Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Mossad 101

#TNTSeries | Mossad 101

Started watching this series on Netflix last night. In Hebrew, I guess, with English subtitles. The above trailer I think has been dubbed in Portuguese. It might be realistic, I dunno. Being a spy requires a certain interpersonal skills that not everyone has. James Bond might make a great movie, but there aren't too many real-life James Bonds out there who would be willing to work for MI-5, or is it 6?

The only problem I have with the show is that the subtitles are often only on the screen for seconds which makes it tough to read them. I spent a lot of time rewinding and replaying.

Stuff In Space

GLONASS Satellite Orbits
From Stuff In Space
Stuff In Space is pretty cool. Shows you everyting that is currently in orbit, including satellites, discarded boosters and debris, but no pigs. NASA had something similar but it has gone away. You can pick and choose which orbits you want to see. I was surprised to see that GPS and GLONASS (the Russian GPS) were so far out. I thought they were all in LEO.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

SBIRS - Space-Based Infrared System

SBIRS Mission Overview - Lockheed Martin

Took a little digging to find out who was actually watching out for missile launches, but I eventually got here: SBIRS.

Folding Bicycles

James May in Italy
I'm watching an old episode of Top Gear (Series 19, Episode 3 from 2013) on Netflix last night and at the very end James May unpacks a folding bicycle from his suitcase and sets off in pursuit of Richard Hammond. That was a surprise because until then I had no idea he was packing a bicycle.

Montague Paratrooper Folding Bicycle
Then today I come across an ad for this folding bike that the U.S. Military uses. Heck, two incidents in less than 24 hours, that's a blog post! Montague got a grant from DARPA to design this bike. You can buy one from Amazon for $900.
Montague Paratrooper, folded

World War I Italian Bersaglieri with folding bicycles
A little more digging turned up this picture from World War I. The coaster brake came from the military.

If you haven't had enough, here is an extensive web page about military bicycles.

North Korea Missile Launch

North Korea Missile Trajectory
North Korea's latest missile splashed down in the ocean 600 miles away from where it was launched, which doesn't sound like it is going to threaten anyone except their immediate neighbors. But then I read that it reached an altitude of 2800 miles. Could that be right? Or is it just a misprint? Turns out 2800 miles is correct. If North Korea altered the trajectory of this missile, theoretically it could reach halfway around the world, which puts just about everyone at risk.

I wonder how our satellite minders cope with this. Guess I better go check.

Net Neutrality

Is $10 a month for Netflix too little?
Some people are making a bunch of noise about Net Neutrality and how the FCC is in the pocket of the big internet companies. Then I came across a post about how what the FCC is doing is rolling back some regulations made over the last few years that have essentially restricted internet freedom. The arguments are a little complicated and given the amount of heat and noise, very partisan. Given that atmosphere, I'm not inclined to believe anything anyone is saying on the subject.

But it got me to thinking, and that led to trying to sort out the economics of the internet. Cable, whether coax or fiber-optic, seems to have an almost unlimited bandwidth. In a city with a million people and a thousand channels of broadcast it is almost certain that every one of those channels is being watched by somebody.

Installing the cables is a big expense. Stringing wires from poles and running lines into houses might only cost a couple of hundred bucks per house. Running fiber underground probably runs closer to $1,000, but you don't have the annual tree trimming expense or weather or other above ground mishaps to worry about. If you are looking at a 50 year timeline, you can see how the underground route could appeal to the capitalist investor.

But that's only part of the deal. You still need the equipment to pump your data into those cables and that means some kind of modem for every freaking channel. And then there are repeaters and boosters and who knows what all kinds of fancy commercial electronical gizmos are needed. I can see where a central distribution / collection point for a citywide network could easily cost $100,000. I guess in the overall scheme of things that's a pittance. If it costs on average $500 to hook up a residential customer, and 10% of the population in a city of a million people is connected, it will have cost $50 million to get them all connected. A hundred grand for a central hub is peanuts in comparison.

And then there are the shows that are broadcast, and their production costs. And advertising. And subscriber fees. The amount of money being thrown around is stupefying and it changes drastically every microsecond. Good luck trying to sort that out.

We're spending $175 a month for TV and hi-speed internet. We follow a couple of sports teams and that is basically all the TV we watch, unless you count the times we occasionally veg out in front of the tube. Now it might be possible to get those specific teams over the internet and save some money, but sorting that out is a colossal pain. Yes, you can get some of them here, and you can get some of them there, but finding someone who can give you everything you want is almost impossible. Well, not impossible, it just takes more than five minutes. which is all the time I am willing to spend on it. I have a low tolerance for useless information. Cable TV (Frontier Fiber-optic) gets us everything we want. It's expensive, but it works, and I don't have to read any legal boilerplate.

I suspect cable TV, like most big American businesses, is all about making money hand-over-fist. If someone in this business isn't making money fast enough, they might very well be tempted to go into illegal drug trafficking, another great American money machine.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Steigerwald Knives

Steigerwald Steampunk Knife
Stefan Steigerwald makes some very odd knives. Some, like the Steampunk Knife shown above, don't look particularly useful. They are more like mechanical works of art. From Germany.

The Cardigans - Erase / Rewind

The Cardigans - Erase / Rewind “Director's Cut”

This song kind of crept up on me. I start up YouTube and it starts playing tunes and this one must have come up often enough for it make an impression, and the impression was favorable. Kind of like listening to the radio back in the bad old days. I haven't actually watched the video all the way through. If YouTube is playing on a hidden tab, is YouTube still sending the video down the wire?

Thursday, November 23, 2017


There are some great landscape shots in this show. 
Started watching Godless last night. It's a mini-series on Netflix. The trailer is pretty awful. The show is pretty great. Lovable Jeff Daniels has the role of the murderous leader of a gang. Michelle Dockery (the prima donna from Downton Abbey) runs a ranch with help from her son and a Paiute squaw. I only know it's her because my wife told me. I didn't recognize her. The Guardian has a review. IMDB listing here.

Portions of Colorado & New Mexico, from Utah/Arizona on the West to Oklahoma/Texas on the East. Colorado Springs is near the top, Santa Fe near the bottom.
Creede & LaBelle, two places in the show are orange. Big cities are blue. Narrow gauge railroad is green.
Update: Finished watching this series. It only took us three nights. If there is a lesson to be learned from this show it's keep your damn doors closed.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Pic of the Day

Artist's impression of Oumuamua
The space jocks are pretty sure it is just passing through our neighborhood and is not in orbit around the sun.  It's estimated to be 400 meters long, which is pretty freakin' small. Makes me wonder how it was defected in the first place. Probably by a computer program that noticed one pixel was not the same as the ones in previous photos.

They also tacked a funny accent mark on the front of the name. Like that's going to make a difference in how people pronounce it. Well, it makes no difference to me. Besides, I am unlikely speak its name, and if I do, who will know if I am saying it wrong? Certainly not me.

A little more pointing and clicking turned up this video.

Animation of `Oumuamua passing through the Solar System

The trajectory of this thing reminds me of nothing so much as Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama. It could be just a coincidence that it came so close to our Sun, but if you want to believe in aliens, it sure looks like it was aimed there with the intent of altering its trajectory. Where is Flash Gordon when we need him? Well, it doesn't matter because we couldn't have caught it if we wanted to. It's traveling at over 20 miles per second. The only spacecraft that have ever gotten up to that speed are interplanetary probes that we sent sunward, like Cassini.

Via Indy Tom

Killer Bots

UPDATE: THIS IS FAKE NEWS, though it certainly could be possible in the new future.

The text on the opening screen from another video that uses this same clip:
StratoEnergetics LIVE STREAM
Buenos Aires Event
TV Truck 02
I've cut the video off just past the 2 minute mark because I don't know what the rest of it is. The first couple of minutes look like a real presentation of a real product, and it's scary enough without tacking on a bunch fake news for the sake of fear mongering.

The guy on the stage must have a great deal of confidence in his company and their product. I don't think I'd even want to be on the same planet with one of those things. Oh, wait, I already am. I don't like this, not at all.

There might not be any effective countermeasures available right now, but I am sure people will be working on them. Shotgun might work. Really big Styrofoam helmets might work. Butterfly nets. We shall see.

Via Detroit Steve

Update: previous post about another swarm of military robot drones.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Grace Marks

Alias Grace | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

We've started watching this mini-series and it's pretty good. Grace Marks emigrates from Ireland in the mid 1800's and gets a position in a fine house in Toronto. Just the story about what her life was like is fine, but then there's the murder, and we have to find out how that happened. At this time Canada has just suffered a couple of failed rebellions, so there's a little politics in the mix as well.

The Blue Diamond Affair

Saudi Blue Diamond
A comment on my previous post got me looking into this. It's quite the story involving royalty, peasants, theft, murder, corrupt government officials, fouled diplomatic relations and it's been going on for 28 years. Wikipedia has a summaryVice News has slightly fuller story (2 years old).

While I was poking around I also came across this entertaining story about another blue diamond.

Necklace Repair

My wife brings me this necklace, telling me that the chain is screwed up. I look at it but I can't find anything wrong, so she explains that the pendant is supposed to slide on the chain, but somehow it has gotten hooked onto one particular link and doesn't slide anymore. So I look a little closer.

The ring that connects the pendant to the chain  (shown edge on in the above picture) is not solid, there is a tiny break in it that is held closed only by the strength of the ring. This break has widened just enough to let one side of one of the flat links slide through, which has effectively trapped the ring on that link. The cure is to slide that one side of the link back through the gap and then squeeze the ring a bit to close the gap. However, slide the other side of the link through the gap and it will come completely off the chain. A little topological puzzle that had me scratching my head for a couple of minutes. Of course, it didn't help that everything involved is so frigging tiny and my eyes aren't as good as they used to be. I need some magnifying lenses if I am going to do any more of this kind of work.

The three colors of stones in the picture were a complete surprise. In real life they are all the same color as the center stone. I suppose the having the flash go off right three inches in front of it might be the reason for the colors showing differently. It's only costume jewelry. If was made of real gemstones the ring would have been solid and there would not have been a problem.

May the (Virtual) Force be with you

But beware, it might be agin you.

I tried to post this music video on Reddit, but was refused by their bot who pointed out that this video has had 12 million views, which surprised me because I had never heard of these guys. Of course my ears are shielded from most sources of noise, so I guess that is not surprising.

On the other hand, this tune, which I like as much or maybe more, has fewer than a thousand views. As Marcel points out, there are forces at work in the virtual world that we are completely unaware of.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Roberta X has the Right of It

I've been out wandering around on the interwebz, and there is a great of carping, pissing and moaning about this that and the other, and frankly, I've heard enough. Roberta X posted an excellent summary on her blog a couple of months ago and I haven't seen anything better, so I'm reposting it here, even though she got mad at me the last time I did it and promised not to do it again, but dang, everybody needs to hear it. So here it is:
     Not up to anything too blamed fancy this morning.  The extent to which people are willing to carry water for utterly odious ideas, groups and systems of governance that have already been tried and found to result in pain, misery and death, often directly at the hands of what passes for government, depresses me.
     Look, Churchill was right.  "Democracy" in its various forms as seen around the world today sucks; but it sucks far less for more people than any other system.  "Freedom" is messy, ugly, undisciplined; the only thing worse is government control of the press, of what you can do or say in public.  "Capitalism" is a huge mess -- people often wind up working for lousy wages, employers often end up with lousy workers, distribution of material goods is uneven and it only too easily corrupts or becomes corrupt itself -- yet it has improved the lot in life of more people, more rapidly, than any other system of economics that has been tried.
     Democracy, freedom, capitalism: all deeply imperfect.  Sloppy.  Messy.  Inelegant. But they're better than any of the alternatives, by direct and bloody experiment.
     People died finding this stuff out.  They died in droves, desperately.  They didn't volunteer to be a part of the experiment.  They died of wars and autocrats and needless shortages, they died of prejudice and superstition and because it was easier to ignore them to death.  They're still dying of it and you can read about it in the news any day of the week.
     And yet we're still having to argue -- and worse! -- with dewy-eyed idealists and cold-eyed haters about ideas that were shown to be horrible nonsense when their grandparents were in diapers.
Roberta can hate me if she wants. I still love her.  I think it's safe to say that, she lives a couple of thousand miles away, I don't expect to see her anytime soon.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Genesis Ether Mining

Building a Cryptocurrency Mining Farm / Genesis Mining #EvolveWithUs - The Series Episode 2

I put $120 into Genesis Ether Mining a couple of months ago. I've been checking periodically to see if it had produced any results, but nothing has shown up. They seem to be a new outfit that is having normal start-up problems, so I cut them some slack, but like I said, it's been a couple of months so I inquired, and now I have some numbers. Since they sat on my money for a month to ensure that it was legit and not some from some scammer, the money has only been at work for a month, but in a month it has produced $5.38. Theoretically speaking. To actually get the money, I have to transfer it to an electronic 'wallet', and from there I should be able to get actual moola.

I dutifully set up the wallet, but nothing had gotten transferred. Seems there are transaction fees, so Genesis doesn't transfer any funds until you have at least $15 to transfer.

Anyway, $5 a month times 12 months is $60, so in two years I should double my money. Assuming of course that this whole thing doesn't collapse like the house of cards it is.

The numbers on the Genesis website don't give you the total, so I copied the numbers (no, I didn't copy them down by hand, I used a mouse to highlight the data and then used Ctrl-C to copy them) and then pasted them in a Google spreadsheet and then used the sum function to add the numbers up.

Had a bit of a problem with the dates. Genesis, being in Iceland uses a European date format: day, month, year, which might be fine in Iceland, but it doesn't cut it in my little corner of the world. So I fussed and farted and looked in the help, but nothing seemed to work, so I ended up writing a nasty little function to take apart the old date and then put it back together the way I wanted it, something like:
When I was done, I was going to go back tell them that one of their supplied solutions didn't work, but this time I found an answer that said date and time formats depended on location, and I didn't want to open that can of worms, so I stopped.

Genesis Mining website

Update an hour later. Replace picture of cool computer with Genesis video because it has a view of their campus.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

You're In The Army Now

How Did He Look & You're In The Army Now with Abe Lyman and His Californians

Comrade Misfit posts a video that starts with a snippet of this tune and boom, old memories pop up. My dad used to sing this song, or snatches of it. Finding a straight up version from the old days took some looking. A number of people have reimagined the tune with all kinds of different music, none of which I have ever heard.
You're In The Army Now
Performed by Abe Lyman and his Californians; V ocals by The Chorus
Recorded November 27, 1940

We're in the Army now.
We’re not behind a plow.
We’ll never get rich diggin’ a ditch.
We're in the Army now.

We're in the Army now.
We're in the Army now.
We'll never get rich on the salary which
We get in the army now.

We're eating Army grub.
And let me tell you bub,
We know what it means
They're feeding us beans
We're in the Army now.

We're marching everywhere.
It's getting in our hair.
We follow the rules
and follow the mules
We're in the Army now.

We're in the Army now.
We're making dough, and how!
On twenty-one bucks
Who says we're bucks?
We're in the Army now.

We left our wives behind
I wonder if they mind?
Who gives a hang?
We're with the gang,
We're in the Army now.

No more we'll have to hear,
"How late will you be, dear?"
We go where we please.
And do what we please.
We're in the Army now.

We're happy as can be.
Have lots of company.
The cooties at night
Drop in for a bite.
We're in the Army now.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese on the set of Goodfellas
Kirkorian writes about Martin and Raging Bull and some kind of kerfluffle about which movie is better than which. Some people seem to think Raging Bull is a great movie. I hated it. It might be a very well made movie, but the hero was an effing jerk, and I don't need that kind of crap. I suppose it's good to have a movie that portrays an effing asshole for what he is, but I ain't gonna watch it. I've run into enough real life jerks that I don't need any fictional ones. Why anyone would willingly watch this movie is beyond me.

I have seen several of the movies Martin has made, and all of them, except Raging Bull were pretty great. Although I didn't watch the entire movie, I included Raging Bull on this list to show where it fits in the chronology.

Martin Scorsese
Producer | Director | Actor | Other
Born: November 17, 1942 in Queens, New York City, New York, USA

Robert DeNiro was in four of these films, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joe Pesci (professional twerp), Frank Vincent (typecast as a gangster) and Charles Scorsese (Martin's father) were in two each.

Villains and Heroes

Hidden Figures | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX

Hidden Figures is about colored women working for NASA at the beginning of the space age. We watched it this evening on HBO-GO.


I have a problem with my eyes. Every time something good happens they start leaking water. While we were watching this movie this evening I don't think they ever stopped. Kind of annoying. It's 1961 in Virginia and segregation is still a fact of life. Colored folks ride in the back of the bus, there are separate restrooms and water fountains for whites and coloreds. I'm feeling a little privileged right now, I never ran into any of that. 'Course I never lived in the South, nor in any neighborhoods that were not almost exclusively white. Wait, that's not true. I did live in a black neighborhood in Houston for maybe a year back around 1975.

Actors Main Characters


I finally gave up on The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It's a pretty great story, except for a couple of barbarians who keep appearing and causing all kinds of grief. Stupid and brutal is their short and complete description. The book is like a thousand pages long and I only have about 100 pages to go, but when the big shithead reappears for the umpteenth time I finally decided I had had enough and put it down.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Hillbilly Moon Explosion - My Love For Evermore

The Hillbilly Moon Explosion - 'My Love For Evermore' (ft. Sparky from Demented Are Go) (Full Video)

The plot looks like a double cross, or maybe even a triple cross. The bullet through the radiator looks like a good trick, more likely to be effective in stopping pursuit than trying to shoot the driver, which is what the hotheads in Hollywood movies do. It is almost impossible from a moving car, unless you have a machine gun. A single gun shot is unlikely to be noticed, and if it goes through the grill instead of the hood, it may never get noticed.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Searching & Sorting

Space Needle or Cloud City?
I recently realized that were some things you could do with the C library sort (qsort) & search (bsearch) functions that can make them more useful. bsearch will run a binary search on a sorted array and return a pointer to the matching element, if there is one. If it doesn't find a match, all it tells you is that it didn't find it.

But what if you want to find an element with a value close to the one you want? The trick I just figured out is you simply add the element you want to use as a target in your search, run qsort on the array to sort it, and then search for that element. That will put you in the ballpark. Now all you need to do is check adjacent elements to see if they meet your criteria.

To delete this fictitious element, simple change it's value to the maximum possible for this item and then run qsort again. It will now be at the top of the list. All it takes to effectively delete it is to reduce the array's element count by one.

All this extra sorting will use some processor power, and if you were having to sort a gigabyte of data more than once a second, it might have an effect on your system's overall performance.

But if this is for any kind of desktop application, the ease of coding it makes it a worthwhile shortcut.

The last time I went down this road I wrote my own search function that would return the element with the closest value to my requested target. I also wrote my own insert and delete routines. I did this because when I went to school everything about computer programming was about saving CPU cycles. Beginning programmers got seven seconds of execution time on the mainframe. I screwed up once in a junior level class and burned my entire semester's allotment before the OS kicked me off. That rated some words from my professor.

I wonder why it took me so long to figure this out. I'm thinking it might because most of the programming work I did involved making things work, and there was no end to it. Well, I guess it did come to an end which is why I am unemployed. Computer companies eventually got their acts together and started building machines that worked when you turned them on, and software companies started producing software that people could use to do something useful. Took a while but they eventually got it sorted.

So I never got to work on anything that might have been more interesting than the nuts and bolts of getting the hardware to behave. Not that it wasn't interesting, but it was interesting in a picayune kind of way, not a cosmic, universe expanding kind of way.

Modern desktop computers are roughly ten thousand times faster than the old CDC 6600.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Kovacs - My Love

Kovacs - My Love

Kovacs (warning: autostart video) is from Holland, which might explain her accent. The video was put together by RadioUtopia (warning: autostart video). They seem to be trying to add some style, or maybe just match the atmosphere of the tune.

Update a week later. I got to thinking that the video might be from a movie, I mean it's got that movie star look to it. It's been bugging me, so I finally checked. Turns out it's from a DOLCE & GABBANA: Street of Dreams ad, which has got Martin Scorsese's name attached to it. Whut's up with that?

The Bodyguard

Show Clips: THE BODYGUARD Tour starring Deborah Cox

Went to see The Bodyguard at Keller Auditorium with my wife last night. Lead was Deborah Cox, who seems to be a recording star in her own right. I guess she's a good singer, doesn't do anything for me. The Karaoke scene was hilarious. Spotted one celebrity: the coach for the Blazers.

I recognized a couple of the songs, but most of them, to me, were just so much noise. Maybe because my high frequency hearing is not all it should be, or maybe because it's not rock and roll. I dunno, it's just weird. The songs weren't repulsive like most of the moronic hip-hop that seems to be popular with some people, but they didn't appeal to me either.

Pic of the Day

WW2 Island Paradise

Roman Space Sphere

I was thinking about orbital velocity and how it decreases as you get farther from Earth. For instance the ISS is traveling about five miles per second (4.7 miles/s), while communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit are only traveling around two miles per second (1.91 miles/s). The inverse is also true. The closer you get to the surface, the faster you must travel in order to maintain your orbit. How about if the Earth wasn't in the way? Imagine a point that possesses the equivalent mass of the Earth and therefor exerts the same gravitational attraction. Now we can reduce the orbit to almost nothing and our orbital velocity would increase exponentially (might not actually be exponential, but it would go up faster as the distance decreased) until we got to the center when it would become infinite. Or zero. Couldn't actually get there though because it would run into the point.

To get rid of the point in the center, let's try another approach. We cut the Earth in two, right across the equator, and separate the two halves by a short distance. And we get rid of all the air. Can't have anything interfering with our thought experiment. Now our orbital velocity will increase for a while as we get closer to the center, but then it will start dropping off because there will be more mass above us helping to hold us up. When we got to the center, our velocity would be zero.

Of course, we couldn't do that because we have no method of supporting a zillion tons force. So then I got to wondering how big a sphere could we actually build? Could we build one large enough that it's combined mass would create a gravitational field strong enough to hold it together? Hmmm.

Any amount of mass is going to have some effect on the gravitational field, so two rocks with polished surfaces placed next to each other in space are going to exert a microscopic amount of pull on each other, so barring any outside influence they should stay stuck together.

So I guess what I'm looking for here is, how massive could we build something with a hollow center? We aren't going to be able to hollow out the Earth, the center is molten iron. We are able to dig mines that go a mile or two into the Earth, but we need to blow cold air into them to keep them habitable, but 100 miles down the temperature is much hotter and the pressure is beyond our capabilities.

If we stick to one gravity, because that's how much force a Roman Arch can withstand, and because we would need a certain amount of force to hold this thing together, then maybe the question is how big of a hollow sphere could you make using the same volume of rock / iron that is found in our planet? Now the question becomes how thick do you want to make the skin? If the skin is a thousand miles thick, then the outer diameter of our sphere would only be about 7,000 miles, or about twice what is now. But a thousand mile thick skin is still going to have problems with heat. I suspect compression is going to generate enough heat to make it molten.

If we decrease the skin thickness to one mile, our outside diameter will roughly the same as the moon's orbit. At that distance, the force of gravity will have fallen off a bit, but not that much, so you could count on that force holding everything together. If you have that much gravity, then you should be able to have an atmosphere, but covering that large of a sphere would take an enormous quantity of air.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


We need a better model for human behavior. We have 'proper' behavior, the way civilized folks are supposed to conduct themselves in public, and we have a whole raft of psychos and wackos. The behavior of the later can make for some entertaining stories, but since they are relatively rare, and their behavior is so unpredictable, any knowledge you have about them is not going to very helpful in your day-to-day life.

I'm thinking we need a catalog of personality modules. I have noticed that some people have features of their personality that are very similar to a relative's, and not necessarily their parents, which means there is likely a genetic component.

We are a little better with physical traits. We can measure a person's height, weight, girth, shoe size, color of their eyes, length of their ear lobes and any number of other physical characteristics. But we could be doing better. Can a person snap their fingers? Spread their fingers like Mr. Spock from Star Trek? Wink with either eye? I fail on the first two, but I can wink okay. Some people can't. These are simple, and trivial, but I am sure there are numerous other physical tests whose results might be enlightening.

Personality 'modules' might be a little harder to qualify. Then again, psychologists may have already done this, but they are just not sharing their catalog with the rest of us. Or maybe I just don't circulate in those circles.

We had some coyotes prowling around the neighborhood a few months back, but I haven't heard of any sightings lately. It occurred to me that coyotes are kind of like grazers. They will come through an area and pick up the low hanging fruit, so to speak, and then move on. Once they've snapped up the unwary and/or disabled, there is no point in hanging around. Everyone else will have gotten wise to their presence and the pickings will be much slimmer. Better to move on to new pastures, new pastures with a new crop of unwary mice.

The Grifters (1990) Official Trailer - John Cusack, Annette Bening Movie HD

They are kind of like grifters that way. Grifters are always on the move and always looking for a new mark. Marks are few and far between, and you don't want to be seen in same area where a con was recently pulled. Someone might get wise and then things might get a little uncomfortable.

RV Dream

Zephyr RV
I wake up in bed with a girl. We're in an RV parked on a city street. We are both naked and the windows have no curtains. Fortunately there don't seem to be any people around. She wraps a sheet around herself and runs off. I wrap myself in a sheet but then I find a pair of shorts and put them on. This RV is like one of those big greyhound bus things. It is evidently new to me because I am checking out the curtains (blinds). I find one porthole-like window high up in the left side near the front. There is a small chrome crank for operating the shade that covers the window, except that, from the inside, when it is open it doesn't look any different than when it is closed. I decide that perhaps it has something do with when the sun is shining directly in this window. Whatever, moving on I find a hatch just to the left of the porthole. The leading edge pushes into the wall to access what looks like an airduct, so it must be a vent. Moving forward I find a small chest of drawers, like a spice cabinet, sitting on a built in shelf. There are two parts to the chest, an upper part sitting on the lower part. I accidently bump into the upper part and it moves. It moves because it is not bolted down, which seems kind of careless for being in a motor vehicle, but then I wonder if being as the bus is so big and massive, the ride will be so smooth that securing this chest would be unnecessary. Seems unlikely, but I can set a mostly full coffee cup in the cup holder in my pickup and drive around town without spilling a drop. So maybe this is okay.

Navigator's Table in a Halifax Bomber
Looking above the chest and to the right I notice a hatch high up in wall. It looks like it might give access to some storage space for luggage. However when I open it, I notice there is small room up there with a backwards facing seat, a window and some stuff (equipment? junk?). It's like a navigator's station from a WW2 era bomber. From what I can see it looks like there is just enough room for one person. I wonder why this is seat up there. Is it so someone can spy on the occupants of the vehicle? Weird, man.

That is all.

P.S. I couldn't find any pictures of one of these large RV's parked on a city street, because nobody ever drives them into town. They live out on the open road and in RV parks. That's how you know this was a dream.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Precendence Park, Ankeny, Iowa
Because I needed a picture for this post, and I really wonder what prompted this name choice.
There is an equation kicking around out there on the internet that is causing a fuss. It's a simple equation:
If you try to evaluate it, but you don't know and follow the rules of precedence, you might get the wrong answer. Depending on whether you divide or multiple first you could get 9 or 1.

There are rules for precedence. I think they are the same for computer programs and high school algebra, but I'm not be sure. (Teachers don't you fill me up with your rules.)

They made a big deal out of it at college when I was studying computer science, and maybe if you spent all day coding equations they would become second nature to you.

I've done a little bit of mathematical coding, so I've dealt with this problem and I don't like it, so I use parentheses. Parentheses overrule all other rules, so if you don't want your equation misinterpreted, load it up with parentheses. That way there can be no doubt as what you mean.

If I recall the rules correctly, they are:
  1. Parentheses
  2. Multiplication and division, in order, left to right
  3. Addition and subtraction, in order, left to right
So this equation: 6/2(1+2)
  • would be (1+2) = 3
  • 6 / 2 = 3
  • 3 x 3 = 9
But I also wouldn't trust it, so I would add parentheses, i.e. (6/2)(1+2)
and if you want to feed it to a computer you also need the symbol for multiplication, i.e. (6/2) * (1+2).

I don't know of any programming language that understands implicit multiplication, i.e. 2(3x).

Via Iaman

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Pic of the Day

Equipment used to monitor and assist heart and lung statistics during an operation
Looks old, maybe from the 1950's?
Prompted by dutiful daughter's visit to the OHSU cardiology catheter lab today (as an observer, not a patient).

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Pic of the Day

ISS transits the moon
ISS is the black splotch in the lower left quadrant
Some people caught sight of the ISS transiting the sun during the recent solar eclipse.

Via Reddit


Muons in the Cathedral
The first ten seconds give you some context, so pay attention.

Some science dudes think they have found a secret chamber in the big pyramid. They claim they used a muon detector. Muons? I haven't heard anything about muons in a long time. I just barely recognize the word as a name for some kind of sub-atomic particle.

There is something wrong with Muons. On one hand they weigh (mass) 207 times as much as an electron, but when they decay all you get is an electron and two virtually massless neutrinos. What happens to all the extra mass? Does it get turned into energy? We aren't talking about very much mass here. . . pause while we figure out just how much a muon masses.

First we find that the muon mass is:
105.6583745(24) MeV/c2
MeV/c is a no unit of mass I've ever hear of, but following the link takes us to a conversion formula that translates it into atomic mass units (u). 
1 u = 931.4941 MeV/c2
So we're dealing with something like one-ninth (105 / 931) of one atomic mass unit. If all that gets turned into energy, how much is it?

Well, Wikipedia's Elevtronvolt page translates electronvolts to joules, so we don't have to do the energy to mass to energy conversion. We go straight from one form of energy to another:
1 Electron Volt = 1.6021766208(98)×10−19 Joules
Call it 1.6 x 10^19. So:
1 Me (million electron volts) = 1.6×10−13 Joules
And the mass of a muon is worth
 106 x 1.6×10−13 = 170×10−13 Joules
1 Joule is equal to 1 Watt-Second.

A square kilometer contains one million square meters. 10,000 muons impact every square meter every second. In one second, ten billion muons will impact our square kilometer of land. In a day we'll have 86.4 trillion muons, which is 86.4 x 10^12. So in one day all those muons will generate one-twentieth of a Joule, or about one Watt for 5 milliseconds. Might be enough to make an LED flash. Guess we don't need to worry.

When I started searching for information about muons, I found a couple of people who claimed to have built muon detectors for cheap, but they didn't actually tell you how they are made. The muon detectors used in the video above, and in the pyramids don't just detect the muons, they also tell you what direction they are coming from. You could do that with home made detectors, if you could find out how to make them. They would just need to be very small and you would need a bunch of them.

Saturday, November 4, 2017


Our dishwasher started making stinky smells, stinky like in burning electrical insulation. Well, this can't be good. It could be that some electrical component had failed and replacing the offending part may fix it. Or it could be that some other component, like the motor, has developed a problem that caused the suspect component to fail, in which case we won't really have fixed the problem and it will recur in short order. So if the motor is suspect, then we could replace the motor, but the motor for this 25 year old dishwasher runs $450. Okay, we're not going to do that.

Frigidaire Gallery Dishwasher
Thursday we made a return trip to Hutchins TV & Appliance and picked out a new dishwasher. Yesterday a couple of guys (Jerrod and Michael) from Portland Installation came by and swapped out the old one for the new. Dishwasher was $640, installation was $140.

First priority with my wife was that the new dishwasher should match the refrigerator we bought a couple of months ago. Friends of ours bought a Miele dishwasher because it's the 'best', and the price shows it: $1,500. No thanks, I don't need some overpriced, over-gadget-ified European fashion piece. Plain old 'merican fashion is good enough for me.

I do like the handle on the Frigidaire, it's just a very smooth curve. Some appliances these days go for the industrial style with big squarish brackets holding the handles. Cool until you run into one with your hip.

Style seems to be about the only feature that is different on the dozen or so dishwashers Hutchins had on display, which shouldn't be too surprising since most of them are all made by the same company. Our old Kitchen-Aid dishwasher was made by Hobart, the commercial food equipment company. They got out of the consumer end of the business a few years ago. Now Kitchen-Aid, Kenmore, Whirlpool, Jenn-Air, Maytag and IKEA are all made by Whirlpool.

Jerrod gave me a brief overview of the features and controls. Because it's new and modern, the dishwasher has a little display (the green number 30 in the picture above), that shows things like status messages and how much time is left on this wash cycle. Normal wash cycle now runs for over three hours! I don't think our old one ran for more than an hour, but then I never timed it. It might have run for six hours, but I kind of doubt it. I think I probably would have noticed if it was running all frigging day long. Jerrod tells me that dishwashers now have a soak phase. They spray the dishes with water and then just let them soak for a while to loosen any crusty bits. I suppose this is in the name of energy efficiency, and I guess that's okay.

Once we open it up and start loading it we notice a couple of things that we might should have noticed in the store, not that it would have made any difference, since all the machines seem be made in the same pattern, even the Miele.  The door is taller, so when it is open it sticks out farther into the room, which means it blocks the aisle more than the old one did. The door is taller because the tub is larger, which means the lower rack is lower which means you have to bend over farther to reach it. The racks seem flimsier, but plastics have improved in the last 25 years, so maybe they will be okay. Now that I think about it, maybe taller is better. Loading dinner plates AND tall glasses in the old machine required a certain amount juggling to get everything to fit and let the upper spray arm spin freely.

We are planning on remodeling our kitchen sometime in the near future. The biggest problem is that the cheap lacquer finish on the cabinets absorbs water, so everywhere that people have regularly touched the cabinet doors, the finish has turned into a kind of gray goop. Refinishing would solve that problem, but we've been here 25 years and my wife wants a new kitchen. I mean, all her friends have new kitchens and she's feeling a little pressure.

If we go ahead with remodeling the kitchen, I am thinking we need to raise the dishwasher by about a foot., just to make access easier. Unfortunarely, we would then lose two feet of counter space. The space under the microwave is kind of cramped, so could combine the two appliances into one stack so we wouldn't be losing any prime counter space, but the dishwasher really needs to be near the sink, so we are going to be interrupting the counter. Bah. Maybe we need an elevator for the dishwasher so we could raise to a convenient height for loading and unloading and lower it when we need the counter space. Gah, that sounds like a Japanese solution. This is America, why don't I have enough counter space in my kitchen?

P.S. After we bought our refrigerator, we stopped by Lowe's for something and since refrigerators were on our mind, we took a look at what was on offer. Geez, they must have had a zillion. Made me glad we went to Hutchins. Too much freedom of choice can be overwhelming. The selection at Hutchins was entirely adequate for my purposes and it freed me from too much freedom.

Devo - Freedom Of Choice
DEVO's Freedom of Choice (link goes to original, un-embeddable, video) mentions
In ancient Rome
There was a poem
About a dog
Who found two bones
He picked at one
He licked the other
He went in circles
He dropped dead
So what was the poem?  A post on StriaghtDope points us to Burdian's Ass.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Science Fiction Now

US Fighter Jets Launch Drone Swarm of Hundreds of Micro Drones: Perdix Micro-UAV Drone Swarm Test
US fighter jets launch a swarm of 100 of micro drones during a Perdix micro-UAV test. The last part of the video shows a drone swarm of Loctus drones during another test. - paraphrased from the YouTube blurb.
Polular Mechanics has the story.

Reminds of nothing so much as the scene from The Day the Earth Stood Still (the remake) when the micro-bugs devour the Gort.

The Day the Earth Stood Still: Robot Attack Scene Clip HD

So who was this Perdix guy that the drone was named after?
Perdix was a nephew and student of Daedalus in Greek mythology. Daedalus had a sister who placed her son, Perdix, under his charge to be taught the mechanical arts. He was an apt scholar and showed striking evidence of ingenuity. While walking on the seashore, he picked up the spine of a fish, or a serpent's jaw. Imitating it, he took a piece of iron and notched it on the edge, thus inventing the saw.  - paraphrased from Wikipedia
Watching Ertugrul can be intellectually challenging, if you want to work at it. First of all there are the badly mangled subtitles. Then there is the character's habits of speaking in poorly translated metaphors and / or proverbs. That can be entertaining. But there is also a lot of day-to-day activity going on in the background, like a couple of guys sawing a log. Did they even have saws back then? Wikipedia says saws have been around for at least four thousand years, which puts it back in the ancient era, which means that, yeah, for sure, Perdix invented the saw.

Train RIde

Moby - Everloving

The video is a ten minute excerpt from the seven hour recording of the entire train trip from Bergen to Oslo. We've been to Bergen before.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Parov Stelar - The Princess

Parov Stelar - The Princess

The video comes from Sin City, the music is not. I saw the original Sin City, which, if memory serves, was a grim little tale.

I kind of guessed where the video came from, just from the look and feel of it. Then we get the sign for Basin City (2:37) and it was certain.

Parov Stellar has appeared hear before, though it only had one L that time.


THIS is Why The Sumerians are NOT Taught in School - Sumerian Tablets - Lost Ancient Civilization

I am not too concerned about why Sumeria is given short shrift in schools. The powers-that-be have their own agenda and unless you have your own army, fighting that is going to be a losing battle. I am a little curious about history and I do wonder if there might have been an advanced civilization before the last ice age glaciated a large part of the Northern hemisphere.

We've been watching Ertugrul, which is set in the same area about a thousand years ago. The story is that nomadic tribes have been living the same type of life for hundreds, if not thousands, or years. They have traditions, which are basically rules for living that have been proven to be beneficial to the survival of the tribe. Some of their rules might seem foolish or even stupid in the glare of modern life, but you can bet there were very good reasons for those things back then. You just have to adjust your thinking to compensate for the situation.

Eye Drop Commercial from Germany: Augen Vital Kapsel

Eye Drop Commercial from Germany: Augen Vital Kapsel

Via Cop Car's Beat wherein 3-ring binders are discussed. I have three book shelves of 3-ring binders. Half of them are full of old computer notes that I never look at anymore except on the rare occasion when I pull them out to see if there is anything useful in there. There isn't, but I put a lot of work into compiling them so there they sit. Half of the rest hold information about the house. I pull them out occasionally to look for something that might help with my problem du jour. I might have found something useful in there once.

I have a zillion files on my computer, okay, not really a zillion, but I've afraid to count them. Half might be source code for computer programs that I have written, most of which I wrote for entertainment purposes, i.e. to see if I could solve a programming puzzle, not for anything useful. Google provides all the application programs I need: the Chrome browser, Drive, Gmail and Blogger. I also have a zillion files on Google Drive.

I used to keep most of my stuff in file folders, but I eventually figured out that file cabinets are like write only memory: anything that went in there was never seen again. I still do paper for anything involving money, but it takes due diligence to keep the accumulated paper from becoming a mountain. I moved from file folders to three ring binders 20 odd years ago, and gave up storing any kind of technical information on paper about ten years ago, about the same time I got laid off and started this blog.

I still keep a pad of paper and a can of pens and pencils on my desk. I use it for quick figuring and making today's to-do list. Today I'm going to Freddie's and maybe Lowe's. We need some food and I have some home repairs to do. I am a little leary about buying parts for all the repair projects I have in mind (they aren't big, and the materials will cost less than $100) because I have a bad habit of intending to fix something, buying the materials and then . . . nothing. For months. So now I try to only buy what I am going to use today. I may end up making more trips to the store, and I might miss out on quantity discounts, but I already have one room chock full of stuff that is doing nothing but waiting for their turn on stage, which we know is never going to happen.