Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Monday, December 31, 2007

Blogdom

After I installed a counter on my blog I eventually realized that my readership is very small. So I decided I would go out into the blogosphere and see what other people are writing. A lot of it holds no interest for me. A lot is involved in arguing for nothing more than arguments sake. A few sites have something interesting to say. One of my favorites is dustbury.com from Oklahoma. I have also come across a few sites written by right wing wackos who occasionally have something intelligent to say, which goes to show that even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while:
This guy is not quite so prolific, but he posts some fairly esoteric stuff.

This one is a collection of links to other web sites which gets updated daily, some of which are pretty cool.

Most of these sites I found by following links from dustbury.com.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sauvie Island Bridge

Friday afternoon my wife and I drove downtown to the Wicke's warehouse to pick up a piece of furniture. While we are waiting for warehouseman, I am looking around outside and I see this bridge where there should not be a bridge. Okay, so maybe I don't get downtown that often, or maybe it's a bridge I've forgotten about. Portland has a bunch of bridges over the Willamette River that runs through downtown, but is certainly odd that there is a bridge there.


I read the paper this morning and it turns out that it is the new Sauvie Island Bridge. They built it at an industrial site just North of downtown. It is now finished and they have jacked it up fifty feet in the air and they are going to haul it down river on a barge and set it in place. Except the wind was a little high today, so maybe they will do it tomorrow.

Sauvie Island Bridge being barged underneath the Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge
Map showing Wicke's warehouse, the Willamette River, Terminal 2, where the bridge was being built, and the location of the old Sauvie Island Bridge where the new one will be installed.


View Larger Map

Update September 2016 replaced missing picture, added photo of bridge being transported, deleted dead stuff.

Storage




I have always wanted one of those complicated Chinese opium chests. They are old and dark and have all these little doors and compartments for storing stuff, but I have never found one that really looked like it could be useful. They were more like storage chests you could put stuff in that you didn't need, stuff you would keep just because you might need it someday. And they were always a little expensive. Hard to justify buying one that you do not really have a good use for.


For Christmas I got a little plastic three drawer storage box. It sits on the one foot of kitchen counter that is reserved for my junk. It is wonderful in all aspects except it's appearance. The pile of stuff that had accumulated on the counter and in my little cupboard all went easily into this little box of drawers. I can now find anything I need quickly and easily. It is really a dramatic improvement. The only problem is that it doesn't look like an antique Chinese opium chest.

Update December 2016 replaced missing pictures.

"The Kingdom"

When I first heard about the "The Kingdom", I thought I would like to see it. Later I heard some hype that really put me off. It sounded like a really cheesy thriller, kind of like "24", whose target audience must be twelve year olds. It's out on DVD now, and my wife and I like thrillers, so we rented it at the local video store.

Turns out it was pretty good. There were a couple of corny bits, but most of it agreed with my view of reality.
  • Big shot politicians interfering with police work? Check.
  • Big shot politician sounding like a complete fool? Hmm, a little corny, or maybe not.
  • Terrorists bombing US installations in Saudi Arabia? Check and double check. Photos of one blast site I found on the web look very similar to the scene in the movie.
  • Small group of FBI agents sent to investigate the bombing? Check.
  • Totally incompetent Saudi Arabian police work? Perhaps not quite as close to the mark as we would like to believe.
  • Fabulous palaces? Check.
  • Bureaucratic interference? Check.
  • Home grown (Saudi) terrorists? Check.
  • Four FBI agents taking out a couple of dozen terrorists in the firefight. Arguable. We hear stories about agents muffing a gunfight, and for people who have never been in one, I can understand that. But put four combat experienced, trained agents against a bunch of fanatical amateurs, and I will bet on the agents any day.
There were other things though, that I would to like to know about, one way or the other.
  • Was the convoy technique realistic? That is, four black Suburbans tailgating each other at 100 MPH down the freeway.
  • Was there a firefight when they finally tracked down the mastermind of the attack? Was it is a big as it was portrayed?
Then there were some other items that I doubt actually happened and were probably just added to make a better story. These did not bother me, and they did make it a better movie.
  • Having a woman on the FBI team allowed the movie makers to show what kind of problems they would encounter if there had been one. Besides, I enjoy watching Jennifer Garner. I used to be a big fan of "Alias", at least before it got turned into a soap opera.
  • Having the FBI in on the firefight.
  • Having one of the FBI agents kidnapped.
One thing that I do not understand is why the FBI insists on calling all of their agents "Special". I mean we never hear about ordinary agents. Is this some kind of secret self esteem program the FBI is working on?

We do not hear much about why Osama (bin Laden) has declared war against us. As near as I can tell his biggest complaint is that we support the Saudi government, a government that is essentially a corrupt tyranny. Of course, we support the Saudis because they supply a large fraction the oil we consume. Some people complain about the amount of money we spend on our effort in Iraq, but it is roughly the same amount of money we send to Saudi Arabia for oil. Any time you have that much money concentrated in that few hands, you are going to have trouble.

It's interesting that the oil business does not seem to cause as much corruption here as the drug trade, even though the oil business is several orders of magnitude larger. I mean you do hear about high level corruption, but you don't have people running up and down the street shooting each other over a tank of gasoline. In oil producing countries in the Middle East, you do, but the tanks of gasoline they are fighting over are much bigger: the tankers that hold a million gallons of oil for shipment to the US.

I suspect Osama is secretly pleased that the US invaded Iraq and took out Saddam. I wonder if he is really attached to his Jihad, or whether he is only really interested in changing the government of Saudi Arabia.

There is one positive aspect to the war in Iraq, and that is a few more people in the US are aware of something beyond our borders. Without the war, I doubt whether this movie would have been made.

Sierra Glass

Originally posted July 12, 2007. Now with pictures.

Took a couple of window screens in for repair this morning. While I was there I asked them to fix the side view mirror on the van. They had replaced it several years ago when the original had fallen off. It took them about fifteen minutes, but the next day the silver backing in the center of the mirror became discolored. It looked like the glue had reacted with the mirror coating.



It was ugly, but it still worked, so I didn't bother to get it fixed. But when I was there this morning I thought I might as well get it fixed. When the old mirror was pulled off we were surprised to see that the glue had been applied all around the outside of the mirror, but that the center where the silver backing had been damaged was completely clear of glue. Matter of fact, the glue defined the boundary around the damaged area.



However, the glue did not go all the way to the edge of the mirror, and the uncovered area around the outside was undamaged. Best we could figure was that the fumes from the glue were trapped by the glue all around it and the fumes are what caused the damage. Around the outside the fumes were free to escape, so there was no damage. How about where the glue actually contacted the mirror? Well, that is a puzzle. They used silicon glue, which is the wrong kind of glue to use for this application. This time they used glass mastic, whatever that is. Still only took about fifteen minutes, and there was no charge. Very nice.

Update December 2016 replaced missing pictures.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Good Book or Lunch with Gang?

I missed lunch with my gang today. I got caught up reading "The Lonely Silver Rain" by John D. McDonald. I was enjoying myself too much to break away. I had been reading "The Embezzler" by James Mallahan Cain. It had promised to be a good story, after all this is same guy who wrote "Double Indemnity", which is a famous movie, and as I recall, a pretty good story. But "The Embezzler" has been slow going. I wish I could tell what the problem was. It might be that the guy is captivated by the girl. I do not know if you could call it love, but he has fallen for her and will do anything for her, even stuff that is patently a bad idea. Or maybe the story line does not ring true. Everything else about the story is told with a certain detachment, but then he does something out of character and his actions get blamed on his infatuation with the girl. It is all being told in the past tense, by an older and perhaps wiser protagonist, and maybe that is the problem. The passion that would impel him to engage in those foolish actions is missing. Just saying that someone is passionate about something is not convincing enough to make it believable.

"The Lonely Silver Rain" was written in 1985 and touches on the cocaine trade in South Florida. There are a couple of very good passages that explain the situation a lot better than you will ever get from popular media. I have a few things to say about this myself, but it will have to wait for another post.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Foodscapes

I was out wandering around on the internet one day and I stumbled across this web page which has a bunch of amazing landscape pictures. Turns out the pictures were made by Carl Warner. Carl has his own web site and so I could not easily find a direct link to the pictures, but you can get there by clicking on the box labeled "Fotographics" and then on the briefcase that is labeled "Foodscapes". The labels on the boxes are hidden until you mouse over them.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Home Theater, Part 2

Wife and I went to Wicke's Furniture today and bought a console TV stand. It was almost that quick. It was the first store we stopped in today. We walked through almost the entire store before we came on this piece. It was what we wanted. Color was not too dark, lots of storage, a couple of shelves for the electronic bits, right height, right depth, right length. (The picture shows the console base and the hutch top. We just got the base. We did not get the hutch top.) Price was more than I wanted to spend, but not too much. Anne was ready to buy it, but I said we should think about it for a bit. So we went down the street to visit a couple of other furniture stores. One was selling Amish furniture. They had maybe two dozen pieces scattered around a big showroom. The place was three quarters empty. They had one table that was about the right size. They wanted $700 for it, which, considering it was only approximately what we were looking for, was too much. Another, more conventional furniture store had several consoles, but nothing that was any better than what we had already seen, and everything was more money, not a lot, like one hundred dollars, but enough to make a difference.

Then we went by Costco to look at a couple of other items we had seen earlier. The console I had found was much too dark, almost black. I do not understand black wooden furniture. The mood of the country? Everywhere we went, there was a lot of it, except at the Amish store. The piece that Anne had seen was a buffet and it was too tall. So we have made our reality checks and we are confirmed in out selection. It's lunch time so we stop at the McDonald's in the Costco parking lot. I'm impressed. It is actually a pretty nice place, and clean to boot. I can't remember the last time I saw a fast food restaurant that impressed me. Usually they are so jammed and busy you are lucky if there aren't bodies of the slower customers underfoot.

We go home and pick up the truck. No point in waiting on deliver, there is only one piece and it will fit in the truck easy. We stop by the store and pay for the console and head out to the warehouse. We are sitting at the light to leave the store and I realize I have no idea where the warehouse is. Back to the store to get directions, then downtown to the warehouse. We have to wait about fifteen minutes for the guys at the warehouse to pull our order and deliver it to the dock. It's heavy. I help him slide it across the few feet from the forklift to the edge of the dock and into the back of the pickup. Oops, I've miscalculated. The box too long to fit in the bed with the tailgate closed. I pull the truck up a couple of feet and try to lower the tailgate by myself, but I can't do it. I have to get help.

Loaded up, we head for home. Now we have to get this box out of the truck and into the house. I was thinking that if there were four of us, we could each take a corner and carry it in, but that does not work. We end up balancing the box on a skateboard to get it to the front door. Then three of us carry it inside. This sucker is heavy. Oh, look at that, the weight is posted on the box: 100 kilograms net, 112 kg gross. That's almost 250 pounds! No wonder it feels so blinking heavy.

My crazy neighbor Larry has been buying custom high priced hardwood furniture for his house. Every time he gets a new piece, Wayne (my other neighbor) and I get to help him carry it inside. I swear that each piece he buys is heavier than the last. Now I have the satisfaction of knowing that my furniture weighs as much as his, but only cost one tenth as much. I mean it's all about the weight, isn't it?

So the box is inside the house, we still need to get it into the TV room. Fortunately, it is only a few feet away. We take off the sides and top of the box and slide the console on the box bottom into the TV room. Now we have the final unpacking and setting up to do. There are three doors and the hinges on two have come loose. One of the hinge pins is trying to escape. The doors do not want to line up. The shelf supports do not want to go in their holes. The shelves to not want to sit squarely. There is masking tape on the glass door that has to be razored off and then I remove the adhesive residue with turpentine. A couple of hours of futzing around and things are squared away enough.

Now there is the matter of stringing the cables. Verizon came by yesterday and hooked up their HD-DVR. The brought some really nice cables, but they are really overkill for what we are doing, and we are really cramped for space, so I pull them out. The Panasonic home theater system has a disk carousel, so the box is really deep. It barely fits inside the console. I am worried that I will have to cut a hole in the back panel to accommodate the plugs from the various cables. It's a tight fit, but we manage. Finally get all the cables sorted out, push the console back closer to the wall, and set the BRAND NEW MONSTER TV on top. Hook up the cables and we are good to go.


Oh wait, how do you turn it on? We have three remote controls. It takes us 30 minutes to sort out what buttons we need to push to get the sound from the new Verizon DVR to the Panasonic sound system. We spend the next hour pushing buttons, changing channels, seeing what God hath wrought. The family finally settles down to watch a comedy and I go to the kitchen to get something to eat. I am not in there for fifteen minutes before my youngest comes to report that the DVR is sparking. I go look. Screen is black. I kill the power and go back to my bowl of cereal. Whatever is wrong is going to have to wait until tomorrow.

Update December 2016 replaced missing pictures.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Automatic Fueling Stations


In California, the hose on the fuel pumps at gas stations are enclosed in a second hose that is used to vacuum up the fuel vapors that are released when fuel is being pumped into an automobile gas tank. The metal nozzle is enclosed by an open ended plastic bellows to help trap these vapors.

We do not have self-serve gas in Oregon, and I have gotten accustomed to the service and I like it. I think our gas costs about ten cents more per gallon because of this, but that is the least of my worries. It keeps a few more people employed and that is good in a state where unemployment is a chronic problem.

I remember seeing a guy filling up his car at a self-serve joint in Houston once. He is crouched down behind his car, pumping gas into the filler pipe behind the fold down license plate, and smoking a cigarette. I drove on by, did not stop.

What we need is a robotic fueling system. Some kind of optical target on the vehicle and a robotic arm with a camera attached to the fuel pump that can locate the filler port, connect up and deliver the fuel without releasing any fumes into the atmosphere. Of course this would put all the filling station attendants out of business, so maybe it isn't such a good idea. But have you ever seen the plume of fuel vapor the comes out of an automobile gas tank when you take the lid off? This can't be good either. Converting all the stations in the country to this kind of system would be a major undertaking and would generate at least a couple of engineer jobs, several manufacturing jobs, and a bunch of jobs for installers. And it would reduce the amount of fuel being lost to vaporization, which would have the side benefit of reducing one source of air pollution.

Shell tried a robotic system ten years ago. Since this is the only place I have heard of it, I guess it did not catch on.

Update December 2016 replaced missing picture.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Home Theater

After years of no cable and nothing but CRT televisions, I finally broke down and joined the rest of America in our headlong plunge into digital nirvana. Comcast is the local cable company and I had never heard anything good about them. You give them a hunnert bucks a month and they give you lousy service and pump a zillion channels of advertisements into your home. That did not sound like a very good deal to me.

Last year Verizon, the local phone company installed fiber optic cables in my neighborhood. This year they are offering digital TV. I am not sure what is was that caused me to finally buy into this. Perhaps it is because I dislike going anywhere, and TV brings the world to me without my having to suffer through all the hassles and inconvenience of actually travelling. Perhaps because it is Christmas and I was feeling generous. In any case, I called Verizon and ordered their digital TV service.

Last weekend, the wife and I went to Costco and looked at the big TV's. They had a bunch: plasma and LCD flat screens and some DLP rear projection units. On that day the LCD's looked better than the plasma, they were also cheaper. I did notice that there was some lagging in some of the action images, but I figured it was something I could live with. I took some notes and later on settled on either a 42" or 47" Vizio LCD.

Friday I took the boys with me to go buy one of these two televisions. Instead, they gravitate to the plasma units. They do not seem to suffer from lagging like the LCD units, and the picture seems better. They have a nice Panasonic unit that has a $300 instant rebate, which makes it only $50 more than the larger Vizio unit I was considering. It is not 1080p compatible, it only has a horizontal resolution of 1300 and some odd pixels, but I think that will be enough for now. The way electronics is evolving it may be obsolete in five or ten years.

I bought a Panasonic home theater sound system to go with it. They had a Sony unit that was a little cheaper, but I thought that by buying the same brand, they (the television and the sound system) might play together better. So far the only glitch is that I need an HDMI cable, which was not included with either unit. Freddie's (the local super market) had one for $60. I passed. Newegg has them for $6. But I will wait on that until Verizon shows up to do their installation, which is supposed to happen Thursday.

So I bought the TV and sound system and the boys and I carted them home. I let the boys unload and set it all up, which they were very happy to do. And we watched movies and the boys played video games all weekend. I watched four movies this weekend, and three of them I had seen before. It was really a big improvement over watching shows on the old TV. And the old CRT is no slouch. It is a 36" monster. It will probably be in our basement forever. No one is going to want to carry it out. I think it weighs close to 300 pounds.

Bringing this big screen TV home has created another problem and that is how are we going to arrange the TV room to accommodate it? The wardrobe has been forced against the window, not that the window was ever used, but it is still a little tacky. I am going to have to buy a new piece of furniture to support the TV and all its' ancillary equipment. And it is going to have to be a decent piece of furniture which means it will probably cost upwards of $300. Oh well, what else is money for?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

If I were King

If I were the King of the United States of America, I would:
  • Stop supporting the military-industrial welfare complex.
  • Decommission and scrap all of our nuclear weapons.
  • Cancel all the big expensive weapons projects like the stealth fighters and bombers.
  • Eliminate income taxes and all other existing taxes and replace them with a resource extraction tax.
  • Replace our current public school system with a voucher program.
  • Cancel all of our current foreign aid projects and replace them with educational aid.
  • Return the great plains to the buffalo and the Indians.
  • Convert all food production to organic.
  • Ban genetically modified crops and animals.
  • Ban raising food animals in constraining cages.
  • Do what we can to prevent the extinction of large animals the world over.
  • Cancel all commercial fishing until all sea life populations recover to pre-industrialization levels.
  • Promote the construction of multi-level city centers to eliminate traffic congestion.
  • Promote the space program to get a permanent base built on the moon and a permanent space station as far out as the moon.
  • Institute two years of national service for everyone.
  • Implement a national health care program.
  • Legalize all drugs.
  • Bring back the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) to provide more jobs.
  • Do what we can to help Mexico become a prosperous country to reduce illegal immigration from Mexico to the U.S.A.
  • Increase the minimum wage to $10 per hour for everyone over the age of 21.
  • Start a government information service to attempt to provide a true picture of what is going on.
  • Money would be reported not just as a total amount, but also on a per capita basis.
  • Likewise, anything involving a number of people would not just report the total number of people, but would also give a percentage, or the number affected per ten thousand people.
  • All reports would be clear as to whether they were talking about the world, the whole country, or some smaller area.
  • Deaths would be reported on the basis of life expectancy. The loss of the life of someone who is terminally ill does not carry the same weight as the loss of the life of a healthy person in the prime of life.
That is what I would do if I were King.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Anonymous Giving

I give a little money to a few charities every year and it bugs me that they spend some of that money sending me mail asking for more money, which I ignore out of a matter of principal. I am not the only one who thinks like this, so it seems like there is a business opportunity here for someone. If you could set yourself up as a transfer point for charitable donations, people could make their donations to you, you could give them a receipt, skim one or two percent off the top, and forward the rest to the charitable organization, you would be doing everyone involved a big favor. It would keep the charitable organization from wasting money on mailings to people who do not want them, and it would keep the people who are donating money from being hounded by repeated requests for more money. Getting such a business off the ground would take some ingenuity and some financial backing. If you were taking one percent off the top, and say you needed to gross $100,000 to make this a worthwhile endeavor, you would need to collect ten million in donations. If you were collecting $100 on average from each donor, that would mean you need 100,000 donors. To contact that many people, you would definitely need a big advertising budget, hence the financial backing.

Another approach would be to contact some charity organizations and see if they would be willing to put you on their advertisements. It would be free advertising for you, and you might be able to sell them on the idea that they could get some additional funding from people who would otherwise not be interested in contributing. You would, of course, have to establish some credentials as a legitimate business and not some kind of nefarious confidence man. I imagine bonding might be in order.

Shop Class

I was musing this morning about a shop class that I took in Bexley Junior High School. I can remember every item I made: a napkin holder, a grocery list holder that used adding machine tape, an inbox for my Dad's desk, a step stool for the bathroom. Okay, that is all I can think of at the moment. Maybe there were more. I cannot even remember if it was one year or two. I vaguely remember there were other things, but maybe not. There was also a drafting class taught by the same teacher. It was a very elementary class concerned with making three view drawings on objects not much more complicated than blocks.

There was one episode where we were drawing a block with a hole through it. The hole was perpendicular to one face, but the opposite face of the block was canted, it was not parallel. I think Mr. Ehrman was making this up as he went and not really paying attention. I say this because I noticed that on one of the views, the hole would have to be drawn as an ellipse, though I probably called it an oval then. Well, that was way beyond the capabilities of such an elementary class, so most of the class drew it as a half circle if they drew it at all.

Later on (after High School) I tried to drill a bunch of semi-intersecting holes in a one inch cube of aluminum. It did not work out to well. The holes were too small: the drill bit would bend when it encountered another hole drilled at right angles so it would not go straight through and the rigid pattern I was attempting to impose was destroyed. Even now, I think it would be a near impossible task. However, drilling a single large hole in each of three adjacent faces might work. A half inch drill bit is rigid enough that it will not flex much. The work piece would have to be clamped in place to keep the bit from wandering, the drill would have to advance slowly. Pilot holes that did not intersect at all would certainly help. The whole point of this exercise is to examine the curves made by the edges of the partially intersecting holes.

All the items I made have disappeared. It would have been nice to have them now, but that's the way it goes.