Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest
If the type is too small, Ctrl+ is your friend

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Dø - Despair, Hangover & Ecstasy

The Dø - Despair, Hangover & Ecstasy

The tune doesn't do much for me, I suppose it's pop, but the airplane caught my attention. It looks like it might be a 747, but 747's don't have engines mounted in pairs. An inquiry on Flight Aware got me an answer.

Boeing 747-263B N88892 G-BDXJ
It was a 747 until it was retired, whereupon it took on a new life as a film prop, which is how it got the funny engine configuration.

The band that made the video is a little odd as well:
Their first studio album A Mouthful topped the French charts in 2008, making them the first French act singing in English to reach that position. - Wikipedia

Pic of the Day

Dutch whalers near Spitsbergen - Abraham Storck 1690
Spitsbergen is the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Thought for the Day


A health quarantine officer wearing protective gear holds a health document to be filled and signed ... [+] AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Quote of the day:
In 2003 China’s airport system handled less than 300,000 passengers annually and was facing meteoric increases in demand. In 2019, they handled about 1.4 billion passengers, but the growth rate was slowing markedly. - Michael Boyd
Trans State Airlines Embraer ERJ-145
In other news, Trans State Airlines is going out of business claiming there is a pilot shortage. The pilot shortage is caused by pilots unwilling to work for peanuts. The only people who can afford to fly for cut rate airlines are people who don't need the money. If anyone needs a union it's airline pilots. I am ambivalent about unions. On one hand they can strangle a business (look at Detroit). On the other hand unfettered business will crush their employees, witness the strike breaking in the early 20th Century.

Longshoremen on the west coast of the USA make around $200K a year. Great money if you can get it. Grocery stores are unionized, but grocery clerks are probably lucky to make $30K a year.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Material Science 101


Playing with hot metal is great fun. Metal we get from the store has been refined to within an inch of it's life, not like a meteorite. This makes ancient daggers made from meteorites even more impressive.

Material Science 100

Why Ceramic Knives Are Almost IMPOSSIBLE to Sharpen!

YouTube has unleashed the actor hidden inside all kinds of people. Some of them are purty entertaining, especially if you like obscure technical humor. A video made using a scanning electron microscope of what's going on at the edge of a ceramic knife when it is being sharpened would be pretty cool, but I have no idea how, or even if, it could be done. Bringing enough light/electrons to bear on the such a small area might melt the edge. Maybe that's what you need to sharpen a ceramic knife - a light saber.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Cobalt and the Congo

The Trouble With Cobalt | Answers With Joe

I don't like his attitude about how renewable energy sources are going to take over the world. If god had wanted us to drive electric cars he wouldn't have given us thousand horsepower internal combustion engines. That's my own personal problem, pay me no mind. Joe's probably right, doesn't mean I have to like it. But all that is just a distraction from the real story, er, stories: Cobalt and the Congo.

The problem with artisanal mines is not that they are dangerous, the problem is that evidently it's the best opportunity the miners have for making a living. Now it could be that there are some unscrupulous people who compelling people to work like slaves, but once again, it's the overall economic situation in that country. Squeezing out the small mines may only serve to consolidate the big mining company's hold. Small mines may be dangerous, but if they are successful they may also provide a way out of the extreme poverty that got the miners into this situation in the first place.

The video is a little long for this blog (30 minutes) but it's got the best summary of the history of the Congo I've come across. People can be ruthless. Don't know if I could ever be that ruthless. Well, yes, I could. Just deprive me of a good night sleep for a week or two and see how much I care about anybody.

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene

The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene
Espionage thriller set in London during WW2 while London is being bombed nightly. It's a little Hitchcockian, guy survives being blown up by a bomb with nothing more than a scratch on his head and the loss of his memory for the last twenty years. The first half we have a despondant man shuffling around going through the motions of life who accidentally intercepts a secret message being passed from one enemy agent to another. They then try to kill him with a bomb, so the next phase of the book is about him blissfully enjoying life in a sanitarium, until he figures out that something is not quick kosher. So now he escapes / walks away from the sanitarium and goes to the police who listen patiently to his bizarre, half remembered tale, but eventually they trip over something and realize this is a matter of national security, so they call in Mr. Prentice, where upon they go charging around attempting to round up the suspects, but most of them are suddenly deceased, but they still don't know who the mastermind is. But then Arthur figures it out and almost gets killed for it.

Anyway, it's not a bad little book. A little too much agonizing about what could have been and how things are going to be kind of screwed up forever more, but that's kind of way everything is, isn't it?
No sense crying about it.

I ordered a hardback from Amazon because hardbacks are usually larger and have larger print which makes them easier to read. This one was a hardback, but it wasn't as big as a typical paperback.

Update: Just watched an entertaining video about a case of amnesia.

Let me count the ways

58 and other Confusing Numbers - Numberphile

I seen a couple other Tom Scott videos and he's not bad. A little too enthusiastic, but then he's young and the young are supposed to be enthusiastic. That's how anything gets done. He's right, number systems are weird, and he doesn't even touch on how European millions are American billions, and trillions are billions. I don't even know which is which. I stick with what I know, and on this side of the pond a million is a thousand times a thousand, and a billion is a thousand times a million.

Much popular science fiction, when it involves aliens, often makes them out to be similar enough to humans that they will have conflicts. I suspect that real aliens will be hard to detect. They will be so weird that we won't even recognize them as life forms, much less intelligent life forms.

Not all videos I see get posted here. I have to be able to watch them. There are a bunch out there that look like they would be interesting, but start playing them and in 30 seconds I've had enough. Mostly it's the voice. Sometimes it's the format (I'm going to tell you all about just as soon as I get done telling all this other stuff). Some people just take forever to get to the point. But that's me.

I'm working on a palindrome program, but I've reached a point where I need to think clearly, and I didn't get enough sleep last night so I can't wrap my mind around the problem, so I think I'll tell you about it.

We are trying to find a number that has the characteristics of a palindrome, where  you get the same number forward or backward, like 1234321, that is smaller or equal to another number. The first thing is to take the first half of the digits of the given number, reverse them and make them the second half of the number. Say you were given 1234567, you take the first half, 1234, reverse it, 4321, and then replace the last four digits of the given number, and surprise surprise, we get the same number as in our example earlier: 1234321. Okay, the four is replaced with a four, which we really didn't need to do. In any case our new number is less than our given number, so we're golden.

But now, say your given number is 1004000. Now it gets a little sticky, and I'm getting hungry, so I'm just gonna leave you with this little puzzle. This is where I need a clear head.


Electron microscope animation: Carbon nanotubes pulled into thread
Applied Science

Watching the carbon nanotubes being pulled into a thread is very cool. It is only a small portion of the video. The rest is Ben Krasnow talking about the electron microscope he used to make the animation. It's an old one, which is cool as well. Good that he caught this machine before it got hauled off for scrap, which is what I suspect happens to most outdated instruments. Nanon is my new word for nanometer. Micron is a stand in for one millionth of a meter, so I think Nanon is a perfectly cromulent word.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Life on the Moon

SpaceX’s vision for a human outpost on the Moon.
I read Artemis a couple of weeks ago and it got me started thinking about long term living on the moon. If we are going to have a base there, we are going to need a regular rocket-to-the-moon service, at least monthly, preferably weekly. I mean ol' Elon's getting pretty good at puttin' rockets up, and since he reuses them the only cost is fuel, which is just natural gas, which is dirt cheap, and oxygen, which he takes out of the air, so it's free. Once they get this regular service going, the cost of going to the moon is going to be too cheap to meter (as they once promised us about nuclear power). Okay, it ain't gonna be cheap, but we should be able to afford it.

Anyone, if we can get that far, we are going to have people living on the moon for days going on weeks, and given what happens to a body hanging out in the International Space Station for a long time (it's bad), we can probably expect similar effects on the moon. One way to compensate would be to build a centrifuge. I proposed building a train that would travel in a circular tunnel at high speed.  The long radius would reduce the difference in force between the head and feet and so should be similar enough to the Earth's gravitational field that there would be no ill effects.

Graviton Carnival Ride
But that would be a major engineering project. Even if you could deliver a tunnel digging machine to the moon, it would likely take ten years finish digging the tunnel. We aren't going to want to wait ten years before we start sending people to the moon, so we need something a little smaller. You can generate enough force to simulate gravity with a small cylinder, you just have to spin it faster. However, if you are standing, there is going to be a large difference in force between your head and feet. However, if you are lying down, the difference in force between the tip of you nose and the back of your head, or the tip of your big toe and your heel, is going to be minimal. It might not be very good for working, but it would be just fine for sleeping. And spending eight hours a night in a full G environment might be enough to keep you healthy enough to return to Earth without suffering the ill effects of 'gravity sickness'.

The city of Philadelphia could easily fit inside a theoretical lunar lava tube. (Image credit: David Blair/Purdue University)
So we take an empty fuel tank, locate an empty lava tube, drag the tank down underground into the lava tube, mount the tank on a couple of big bearings, fill it with air and beds and you've got your one Gee bunkhouse. Shoot, big as those lava tubes are, you could take the whole front end of SpaceX's Starship down there. It would already have everything you need: air, power, water, waste management (yes, we got Dons even on the moon), an airlock and beds.

(The whole point of going underground is to reduce the effect of radiation which is pervasive outside of the Earth's magnetic field. Domes on the surface can be covered with dirt, but a spinning cylinder is going to need some kind of structure to protect it. If a natural cave could be located, that would be perfect.)

Problem with caves on the moon is that they are devoid of air. And even if you could find one that could be sealed (perhaps by coating the interior with some kind of polyurethane), depending on moon rocks for the air you breath (don't you dare move, you rocks you) might not be prudent. Better to have a self contained air-supply, and that means air locks.

Moon Man exits the Quest airlock at the start of U.S. EVA-51. Photo Credit: Oleg Artemyev / Roscosmos
This centrifuge isn't the only thing going to need airlocks. Space ships are going to need them, regular moon domes are going to need them. Airlocks are basically a box with two doors. Domes connected with pressurized corridors won't necessarily need airlocks, but they will need pressure doors in case somebody springs a leak. I look forward to seeing what kind of doors they are going to use for moon houses.

Friday, February 21, 2020


Homer Simpson Jury Duty

Looking at my car insurance bill this evening ($1800 a year for two people and two cars with Progressive) and I go to thinking that that's a lot of money, and then I realized that $1800 might be enough to cover a minor fender bender, but it certainly wouldn't cover any kind of an accident where someone got hurt. And then I got to thinking about proposals to limit or reduce jury awards, which I am pretty sure came from the insurance companies. I imagine some insurance big shots got wind of a bunch of big jury awards and being human, got a little worried that this might be a trend and this trend might get of hand. They have a responsibility, after all, to make sure awards are paid. If the awards got too big, or there were too many of them, that could drive the insurance company into the ground, and that would be very bad for everyone, so you can see how they would want to get some limits on jury awards.

I'm pretty sure those kind of laws haven't gotten much traction, and that's probably a good thing. Every time some jury awards an extravagant amount to some poor soul, it's like a safety valve reducing pressure on the whole system. The everyday frustration of dealing with the modern world is aggravating and it accumulates. I'm surprised we don't have more mass shooters. And we are all party to it. Anything to make our lives a little easier or save us a little money. Any time we use a modern convenience we are wrapping the barbed wire a little tighter around us. And any time a jury makes an extravagant award it's like we're sticking to the man, except the man is us.

How did we get this way? I think it's our new religion - our religion of math and science. Our belief that we can do anything, eventually, if we just keep applying ourselves. We've got people in space, we've got satellites photographing our license plates. We've got people getting all kinds of fantastic repairs done to broken parts of their bodies. If politics has gotten a little shrill, it's because there is less and less to fight over. Democracy is even making inroads in Asia. I don't know if it will ever take. They've had autocrats for so long over there that I wouldn't be surprised if it was in their DNA. Actually, I think we all have that gene. We all like a strong leader, someone who will point the way with enthusiasm. But democracy is something you have to work at. You have to pay attention and talk to people. That's work and people are lazy, and when people are lazy the autocrats step in.

White Knight

Scaled Composites Model 318 White Knight
This is the carrier aircraft used to launch Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne. It is certainly an awkward looking contraption.


Natural Gas Cut Off
Checked the mail at the new house today, found three bills from the gas company including a shut off notice. The first bill was mailed on February 6th. I called them back in early December to set up the account and it takes them two months to send me a bill, and then because I didn't hop right to it, two weeks later they send me a notice of impending cut-off. Frigging morons. Whatever, let's get this resolved right now, I've got my credit card, I'll give them a call. I call and wade through their robo-cop swamp until I get to the actual payment robot who refuses to take my payment because my street number doesn't agree with my account number. And then it hangs up on me. How dense can you get? I called back and dialed 9 for emergency as I figured that would get me to a person and it did, and they were able to get me connected to someone who was able to straighten out robo-cop.

Casablanca Fan Controller
Ordered new fan controllers for the ceiling fans. These mount in an outlet box in the wall and connect up to the household wiring. Bonus: they require two AAA batteries. WTF? You have all the power in the world at the tips of your wires and you need batteries? The bogon flux around here is approaching infinity.


Cranes at Intel's Ronler Acres Complex
Please ignore the traffic lights in the foreground
The picture doesn't do justice to the size of this thing. It's massive. I looked for info but found nothing current, but it looks like it's been here before. I wonder if they really need this thing, or whether it just makes part of the construction easier and quicker. When you are sinking a billion dollars into a factory, you don't want any delays. Interest on a billion dollars is like one hundred thousand dollars a day, so most anything you can do that can save you a day, like rent the biggest crane in the world, is going to be worth it.

Clean Can Truck
This truck was in front of me at a stop light this morning. They clean garbage cans. What amazes me is that someone thought it was worth investing in custom equipment for this job. With the price of labor constantly going up I suppose it makes sense to invest in equipment that will help get the job done quicker. This application seems marginal, but maybe people are more offended by dirty garbage cans than I thought. Or maybe health regulations have changed and food inspectors are cracking down.

Policy vs Technology

Charlton Heston as Moses in Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments
Bruce Schneier has posted a very good essay about policy versus technology.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Starship SN01’s tank and engine section is likely just a few days
away from being structurally complete. (SPadre – 02/17/20)
The Silicon Graybeard has synopsis of news about SpaceX and their rocket ship factory in south Texas. It sounds great. At this rate the cost of launching a rocket into orbit will soon be too low to meter. That cone topped cylinder in the picture above (left) looks a tad raggedy. I don't know what it is, it might be something left over from a previous project. On the other hand, maybe if you are making your rocketships out of steel and you don't care how pretty it looks because it's going to be the biggest rocketship the world has ever seen and maybe the small defects in the streamlining don't make enough difference to worry about, and that cone topped cylinder is the actual Starship prototype. That would be kind of cool. It would upset my view of space travel as something done fastidiously using only prefect equipment, or at least equipment spiffed up enough to look good on the cameras. But it would be cool.

I am beginning to think they might put a Starship into orbit this year. That would be awesome.

Looking at myself and the excitement I feel, I am put in mind of the enthusiasm people had for airplanes a hundred years ago. Don't forget that Lindbergh was mobbed when he landed in Paris.

P.S. I wonder if Blogger alters the relationship between the size of pictures and size of text between the editor and the display. I mention this because the picture looks very small here, but I used the 'large' setting. We'll see what it looks like in preview and posted.

Quote of the Day

Michael Bloomberg & Donald Trump
Shaun King @shaunking · 9h
You have to understand this.

@MikeBloomberg is not running to defeat  @realDonaldTrump. They are lifelong friends.

He entered this race for one reason and one reason alone: to stop the insurgent campaign of @BernieSanders
Billionaires will protect billionaires. Period.
That's the most whacked out theory I've heard in a while. It's so far out there it might be true. If Bloomberg has really dropped $200 million on his campaign, that's some serious cash, even if he is a zillionaire.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020


Stu's Puzzle
Stu posted this puzzle the other day. The challenge is to arrange the dominoes so both vertical columns and both horizontal columns add up to the same number. Now you could go get some dominoes and see if you could accomplish this, but I thought it was a good opportunity to see if I could write a program to solve it. There's only eight dominoes, so the number of possibilities is an easily managed number. That would be 8! (factorial) which is 40,320. However each tile can be placed in either to two ways, so we need to multiply our possible combinations by 2 to the 8th power, which is 64, which gives us a tad over 2.5 million. That's still easily within reach of even a small, weak computer.

If we look a little closer, we realize we don't need to test every possible arrangement. We only need to place our first tile in one of the two positions in the top row. Any solution with the first tile in one of the other sides can be rotated to have the first tile in the top row.

With the first tile is in the first position, the number of possible arrangements is 7! Likewise, if the first tile is in the second position, there are another 7! possibilities. So we have 2 times 7!, so we have reduced the total by a factor of 4.

Also note that only the pieces in the corners are going to effected by their orientation. The other pieces may be placed either way without affecting the sums. So that reduces the total possibilities by a factor of 16 (2 to the 4th power).

There is one tile that has the same number of pips on both sides (4 x 4), so it's orientation isn't going to matter either. That will only affect the total if it is placed in a corner, which will only happen half of the time, that will reduce the 16 possibilities by 4, so now we have 2 x 7! x 12 which is a little over 120,000.

Okay, now we know the size of the problem, all we need is the code to try all 120,960 of these possibilities and find one that meets Stu's criteria.

The first part, creating all possible arrangements of tiles is easy. Simply generate all the permutations of 7 digits and use that list to place the tiles on the board. Selecting the orientation of the four corner files is easy as well. Simple count from 0 to 15 and use the binary value of the counter as a bit mask to determine if a tile should be flipped or not.

The last part is skipping the 4 by 4 tile. We do this by creating a mask that indicates which of the four corners, if any, holds a double tile. As we iterate through the bit mask, we AND these two masks together, any non-zero value indicates at least one or the corners holds double that is to be swapped (end for end), so this combination does not need to be tried as it will have the same results as the one where the double tile is not swapped.

We need to generate all possible permutations of a list of 8 numbers. One way to do this is to use a recursive procedure. You call it once for the first number, and then it calls itself for the second number, and it keeps doing this until it has placed the last number and then it calculates the various sums based on the order represented by this list of eight numbers.

There are two ways to do this. One is that each level is assigned a spot in the list and iterates through the numbers one through eight. The other is that each level is assigned a number and it iterates through the eight possible positions. Either one will work, you just need to decide which one to use.

However, we don't really want ALL possible permutations, we only want those that have the first tile in either the first or second position. The first position is easily handled, simple set it and let recursion sort out the remaining seven. The second position is the one that is giving me trouble, mostly because I was short of sleep last week.

We need to use the second method: each level is assigned a number and it iterates through the eight possible positions, except we are really using zero through seven, and we aren't using zero because we have already placed it.

The first method gave me trouble because when you put the first (zero-th) tile in the second spot to begin with, when you get to the second level you have already filled it so you get confused and end up making a hash that doesn't work. Use the second method. Once I got some sleep it was obvious.

I finally finished the program. You can find it on github along with a text file showing all 164 solutions.

Here is the last solution the program found:
counter: 120233 skipped: 39592 solved: 164 permute: 40376521 Sum: 20
║ 3 ║ 4 │ 5 ║ 4 │ 4 ║
║ 6 ║           ║ 6 ║
╠═══╣           ╟───╢
║ 6 ║           ║ 2 ║
╟───╢           ╠═══╣
║ 4 ║           ║ 5 ║
║ 1 │ 5 ║ 6 │ 5 ║ 3 ║
Total solutions found: 164
Total failures: 120796
Total permutations tried: 120960
P.S. Experimenting with formatting the solution diagram.

Quote of the Day

Hitler & Stalin
Comrade Misfit is having none of it:
The choice between between the Party of Trump and the Party of Bloomberg is an illusionary one. It'd be like having to choose between being ruled by Hitler or Stalin.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Linux Time Zone Problems

Linux Mint Timezone Dialog Box
More pictures to go with my Linux Forum questions.

Stupid Linux

Cleaning out cupboards in preparation for moving, which might happen in a month or two or maybe not at all, the future is cloudy, I cannot see. Anyway, cleaning out cupboards I came across a small hard drive in a case with a USB connector, so I thought to try it out, see if it's any good. Seems to be working so I load a new version of Linux on it and go charging on.

Funny how little stuff I need off of the old hard drive. Copied my dominos program from the old drive to the new one. I can read from the original hard drive installed in this PC, but I can't write to it. Try to compile the program and it trips over assert.h. Okay, the default installation is weak, so I go mucking about and end up with broken packages that cannot be fixed. Fortunately, there is the Linux Mint Forum and someone will surely rescue me shortly.

I'm posting this because I didn't want to copy the text from the error message, so I thought I would just include a screen shot with my inquiry, but the image needs to be on the net somewhere, and for some reason Google Photos couldn't provide a link, but Blogger could, so here we are.

More Electricity

Garage Lights Including Light in Closet
Went out to the new house yesterday intending to fix the lights that we intended to fix last weekend.

Casablanca Ceiling Fan Name Plate
We got the interior lights sorted, except for the ones on the ceiling fan. I picked up a new fan controller at Home Depot hoping it would work with this fan, but the new controller has 4 wires and the old one only has 2. How are they controlling the fan and the lights with only two wires? Must be some kind of mystical electronic B.S. I did get a photo of the name plate so I should be able  to figure out what kind of controller I need.

The light in the closet in the garage wasn't working. It wasn't the bulb, the socket, the switch or a tripped circuit breaker. We finally realized that the neutral wire wasn't neutral, it wasn't connected to anything. We could have just used the ground, but that's not really kosher. After some pondering, I realized there was probably a junction somewhere where the white wire was failing to connect, but where? The Romex cable disappears into the wall and who knows where it goes after that. Well, I'm gonna find that junction, so I take the saber saw and start cutting holes in the drywall. I'm Ahab and I'm gonna get that white wire. And ain't no literary allusions gonna dissuade me from my mission. 

Space between roof & drywall over garage. Rafter on the right. 
Just to the left of where the Romex goes through hole in rafter there is a small white square. 
That is the outlet box that holds the bad, bad outlet.
The Romex goes up the wall, across the ceiling to garage wall, up the wall to the roof and then down along the rafter to the outlet that supplies power to the garage door opener. We traced its progress by sticking the smart phone into the hole in the wall and taking pictures.

'Disassembled' Bad Outlet Showing Broken Fingers
This outlet was the culprit. Outlets these days are supplied with two methods on connecting to the power lines. There are screw terminals and there are holes with spring loaded fingers that capture the bare wire ends. The problem outlet had no screws, it only had finger captures, and a couple of the fingers had broken.

Negative image of patch, cropped from image at top of this post. 
Black screws show up as white here.
We cut half a dozen holes in the drywall to trace this wire. Alternatively we could have just pulled every outlet and switch in the garage until we found the culprit, but that is assuming the problem was even in the garage. It could have been anywhere. Cutting the holes enabled us to go directly to the source of the problem. We put back the pieces we cut out by screwing sticks across the backside of the hole and the screwing the cutouts to the sticks. We cut half a dozen holes and the patches still need to be spackled but we're getting good at that.

P.S. I think blogger has changed the default text size relative to the size of the images, so I'm going to try using large instead of extra large and see if that restores some balance between image size and text size. As usual, clicking on an image should take you to a full size version, or right click and open in a new tab, which is my preferred method.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Two second hand

Two second hand

Waiting for my wife I look at my watch and notice that the second hand is not ticking along at one tick per second, it's more like it waits two seconds and then ticks twice in quick succession. Kind of curious.

I filmed this with my Samsung smartphone. At first it wouldn't focus. I then backed off until it came into focus and then when I came in closer it stayed in focus. Clever little camera.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Starfucker // STRFKR - Golden Light

Starfucker // STRFKR - Golden Light

I had never heard of this song, or this band, until it popped up on YouTube a couple of months ago. I didn't watch the whole thing until tonight. What I usually do when I am done trying to get something done is I'll fire up YouTube and set it to playing some tunes and then I'll go play some simple minded games like solitaire. But tonight I watched the whole thing and the video is just the whitest thing ever. I had resisted posting this tune because of their name, but since I've been listening to it for a couple of months the value of the tune has overcome my objections to the name. Plus the video is just . . . I dunno, where I come from? And oh yeah, the band is from Portland. Imagine that.

Me, Me, Me

Wife & I went to dinner at Amelia's this evening. $10 for happy hour street tacos, $30 for booze. No wonder I'm so happy.


Deicing an Airbus A300 at Appleton (Wisconsin) International during a heavy wet January snow storm.Top Beacon light gives "effect".

Airliner skimming the surface of the moon

Austrian Air Force Saab J35Oe Draken

B-25 bombers fly over Mount Vesuvius in Italy while it erupts in March 1944 during the Italian Campaign of World War II. Colorised.

September 19, 1962. Plot George Aird ejects from his English Electric Lightning. Photo by Jim Mead.
ASN Aircraft accident 13-SEP-1962 English Electric Lightning F1 XG332
Whilst carrying out a demonstration flight, there was a fire in the aircraft’s reheat zone. Un-burnt fuel in the rear fuselage had been ignited by a small crack in the jet pipe and had weakened the tailplane actuator anchorage. This weakened the tailplane control system which failed with the aircraft at 100 feet on final approach.
I came these across while skimming items on feedly. Failed to note where they came from.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Pic of the Day

Gas Station by Ignacio Bazan Lazcano
Found on Concept Art World

Via daily timewaster

Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association

Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association Membership Directory
How many helicopter pilots were there in Vietnam? A dozen? A hundred? A thousand? How about 40,000? 

Iaman stopped by the VA and found a 1"+ inch thick directory of Veteran Vietnam War Helicopter Pilots,  close to 600 pages. 2,000 pilots and 2,700 crew were killed in action.

Fly Me Away

PIMP MY JET |Private Jet Makeover!

Iaman has been watching Premier 1 Driver videos. The one above is only one short enough for me. The rest of them run 30 to 40 minutes and involve flying here, there and over yonder. The airplane is a Beechcraft Premier 1.

Cath Lab
Not my lifestyle, but then I'm not running a multimillion dollar medical business. He rents mobile cath labs, which are basically mobile home sized trailers with fancy X-ray machines installed inside.

360 Degree Video Tour of a Modular Devices Mobile Cath Lab

Cath refers to catheter. Catheters are used to inject dye into the blood stream or to insert devices to correct a problem with a blood vessel. The imaging part is live so the doctor can see what he is doing inside your body.

It's a far cry from the way it was done 50 years ago.

Quote of the Day

Sydney ash incense Buddha unmasked

From Marcel:
"Texas State assignment asks future teachers to argue 'whiteness is a construct of privilege'"
Surely it goes the other way: privilege is a construct of whiteness. Indeed, some cutting-edge theorists are starting to argue that construction is the whiteness of privilege, at least for those constructed meanings of "is" that don't privilege whiteness.
I am sure someone could construct a connection between whiteness and the video, and evidently Google did because when I went looking for an image for this post, it served up a picture of this Buddha made of ash collected from incense burned in Buddhist temples, which led me to this video, which might be the whitest thing ever. It's kind of nuts, but is it any more nuts than burning incense in the first place?


Tracfone Smartphone Plans
I figured out what the big problem with my Tracfone was - I had used up my data allotment. Tracfone is missing an opportunity here - they could have sent me an email to let me know my data was all used up. Or maybe a less dense person would have realized that was the problem.

Except - doesn't data allotment only apply to using the cell phone? Using WiFi for Data transfers shouldn't count against your allotment, should it? Or maybe that's a feature. If data transfers are working with WiFi, but then they quit when you move out of WiFi range, that might confuse some people. Just how dense do you have to be to use a cell phone?

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


Vierling Gun Breech
The internet is full of fancy guns, but I've never seen one like this before. There are double barreled shotguns and double barreled rifles and I think Savage even offered a gun with a rifle barrel superposed over a shotgun barrel. This one has two barrels for high power rifle cartridges, a single 22 barrel up top and a shotgun barrel on the bottom. It's just nuts.

Vierling Gun
This gun was made by Oswald Prinz and he would be happy to make one for you too.

Via say uncle


Crossing the river
My nephew and his buds are out traipsing around in the wilds of New Zealand.

Nevis Road - Duffers Saddle sign
Lots of big rocks in that area.


Unicode Logo
I have been working a little program to solve the domino puzzle Stu posted last week. Why push dominos around for minutes when I can spend hours writing a program to solve it in milliseconds? Yeah, well, we all have our faults.

So I've got the program pretty much working, but I thought it might be nice to display the results graphically. Yes, html is glorious, put I don't want to open that can of worms. If I could just find the codes for the old IBM PC box drawing characters, I could cobble something together that would be adequate.

So I went rooting around on the net, and because I am using Linux, whenever I asked for box drawing characters and Linux, I got ncurses, which stands for new curses, which is some kind or proto-windowing system for terminals. I go round and round with this for a while, but never get anywhere because none of the sample programs will compile because I don't have some unspecified library installed. I eventually realized that the C programming language, my text editor and Linux in general all work perfectly well with unicode characters and I don't have any need for ncurses at all.

I've probably been down this road before, but I'll be durned if I can remember where. In any case, I wrote a little program to turn unicode values into unicode character strings and uploaded it to github.

Stackexchange is useless. If is occupied by gnome-like creatures who know everything there is to know, but are incapable of answering a simple question.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Understanding Donald Trump

Al Pacino as Tony Montana in Scarface
David Ernst's essay Donald Trump Is The First President To Turn Postmodernism Against Itself does a pretty good job of explaining what is going on.

Via say uncle who summarizes it thusly: 
Oh, people may not like him but they like that he pisses off people they hate.

Sunday, February 9, 2020


Went over to the new house today intending to sort out the lights. There were a dozen of so lights that weren't working and a couple of switches that didn't seem to do anything. The lights are probably just burned out, and if we get those replaced, the function of the mystery switches will likely be revealed.

We get there and the temperature inside is 45 degrees Fahrenheit. What's going on? Did somebody turn the furnace off? I had it turned down to 60 as no one is living there right now, but I didn't intend for it to get this cold. First thing is to check the breaker panel to see if the circuit breaker has been tripped. Well, where is the breaker panel? My wife and I searched for it a few days ago and came up empty. Osmany and I made another pass through the house and didn't find it either. Okay, so maybe it's in the pump room, which is outside, down the hill, around the side. Nope, not there either. Check all around the house. No sign. Osmany finally locates it behind the door in bedroom #3. Open the door to go into the room and the door covers the breaker panel. You have to go into the room and close the door before the panel is revealed. Very sneaky, whoever designed this house. Or we were befogged by the unusual layout. Or we are just dense.
Basic Light Bulb Socket with Switch
Okay, found the breaker panel, and no, the breaker for the furnace is not tripped. Turn the breaker off and the light in the furnace closet goes off, so there is some connection here. But the furnace controller has a couple of LED's and none of them are on, so it's like it's not getting any power at all.
Harbor Freight Voltmeter
I drive over to Harbor Freight and pick up a volt meter for $7 and we start tracing the wires, seeing where we have power and where we don't. Finally notice the light switch inside the closet. Light switches normally run lights, but this one doesn't do anything. The light has a pull string. Is this switch supposed to control the furnace? We pull the wires from the switch and connect them together, turn on the breaker and Voila! The furnace, she burns!

Honda RC211V

2001 Honda V-5 Motorcycle Racing Engine
Idling away, watching YouTube videos, I came across one that mentioned Honda's V-5 racing engine from 2001. Being as I had just concluded the engines with an odd number of cylinders would spin more smoothly, I was intrigued. This engine came about in response to a rule change. Honda had some success with this engine in the 2002 season, but the rules changed again, so it was only campaigned for a couple of years. I guess spinning smoothly isn't that important.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Dr. Jazz

Babylon Berlin
The Atlantic has a great story about Dr. Jazz. Reading through it I encountered a bunch of songs and a couple of movies. I had never heard of most of them. In any case, I looked up what I could find and put them in a YouTube playlist.

Here's are links to some relevant Wikipedia articles:

The introductions, at least, make some interesting reading.

Babylon Berlin has appeared here before.

Via Borepatch

Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks-Canned Music

Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks-Canned Music

Here's a blast from the past. I don't think I've even heard mention of these guys since I left Texas back around 1985. They were great. Borepatch reminded me. He notes that it's a little hard to slot Señor Hicks into any particular genre. Wikipedia expands on this:
Writing about Hicks for Oxford American in 2007, critic David Smay said, "[T]here was a time from the ’20s through the ’40s when swing—'hot rhythm'—rippled through every form of popular music. That’s the music Dan Hicks plays, and there’s no single word for it because it wasn’t limited to any one genre. Django Reinhardt and the Mills Brothers and Spade Cooley and Hank Garland and the Boswell Sisters and Stuff Smith and Bing Crosby all swing. You can make yourself nutty trying to define what Dan Hicks is. Then again, you could just say: Dan Hicks swings."


I don't know what is wrong with some web page designers. Maybe they're racists. Maybe they want all colors to blend together. White backgrounds are becoming less white and black text is becoming less black and more gray. If they have their way eventually if will all blend into a gray fog and you will have to imagine what the text says. Of course, some people apply their own filters to whatever they read. You may as well run the text through a blender before you give it to them. They are going to twist it to their own purposes regardless.

Never-the-less, anytime I come across a page with gray text, I fire off a nasty gram telling these nincompoops to get their act together. Use BLACK not gray for text.

Friday, February 7, 2020


An old photo of this airplane showed up today and it just struck me that this was like peak Air Force dream time. I suspect the blue fire from the jet engines in the above image were added, but it does look pretty cool. Wikipedia has a good summary of the airplane:
The North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie was the prototype version of the planned B-70 nuclear-armed, deep-penetration strategic bomber for the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command. Designed in the late 1950s by North American Aviation (NAA), the six-engined Valkyrie was capable of cruising for thousands of miles at Mach 3+ while flying at 70,000 feet (21,000 m).
At these speeds, it was expected that the B-70 would be practically immune to interceptor aircraft, the only effective weapon against bomber aircraft at the time. The bomber would spend only a brief time over a particular radar station, flying out of its range before the controllers could position their fighters in a suitable location for an interception. High speed also made the aircraft difficult to see on radar displays and its high-altitude and high-speed capacity could not be matched by any contemporary Soviet interceptor or fighter aircraft.
The introduction of the first Soviet surface-to-air missiles in the late 1950s put the near-invulnerability of the B-70 in doubt. In response, the United States Air Force (USAF) began flying its missions at low level, where the missile radar's line of sight was limited by terrain. In this low-level penetration role, the B-70 offered little additional performance over the B-52 it was meant to replace, while being far more expensive with shorter range. Other alternate missions were proposed, but these were of limited scope. With the advent of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) during the late 1950s, manned bombers were increasingly seen as obsolete.
The USAF eventually gave up fighting for its production and the B-70 program was canceled in 1961. Development was then turned over to a research program to study the effects of long-duration high-speed flight. As such, two prototype aircraft, designated XB-70A, were built; these aircraft were used for supersonic test-flights during 1964–69. In 1966, one prototype crashed after colliding with a smaller aircraft while flying in close formation; the remaining Valkyrie bomber is in the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.
It was quite the aircraft: Mach 3 at 70,000 feet in 1961. The Russian Tu-160, which is the nearest commie plane I can think of, only manages Mach 2 and didn't fly until 20 years later.

The Tu-160 has appeared here before, but this is the first post for the XB-70. The Unwanted Blog has several posts about the XB-70.