Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Weekend

Took the kids skiing Friday at Mt. Hood Meadows. Anne came along and helped with the logistics. Third time this year for Ross, second time for John, first time for Kathryn. Ross went off and skied by himself. I skied with J & K on the beginners hill. We left the house at 9:30 in the morning and were on the slopes by noon. Because the weather report was threatening rain, we didn't rent equipment till we got to the mountain. $140 for three rentals and four lift tickets for the afternoon (noon till four PM). Four hours of skiing was plenty, we were all worn out. We left the lodge about five till four. It was 20 after by the time we had packed the car and were on the road.

Saturday around noon one of our neighbors came over and told us our cat, Amber, was dead. Seems she had a fatal encounter with a raccoon. Tears all around. She will be greatly missed.

Saturday evening Anne and I went to my cousin John's party. It was quite the deal, live band, food, drink and dancing. Several of John's siblings were there: Kathy, Joe and Eyla, whom I'd never met before. Of course she's a youngster, over ten years younger than me. Kathy and Eyla live up North of Seattle in the resort town of Stevens, Washington. Joe has gotten married since the last time I saw him. He's living in Longview, Washington, same town as his father, Ed. Kristen was there, too, taking a break from her work with migrants in Medford, Oregon.

Sunday afternoon our housekeeper called to let us know she wouldn't be able to come this week. Her father passed away.

Also on Sunday the garage door opener quit working. One of the big torsion springs broke. Had some idle thoughts about replacing it myself, but I couldn't see any way of doing it without taking down the whole spring and pully assembly, it just looked like too much work. Of course everyone will warn you how dangerous it is, but that didn't really concern me. Anyway, called the garage door service and they came out and replaced both springs for $160. Should last another eight years or so.

Yesterday evening a landscaper came over to talk to us about his plan for our backyard. Turns out he has a cat that was a litter mate of our cat. The woman we got our cat from is his Aunt. We have all sorts of mutual acquaintances. His aunt has a couple of pregnant cats, so we should be getting a new kitten in a couple of months.

Movies

Anne and I watched "Wonderland" Friday night, about the last days of the porn star John Holmes. Pretty sad case. Basically the story of a drug-related, multiple homicide, told by two drug addicts, neither of whom can tell the truth.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Fluorescent bulbs

A couple of months ago we noticed that the light fixture in the kitchen was getting a little dim. We opened it up and found that only two of the bulbs were working. So I replaced the two dead bulbs with new ones. A month later we had a repeat. The fixture was dim, so I figured the other two bulbs had failed. Should have replaced all four at once, save myself making another trip to the store. So I replace the burned out bulbs. Now wait a minute, these two bulbs are the SAME ones I replaced a month ago! What's going on? I swap bulbs around a bit and all four come on so I leave it. That lasts for a day or two. So I figure the ballast is probably shot. I could just replace the ballast, which would be a big hassle as it is probably riveted into the fixture and the wires go directly to the sockets, so it would mean drilling and cutting and splicing and all that. Also, last time I changed the bulbs, I wasn't as gentle as I could be, and I cracked the plastic cover while taking it off. I think the plastic has become brittle over time, I wasn't that rough with it. Anyway, it looks like the best solution is just to replace the whole fixture. So we go down to Home Depot yesterday and to buy a new one. We like the fixture we had, and, look, they have the same model here! So we're in luck. Well, not quite. The new fixture uses T-8 bulbs, which are newer and slimmer and, I suppose, better. New bulbs are $5 a piece, for the kitchen/bath color. Fluorescents come in a variety of colors now. The more like natural sunshine, the more expensive they are. The more like old, weird, industrial fluorescents, the cheaper they are.

Bulbs and Ballasts

I'm still ticked off that I have to buy new bulbs, so I look on the internet to see if I can use the old bulbs in the new fixture. I don't find anything definite, but I find a lot of comments about how the new bulbs are more efficient than the old ones, mostly due to the new, more efficient, electronic ballast. I finally decide to go ahead and use the new bulbs. They are only 32 watts and the old ones are 40 watts. Even if the old bulbs would work with the new ballast, they draw more current, and that may overload the new electronic ballast and cause it to fail prematurely, or even worse, spectacularly. So now I have six perfectly good fluorescent bulbs which I may never get to use. I have several other fluorescent fixtures in the house, but given my experience here, those ballasts may fail before the bulbs do. We shall see.

Talk about efficiency. The ballasts in the old fixture were both pretty warm. One was actually hot to the touch. It had been so warm for so long that it had cooked the adhesive holding the label on, and the label had fallen off. The label on the other ballast is still firmly attached. The old fixture had two heavy ballasts, the new fixture has only one, and it is much lighter. This made the fixture so light I was able to install by myself. I had to have Anne help me take the old one down.

Expansion Bolts

When the fixture was originally installed, it was just hung from the drywall, no special brackets connecting to the ceiling joists. The electricians used expanding wing bolts to hold the fixture to the ceiling. When they put these bolts in they made big holes (half an inch square) in the ceiling. You can't use holes that big for any other kind of expansion bolt. So I'm going to have to make new holes or use the same kind of expansion bolts. When I took the fixture down, the wings stayed in the ceiling. Can I get them out? Well, yes, with the judicious use of a pair of needle nose pliers I am able to shift the wings over so one end is visible through the hole. I grasp it at the very end and pull and out if comes. Cool. Not often that such a ploy works. Putting the fixture up with the old wing bolts was a snap.

Poison

When I was little, my mom warned me that the insides of fluorescent bulbs was poisonous. A few years ago I replaced some fluorescent bulbs and I tried to find out if fluorescent bulbs really were poisonous, or if they were considered hazardous waste. Couldn't find out anything about this. No mention of being hazardous or poisonous. Now I find that they are both hazardous AND poisonous. They contain a very small amount of mercury. Four foot long bulbs don't contain enough to be considered hazardous waste, but eight foot long bulbs do. I think the mercury is in the form of vapor, at least when the light is on. I suspect is condenses to liquid form when the light is turned off. I have never seen any droplets of mercury fall out of a broken fluorescent bulb, so the amount must me very small. It is, I believe, on the order of milligrams.

From http://www.ccme.ca/assets/pdf/merc_lamp_standard_e.pdf:
The manufacturers of mercury-containing lamps have reduced the mercury content of standard 4-foot T-12 lamps, with the average content declining from 48 mg/lamp in 1985 to 12 mg/lamp in 2000.
T-12 bulbs are the old standard size bulbs, about 1.5" in diameter.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

St.Patrick's Day

Dad came over this morning shortly before 9 and we drove a couple miles towards town (Hillsboro), parked the car and walked about half a mile down to Main street to watch the St. Patrick's Day parade. The parade hadn't arrive so we amused ourselves by looking over the new cultural center which is to open later this week. It was an old church until a year or two ago, when the congregation moved to a new building. The city bought it and renovated it. I suppose the building was worth saving. The walls are made of red stone. The renovation cost a small fortune. When dad and I arrived there were a couple of hundred potted flowers laid out on the ground by the walk. There is a large patio paved with, what else?, pavers. There were three or four large stones with drawings engraved on them embedded in the patio. There were also a fair number of stones with peoples name engraved on them, presumably donors.
After a bit we started walking along the parade route to see if there was any sign of the parade. There wasn't, so after a couple of blocks we headed back to the car. On our way back to the house we went by Hare field and saw the parade forming up. When we got back to the house we discovered that the parade was to assemble at the staging area at 9am, but the parade proper didn't start until 11am. So we had a cup of coffee and then headed back downtown. This time we parked a block from the old church, couldn't get any closer as the road was blocked off. It was a pretty impressive parade, for being on a Saturday in March. Weather was pleasant enough, 50 to 60 degrees and no rain. When we got to the church all the little potted flowers had been planted. Someone was busy!
Preceding the parade came a little three wheeled electric car from the police department. I believe they use it for parking enforcement. Absolutely silent. Dad wondered if he might be able to use one when they finally take his license away.
The parade started with the motorcycle police driving in circles. They made one impressive maneuver. All riding down the right side of the road they simultaneously made a U-turn and formed up in a line in reverse order going the other direction on the other side of the road. All of the motorcycles were BMW's except for one Kawasaki.
There was an assortment of old cars and hot rods. There was one very old car that had a tiller instead of a steering wheel. There was one hot-rod that made from a very old car like (or done in the style of) a Mercer race-about. I liked it. The police department brought their SWAT vehicle. It appeared to have been converted from an old armored car. There was a contingent of 50 (count 'em 50!) PT cruisers, all decked out in green bunting. As the entry fee to the parade was $20, that's a $1,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Hillsboro, the parade's beneficiary.
There were three or four groups of horses and riders. A dance studio brought their girls. Murphy's Furniture Store (Parade Sponsor) had a large flat bed truck with a man playing an electric organ. There was a small generator set, presumably providing power to the organ. I could here the organ (he wasn't playing very loud). I couldn't hear the generator at all, which surprised me. Now I'm wondering if the generator was even running. Maybe they were getting the power someplace else, like an inverter. There was one fellow on a scooter with an outsized rear wheel. The wheel looked to be about 16 inches in diameter and was spoked, like a bicycle wheel. Unlike a bicycle, the axle was not concentric with the center of the wheel but was offset a couple of inches. Naturally, this caused the rear of the scooter's platform to go up and down as the wheel rolled along. The rider could propel the scooter by simply pumping his legs. Very amusing.