavior. As unique
and individual as we each feel ourselves to be, we are also arguably more
similar to all other humans than we are different from any one of them. Our
common drives are as much the product of evolutionary processes as are the
physical characteristics of Galapagos finches. Therefore the drives are common
to all humans in all cultures, although of course culture determines how they
will be expressed. The drives are described as follows:

· To acquire objects and experiences that improve
our status relative to others;

· To establish long-term bonds with others based
on reciprocity;

· To learn about and make sense of our world,
which is largely our own social creation;

· To defend ourselves, our families and friends,
our beliefs, and our resources.

Health and the Built Environment

From Science Magazine
The second example is more contemporary. Public health leaders are asserting--as had leaders 150 years earlier--that the built environment profoundly influences health. The focus this time is not urban tenements, but rather the fragmented and sprawling communities that foster car dependency, inactivity, obesity, loneliness, fossil fuel and resource consumption, and environmental pollution. Concern about the built environment's effects on health has caught fire, with joint health and urban-planning conferences and strategy sessions, pending legislation, and an increasing number of new scientific studies. Disciplines long estranged from health issues--planners and architects, environmentalists, even builders and developers--are becoming engaged. It's a good time to spread ownership of health and environment challenges. The challenges of the 21st century will require leadership and collaboration. It worked in the 19th century; it can work today.

This is an interesting take on the impact of the modern social/built environment, how they are interrelated, and the impact that their current structure has on health.

Here is a resource (The Prevention Institute) on actions taken with regard to the built environment and health and what the impact has been

There is growing recognition that the built environment -- the man-made physical structures and infrastructure of communities -- has an impact on our health. Through a series of program profiles, this project highlights examples of neighborhood-level successes in altering elements of the built environment to improve health behaviors and outcomes. Because low-income communities are more likely to be sites of hazards and less likely to be conducive to physical activity and healthy eating, profiles focus on interventions that have occurred in low-income communities and are most likely to contribute to reducing health disparities in the United States.
This is a fascinating area of research and activity. The actions of citizens and government today could well transform the built infrastructure of the nation. Possibly improving our health and repairing what I consider the broken foundation of community involvement and local and national identity.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sleep & Memory: When & What Type

Factual and experiential memory is reinforced during "slow-wave sleep".
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Sleep facilitates memory consolidation. A widely held model assumes that this is because newly encoded memories undergo covert reactivation during sleep. We cued new memories in humans during sleep by presenting an odor that had been presented as context during prior learning, and so showed that reactivation indeed causes memory consolidation during sleep. Re-exposure to the odor during slow-wave sleep (SWS) improved the retention of hippocampus-dependent declarative memories but not of hippocampus-independent procedural memories. Odor re-exposure was ineffective during rapid eye movement sleep or wakefulness or when the odor had been omitted during prior learning. Concurring with these findings, functional magnetic resonance imaging revealed significant hippocampal activation in response to odor re-exposure during SWS.

More Pollution Less Rain for the Hills

As air moves over mountains it cools which can lead to rain or snow. With polluted air this tendency is decreased by up to 50%. As to why... ?
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Particulate air pollution has been suggested as the cause of the recently observed decreasing trends of 10 to 25% in the ratio between hilly and upwind lowland precipitation, downwind of urban and industrial areas. We quantified the dependence of this ratio of the orographic-precipitation enhancement factor on the amounts of aerosols composed mostly of pollution in the free troposphere, based on measurements at Mt. Hua near Xi'an, in central China. The hilly precipitation can be decreased by 30 to 50% during hazy conditions, with visibility of less than 8 kilometers at the mountaintop. This trend shows the role of air pollution in the loss of significant water resources in hilly areas, which is a major problem in China and many other areas of the world.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Determine the molar mass of an unknown compound by making asolution in which lauric acid is the solvent and the unknown is the solute.After you determine the freezing point of this solution, you’ll be able to applythe following equation:

D T = i x m x Kf , where

i = the number of solute particles (in this case i= 1; for molecular, nonionizing solutes i always =1);
m = the molality of the solution;
Kf = the freezing point depression constant for lauric acid ( 3.9 o C/m); and
D T = the difference in the freezing points of the solvent and the solution.

Extracted from Lab Practical: Determination of the Molar Mass of an Unknown Compound

Monday, March 19, 2007

Job Interview Question of the Week

INTERVIEW QUESTION OF THE WEEK: “Tell me about a time when you were creative in solving a problem.”

Friday, March 16, 2007

Library of Freeware

I'll have to check this out and see if it has any value.
Freeware library

Looking for quality free software? Go no further! Freeware Library is the perfect place for you to download free software from. Here you can find and enjoy free programs from virtually any category. We check all software carefully for viruses, trojans, spyware etc., so you can rest assured that all programs are pure freeware and safe to download and install.

  • Audio & Video
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Design & Photo
  • Desktop Enhancements
  • Developer Tools
  • Education
  • Games
  • Home & Hobby
  • Internet
  • Security & Privacy
  • Utilities & Drivers
  • Servers
  • Web Developer Tools
  • Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    Job Interview Question of the Week

    INTERVIEW QUESTION OF THE WEEK: “Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.”

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    Brzezinski: Presidents & U.S. Foreign Policy

    "...the next 20 months will be crucial"

    I'm not a praying man, but I might start.
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    Listen to this story...

    Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations C
    Washington has squandered its first chance at global leadership, says Brzezinski, who was national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter.
    Brzezinski tells Robert Siegel that George H.W. Bush merits a B, while Bill Clinton receives a C and the current president, George W. Bush, an F.
    There is still opportunity for America to regain its prestige, Brzezinki says, but he warns that the next 20 months will be crucial. If the U.S. war in Iraq worsens and if it expands to Iran, then Brzezinski warns the era of American global pre-eminence in the world will prove to be historically very short.

    Sunday, March 11, 2007

    To Dragon or Not to Dragon...

    SO the question is, do I get voice recognition software (which no doubt would be much quicker than my typing) or not.

    The real draw back is that I have begun to really enjoy typing. It is sort of like playing a piano in a way in that you can feel the flow of the words sort of magically go through your hands and finger tips. And to have really just begun to do so without looking at the keyboard is itself an amazing new feeling that somehow, I don't how to put it any other way than to say it is a artistic/spiritual/mystical (OK this may be overstating it a bit) experience. Anyway, is there anyone who has developed the joy of typing who has tried voice recognition software? My "fear" is not that voice recognition will be bad, my fear is that it will win me over and I will never look back. Sort of like deciding to leave a loved one for another.

    Amazing OlD Color Photos

    These are remarkable. Imagine a color photo before radio, and even the telephone.
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    The oldest known color photograph: 1872

    Before the Autochrome process was perfected in France, this photograph of a landscape
    in Southern France was taken. No, it is not hand-tinted. This is a color-photograph.
    (Note: It was published in a Time/Life Book entitled "Color" in 1972, "courtesey of
    George Eastman House, Paulus Lesser.") You are looking at the birth of color
    photography seven years after the American Civil War. 130 years ago this view of
    Angouleme, France, was created by a "subtractive" method. This is the basis for all
    color photography, even today. It was taken by Louis Ducos du Hauron who proposed the
    method in 1869. It was not until the 1930's that this method was perfected for
    commercial use.

    Do something bold everyday

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    3. Make it a point to do something bold every day. Step out of your comfort zone, leave the routine even if for only a second. This might mean talking to someone that you generally wouldn’t talk to or starting a project that you feel intimidated by. There is no need to plan it in advance–though that might help at times, usually though you’ll find a point during the day when ‘two paths diverge in the woods’ and you have the change to take the one less travelled by. Take it. When there is something that we aren’t accustomed to doing we naturally set up mental barriers against it to protect ourselves from the thought of doing it. It takes a bold move to act and break those barriers.

    Saturday, March 10, 2007

    The importance of valid disagreement

    This is a great clip and certainly one that needs to be shared.
    Paul Graham says, in one of his essays (emphasis mine)

    "....Why do you need other people? Can't you just think of new ideas yourself? The empirical answer is: no. Even Einstein needed people to bounce ideas off. Ideas get developed in the process of explaining them to the right kind of person. You need that resistance, just as a carver needs the resistance of the wood.

    In my experience, this need for "friendly resistance" extends to far more than creating startups. Every time you have a new idea, you need people you can bounce it off. To get any real benefit out of this process you need people with a complex combination of characteristics.

    They should

    1. have firm (but not rigid) opinions on their own

    2. have logical reasons for those beliefs and be able to articulate them clearly

    3. are driven by ideas and not ideology

    4. not attach their egos to their opinions.

    5. be willing to concede a valid argument even if it forces them to possibly re-examine their beliefs

    6. know how to listen

    D.C.'s Ban On Handguns In Homes Is Thrown Out

    This should be an interesting experiment (that is if the ruling isn't reversed). Will having guns be legal decrease or increase gun violence? (Or maybe no change) There are lots of variables to account for such as the current prevalence of handguns (will changing the law increase the number of handguns?) etc.

    A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the District's longtime ban on keeping handguns in homes is unconstitutional.

    The 2 to 1 decision by an appellate panel outraged D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and other city leaders, who said that they will appeal and that gun-related crimes could rise if the ruling takes effect. The outcome elated opponents of strict gun controls because it knocked down one of the toughest laws in the country and vindicated their interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's language on the right to bear arms.

    Friday, March 09, 2007

    Grasslands as Alternative Energy

    Alternative energy can be made from grasslands with yields up to 238% higher than using farmed biofuels (e.g. corn). Grasslands are "carbon negative" meaning that, considering the full cycle of growth and burning, they remove carbon dioxide form the atmosphere. Lastly grasslands can be grown on marginal and degraded lands and thus do not need to displace food production.
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    Biofuels derived from low-input high-diversity (LIHD) mixtures of native grassland perennials can provide more usable energy, greater greenhouse gas reductions, and less agrichemical pollution per hectare than can corn grain ethanol or soybean biodiesel. High-diversity grasslands had increasingly higher bioenergy yields that were 238% greater than monoculture yields after a decade. LIHD biofuels are carbon negative because net ecosystem carbon dioxide sequestration (4.4 megagram hectare–1 year–1 of carbon dioxide in soil and roots) exceeds fossil carbon dioxide release during biofuel production (0.32 megagram hectare–1 year–1). Moreover, LIHD biofuels can be produced on agriculturally degraded lands and thus need to neither displace food production nor cause loss of biodiversity via habitat destruction.

    China's Environmental Blame Game

    The rapidly approaching Olympic Games have brought an unwelcome spotlight on China’s environmental situation.Beijingwon its Olympics bid with the promise of the world’s first “green” games. Five years later, there is no talk of a green Olympics, only of how extensive a shutdown of industry and transportation will be needed in Beijing and surrounding provinces just to ensure that the athletes can breathe.
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    Last month the International Energy Agency announced that China would probably surpass the United States as the world’s largest contributor of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by 2009, more than a full decade earlier than anticipated. This forecast could spur China to adopt tough new energy and environmental standards, but it probably won’t. China has already embarked on a very different strategy to manage its environmental reputation: launching a political campaign that lays much of the blame for the country’s mounting environmental problems squarely on the shoulders of foreigners and, in particular, multinational companies.

    China’s leaders are tapping into anti-foreign and nationalist sentiments to deflect attention from their own failures.
    When a Chinese nongovernmental organization released a list of 2,700 companies cited for violations of China’s water regulations in late October, the ensuing media frenzy focused exclusively on the 33 multinationals

    Dodging a Warming Bullet

    Some positive side effects of the Montreal protocol and the banning of CFCs.
    Picture of a graph

    Double benefit.
    Earth has experienced far less radiative forcing, or atmospheric warming, thanks to a ban on CFCs, which so far has prevented the release of far more greenhouse gases (green and blue lines) than have the CO2 reduction targets imposed by the Kyoto Protocol (red line).

    a 20-year-old ban on ozone-depleting chemicals has been extremely effective at curbing greenhouse gases as well. In fact, it has already had more impact than a fully implemented Kyoto Protocol would have accomplished
    the class of compounds known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) traps 5000 to 14,000 times more heat, pound for pound, than carbon dioxide
    One group, hydrochlorofluorocarbons or HCFCs, is easier on the ozone layer, but its members are also powerful greenhouse gases.
    A third category, hydrofluorocarbons, are even worse atmospheric heat collectors than CFCs, but because they don't affect ozone, Sarma says, the Kyoto partners must address them.

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    Video: Fighting Global Warming...

    Here is a link to a video on about how to reduce one's carbon footprint.

    'Fighting Global Warming One House at a Time'

    March 2, 2007

    Chesapeake Climate Action Network's Mike Tidwell describes how he and his wife save energy by using solar power and heating their home with a corn stove.

    Sports Injuries: The Ankle

    Ankle injuries are the second most common sports injuries worldwide (after knee injuries.)

    (Tangent: Have you noticed how funny a word 'ankle' is? It sounds and looks funny)
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    Results show that the ankle was the most common injured body site in 24 of 70 included sports, especially in aeroball, wall climbing, indoor volleyball, mountaineering, netball and field events in track and field.
    In sports injuries throughout the countries studied, the ankle was the second most common injured body site after the knee, and ankle sprain was the most common type of ankle injury. The incidence of ankle injury and ankle sprain was high in court games and team sports, such as rugby, soccer, volleyball, handball and basketball.

    Funniest Videos: The Atheist's Nightmare

    Really, you just can't make this stuff up. This is hands down the winner of the funniest video of the week.

    The Atheist's nightmare is....a banana!

    Monday, March 05, 2007

    Dollar Crisis?

    How will the enormous indebtedness of not only the U.S. government (Thanks Bush) but the American people start to be addressed? People do not change their habits/addictions with ease. Sadly, it is usually through some crisis that people come to terms with reality, then they get down to business. May we have a real president when/if the crisis hits.
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    Longer term, however, the risk of U.S. dollar crisis (essentially a sharp depreciation of the dollar against other currencies) should not be overlooked. We've fed a habit in recent years whereby the U.S. has run enormous trade deficits with China and Japan, and these countries, in turn, have lent us back the money (by accumulating U.S. debt securities) so that we can maintain our standard of consumption through increased indebtedness. This is not an equilibrium, and disequilibrium situations have a tendency to produce painful adjustments.

    Is Israel Falling Apart?

    This passes for analysis? That a nation has political corruption is hardly the basis on which to come to the conclusion that it is falling apart. Take a closer look and you see at the problems are being policed, prosecuted, and rooted out by the system. Now take a look at what is happening in the U.S. (U.S. attorney scandal, Iraq war, New Orleans) and you can begin to worry about us.
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    Foreign observers of Israel tend to focus so intently on the dangers the country faces from its Arab neighbours that they have largely missed an astonishing story that has been accelerating over the past few months: that of the Jewish state’s possible move toward internal collapse.
    There certainly has never been such a deep crisis of leadership in the country that touts itself as the only democracy in the Middle East.

    Sunday, March 04, 2007

    Snow job: An a-ha! moment

    This piece on Tony Snow goes a long way to explaining the moral decay on the right and what now passes for debate amongst the "facts don't matter" crowd. It is all about "winning the half hour" which is based not on demonstrable facts but on bluster, momentum, and impression. If this passes for discourse for long our nation's future is in jeopardy.
    Snow seems to treat his encounters with the press more like a cable show than as an opportunity to provide the public with a fuller picture
    His prime goal seems to be to "win the half hour" -- which generally entails out-talking and mocking your opponent, rather than mustering facts and actually staking out a persuasive position.

    Football: Skins free agency picks

    "decide between the Redskins and Cowboys"? Like deciding whether to join good or evil.

    The Washington Redskins introduced newly signed middle linebacker London Fletcher yesterday and agreed to a contract with cornerback Fred Smoot, securing their two top free agent targets. But Coach Joe Gibbs doused any expectations of a repeat of the heavy-spending free agent periods of past years by characterizing the team's approach to the rest of the signing period as measured and reserved.

    Davis, 28, who said he would go home to Texas to decide between the Redskins and Cowboys

    Putin is a thug?

    Maybe I should be afraid that I might get shot or something for saying this but Putin is a major thug.

    In some ways, the shooting of Paul Joyal last week in a quiet, middle-class enclave of Prince George's County would seem like nothing more than a random act of violence.

    But for those who know the 53-year-old expert on Russian intelligence and former staff member of the U.S. Senate's intelligence committee, the shooting has raised suspicions that his background might be behind the incident.

    The shooting occurred four days after Joyal alleged in a television broadcast that the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin was involved in the fatal poisoning of a former KGB agent in London.

    FDA to Ignore Cow Drug Warnings

    This is a serious breach of the public good, all for short term profit.

    This drug is one of the last lines of defense against antibiotic resistant bacteria (super-bugs). It is the overuse of antibiotics that has led to the evolution of super-bugs and the largest abuse of these drugs is in the livestock industry. Thisapproval process should be put to a halt as soon as possible.

    At a minimum, antibiotics approved for use in the livestock industry should not be ones that are presently our last lines of defense.

    The government is on track to approve a new antibiotic to treat a pneumonia-like disease in cattle, despite warnings from health groups and a majority of the agency's own expert advisers that the decision will be dangerous for people.

    In the mid-1990s, overriding the objections of public health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the drug agency approved the marketing of two drugs, Baytril and SaraFlox, for use in poultry
    Before long, doctors began finding fluoroquinolone-resistant strains of campylobacter in patients hospitalized with severe diarrhea. When studies showed a link to poultry, the FDA sought a ban. But while Abbott Laboratories, which made SaraFlox, pulled its product, Baytril's manufacturer, Bayer Corp., pushed back.

    Afghanistan: Bomber Attack

    It is odd that photos and video shot at the scene were deleted. The statement that special forces might have been involved brings these actions into some clarity since they likely would have not wanted evidence of their being there.

    The caption for the above photo underlies the problems we face, even when being an invading force for good. That man, after a suicide bomber attacked a us convoy, is shouting anti-American slogans (though it was left unclear who killed the 8 afghans.)

    KABUL, Afghanistan -- A suicide car bomber attacked an American convoy in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, and up to eight Afghans were killed and 22 injured in the blast or by subsequent gunfire from militants or U.S. soldiers, officials said.

    An Afghan man cries as he shouts anti-American slogans after a car bomber attacked an American convoy in Barayekab in Nangarhar province, eastearn Afghanistan, Sunday, March 4, 2007. A suicide car bomber attacked an American convoy in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, and up to eight Afghans were killed and 22 wounded in the blast and ensuing gunfire, officials said. Hundreds of Afghans gathered to protest the violence, blocking the road and throwing rocks at police.(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
    U.S. soldiers at the scene deleted photos taken by a freelance photographer working for The Associated Press and video taken by a freelancer working for AP Television News. Neither the photographer nor the cameraman witnessed the suicide attack or the subsequent gunfire.

    Saturday, March 03, 2007

    Of Cherokees & Former Slaves: Other reactions

    Here are some links to some interesting reactions in the blogosphere to the story that the Cherokee Nation may expel its former slaves.

    Cherokee voters may remove descendents of freed slaves off of their blue Cherokee citizenship cards

    What we’re gonna do right here is go back…WAY back…back into time…

    Cherokees, along with Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks and Seminoles, were long known as the “Five Civilized Tribes” because they adopted many of the ways of their white neighbors in the South, including the holding of black slaves.

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    How Whites Shape Black-Indian Relations
    What I found interesting about the Washington Post article on the vote was the way that it showed how the stage for the present situation was set in significant part by the actions of white people and their governments. And this stage-setting happened in complex ways that can't be reduced to seeing the wrong outcome of today's vote as a simple transferrence of white racism.