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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Rebecca


Rebecca | Official Trailer | Netflix
Netflix

Terrible movie. Full of nasty, stupid people keeping nasty, stupid secrets. It was kind of cool seeing how the rich got on in Monte Carlo in 1935, and seeing how big a large English estate could be, but that is about all you could say for it. The lead actress was tolerable, she wasn't bringing any baggage with her like the rest of the lunatics in the cast.

You would think they could come up with a better murder / suicide conundrum. The one here was very weak and depended almost entirely on the inspector's speech at the inquest. Feeble.


Lifeboats

Lifeboats being ejected from the Fhloston Paradise cruise ship

Stu left a comment on my post about the Kobayashi Maru which got me thinking about lifeboats on spaceships. The idea of lifeboats on spaceships has been around as long as people have been imagining giant spaceships. The Fhloston Paradise from The Fifth Element is a 'recent' example.

Small boat in rough water - A. Morton

Lifeboats on spaceships in deep space are only useful if there is any hope of another ship being able to reach them in time before their life support gives out. In the days of sailing ships, any boat carried on a ship would be equipped with a mast and sails and would be able to sail on to a distant shore.

The Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria

I'm imagining any ship capable of a deep space voyage would have a massive propulsion system. Any lifeboats it could carry could not. If a lifeboat had a propulsion system big enough to enable it to reach a safe haven, it would be as big as the original ship. Perhaps when we start sending manned ships into deep space, we should send them in groups, kind of like the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria. That way if disaster befalls one, the other ships in the convoy could be a safe haven for the survivors. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Kobayashi Maru

 

Kobayashi Maru

Star Trek fans will recognize the name Kobayashi Maru as the name of a Starfleet training exercise. Just goes to show that Star Trek fans come in all flavors including shipping tycoons.

Via dad's deadpool blog


Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Queen's Gambit


The Queen’s Gambit | Official Trailer | Netflix
Netflix

We started watching this mini-series this evening. It's pretty great. 
The Queen's Gambit is a fictional story that follows the life of an orphan chess prodigy, Beth Harmon, during her quest to become the world's greatest chess player while struggling with emotional problems and drug and alcohol dependency. - Wikipedia
There have been a few female chess champions, but not many. I don't know what makes this show so great, might just be because it is well told tale. There is always an undercurrent of tension, you get the feeling that something very bad could happen at any time. Nothing ever does (or least not yet, other than the opening incident, which is bad enough), but the potential is always there, or maybe I'm just paranoid. Or maybe I've watched too many thrillers that have same undercurrent of tension and then bad things do happen.

The film uses an imaginary chess board projected on the ceiling with the chess pieces hanging upside down to represent what is going on in the girl's mind. I have built models in my mind of some of the data structures I needed for computer programs I've written. Most data structures can be easily drawn on paper, they aren't too complicated, but you start shifting things around and it can quickly get very complicated. Individual actions can be easily drawn out on paper, but after a certain point you become familiar enough with what needs to be done that it's quicker and easier to do it in your head than to draw out all of the various actions on paper.

I've played a few games of chess but I never got the bug to pursue it. It's a lot of work for not much reward. If you're good, you can claim to be good, but that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee at McDonald's. There is good money if you are really good, but that's kind of like being a professional athlete. There are a few people who make a bundle of money, but there are legions of people who were almost good enough. You have to be obsessed to pursue success fighting those kind of odds. I'm not that obsessed. That might be why I went into computer programming.

Adventures in Mechanista, Siberian Edition

 

Ladzilla by Garage 54
Yes, that's a turbocharger growing out of the top of the engine.

These guys have a bunch of videos up on YouTube where they record their very silly mechanical experiments. If you have ever wondered what would happen if, for instance, you added a second engine to your car, this is where you need to go.

Ladzilla is a project they've been working on for a while. In most every episode the guys will do something so ridiculous that it makes me laugh out loud.

Garage 54 is in Novosibirsk in southwestern Siberia. It is the third-most populous city in Russia (after Moscow and St. Petersburg). It was founded in 1893 on the Ob River crossing point of the future Trans-Siberian Railway.

Previous Garage 54 post.

Via Bustednuckles


Friday, November 20, 2020

Gas Piping

Since we are replacing the kitchen in the new house, I decided to replace the all electric range with a gas cooktop and I also decided to replace one of the wood burning fireplaces with a gas fireplace. To do this I need to run some new pipes to supply these devices with gas. I was originally going to hire a contractor, but that would require making phone calls, talking to people, scheduling the work and forking out a large sum of money. I've worked with iron pipe before, and I have a talented second, so we just decided to do it ourselves.

The big problem with iron pipe is if you need a piece of a specific length. Building supply houses like Lowe's and Home Depot carry pipe in a variety of lengths ranging from one inch to ten feet. You can use couplings to piece together a combination of these pieces to make any length you desire. The downside is you end up with more joints, joints that have to sealed, tightened and inspected. Plus a bunch of joints in a short length of pipe looks 'unprofessional', not that anyone is every going to see it.

Ridgid Exposed Ratchet Threader Set

My first thought was that this was an opportunity to invest in a set of Ridgid pipe threading tools. They are kind of expensive, something around a thousand dollars, but if you want to get the job done without a lot of screwing around, good tools are essential. The downside is that this is probably the only project I will need them for, and then I would have to fool around with getting rid of them. They are too expensive to just throw away, so that means selling them: placing an ad, answering calls, more dealing with people.

Rothenberger Pipe Threading Machine

Then it occurred to me that there is probably a service that will cut and thread pipe for you, and what do you know, both Lowe's and Home Depot offer free pipe cutting and threading. It means a couple of hours of my time driving across town, tracking down the big box store's pipe guy and waiting while he cuts the pipe, but with my back problems I'm not good for much else. I can still drive and I can hobble the quarter mile from the car to the depths of the big box store where the pipe threading machine resides.

I stopped by Lowe's in Hillsboro the other day and found that their pipe threading machine is out of order. Now what? I am not going to Home Depot, the last time I was there, there was a long line of people waiting to get it because of the stupid COVID-19 restrictions. Haven't run into that at Lowe's, which makes me happy. Okay, maybe not happy, I still have to wear a stupid mask, so let's say just not too disgruntled.

I could call one of the other Lowe's (there are three of them, all about 20 miles away), but calls to any kind of big operation is kind of crap shoot as to whether you will get any kind of useful response. Yesterday for instance I called NW Natural (the gas company) three times. The first time I slogged through their robo-cop menu and after about a five minute wait I got connected to a woman who dealt with my issue quickly and competently. The second time I was on hold for 20 minutes and got disconnected. The third time I knew the codes and so was able to bypass robo-cop and got connected almost immediately. Like I said, a crap shoot.

Anyway, I decided to try a professional pipe supply company. Got connected to someone almost immediately and explained what I wanted. Told me he would get a quote made and email it to me. Haven't heard back yet and that was two days ago.



Free Pipe Cutting and Threading Video
SquiggleMom

So I drove to Tigard, hobbled into Lowe's, found an employee and sent them off to find the pipe cutting guy. It only took about five minutes for him to show up, just long enough that I was starting to wish for a chair. Now we look at my list of pipes I want cut. Turns out most of them are below their minimum length of two feet, so I only got two pipes cut. With their fancy pipe cutting machine it only took a couple of minutes and there was no charge. Hard to beat that.

Old Gas Meter

The gas company came out and changed out the gas meter for a larger one. We need it to supply all the new doo-dads. We needed to hook up the furnace so they could verify that the meter was working properly, so we did. It's nice that the furnace is working now, it's been a bit chilly here the last couple of days.

Of course, when we hooked up the furnace it didn't kick on immediately. It had power and now it has gas again, what could be the problem? Near as I can tell, when we turned off the gas the house cooled down, the thermostat said 'more heat', the furnace began it's start up procedure, but because there was no gas, it didn't fire up, which caused it to shut down and set a fault code (the little blinking LED on the control board).  Cycling the power was enough to clear the fault and get it going. The start up procedure is kind of interesting.



Mercury Pipe Threader

When I lived in Houston I had a job fixing machinery and one the machines I was often called on to repair was a Mercury pipe threading machine. This was about 50 years ago. Iron pipe had been a mainstay for water lines but was being replaced by copper pipe. Mercury had been a going business was now it was fading fast. Our biggest customer was a plumbing company that specialized in automatic fire extinguisher systems, which still use iron pipe. They are tiny portion of the plumbing business.

Pic of the Day

 

DEHAVILLAND DH115 VAMPIRE N23105 flying by the USCGC Shearwater during a hazy 2019 Atlantic City Air ShowKen Licwinko

The de Havilland Vampire first flew in 1946. The USCGC Shearwater is a Marine Protector-class patrol boat. The Vampire is tiny compared to modern jet fighters - it is only 30 feet long. The Shearwater is nearly 90 feet long.

Via FlightAware