Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Solar System 2.0


Solar System 2.0 - the helical model, by DjSadhu
Very cool. Via Iaman. Some discussion here, if you are interested.

Adventure, Now with Photos

Hail by the side of the road
Saturday, June 20, 2015. We have arrived in SIoux City, Iowa, after three days on the road. Yesterday afternoon we ran into a thunderstorm on highway 212 in southeastern Montana. We saw lightning bolts for about a half an hour before the rain hit, and boy did it hit hard. I've been in downpours before, but nothing this strong. At times visibility dropped to 50 yards. When my speed dropped below 35 MPH I pulled over, it seemed kind of pointless to keep driving at such a slow speed. At times the rain turned to hail. It made so much noise we were afraid windows would break and the sheet metal would be trashed. There wasn't anything we could do. There was no cover of any sort, so we pushed on when we could. Being on a motorcycle would have been brutal.
    We were hoping we could get a room in Belle Fourche, so we could wait till the storm passed, but no such luck. No hotel rooms available anywhere in the area until we found one at the Best Western in Rapid City, South Dakota, for $250, which I thought was highway robbery, but when you don't plan ahead you have to take what comes.


    Somewhere in central Montana yesterday we passed a pickup truck parked on the shoulder of the highway, engulfed in flames. He must have been carrying a flammable cargo. I can't imagine a truck by itself producing so much flames, heat and smoke.


    This morning heading east on Interstate 90 we saw four semi-trucks with their trailers lying on their sides in the median. All four had been westbound. Evidently the storm produced some high winds as well as rain and hail.  We also saw a grain silo that had been blown into the median and a bunch of highway signs that had been twisted into modern art.  News reports tell us that three tornados were sighted.

Fat Man Lifts Car

Me and the lever demo, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Pull the rope down 3 feet and the car goes up a few inches.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Iowa

My wife and I got home Saturday night after ten days and 3600 miles on the road. We drove to Sioux City, Iowa to visit her father at the Holy Spirit retirement center. Usually when she goes, she flies, but this time she thought she might want to bring some stuff back, so we took her car, a 2006 Mitsubishi Endeavor.

Decker Truck on the way to Iowa.
   On the way there, not far out of Portland, I spotted a semi-truck from the Decker Trucking Company in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Fort Dodge is only about 20 miles from Rockwell City, my wife's home town. We used to fly into the small airport there. So right off the bat we know we're on the right road. We saw the same truck several times over the next couple of days. I'm pretty sure it was the same truck. We saw another one on the trip home. This one had a shinier trailer, and once again we saw it several times over the three days it took it us to get home.
    Eastern Washington is the most desolate looking place on Earth. Nothing but dry, brown scrub as far the eye can see. Once we got to Idaho things turned green. It was nice. Not much to see but grass and cows, but at least the grass was green. Much more pleasant than Eastern Washington.

Harleys parked in front of the Holiday Inn in Sioux City
    We got to Sioux City on Saturday evening, a week ago. There is major road construction going on downtown, so getting to the hotel required some wandering around. Just when we think we've got things sorted out we find our way blocked by the biggest gang of bikers you ever saw. News reports put the total at 25,000. I know we saw thousands of motorcycles parked in the street. Getting to the hotel required more deviations. Sioux City isn't that big, downtown is maybe ten blocks square, and our hotel and the biker party were both there. These weren't your regular bikers, they had filled the hotels. There were probably a hundred Harley's parked at the Holiday Inn where we were staying.

Sioux City, the morning after
    After the big biker brawl in Waco (Warning: CNN takes forever and a day to load, not as bad as some others) earlier this year, and seeing that Iowa does not require helmets, I was expecting a blood bath. I got up early the next morning to look for evidence, but the street cleaners beat me to it. All the evidence had been washed away.
    Rockwell City is still hanging on. Grandpa was selling his cars to the local dealer, so we paid him a visit to take care of business. I was surprised to see that he had a lot full of new cars for sale. There must have been a hundred, this in a town of maybe 1500 souls. He seems to be doing okay. Matter of fact, the whole area seems to be doing okay. I suspect things have consolidated some and now there is enough business to support the reduced population.

    We covered 3600 miles, burned 140 gallons of gas, which works out to about 25 miles per gallon, which is pretty durn good considering we were cruising at 80 MPH for most of the way. South Dakota had the highest speed limit at 80 MPH. Normally I set the cruise control to 10 MPH over the limit, but 90 was a little unsettling. The car handled it fine, but there was something in the back of my brain telling me we were in dangerous territory. There wasn't much traffic, but there were still occasional incidents of people not paying strict attention. Besides, the little computer display claimed our mileage had dropped to 15 MPG, the lowest I had ever seen it.
    The trip cost a little over two grand, hotels were almost half of that. We ate in 'nice' restaurants mostly, so our food (and beverage) bill was a little more than the gasoline. Premium gas (required by our high performance utility vehicle) averaged $3.29 a gallon, but we saw places where it was only $2.65. We only ran into one place that did not have premium, but there was another station a mile up the freeway that did, so it wasn't a problem.
     We saw a lot of Minervas. We ate at the one in Rapid City twice, and also at the one in Sioux Falls.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Pneumatique

On our way home we stopped for gas somewhere in the wilds of South Dakota. While I am at the register paying for a soda, a guy comes in asking for help with his tire. He's one of them furrin devils and his English isn't that great. He goes round and round with the cashier but they aren't getting anywhere so I step in and offer to help. I mean, it's a tire, how much of a problem can it be?
    He's got his family with him, wife and a couple of kids, in a Chevy Suburban pulling one of them pop-up travel trailers. The right front tire is the one he is concerned about, and it looks a little low. Pressure gauge confirms that it only has 17 PSI. The other tires are all around 44, so we pump this one up to the same value. We check the trailer tires, they are only about 35, but they are both the same, so I let him go.
    They're from France, he speaks English, but technical terms like 'air pressure' and 'tire gauge' are beyond him. He seemed unfamiliar with the air hose and the gauge, which makes me wonder what they use in France. Perhaps Michelin has come up with tires that never need to be pumped up, but they can't sell them in the US because of some fool congress critter trying to 'protect' somebody.
    It was late in the day and they were headed for Cedar Rapids, Iowa, about ten times further than we were planning on going this evening.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The man with 1,000 Klein Bottles UNDER his house - Numberphile


The man with 1,000 Klein Bottles UNDER his house - Numberphile

Klein bottles are kind of fun, like a Mobius strip. Unlike a Mobius strip they aren't really good for anything, at least not that I know of. But the video isn't really about Kein Bottles, it's more about compact warehousing and homemade warehouse robots. Reminds me of an automated package delivery system. You don't really need a big fat truck to deliver a five pound package, or even a 50 pound package. Some cities, notably Paris, has pneumatic tubes for sending messages. London has a miniature railroad for transporting the mail.

Video via Iaman.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bad Obsession


Project Binky - Episode 1 - Austin Mini GT-Four - Turbo Charged 4WD Mini

Silly buggers. Going to a heck of a lot of trouble to build a toy. Entertaining though. Via Posthip Scott.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ever So Great: The Dangers of Russia’s New Social Contract

March 13th, 1613: The Land Assembly of the people chooses Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov as Tsar.
Inciteful essay about Russia and Russians, and by extension, people in general. By Alexander Baunov. Best article on foreign affairs I've seen lately.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Petty Fascists


Patrick O'Neill writes:
Citing significant sales hits taken by big American firms like Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, Salesforce, Qualcomm, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard, a new report says losses by U.S. tech companies as a result of NSA spying and Snowden's whistleblowing "will likely far exceed" $35 billionPreviously, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation put the estimate lower when it predicted the losses would be felt mostly in the cloud industry. The consequences are being felt more widely and deeply than previously thought, however, so the number keeps rising.
Because it's on Slashdot there are a bunch of comments and gstoddart makes one:
Because before people realized the extent to which the US government was co-opting industry to be part of the spy apparatus, people had no real understanding of the issue.
Since every US firm is covered under the Patriot Act which says "we can demand your data in secret", now that we know just how untrustworthy US firms are, buying from US firms is idiotic because it's patently obvious there can be no trust.
Snowden didn't cause this, per se, but if he hadn't made it so damned plain that the US government and US firms can't be trusted, then people would still be oblivious, and the NSA could spy in secret.
Honestly, I think US firms deserve to lose truckloads of money as they're no longer welcome to try for certain kinds of business.
Because hitting America in the pocketbook seems to be the only way to affect change.
But make no mistake, on a global scale, the US and all US industry are no longer trustworthy entities. And we no longer buy your narrative about the defenders of liberty, democracy, and freedom ... you're petty fascists who demand the world bends over for your security.
We don't give a damn about your security if it means giving up our rights. In fact, if it means giving up our rights, the world is increasingly saying "fuck your security".
So, boo hoo, people will stop buying your products. That's your problem.
Via Detroit Steve.

Bad News About The News

From a Brookings Essay
Via Detroit Steve.

Why I’m done wearing a helmet.

Biking in MPLS
I don't ride my bike much anymore, but when I do, I don't bother with a helmet. Seems there are an increasing number of people who feel the same way, as witnessed by these postings:
Via Detroit Steve and corespondents, and Google.

Platinum Spark Plugs

Wright Brothers engine: The spark that ignited the gasoline was supplied by a set of electrical "points" inside each cylinder. The steel arms of the points tipped with tiny amounts of platinum to forestall corrosion. As the engine runs, the points momentarily close, making an electrical connection, and then open again breaking the connection and creating a spark. This was called a "make-and-break" ignition system.
Spark plugs didn't exist when the Wright Brothers built their flying machine, so they had to come up with their own mechanism for igniting the fuel-air mixture. They used a pair of contacts in the combustion chamber that were opened and closed by a camshaft. When they were closed, current flowed through the contacts, and when they were opened there was a spark.


Write Brothers engine, camshafts, valves and ignition.
The intake valve is red, the exhaust is blue, and the ignition is green. The piston can be seen moving through the hole in the center.
   It is an unusual mechanism, but not surprising since people were still trying to figure out how to make engines. The surprising part is that the contacts were made of platinum. Nowadays we use platinum spark plugs because they last longer. Presumably the Wright brothers used it for the same reason. But why does platinum last longer? Are the flames afraid of damaging the precious metal? Somehow I don't think so. Turns out the big reason is because of platinum's very high melting point - over 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Those little sparks of electricity don't have much mass, but they are very hot, and each time you get a spark a tiny bit of metal is vaporized. With platinum, you lose less metal with each spark and so your plugs, or in this case, your contacts, last longer.
    The Wright brothers used a magneto to drive their ignition system. I'm thinking it must have been producing a substantial amount of current (relative to a modern ignition system) which would have aggravated the erosion problem. Hard to believe that erosion would have been a problem for the short amount of time this engine was run, but maybe by using platinum on their points they were attempting to placate the gods of obstinate machinery. After all, they are always lurking in the shadows, waiting for any little flaw to appear, a flaw they can exploit to bring the whole thing to a halt. If it creates a catastrophe, so much the better. The gods of machinery are vicious animals.

hermeneutic

Ota Benga
her·me·neu·tic
ˌhərməˈn(y)o͞odik>
adjective
  1. 1.
    concerning interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts.
noun
  1. 1.
    a method or theory of interpretation.

Marcel puts up a post about science as a religion, though he doesn't phrase it that way. He references a post by one Rod Dreher who starts his story with a paragraph containing this word "hermeneutic", which I had never heard before. Since I had to look it up I figured I'd include the definition here. Maybe someone else will need it. More than likely my future self will need reminding, should I ever pass this way again.

Anyway, Rod's post is about one Ota Benga, an African pygmy who was exhibited in the Bronx Zoo back before WW1, and various people's thoughts on the matter. Rod, in turn, refers to an article by Pamela Newkirk in The Guardian. Entertaining reading all. Might even make you think.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer

6th of October Bridge from the East bank of the Nile River to Gezira island in central Cairo, Egypt.
Modern day tale of espionage in North Africa. Good story, though the reason for someone turning traitor was a bit thin. To be fair, stealing secret documents was not presented as treason, it was implied that they were helping out some freedom fighters. Of course, it was all lies, but we get to the truth eventually.
    The story oscillates between the recent revolt in Libya that deposed Colonel Gaddafi and some events that happened to our heroes 25 years ago when the war in the Balkans was heating up. It gets a little confusing sometimes. You just have to keep the two time lines straight.
    Since we go to the Balkans, we get some history of the place and it's pretty grim. Nobody hates you like your neighbors hate you. It's got to be like a disease. I don't know what causes it, we don't seem to have the same trouble in the U.S. I suppose they learn it in kindergarten and polish it until they are big enough to make real trouble.
    As I was reading, I made some notes. When I was done I collated the information in a spreadsheet and plotted the places on a Google Map. Follow the links in the spreadsheet if you want to know more.

Note about the picture: I wanted a picture of the 15th of May Bridge as it gets mentioned a couple of times in the story, but I couldn't find one. Found several that purported to be the 15th of May Bridge, like this one, but were not. The 15th of May Bridge is downstream about a kilometer from this one. Good quality pictures were also a little difficult to find, that's why we have a skyscraper in the center of the picture.
    The 15th of May Bridge was named for the start of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war which is known in Arabic as the Catastrophe. The 6th of October Bridge was named for the start of the 1973 Yom Kipper War, which ended with a ceasefire. Egypt got their butt kicked, but like the Klingons, they declared victory and went home.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

War

Korean War Refugee with Baby
Iaman sent out a video about war profiteering to our clan of troglodytes. I wasn't impressed with the video. California Bob had a couple of things to say that are worth repeating:
 I caught about a half hour of a WWII documentary last night.  Couple notes: 
1. Lots of boomers talk about the sense of unity and duty that Americans felt during WWII, common purpose, etc.  In fact most Americans were bitterly opposed to involvement all the way up to Pearl harbor.  FDR has to frequently skirt the legislature, supreme court and public to implement lend-lease, start building an army, etc. 
2. Current references to Islamist radicals as "an existential threat" are patently absurd compared to WWII.  How can we feel like we're fighting for our lives when we haven't seen so much as a sugar ration, let alone wholesale re-engineering of the economy and society as seen during the 40's? 
(Nevertheless, I am fully in support of wiping out Islamist radicals.) 
For every hawk that demonizes the adversary, there's a rational humanist arguing for restraint and understanding.  Human emotions are easily stoked, and often the call for "action" wins out over "restraint" or "understanding."  I mean, this is axiomatic. 
Consider that maybe the causality is reversed.  Rather than a handful of conspirators plotting a war, and tricking people into supporting it, as a means of gathering war profits, consider perhaps that random events occur which stoke an ignorant and impulsive populace to call for war ("Remember the Maine!").  This creates opportunities for journalists and arms dealers, who naturally take advantage of them. 
Everyone knows and agrees that "war is bad," and has know and agreed on this throughout 10,000 years of modern human history, yet war has been a constant feature of history over that period, continuing into today. 
I think conspiracy theories about "who starts wars" are pointless.  You have to feel sorry for the schmucks who get drafted and sent into battle, but there's never a shortage of people to feel sorry for.  It's a full time job. 
If one feels strongly enough about it, one can join an anti-war movement.  Personally I like to try to be aware of what's going on and try to avoid getting caught up in any trouble. 
Considering that it's a regular feature of the human experience, maybe war is natural.  I mean, it's hard to say that "People have always engaged in this activity, regularly and repeatedly for thousands of years, and it's completely abnormal and unnatural."  Perhaps war serves some cleansing or cathartic purpose on a macro level.  Macro levels don't care about individuals.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Engines

I was a teenager when the golden age of American muscle cars was in full swing. Ford, Chevy and Dodge all had giant cast iron V8 engines that managed to propel their two ton cars to a hundred miles an hour in the quarter mile. The tractors we had on the farm had cast iron engines. Trucks had cast iron engines. All land and water vehicles used cast iron engines.
    The only machines that didn't use cast iron engines were airplanes and race cars, and those were way out of my league. Then Buick came out with a 3.5 liter aluminum V8 and Chevrolet came out with a 7 liter aluminum V8. But these were exotic and hardly anybody used them. The Buick was too small to matter and the Chevy was too expensive.
    Before the advent of gasoline engines, back when steam engines were all the rage, cast iron was the builders material of choice. I had built up this history in my mind that all common automobile engines had always been cast iron.

1915 Cadillac V8 eninge with aluminum crankcase
    Yesterday I was looking over some information on Cadillacs, pursuant to my post on the Allante, when I come across a mention of Cadillac's first V8 engine, built in 1915. Imagine my surprise when I discover that it had an aluminum crankcase! They used aluminum for the same reason we use it now: to save weight. Turns out the Wright brothers also used aluminum for the crankcase for the engine for their first airplane. That was a surprise as well, mostly because I had never read anything about that engine, other than it had four cylinders.

Replica of the engine Charlie Taylor built for the Wright brothers
    Aluminum was only discovered relatively recently, and only became commercially viable in the late 19th century. Somewhere along the way someone discovered that adding a little copper to your aluminum would produce a stronger alloy, an alloy that would gradually grow stronger over a period of several days. Weird. Both Cadillac and the Wright brothers used this alloy in their engines.
    Casting engine blocks in one piece was a bit of a trick. Well, if you didn't care how much it weighed it wasn't, but if you wanted an engine that didn't outweigh the rest of the car, well, that took some fiddling. General Motors learned how to do it first. Ford had a difficult time at the beginning. Seems that 80% of their castings were no good.
    It's still a bit of a trick. A friend of mine bought a new Mercedes, I think it was, a few years ago, and shortly thereafter it developed an oil leak. Inspection revealed that there was a weak spot in the engine block and oil was seeping right through the casting. I suppose this kind of thing is inevitable when you are trying to cast complex shapes, and engine blocks are right up there in complexity.

Obvious

Iaman extracts the essential points from Improve the Credibility of Your Witness: Undesirable Verbal Witness Characteristics - Litigation Insights:

  • Be forthright, Evasive = Hiding Something.  Witnesses who are viewed as “evasive” lose credibility with jurors.
  • Be succinct not verbose.  Jurors criticize answers that are “verbose,” “long-winded” and too technical.  Jurors like answers that are relevant to the question.
  • Limit the Technical Jargon.  Know your audience, use language they can understand without being condescending
  • Prepare to Answer the Tough Questions. so you don't  hesitate or “push back".
  • Lack of Internal Consistency among Witnesses’ Testimony.
  • Be familiar with your documents.  .  Two overarching positive factors that influence jurors’ perception of a witness’s credibility are appearing knowledgeable on the topic and speaking confidently.
  • Avoid powerless speech as defined by the presence of linguistic speech markers such as hedges (e.g., “kinda,” “sort of”), vocal fillers/hesitations (e.g., “well,” “ah,” “um”), disclaimers (e.g., “this might be a bad idea…”) and tag questions (e.g., “…don’t you think?”).
  • Avoid Tag Phrases.  When witnesses use phrases such as “to be honest” and “to be frank,” they beg the question of whether they were telling the truth or being frank prior to this statement being uttered.
  • Avoid Social Fillers.  The use of “um” is a socialized vocal filler; that is, we have learned in conversation that when there is a silent pause when talking, it is an indication for someone to interrupt.
Isn't this obvious? Umm, maybe not. One mistake I have consistently made is that I assume that because something is obvious to me, it is obvious to everyone. Only later when I have put a plan into motion did I discover that, no, not everyone understood what was going on, witness this video:


MIT graduates cannot power a light bulb with a battery.
It isn't just MIT that has this problem. Our entire educational system is built on being able to manipulate  words, not things, and we kind of assume that because people can talk about a subject they actually understand it. Obviously, that is not the case.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cadillac Charlie

Tam posted a couple of pictures of a Cadillac Allante and mentions that the body was assembled in Italy and flown by 747 to Detroit for final assembly. Okay, that's weird enough that I go rooting around for pics. Eventually I find this one:

Loading Allantes
on the Allanté History page by John Monzo. He also mentions the movie Terminal Velocity, which came out in 1994, just after Cadillac stopped building the car.


Terminal Velocity 1994 Car Freefall Midair Rescue

I vaguely remember seeing this movie. It wasn't that great, but this stunt was pretty spectacular. The airplane is a Fairchild C-123 Provider.

The Fallen of World War II


The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo.

Via Dieselpunks. A little longer than a pop music video, but well worth it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Shift Lock Release

I've been driving a 2008 Hyundai Sonata lately and it is a pretty nice car. We picked it up a couple of years ago so dutiful daughter would have something to drive to work. We looked around for a bit, but anything that looked like a possible deal got snapped up before we could make a decision and we were running out of time. My mechanic had this one for sale and while it was a bit more than we were originally shooting for, it wasn't out of reach, so we bought it. Dutiful daughter drove it for ten months and then ran away to South America. Kids these days, I tell you, no respect.
    So I take to driving it occasionally, you know, just to make sure it's still running smoothly, and I notice that it's a little larger than Chrysler Sebring, the infamous. For one thing, I can sit up straight whereas in the Chrysler I end up leaning on the console. For another my friend Jack can get in without having to struggle. I gave him a ride in the Chrysler, once. That was enough.
 Anyway, everything is going smoothly until I get back from the train station this morning and it won't shift into park. It will shift into neutral, drive and low, but not into reverse or park. What's going on here? Then I notice that the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) light is on, and pushing the ESC button doesn't change anything. Hmmmph. Then I notice this little label near the shift gate on the console, Shift Lock Release, next to a little tab and hole. What's the owner's manual got to say about this? There is a folder in the glove box full of papers, but they are all warranty dispute resolution procedures. Nothing about how the car actually works. Fine, turn the engine off, leave the key in the ignition (it won't come out unless the shift lever is in park. Notice anything funny about the picture?), go inside and look it up on the internet. Root around for a tiny screwdriver, return to the car, pry out the little tab, push down with the screwdriver, and presto! We have park and I have my key.
    Rumor has it that the problem is with the brake light circuit.

Pi from Nothin'


Riemann Hypothesis - Numberphile

Stu turned me on to an obscure little math trick for determining if a number is a prime number or not. It's not generally useful as it involves factorials, which get really big really fast. But there is a computer math package that can deal with numbers of any size, as long as you have enough computer memory to accommodate them, so I thought I would take Stu's formula and the GMP math package and see if I could make them play together.
     Dealing with really long numbers is not very difficult, you just have to keep track of overflows. Any half competent programmer should be able to write a set of routines to perform the basic operations, but it's a common enough job that some people got together and wrote a complete library of functions and procedures.
    Like any bit of software there are rules for how to use it. For me the easiest way to learn these rules is find a sample piece of code and start messing with it, so I went looking and I found this: randPi.c by Mitch Richling, which to purports to make Pi out of nothing but random numbers. He uses the GMP library to deal with his really long random numbers, so it was good example to start with. Plus it was weird. Pi from nothin'? How can that be?
     It depends on the observation that between any two random numbers, there is a statistical probability that they are relatively prime, i.e. the only factor they have in common is one. 3 and 4 are relatively prime. 3 and 6 are not, they have a factor of 3 in common. 4 and 6 are not, they have the factor 2 in common. Two numbers by themselves won't tell you much, but if you have big pile of them and start counting the number of pairs that are relatively prime and those that aren't, you end up with a ratio that (if you munge it just a bit) looks just like Pi.
    I got to thinking about this and realized you don't really need random numbers. After all, random numbers are just one number out of a range of numbers. You run long enough and you will cover all numbers in the range. You should be able to get the same effect by just testing the relative primeness of all the numbers in a range. I wrote a small program to test this and it indeed works. Running a cross tabulation of all the numbers from 1 to ten thousand resulted in value of 3.141534, which is not bad considering I made it from nothin'.

    Okay, we have GMP library and we think we know how to use it. Let's test Stu's formula, so I wrote another little program, it works and so Stu's formula seems to be valid. My program only goes up to 31, but that's only because we are starting to fill up the screen with the giant numbers that come from computing factorials. 31! (31 factorial) is like a zillion digits.

P.S. I have decided I don't like github because they don't handle tabs. Google Drive / Docs has a viewer that works okay and the two programs are stored there. It doesn't support highlighting, and there may be some argument over tabs, but it's not bad, and it doesn't require any extra fooling around.

Shipmate Stove

More adventures from Uniberp :
Browsing CLFS (craigslist for sale) Friday morning (day off from wrk) the 5th item was a Shipmate wood stove for 200. I bought it for $208. It's old but works; I fired it up the first day and burnt my fingertip All needed parts included. No stove holder or removeable grate shaker handle.
It's this model:
http://www.shipmatestove.com/Details.cfm?ProdID=32&category=6
There was a full page ad in the Sunday paper from a company that wants to set up a propane export facility at one of the Port of Portland's terminals. It was all about jobs and how clean burning propane is. No mention, naturally, of how dangerous it can be. It's not dangerous if it's handled properly, but any time you have a long term operation there are going to be times when somebody slips up. It's pretty remarkable that our industrial operations maintain such a good safety record.
     Propane is a popular fuel. We use it for barbeque grills and propane torches. When burned it is very similar to natural gas. Stored it is much different. Compressing propane with a modest amount of pressure turns it into a liquid, which is why a bottle of propane can supply you with enough fuel for a whole season of grilling. Natural gas doesn't like to be compressed. Squeezing enough into a tank to have a useful supply requires very high pressures and very strong tanks.
    Another difference between propane and natural gas is that natural gas is lighter than air so when you have a leak it drifts off into the atmosphere and is dispersed. Propane, however, is heavier than air and when you have a leak it sinks to the ground. If you are outside this usually isn't a problem, any little breeze will quickly disperse it.
   However, a propane leak in a closed space, like the hull of a boat, can cause a disaster. Because propane is cheap and compact it is often used as a fuel for stoves on boats. Because everything contained tries to escape, and people make mistakes, like forgetting to turn on the bilge blower before they light the stove, occasionally a boat blows up.
   No such problem with a Shipmate stove. I visited some folks in New Mexico 40 odd years ago who were living off the grid. They had a cast iron, wood burning cookstove. The lady of the house claimed she could boil water in ten minutes starting with a cold stove. I think that would take some practice, but people are, if anything, adaptable.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Venezuela

Shoppers walk past empty shelves in the refrigerated foods section of a Makro supermarket in Caracas
International Business Times has a story by David Sim about the economic situation in Venezuela. It's about half fluff and half facts. Here are some excerpts.
    The official exchange rate is about six bolivars to one US dollar, but Venezuela's spiralling inflation makes locals desperate to get rid of their bolivars; rates of 400 to one are not unheard of.
    Venezuela's largest denomination note is 100 bolivars (officially valued at about $15, but worth as little as 25 cents on the black market).
    In contrast with tourists, Venezuelans' purchasing power has fallen. Wage rises cannot match the inflation rate, which was 68% in 2014. It is widely forecast to hit triple digits this year.
The IB Times story has a several great photos, besides the dismal one I posted above.

Girls with Guns

Alligator hunting, early 20th Century. Peter J Cohen collection.
Via Iaman and The Telegraph

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Exoskeleton


Exoesqueleto Robótico
This one is from last fall.



Berkeley Bionics: Introducing eLEGS
This one is from 2010.

You can see that they are making progress. Exoskeletons aren't perfect, but they do have numerous advantages over wheelchairs. The hundred thousand dollar price tag might seem a bit steep, but it's less than a house and a heck of lot less than we spend to put a soldier in the field for a year.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wind Turbine Time Lapse Assembly


MidAmerican Energy Company - From the Ground Up: Building our energy future, one turbine at a time

I don't know that I like these giant wind turbines. It's all very nice that we're getting electricity for 'free', but that is a big, expensive piece of equipment. You would need to generate a great deal of electricity to pay for such a big machine. I supposed they work out eventually, I mean once you set them up they don't require a great deal of attention, so in ten or twenty or a hundred years they should pay for themselves, assuming of course they generate enough electricity to pay for the interest on the loan. Interest rates are low these days, so maybe now is a good time to build them.
    A second problem is you are still getting your electricity from a giant soulless corporation and you are going to be subject to all the problems you get with that arrangement, like blackouts and brownouts and getting your power shut off because you failed to pay your bill. On the other hand, all you have to do is pay your bill. No fussing with generators and wind storms and construction contractors.
    The last problem is birds. There was some noise about birds getting killed by older, smaller wind turbines. Then we got these big ones and people said that it wouldn't be as big a problem because look how slow they are turning. Yes, the RPM's are low, but the speed of the tips of the blades is still very high, maybe even higher than the old ones, so I could see how there could still be a problem. But maybe all the stupid birds have been killed off so now we only have birds who are smart enough to avoid these things.

Via Posthip Scott.

Caddy to the Dead


Supernatural O Death - Jen Titus

Tam is taking pictures of cars and posting them on Facebook and somebody put this in a comment. It's a well put together scene, plus there's no talking.