Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Thursday, August 17, 2017


iPhone 7 — The Rock x Siri - Reminder — Apple

Just caught this ad on TV. I think it covers The Rock's public persona perfectly, which somehow made it very funny,

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Wrong Question

Indianapolis 500
Just because I needed a picture, I like pictures of cars, and Google served up this one in response to my inquiry about 500 digital TV channels.
At all times, at least one of the five zillion digital channels on my TV has a race going on,
or more likely someone talking about racing. Man, do those people talk.
Roberta X has some good things to say today, which prompted me to write down a couple of ideas that I've been kicking around.

Scrolling through the list of channels available on my TV, I realized that they are roughly divided into three groups: Sports, News and Drama. Drama basically covers everything that isn't sports or news. Soap operas, movies, serials, reality shows, etc, are all dramatic. Sports I understand. We live in the physical world and one's ability to cope with that world along with our natural competitive instinct can make sports compelling. I think professional sports have taken this activity to ridiculous extremes, but if that's what people want to do then so be it.

Drama, near as I can make out,  is dealing with more subtle actions, expressions, tone of voice and deceptions. I spend a fair amount of time here, but I am at least somewhat particular about what I watch. Lately it's been crime serials, but I like a good thriller as well. Shoot, I like anything with a good story. Of course whether a story is 'good' or not is entirely subjective.

News is about current events, but lately it seems to be more about what somebody said about something that someone else said, not so much about what happened or what someone did. Oh, there are the horrific crime stories, but generally they don't signify much of anything.

So if these three topics are all there is to our civilization, it would collapse. There is a whole lot of mundane work that goes on every day to enable these 500 channels of digital entertainment to flow into our homes.

But none of this is looking at the big picture, which is what do we want? And how do we propose to get there? Oh, I know that some people are floating ideas, but it seems like that stuff that comes down the wire is mostly nit-picky criticisms, very little of substance gets through. Of course there is the problem what you consider substance. People have very different ideas of what is important.

Everything we do contributes to our civilization. Sometimes in a positive manner, sometimes in a negative one (depending on your point of view). I kind of get the feeling that all we do is kind of like we are all working on a monumental sculpture. We are busy knocking off the rough edges, smoothing out the curves, polishing the surface, making our little corner beautiful (or smashing somebody else's unguarded work), but we don't really have any idea what we have built or what the entire thing looks like now, or what it should look like when we are done.


Dubioza kolektiv "U.S.A." (Official video)

Listening and watching English language stuff on YouTube you can easily forget that it is a WORLD WIDE WEB, and then something like this pops up and you realize that even people from lower Elbonia are connected. Lyrics below, because they are sort of interesting.


The grass is always greener 
in neighbors' courtyard
I wish to leave this nightmare
go to a Promised Land 
Please, take me to your leader
I want my green card
I want to fly over 
Like a rocket from the Balkans

I want to start all over 
and turn a new page
Forget this dreadful story 
Escape the Stone Age
I'm waiting for chance
to get out of the cage
I feel like a slave
on a minimal wage

I am form Bosnia
Take me to America
I really want to see
Statue of Liberty

I can no longer wait
Take me to United States
take me to Golden Gate
I will assimilate

One day, when you reach the end
One day, you will understand
One day, back to roots my friend
No place like a motherland

I hoped I'll find what I need
I'll be free like a bird
Now we're pushed in a ghetto
Like the sheep in a herd
All the promises I heard
Became empty words
Completely disconnected
From the rest of the world

The grass is never greener 
in neighbors' courtyard
I want to start all over 
Return to No Mans Land 
Send greetings to your leader
Don't want your Green Card
I want to fly back 
Like a rocket to the Balkans

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Space Car

2017 Hyundai Sonata
On our recent expedition to Iowa I rented a Hyundai Sonata from Hertz. I needed to carry four adults from Omaha to Sioux City and back. We flew into Omaha because it's a P.I.T.A. to fly into Sioux City from Portland, Oregon.

Hyundai Sonata Dashboard
The dashboard looks like something out of Buck Rogers. Buttons and dials and glowing instruments. As all of the controls for actually operating the vehicle were conventional enough, I was able to get in and drive away. But getting any of the creature comforts to operate was another matter.

Notice the small control panel on the right spoke of the steering wheel. And the red triangle in the 'center stack'.
It's not a long drive from Omaha to Sioux City, maybe an hour and a half or so, but it would nice to have some tunes. so I set my wife to seeing if she can find something on the radio. Does this car even have a radio? There is nothing in the dash that looks like a radio, but it's got to have one, doesn't it? I mean radios are traditional. OK, no radio as such, but there is a tablet-sized touch screen and with poking and prodding she is able to tune in some kind of rock and roll and we're good.

We're good until the song ends and then an endless litany of commercials commences. We can put up with this for a while, but eventually we reach our limit and sweetie starts looking for a new station and then, all of a sudden, the emergency flashers start flashing. Flash (Gordon), being on a mission from God, would have charged on regardless, but mild-mannered Chucky, worried about causing the Highway Patrol undue stress took the next exit and pulled over to try and figure out what happened. Well, where the heck is the emergency flasher control? We look in all the normal locations but eventually we spy the red triangle in the middle of the dashboard. Oh, that's it, obviously. We turn off the flashers and go on our merry way.

Since we are on an Interstate highway, I would like to engage the cruise control. I don't want to have to keep watching the speedometer and adjusting my speed to accommodate every little change in the road's incline. Yes, we are in Iowa, and Iowa is very flat, but even the slightest grade can affect the cars speed. I am pushing the envelope on what the cops will tolerate and I don't want push it too far. It would be easy to do. The road is flat and straight and the speedometer goes to 160 MPH.

There is a little mini-control-panel on the right spoke of the steering wheel and the top right button is labeled CRUISE. I push it and little green CRUISE word appears on the instrument panel. I try pushing several of the other buttons to see if I can set the speed, but nothing happens.

The upper left button appears to be a stack of paper (pages?) and pushing it causes the center display between the speedometer and the tachometer to change. I think there are four pages. Pushing this button allows you to cycle through these pages. Eventually I figure out that you can get the cruise control to engage only if you are on the correct page. I don't know whether this is a feature or a bug.

The instrument panel is black with white numbers and other markings. The white is very bright. It wasn't until we got to Sioux City and I specifically stopped and looked for the instrument panel brightness control that I located it. It has it's own little switch on the lower left portion of the dashboard.

I'm thinking that playing with buttons and switches on our increasing complex electronic gee-gaws is America's new past time. It's not just cars. Watch someone trying to find a photo on their smart phone. The tapping and swiping can go on for hours, and it's no good trying to remember the sequence you used to get there, because the next time you will be starting in a different place (in your smart-phone's interface), looking for a different picture using an app that works a little differently than the last time you used it because your smart-phone vendor has pushed an update down the 'wire'. Cars, at least for the moment, and not getting automatic updates. At least I don't think they are.


Horizon Air Bombardier DHC-8
Matt-of-the-Lake has landed a job with Horizon Air as a flight attendant, based out of Spokane. Spokane is not the world's most popular location, being in Eastern Washington, but being based there should give him a more consistent flight schedule, and possibly more hours.

PenAir Saab 340B
He was working for PenAir as a general gofer up until a couple of weeks ago when he quit, which happened to be one week before PenAir went bankrupt. Matt wasn't able to work as a flight attendant on PenAir because at 6'2" he was too tall to fit in their airplanes. PenAir's height limit was 5'10".

Monday, August 14, 2017


Paloma Cocktail
We've been drinking Tequila cocktails lately. Mostly Margaritas but recently Palomas. Palomas taste better than Margaritas and are dirt simple to make: a shot of Tequila in a glass of ice and fill with Squirt (grapefruit flavored soft drink). Salt on the rim, like a Margarita, and a little lime juice if you want. I don't know that the lime juice adds anything, but the salt definitely helps. Tequila, to me, does not taste very good, in fact it tastes pretty awful. The salt takes away the awful and with Squirt it becomes a pleasant drink, which is kind of contrary to the spirit of Tequila!, but it suits me.

Madman Theory

Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito, ca. 1675
The madman theory was a feature of Richard Nixon's foreign policy. He and his administration tried to make the leaders of hostile Communist Bloc nations think Nixon was irrational and volatile. According to the theory, those leaders would then avoid provoking the United States, fearing an unpredictable American response. - Wikipedia
Hoo boy, just what we need, a fake madman in charge. Somehow this doesn't seem like a good idea, but perhaps it worked? I mean Nixon (the evil criminal mastermind) did get us out of our Vietnam quagmire, which I think was all-in-all a good thing. Via The Adventures of Roberta X.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Stardust by Joseph Kanon

Stardust by Joseph Kanon
What with all my 'adventures' this summer it has taken me a long time to finish this book. It's pretty great. We have a murder mystery set in Hollywood just after WW2 when the communist witch hunts were just getting started. The entire book is an exercise in duplicity, or rather in detecting duplicity. There is some kind of underhanded business going on, possibly subversive, but really unknown because the key player is dead. Our hero gets to put the pieces together, but in true Hollywood fashion he doesn't figure it out until we get to the stereotypical Hollywood denouement: a bad guy emerges from the shadows with a gun, our hero looses his gun and the dame rescues him, or does she? These are the kinds of idiotic scenes I hate in the movies, but they seem to be required in any kind of action flick. But here I can forgive the author because we are so wrapped up in the movie making business it would be sacrilege to have it to wind up any other way.

This story has many great parts, mostly involved with the characters and their interactions. One thing that stuck out was whole communist witch hunt thing. I don't know how much trouble the commies ever caused in the USA, but the radical Muslims are demonstrating that secret organizations can make serious trouble. So if you are investigating someone for subversive and / or criminal activity, you want to do it quietly, not in front of a bunch of reporters and cameras. But if you are a politician, that is your meat and potatoes, so that's the way you do it.


Stuff that showed up in my inbox while I was out having an adventure.

On the Zambesi out of Vic Falls. Via Jack. I'm not quite sure what we have here,
it might be lizard porn. Shoot, since it's from Jack, I know it's lizard porn.
Can a better night’s sleep in a ‘hipster’ bus replace flying? Via Posthip Scott.
Meatpistol and Defcon. Via Detroit Steve.
James Damore memo. Via Monday Evening. Medium has a version complete with charts, etc.
Parabellum. Via Iaman.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Sioux City Adventure

Cold French fries at Wendy's Tuesday evening. Grainy frosty at Wendy's (same time and same place.) Burger was good though. I have to admit that it was late, after 10PM, and this is not the big city. This whole section of town seemed pretty dead this time of night, but there were two fast food joints (Wendy's and McDonald's) that advertised being open 24 hours. On the surface it doesn't seem to make sense that they should stay open all night long, but maybe they get a big influx of customers when the bars close at 2AM. Or maybe the two joints are in a life and death struggle to survive. If one offers something, the other feels compelled to offer something similar. This will either end with both of them retreating to some smaller number of hours that will generate enough revenue to stay in business. Or one of them will collapse and close.

Embraer E175 Regional Jet
Not hot breakfast sandwich at Omaha airport yesterday morning. We're flying on an Embraer 'regional jet'. 1500 miles and it's 'regional'. Pretty damn big region. It's small-ish. Only four seats across, but the aisle is wide enough to walk down, not like those skinny ass aisles they have on those damn 'Dreamliners'. Who gave them that name? And whose dream is it anyhoo? And how could you arrange it any better? With seven seats across and two aisles, what are you going to do? Make it six seats and one really wide aisle? Or six seats and two decent size aisles? I suppose you could do seven seats across and one decent aisle, but it would mean four seats together on one side of the aisle, which means that when the guy in the window seat has to use the john, three other people are going to have to move out of his way. The social pressure of having to make three people move so you can get out could lead to someone staying in their seat much longer than they should, which could lead to 'accidents' or possibly even long term health problems. (Look at that dude, he's so full of s*** that his eyeballs are turning brown. He musta got stuck in a window seat in one of those reconfigured Dreamliners.) The fuselage on those Dreamliners is just the wrong diameter. Or all seats need to be first class size.

The Famous Diving Elks
Good grilled tuna steak at the Diving Elk Wednesday night. I've been on a bit of a seafood kick ever since we went to Seattle. Usually I order beef, mostly because I like it but also because it's my god given right as an American to eat steak whenever I want and I intend to make full use of that right. Besides, I'm eating for all those people who can't get any beef due to politics and/or their uncooperative nature. But lately I've been ordering seafood. I cannot explain why.

Stoney Creek Inn Lobby, Sioux City, Iowa
The Diving Elk has a stuffed elk head hanging on the wall. The lobby in the Stony Creek Inn is kind of like being in a Cabela's diorama. They have a moose head hanging on the wall and a full size bison standing on a platform about the same height. And don't forget the giant fake trees or the piles of logs stacked by the gas fireplace. Kind of like Disneyland, completely fake and tourist-hardened Frontier Inn.

Grandpa was in the hospital when we got there, but they discharged him and sent him back to his retirement home that afternoon. A couple of hours later they send him back to the hospital, and then a couple hours later they send him back to the retirement home. He made a total of six trips that day which seems absurd. Are these folks incompetent? Did the presence of our of town visitors disturb the equilibrium and so their judgement? Or maybe grandpa is just in that gray area where there really isn't much they can do for him.

Socks packed into model of Kinnick Stadium. Iowa Hawkeyes birthday cake.
The whole point of this trip was to celebrate grandpa's 90th birthday. He's made it farther than any of my kids other grandparents. The others have all passed away. I think there might be (might have been?) some other relatives of my wife who lived longer. I seem to remember hearing about someone turning 95. Aunt Gladys, maybe?

Sleep Inn, Eppley Field, Omaha
We drove back to Omaha last night to catch our early morning flight. We stayed at a SleepInn near Eppley field. No place to wirte home about, but our room did have a cool semi-circular extension to the shower. And breakfast starts at 4AM, though I didn't get any. Instead I got the not-hot sandwich at the airport.

We all got approved for TSA pre-check, which means we get to go in the short line, which wasn't really any shorter than the regular line being as this is Omaha and not all that busy at oh dark thirty, and then the (middle-aged? older?) lady at the head of the line bawks at the metal detector. Whether she is afraid of radiation or is one of the new model cyborgs with the metal skeletons wasn't immediately clear.

Everyone was aboard and in their seat 15 minutes ahead of take off time so we got to take off a little early. Right now it is quarter to ten West Coast time and the captain has just announced that we have started our descent into Portland.

Contrary Exit
After the trip to Seattle and the trip to San Francisco (12 hours in a car is too damn long), the drives from Omaha to Sioux City and back were pleasant little pieces of cake. I did miss one exit on the way back to Omaha, or rather I took an exit I shouldn't have. It's not my fault though. Interstate 29 bends around to the right, but if you go straight, which is where the main route should go, you end up at a stoplight somewhere, which means a couple of miles wandering through a residential neighborhood until our smart phone navigation aid gets us back to the expressway.

The Man Of 1000 Insect Stings

The Man Of 1000 Insect Stings

I found this amusing little tale in my inbox this morning. Via Posthip Scott.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Car Troubles

Ford Pickup Truck Being Repaired
Stopped by Heaton Automotive today to talk to Eric about my broken pickup truck transmission and I spied this Ford pickup truck in the shop. What kind of repair requires lifting the entire cab off the chassis, I enquired. Cylinder head replacement was the answer. How bizarre. It used to be that a job like that could be handled by man with a box of wrenches working alone in his garage. Things have changed. I suppose that with the number of complex systems tied into the engine, and the engine compartment being shrunk, it's quicker and easier to pull the cab off. It obviously makes access to the engine easier. You shouldn't have to make a repair like this very often. For most trucks it might never happen.

Last week my truck went all the way to San Francisco and back without any problems, other than the air conditioning compressor blowing up. But then I got in the other day to go pick up some lunch and the automatic transmission quit. Driving down a quiet residential street and the dang thing shifts into neutral. Try second and it engages for a few seconds and then it disengages again. Fiddled a bit and not it seems to be working okay, but then I go around a corner and it just quits completely.

Cutaway Automatic Transmission
Looking on the internet I find one story about how it might be a cracked filter that is letting air into the hydraulic pump, which would pretty much cancel all motation. On the other hand, the truck has 150,000 miles on it. I had the transmission rebuilt once before when it had around 70,000 miles, so there is a good chance that it is just worn out. However, I've never had a transmission fail so completely and so quickly. Usually I get all kinds of signs and portents for weeks before it becomes undriveable, and then I can still drive it to the shop. This time it quit so completely I had to have it towed.

Replacing the transmission with a rebuilt unit and fixing the A/C would cost $3,500. Scrap value of the truck is about $300. If I decide to keep it, it is also going to need a paint job and a couple of dents fixed, not to mention a couple of tires, all of which is going to push the bill past the five grand mark. It might not be worth it. Meanwhile I have the Hyundai. Looks like it might be the end of the road for this truck.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Pic of the Day

A destroyed Japanese H8K flying boat is examined by men of the US Army - October 24, 1943
I plotted the location on Google Maps. There might be something there, it's hard to tell. The immediate vicinity is obscured by clouds and their shadows. This aircraft was built by Kawasaki. There is one left in a museum in Japan. Via Iaman.


Portland, Oregon, Air Quality, Friday, August 4, 2017
Driving into Portland Tuesday I wished I had some sunglasses, it was awfully bright. This was kind of odd, because when the skies are blue, like they were then, I don't need sunglasses. It's when it's overcast that I want them. I suspect this is because when the skies are blue, only a small portion of the sunlight is getting scattered. Most of it follows a straight line from the sun to the ground. When the sky is overcast, all the light is getting scattered and so you get light going in all directions, which means there is more light heading for your eyes.

The sky was a little hazy, which was kind of odd. You don't usually get hazy blue skies. Blue skies are usually very clear.

Then I started hearing that the air quality in Portland was very poor due to smoke from forest fires that are raging in Canada. Huh, who'd a thunk it, blue skies and bad air? Yesterday the air quality in Portland was worse then it was in Beijing, China, which is reputed to have some of the worst air pollution in the world.

I went for a short walk just before noon and while the air seemed fine, by the time I got home I wasn't feeling all that great. Matter of fact, I felt pretty crummy all afternoon. By evening time I was thinking that perhaps my allergies were acting up, so I took a Zyrtec. It didn't help. Then I got a headache.

Woke up around 2 AM and the headache is worse. I'm thinking this headache is bad enough that it might call for Oxycodone, but I don't want to use narcotics if I don't need to, so I took a Naproxen. I waited an hour, but it didn't help, so I took an Oxy. It's been an hour and the headache has abated. I'm actually feeling a little loopy.

It's a little unnerving that something undetectable can have cause me so much trouble. If I hadn't heard the reports I would just suspect allergies, and maybe it is.

We also had a heat wave this week. It got up to 105 yesterday, which is exceptional for Portland. In preparation for running the A/C continuously, I cleaned the electrostatic air filter. Since then you can hear sparks cracking continuously. I presume it is electrocuting smoke particles. Cleaning the air filter was a fortuitous decision.

Previous post on the subject.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Redding California, Part 3

Broken Serpentine Belt
It was lying in the bottom of the engine compartment. I pulled the broken ends (green squiggle) up so they could be in the picture. Notice the rubber debris embedded in the compressor pulley (center). I suspect that happened when the belt broke.
After we unloaded the truck last weekend, I pulled it out of the garage and parked it in the street. I noticed that the A/C pulley wasn't making it's usual screaming noises, but I figured it had just worn itself into a happy place. It wasn't until a couple of days later when I looked under the hood that I discovered that the serpentine belt had snapped. That was a lucky break! (heh) The A/C compressor bit the dust like 800 miles ago, and the belt could have decided to snap any time after that, but it held on until we got home. If I am going to be that lucky, I should have bought a lottery ticket. But with the way the gods work (the gods of the lottery, the gods of broken cars, the gods of highway travel, etc.), I probably wouldn't have won enough to cover the tow I would have needed if the belt had broken on the road.

Since we already had one major expense this week, I decided to put off the $700 A/C compressor replacement, but to keep the truck drive-able it needs a belt. A discussion on a Dodge truck forum clued me in that you can get a shorter belt that could be installed without engaging the A/C compressor pulley. So I went to NAPA and bought a belt for a truck like mine, but without A/C. Oops, no, it's too short. So I go back to forum, find where the part numbers for the 'special' belt is mentioned, and take those numbers to NAPA where the counterman is able to translate these numbers into a NAPA number (25-070901), which leads to a belt and a $7 refund. Whoo hoo!

I thought about replacing the compressor myself, after all I can buy a compressor kit from Amazon for a couple of hundred bucks. But then I still need a vacuum pump and gauges and while I could buy these devices for another couple hundred bucks, the quality is not all that great and I am liable to end up with a substandard installation that will have to be revisited in a couple of years. Better to belly up to the bar and let someone who knows what they are doing, and has the right equipment, tackle the chore. Besides there's the whole psychic agony thing that comes from contributing to global warming by releasing freon into the atmosphere.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Heart - "Barracuda" (1977)

This song has been popping up on YouTube recently. I remember it, of course, from back in the day. It's a great tune, but now when I am listening to it, I got to wondering just what the heck is she singing about? Never bothered me before, it was a hard rocking tune, and I was jammin', the FM radio in my car was my soundtrack. But now I listen to it and I am puzzled. A barracuda is a fast predator that lives in the sea. Has kind of a nasty reputation. Reading the lyrics (because half the time I can't understand all the lyrics and the other half of the time I get half of the words wrong) doesn't really get me anywhere. This story over on Ultimate Classic Rock explains that Ann Wilson was angry with some of the jerks she encountered in the music business, which sounds a whole lot like the Boss Hoss tune Monkey Business. The lyrics don't really make that clear. Actually they don't make a much sense, but hey, poetic license, use your imagination.

Then I'm reading in the Wikipedia article about how Sarah Palin used this as her theme song at the 2008 Republican National Convention, and I'm wondering 'are Republicans really that tone deaf?', but then I remember some other stuff I have read about why Trump is so popular, and I think I understand. They are just like I was, when I was busy and had a job. I didn't know or care what the song was about, I just liked it. It's only now that I am unemployed that I have time to think about such things. The whole thing with the Republicans and Trump is that they want a major change in our nation's direction and they don't care about any of these little chicken-shit issues that those persistent liberal reporter gadflies keep bringing up.. They want a change in direction and if they can't get the train to change direction they will be perfectly happy to derail it because they don't like the direction it is heading. Sounds like a culture war to me.

P.S. Heart is still in business, or at least they were in 2014.

Hit List

Malware Hit List
More from DEF CON. Where do they get these names? And why are there so many RATs? Via Detroit Steve.

London Edinburgh London

London Edinburgh London
This ride is 1400 km which is a fur piece on a bicycle, but these guys expect to cover that distance in five days, which means 175 miles a day, which is like 100 miles farther than I have ever ridden in one day, which is why I am not going on this ride. A remote correspondent is though, and he has a couple of things to say about it:
I’m leaving today at 5:40 p.m. from O’Hare, stopping for an hour in Reykjavik six hours later, then on to London in another three hours or so. Should arrive at Gatwick at 10:25 a.m. I’m staying at an AirBnB in Nazeing, northwest of downtown London. It’s billed as an apartment on the grounds of Harold’s Park, an equestrian center that occupies what was once King Harold’s hunting grounds. I’ll be there for a couple of nights, then leave Sunday afternoon to start the London-Edinburgh-London ride. If all goes to plan I will return to Nazeing the following Friday, sleep for a couple of days, then head down to Dover to catch a ferry to Calais.
From there, my current plan is to go Bruges, Ghent, and Brussels, then take a train to Paris, then another train to Rennes in Normandy. From there I’ll bike to Mont Saint Michel, then back to Calais, ferry to Dover, and ride back to London. Either on my way out or back I hope to stop in Canterbury for a bit. I plan to spend two or three days in London fairly close to Gatwick so I can pack my bike and arrive at the airport stress-free for my return flight at 11:40 a.m. on August 16. I’ll arrive in Chicago at 4:40 p.m., Katz will pick me up, and then back to work on the 17th.
This is a very loose plan. I’m taking a tent and sleeping bag, and have the Warm Showers and AirBnB apps on my phone. Pretty much everything is subject to change, with the exceptions of my flight times.
Just noticed a pull quote in the current issue of Adventure Cycling: “Adventure cycling is when a person feels some challenge, where they meet an edge and dig in and learn they can do things they weren’t sure they could.” I’m pretty sure this trip qualifies.
Via Indy Tom.

Packard Bell 920 TV Camera

Packard Bell 920 TV Camera
This ad is from 1964, which means the $780 price tag is more like $8,000, which kind of explains why every kid of the block didn't have one. From a story about One Man's Junk Mail archive. Via Posthip Scott. Photos of this camera on the set, back in the day, here.

Sailing and Sewing

Why We Sail--"Sewing Machines Comparison"
I enjoy this guys youtubes, sensible, informative, calm voice. - Iaman
The commentary alone is worth the price of admission, never mind the information.

Monday, July 31, 2017


My custom refrigerator dust getter. Made by taping a short piece of aquarium tubing to the end of a standard vacuum cleaner crevice tool. I used electrical tape to connect the two.
Our 25 year old refrigerator has given up the ghost. It's been leaking water, off and on, little drips and drabs for a month now. And a couple of weeks ago the freezer quit freezing. Yesterday I finally got a round toit and cleaned out the dust from the evaporator coils on the under side of the fridge. It was bad, I hadn't bothered to give it a thorough cleaning since we bought it. How can you tell anyway? Everything is painted black, and it's dark underneath there. I spent a couple of hours vacuuming, blowing dust with the air compressor, mopping up the mess the compressed air made and then doing it all over again. I even made a special tool to get through the outer grill of wires and tubes. I got a heck of a lot of dust out of there, and spread dust all over the downstairs. Put it back together, plugged it in and let it run for 12 hours. I felt for sure that getting the dust out would cure it, but such was not the case.

Our new fridge, a Frigidaire Gallery 22.6 Cu. Ft. French Door Counter-Depth Refrigerator DGHF2360PF
It used to be that in a such a case I would redouble my efforts until I had completely disassembled the fridge and rebuilt it to my exacting standards. Only then, when it still failed to freeze would I have  considered throwing in the towel. Maybe I have gained a little wisdom is my old age, or maybe I have just learned to listen to my wife, or maybe that is the same thing.

So we went to Hutchins TV & Appliance this afternoon and bought a new one. I find appliance stores are good for us because they have salesmen on hand who are willing to talk about their products. I don't care much for such conversations, I prefer a spreadsheet with the facts, but my wife is more verbal and she likes to talk about these things, and salesmen are perfectly happy to do that. Besides her concerns are different than mine. For example, at first she wanted black stainless steel, but defiant daughter talked her out that, for which I am glad. I suspect this 'black stainless' is fad that will last a couple of years until some really ugly examples start showing up. Might not be anything wrong with the finish, but it is new, and special, not 'standard', and therefor suspect.

Interesting thing about stainless refrigerators: stainless steel is not magnetic, so your cute little refrigerator magnets will not stick to the refrigerator door as they have been doing since time immemorial. Horrors! This cannot be! Well it is, and it isn't. Different manufacturers have taken different approaches to the problem. Frigidaire has backed their stainless steel skins with a sheet of regular steel, so the magnets still stick. Whirlpool (or is it GE?) concocted a special blend of stainless steel that is magnetic, so the magnets still stick. GE (or is it Whirlpool?) said phooey on this whole magnet business, we are the future after all, and integrated a touch screen into the door.

Poking around for an explanation, I found this:
Austenitic stainless steels (such as a typical 300 series) are non-magnetic, whereas martensitic stainless steels (such as a typical 400 series) are magnetic. - Brian Barnhart
Rumor has it that when consumer appliances with stainless steel skins first started to appear, they were prone to smudging, but now we have smudge resistant finishes. I wonder just what the heck they are doing to make them smudge resistant, and how thick is the stainless steel skin on Frigidaire refrigerator? I suspect it may be only a few thousandths of an inch thick, kind of like aluminum foil.

There is also a problem with ice dispensers in these 'portal' refrigerators. The top portion of the refrigerator is refrigerated, not frozen, but the ice dispenser is up there as well. How do you deal with this? You install a minature freezer inside the fridge. Some companies put them in the door, which limits their ice capacity. In our fridge, the ice maker and ice storage are in a box hanging from the inside top.

Intent, Intonation & Intelligence

Peter Dinklage (the dwarf actor) as Tyrion Lannister
We were watching Peter Dinklage (the dwarf actor) in The Game of Thrones last night. He is one of my favorite characters mostly because he seems to be pretty sharp. Is he really sharp, or is his part just written that way? And if Peter is really a dullard, would we still believe that he is a smart person because he sounds like he is smart?

I got to thinking about this this afternoon and it occurred to me that intonation produced by a person speaking might be an indicator for intelligence. Or perhaps it just indicates that the portion of your brain where you emotions influence your intonation is especially well developed.

I imagine an actor trying out for this role and he is rejected. When he asks why, judge and jury plays a tape of another actor they are considering for this role. Then they play a tape of the session they just concluded. The judge asks our candidate if he hears the difference and his reply is "no". And the judge tells him that is why he was rejected, i.e. because he does not hear the difference in intonation. He does not hear it because he is not that smart.

I am not saying there is a connection between intonation / infection and intelligence, just that there might be one. It might not be there except in our minds, our subconscious collecting information about everyone we meet, information like the way they talk and therefor how smart they are. But we've got zillions of years of spoken communication under our belts. There is a heck of lot of information that gets communicated in a face to face meeting. A great deal of who we are is determined by our cultural conditioning, things of such a subtle level that we are not even aware of their existence. Until we go visit another culture and find out stuff you find ordinary other people find hilarious and thing you find hilarious they find insulting. So there might be a connection and we are probably using it, totally subconsciously.

Presidential Whiskey

Glendronach - Signed by USA President Donald Trump - 1985 26 year old
I shouldn't be surprised by this, but I was. Via Bayou Renaissance Man.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Redding, California, Part 2

I took two days to drive to San Francisco to pick up younger son. It only took us one day to get back. Somebody was in a hurry to get out of California.

Lim's Cafe, Redding, California
It was really hot. It got up to 105 degrees in Redding Friday.

I got up at 6AM, showered, packed and was at Jonbert's by 7. We had reconnoitered the route the night before, after dinner. I've been to San Francisco before and I had Google Maps on my laptop, so with a some diligent studying I was able to find my way there. It did seem kind of far, but I live by the freeway, both literally and figuratively, so my travels usually consist of a short jaunt to the freeway, a period of zen autopilot on the freeway and then a short jaunt to my destination. Not this time. No freeway, it was all cross town traffic and it went on for dozens of blocks, dozens I tell you. I haven't driven that far in a downtown area since, umm, I suppose it was the last time I was there.

Front Door of 300 Hyde Street, San Francisco, California
I find a legal parking place a couple of spaces down from John's front door. We're a little paranoid about this, though I am not sure why. What can happen if I don't pay a San Francisco parking fine? Can the long arm of their law reach across state lines for such an infraction? In any case it's not a bad spot as far as distance to the front door, but there is a smear of shit on the sidewalk just there. We shortly get tired of walking the extra dozen paces and avoiding the shit stain so I pull the truck down to the corner and park in a red zone. I saw at least one police car come by, but they didn't seem to be the least interested in my flagrant infraction.

The apartment looked to be somewhat more organized than it was the night before, so maybe this is not going to be a disaster. We started loading stuff into the truck. The apartment was on the third floor. I made maybe a dozen trips up the stairs which was more than enough. Jonbert probably made 50. I was occupied with packing his stuff into the truck, which is just as well. He has got an infinite well of energy. Me, I am already tired just thinking about it. We got most of the stuff in the truck. We left a couch/futon on the sidewalk. I expect that some bum will have a cushy place to sleep for at least one night.

Fancy Building across the street.
I was impressed that someone would bother to high light the details on a building in this neighborhood. I do not understand anything about this area.
The sidewalk in front of the apartment is a hot spot for the homeless, and a person standing there is a target for their wheedling. Some of them are just begging, some are incomprehensible, and a few claimed to want a job. I'm working, this is an economy venture, so no, I am not hiring any help, not that I saw anyone who I thought I might be capable of carrying anything bigger than small bag of crackers. Didn't see anyone I would trust with anything more valuable either.

IKEA Mattress Foundation
We ran into a hitch when we discovered that the IKEA hex wrench that we needed to disassemble the bed frame had already been packed and loaded into the truck. Spend time on a fruitless search of stuff we hoped we were done with? No thank you. Stopped in the two bodegas on the corner. They had an impressive variety of stuff, but no Allen wrenches. I grab my bundle of tools (Vise Grips, adjustable wrench, 4-way screwdriver and pair of slip-joint pliers) and head back upstairs. The bed frame is wood. It has a fabric cover which comes off easily. Since the wood is covered when the bed is assembled, any damage I inflict on the wood frame will not be noticed. So I set to using my Swiss Army knife as a chisel and the Vise Grips as a hammer. I gouged out a space around of the heads of the countersunk lag bolts and then used the Vise Grips to grab the head of the screw and unscrew it.

We were loaded and on the road by 10:30. Stopped in Marin County to check my knots and the ropes and found that the chairs and table I had lashed to the top were doing their best to escape. The back of one chair had broken loose, but it had gotten stuck before it fell off. I redid the knots here. Just going around a piece once will keep it attached but not in place. The wind is relentless. The table and chairs had been pushed back a couple of feet in the few miles we had traveled so far. But the retied knots held all the way home.

Routes into San Francisco from the North
Traffic was heavy all the way to Mt. Shasta. Mostly it was flowing along. The section between San Rafael and Vallejo was kind of tedious with several patches of stop and creep. It was still better than going through Berkeley and going over the Bay Bridge. We went that way last time I was here and it was wretched. I don't know if my new route was any faster, but it didn't seem as bad, perhaps because there were only two lanes of cars creeping along, not a dozen like you get in the approach to the Bay Bridge.

Interstate Freeway at Emeryville
John was playing music with his smart phone. He is getting music beamed to his phone from Spotify via the cell phone network. This worked until we got in the Siskiyou Mountains on the Oregon border. My old truck has a cassette player and I have thing-a-ma-jig that looks like a cassette, but it has a wire dangling from it. Plug the wire into the phone and the fake cassette thing into the radio and we have tunes filling the air from my brand new, recently installed speakers. Did I know I was really going to need new speakers? I dunno, but it was a fortuitous decision I made.

Siskiyou Moutains
We got stopped for speeding somewhere north of Mt. Shasta. Mr. Highway Patrolman said we were going 84 in 65 zone. The speed limit for most of the route so far , which was in the flats, was 70 MPH. It was only when we got into the hills that it dropped to 65, and we had only been in the hills for short while, no more than an hour or two. The officer asks for our papers (you know, the regular car stuff). I didn't find an insurance card, but the officer asks me what company I am with, and that seemed to be good enough. Does this mean that they have a computer that keeps track of that stuff? And a copper can access that information from his car? Or was he using his own good judgement to let us slide? (Yes, of course it was good judgment. I am a good citizen after all, never mind what all those dirty commies are saying.) The best part was that he didn't give Jonbert a ticket, just a warning. I think it had some effect. I don't think he broke 75 MPH the rest of the way home.

Mt. Shasta, shot from the truck.
Somewhere about the same time the air conditioner started threatening to explode and, if not kill everyone in the immediate vicinity, at least render the truck immobile. I am not sure whether something inside the compressor broke, or whether the bearing in the compressor clutch failed. When the A/C quit on Thursday I had turned it off and I hadn't heard anything more from it. But now when I start the truck I hear this gawd awful cauter wailing from the under the hood. It sounds like something is really about to break. Well, if it breaks we'll be in a bit of a jam, but it ain't broke yet and it might not, so we push our luck and drive on. Besides we've been on the road for eight hours and we are road zombies. All we can do at this point is drive. It turns out all right. After a minute or so the screeching goes away. Or maybe we just can't hear it over the rock and roll which is turned up high so we can hear it over the wind buffeting we get from driving 80 MPH with the windows wide open. This happens most every time we stop, but we're in Oregon now so we don't have too many more stops to make.

When we got home we left the truck running while I made space in the garage for the truck. It was about quarter to 11 by now and we really don't want to unload the truck right now. I also want the truck in the garage in case the next time I need to start it the A/C really does explode.

Jonbert drove most of the way. He had been out whooping it up with his friends the night before and then had spent most of the night packing and cleaning. Claims he got a couple of hours of sleep. Now he moves his furniture downstairs and then he drives to Portland. (Okay, I drove for two or three hours somewhere in the middle.) I don't think I ever had that much energy, but maybe I just don't remember.

P.S. The apartment was about 300 square feet which tiny and the rent was $1600. While the place was mostly roach-free, the roaches on the sidewalk definite gave the place an unpleasant cachet.

Barrel Roll Redux


I am a little underwhelmed by this stunt. It first made the world stage when it was done with an AMC Hornet for the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun, and they made a complete barrel roll, not this most-of-the-way-and-land-kind-of-sideways like they did here.

Mercedes and Top Gear also did barrel rolls, but they did it in tunnels, not free flying through the air.

As for the Jag, I can't say as I am impressed. It's looks like they are following the industry wide trend of making cars more like appliances: boxy, utilitarian and ugly. I suppose that comes from the pressure of life in our modern world.

Via Road & Track.

DEF CON, Part 2

I think this must be a promotional poster for a DEF CON workshop. Detroit Steve is there in Las Vegas this weekend. The book Start-Up Nation is available from Amazon. Previous DEF CON post.