Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dogs & Cats

The Nominal Cat
Which reminded me of this:

Norma Tanega "Walkin' My Cat Named Dog"

Stealing the stage

Stealing the stage by Jessica Hagy
Via Indy Tom

Broken Wrist

Acu-Loc Wrist Repair Plate
My wife tripped over a kindergärtner and fell down a couple of weeks ago and broke her wrist. It looked like she might be able to get away with just having a cast until we went to see the bone doctor. Now surgery to install a small plate to hold the bones in alignment becomes a viable option. The two advantages to having surgery were that she could get by with a smaller cast because the plate would be doing most of the alignment work, and there was a possibility that without the plate she would encounter some pain when she turned her wrist. If she was 20 years older, they wouldn't recommend the surgery. So we went ahead and got it done. Picked her up from work at 2PM and were home by 9PM. Work was done at the clinic, not the hospital. The worst part was they used a nerve block on her arm which meant is was virtually dead for 24 hours. There was no pain, but she was also unable to control her arm. Left alone it would just hang by her side.

A little info about wrist fractures:
A Colles' fracture -- or distal radius fracture -- is often called a ''broken wrist.'' Technically, it's a break in the larger of the two bones in your forearm. The bone breaks on the lower end, close to where it connects to the bones of the hand on the thumb side of the wrist.
Colles' fractures are very common; they're the most frequently broken bone in the arm. In the United States, one out of every 10 broken bones is a broken wrist. - WebMD

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

CO2 & U

Disney '43 - The Winged Scourge

Talking to a guy I know, he tells me he was plagued by mosquitoes last January, here, in Oregon. Seemed a little far fetched, but winters are pretty mild here, and he insisted, sokay, fine, mosquitoes in January. He showed the county bug man a sample and bug man, said, yup, that's a mosquito. He actually went into some scientific detail about it. Seems there are 40 or 50 different species of mosquitoes living in Oregon. They set up some mosquito traps around the house. Mosquitoes travel in straight lines out from their breeding grounds. They checked on the traps a few days later and the traps showed a definite direction for the source of the mosquitoes. They did some searching and quickly located a covered swimming pool that hadn't been adequate poisoned (chlorinated). Cleaning that up eliminated the mosquito problem.

I'm watching another video about how they control mosquitoes at Disney World and I notice that they are using a whole bunch of animated clips. A search on YouTube turned up the above video. The mosquito traps they use at Disney World give off CO2, which seems to be a mosquito attractor. Don't want to be bothered by mosquitos? Quit breathing.

Nitrogren Atmosphere Warning Sign

Or not. When you are holding your breath, it is the increasing level of CO2 that makes you desperate to breath, not the loss of oxygen. As such you can suffocate a person with nitrogen. They aren't getting any oxygen, but their CO2 concentration is not increasing, so they have no sense of being desperate. If you don't get any oxygen you will just pass out and die. It works so well that some states may start using it for executions instead of lethal injection. Some produce warehouses employ a nitrogen atmosphere to help keep produce fresh. Don't be walking in there to get you some veggies, well, not unless you are looking to become fertilizer.

Paris Green, mentioned in the Disney video at top, is a poison. It is made from copper(II) acetate and arsenic trioxide. Didn't I just run into arsenic trioxide? Yes, I did:

Freezing 200,000 Tons of Lethal Arsenic Dust

This is the Giant Mine at the Great Slave Lake in Northwest Territories in Canada. Makes me wonder how many people died of arsenic poisoning at this mine when it was in operation, or, if nobody died, how did they manage to keep people from being poisoned?

Pic of the Day

Fireplace in The Tower of Peretti
Via Reddit

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Saturday, June 16, 2018

"Teardrop" - Massive Attack

"Teardrop" - Massive Attack

I used to listen to this tune all-the-time but after nine zillion plays it became firmly embedded in my brain and I started listening to other stuff. Just stumbled over a thread on Reddit full of comments from other people who also like it. Might have to spend more time on Reddit.

Reddit has redesigned their website and I don't like the new format so I use the old style.

Ogallala Aquifer

Ogallala Aquifer
The Ogalla Aquifier provides most of the water used for crop irrigation in the High Plains of the Central United States. There is some question as to how long it will be able to continue doing so as farmers are sucking it up at a rate of two feet a year. I suppose it depends on how deep this pool of water is. If it's 1,000 feet deep, then that should be enough water for 500 years. If it's only ten feet deep we'll have giant dustbowl later next week.

Via Reddit

Friday, June 15, 2018

American Made

American Made - Official Trailer [HD]

The story of Barry Seal has been kicking around in the fringes of polite society for a long time. It's good that it's finally seeing the light of day. As a movie, it's great, lots of action, lots of crazy. The only problem is there is just so much crazy crammed into it. Was the CIA really doing all that shit? It kind of looks like they were. When you live in Disneyland it's easy to forget that just outside the park, crazy is the norm and chaos is the order of the day.



When I get tired I get cranky, and I must have been tired today because I sure was cranky. Doing the laundry, the washing machine seems like it's done, there's no water flowing and it's not spinning, let's open it up and get the laundry out, but we can't, the door is still locked. The fancy little digital display says it still has two minutes to run. WTF is it doing? It's turning the drum slowly. Why? Stupid machine. If I hadn't happened to walk in there at just that moment it wouldn't have been a problem, but I did, and I'm tired, so WTF are you doing you stupid machine? It finally finishes and beeps, so I open the door. Then the accursed POS beeps at me again. What kind of ignorant savages programmed this thing? Someone should cram one of these beepers in their ear.

I go to McDonald's to pick up a couple of sandwiches for dinner. It's dinner time and the drive up queue is full. This McDonald's is fancy, they have two (2!) speaker boxes for taking orders. I have been here before when they were operating smoothly and they will take orders at both boxes and never seem to get confused. Today is not one of those days. I pull up to the speaker box and it tells me to order at the next speaker box. Okay fine, not a problem. But then it tells me again. FU, you annoying POS, I heard you the first time.

Eventually I get to the goody window, but instead of handing me my bag of goodies, the large woman asks me to pull around front and park and they'll bring my order out to me. Well, sheet, but okay, that's what I get for ordering something with 'artisan' in the name. It's okay for five minutes, but when we get to ten I've had enough and stomp inside to find out what's going on. The small woman in charge tells me they are waiting for the chicken to come up. whatever the $%^ that means. Screw that, gimme my money back, which she does. I go to Wendy's and buy hamburgers. If they had warned me that it was going to take an hour when I ordered, that would have been one thing, but they didn't.

Some emotions are easy to identify. Cranky, cheerful, content, happy are pretty obvious. But stress can distort your emotional state without making itself known. My wife broke her wrist last week when she tripped over a stationary kindergärtner and fell. It didn't seem too bad. She went to the ER where they took some X-rays and and wrapped her arm up with a temporary cast. But then we go see the bone doctor and now it looks like surgery might be in order. It's not a big deal, they make two inch long incision, line up the broken bit of bone, slip in a little metal splint, screw it down and sew up the incision. Surgery was Thursday afternoon. I didn't sleep well Wednesday night, I got maybe a couple of hours. Surgery went well and last night I slept pretty well. Today I am still very tired and as a result I find even the littlest things immensely irritating, as you may have noticed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Pic of the Day

1847 Daguerreotype of President James K. Polk and posse
1847 is pretty old for a photograph.

People in the picture, left to right:
Front row
                   Secretary of State James Buchanan
                    Buchanan’s niece Harriet Lane
                     Mrs. Polk’s niece Sarah Polk Rucker
                                First Lady Sarah Childress Polk
                                 President James K. Polk
       widow of James Madison, Dolley Madison
                                         Mrs. Cave Johnson
Back row
                 Postmaster General Cave Johnson
              Secretary of the Navy John Y. Mason

  • Harriet Lane was Buchanan’s niece and the acting first lady during his presidency (Buchanan never married).
  • Johnson was the postmaster when the U.S. Postal Service introduced the postage stamp in 1847.
  • Many of the traditions associated with the First Lady of the United States are derived from Dolley Madison.

Via Posthip Scott

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Pic of the Day

Easter Island head at night
Via Reddit


Uniberp got me started with his post about replacing the valve cover gaskets on his Subaru. This video gives you pretty good idea of the pain involved. It's a little long but he doesn't waste any of your time.

How To Subaru Valve Cover Gasket Replacement part 1

Uniberp needed a wrench to get the job done:
1/4" sliding t-handle
I need one of these to get a valve cover bolt off, in a very tight position. Seems I should have one somewhere but no.

Sears has one, $8.48 plus shipping

Grainger has one, $134.50

Nope at Ace or NAPA or Advance Auto

I will check Harbor Freight on the way home

Grainger probably has to order it anyhow.

Success. I found a 1/4 breaker bar $9, by Crescent, at Menards. Drilled a relief hole sideways into the aluminum threaded boss to relieve the stuck pig bolt before it twisted off and I would have had to remove the engine which would have been necessary because it would have leaked oil like a sieve.

Yes this preventative maintenance needed to be done. There are seals around the spark plug holes that harden and leak and fill the spark plug tube with oil.
I'm impressed with Grainger's price. I suppose having a supply chain that can deliver whatever you need has its benefits, but I am still surprised by the premium they charge.

1969 Subaru FF-1 station wagon

A long time ago I had a Subaru. I think it was a '69 model, give or take a year or two. It had 80 HP and got 30 MPG. Gas only cost a quarter, but minimum wage was only $2.25. If memory serves, the car cost $1400 used. I got my parents to buy it for me on the premise that I wasn't never going to college. I suffered through high school and I was thoroughly sick of school. I drove the shit out of that car, from Ohio to Florida, California, up and down the West Coast, back to Ohio and eventually to Texas where, after being crunched twice and two major engine repairs, I sold it for parts. It was a little tin box, but it went fast enough to keep up on the freeway.

Subaru's are very popular here in Oregon. They are especially handy if you go to, or over, the mountains in the winter time. I don't like them because I suspect the viscous coupling they use to connect the front and rear drive axles is some kind of Japanese bullshit, i.e. a very expensive component that you can't repair yourself. If it fails the least you can expect is you'll have to buy a new one from the dealer for half the price of a new car. Of course if it never fails, it's not a problem. I have no evidence to support any of this, just my feelings on the subject. I suspect that the only cars that use this technology are Subaru and  some overpriced German snobmobiles, and being as Chuck rhymes with Cheap, I ain't spending any money on these kind of gimcracks.

If anyone who spends considerable time driving on snow covered roads asked me what kind of car to buy I would recommend Subaru without hesitation. The odds of having to make an expensive repair are so low that it doesn't merit consideration. But emotions are not logical. The pain of having to fight for traction on snow covered roads is something you will carry with you long after you have forgotten how much you paid for anything as mundane as a car repair.

A friend of a friend makes a little extra money during the summer by buying Subarus in Florida and driving them to Oregon, which strikes me as pretty weird, but then we did score a deal on my daughter's Mazda in Florida. That was the one bright spot in our ill-fated adventure to Miami.


TAANSO was one of the scrambled words in this morning's Jumble (the printed version of the Sunday puzzle is different than the on-line version). Took me a while to sort it out. I was chagrined when I realized that is the model name of my car, a Hyundai Sonata.

Friday, June 8, 2018


Emily Barker - Nostalgia (Wallander version)

Just finished watching the last episode of Wallander on Netflix. We watched the whole series over the last month. The first three seasons were pretty much standard murder mysteries, but the last season took a left turn off into the boonies. The last episode (S4:E3) with the CIA and the cold war was just nuts. There were a couple of lines in there that just sent me over the edge.

Synopsis: Hakan, an aged, retired, Swedish submarine commander, has disappeared and his wife has died, an apparent suicide.
1:11:00 Kurt Wallander and Steven Wilson, an American, probably CIA. Kurt walks in the front door of Hakan's house carrying something wrapped in a tarp.
CIA: Hello, Kurt.
CIA sits down, Kurt pours and brings him a drink.
Kurt: There you are.
CIA: Ah, that's mighty kind of you.CIA: To your health.K: So what are you doing here?
CIA: (SIGHS) I guess I didn't make my flight. . . . I've been trying to think of some piece of information that might help figure out what's happened.
Kurt: And did you think of something?
CIA: A friend of mine and I, we were colleagues . . . And I had this deal with him that he would help me. And if ever he became troubled by any consequences, then he would let me know and I would help him, in return. And the way that he would let know would be that he would disappear.
Kurt: And how would you help him?
CIA: I'd find him, take him elsewhere.
Kurt: (opens tarp) It's an American device. Those submarines weren't Russian, they were American, and Hakan was working for you.
CIA: (nods) At that time, it was considered a priority to destabilise the government here. It was perceived as being Communist. It worked. After the fake Russian subs, support for the East dwindled away to almost nothing. Which was another border made safe, another front closed down.
Kurt: And Louise? Louise? So, was it always part of the rescue plan that she would die? That he would arrange a suicide, leave evidence to blame her?
CIA: I liked Louise.
Kurt: Where is he?
CIA: Waiting for me. But I won't go fetch him. It would be inadvisable for us to become involved. Far better for someone else. Someone with an interest to make him face up to his responsibilities. To what he's done.
Kurt: What about your responsibilities? You wouldn't be here if you weren't afraid to face them. If I confront Hakan with what he's done, I'll make sure I do the same for you.
CIA: You're not in the best of health. You have a family. Are you sure you want to make that threat?
Kurt: Where is he?

There was an incident involving a Soviet sub in Swedish waters back in 1981, but it was definitely Soviet. There have been a number of other incidents that were blamed on the Soviets, and given the one big red flag, they probably were triggered by Soviet subs, not American ones. Some people disagree. But you know, conspiracy theories don't need any facts, and blaming the CIA is a popular sport, so let's blame them. Google has more.


I've been working on my Farey addition program and I found a couple of bugs. The first one a simple mistake that took me four days to find, mostly because my mind was a bit fuzzy. The problem was that I was using abs (absolute value function for integers) instead of fabs, which is the same function, but for floating point numbers. One little letter and everything is wrong.

Got that corrected and now I'm running the program and when the denominator gets to 4142 it goes off the rails. What the heck could be causing that? It's been working fine for the first 4141 denominators, why should it choke on 4142? It blows up when it is checking the Farey addition. Doing this only involves integer operations, and they are all relatively small integers, we aren't going to overflow the accumulator. What could possibly be go wrong? This one had me stymied for a couple of days, I couldn't even think of what to look at. There is nothing wrong except it doesn't work.

This morning my brain served up a clue. When I generate the fractions, I compute their decimal value and use that to sort my list of fractions. The problem is that I also depend on this value being unique. If two fractions have the same decimal value, I presume they are duplicates and eliminate one. The problem might be (I haven't verified it yet) is that two fractions could have the same decimal value, but be different. For instance, Google delivers these values:
2048 / 4007 = 0.51110556526
2071 / 4052 = 0.51110562685
2117 / 4142 = 0.51110574601
The first 6 digits of these three fractions are all the same. After that they diverge. In my debug output, they all show the same value, but then I am only printing the first six digits. Standard floating point values hold much more than six digits, so maybe there is something else going on here. Anyway, I've got a place to start looking which is more than I had a couple of days ago.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Fly Me To The Moon

Black Hawks and Osprey Aircraft Create "Kopp-Etchells Effect" During Low Light Exercise

The bright halo of light emanating from the tips of the helicopter's rotor blades is caused by sand particles impacting the leading edge of the rotor blades. This constant abrasion erodes the blades  making them unusable in short order. To combat this, the leading edges of the blades are now reinforced with a tough material like nickel or titanium.

The impact knocks loose a tiny chunk of metal as well as heating it. It might it heat it to incandescence and we are seeing the metal particles glowing, or it might heat it to the point of ignition and we are seeing the particles burning. Or it might be a little of both.

Around the 1:20 mark (in the above video), we see a couple Osprey fly over, and you can see a soft glow from the tips of the rotor blades. This is likely from the glow-sticks the Army has attached to the rotor blades, not the Kopp-Etchells effect.

Re the name:
The combat photographer and journalist Michael Yon observed the effect while accompanying U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. When he discovered that the effect had no name he coined the name "Kopp-Etchells Effect" after two soldiers who had died in the war, one American and one British. - Wikipedia
Michael Yon has some photographs.

Via Quora

Part 2

Thailand Girandola

Another rotor craft heading up. How high does that thing go? It looks like it's going to the moon! It is not actually a rotorcraft. It spins around, but the only thing giving it lift are the rockets.

A Girandola is an outgrowth of the Catherine Wheel, named after Saint Catherine who was to be executed on a breaking wheel, but said wheel shattered at her touch.

Flying Girandolas, like this one, have been around since the 19th Century. If anyone built one earlier, they're keeping mum.

Part 3

56,000 MPH Space Rock Hits Moon, Explosion Seen | Video

We've flown to the moon just in time to see a cosmic grain of sand smack into the moon. 56,000 MPH is roughly 16 miles per second, about three times faster than a satellite in LEO (low Earth orbit). Similar effect to what we saw with sand hitting the helicopter rotor blades, but no oxygen on the moon means we are only seeing incandescence, not combustion.

Part 4

ORIGNAL CCTV Footage of Asteroid 2018 LA (ZLAF9B2)

A small asteroid hit Earth on Saturday, June 2nd, exploding in the atmosphere over Botswana before it could reach the ground. The Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona had discovered the space rock only hours earlier as it hurtled toward our planet from inside the orbit of the Moon. Sensors used to monitor rogue nuclear explosions detected the asteroid and estimated its yield near ~500 tons of TNT. - Indy Tom
Plenty of oxygen in our atmosphere, so a little incandescence and a little combustion.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Word of the Day

In mathematics, a bijection, bijective function, or one-to-one correspondence is a function between the elements of two sets, where each element of one set is paired with exactly one element of the other set, and each element of the other set is paired with exactly one element of the first set.

Friday, June 1, 2018



O'Connor's closed for good yesterday. This puts a big hole in my life. My Tuesday gang has been eating lunch there for on Tuesdays (imagine that) since forever.

Salvador Molly's

We had dinner at Salvador Molly's yesterday. Trendy, noisy, but the food was good and prices were bearable. $80 for four including beers.


Breakfast this morning at Besaw's, the oldest restaurant in downtown Portland, or close to it. It's in a new building. I don't know if they have any connection to the original besides the name, but it was fine. A little spendy, $40 for two, including coffee.

March of Progress

Portland Parking Meter
Most of the city parking meters I have used recently print a ticket for you that needs to be displayed in your car. This one dispenses with the dispensing. You enter your license plate number and pray that you entered it correctly and the meter man interprets it correctly. It all works fine except that the screen is hard to read, especially the labels displayed above the yellow buttons because some punk jackass had to carve some kind of bullshit into the screen. I would say it looked like Asian gang characters, but that's probably racist, and it could have been Klingon for all I know.

Pic of the Day

Grumman F7F Tigercat
Korean War era, twin engine fighter for the Navy. Reminds me of the Twin Mustang, another twin prop, Korean War veteran.

Tangent Circles

Fun with Circles
I came across this bit of geometry on Quora the other day. I haven't quite sorted out just why it works, but if it does, it's pretty cool. I was so impressed with it that I printed a copy and took it lunch to show the gang.

Funny Fractions and Ford Circles - Numberphile

Dennis responds with this video, which also has a bunch of tangent circles along with some goofball math. I saw this and thought that it wouldn't be too much trouble to write a program to verify what's going on here, so I did. Turns out there were a couple of tricky bits that needed sorting, but I think I have it. The first tricky bit was figuring out how much memory I would need. I wrote about this a couple of days ago.

int gcf(int m, int n)    // greatest common factor
    if ((m==0) || (n==0))
        if ((m==0) && (n==0)) return 1;
        if (m==0) return n;
        return m;

        if(m > n)
            m -= n;
            n -= m;
    return m;

The next was figuring out how to find the greatest common factor (GCF) of two integers. I've run into this problem before, but where oh where has that bit of code gone? I dunno, but Google finds an example, but it doesn't work. I have to spend several minutes monkeying with it to get it to behave.

That was enough to verify that the Farey addition of fractions works. That is, you generate all of the fractions between zero and one using all denominators from 1 to whatever. Now take any three adjacent fractions on the number line. Add the numerators of the first and last and you will get the numerator of the middle one. Do the same for the denominator and you get the denominator of the middle fraction. You might have to reduce the fraction to make it identical, but the value will be the same regardless.

Verifying that you could use these fractions to generate tangent circles took a little more doing. One way to do it would be to check this out for every new denominator, since at that point the fractions on either side would be the ones you would be forming tangents with. I didn't want to do that, mostly because I was already generating all of the fractions prior to checking the Farey addition, so I need some way to keep track of a fractions "parents" even after multiple fractions had been interposed between them. What I finally settled on was, after generating all fractions for the next denominator, I recorded the values of the parent fractions. Then later I would use these values to locate the original fraction and verify that the generated circles would indeed be tangent.

Tangent Circles and Pythagoras

Verifying that the circles are actually tangent to each other is done by comparing the sum of their radii with the distance between their centers. If these two values are equal they are tangent. If the distance is larger, they are not touching. If the distance is smaller, they overlap.

The distance between centers can be calculated using the Pythagorean Theorem. All you need is the horizontal distance, which is simply the difference between the values of the two fractions, and the vertical difference, which is the difference in their radii. See the above illustration. The orange and purple lines form the sides of the right triangle and the black line forms the hypotenuse.

I fired up my program around 12 hours ago. I gave it some big number to work with, like a 100,000 or something. It has generated over 20 million fractions and it is still running. It seems to be marching on regardless of whether the desktop goes to sleep, or if I am using the computer. I am debating whether I should cancel it or let it keep running. If I remembered what the number was that I gave it, I could estimate how long it is going to run, but I just typed in a one and bunch of zeros. I suppose I should let it run just to make sure it doesn't crash before it finishes.

I've uploaded the source to github if you are interested. I intend to clean up the output so it gives a better picture of what it's doing. When I have done that I will update github.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


I'm working on a little program to play with some numbers and I need an array of the appropriate size. It's easy to do, you decide on some array size and then you ask the O.S. for a chunk of memory that big. If you are a well behaved program, and the O.S. likes the cut of your jib, he might let you have it.

You don't want to ask for anymore than you need because if you ask for a great deal, that might interfere with whatever else you are trying to do, like trying to watch YouTube videos. Also, large amounts of memory can involve lots of processor time, and you might not want to run the program for that long, so you run on it a smaller set of data.

In the C programming language there are a couple of ways to do this. The traditional way is call malloc, the O.S.'s memory allocation procedure with number of bytes you want. It will return a pointer which you will base your data structure on.

    fraction_s* a = malloc(q * sizeof(fraction_s));

Another way is to declare your array in the main procedure (which is where the program starts), and use another variable as the size of the array. You need to assign a value to the size variable before you try and make use of it in the declaration of the array. Get all that? Sounds kind of convoluted. Maybe it's just my explanation is convoluted. Let's see if a bit of code helps.

int main(int argc, char** argv)

    int q = 1000;    // default value
    if (argc>1)
        q = atoi(argv[1]);    // pick up value from command line

    fraction_s    a[q];       // declare an array of data blocks

    memset(a, 0, sizeof(a));  // zero out the array

Last thing is to fill the array with zeros. Saves having to do it explicitly whenever we are loading data, we can just skip all those locations for which we don't have data. That way, come run time, we can be sure we won't misinterpret them for data. We might want to set a flag in each block that does have valid data.

Took a while to get here, but we have finally got to the crux of the matter. I'm working on a program to check out Farey Addition of fractions. I need an array to hold of all the possible fractions that can be generated using any pair of integers, up to some limit. For instance if my limit was 1,000, I would need an array to hold a million numbers. If I confine my self to proper fractions (the numerator is smaller than the denominator), then I only need half as much. Roughly.

You don't want to get a size calculation like this wrong, because while it might be a nuisance when the program is only going to run for a few seconds, it would be the shitz if your program got a memory fault after it had been running for a week and it lost all your work, all because you got the memory request size calculation wrong.

You screw up once or twice and you start taking pains to get it right. Getting it right also insures that your program doesn't get kicked off for asking for too much memory, when a properly sized request would allow you to run. It also tells you how much memory you need for the kinds of problems you are working with.

There's probably a name for the series that tells you how many fractions you are going to generate. Fibonacci or Bernoulli, or maybe, I dunno, Flatulence? I think I'm getting burned out on the math section of Quora. Seems like half the questions over there are talking about some obscure thing named after an even more obscure, old, dead, white guy (usually). Numberphile does that some too, but usually it's just kind of a decoration, like ribbons and bows, on their presentation. On Quora, these names are in these questions and understanding what the term means is crucial to understanding the question. Sometimes it's really simple, like this fraction thing I am working around to explaining, which is great, it means I can understand the question. But sometimes it's such an esoteric term that only the half dozen people who are writing theses on it have any idea what it means. I'm not going into those ratholes, I have plenty of my own, thank you.

Back to our array. For a denominator of 1 you can have two values in the numerator: 0 or 1. We're only going to count the zero. One over one is one, which really isn't a fraction. We aren't going to count the one, so for one, we have one value. For a denominator of 2 you can have two real values: 0 or 1. Plus 1 for zero gives you three. Like so:

Denominator /
Number of Proper Fractions    Total
            1              1
            2              3
            3              6
            4             10
            5             15
            6             21
            7             28
            8             36
            9             45
           10             55

It kind of looks (n+1) * n/2. It looks an exact calculation to me. No issue with rounding due to division by 2 (of n and (n+1) ), one is going to be even and the other will be odd, so the product will always be even and divisible by two.

We could eliminate the zeros, and maybe I will, all zeros are alike, am I right? But right now it's handy becuase I've been using zero based arrays for so long it's like second nature. Taking out the zeros, oh boy, I dunno if that's ever been done before Mr. Halliday (figment of my imagination, my inner Jimmy Stewart talking to big fat boss man with the straw hat, bifocals and a cigar).

Smart Phones

Looks like the Smartphone market is saturated. From a report by Mary Perkins. Via Detroit Steve.

Is it 'Smart Phone'  or 'Smartphone'? I'm a little perturbed by this mashing together of two perfectly cromulent words to make a new word. Sometimes it just doesn't work. I ran into one earlier that really confused me. It took me several seconds to decode it. Can't remember what it was now. Wasn't that important, just another example of our world going to hell in a handbasket, and we've already got plenty of those.

Mixer Repair

Bypass Thermal Protector
Our electric hand mixer quit the other day. We suspected that it had gotten overheated but that when it cooled down it would come back to life. It didn't, so I opened it up to see what I could see. I didn't see anything wrong, and it didn't smell burnt. I did notice a little lump under the yellow tape covering the windings on the stator. I cut the tape and checked the continuity on the little white part and, as I suspected, there was none. Twisting the leads together circumvented that problem. If this was a real repair, I would have soldered the wires together. Scratch that, if this was a real repair, I would have replaced the part. I sort of made an attempt in that direction. In order to secure a replacement, I need to identify it. Being as it is so tiny that even with my glasses the numbers were hard to read I decided to take a picture. As you can see from the photo that didn't really help. The macro function on my camera wasn't up to the task so all I got was some indecipherable squiggles.

I secured the yellow tape back in place with a piece of duck tape. I had electrical tape, but the adhesive on electrical tape doesn't seem to adhere as well, or as long, as duct tape. For some situations, electrical tape works fine, but I've had too many places where the sticky gave up the ghost. So duck tape.

The mixer runs, though it sounds a little growly on the slow speed settings. I looked for a replacement, but I couldn't find one that had a bigger than 250 Watt motor. That seems to be the upper limit for hand mixers. Yes, I could have gotten a big stand mounted mixer, but it would have just sat in the cupboard because no one wants to go to the effort to pull it out, and after it's set in there for a couple of years we would have forgotten that we even have it. We already have a good selection of kitchen appliances we don't use. We don't need another one.

Maybe we just need more counter space in the kitchen. I suspect that wouldn't really help because it would just be consumed by a bunch of new appliances that we bought because we had room for them. I still cut pizza with a chef's knife, I don't need to steenking pizza cutter.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Conspiracies Я Us

I think there is a conspiracy operating in downtown Portland that is trying to destroy real estate values. Walking around a small area near Nordstrom I noticed numerous storefronts that are either empty or for lease. The city government seems bent on destroying the automobile. Mass transit and conversion of parking spaces to anything but parking seems to be the order of the day. The result of this, along with their increasing taxes, is that running a small business in Portland is becoming a losing proposition, hence the numerous empty storefronts. They are empty because nobody’s renting them because they don’t believe they could operate their business successfully in such a hostile atmosphere. Businesses operating on the upper floors are kind of immune to all this. Virtually none of them depend on walk-in traffic. But office space is a commodity. The only time you can charge a premium is if there is a view or office space market is tight.

Meanwhile rent for ground floor places is plummeting, which has to be driving the value of the property down. Eventually some real estate investors are going to get tired of the bullshit and sell off their holdings. At that point the conspirators will swoop in and snatch it all up at bargain prices.

Once they have consolidated their hold on downtown they will replace the City Council with one that has the proper attitude and all these bullshit regulations and restrictions will be blown away, people will start driving cars again, storefront businesses boom and the conspirators will reap their criminal rewards.

I’m pretty sure this theory is nonsensical and could easily be destroyed by any kind of elementary analysis but the fact remains that I am troubled by the numerous empty storefronts. Maybe we don’t need so many retail establishments anymore. So what do you do with them? What could these places be used for that would generate kind of rent that a retail store would? Maybe it doesn’t make any difference since nobody seems to be opening any new retail stores.
You might be able convert them to parking, but many buildings are not going to be suitable for that. Or maybe they will become squats for the homeless. There are certainly enough of them. I saw maybe a dozen while I was out walking, so I'm estimating that somewhere between one out of a thousand and one out of a hundred people are homeless.

I originally wrote this using pen and paper while I was waiting for my wife. She got herself a new iPhone 8+ today because her old iPhone 6 was getting flakey, so I thought I would try using the 'talk-to-text' feature instead of typing it in by hand. She set up her phone to compose an email, pressed the go button and I read what I had written. It took three emails to get it all, but I don't know whether that was due to the operator or the phone. That got the bulk of it entered, but then I had to go through and replace the incorrect words and insert the necessary punctuation. It was kind of a fun experiment, but not very efficient.

The actual conversion of voice to text is done on a server somewhere in the cloud, so theoretically you should be able to do this from any computer with a microphone and an Internet connection.

Friday, May 25, 2018

More Thinkin'

Thinking about how get things done, things like WW2 where results are what count. And things like city council subcommittee meetings where 'process' (whatever that is) is all important. Sometimes you need to do something, right or wrong, but something needs to be done. Sometimes nothing needs to be done, we can postpone it till next week, or next month, or next never. The difference is in the risk and the reward. When you are out on the fringes of civilization, standing on the edge of plaza facing down the barbarians who would love nothing more that to overrun your plaza and smash everything and everyone on it, a forceful and decisive attitude is what you need. When you are in operating within the confines of the plaza, you can dilly dally all you like, that's why we built the plaza, so we could recline on soft couchs and eat delicacies and argue about the most inconsequential of things.

God protect me from subcommittee meetings. I would die of boredom. Listening to people that I don't know talk is my least favorite inactivity. Maybe if I was drunk I could do it, but they generally don't let beer into those sessions. Just as well, waste of good beer.


I sat down and played with the parenthesization problem this afternoon, and I think I have a pretty good handle on it. I wrote a few lines of pseudo-code and I think this scheme will work. Problem I have now is how to translate it into real code. What I am working with (so far) is an array of small structures. Each element (structure) in the array has some fields for things like the:
  • number
  • operator
  • number of open parentheses
  • number of close parentheses
  • pointer to the next element in the array
If you are paying attention, you will realize you don't really need a pointer to the next element, you're working with an array, for-Pete's-sake (that's an old expression in case you're a whipper-snapper and don't recognize it. In case you wondering, if you don't recognize it, it means you're a whipper-snapper). If you have an array, you don't need pointers, you have an index and you can adjust it to access any element in the array. If you've got pointers in here it means you've gone in and mucked with array and now just using a straight index isn't going to work anymore. And in fact, that is just what happened. I had this nice array and it worked well. Each pointer was initialized to the next element in the array. Because this array describes an expression, when you start evaluating the expression, some of these elements get consumed and so that element is no longer needed. To eliminate these from future consideration, I simply adjusted the pointer of the previous element to point the next element, skipping this one and effectively deleting it from the record.

Now if you interrupt this process, like run the concatenation operation before you run the parenthesizing operation, you are dealing with this semi-corrupt array. With an intact array, I could use a start index and take care of business, but with a corrupt array, I need besides the start index and count, I also need a pointer and a way to tell if the pointer is any good. 

There are several ways to handle this. I could use real pointers instead of my hybrid index-pointers. I could belly up to the bar and do the work necessary to keep track of all these pieces. Or I could compress the array and eliminate the dead elements. I kind of like that one. It promises to be the clearest to write and therefor read. And make working. I hope.

Morse Code

Telegraph Key

Talking to the gang at lunch yesterday about radios. Morse Code is great for use in remote locations because you can get more range with less power. But Morse Code is kind of a pain, all those dots and dashes, but mostly because of the amount of time you have to spend to get good enough so that it becomes second nature.

It would not be too difficult to write a computer program that could turn text into Morse Code, and many programs have been written to do just that. But typing for some people is as alien as Morse Code. Well, we have pretty good speech recognition software now, my wife uses it to send text messages on her smart phone. We might have a solution. Or maybe not. Rumor has it that speech recognition is not done right in the phone. The rumor I heard is that your voice message is transmitted to a server, the server translates your message and then sends the text back to you, and then your phone sends the text message out. A cumbersome and horribly inefficient way of getting a message out, but hey, this is America, and if more power will solve the problem, then more power it is. If this is indeed the case, it is not going to work in a remote location, i.e. a location without cell phone service.

The other end (translating Morse Code to text) is another issue. Stephen C. Phillips has written a web based version. I don't know how many other people have attempted it.


I've been spending time on Quora recently. Many of the questions posted there are inane, but every once in a while I find something interesting, and I can usually find a simple math or algebra problem that is challenging enough to keep me entertained for a few minutes but not so difficult that it will strain my brain. Today I ran into this one:
How many ways are there to create a six digit number using digits from 0 to 9 without repetition such that the number has the digit 7 and exactly 3 even numbers?
 Usually these kinds of problems can be solved by simply multiplying some numbers together. For instance, the number of 6 digit numbers is 900,000, which is just 9 times 10 to the fifth power. You start with 9 because anything that starts with zero is not going to be a six digit number, so the first 100,000 numbers get lopped off immediately.

After that it gets a little tricky. I thought about it for a minute and then decided that it would be easier to write a simple computer program to count all the possibilities. There might be a way to calculate the answer, but there might not. A computer program can do it for sure and it shouldn't take that long to write. Besides, the program will use recursion and I have another program that uses recursion that has had my stymied for a couple of weeks, so writing this one will be like a tune up for my brain.

The program was easy enough to write, but it didn't work. Took me a couple of hours of mucking about to sort out what all the problems were. Muddy thinking was the big one.

The answer I got was 38,880, which agrees with the only other answer that was posted, and that person got it the same way I did: by writing a computer program. He wrote his using Python, I used C. You can see mine on github.

I am still not totally sold on github, they still insist on displaying everything with tabs set to 8 spaces. I use 4 spaces. I like 4 spaces. Why does github have to be so contrary? To their credit, they do allow you to set the tab spacing in their editor to 4 spaces, though they call it indent, which technically should only apply to the beginning of the line. Whatever. But when you leave edit mode, it goes back to 8 spaces and all your pretty formatting goes to shit.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Quotes of the Day

“Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
– Thomas Edison

“Any formal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession – their ignorance.” Hendrik Willem van Loon

“During my eighty-seven years, I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them has done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think.” – Bernard M. Baruch

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”Isaac Asimov

The author's names link to books on Amazon.

Stolen from Culture of Ignorance via Anonymous on Quora


Box, closed
Dennis ordered a new screen for his phone. It came in this very cool box. The box is very light and very rigid. It feels like it is made of wood, but since the panels are only about 1/16th of an inch thick, it's not. Model makers use wood that thin, but I have never seen any mass produced item use wood that thin.

Box, open
So what is it? Uniberp tells us it is likely Bagasse MDF. MDF is really cheap, flexible, particle board used for interior trim on houses. It is used wherever you need a nice finish but no strength. The apparent rigidity of this box is probably due to its small size.

Bagasse is what's left over after the sugar has been extracted from sugar cane.

Bagasse board production line with annual output 30,000 cubic meters

The video shows a Chinese factory producing large MDF panels. They are much thicker than the panels used to make this box, but it's the best I could find. The ChinaSanMin company seems to be totally involved in this business.

Monday, May 21, 2018


One Night in Bangkok (CHESS) Murray Head

This song popped up on YouTube recently. I remember the tune from when it was a hit on the radio 30 (!?!) odd years ago. I didn't paid much attention to it at the time, it was a cool tune, it was on the radio and that was enough. Plus it's got some poetry, and don't forget they say "Bangkok" which tittilated my inner reptile (bang, cock, tee hee hee). But now I'm reading up on it and it seems it is from a musical that ran for three years in London. That was enough of recommendation that it was adapted for the American stage but it only ran here for a couple of months, which makes me wonder what the difference was between the two versions and why it was success in London but not in New York. Weird, man. It's back on the stage again. We shall see if makes an impression on America this time.

The lyrics make a couple of interesting references.
"One Night In Bangkok"

The American
Bangkok, Oriental Setting
But the city don't know what the city is getting
The crème de la crème of the chess world
In a show with everything but Yul Brynner

Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr perform "Shall We Dance" from The King and I
Time flies – doesn't seem a minute
Since the Tyrolean spa had the chess boards in it
All changed, don't you know that when you
Play at this level there's no ordinary venue

It's Iceland, or the Philippines, or Hastings
Or this place!

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but their pearls ain't free
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you're lucky, then the god's a she
I can feel an angel slidin' up to me

The American
One town's very like another
When your head's down over your pieces, brother

It's a drag, it's a bore, it's really such a pity
To be looking at the board not looking at the city

The American
Whattaya mean?!
You've seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town
Somerset Maugham suite at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel
T-girls1, warm and sweet (sweet)
Some are set up
In the Somerset Maugham suite

The American
Get Thai'd, you're talking to a tourist
Whose every move's among the purest:
"I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine"

One night in Bangkok makes the hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

The American
Siam's gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than would a muddy old river
Or reclining Buddha

But thank God I'm only watching the game
Controlling it

I don't see you guys rating
The kind of mate I'm contemplating
I'd let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you

So, you better go back to your bars
Your temples, your massage parlors

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but their pearls ain't free
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
A little flesh, a little history
I can feel an angel slidin' up to me

One night in Bangkok makes the hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

Pic of the Day

Airliner graveyard in Victorville California
Google Maps provides almost the same view.

Airliner graveyard in Victorville California
More boneyard posts.
Via Posthip Scott

The Flowers of War

The Flowers of War Trailer Official 2011 [HD] - Christian Bale, Shigeo Kobayashi

We watched The Flowers of War on Amazon Prime last night. I wasn't impressed. There were too many people being stupid, but I suppose that is probably more realistic than the action-adventure movies were the hero always knows exactly what to do and then does it without any hesitation. My wife thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story revolves around a Westerner protecting some Chinese who have taken refuge in a western church compound during the Rape of Nanking. We saw another movie with a very similar storyline a while back. I suppose I can't blame the movie people for fixating on this one story. Outside of this one enclave it was pretty much just murder and mayhem and it wouldn't take long to get your fill of that. Unless you're demented. We'll get back to that.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Nanjing)
There is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Nanking (see above photo), but there is no Winchester Cathedral, which is where the movie is set.

Saving Private Ryan Private Jackson Sniper Scene
There were a couple of bits that stood out for me. One was the view through the Chinese sharpshooter's rifle scope. Usually these views in movies just have the bare visual cues to indicate that you are looking through the shooters scope, that is, the view is restricted in a circle in the center of an otherwise black screen, and there will be reticle overlay (see above photo).  In this movie they showed the image going from a blur and then into focus along with some distortion. This is more what it's like with rifle scopes. You need to have your head in the proper position, not just in line with scope, but also at the proper distance. It takes some getting used to.

This happened during the one action-adventure scene. The Chinese sharpshooter strews some grenades around an area, lures the bad guys in and then proceeds to decimate them by detonating the grenades with well placed rifle bullets. He dies a heroes death because there is only one of him and there is an endless supply of bad guys.

Another part that was (unpleasantly) well done was the portrayal of the Japanese troops as crazed with blood lust, bent on raping the women and killing everyone. Real horror show stuff. Don't see that on the screen very often, at least not in shows involving recent history.

Christian Bale portrays a mortician who has come to Nanking to prepare a recently deceased priest for burial. Makes you wonder what kind of idiot he is. Who would come to a city that has been turned into a war zone? But churches have their own agenda. There may be a war going on, but we have our rituals and we are going to observe them. And our mortician is not the brightest guy. His only interests money, booze and, when the harlots show up, women.

Harlots performing an ancient song

Oh yes, the harlots. A band of whores seeks refuge in the church and in spite of the whole world going to shit all around them spend their time as if everything was normal, i.e. squabbling about clothes and jewelry and who is being bitchy. A couple of them even sneak out to fetch some earrings and guitar strings from their old home which gets them, unsurprisingly, killed. I suspect logical thinking
might be difficult when you under stress, but gee-willickers, that was really stupid.

China still holds a grudge against the Japanese for WW2 while the Japanese would pretty much like to forget it ever happened.

WW2 eliminated most of the culture of mass-murder from Japan and Germany, but it is still going on in other parts of the world, notably Southeast Asia and Africa, though it is not quite as organized or on the same scale. But it still pops up on a semi-regular basis all over the world. Some demented jerk gets hold of a powerful device (gun, car or bomb) and proceeds to lay to waste all those around him. The news media has a field day with every instance of aberrant behavior. Mass murder gives them a chance to spout off about something different than who's-fucking-who. Sex, drugs and / or violence, it's all the same to them.

The more people you have, the more normal people you have, but you also get more people on the fringe and the more people you get on the fringe, the weirder and wider that fringe gets. I don't think we will ever get a handle on it. Even if we get the 'thought police', they will never be able to catch everybody, and that might be a good thing. If everyone is the same and we know how everybody thinks, would we every get any new ideas? Many new ideas are bad, but every once is a while a good one pops up. Stamping out the abnormal could very well lead to stagnation, and then, when the spiders from Mars invade, what are you going to do, Bucky? Well, punk, are you feeling lucky?

Roger Ebert wrote a decent review, though he complains about there being a white guy in the film. Problem is that if there hadn't been a white guy, there wouldn't have been a story. Well, not this story anyway.