Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chrysler Sebring, Day 9

Haven't made much progress this week, but today we removed the:
  • wiring harness, 
  • exhaust pipes,
  • exhaust manifold and
  • intake manifold.
The engine itself may be well designed, but all the stuff that goes in around it is just a mess. You can't disconnect the wiring harness from the starter until you remove the heat shield over the starter, and you can't remove the bolts that hold the heat shield on until you remove the exhaust pipe. Well, it might be possible, but it would certainly be a royal pain: the last bolt is obscured by the exhaust pipe. You could probably reach it from underneath with a box wrench, but it would slow going getting it out. Likewise in order to disconnect the wiring harness from the A/C compressor, you need to remove the alternator. To disconnect the wiring harness from the fuel injectors, you need to remove the intake manifold. The whole thing is like this, heat shields and brackets on brackets on brackets. I wonder what it would be like if somebody spent the time and effort to design this stuff to fit together instead of just tacking one thing on top of another.

The car spent a couple of years in Iowa before it came West, so the exhaust pipes are all solidly rusted together. Once we got the engine out I was able to get a real wrench on the bolts holding the exhaust pipe flange to the header pipe. They turned easily enough: they snapped right off, so we get to drill out the old ones, and if we are lucky, retap the holes. Might have to use nuts, which will make it difficult, or buy a new pipe, which will be another expense.

Bad Teacher

The kids are all home so we thought we might take in a movie, and they picked Bad Teacher with Cameron Diaz. It's a comedy and it's pretty funny. It was a little odd seeing such a risque movie with my kids, but it didn't seem to phase them. Cameron got most of my attention.The Amy-the-Squirrel character made an impression, made me wonder just what did happen back in 2008. Justin's character turned out not to have any real substance, amazing that he could even stand up. The kids noticed the gym teacher. He didn't make any impression on me, but then I was busy watching Cameron.

Old Town Music

The Marshall amp isn't producing sound like it should, so we went to Old Town Music to see about some replacement vacuum tubes this afternoon. They have some bins of old power amplifier tubes which they sell for a couple of bucks, but after consulting with one of the storekeepers, we opted for a single new tube for the preamp for $16.

On the way back I thought I would take Morrison over the Morrison bridge. Bad idea. Start of rush hour, you can't get on Morrison bridge from Morrison street, or avenue, or whatever it is. Six lanes of traffic merge into one that goes through a entrance ramp meter light. Not that it makes any difference, traffic on the freeway is at a standstill. It normally takes about a half hour to drive this distance. Today it took an hour. Why does creeping along in traffic seem to take so much longer than it actually does? I can spend ten minutes driving and it will feel like, well, ten minutes, more or less. But ten minutes of creeping along can seem like a week. Why is that?

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Shuttle Service

That big black tower in the center is part of the Steel Bridge in downtown Portland.

Loaded the electric piano in the back of the truck and left the house at ten this morning. Put a hundred miles on the truck and returned home at four in the afternoon after two trips to downtown Portland, two trips to the airport to pick up two of my kids and one trip to Jantzen beach to sell the piano to a woman from somewhere in Washington.
Electric Piano in the back seat area of a four door pickup truck.  Not a very good picture.


What is it about musical instruments that encourages delivery in parking lots of obscure shopping centers? My son purchased his first guitar amplifier under similar circumstances. Who knows? Anyway, the couple who showed up to pick up the piano brought a four door pickup truck, and the piano fit in the back seat area.


While I was at the airport waiting for my son to arrive, I noticed a large lounge area on the other side of a big glass wall. The far wall was also glass and looked out onto the aircraft loading area. But it was completely devoid of people. That's odd, I thought, so I went looking for an entrance. I found one marked with a big STERILE AREA DO NOT ENTER UNDER PAIN OF MANY BAD THINGS HAPPENING sign. Okay that's even weirder, a secure area, with windows and no people. Well, nothing to be done, so I went and sat down, and as soon as I did a person walked through the sterile area, and then another, and then more, one or two at a time, sporadically. I finally realized it was a hallway leading from one wing of the terminal to another, and the only people who would use this hall are people who are changing planes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

America, The Insane

I'm reading View From The Porch this morning and Tam mentions Michele Bachmann, whom I have never heard of, so I Google her name and find this story about her in Rolling Stone. It is an amazing story, both in quality of it's snark, and for the unbelievable-but-true story it tells. No wonder America is such a mess. Well worth the time it takes to read it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia

Not the best movie in the world, but it moved along. They seemed to try for some technical accuracy, especially at the beginning. There were several things that were not accurate / believable. Kind of a mix of good and bad.

The best part was the opening where the narrator is explaining the economics of the 40 year old civil war that is going on in Columbia. The United States Government sends a billion dollars a year to the Colombian Government to help them fight the war against FARC, which is a guerilla operation that controls the cocaine business there. They also control about half of the land area. The citizens of the United States send a billion dollars a year to FARC for cocaine.

Actually, we probably send several billions to FARC: say 800 tons times 2000 pounds per ton times 454 grams per pound times 100 dollars a gram comes to roughly 72 billion dollars. That's retail. If you figure only 10% of it gets all the way back to Columbia, that's still 7 billion dollars, which is quite a bit more than the one billion our government is spending.

Have you ever heard of anything quite so insane? You go to work, you work all week, you get paid. The government takes $100 and sends it to Columbia for them to shoot cocaine farmers. You spend $100 with your local dealer for a couple of hours of entertainment. That $100 goes to buy bullets for FARC to shoot at the soldiers shooting at them.

All this noise, and less than one percent of the US population uses the stuff. Well, at least according to some people. 800 tons is enough to supply five percent of the population (13 million people) with one gram of coke a week. I supposed we could have 3 million people doing 4 grams a week. I can't imagine spending that much money on toot.

Back to the movie. The SEAL team is going to do a HALO drop into Columbia. They fly down in a Hercules, they are wearing oxygen masks and helmets with face shields. I wonder how high you can go with just an oxygen mask but no pressure suit? There is one scene just before they jump where they are standing in the aircraft with the roof just over their heads. Sorry, not accurate. The Hercules is a big plane, you are not going to be short on headroom. One of these days I would like to see a scene where they depressurize a Hercules cargo bay before opening the big doors. It's got to be a serious step, though I'm not sure there would be anything to see. Anyway they jump and they fall for a while, but they still open their chutes while they are still kind of high up, but what do I know? I've never done a parachute jump, much less a HALO. I suppose the main trick is having the airplane high enough up that no one suspects any trouble from it. With the aircraft at 30,000 feet, you wouldn't hear it on the ground.

Then there's the scene where they want to break into an enemy compound. The place is surrounded with a big fence, but they notice a water tank inside the compound and another one a short way up a nearby hillside. They surmise the two are connected by a pipe. Only in Hollywood would that pipe be large enough to swim through. In South America, they would be lucky if it was big enough for a rat. Not only is the pipe large enough to swim through, there is enough light to see. It was one of those things that you know is bogus, but hey, James Bond does this kind of thing all the time, so why can't our commandos do it too?

Update November 2015. Added pic.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Old Science Fiction

Post-Hip's one deficiency is that they (actually he: Scott) doesn't carry any Science Fiction. It's his book store, he can carry what he wants. But somebody had just dropped some books off, and some of them were Sci-Fi, so he dropped them on me. All are old, the one on the bottom of the stack (Chessboard Planet) is pert near ready to disintegrate. I have no idea whether any of them or any good. I imagine I shall find out eventually.


Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Legal Strategy of the Day

A tale from Scott: a fellow he knows runs a bicycle shop in San Francisco and every year he buys a big fat ad in the Yellow Pages, which as you well know costs a bundle of money. All is well and good until last year when the phone company screwed up the ad big-time: they got his phone number wrong. So he sued. The phone company's lawyer argued that it didn't matter because nobody uses the Yellow Pages anymore anyway.

That's just the bestest argument I've ever heard.

Post Hip World Headquarters

The other day we were driving to Eugene and I noticed this building somewhere around Brooks:


It looked awfully familiar, and then it struck me: Post-Hip proprietor Scott has a picture of it on the wall of his shop with a title of "Post-Hip World Headquarters".  It is in fact the very same building. I've been driving to Eugene every couple of months for five years now and I had never noticed this building. So much for enjoying the sights.

It is a combination waste incinerator / electrical power generator.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chrysler Sebring, Day 4

We got the motor out today. The more I read the directions, and the more I looked at the situation, the more I thought the instructions were all wet. I also remembered an episode of Rides I saw recently where they were building a new General Lee (the orange Dodge Charger from The Dukes of Hazzard), and they were talking about how it was easier to take the engine out from under the car than to pull it out of the top because the engine, the transmission and the front suspension were all bolted together on a subframe called a K member.

You have to remember this is heresy. The General Lee is from like 1970, and all V8 engines from all American automobiles are supposed to come out the top, and go back in the same way. That's the way I learned it, and dad-gum-it that's the way it's always been and that's the way it will always be. Except not. Here we've got a bunch of gear-heads saying no, the engine comes out of the bottom.


Pay no attention to the girl, this is a picture of the General Lee. 

Now I'm looking at this Chrysler Sebring, and I'm seeing the same thing: engine, transmission and front suspension all bolted to this one K shaped piece of metal. So I decided to dispense with disassembling the front suspension and pulling out the drive shafts and all that and just dropped the whole assembly. It took a bit of fiddling with sticks and bricks to make a scaffold to support this whole mess. There was some chasing around to disconnect hidden bits as we were lowering it out. We cut the exhaust pipe with a borrowed sawzall as the bolts were firmly rusted in place. We also cut the rubber covered plastic fuel line. We will probably regret that, but there didn't seem to be any place to disconnect it.

The whole thing probably weighs 700 pounds. It took some serious tugging to get it out from under the car. I think we are going to move stuff away from it to get room to work on it rather that trying to move it any farther.

Update June 2015: Replaced pictures that Blogger lost.

Big Budget Blockbuster

Jack Nicholson was arrested by the FBI in Santa Monica yesterday for the role he played in The Departed. Whoops, that's not quite right. The character Jack played in the movie was arrested. What? The FBI arrested a figment of someone's imagination? Hang on, let me try again: the guy that the character was based on was arrested. There, I think I got it that time. Finally, 46 years later by the same organization that originally kept him out of jail. That stinking FBI, they just won't stay bought.

Which cost more? The movie? Or the payoffs to settle the beefs with the FBI? The payoffs, if you are curious, by a mere $20 million.

I liked the movie, good, gritty, gangster flick, but almost too much double crossing to be believed. In this case truth was stranger than fiction, and I think the movie may have simplified things just to keep it believable, you know.

This is what happens when you have a majority who believe that gambling is a sin, and therefor no one must be allowed to gamble. It might be a sin, but the world is full of sinners, and when sinning is against the law there is money to be made.Or maybe some people realize there is more money to be made if a sin is illegal, so they mount a campaign to make that sin illegal in order to make more money. I dunno, either theory works for me, and it doesn't really make any difference because things are not going to change.

Stolen from Just an Earth-Bound Misfit, I.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bolder Won



My old friend Ned sent me these pictures. Some notes:
I'm in Mexico got back involved with one of the vessels I had a hand in building. I was in Costa Rica the month of Dec. and saw a sea state I thought this vessel could handle. So the next thing I know I'm in Isla Mujeres Mexico bring this thing back to life. . . This vessel sat for over two years - I'm sure you can appreciate the amount of corrosion in the salt water environment. The zinc's were gone - electrolysis was rampant. I spent the last 5 months bring this thing back from the steps to oblivion...
It's been a long time since I've seen Ned, and it took me a while to realize that that was him in the pictures. Geez, his hair's gone gray.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lucille's, or Chrysler Sebring, Day 2


I made three trips to Lucille's Tool Store today. Couldn't figure out what size wrench I needed. The first trip I made this morning with my son and picked up a couple 18 millimeter wrenches: a socket and a combination wrench, but forgot to get the ball joint tool. After lunch I made a second trip with my friend Jack who had never been to this little slice of heaven. I picked up a couple of suspension joint tools and a 20 mm combination wrench. They didn't have a 20 mm socket. I was shocked. They had a place for it, but it was empty. When I got home I finally figured out that what I really needed was a 21 mm wrench, so back I went for a third time.


So now I finally have the enough tools and I was able to remove the left side steering knuckle, all of which was in preparation for pulling the half shaft. My on-line instruction manual says you just use a pry bar to pop it loose. Well, there isn't any room to insert a pry bar, so I went to talk to Eric (of Eric Heaton's Automotive, god of all things automotive). Eric was kind enough to fill me in, however the tale he told filled me with tredpidation. He's had to "pop out" these half shafts before, and it's an ugly business at best. His tool of choice is a six foot long, hundred pound torsion bar (from an old Chrysler suspension) with one end sharpened to a chisel point. Raise the car on a hoist over your head, set your stance, set your eye on the point between the transmission housing and the tripod joint and then STRIKE, O MIGHTY WARRIOR, with your mighty spear. If your aim is true, the clip on the shaft inside the transmission will compress, and the shaft will slip free.

I don't have a hoist. I have a Costco floor jack and a couple of antiquated jack stands. I don't have room to stand under the car, much less room for a six foot spear, nor do I have such a spear.

But maybe it won't be that bad, maybe they will just pop loose with a little help from my handy dandy two foot long crow bar, just like the instruction manual says. We shall see.

Update February 2017 replaced missing images.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dihydrogen Monoxide


Dangerous stuff. You best be careful. Via Glenn.

Update February 2017 replaced missing image.

Senior Cell Phone


I made the picture extra big so all you old people can see the dial. Via my better half.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Auto Repair

Started working on the Chrysler Sebring today. Following the directions, we jacked up the car and then tried to take the wheels off. That doesn't work very well, unless you have an air wrench. I have one, but that means dragging out the hose and dialing up the pressure, and shoot all we have to do is break the lug nuts loose and they will come right off. So we used our Mechanic-Fu to break them loose.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jumbo Crosswind Landing


Steve sent me this:
Although quite interesting, a number of people within the aviation community feel that this sequence may be faked. Some of the reasons given are that there are no visible navigation nor landing lights, the crosswind component appears to change significantly between the two final segments shown in this video, and braking appears to be too sudden. You decide...
What the heck is that coming out of the sky? A bird? No, and it's not a plane, oh, it's . . . It was originally part of an International Fund for Animal Welfare Public Service Announcement.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Self Replicating Machines

Being able to reproduce is one of the hallmarks of life. It's something machines, to date, have been unable to perform unassisted. There are some people trying to build a 3-D printing machine that will make all the parts necessary to construct another, identical machine. This is a step in that direction, but it's not the whole thing. You still need to be supply the raw materials, provide the machine with energy and assemble the pieces.



I read several of Ian M. Banks "Culture" Science-Fiction novels this year, and in these stories society has pretty much sorted that whole thing out. So, if you can have any thing you want, meaning your society has developed machines that can make anything you want, all you need is a source of energy and a source of raw materials, and a little patience. I mean if you want a spaceship the size of a planet, and you don't already have a system in place to construct such a thing, it is going to take time to gather the materials, time to process the materials into useable bits, and time to assemble the bits.

Presumably an advanced civilization would have access to as much energy as they require, and if they need more, they can just tell their machines to make more energy producing machines. As for raw materials, you would need a fleet of scouts surveying the universe for useful bits of material, and a fleet of mining machines and transports to acquire it and move it to where it is wanted.

If, however, you got several people who wanted really massive things, like spaceships the size of planets, it could put a strain on the ability of the machines to produce the desired result in a timely fashion. In other words, even in a world of endless bounty, greed could drive people into conflict.

Greed, though, is just an excuse. People thrive on conflict. As much as we claim to crave peace, nothing lights a fire under a person more than someone trying to put one over on them.

I found the video while I was wandering around on the net this morning. I started at Dustbury, but I don't really remember all the steps that led to this.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Quote of the Day

This is from May 1945 in response to a news report of Hitler's death.
In London, Prime Minister Winston Churchill would not make a statement to the Commons about the war situation in Europe except to say it was "definitely more satisfactory than it was this time five years ago".
Via Lyger Lyger.

Rail Gun, Part II


Railgun Update from General Atomics

Did he really say Mach 5? That's like 3,000 miles per hour. So this thing must be producing a heck of a sonic boom. I wonder how far away you can hear it, and I wonder if that distance depends on the size of the projectile.

Once again the camera technology used to capture the sabot in flight is probably more involved than the gun itself. According to Google's Calculator, Mach 5 equals 3,800 mph. I counted ten seconds of the thing in flight before it hit the plate. That works out to around 5,000 frames per second. I imagine it's all digital now, but that's still impressive.

 To record 10 seconds of real time flight you would record enough frames to make a full length feature movie. 3,800 mph is like one mile a second, and projectile only traveled seven miles, so the flight didn't even last ten seconds, so to make a feature length film we would have to pad it with some filler. I wonder how much of a crater it made when it finally hit the ground. 

Notice how the spokesman pronounces sabot "sabo", which is probably correct, because the word is probably French and the French are always forgetting to pronounce the ends of words. I probably mispronounce it because, well, I'm like that.

Part I 

From Tactical World.

Update February 2017 replaced video with one that works.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Helicopter Oxymoron

Sometimes I wonder about military helicopters. They seem to have a real hard time keeping them in the air, even when nobody is shooting at them. Maybe it's just bad luck. Maybe there are only a few incidents, but they just happen at the wrong time and so make the front pages, like the choppers Carter sent to Tehran that crashed, or the chopper that crashed in Abbottabad recently. ("The Pave Hawk had mechanical failure and made a hard landing after half the platoon "fast roped" into the compound.")

But then I come across this incident and I wonder WTF is going on? Are these things so flaky they can't fly a couple of hundred miles without a serious incident?


From the story in Navy Times: "The helicopters flew at times just 50 to 100 feet above the lake, which sits at 6,225-foot elevation, and hovered at about 70 feet when the first helicopter lost power from its tail rotor, spun around and inadvertently settled into the water shortly before the second aircraft did the same, the investigation found." (emphasis mine).

Is this because turbines are inherently less reliable? Or maybe it's just modern military helicopters are too complex? Or are they scrimping on maintenance for some reason? Or have I just picked up on the only three incidents in the last 30 years?

Update: I realize the Lake Tahoe thing was probably a stunt. I think both copters losing power to (from?!?!) the tail rotor at the same time is too much of a coincidence. Maybe the guys in back wanted to go for a swim, although Lake Tahoe is too cold for me. I don't really have any complaint about this, there was only half a million dollars worth of damage compared to the $50 million for the loss of the entire chopper in Abbottabad. I mean, how do you find out what you can do with a chopper if you don't try it once in a while?

Update #2: I got my links confused. Here is the link to the story in Tactical World, complete with video.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Electricity Assaults Last Bastion of Steam Power

The Navy is working on an electric catapult. From a story on Tactical World: "Newer, heavier and faster aircraft will result in launch energy requirements approaching the limits of the steam catapult system."


Electromagnetic Catapult System for US NAVY aircraft carriers

Update February 2017 replaced missing video.

Fascist Modern

Took daring daughter to the police station yesterday so she could be fingerprinted, so she could get an FBI background check done, so she can get a visa that will allow her to stay in Argentina for more than just a couple of months.

The entry hall to the police station was a little strange. There was a largish lobby, a glassed in reception desk, and a big hall that led around the corner. All the doors off the hall were closed. The only other people there were a couple of other civilians. The receptionist showed up, behind the glass, after a couple of minutes. No one else in evidence. The police station wouldn't, or couldn't help. They sent us to the Sheriff's office.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office & Jail
The Sheriff's office was even better, or worse. Big building, huge entrance hall. I want to say it was a hundred feet square and two stories tall. It has a fancy polished stone floor and a soaring abstract sculpture ceiling, and just like the police station, no people at all. There was one fellow at a desk near the entrance, and there were a couple of people in each of the two offices we visited, but that was about it. I did see maybe half a dozen other people in the lobby in the twenty minutes we spent waiting on the fingerprints. Really weird, and kind of spooky. I wanted to take some pictures, but all I got was a couple of empty hallways before my battery died.


Fingerprinting has gone high tech - no more ink. They do it with a digital scanner, and then print them out. The prints on the card look just like they were done the old way with an ink pad, but there are no extraneous smudges. And we got three identical copies.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Pun of Terror

"A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a compass, a slide-rule and a calculator. At a morning press conference, Attorney General Eric Holder said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction. 'Al-Gebra is a problem for us', the Attorney General said. 'They derive solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values.' They use secret code names like 'X' and 'Y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'There are 3 sides to every triangle'. When asked to comment on the arrest, President Obama said, 'If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes.' White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President - It is believed that another Nobel Prize will follow."
Via Alaska Klaus and Stu.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Quote of the Day, or Fish, Part II

Higher costs for goods such as dairy, eggs, seafood and pork, which accounted for 25.4 percent of sales, were only partly offset by more efficient pie-making, according to a quarterly report. - Bloomberg/Business Week in a story about Perkins / Marie Callender's restaurants filing for bankruptcy.
From Michigan Mike, who wonders whether the more efficient pie-making was due to the pie-makers or the pie-making machines?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fish

When I was a kid, I used to hear about King crabs from Alaska. I don't hear about King crab anymore, now all I hear about is snow crab. However, we do have an adventure show on TV about catching them. If I were King I would fix the problem.

Sometimes I think the industrial revolution is going to lead to an environmental disaster. Maybe not this year, maybe not this century, but sometime soon, and I am afraid all those apocalypse stories will come true. As everyone eventually says in Star Wars: "I have a bad feeling about this".

Via Dustbury and The Guardian.

Steven T. Wax

Steven T. Wax is a Federal Public Defender. I didn't know there even was such a thing, but there is and Mr. Wax is not just one, but perhaps the preeminent one in the country. There was a story in The Oregonian this morning about him, and it makes some interesting reading. The story mentions the existence of a couple of YouTube videos. I found several. This one is relatively short.



Mr. Wax defended Brandon Mayfield, another Oregonian, when he was accused by the FBI of being in on the Madrid train bombing. That whole debacle came about because someone said his fingerprint matched. Notice it wasn't because his fingerprint matched, it was because someone said it matched, which we eventually found is something entirely different and in this case, wrong.

The other thing that stood out in the story was the murder 18 months ago of another lawyer from the Oregon Federal Public Defender's office: Nancy Bergeson. That case has not been solved, and there are no suspects, though I will bet that the conspiracy theorists could name a few.

Mr. Wax has written a book: Kafka Comes To America. A couple of reviews claim it's a pretty good story. I am afraid it might be too depressing.

Update December 2015. Replaced the Nancy Bergeson link. The old link went to amw.com (America's Most Wanted) and that site is no more. Weird. I would think something like that would be a permanent fixture on the net.

Me Gustas Tu



Daring daughter turned me on to this. If it sounds a little confused, well, it is. It's a mixture of Spanish & French. Hmm, two French posts in two days. I wonder if this signifies anything.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wasabi


Wasabi THEATRICAL Trailer

Luc Besson, Jean Reno, Netflix, Roku, and especially Ryôko Hirosue. She especially was the life of the party. What? You expect an old man to not notice her? If we can't be serious, I think this is my favorite kind of movie. Lots of action, lots of comedy, lots of unexpected consequences. And there's nothing like a Japanese movie in French with English subtitles.

We finish the movie and I'm looking for something to eat and I find some left over bar-b-que and rice in the fridge, so I heat it up and take a bite and boy-O-boy is that hot! Cold beer does not help, but a slice of bread and butter saves me. You see Momo in the clip? That was me with the bar-b-que.

Update February 2017 replaced missing video.

El Blog del Narco

Mexican Army Special Forces Squad with Barrett 50 caliber rifles in Michoacan
Daring daughter turned me on to El Blog del Narco, unfortunately it's in Spanish, my Spanish is weak (uno mas Cerveza fria, por favor, is as far as it goes), and Google's translation, while intelligible, is not easily consumed. I did find a story on Aljazeera about it, which provided this quote:
"Individuals journalists are doing the best they can, but in general I don't think the media has done a fair job in covering drug violence," says Lucila Vargas, a professor of journalism at the University of North Carolina who studies Mexico's media landscape. "The media in Mexico are commercial enterprises and their first concern is with the bottom line," she told Al Jazeera.
Of course, it isn't just the media in Mexico, main stream media everywhere follows the same rules.

I'm not sure there is anything in Narco's Blog I want to hear about. It's basically an unending stream of horror stories along with graphic pictures of the aftermath. Supposedly there is also some celebrity fluff and narco bombast. Nothing I really need. It's good that someone is recording it. In ten or twenty years it might be instructive to look back and compare the current and previous situations. Question is will we look back and say those were the good old days? Or will we be asking how things ever got so bad? This war has already been going on for four years (also from the Aljazeera story):
"Violence linked to Mexico's drug war has claimed more than 36,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon declared all-out war on cartels in December 2006."
 The picture is from what I suspect is an older version of the blog that was hosted on blogspot. It hasn't been updated since September of last year. I saw a Barrett 50 caliber rifle once. I've never seen a whole squad of guys carrying them.

Update January 2016 replaced missing image, added caption.

Quote of the Day

In reaction to discussions of potential 2012 (R) challengers to President Obama, I can only say that I fully expect President Obama to still be President Obama in 2013 and will be surprised by any other outcome. In fact the thought of him losing re-election is almost (not quite, but almost) inconceivable to me. Why would he lose? Economy etc. aside, President Obama is doing precisely what the country elected him to do, which is to be President while being a slick, photogenic, skinny guy with a darkish skin hue. That is the only reason he was elected and therefore, empirically, that is what the country wanted him to do. And in no way shape or form has he fallen short of that mandate, nor does he threaten to any time in the foreseeable future.
This fits perfectly with my current theory that the politics we see is just a show put on to amuse us and keep us distracted while the crooks behind the closed doors steal all the money. From Rhymes With Cars & Girls Via Dustbury.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Red Sky at Night


The light was weird yesterday evening, bright but with some dark clouds and some red ones.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Sign of the Times


Seen on the back of a truck as I was driving around this afternoon.

Update February 2017 replaced missing image.

Latin Fire Engines


Saw these in downtown Hillsboro this afternoon. I suspect a funeral was the occasion. Seeing all those engines lined up like that reminded me of a bit of Latin my mother taught me:
O! Si vili, si ergo!
Fortibus es in ero!
Demnat basis, demis trux.
Vatis eandem? Causan dux.
Highlight the following for the translation.
The text is gibberish in Latin, but when read aloud quickly, it sounds more or less like the following (sometimes ungrammatical) English:

Oh! See, Willy, see her go!
Forty buses in a row!
Them not buses, them is trucks.
What is on them? Cows and ducks.


H/T to Minor Mazurka on Academic Humor for writing it down.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Cops by the Side of the Road

There's a new law on the books. Well, new since I got my license. It's been around for a few years, but I only noticed it this year. It's this rule that you must move over one lane if there is a police car by the side of the road. I first ran into this on one of my trips to Eugene. We were just sailing along on the freeway when all of a sudden traffic slowed to a crawl. Eventually we crest a hill and I can see what the hold up is. There is a copper and another car stopped on the side of the road up ahead, and everyone is moving over into the high speed lane. The right lane is empty. What the heck is going on? I've never seen this behavior before. I make like a good little sheeple and follow along in the high speed lane until we get past this bottleneck.

Since then I've run into similar situations several times, and it got me wondering just what the rule was because all this sudden slowing and merging looked like a disaster waiting to happen.

Today I finally looked it up and it's not called the side of the road rule, it's called the move over rule, and it does not require that you move over. Move over if it's safe, or if not, just slow down. The Oregon law doesn't require that you slow down much, just five miles per hour under the limit. Other places may require you to slow as much as 20 MPH. I think the main object is to get you to pay attention.



Not too long ago there was big, electric, gas-generator-powered road construction sign sitting on the shoulder of Jackson School Road just South of Highway 26. It had been there for a couple of weeks at least, and one day I drove by and someone in a black SUV had slammed square into it. Made a mess of the sign and the car. How can you do something like that? Then there was the woman who drove her big black SUV square through the railing off the Morrison bridge in downtown Portland. That one I could at least imagine happening. This running into the sign just baffled me.

Anyway, here's a quote from the Oregon Department of Transportation:
Drivers must now move over to a non adjacent lane (or slow down) when approaching the rear of a tow truck or roadside assistance vehicle that is providing assistance to a disabled vehicle on the roadway. The original law covers police, fire and ambulance vehicles.

Now, you must move over if possible to another available lane (or slow down if you can't move over or if the move would be unsafe) when approaching the rear of an Emergency vehicle, tow truck or roadside assistance vehicle that has it's amber, red or blue flashers activated.

Slow down means reducing your vehicles speed by at least five miles per hour below the posted speed of the roadway. HB 2040 requires drivers to slow down at least 5 mph below the posted speed if making a lane change (moving over) is unsafe or impossible (i.e. two-lane road.)

Most importantly, drivers should be alert. If you can safely move over when approaching a disabled vehicle receiving assistance, do so. If you can't, then slow down!

The fine for this violation is currently $287.00 ($400.00 if the location is within a Safety Corridor, School Zone or Work Zone).

The Law (adding tow trucks and roadside assistance vehicles) Becomes Effective:

January 1, 2010

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ninja Glock

This is the coolest gun evah!



Don sent me the link to this one.

Year Old Security Breech: Hard Drives in Copiers

This is one I never suspected. I figure that anything sent electronically, whether over the air or via a land line, is liable to be picked up by someone. Supposedly financial websites encrypt the data that gets transmitted, and so far it seems to be working: I haven't woken up to find myself broke. Yet. And any kind of new wireless gizmo probably has new security holes, so if you have something you don't want the world to know about, you shouldn't use any kind of electronic device to store or transmit that information. Find the person who needs to know and whisper it in their ear. That is usually a pretty secure method of communicating.

Mark sent me a this link to a video clip from CBS news. It's just over a year old. Seems commercial copy machines contain hard drives that contain images of the most recent nine-zillion pages that  have been copied. I can't imagine why you would put a hard drive in a copy machine, other than maybe it was just easier to build it that way. OK, maybe there is some mode where you scan a multi-page document and print a bunch of copies, but I've never run across one. Whenever I've used a copier, it scans the original and prints the copy at the same time, so I don't see why you would ever need to save an image.
 
But it seems that copiers do save images of the copies they make.

Bicycle Versus Car

Marc told a curious story at lunch today about a bicycle accident he had when he was a kid. He was riding along on his bike when a car turned in front of him. He couldn't stop and he ran smack into the front side of the car and slid over the hood. The people driving the car stopped and asked him for his address and then took off. Marc, being a kid, was most concerned about getting in trouble with his dad for breaking the bicycle. When he got home his mother was frantic with worry. What had happened to him? Was he hurt? Was he injured? It seems the people in the car were there and told her about the collision and then told her it wasn't their fault and they had six witnesses to prove it. Strikes me as just a little odd.

Shortly after I got my first ten-speed (a Schwinn Varsity, paid for out of my paper route), I ran smack into the back of a parked car. Had my head down, pedaling for all I was worth, probably checking that the deraileurs were properly lined up, and this parked car jumped right into my path. That hurt. Bent and twisted the fork. The replacement cost $7.50, an astonomical sum considering the bike cost something like $70.

Michigan Mike, back when he was Chicago Mike, had a run in with a taxi. Broke one of the passenger side windows in the car. Cut his arm bad enough to require some stitches. He eventually got a settlement from the cab company. It was a couple thousand dollars and it took about a year.

Quote of the Day

 From a Washington Post story about a speech given by the President a few days ago:
UPDATE, 10:45 AM: Yen Chen, automotive business statistical analyst at the Center for Automotive Research, says CAR's analysis of Big Three auto data shows this statistic is correct. The Detroit Three are expected to add 10,000 hourly and 5,000 salaried workers this year, from a base of 115,805 hourly workers and 56, 432 salaried workers. That's an increase of about eight percent in each case. More than 16,000 hourly workers were added in 1991, but from a much higher base--440,000-- and 10,000 were also added in 1995, when there were 433,000 hourly workers. Meanwhile, salaried workers have been on a steady decline since 1990 (when the big Three employed 157,000). 
 The story quibbles with the President about all kinds of stuff, but I think this paragraph contains the most important information: 20 years ago the Big Three auto makers employed over twice as many people as they do now. That's a big change.

I wonder how things are in Korea.

Via Roberta X.

Paper Versus Electronics

Somebody swiped the paper this morning, probably my better half, so I tried the online version of the Daily Jumble. The first two words I got easily, but the solutions to the next two proved more elusive. So I moved on to the final phrase and discovered that the puzzle doesn't let you even start on this portion of the game until you have solved all four of the individual words. Bah! The paper doesn't have this arbitrary restriction!

I had a pretty good idea of what the final phrase should be, so I drug out my handy scratch pad, wrote out the solution to the phrase, and started working backward to solve the two remaining individual word jumbles.

Now I realize I could have used Notepad or a similar program for my chicken scratchings, but paper and pencil was my instinctive choice. Also, I would have had to make up a new marking system to replace the techniques I use when working with pen and paper. I could have done that, but it would take effort to devise one, and it would probably be mucho clumsioso than my old reliable techniques. Hmmmph.

The final phrase? "Too many fowls".

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pictures


Daring daughter returned from Mexico last night. She brought this candy with her. Very strange stuff, hardly sweet. Tasted very salty, but apparently doesn't contain any salt. Very odd.


Rob cleaned the moss off the patio yesterday using a pressure washer and this big, high pressure shower head. I don't recommend using this on concrete pavers. It strips off a layer of material and leaves the surface much rougher that it was.

The License Plate reads B AAL
Saw this license plate in front of Carson hall in Eugene today when we went to pick up younger son. Makes me think ex-special forces.


This big industrial establishment is somewhere about half way between Portland and Eugene. I think it's run by one of the big lumber outfits, Georgia Pacific maybe. I see it every time I drive to Eugene. The tall building on the right used to completely enclosed, but now it has lost some of it's sheathing. I have no idea what it is for, and now it looks like it might be coming down.

Update February 2017 replaced missing pictures, corrected description of moss removal tool. I thought it was a water powered rotary brush, but it is not. What I thought were swirling bristles was just a skirt containing the spray from the water jets.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rules

Talking to my friend Jack yesterday and he told me something about his experience with the Differential Equations class he took in college: it was all rote memorization. There are dozens of equations that apply to dozens of situations, and the class involved learning to identify the situation and picking the equation that best applies to it. For both of us that was a complete break from the way we had learned math up to that point, and for both of us, it was repellant.

A couple of months ago I was looking for a new card game and I thought of bridge, so I started looking into it. It seems to suffer from the same problem. The game has been analyzed down to the molecular level and everything there is to know has been discovered, so there is a rule for every situation. "Correct" play is similar to differential equations in that involves recognizing the situation and then picking out correct rule to follow. No real critical thinking involved.

It strikes me that there is large fraction of the population that thrives on this kind of thing, shoot, our civilization and the rule-of-law are based on this kind of thinking. Like everything else, people vary in how well they adapt to this. There are some people who have trouble with following rules of any kind, and then there are people who want a rule for everything and want everyone to follow all of the rules. Where the arguments come from is when people disagree on just how many rules we need.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Benton Harbor, Michigan

Benton Harbor, Michigan is a small town on the West Coast of Michigan, across the lake from Chicago. I've never been there, but I've always known about it because Heathkit (the maker of electronics kits) was based there. I spent many hours as a lad drooling over all the cool electronic gizmos in their catalogs.

Today, Roberta put up a post referring to the House of David Amusement Park, which is also in Benton Harbor. Her post and links make me wonder if the place isn't a secret vortex of Masonic Yankees. So much good stuff, all from one small place.

Picture of the Day


Wow! Geometric Romance by Teri Starkweather. Via Tatyana.

Update November 2016 replace missing picture.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Quote of the Day

Just because I'm in a good mood:
The word `politics' is derived from the word `poly,' meaning `many,' and the word `ticks,' meaning `blood sucking parasites.'  - Dave Barry
Via Johnny!!

Metamizol Sodico

Once upon a time, when nuclear power was in it's infancy, some proponents predicted that eventually nuclear power would be so cheap that it would be too cheap to meter. And then there are the perennial stories about inventors who have designed and built cars that get 200 miles per gallon, or run on water, and all these really great ideas have been suppressed by the oil companies, who are in cahoots with the car manufacturers. I'm not buying these stories (well, not in this post anyway).

This morning daring daughter calls and I find out she was a little under the weather yesterday. Her house mother gave her a Metamizol Sodico pill to make her feel better. Her Spanish has improved, but it still wasn't up to figuring out just what this pill does. Someone told her it was an antibiotic for her stomach. Well, let's see what I can find out.Google Translates Metamizol Sodico as Metamizole Sodium, and a search turns up a Wikipedia page, which makes for some interesting reading.

First line from the Wikipedia article says: Metamizole sodium or dipyrone is a powerful analgesic and antipyretic. So it's not an antibiotic, it's more like aspirin or ibuprofen. This drug has been banned in several countries because of some reports that it is dangerous, but there are some other studies that refute these claims. They make it look safer than aspirin.

The problem is that's it's really cheap, which means there isn't a lot of money to be made by making and selling it, so it's in the drug companies interest to see that it gets banned so they can sell more expensive stuff where they can make money. Now there's a conspiracy theory for you!

How to Identify a Meth Lab

Mark sent me these instructions:
As a law enforcement officer I have been approached by several people lately wanting to know how to identify a Meth Lab.

Here is a picture of four Labs. I think it's pretty obvious which one is the Meth Lab. I hope this helps. 

Let me know if I can be of any further service in this matter.
Update March 2016 replaced missing picture.

Photo of the Day

Steam train under Querétaro (Mexico) aquaduct
Is it real or is it photoshopped? From Burro Hall.

Update 2016 added caption to picture.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Not One, But Two Words

I wasn't going to say anything about SWIFT being part of the solution to today's Jumble, but I just found out that PURVUE is spelled PURVIEW. Hmmph.Since I was wrong about one, I'm going to wonder about the other:

Does anybody use swift anymore for anything besides in the phrase "not too swift"? A zillion years ago there was Tom Swift and his bright red rocket, or his ray-gun or something, and I think most English speakers know that it means fast, but does anybody actually use it? I think I always use fast.

As for purview, once again my vocabulary exceeds my spelling.