Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

PBS: Bridge on the River Kwai

I saw your show tonight. Interesting, but it didn't answer my one big question: did the Hollywood movie have any basis in reality? i.e. was there any kind of commando team sent in to blow up any of the bridges? Or were all the attacks from the air? Did the Allied prisoners stage a strike? Did the locomotive plunge dramatically off the destroyed bridge into the river? Strike that last question. The one thing I learned was that the bridge in the movie wasn't built using the same construction techniques as the real bridge on the River Kwai, but it appeared to be similar to other bridges on this railway line.
A little more geography would have been nice. Like what did the railway line connect? If it was such a good thing for the Japanese, why did it fall into disuse? Did it ever operate after the war? Did it ever operate during the war?
While I'm at it. I have another question. I'm curious as to why you differentiate between "us" and "them". Is it a tribal thing? A marketing thing? A racial thing? A political thing? The show focused almost exclusively on the 16,000 Allied deaths, and just mentions at the end the 80,000 Asian deaths. That's almost 100,000 PEOPLE.
I see the same thing in the my local newspaper ("The Oregonian"). They report every single American death in Iraq in headlines on the front page, but hardly ever do I see any mention of how many Iraqi's died. They are people too, aren't they? What gives? We killed some large number of Iraqi's in the first war with Iraq. I've heard rumors of 100,000 to 300,000, and that barely got a mention.


Watching "The Hard Word" Friday night, the accents were almost indecipherable. So we go to setup and turn on the English subtitles. Helped a whole bunch. Except for the backwards speak. Some of the characters were convicts in prison and they had developed their own secret language which involved pronouncing words backwards. For instance "money" became "yenom" (rhymes with venom). The subtitles helped with some of that, but in some cases, even if we paused the movie so we could study the text, the message remained indecipherable.

Watched "Finding Nemo" with Kathryn Monday night. They sold $100 million worth of DVD's the day it was released.


Dad worked on the Bomarc anti-aircraft missile when I was a kid and we were living in Seattle. Recently I discovered the it carried a nuclear warhead. Manfred (one of the guys that I worked with at Stevens) was an electronics technician in the military working on Nike anti-aircraft missile systems. While he was in the military he took a course in thermonuclear warfare, and the Bomarc was one of the weapons they covered. Seems that the Bomarc was to be used against a group of enemy bombers. The Bomarc would be set to detonate above the squadron of enemy bombers. The explosion would knock the wings off the planes and they would fall into the sea.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Entertainment Weekend

Watched "The Hard Word" Friday night at home on DVD with Anne. A pretty good robbery caper movie. Guy Pearce, from Memento and a few other films I've seen. There were a couple of love interests along the way that just got dropped, very unsatisfactory. And we never did find out what happened to the money.

Dad and Johnny and I went to a production of "An Inspector Calls" at Aloha High School Saturday afternoon. Well done, the players did a good job with their parts, they didn't muff their lines. Well done, but a bit tedious. All talking, one set and one subject.

Watched "Hollywood Homicide" Saturday night at home on DVD with Anne and Johnny. Action/Comedy? It was like two movies in one. There was the basic story line of a murder and investigation and the cops tracking down the bad guys. But then there was the second story about the private lives of the two cops, and that brought in all the humor. Enjoyable.

Took the boys and a couple of Ross's friends to "Matrix Revolutions" Saturday afternoon at the theater in Cornelius. There was a lot packed into this movie, so much that I can't remember it all. Lots of action, not as much kung fu fighting, though there was plenty of that. Lots of mechanized warfare. A couple of existential bits. And it still leaves me with a couple of questions. Maybe if I watch it again, I'll figure out the answers.

Saturday, November 8, 2003


The mouthpiece in Johnnie's trumpet got stuck. My brother Dan facetiously recommended using Visegrips to get it out. I didn't use my Vise-Grips, I couldn't find them. I had a brand new pair of genuine Vise-grips, too. A few months (years?) ago, I finally got tired of having to make do with old, worn out, off brand Vise-Grips, and went out and bought a brand new pair of genuine Vise-Grips.

But I couldn't find them. So I used a big adjustable wrench instead. Adjusted it so if was just big enough to go around the mouthpiece, just below the flange at the end. Had Johnny hold the trumpet straight up, with the mouthpiece pointing to the ground. Held the wrench with one hand and gave it a wap with a hammer and out came the mouthpiece.

Friday, November 7, 2003

Florida Aquifers

Water's Journey: Hidden Rivers of Florida

This show was on OPB (Channel 10) last night. It's about the Florida aquifers. Interesting for a couple of reasons:
1) they've got people scuba diving in caves, which is always a hazardous business.
2) they are communicating underwater and through rock.

The show is about a group of people who are trying to map at least some of the Florida aquifers. They have two teams. One team is underwater, underground, wearing scuba gear and carrying a special tracking device. The second team is walking around above ground carrying a GPS (to keep track of their location) and a special radio receiver to track the scuba team.

As you may know, sending radio signals through water is a tricky business. The US Navy can send messages to their submarines, but their data rate is so low it makes GOES look fast. You may remember a scene from the movie "Crimson Tide" where they are aboard the submarine. There is a message coming in , character .... by .... character ..... That was not just a dramatic effect, that's about how fast it goes. A few years ago the Navy wanted to bury an antennae under most of Michigan to improve their communications with submarines. Last I heard the residents of Michigan had put a stop to it. Good thing, too, I think. They were going to be pumping megawatts of very low frequency radio waves into the ground so they could talk to their submarines.

Back to the Florida operation. The scuba divers have some kind device that let's them communicate with each other. A little research on the web leads me to believe it is probably an ultrasonic system. See: The divers voice is picked up by a microphone and converted to an ultrasonic signal that is broadcast into the water. The second diver has an ultrasonic transducer that picks up the sound waves from the water. The receiver converts the electrical signal from the transducer, and sends it to the second diver's earphones.

Tracking is done with radio devices. The transmitter and receiver were specially made for this project by (take a big guess) an ex-Navy radio man. These devices were not extremely high-powered, as the divers and the tracking team were able to carry the devices on their persons without having to resort to carts or sleds.

I saw a couple of other interesting things in this show.
  • The divers appear to be swimming very easily, not having to work very hard, which led me to think they were swimming downstream,which made me a little nervous. What happens if you come to a narrow spot? The flow of water could trap you there. But later on I saw them trying to get through a small spot, and you could see from the sand blowing by them that they were swimming upstream. All of which makes me think the current in the main stream is not very strong.
  • At one point they came across the a homeowners well pump on the end of a pipe stuck right through the middle of natural tunnel.
  • At some points in their travels the scuba divers were almost 200 feet below the surface.