Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Remember the brouhaha over President Bill Clinton's involvment with Monica Lewinsky? Ken Starr was the prosecutor of that farce. Would you like to know who his right hand man was? Brett Kavanaugh, that's who. Just goes to show you that what goes around comes around.

On Sunday The Oregonian announced their support for Knute Buehler, a Republican, for governor. This is in deep blue state so I was a little surprised. The story seemed fairly well balanced and fairly rational, but then I thought "who are they kidding"? Nobody cares about the facts. The only thing that matters to the public is rumor and innuendo. If there aren't any sexual shenanigans, nobody cares.

We're about halfway through The Rise of the Phoenixes (why do I think it should be The Rise of the Phoenii?) and it continues to fascinate. The plot is a little convoluted as it involves a couple dozen characters that are intimately involved in palace intrigue, so it can a little hard to follow sometimes, but it's a series, so there is plenty repetition and flashbacks to fill in what you've forgotten. The best part is that you don't have to spend thousands of hours watching the screen to find out what's going on like you do with real life politics. They've distilled it down so you only get the high points. I guess my point here is that political infighting hasn't changed in a zillion years.

There is one scene (episode 32) where our hero, who is pursuing revenge for crimes committed 20 years ago, finally has the villain dead to rights, or so he thinks. We have a showdown in the emperor's court (not like a modern court with lawyers and judges, this is an old feudal court where everyday empire-level business is conducted). Our hero lays out his case, thinking this will be end of the villain, but, naturally enough, the villain denies everything. It was incompetent subordinates, so yes, it's his responsibility, but he apologizes for his failure to maintain proper control and promises to punish the miscreants. Our hero dang near bursts a blood vessel when confronted with this mountain of bullshit. Reminds me of the old trial lawyer's rule of thumb: don't ask any questions in court that you don't already know the answer to.

There is another scene where a visiting prince wants to gain admission to the royal academy. He is enamored of the director, who is a woman pretending to be a man. Not quite sure what's going on here. The character is maybe 20 years old and very thin, so she could be a boy, but from her face alone she is obviously a woman. All I can think is that they have rules of conduct and if you follow the rules, nobody is going to question whether you are really a man or a woman.

Qingming Academy Entrance Examination
The director, the prince and the three students.

Anyway, the prince wants in. To gain admission he must pass the entrance exam (episode 35, 28:42 mark). The exam consists of one question. The prince is presented with three students, each holding a small box. One box holds a stone, the other two are empty. Each student makes a statement regarding this situation. Two of them are lying and one is telling the truth. Their statements are:
  1. The stone is not in this box.
  2. The stone is in Yao Yangyu's box (student #1).
  3. The stone is not in this box.
Prince Helian cannot figure it out. I admit that at the time, relaxing in an alcoholic haze, I couldn't figure it out either. Ready for the solution? Student #1 is the only one telling the truth and the stone is in box #3. It's a fairly simple matter to deduce the answer using elementary logic. Makes me wonder whether logical thinking was really such a rare commodity that being able to solve this problem qualified you for entrance to the academy. I guess I shoulnd't be surprised, logical thinking is still in short supply, as evidenced by stupidity on display every day in the halls of power.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

John Henry

Tennessee Ernie Ford sings "John Henry"

Bayou Renaissance Man got me started with a couple of clips of guys drilling holes in rock the old fashioned way, i.e. by using a hammer and a steel bit, which reminded me of John Henry and the Steam Drill, related by Tennessee, above. I noticed that the men were holding the drill bit with their hands. I can understand doing that in a competition, but when you are working I think you would be using some kind of tongs to hold the bit. Too much danger of getting your hand smashed by the hammer should it miss its mark.

I also remember reading a story about a man drilling rock by hand, but he used two sledge hammers with well oiled handles. The oil made the handles flexible, which meant that when they were swung correctly, they hit with considerably more force than a hammer with a rigid handle. And this guy knew how to swing those hammers, and he would swing them alternately, left, right, left, boom, boom, boom. He must have been a hell of a man. I might be able to get a couple of licks operating like that, but that would be all and then I would have to take a break. For some reason I think it was a story by Neal Stephenson, but I can't imagine what it would have been. Kind of a pity that I don't remember who wrote it because the image sure stuck in my brain.

Since we are talking about hammers, I want to relate this little bit. I remember working at the Ohio State Fair 50 years ago putting up a prefab steel building, and there was a crew next door erecting tents. Three or four guys with big mallets would stand in a circle and take turns pounding on these giant tent stakes. Each one would take a swing with their hammer. They would go around the circle maybe twice and the peg would be in the ground. They were good. Smooth, practiced and efficient. Never seen the like before or since.

1871 Ingersoll Rock Drill
The Ingersoll Rock Drill could be powered by steam or compressed air. Steam was used in quarries or other open air excavations. Compressed air was preferred for mines as a constant flow of steam could make the mine uninhabitable.

The contest between John Henry and the Steam Drill may have taken place during the construction of the Big Bend Tunnel in West Virginia.

Google Map
Open Railway Map

We made good use of a sledge hammer while we were tearing out the old floor in the kitchen of younger son's newly purchased house. The house is 50 years old and they must have put a new layer of flooring down every 5 or 10 years. Underneath each new layer of linoleum or Pergo, was a new new layer of  sheathing, and each of the layers was nailed or screwed down tight. It took us a week to peal it all off and pull all the nails and screws. Well, maybe not a week, but it sure felt like it. We used the sledge to drive a pitch fork or a crow bar under the flooring so we could pry it up and peel it off.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Rise of Phoenixes

The Rise of Phoenixes I Official Trailer I Netflix

The Rise of Phoenixes is a Chinese historical drama, set some number of millenia ago. The plot revolves around the machinations of the royal family, such as it as, and their associated hangers-on. It's in Chinese, at least I think it is, so we have poorly translated subtitles to read. Poorly translated? More like horribly butchered, but never mind, we have the original intonation, and from that and the actor's expressions we are able to pretty well deduce what the heck is going on. Sometimes it escapes us and we have to pause and remind each other just who that character who just got kilt was. But we are twenty episodes into this behemoth series and we're kind of just going with the flow.

The costumes and the sets are fabulous. Their idea of tailoring and personal adornment is very different than ours, but everyone wears clothes that cover their entire body except for their hands and their heads. The look of some of the scenes reminds me of Star Trek and James Bond movies. There's even one scene where this episode's bad guy is wearing a white shirt open to the waist. It's so unusual, you never see any skin in this show, even in the brothel.

China has had some kind of civilization for thousands of years, so I am watching this show and thinking about China, and I realize that while the show we are watching may be depicting a relative high point, the country has been able to support a certain number of nobility in luxury for a very, very long time.

From Episode 19 at the 21 minute mark, a scene with our girl (Q, also know as Wei Zhi) and the emperer (E):

E: Come, Wei Zhi. Play Go with me.
Q: Yes, Your Majesty.
E: Since you're not here to repay a kindness, what are your plans as a
     government official? Do you want status and fortune? Or do you want to
     safeguard the country well?
Q: Status and fortune, of course.
E: Out of so many government officials, over half of them want status and fortune,
     but you are the only one who dares to say that in front of me directly.
Q: Your Majesty. Half a year ago, I never would have agreed to become the
     Ultimate Scholar. I only wanted to travel and see the world. Isn't it great to live      freely?
E: Why did you change your mind after half a year?
Q: Because during that period, I discovered that anyone who lives in this world
     without power and authority is destined to be at the mercy of others.
     One can live freely in this world only by having a high status and authority.
E: Wei Zhi. How old are you?
Q: Less that 20 years old. Why did Your Majesty suddenly ask this?
E: Even though you're very smart, you're just a boy. You'll understand later on.           The higher your position and authority, the harder it gets to live by your own
Q: Even if you're the Emperor?
E: I'm the person who can live the least by my own accord.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Different View of Reality

Hyudai Plant - Alabama

While I'm looking for pictures to go with my previous post about the Hyundai, I come across this recall announcement from three years ago. Seems Hyundai had a problem with an engine assembly line in Alabama with caused some engines to fail. The problem was that there was debris left in some oil passages which led to crankshaft bearing failure. Normally this is kind of a big deal. The engine starts making a heck of a racket and if you keep driving it the engine will break and stop.

This is all kind of understandable, but then the NHTSA gets involved and now it gets a little squirrely. Hyundai realizes there is a problem and issues a recall for about a zillion cars, but they don't call it a safety recall. It might cause the engine to break and the car to stop, but it doesn't really seem like a safety problem. I mean the engine it going to be making a heck of a racket before it breaks. Isn't that enough of a warning that any normal person might realize there is something wrong and maybe pull off the road and investigate? Evidently the NHTSA doesn't think so. They are all about protecting even the most oblivious drivers. This is what happens when people forget how we got here: by building machines, not just shuffling paper and posting rants on Blogger.

The $2500 Oil Change

Hyundai V-6 with Timing and Valve Covers removed
Took the Hyundai in for an oil change and to have someone look at the brakes. Picked it up this afternoon. The bill came to $2500. Seems there were a couple of silent problems hiding under the hood.

We'll start with the usual suspects. The brakes were making funny noises a couple of days ago. They were making the screechy sound you get when the disk brake pads have reached the end of their life, but it was kind of random, it wasn't happening just when I stepped on the brakes. It would start and then I would turn the steering wheel a fraction and it would stop. Then I would turn it the other way and it would start up again, and then it just quit. That would have been the end of it, but it pulled exactly the same stunt a month ago, and now it's due for an oil change, so let's take a look.

Turns out the brake pads had reached the end of their life so they get replaced, and since there's a factory in Asia churning out new rotors for a buck and half a piece, the rotors get replaced as well. Used to be standard practice to turn them on a brake lathe, but that was then and this is now and I don't know if anyone turns brake rotors anymore.

Then there was the leaking valve cover. This leak is probably what killed the alternator a couple of years ago, and that cost 7 or 8 hundred dollars to fix. We don't want to have to do that again, so let's get this leak fixed. While they are in there poking around they discover that the timing cover gasket is also leaking. Fixing it requires disassembling half of the  car. That was what jacked up the price. Since we are inside the timing cover, they also replaced the water pump because that is where water pumps live now. The car has 100,000 miles on it and while the water pump might last the life of the car, it might not, and it's the cheapest part of this deal, so they replace it as well.

So, lots of new stuff:
  • oil & filter
  • brake pads and rotors all around
  • water pump
  • spark plugs
  • engine air filter
  • cabin air filter
  • valve cover gasket
  • timing cover gasket
There were probably some other new bits in there as well. The car has 110K miles on it, which is pretty low for being 10 years old. I got a new set of tires for it earlier this year, so it ought to good for another five years or maybe even ten. I hope.

Pic of the Day

108 - Jon Carmichael
Jon took this photo of the August 2017 solar eclipse from a Southwest Airlines flight while flying over the Snake River en-route from Portland Oregon to St. Louis Missouri.

Via Reddit

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Forest Fire in Croatia

Orebic, Croatia

Iaman is off gallivanting around Europe. He lands in Orebic, Croatia, a nice little vacation spot on an island in the Adriatic. And what happens? The local forest catches fire.

Orebic Croatia forest fire

Friday, September 28, 2018

Waste of Time

I don't know how I got onto this, and it's probably a waste of your time and mine to even think about it. I mean the Kavanaugh debacle is a more important / bigger waste of time, but this is what I've got and I find it irritating, so here we go.

The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) posted this story about home heating and cooling. Therein I found this line:
Households may also use less energy than they would prefer; 11% of households surveyed reported keeping their home at an unhealthy or unsafe temperature.
Okay, what is "an unhealthy or unsafe temperature"? This is official government agency, so I asked. I expected some kind of real information, but that's not what I got. Seems they conducted a survey and asked people how they felt:

Fricking morons.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


The 45rpm Record

Jack recommended this gal. Her videos are a little long winded for my taste. This one is 20 minutes long. She takes a while to get rolling, but in the second half she gets into some really obscure technical stuff, meaning things I was not aware of.

Records are kind of weird. With all our digital technology we shouldn't need them at all, but some people won't listen to anything else. There is a certain purity to them, at least to the ones made before everything went digital. Nowadays with all the compression and boosting and who-knows-what-all, the relation of the sound that comes out to the sound that went in is tenuous at best.

The Biggest Criminal

Milton Friedman Pontificates
Bayou Renaissance Man has a post about crime wars, i.e. wars being conducted by criminal organizations. They differ from conventional wars only in that the participants are not 'legitimate'. Looking on Reddit for a relevant discussion I came across the above quote, which echoes my feelings on the subject. It's a sad state of affairs when the people in charge of making the laws, laws that we all are trying to live under, are the biggest criminals of all.

I've heard of Milton before, but I've never quite figured out just what was so special about him. I mean he blathered a bunch of blather about money, but so what? Everyone blathers about money. So I looked him and read enough of Wikipedia's article about him to find this passage, which gives a pretty good summation of the man.
Friedman was an advisor to Republican President Ronald Reagan and Conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. His political philosophy extolled the virtues of a free market economic system with minimal intervention. He once stated that his role in eliminating conscription in the United States was his proudest accomplishment. In his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman advocated policies such as a volunteer military, freely floating exchange rates, abolition of medical licenses, a negative income tax and school vouchers and opposed the war on drugs. His support for school choice led him to found the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, later renamed EdChoice.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Batteries & Warranties

All the squirrelly problems with the Mazda went away with the new battery. My experience with automobile batteries over the last 30 years is that they last about five years, and when they die, they do so suddenly. I tried to keep our Ford Windstar running when its battery died, but that only lasted a couple of days before I threw in the towel. I've had a couple of batteries die in the truck and at least one in the Mitsubishi. When the batteries in those vehicles showed signs of flaking out I replaced them post haste. Don't bother with jumper cables or voltmeters (though I always check the voltage because that's the kind of guy I am). Just go to the store and buy a new battery.

The business with the brake pedal kind of threw me. I still haven't figured that one out. It could be psychological, or it could be some kind of electro-mechanical gimcrack that doesn't come into play until the battery dies. And then there were the flashing lights and the instrument panel going crazy, but all that stuff is presumably digital now and can operate with just a breath of power like you might get from a dying battery, so that is probably just the kind of behavior you should expect from a nearly dead battery.

Quickest, easiest and cheapest solution is just to replace the battery. It only takes ten minutes, unless you count the time spent going to the auto parts store. Then it takes an hour. The battery was $150, which is chunk of change, but nothing compared to having the car towed to the dealer so they can replace whatever computerized doo-dad has died and gone to meet Mr. Jobs.

Baxter's only offer 18 and 30 month warranties. The last few batteries I bought all had 5 year (60 month) warranties, and that's how long they usually lasted. I can't imagine the quality or durability of batteries has dropped that much, rather I think the terms of warranties have changed. I think my previous warranties were basically prorated for the life of the warranty, i.e. you pay for all the time you have the battery. This new warranty offers free replacement if the battery fails in the warranty period, which is very different.

The battery we are replacing is only two years old. (The car is a 2016 and now it's 2018.) I am surprised that it failed. I suppose it could have suffered some internal injury when the car was wrecked, or maybe the Florida sun cooked its goose. Whatever. I just hope it isn't going to be a habit.

Odds of needing to use the warranty are slim. I use warranties to judge the quality of the product. I figure a more confident manufacturer will offer a longer warranty. These days, they have probably collected enough statistics on battery life and failure modes that they can calculate to the penny how much they need to allow for warranty returns.

The oddest thing about this whole operation is that there are no auto parts stores in downtown Portland. We had to go seven miles down Interstate Five to get to Baxter's. I noticed on Google Maps that there was a Fred Meyer that was closer and Freddie's sells some basic automotive supplies, like oil and batteries, and most of them do, but not this one. I always thought that auto parts stores were pretty much evenly distributed according to population. I remember when I lived in Ohio there was one 24 hour auto parts store in Columbus and it was right downtown. This exclusion of auto parts stores from the downtown area in Portland smacks of elitism. More likely the space / rent squeeze had just forced out anyone who cares about how much rent they are paying. Or maybe cars are better built now and we just don't need that many auto parts stores.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

New Age Car Lingo

How a Brake Booster and Master Cylinder Work

The Mazda is being difficult, which is foxing dutiful daughter. It won't start and when you try if acts squirrelly. Being a modern car, you need to push the brake pedal before you push the start button, so according to delightful daughter it's a 'push-start' car, which foxxed me when she said it. To me, push-start means a couple of guys pushing a car to get it rolling and then popping the clutch to start the engine. This used to be common knowledge. I wonder if anyone under the age of 30 has ever done it.

Anyway, back to the Mazda. Under normal circumstances, when you push on the brake pedal prior to trying to start the car, it moves, not much, but you can feel it move a bit. But now, devious daughter tells me, it doesn't. Being an independent sort, she did some Googling before she called me, and now she wants to know how power brakes work. I explained it as best I could, but then I thought a video might help, so I went looking and found this one and it's pretty great. There are some subtle funnies mixed in with explanation, and it's all technical all the time, so I enjoyed it.

Mary Jane

Merry Jane
Rumor has it that a quarter ounce of high quality marijuane (7 grams) runs $75 from the local dispensary while prices on the street are a fraction of that at $25 a quarter. Seems there is a glut in the marijuana market. There are over a million pounds of the stuff in legal* inventory in Oregon right now. The marijuana business is in for some interesting** times.

*for some definition of the word 'legal'. Cannabis is legal under Oregon law, but it is still illegal under Federal law.

**interesting as in the ancient Chinese curse.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Terence Trent D'Arby

Terence Trent D'Arby - Wishing Well (Video)

Is YouTube watching me? Or do they have a fairly sophisticated algorithm for recommending videos? This one popped up the other day, and from my initial impression there was almost nothing I liked about it. But then I clicked on it again and now here we are. The three guitarists just standing there and patting their guitars at the beginning is very cool. And this Trent guy has got moves that rival Michael Jackson. But he has left all that behind and moved on to a new life as Sananda Maitreya. I haven't to listened to any of that, so you're on your own there.
Guy should never have been in the Army. Some people are suited to the military, and some aren't. I don't know how you could tell them apart. Good research project for a psychology major. What am I thinking? The Army has no doubt already done numerous studies on the subject, but they haven't figured it out. They probably need a guy like this to answer the question and that's not going to happen.

Tune is from 1987. Video too, I imagine.

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Dubnium (new) - Periodic Table of Videos

At the 5:46 mark the professor mentions the 'relativistic effects of electrons' which surprised me because I wouldn't think the size of the atom would have any such effect, and maybe it doesn't. I should check up on this, but right now I need a cup of coffee.

Dubnium has show up here once before.

Quote / Pic of the Day

Fire Phasers!
Of Course People Are Smoking Weed With Lasers
It's the future, after all.

Via Motherboard & Dustbury

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Telegraphic Mining Code 1888

Reading about Bauxite last week, I came across an old book entitled Telegraphic Mining Code. It's the strangest thing. As you can see from the portion reproduced above, it is a list of 'words' and their associated phrases. Some of the 'words' are ordinary words, but most appear to be near random sequences of letters. That's okay, because they aren't meant to be read, but only to be used as an index into the code book. The list of code words runs over 300 pages, and I pity the poor souls who had to make use of it. I suspect the purpose was to conceal your activities from your competitors. This would only work if they did not have a copy of the book. I suppose it is like any new technology. The first ones to adopt it have a leg up on the competition. I wonder how long it was before it became obsolete?

Today we have a video about hacking garage door openers.

This Toy Can Open Any Garage

Apparently Derek's garage door openers date from the dawn of the digital age, their encryption-fu is weak. Modern openers use a rolling code. Each time a signal is sent, a new code is generated from the previous code. The problem here, that the video does not adequately explain, is how the receiver and the transmitter stay in sync. Wikipedia tells us that "A typical implementation compares within the next 256 codes in case receiver missed some transmitted keypresses." Okay, but what happens when your kid gets hold of the remote and presses the button a zillion times? 256 codes are not going to cover it. I suppose you could use a longer list of numbers, and given the size of the numbers, it would not affect the security. I mean, how many times can a kid press the button before he gets bored?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Mr. Sunshine

Mr. Sunshine | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

We started watching this series a couple of nights ago and it promises to keep us occupied for many more. The first couple of episodes hold much of the back story and are a bit confusing. Who are all these people? But eventually it sorts itself out. The story takes place in Korea around 1900. Japan, Russia and the USA are all trying to carve out a place in Korea. The Americans send a fleet of five warships, including a paddle wheel steamer. It was pretty great seeing that on the screen, even if it was just a computer generated image.

The best part is the alien thought processes on display, and the conflict between the different cultures about what is normal, right and proper. It's pretty great.

The story centers on an orphaned Joseon (Korean) slave boy who escapes to America and a young Korean noble woman. The slave boy  grows up and becomes a U.S. Marine officer, who then gets sent back to Korea as part of a diplomatic mission. The young woman is a contrarian, not satisfied with a life of flower arranging that her grandfather wants. She takes up target practice, initially with a matchlock rifle and later with bolt action repeating rifles.

Wikipedia has a short piece about the movie and a longer article about  Shinmiyango, which is the starting point for the story.

On Netflix with subtitles.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Resistance Banker

The Resistance Banker | in theaters 8 March

Another great movie. History teaches us about the politics and the military operations of a war, but they kind of gloss over the money. Here we have a couple of Dutch bankers who manage by hook and crook to funnel a hundred million guilders into financing the resistance. They aren't spending it all on weapons. The bulk of it seems to have gone to paying salaries to the railroad men men who have gone on strike. Without railway workers, the trains don't run. Without the trains, the German war machine doesn't go anywhere. Not very action packed, but very effective.

The threat of betrayal, torture and death is ever present, so the mood is a little tense.

Wikipedia has an article about Walraven van Hall, the titular character.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Angel

The Angel | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

Great movie! Gamal Nassar, Anwar Sadat, Golda Meir & Jimmy Carter all enter into this story.

Near as I can make out, we have two factions duking it out in Egypt: the ones backing Nassar and the ones backing Sadat. Nassar was the president, but he dies and now Anwar is in charge, and he pushes the old crowd out. The old crowd wants to go to war with Israel to reclaim the Sinai peninsula that Israel conquered in the Six Days War. The new crowd realizes this is a futile endeavor. They got their asses kicked the last time they went to war with Israel, there is no reason to believe a repeat engagement would go any better. But if Anwar doesn't get the lost territory back, there will be a coup and the old crowd will force their way back  into power. So he comes up with a scheme to get Israel to give back the Sinai pennisula.

Seems to me Egypt got a lot of press when I was a kid. I wonder why that was. You don't suppose the fact that Russia was backing them at the time, and Israel was a potent political force had anything to do with it do you?

There is something I don't understand about the Muslim countries in the Mideast. They have been howling for Israel's head for as long as I can remember, which is like 60 years. They've had several conflicts and they have pretty much gotten their asses kicked every time. What is wrong with them? I would think they could find something better to spend their energy on. I suspect it is because they don't believe in the real world.

The True Story Behind the Movie The Angel
Hollywood Reporter Review

AN-225 Strikes Again

The Worlds Largest Airplane Landing in Oakland California ATC

The downtown area visible in the background is San Francisco and is about ten miles from the Oakland airport. This the second time I've come across the AN-225 this week. The first time was a story about the other AN-225, the one they never finished building. Apparently there is enough demand for carrying big things to keep this one flying. Should business ever pick up, it's nice to have one waiting in the wings, so to speak.

Looking around, you might spy an airplane that looks like the AN-225. If you do, its probably an AN-124, little brother to the AN-225. It is easy to tell them apart. The AN-225 has six engines, the AN-124 only has four.

The AN-225 has appeared in this blog here and here.

Via FlightAware

Perlan 2

The Airbus Perlan glider soars above the peaks of the Andes in Argentina. - Airbus
Riding the wind above the Andes Mountains, an experimental glider has set a world record for high-altitude flight.

On Sept. 2, the sleek Perlan 2 glider carried two pilots to 76,100 feet, or more than 14 miles, over the El Calafate region in southern Argentina. That’s the highest altitude ever reached by humans aboard an unpowered fixed-wing aircraft, and one of the highest altitudes reached by an aircraft of any description. Only spy planes and specialized balloons have flown higher. - Tom Metcalfe
The Perlan glider was built in Portland. It has appeared in this blog before.
Via FlightAware

Pic of the Day

Found on Facebook. Earned me 2,000 points on Reddit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Dangerous Dirt

Bulk Jupiter
The Bulk Jupiter sank off the coast of Vietnam a couple of years ago. There was one survivor. It was carrying a load of bauxite (aluminum ore) which was supposed to be a safe cargo, I mean it's basically just dirt, but evidently some kinds of dirt are liable to turn to liquid in the bottom of the hold is there is enough pressure and enough moisture in the material. At the bottom of the hold there is plenty of pressure due to all the material piled on top, so the gating factor is the moisture content.

If you were sailing on smooth seas this would not be a problem, but in heavy weather where the ship is rolling side to side, having the cargo turn to liquid means it is going to flow towards the downward leaning side of the ship. This can make the roll worse, and if the seas break over the hatches, and the hatches fail, it can be all over in a matter of minutes.

On average, ten "solid bulk cargo" carriers have been lost at sea each year for the last decade. - Susan Gourvenec
Looks like the Bulk Jupiter may have been the last straw that convinced the powers that be that they needed to look at the problem a little closer, so they did. Bauxite used to be a Class C cargo, but now it's a Class A cargo, which means you need to measure the moisture content.

Via Quora

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Universe(s)

Men In Black Ending

This scene just popped into my head. All I can say is that the mind works in mysterious ways.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Chimney Park

Chimney Park, Portland Oregon

Younger son recently bought a house in North Portland, and Elliot told me that Pier Park was nearby, so I took a look at the map. Just north of Pier Park I found Chimney Park, and when I went looking for information about Chimney Park, I found this.

City Incinerator, 1932
The building quit functioning as an incinerator a long time ago and the chimney has been torn down. The building is still there, though it doesn't seem to have much purpose.

This chimney along with the building could fit inside the Anaconda Smelter Chimney.

Thomas & Gustav

Thomas the Tank Engine & Gustav the Railway Gun
For Jack, who likes big guns, and my kids who grew up with Thomas.

Via Reddit

New Cars

Portland T415 Toyota Dock
Reading Joe Sherlock's post about new car sales got me to wondering how I could get a handle on these numbers. Car dealers sell about 16 million new cars every year in the USA. 16 million? What does that even mean? It may as well be one million or a zillion. But then I got the idea to compare it to our population and I realized that one out of every 20 people buys a new car every year. Since roughly half the population doesn't drive either because they are too little, too old & decrepit, or just don't drive, that means that it's one out of ten. Of course some of those that buy new cars buy a new one every year, and some only buy one in their entire lifetime.

The above image shows only a small portion of the parking lots given over to new car storage in North Portland.

Drunken Racing

Swedish House Mafia - Greyhound - Extended Video Remix HD

It's a vodka commercial from 2012. It's out of this world. The tune is kind of meh: repetitive, electronic dance music. I don't think real dogs move their heads quite so much.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


We are patching holes in the walls. Some of them are tiny, like screw holes. Others are larger, like the two foot square holes in the garage that were made in order to fix leaks in the plumbing. Went to the local building supply to get some drywall, but we don't really need a full sheet, so we picked up (3) two foot square pieces for $5 each so the total was as much as a full sheet. But we didn't have to wrestle with the full sheet, or borrow Mom's car so we could tie it to roof rack, and we aren't going to have to dispose of a big piece of leftover drywall. So, $15 worth of drywall. We won't talk about the $50 worth of auxiliary do-dads we needed.

The last time I checked on the price of a sheet of drywall (aka plasterboard) it was $1.50. Of course that was 50 years ago, and that was same price as a six pack of beer. Actually, Golden Goebels was only a buck at the corner store. Premium beer might have been $1.25. Just another bit of evidence to support my factor-of-ten inflation history.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Pic of the Day

Captain Kevin Oprey standing on the bulbous underwater prow of his ship, the Queen Mary 2.

La Catedral del Mar

La Catedral del Mar - Trailer en Español l Netflix*

I am ambivalent about this show. It's a little heavy handed in its depiction of just how awful things were in the 14th Century, but I imagine there are some audiences that enjoy getting their emotions drug around for no discernible purpose. If I can keep myself supplied with adult beverages I can tolerate it. Another problem is that it's dubbed. Unless the dubbing is exceptionally well done it just doesn't convey the same feeling. The dubbing here is adequate so we have two layers of crap icing laid over the story which makes it a little hard to watch, but the story underneath is pretty good.

We watched two episodes last night and so far it it very reminiscent of The Pillars of the Earth, which I almost managed to finish. Maybe I didn't drink enough.

I looked up the cathedral on Google Maps (because that's who I am), and, well, look at this.

La Catedral del Mar, Barcelona Spain
I can't imagine how many electrons gave their lives to bring this image to the screen. I just wonder whether this was done by stitching together a bunch of images, or whether they started with a geometric model. It's not a Mission Impossible level of detail, but it's pretty dang good, especially considering it is halfway around the world, and Google didn't really have any advance warning that I would be looking for this. Well, actually they did, since all those big tech companies are in cahoots, and if they were watching me they could reasonable expect that I would be looking up this cathedral on Google Maps. But that would be nuts. On the other hand, there are all those server farms out there, looking for things to do, so maybe there is a bot* assigned to watch me and whenever it finds an intersection of two data sets it sets about projecting what I might be asking for next. "Oh look! He's watching this show about a cathedral in Spain and we know he likes maps. I'll bet he's going to look up this cathedral on Google Maps, so we better get to work putting together a 3-D model of this thing." Careful Chucky, that sounds an awful lot like the road to paranoia.

Medieval Crossbow
But back to the story. You may notice that our hero is carrying a cross-bow, a cross-bow he picked up on his way out while stealing his son back from his lord's armory. (Why is the kid in the armory? Because that's what villains do, obviously.)

The story portrays the lord as a bad, bad man who is persecuting our hero only because he can, but being as a cross-bow was about the 14th Century equivalent of a modern F-16 fighter, you could understand the lord being really pissed about the theft. But that wouldn't make our hero very sympathetic, so it doesn't get mentioned. They do show it, so I imagine it will have an important part to play later on.

P.S. The show is presumably based on the book. Wikipedia has an article about the church itself.

P.P.S. Cathedrals have shown up here on occasion.

* If you mess with the controls, you can turn on English subtitles. It's not really worth it since they don't tell you much. I was going to try and figure out how to do it, but I couldn't even get it to stop at the end without automatically replaying the clip.

**A bot is a little program that gets called up to perform some kind of action whenever a certain triggering event occurs.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Negative Reinforcement

A Robot Shoots Me When I Get Shot in Fortnite

There's some foul language in here, but it's pretty funny. It's also pretty impressive the way he has strung so many disparate elements together.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Lost In Space - New Series

Lost in Space | Date Announcement [HD] | Netflix

I watched a couple of episodes. I suppose it might be a good show for kids. It was a little juvenile? elementary? Not that great. The special effects were pretty good and there is a bit of real space physics, so that was interesting. Okay, it was more of a passing acknowledgement that, yeah, physics might have some bearing.

The story is a bit apocalyptic, which, now that I think about it, is a pretty common feature in Science-Fiction. I mean they blew up an entire planet full of people in Star Wars. But we like survivor stories. Kind of like fairy tales that way.

I think the thing about the Earth becoming unsafe for human life is kind of a poor motivator. Yes, you can motivate people with fear, but they don't always make the best decisions when they are scared, do they? Me, I'm more in favor of a lets go see what we can do attitude. There are a lot of naysayers out there who will question whether it's a worthwhile endeavor. "Why would you ever want to do that?" they'll say. "Why don't you come and sit with me and Mrs. MacGyver. We'll have some tea and cake." Christ on a crutch, just what I want to do. Get away from me you old biddy. I wouldn't actually say that, of course. I'd go and have tea and biscuits, but all the time I'm gonna be thinking about how are we going to go places.

The thing is, well, let's Wikipedia give us the premise:
In the aftermath of an impact event that threatens the survival of humanity, the Robinson family is selected for the 24th mission of the Resolute (24th Colonist Group), an interstellar spacecraft carrying selected families to colonize the Alpha Centauri star system.

Before they reach their destination, an alien robot breaches the Resolute's hull. Forced to evacuate the mothership in short-range Jupiter spacecraft, scores of colonists, among them the Robinsons, crash on a nearby habitable planet. There they must contend with a strange environment and battle their own personal demons as they search for a way back to the Resolute.
There are 14 stacks of Jupiter Spacecraft arranged around the inside of the big ring. How many ships are in each stack is debatable. It might be as few as four, or and as many as a couple of dozen.

The way I remember it, the Resolute wasn't carrying more than about a hundred of the Jupiter spacecraft. How many people on board a single Jupiter? Kind of hard to tell. We've only seen a half dozen people or so, and they seem to have plenty of room.  Given the available space, in an emergency, you could probably cram a couple of hundred people into one ship, though you wouldn't want to do for more than a day, and then only if you can provide enough air for everyone to breath. For long term habitation, a Jupiter might only be able to support a small family.

Jupiter Spacecraft

Doesn't matter really. From what we know, some of the Jupiters made it down to this planet. Don't know many, don't know how many were destroyed on the way down. Durn these cheap communicators. This means, of course, that any time they need a new character, they simply need to find another ship that managed to make it down to the ground intact.

Hand Dancing

Anton Ishutin feat. Note U - Be My Lover (Sharapov Remix)

The tune is tolerable and there are plenty of dancing girls, which is always a plus, but it's the hand dancing (I don't know what else you would call it) that captured me. She shows up at the beginning and intermittently throughout the video.

I thought it was cool enough that went looking for more and found this guy.

"DUBSTEP FINGERS" | Finger Tutting Hand Dance | PNUT | Skrillex Kill everybody

My fingers are a little on the stubby side, so I would hard pressed to duplicate this performance. Okay, I would be hard pressed to do something that might be recognizable as a poor imitation.

Hand dancing has been mentioned here before.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Crime & Punishment

Gnarls Barkley - Crazy [video] Album Version

It occurs to me that one reason why the Catholic Church has such a problem with pedophilia is that dispensing justice is not in the Church's purview. The church is in the business of forgiveness. You can bet that those who committed a sin while in the grip of some hormone induced compulsion, when they get to confession they will be truly repentant and will whole-hearted promise to sin no more. And the church, being the church can only accept them at their word. But people are animals. No matter how much we might like to think we are in control of ourselves, it's the hormones that are actually in control.

Ping Pong

ping pong carnival (卓球芸人ぴんぽんまとめ English Ver.)

Could this be the reincarnation of Bruce Lee?


Aluminum and Mercury

Very strange.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Dayz of Summer

Aerosols World Wide
  • blue - sea salt (storms)
  • red - carbon (fires)
  • purple - dust
A couple of days ago about 10 in the morning I went outside and looked at the sun. It was so dim and red I could look directly at it. Shows you how much smoke is in the air.  Started looking around, trying to figure what was going on in the forest fire department, and what I found is politics. There are several big outfits all pushing their own agenda, and since big money is involved they are pushing pretty hard. I did find a couple of things. One is that the federal government has given the Forest Service some money to pay for fighting fires, so the Forest Service no longer has to steal money from their operating funds to pay for fire suppression. This is good because because the fire fighting business had gotten go big that it was pretty much consuming their entire operating budget.

Another was that something 75 out of a hundred and some forest projects have been hamstrung by environmentalist lawsuits. Seems the environmentalists want to let nature take its course which means letting these fires burn.

The last was that fire season has grown from lasting a couple of months 30 years ago to where it now lasts upwards of six months, mostly due to warmer weather.

Our natural response (actually not natural, conditioned is more accurate) is that fires are bad and should be put out. But that leads to an accumulation of fuel which leads to bigger conflagrations which is why the air is full of smoke.

Eventually all this surplus wood should burn and then things should go back to normal, whatever that is.

All this talk about haze and summer prompted my recollection of this song, though I don't think I've ever heard the whole thing before.

Nat King Cole - Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer

Thursday, August 23, 2018


Custom Toyota Supra Engine
All I need is a little paint and polish to satisfy my craving for fancy machinery, but for some people that is not enough. Apparently these engraved pieces are real gold and silver. The silver might be Argentium which is a special alloy that employs Germanium. Sterling silver is typically an alloy containing about 7% copper. The copper gives it strength, but it can also cause discoloration when the metal is heated. Argentium solves that problem.

Argentium is Firescale Free

This is all new to me. I've only heard of germanium being used in high-performance transistors and solar cells. High-performance usually means more expensive because if it was just as cheap as regular performance no one would use the lower performance product, every one would use the high-performance version and we wouldn't call it 'high-performance'. So germanium must be at least semi-rare, or difficult to mine. Just over 100 tons is produced annually, which is pretty small potatoes when you compare it to things like aluminum (59 million tons) and steel (1.7 billion tons).

Germanium is produced as a by-product of zinc mining. Zinc is mined all over the world. Ivanhoe Mines has resurrected an old mine in the Congo that promises to be a good producer.

Kipushi Project

So even though there are a number of shitheads running around making trouble, capitalization marches on, and as long as they are providing decent jobs, they are the good guys.

Update the next morning. I got to thinking that Periodic Videos probably had a video about germanium. They do, but he doesn't tell you much other than it is opaque to visible light but transparent to infrared light.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Norway's Coastal Highway Project

Norway’s $47BN Coastal Highway | The B1M

This project sounds almost as difficult as the plan to put a tunnel under the Bering Strait. People used to talk about it anyway. The difference is that this highway in Norway would get used and, two, thanks to their North Sea oil business Norway has the money to pay for it. I'm always impressed when I hear about a big new engineering project. I'm not sure why. They keep getting bigger and bigger. You might think I would get used to that, but I don't. One of these days one of these mega-projects is going to fail and it will be bad when it does. But I guess that has already happened and we charged on regardless.

I know I've mentioned Norway before, but I just checked and was surprised at the number of posts I have about Norway.


The Coronation of Charlemagne by Friedrich Kaulbach
Illiterate promoter of literacy.

Came across this question on Reddit. The answer was so cogent I thought it worth sharing.
Q: Why do some letters have a completely different character when written in uppercase (A/a, R/r, E/e, etc), whereas others simply have a larger version of themselves (S/s, P/p, W/w, etc)?

A: First of all, let's talk about the words 'uppercase' and 'lowercase'. These words come from the early history of printing, when a person called a typesetter would assemble each page of a book letter by letter. Each letter was a profile on a piece of lead, called a sort. The sorts were kept in boxes called typecases, which had compartments for each letter. There would be a typecase for each font (also called a fount), which was a typeface at a specific size, at a specific weight (bold, medium, etc.), in a specific shape (upright, italic, etc.). A typeface is what we nowadays call a font on computers. There were actually two typecases for each font, and they were kept one on top of the other. The one on top was called the upper case, and contained the 'majuscule' letters; the one on the bottom was called the lower case, and contained the 'minuscule' letters. So the proper names for 'uppercase' and 'lowercase' are 'majuscule' and 'minuscule', respectively.
Now, on to your actual question.
Letters are just simple drawings that have phonetic meanings. (In other words, the symbols represent sounds.) The nature of the symbols is affected by the thing the symbols are written on. For example, one of the earliest writing symbols we have is cuneiform, which was written by making marks with a stylus in a piece of clay. The shape of cuneiform marks is strongly determined by the shape of the stylus.
This is important, because the majuscules and minuscules were originally two forms of the Latin alphabet that were used for writing on different materials, and the same thing applies to the Greek alphabet.
Majuscule letters were originally inscriptional, which means they were carved into stone. The Roman emperor Trajan had his military victories depicted on a carved stone column called Trajan's column; at the base of this column is some writing, in the style of Roman square capitals: this style is common on Roman monuments, but Trajan's column is one of the best known examples. These letters were designed by a scribe painting them on to the stone with a brush; a stonemason would then carve out the painted areas. The motion of the brush created little flairs at the beginning at end of each brush stroke; these flairs are now known as serifs.
However, Romans writing out documents would use Roman cursive. Roman cursive, like all cursive writing forms, is basically a bunch of shortcuts in writing the 'proper' letters.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Roman culture continued to hold considerable sway amongst the barbarians. The same writing styles were preserved, until the Carolingian Renaissance under Charlemagne (Charles the Great) in the Frankish Empire (now France) in the 800s. Charlemagne was a great believer in literacy, and despite never learning to read himself, ordered the creation of a single style of handwriting to be used across his empire, to prevent documents from being misinterpreted. The end result was a pairing of these two writing styles into the majuscule and minuscule letters of a unified alphabet. The minuscule letters, being easier to write quickly, were use normally, but the majuscule letters, with their grand and elegant forms, were used for proper nouns and emphasis. Over the succeeding thousand years, different nations would slowly adapt these letter forms and the relationships between them to their needs: the Italians developed the Humanist minuscule, which later became the italic script; the Germanic peoples developed the blackletter scripts; the Irish developed the insular script. This development continues today, with hundreds of typefaces released each year by type designers.
I don't know why we need hundreds of new typefaces every year. You don't have to go too far down that rat hole before you can't see any difference between supercaligoobilicous and adventualicus. Well, I can't. Those are probably fighting words for people who live in that world.

Cutting letters into stone v-CUT lettering carving letters

Realized while I was working on this that printing and fonts are a recurring topic here.

Pic of the Day

Into the Woods - Asher Durand - 1895
Via The Woodpile Report

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Pic of the Day

Wreck of the Mar Sem Fim
The Mar Sem Fim sank in Antarctica back in 2012. It has since been raised. Amusing Planet has the story.

Map showing location of wreck (Orange) and some research stations (Blue)

The wreck happened in the South Shetland Islands.

Via Traditional Vibe

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Spacey Car Thoughts

1962 Ford Thunderbird

I've been thinking about buying an old Ford Thunderbird again. From a mechanical standpoint it would be straight forward project, but even if you got it running like it was new, it would still be a 50 year old car, loaded with a bunch of 50 year old gee-gaws and without any of our modern safety features. And then I started thinking that you could rip out the entire interior and replace it with something new. At one fell swoop you could eliminate all the 50 year old gee-gaws and gain some safety belts. But interiors are trickier than mechanical work. Maybe not for interior people, but for a gear head like me it's like black magic. I mean how the heck do you sew a straight seam? Sewing machines sew, I get that, but driving one in a straight line? I'm not even going to try.

Ford Thunderbird Dashboard

Okay, so what do you want it to look like? I like the old instrument panels with all the glitz and chrome, but the seats just don't cut it.

Hyundai Nuvis concept
The Nuvis is a dumb looking econobox, but I like this interior.

It needs to look like something out of the Jetsons. There is probably someone in Portland who could create something like that, but to actually make it would take some financial commitment. I'm guessing it would take about $25 grand to make a good start in making a Space Car out of a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, and I'm not quite ready for that.