Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Why you shouldn't drive boats while sitting in your electric wheelchair and texting without being able to see over the dashboard.


Title derived from a comment on YouTube.

Via Iaman.

Let's Go Surfin'

Sebastian Steudtner at Nazaré - 2018 Ride of the Year Award Entry - WSL Big Wave Awards

YouTube has a zillion similar videos.

Nazare Canyon
The underwater Nazare Canyon is the reason the waves get so big here.

Via Posthip Scott.

Violet Ray

Violet Ray Machine instruction book cover.

Once upon a time, like the early 20th Century, before WW2, Violet Ray referred to a form of electrotherapy.

Spooky picture of Violet Ray electrotherapy wand

Joseph P. Murphy’s polygon-shaped filling station in LA 
 selling “Violet Ray” anti-knock gasoline.
Or gasoline.

Gas stations gave away roadmaps
Now it's a brand of women's handbags. I suppose it could even be a woman's name. I mean Violet is, all she'd need would be the last name of Ray.

Posthip Scott got me started with the roadmap.

In a Valley of Violence

In a Valley of Violence Movie CLIP - Get Away From My Dog (2016) - Ethan Hawke Movie

Another movie about a mining town that has gone bust. Not too great but not too bad. Quite the variety of characters, quickly sketched. Our hero is likely a deserter from the Indian wars. The local villain is an idiot. John Travolta is the very perceptive sheriff.

The move opens with a scene, and then we get the title and a bunch of credits with simple images in orange and black. The credits drag on for far too long. Very annoying. Put the title up at the beginning and be done with it.

Our hero eventually is forced, naturally, into cleaning out this nest of vipers, but every time he has one of them in his clutches, he waffles. If you subscribe to the Clint Eastwood school of revenge, you don't wait, when it's time to shoot, you shoot, don't talk. But maybe if your head is a little confused you might hesitate. Fortunately, someone else's 16 year old abandoned wife (!?!) knows when to shoot.


Started working on a coding problem over at yesterday. It seemed straight-forward enough until I got down to the real nitty gritty. We have a bunch of boxes that need to be loaded on a bunch of trucks. The boxes are all different sizes and weights and each truck needs to be loaded with about the same weight, so how do we go about figuring out which boxes get loaded on which trucks? My first thought was to use the same scheme you might use to add up all the numbers from one to one hundred: add the largest to the smallest. That worked fine until I found that some of the boxes are bigger than the average load for each truck, so that's going to tilt the scales a bit.

So we load each of the largest boxes onto their own truck, and adjust our average for distributing the rest of them to the remaining trucks. Continuing with my scheme, we pick off the heaviest boxes for our next truck until it would tip us over the average. Now we have four relatively simple cases, we just need to pick the one that will bring us closest to the average. We could:

  1. Leave it as it, so we'll be under.
  2. Add the next largest box, then we'd be over.
  3. Add small boxes while we remain under the limit, or
  4. Add one more small box and go over.
We could sort through all of the boxes and try and find the best combination that would bring us closest to the average, but that could take a lot of fussing, and there is no guarantee that you wouldn't end up with some combination of boxes that would be way off of our target. Besides, this is supposed to be gone quickly. If we had a quantum computer, solving this problem would be a piece of cake, but we don't, so I'm just gonna code this scheme up and see what happens.

Quote of the Day

Talking about airlines:
Please think, indeed, what this says about the sheer agony of Economy Class.
The seats are closer together than the eyes of a movie villain.
The seats are smaller than the mind of your average congressperson.
As for the legroom, well, it wouldn't even fit an average human head, would it? - Chris Matyszczyk
Via FlightAware

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword - Official Comic-Con Trailer [HD]

On HBO, directed by Guy Ritchie of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels fame. It's a little over-the-top. A little? Are you kidding me? It's way over-the-top. We've got the giant war elephants and the Black Tower from Mordor , dragons, a very good rendition of Cthulhu, sixteen different kinds of magic, and ancient Rome resurrected in Londinium. Plus we've got a hero who just wants to be left alone in the place he has carved out for himself in a society that it totally dominated by the world's worst tyrant. Very entertaining.

Friday, January 19, 2018


HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) stories from the North & South.

Uniberp reports on his latest home improvement project in Michigan:

Goodman  GMH80803BN Forced Air Furnace
I did pretty well last weekend replacing a central forced air 80k BTU 80% efficiency rated furnace.
About a year ago I purchased one online for about $500. Goodman  GMH80803BN.
It sat in the basement until Friday when the blower motor on the old one refused to start blowing.
I got my last dime outta that one.
The output flanges matched the sheet metal, so that fitted well. The furnace case is 5.5" shorter, so the whole thing is sitting on concrete blocks, off the floor, which is standard installation technique. I had to shorten the return plunum by 5.5" also, but that cut off nicely with a throatless electric shear.
Masterforce™ 12-Volt Cordless Metal Shear
...which is a tool I should have had 2 years ago when working on my steel roof.
Had one piece of 1/2 black pipe cut to length and threaded by the clerk at Home Depot, hooked up the gas line, color matched the wiring and humidifier transformer and it ran correctly.
The whole job took about 6 hours, once I got started in earnest Sunday about noon, plus a whole day off recovering from the effort, The house got down to 48 degrees, but I kept the basement/bed/bath warm with the pellet stove.
Now going to Muskegon with renewed confidence in re-building a downdraft crawlspace forced ari heating system. Hope to get out there this weekend.
Iaman relates a couple of stories from Texas:

Milwaukee Hole Hawg
Story 1:
My landlord Sam, an electrician, and I were talking about Dish network techs coming to the house tomorrow to install wiring.  I volunteered to let them in.  He was nervous that the salesman couldn't tell him how the cabling would be routed.  I offered that Dish would probably send a DACA kid with a Milwaukee Hole hog. to perforate his house.

Mobile Home
Story 2:
Sam then related of how he as a 16 YO kid working for his electrician father at $3.35 an hour.  By his lonesome, in his old pickup with a AC A-coil bouncing in the back,  would follow new mobile home trailers down dusty Texas roads to a clearing in the cedar break.  While the truck driver set the home on concrete blocks,  Sam would be in the 140 degree trailer, all of 90 lbs dripping with sweat, pounding the hell out of recalcitrant knock out panels,  No cordless hole hogs in that day.  The new proud owners outside worriedly yelling" Kid, what the hell are you doing to my beautiful new trailer?!?".
Once the panels were popped, the coil installed,  he'd route the lines, charge with Freon, connect the house to the pole power box.
The irate seating customers were invariably soothed when the felt the cool air blowing.  Ah home sweet trailer!
Sam then went on to the next trailer install. 

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Official Trailer [HD] | Prime Video

On Amazon Prime. One season, eight episodes. Daring daughter turned us on to this. It's very funny. The husband is a prime example of why men shouldn't get married until they are all grown up, which means like 35 years old.

Quote of the Day

Too Like The Lightning by Ada Palmer
[Child:] "The Major and the soldiers and Mycroft told me what war is like. They say it's the second worst thing in the world."
Man: "That's an interesting definition. What did they say is the worst thing?"
Child: "Not having anything worth fighting for in the first place."
P. 123

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Friday, January 12, 2018

All God's Children are Sinners

Question on Quora:
I was caught driving with a suspended license in Massachusetts, officer said the judge probably won't charge me if I get my license back in 5 weeks. I'm a college student with a few tickets and no crimes, do I need a lawyer to settle it?
I had to think about how to answer this for a bit. I started to answer several times, trying various versions of 'what kind of an idiot are you?', but given that there is a small possibility that there is a reasonable explanation for this situation, I decided I needed to try again. I finally ended up with this.
Do you need a lawyer? That kind of implies you either have the money to hire a lawyer, or you think you can get the money. What’s the problem? Oh, you were driving with a suspended licence. Huh. And they thought you were smart enough to go to college. Is this what we have been reduced to? Answer questions that shouldn’t have to be asked? Or is it that the world is so complex that younger people can no longer distinguish between a venial sin and a cardinal sin? I mean there are so many sins these days, and if you listen to what’s being talked about, they are ALL cardinal sins, which is a lie, but everyone does it so it must be okay, right?


Number of bookstores in the United States from 2004 to 2018
The number at the top is 37,500. The number at the bottom is 22,500.
Reading about the huge growth in bookstores right after WW2, I wondered just how many there were, but all I found was this graph that just shows things going downhill fast.

So I posted a question on Quora and Jack Noel referred me to a story about Ann Arbor based Borders bookstores. Borders grew from nothing to be something of an empire, and then, in a veritable blink of an eye, it was gone. What follows is condensed from The Ann Arbor News story.
Borders' rise and fall: a timeline of the bookstore chain's 40-year history
By Nathan Bomey
July 18, 2011

This timeline provides a historical perspective of the rise and fall of Ann Arbor-based Borders Group Inc. from its inception in 1971 to its liquidation announcement this afternoon. [40 years]

1971: Brothers Tom and Louis Borders open an 800-square-foot used bookstore called Borders Book Shop at 211 S. South State St. in Ann Arbor.

1970s: Louis Borders develops a software system that allows the store to manage inventory and accurately project sales, giving Borders a competitive advantage that lasted at least two decades.

1991: Borders starts integrating music and movies into some of its stores.

1992: Kmart Corp. acquires Borders. At the time, Borders had 21 large stores and was valued at about $190 million.

1994: The bookseller is the largest retailer in downtown Ann Arbor.

1995: Borders spins off from Kmart and goes public on the New York Stock Exchange.

Feb. 4, 1997: Shares close at an all-time high of $44.88.

March 11, 1997: Borders executes a 2-for-1 split on its stock.

January 1998 to January 1999: Borders expands its store footprint by 25.5 percent, adding 52 superstores in the biggest one-year expansion in its history. By January 1999, the company has 256 superstores averaging $256 in sales per square foot.

May 1998: Borders launches an online retail presence for the first time at

August 2001: Borders contracts with online retailer Amazon to sell products online.

August 2004: Borders signs deal with Starbucks Corp. to run Seattle’s Best Coffee cafe operations in its stores.

2005: Borders posts its most recent annual profit: $101.0 million.

July 2006: Borders has nearly 36,000 employees worldwide.

September 2007: Stock hits then-six-year-low $12.28 a share.

March 28, 2008: Stock closes down 28.5 percent to $5.07 after Borders says it lost $157.4 million in 2007.

May 2008: Severing ties with Amazon, the company launches a new

2009: Borders posts a $187 million loss in 2008.

Dec. 9, 2010: Borders posts $74.4 million loss for third quarter, acknowledges possible cash crunch in early 2011.

Dec. 31, 2010: Stock plunges 22 percent to $0.90 a share.

Feb. 11, 2011: Ackman acknowledges $125 million loss on Borders investment.

July 18, 2011: Borders announces plans to liquidate. Some 10,700 people will lose their jobs, including 400 in Ann Arbor.
Judging by the graph and this timeline I'd say the number of bookstores in the USA probably peeked at 35,000 right around the turn of the century. That's like one store for every 10,000 people.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Constructive Termination

I suspected companies did this, but I didn't know there was a term for it.
On the other hand, this smells a lot like constructive termination. That’s when an employer doesn’t technically terminate an employee, but it makes the employee’s situation so bad — taking away responsibilities, badmouthing them to the public, assigning them all the worst tasks — that they quit on their own. Constructive terminations are common when dealing with employees who are protected from at will termination by law or contract — civil service employees, union employees, and tenured faculty.  - Windy Pundit

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

More Cold War Crazy

C-5 Galaxy Minuteman ICBM Drop Test

Compared to some of the stuff the US Military did during the cold war, this one isn't too bad, it probably didn't cost more than a few million dollars. The Aviationist has the story:
In 1974, the U.S. thought that the best way to preserve its ICBMs (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles) from Soviet nuclear strikes was to load them in C-5 Galaxy airlifters and keep them on the move.
A three-stage Minuteman, 56 feet in length and 86,000 pounds in weight, was attached to some parachutes that could drag it out of the cargo hold and then point it upward, then it was loaded into a Galaxy and air launched over the Pacific from the aircraft: a timer ignited the rocket motor and the missile flew for about 25 seconds before it cascaded into the Pacific Ocean.
Via Quora

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Dynamic Memory Allocation
I'm working on my program to solve Sudoku puzzles again, and this time I'm using pointers. I just encountered a question about pointers on Quora that turned on my fingers and all this came out:

No, you cannot delete something that was statically declared in your source code. If you dynamically allocate a block of memory, you can assign the address of that block to a pointer variable. If you change the value of that pointer variable, it will no longer point to that block. If you haven’t saved that address somewhere, the block is effectively deleted because you won’t be able to access it because you don’t know where it is. If you delete the block of memory (using free or something similar), you shouldn’t be able to access that memory using your pointer. Depending on circumstances, if you haven’t mucked with the address stored in your pointer, you might still be able to access something, but it might not be yours anymore, or you might trigger a fault and the OS will kick you off.

Variables declared inside of functions are usually found on the stack, so the memory they use to store their values is dynamically allocated, so to speak. When the function is invoked, the space for your local variables is reserved, and when the function exits that space is reclaimed and merged with the unused space on the stack. It’s not really a problem because you can’t access those variables from outside the function.

You could dynamically allocate a variable, sort of. You could typedef (define) a structure, and then allocate space for a copy and assign that address to a pointer. You can now store stuff in this structure. If one of the fields in your structure is a pointer, you could allocate another block of memory and store the address in this pointer. Then if you free the first block, the one containing the structure, you will have lost both blocks because you will no longer have the address of the second block.


Came across a couple of stories about the history of books, if you are interested in that kind of thing.

New England Primer 1764

The Grapes of Wrath - Armed Services Edition
Why were the books published for American soldiers during World War II printed in landscape format? What was so special about these books? via Quora

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Man Carrying Chair

We went over to the neighbors this evening for dinner and conversation. They didn't have enough chairs for everyone, so I brought a couple. When I go home they give me a chair to carry. When I get home I am very careful not to bang into the walls, and then it occurs to me that when I was younger I would have been very satisfied that I had carried the chair home and wouldn't have been too concerned about whether I banged into the walls or not. Huh. Could I be getting old?

Early Phonograph Recording

Lauritz Melchior Prize Song from Wagner's Die Meistersinger

I presume the singer is being restrained to keep him from overpowering the recording media. Via Posthip Scott.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Steampunk Violin

Roundtable Rival - Lindsey Stirling

This lively little tune showed up on YouTube. It's pretty great, it's like an old Western with cowboys and dancing girls, and wait a minute, what the heck is that thing she's carrying around? A violin with a trumpet horn?

Yamaha Performing Artist Lindsey Stirling - "Roundtable Rival" Behind The Scenes

Yes, as she explains here, that is exactly what it is. But it turns out there really was such a thing. John Stroh invented it back in 1899:
The Stroh violin is much louder than a standard wooden violin, and its directional projection of sound made it particularly useful in the early days of phonographic recording. Regular violins recorded weakly with the old acoustic-mechanical recording method, producing a thin, whining tone. The Stroh violin improved this by producing a fuller, louder sound with better tone.
Stroh violins were common in recording studios, but became rarer after record companies switched to the new electric microphone recording technology in the second half of the 1920s. - Wikipedia

Erwin Schulhoff : Susi (1937)

I listened to several recordings of the Stroh Violin on YouTube and this one sounded the best. All the others sounded a bit whiny. Could it be that what made it work well with recording equipment 100 years ago makes it sound worse with today's equipment?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Desmos Graphing Calculator

I've been hanging out at Quora lately. A fair number of math problems show up there. Many of them are inane, like 'What is 2+2?", or "What is 3+3 x 3?".* But some advanced ones show up as well. Some of them are really ugly, I've never seen the like before, don't know what they're good for, or why anyone would care, but they make me curious so I've taken to plotting them on the Desmos Graphing Calculator.  It would be nice if you could simply copy the equation from Quora and then paste in Desmos. You can, but it doesn't translate properly, so you have to go in and fiddle with it enough for Desmos to understand it. Plus sometimes the equation (or expression) you get from Quora is missing something, or didn't get entered properly, so you have to muck with it to get anything graphable.

The equation for the Middle Green Circle on the graph comes from this question on Quora.

Outer Orange circle    x^{2\ }+\ y^2\ =\ 16     
Middle Green circle    e^{\left(y^2\ +\ x^2\ \right)^{.5}}\ =\ 16
Inner Orange circle    e^{.5\left(y^2\ +\ x^2\ \right)}\ =\ 16

The original equation from Quora.

f(x,y) = e^sqrt (x^2+y^2)

Mucking about with above equation and then typing Ctrl-Z causes the graph above to be redrawn. Actually, it doesn't matter what you were doing before, if you have done anything at all in Blogger's Editor, Ctrl-Z (Undo) causes the graph to be redrawn.

Taking the Middle Green Circle and changing it to a function gives us this
but Desmos doesn't know how to graph it.

Note that I have replaced the call to sqrt with an exponent. Desmos treats sqrt as four variables (s, q, r & t) being multiplied together.

Also capital X and capital Y mean something special, so don't use them until you figure out they do.

This post started as a test to see if I could copy and paste the equations, but I can see it's expanded a bit.

About the Math
The difference between the 2nd and 3rd equations is that one multiples the exponent of e by .5 and the other raises it the power of .5 which should be equivalent according to's article on exponents (see the Power Rule). I don't quite understand why the graphs of these two equations should be different, but Desmos evidently thinks otherwise.

I set the expression equal to a constant (16) to get it to graph. Properly, it should be set to Z and graphed using a 3D graphing calculator. I found one that looks like it should do the job, but I've been having some trouble with it, so that's going to have to wait for another day.

* What's even weirder is how many answers the inane questions get. I made some sarcastic replies, but it's just endless. Besides, since some people think these questions are worth answering, I am trying to train myself to Pass on these questions, but it's really hard not to click Answer and just let them have it with both barrels. Gee wilkers pops, everyone knows the answer is 42. I mean it's the answer to everything, ain't it?

P.S. I just discovered that Google has a plot function.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Samaritan

The Samaritan - Trailer

The Samaritan is an okay movie. It's got a bunch of good pieces, like Samuel L. Jackson, but it's not well put together. It's the story of an old confidence man and a young criminal who wants to pull a scam, but the story line is thin. It just doesn't fit together well. Plus they use the word 'grift' way too often.

I would think that to pull off big confidence scam, you would want to be working with people you like and trust, but maybe I'm naive. Maybe people can perform under pressure and work with people they despise. Or maybe someone will be so pissed off they will pull the plug at a crucial moment and the whole thing will collapse and everyone dies. Did I just spoil the story?

I enjoy a good movie about scams The Sting, The Grifters, House of Games and The Spanish Prisoner were all pretty great.


It seems there are invisible characters floating around out there on the internet that cannot be detected by a person using any popular computer programs. Zero-Width Characters by  gives us a hint, but he doesn't tell us the whole story. He gives us two sample lines of text that look the same but he claims are actually different.

Copy one line and then search for it using Ctrl-F and you find both lines. Look at the source using the Chrome browser and the lines look the same. Save the page and look at it using the Linux text editor xed and again, both lines look the same.

Invisible Text
Only when I opened the saved web page with vi (an old school text editor) was I able to see the 'invisible' characters: a less-than-sign (<) followed by 200b followed by a greater-than-sign (>). What's even weirder is that vi highlighted this sequence with blue.

Via Monday Evening

Trumponian Economics

I sent WHAT’S RED, BLUE, AND BROKE ALL OVER? AMERICA. to my faithful correspondents and California Bob replied at length. Evidently I'm getting led around by the nose, just like most Americans.

First, Kotkin betrays his bias when he describe's the Recovery and Reinvestment Act as a "transit" project** -- it was actually for myriad projects, including highways, railways, bridges, airports, and transit, as well as homeland security, and even extending broadband reach, which most would agree is a good thing, though maybe it just enables more "couch sitters."  It may have created that 400-lb guy sitting on a bed somewhere who rigged the election.

But it's true that everyone needs a job -- more specifically, it's a good idea to keep people productive and engaged in society so they don't languish and become alienated internet trolls, or worse.  When large numbers of people start to fall through the cracks, it can create problems.  And if people are working at truly productive jobs, it enhances the economy as a whole.  Unlike my job, where we are burning other people's capital to create a dubious product of contrived value.  But we're not the first by any means.

I sort of like the concept of managed back-to-work programs, like the WPA/CCC.  One wonders in our economy hasn't developed to the point where the private sector could do this better.  After all we're not talking about millions of hobos prowling the byways looking for their next meal, for whom we need to set up camps to keep them from starving or turning violent.  We're mostly talking about overweight people sitting on their couches, watching satellite television and poking their iPhones; they're not working because the available jobs "don't pay enough."  Those jobs go to economic refugees from other lands -- agricultural, restaurant, janitorial jobs.

So maybe instead of a large government program, something more subtle might work.  Some 17 states are going to increase the minimum wage today, Jan. 1.

In any case, the GOP has no appetite for big government programs.  They opposed Obama's Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and they grumbled about the "trillion dollar" infrastructure idea that Trump once mentioned.  After all they just passed a tax cut that will make the national debt skyrocket.

Indeed the GOP currently seems to want to strangle the government.  The Trump admin is leaving all kinds of jobs vacant, appointing unqualified and rash political operatives to the bench and key administrative posts, and whether it's the intent or not, the result is going to be the hollowing out of government, top-level corruption as seen in the kleptocracies, insolvency, and ultimately, a failure of the institutions, and triumphant cries of "government doesn't work" by the victors.

In fact I am now counting on the civil service and the bureacracy to preserve our institutions against subversive leadership.

People aren't going to miss the precious institutions of civil society, rule-of-law, enlightened democracy, transparency, low corruption, public education, independent judiciary, etc., until they are gone.

Many [of] you won't notice -- as when the Interior Secretary handed his Whitefish Energy friend tens of millions of dollars to "work" in Puerto Rico.  This new administration started lining their pockets right out of the gate.  And people won't notice when they start letting Nabisco put cement in the Oreos, and those stomach problems you start getting will just be your bad attitude, or God's will....

In my review of history, unregulated free-for-all societies can produce examples of great progress, but they're not typically examples of just egalitarian societies.  If you look at the industrial revolution or the colonial British empire, along with the great fortunes made there was plenty of widespread misery.  At least modern Americans can find jobs if they want them, and they enjoy protections on wages, hours, and working conditions (for now).

Libertarianism is a seductive thing, but I think I'm better off with traffic signals, and someone enforcing that there be no mercury in my Funyuns.

Anyway..Kotkin.  Kotkin derides the "intangible" production of blue states, and lauds the value of the agriculture, energy and manufacturing sectors in the red states -- but doesn't mention that the blue states contribute far more tax dollars to the Feds than they get back, whereas most of the "valuable" red states are net moochers off the Feds.  Not trying to be derogatory, but value is value, and is generally measurable.

Coal jobs?  Even if you're pro-pollution, coal just isn't competitive against nat gas.   The Energy department's scheme to subsidize coal must be a political sop to coal states.

Don't like technology or green energy?  Don't worry, if they're not sustainable they'll eventually fail on their own, but you can't keep scientists from researching stuff they're interested in, or capitalists from subsidizing it.

Don't like finance, media, and tourism?  Again, if they're not sustainable they'll fail, but under current law these industries are allowed to operate.

If Kotkin's argument is that the Feds should pump more money into basic industries, subsidizing manufacturing, coal, energy, agriculture ... that's a point of view.  Seems I'm hearing a lot of : "Erect trade barriers, impose tariffs, deport cheap labor, tax cuts for manufacturers so they have more working capital."

1. Trade restrictions WILL increase the cost of imported goods (which is virtually everything).
2. Less unskilled labor WILL increase costs in those industries (agriculture, food service, janitorial, construction), and the costs or availability of those goods (food, which could stand to be a good bit more expensive; restaurants, who cares, though it's a huge industry; construction -- has to put upward pressure on house costs.  Can't help anyway).
3. Tax cuts for industry -- well, tax cuts are good, though biggest beneficiaries as always will be at the top of the food chain (owners and management).  And again tax cuts cause fiscal problems for the government, which is a separate topic.

He might be right. You could argue about several of his points, but that's what we do, isn't it? While Trump has numerous faults, I'm not sure he is going to have any worse of an effect on the country than any other president. I suspect we might have become so successful that our empire is becoming Byzantine, which will lead to our collapse sometime in next five or ten centuries. Or next Tuesday. Or maybe I just need a better source of information.

  * I posted it here yesterday.
** transit is only 6% of the bill.

Mistakes Were Made

You might think this is a knob, but it's not, it's a 'skirt'.
The main control knob on our Maytag clothes drier wasn't working properly. I assumed the timer that the knob controlled was the problem. Order the timer for $100 and replaced it only to find out that the problem was with the knob. What's the deal, Maytag? You can make a  conpiicated mechanical timer that will last indefinitely but you can't make a simple knob?

So I order a new knob, but it's not just one piece, it's two. Fine, order both pieces only to discover when they arrive that the knob is composed of three pieces, and the one piece that connects to the shaft, the one piece I really need isn't here. Who makes a knob out of three pieces, and why do you have to sell them separately? Why can't you put them together and sell them as one knob?

So I return the two pieces I don't need and order the third one that I do, but this business of the knob flopping around is getting to be a pain, so I stuff the backside full of wood putty and let it set. It's been working fine ever since. However, if it ever does fail I have a brand new knob and a fully functional timer waiting in the wings.

Flip Cap Easy Clean & Change with STA-TITE Installation

Decided to replace a couple of toilet seats because they were getting kind of old and groady. Last time I did this I got plastic seats thinking they would last forever. They don't, so this time I figured I'd get good old wood seats. They're cheaper and they might be warmer. Get ready to mount the new seats and the screws won't fit in the holes. Write to the company and they point me to this video. Now I look at the instructions, and yes, maybe they do explain it, but the pictures are small and not that clear. But mostly their new fangled technique is just backwards from the way it has always been done. They should have big red flags all over the box warning you about this new pair of dimes.

The water heater flaked out the very next day after I last fiddled with it. I was flashing a code of some sort again, but when I started mucking with it one of the wires that goes to another connector just fell off. I bought a set of crimp-on terminals at Lowes and crimped them on and we seem to be good.

Old Bedframe
Older son's bedframe got bent during moving and this led to a kind of slow motion collapsing. Normally I would tackle a repair problem like this with hammer, tongs, some strips of wood or metal and a handful of screws. But being as he lives downtown and I'd already made one attempt at repair, I decided that the expedient thing would be to just order a new one. I could go down there and in short order we could break down the old one and put together the new one. Home made repairs, at least the way I do them, can go on for hours, and without actually seeing the frame I would have a hard time making a plan to repair it.
New Bedframe

I hauled the old frame home thinking I could give it away on Craigslist, but it turns out people see the picture in the Free listings and don't read the description. Only one person persisted when informed of the condition and we couldn't connect because of time distance conflicts. I was thinking fine, I would fix it my self and sell it on Craiglist for half of what it cost. At least I would recoup some of my money. But today we were cleaning the garage and I saw this pile of pieces lying there and I said screw it, and cut up the long rails with my antique saber saw and dumped them in the recycling.

Our Panasonic vacuum cleaner started stinking the other day, a sure sign that the drive belts have reached their end. No problem, I have a spare set. The motor shaft is red hot (not literally), so I let it sit for ten minutes to cool before I attempt to install the new ones. Getting the new ones on is kind of a pain because it takes a goodly amount of force to get them to stretch enough to slide over the pulleys, enough force to drag the vacuum cleaner around. So one foot to brace against the machine to keep it from sliding which leaves both hands free to wrestle with the belt. I ordered a new pair from Sears for $10, but just now I noticed I have ordered these belts with from Amazon a couple of times, once in September of 2016 for $7 and again in  April of 2017


Gunpowder (2017) | Official Trailer ft. Kit Harington | HBO

Gunpowder is a three part mini-series about the Gunpowder Plot to kill Kind James of England in 1603. The plot is the origin of Guy Fawkes Day,
Remember, remember,
The Fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot;
For I see no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Nursery rhyme made famous (in my head) by V for Vendetta, which is where Anonymous got their masks.

The show stars Kit Harington (commonly know as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones) as Robert Catesby, the Catholic instigator of the scheme. Kit, as he does in Game of Thrones, plays a hothead unswayed by appeals to reason.

Anne Vaux is played by Liv Taylor, daughter of Steve Tyler of Aerosmith.

The hunchback Cecil is played by Mark Gatiss.

One of the best scenes is when the conspirator dump several pounds of gunpowder on a cloth in front of the fire to dry it out. Geez guys, but I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures. Once it's dry any stray spark will set it off, and naturally, because they are engaged in a gun battle with the sheriff's men, a spark does land in the powder and boom, off it goes.

The Gunpowder Plot Conspirators, 1605
The show graphically depicts some of the tortures used to extract confessions from prisoners, and equally graphically depicts the methods of execution. Revolting all around. Thank god for civilization, or maybe I should say thanks that such methods aren't used anymore, at least not in places that the West currently considers civilized. Folks living in Europe in the 1600's considered themselves civilized.

The whole thing hinges on what people believe. You could argue that Catesby was driven to his plotting by the harsh fines being levied against Catholics, but that only works if you adhere to your faith in the face of persecution. Perhaps they remained Catholics because their belief is all they could be sure of, being as the world is such an unpredictable place. Kind of reminds me of the political war being waged in the USA these days. This one is being fought over beliefs just like the war between the Catholics and the Protestants in 17th Century England. Facts and reason are of no use in such a battle.

Uppercase, Lowercase

We have uppercase (capital) and lowercase (small) letters, but numbers are just numbers, aren't they? It turns out there are a couple of special cases where there are uppercase and lowercase numbers.

It exists in Chinese: 壹贰叁肆伍陆柒捌玖拾 for one to ten. It's supposed to prevent tampering of numbers and is still used in important documents (especially if money is involved)
The "lower case" is 一二三四五六七八九十, which can be altered easily - Reddit
The other case is typography, where they are sometimes called Oldstyle figures.
 Origin of the term here.