Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Monday, August 21, 2017



Another serial killer murder mystery on Netflix. This one is set in the Basque region of Spain where it apparently rains all the damn time. I mean it's worse than Portland. The story is complicated by a Basajaun, a Basque version of bigfoot, and by the lead detective's bad-crazy family. It's a pretty good story, it moves right along. There are some mystical elements (like the Basajaun) that happen along the way, not enough to interfere with the story, but enough to make you wonder just what the heck is going on. Weird shit happens in these remote mountain villages, you know. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a sequel to examine some of the stuff that was uncovered, but unresolved.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Infernal Bureaucrats

Florida Turnpike toll gantry Bird Rd 7402
I got a bill in the mail from California for $7.75. It's the toll for driving over the Golden Gate bridge. They still have toll booths, but you don't have to stop anymore, they just take a picture of your license plate, look you up in their computerized database and send you a bill. Evidently, it even works across state lines because I have Oregon plates on my truck.

When I went to Miami earlier this year, I saw several signs advising that license plate cameras were at work collecting tolls. My car was a rental, and the charges eventually showed up on my rental bill. It was less than $10 for ten days of driving around Miami.

My Citi card was refused at Costco today. Seems I haven't paid my bill. Well, where is it? I've been looking for it but all I've seen have been promotional mailings offering to lend me even more money. So I call them and I get a pleasant sounding robo-cop, but no matter how loud I yell she can't understand me. She won't shut up either, she keeps yammering away about some useless information (supposed to fry my imagination). I give her two chances and she fails on both so get me to a real person you stupid shit. It takes persistant hammering on the keypad and yelling to get a connection to a real person who then wants to play 20 questions. Screw you, Citi bank. You want your money, send me a bill.

The credit card problem sent me over the edge. This is like the first week this summer without some kind of catastrophe and I was finally thinking that maybe I could relax and then this bullshit happens. I mean, what happened to the frickin' bill? I could have misplaced it, or someone along the delivery chain could have lost it, but that has never happened before, so why would it happen now? Especially since I know it's liable to be a big bill and I've been watching for it. So no, it didn't get lost on the way. Stupid Citi failed to get it out the door. I suspect all large corporations are evil (they aren't intentional evil, they are just big, relentless machines that have replaced thinking with blind, rote obedience), and in this case evil Citi bank screwed up. I am almost willing to bet that someone clicked on the little check box that signed me up for paperless billing. God damn commies.

Babbitt Bearings

Road & Track has a good story about how internal engine bearings were made before WW2. When people put their collective minds to work, there is nothing they can't accomplish, like terrorize and subjugate East Asia, or stomp the Axis powers into the ground, send a rocket-ship to the moon, or build a modern automobile. The automobile's success has been due to 1) the inventors ability to hide the myriad technologies behind a facade of shiny paint on a well-shaped tin can, 2) it's ability to stream high-resolution, real-time video past your eyeballs, and 3) save time.

And there are a bunch of technologies involved in the production of a modern automobile. I used to know what they all were, but now I'm not so sure. I wouldn't be surprised if more PhD's were granted for new automotive technology than for any other technology related subject.

Make no mistake, one of the reasons the automobile has been such a success is because people like going for a drive and watching the landscape stream by.

A copy of the story can be found here, in the case the R & T link goes away.

The Fall

Gillian Anderson as DSI Stella Gibson and Jamie Dornan as serial killer Paul Spector
We finished watching all three seasons last night on Netflix. It's not a great show, like an over-the-top James Bond or Tom Cruise thriller, but it was pretty good with lots of interesting bits. Gillian X-Files Anderson plays the lead detective, imported to Belfast from London to review a politically charged murder case and ends up running a task force to track down a serial killer.

The case is difficult because the killer, when he isn't killing people, appears to be an upright citizen of the community, a taxpayer, homeowner and a devoted family man. In other words, he's the favorite kind of killer to be found in a fictional story about murder, i.e. a psychopath.

Stella is a stone-faced hard-ass, which is kind of what you would expect of a woman, or even a man, with this kind of job. She does have sexual needs which she satisfies with various coppers. Well, we don't know if she is satisfied, she doesn't let on, but at least she is going through the motions.

There are some bits that were well done, better than I've seen before:

  • the scene in the emergency room when a shooting victim is brought in. Lots of grisly detail.
  • Stella asking for 1.5 million (pounds? Euros?) to fund the task force. First time I've heard someone put a price tag on something like this, in fiction or in real-life. Given that you want a fair number of competent people to spend their time looking for this guy, and it is liable to take a while, that might be a reasonable number.
  • the number of people and cars involved in surreptitiously following someone. Law & Order sometimes makes mention of it in some of their cases, but here we see the entire army of coppers dodging around, working the radio, passing off surveillance from one follower to another.
There were a couple of small side stories that could have made an episode all by themselves, but were here just to flesh out the story and / or provide a little local color.
  • The underage teenager who fixates on Paul as the love of her life. Is she a bad example, or do all teenagers go through a period of insanity? 
  • a group of IRA thugs who show at the most inopportune moments.
  • a children's home where a pedophile ring was uncovered some years ago. (There were a couple of such real-life cases.)
We started out paying attention to what was happening in the show, but by the time we got to the end it was the feeling I got that was important. Things are happening, but the whole tone / feel of the show was more significant. It was a lot like True Detective that way.

Thug Culture

TONY SOPRANO by JaumeCullell
Different people have different abilities. Some people are smart, some people are athletic, some can sing, some can dance. There are a zillion different scales that you can use to measure a person's abilities.

People are competitive, they want to show they are better than other people in some way. It's an instinct that derives from our sexual nature. Reproduction is our primary purpose and in order to do that you need a partner, and one way to get a partner is to impress him or her with your amazing ability to do that amazing thing you do. For some people, beating other people at some endeavor is the only thing that matters, and for some of those hyper-competitive people society's rules don't matter.

Most people are law abiding, productive members of society. A few are not, but it's those few who garner all the attention. Go to work every day for 40 years, work diligently, keep your head down and it's very likely you will never make the evening news, and most people are fine with that. But shoot someone on a downtown street and within a day everyone will know your name.

Near as I can tell, the Democrats are all for trying to help out the underclass by rooting out institutional discrimination, giving them an education and helping them become productive members of society. The Republicans are all about stamping out the thugs. The Democrats, being bleeding heart liberals, are helping everyone and not discriminating. The Republicans, being hard asses, are condemning everyone who even looks like they might have talked to a thug once upon a time. They are not discriminating either.

Thugs are like cockroaches. You can never really get rid of all the roaches in your house, all you can do is wage a continual low-level war against them. Cleaning, sweeping, exterminating.

Black lives might matter, but last year all we heard about regarding that movement were riots, violence and looting. I suspect that the level of media coverage on those incidents pushed a number of people over to the Law & Order camp, which is how Trump got elected.

The problem with thugs is that they, like Islamic Jihadists, mix with the general population, so unless you have specific information, they can be difficult to root out. I think this may be why church used to be such big part of life. Everybody went to church, everybody recited the hymns, everybody prayed to god. If anything bad ever happened in the community, the community first looked at those people (if there were any) who hadn't been going to church. It was sort of a vetting process. It didn't always work, there is always going to be the odd psychopath who can put on a civilized face but is secretly committing the most heinous crimes. But for the most part it worked.

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.