Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Saturday, October 20, 2018

New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro

New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro, Talent, Oregon
Friends of ours recently returned from a trip to Ashland (famed for their Shakespeare Festival). While there, they had dinner at New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro. The place has been operating in Talent for a number of years. In a previous life, the owners had run The Boonville Hotel in California which was famous for it's food and notable for its collapse.
     In retrospect it’s easy to see the restaurant’s failure as the natural outcome of various forces – a sort of epicurean perfect storm. Begin with some inexperienced investors with a worshipful attitude toward the nascent California Cuisine movement and its practitioners – “food gods and goddesses,” as the star-struck investor Stanford calls them. Introduce them to a cultured and charming bon vivant with dreams of a French-style country inn in California. Add a hostile local populace and season with a profound lack of business acumen – or even common sense – and voila! A recipe for disaster. - Sean Elder

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Politics

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
     rules.
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