Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Truck Dream

My pickup truck is parked crosswise in an alley on a moderately steep hill. The alley is paved with concrete. Is is well worn, not new. It runs through a residential neighborhood. The alley is not hemmed in by buildings or fences, but there are cars parked along the sides. It is wet out, like it has been raining, but no ice or snow. Typical Portland conditions. The tires on the truck are the same size as it actually has, but they have treads like a farm tractor. I get in the truck with my wife. I am sitting on the downhill side. As soon as I get in and close the door, the truck starts sliding sideways down the hill and down the alley. I am panicking. The hill and the alley are very long and there does not seem to be anything we can do about it. I guess this more of a nightmare than a dream. I do not think about starting the engine. We try using body English to try and shift the truck one way or another but it has no effect, the truck continues to slide sideways. I am afraid that the truck is going to flip over or smash into something, but nothing like that happens, we just continue to slide until we get to the bottom and we come to stop. Now I drive the truck out of the alley and we stop and get out and are tremendously relieved that nothing bad happened during all this.

Original Portland Snow Car Crashes 2007

Update December 2016 replaced missing video. I think I got the right one.

Friday, December 26, 2008

How do you add a caption to a picture?

Blood Simple
We're talking about Picasa here, Google's wonderful digital photo program. Sorry, that was a little sarcastic. I don't know if Picasa is wonderful or not. I use it, it seems to work okay. There are some things I don't like, and it's taken some getting used to, it doesn't work like I expect it to, and I am not sure just what it is doing, but so far so good. The biggest hurdle was picking Picasa over Canon, HP and everyone else's photo program. I don't know if it is any better than any of the others, but I use a bunch of Google stuff, so I figured I would just stick with Google until I have a reason not to.

So just how do you add a caption to a picture? It's easy, just point and click! Except nothing happens. What's going on? OH, NOW I SEE. It only works for WEB albums. Thanks a lot, gumballs. I am sure the web version is very wonderful, but I don't always use it. Sometimes, I am just messing with photos on my computer. If a particular feature only works on the web version, or on the desktop version, if would be really nice if you could point that out. Bah.

(Update: I think the picture is here because it happened to be the picture I was working with when I ran into this captioning problem.)

The picture is from a scene in "Blood Simple" by the Coen Brothers, who have brought us a number of wonderful films. I picked up this picture because it shows the gun that was used throughout the movie. It is a top break revolver, which is kind of unusual. Most modern revolvers have swing out cylinders because it makes for a stronger frame. The Webely 455 from WWI was probably the most famous top break revolver, but it was a monster compared to this little jewel. I think this is probably a copy of an old Smith & Wesson Model 3.

Update December 2016 replaced missing picture and adding a brief explanation to connect first and last parts of the post.

Reverse Auto News

From "While America Slept" via Dustbury:
Parent infects children: Following Toyota’s announcement of an anticipated loss in fiscal 2008, Denso, Aisin Seiki and four other Toyota group firms have downgraded their earnings forecasts for the year ending March 31, the Nikkei (sub) reports. To offset the yen’s strength, Denso began discussing shipping products from the U.S. to Japan.

I just don't know what to think of this.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eat To Sleep

Everywhere I go I see fat people. I'm not talking a little overweight, I'm talking FAT, like three, four, even five hundred pounds. And every time I see one I think to myself: "how could let themselves get like that? Why don't they do something about it?". And then I look at myself. I am maybe 50 pounds overweight, and I can't seem to do anything about it. Pretty said state of affairs. Can't really say anything now, can you chubby?

So here we go with yet another theory about why people, especially me, are overweight. I fall asleep easier with a full stomach. After a large lunch, there is nothing better than a nap. Twenty minutes is supposed to be enough, but if I didn't get enough sleep the night before (which often happens) and there is nothing pressing to do (which often happens when you are unemployed) it can easily turn into two hours. Come bedtime (which is supposed to be ten or eleven, but lately has been more like one or two), I find it easier to go to sleep if I have a full stomach. I suppose if the stomach is full, more blood gets diverted to the stomach, which leaves less for the brain, so you become calmer and sleep comes easier.

It takes a small chunk of food to keep my weight up. It takes 2700 calories to maintain my weight. If I weighed 200 pounds it would only take 2400 calories. So I must be consuming an extra 300 calories a day, or one cheese sandwich, light on the cheese.

Update December 2010. Just noticed that the picture had vanished. I went looking for a replacement, but all I found were pictures of grilled cheese sandwiches, which is not the same thing as a plain cheese sandwich, except for this line drawing, and even it is labeled as a grilled cheese sandwich, though I don't think it portrays the grilled part very well. Sheesh.

Update November 2015. Replaced the picture again. The previous picture exists, but the site moved it, so they obviously can't be trusted.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Louis XIV invites Molière to share his supper—an unfounded Romantic anecdote, illustrated in 1863 painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme
Well, not actually. What we have here is a view of defense spending slightly at odds with my earlier post on Phoenix.

The movie Vatel (With Gérard Depardieu, Uma Thurman, Tim Roth.) tells the semi-true story of a festival put on for the King of France a couple of hundred years ago. As some added detail to the story, there are three fops hanging around, eating the food, flirting with the girls, fussing about their clothes and in general being totally useless. Just what you would expect from fops.

But then some thugs attack one of the carts bringing supplies to the festival. This creates enough of a fuss, that the king (or the prince, somebody in charge) dispatches these three useless fops to deal with it. They drop their grapes and girls and walk out to the source of the problem, pull out their swords, and swish, swish, jab, and presto! Problem solved. Back to the girls and the grapes.

So while they are expensive to maintain, and apparently useless when all is well, when things go badly they are very nice to have around. In this case the problem was almost trivial, but even if it had been enormous, we would have expected the same kind of response: quick and to the point.

As for the rest of the movie: Vatel and Uma Thurman's character were supposedly falling in love in the movie, but it did not come through on the screen. When they kiss for the first time it is like a complete shock, I didn't see that coming at all. Tim Roth on the other hand, is at his smarmiest, and plays the nasty villain very well.

Update December 2016 replaced missing picture.

Another Phoenix Memory

Apache Helicopter under construction in Mesa Arizona
Twenty years ago a group at our church arranged a tour of the McDonnell Douglas Apache Helicopter Factory in Mesa Arizona. When we get there we are first shown three big office buildings surrounding a pleasant little green park. In my minds eye they are six to eight stories tall. One building is for administration, one is for government contracts and the third is for engineering. Now that we have seen the important part (that was sarcasm), we can wander off to the back lot where there is a small tin shed where they actually build the helicopters. Except they don't, not really. They assembly them there from components shipped in from elsewhere. Engines, fuselage, rotors are all built somewhere else and shipped here. The only thing they actually make here are the hydraulic lines and the wiring harness. They have eight stations in two rows. They start with a bare fuselage at the North end of the East row, move South through four stations, go out the end, turn around, and come back through the four stations on the West row, so there eight helicopters under construction at any one time.

View Larger Map

Update December 2016 replaced missing image.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Japanese Zero
My Dad was a tail gunner in a B-24 during the last part of WWII in the Pacific. He was in the Army from before the war started. He got shuffled around to several different places before he ended up in the Pacific with Kelly's Cobras. One of the places they were stationed was Palau. Not too long ago I discovered I had a shirt with a tag that said "Made in Palau".

The B-24 normally had a turret in the aft position, but when my Dad was there they pulled the turrets out and just mounted the guns. They only made a few raids, maybe a half dozen or so. But the enemy planes he was shooting at were Japanese Zeros. As a History channel program informed me, they were made by Mitsubishi, the same company that made my wife's SUV.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cash Or Gifts?

I find the whole gift card thing kind of annoying. Why go through the rigamarole of exchanging cash for a card, just so someone else can use the card instead of cash to buy something? Why not just give them the cash in the first place? I do not understand it.

I vaguely remember my parents telling me that giving cash was kind of gauche. You gave a gift instead of cash to show that you had really cared. You thought about the person and what they might like and then went to the trouble to go out acquire just that item.

Seems to me that Jews often give cash instead of gifts. (Please correct me if I am wrong about this.) I think it is a very sensible way of handling gift giving. Best thing about giving cash is that the person on the receiving end can combine several cash gifts to purchase one expensive item that no one person would be willing to purchase.

Still, we continue to give gift cards. We use them for small things we know a person enjoys, but wouldn't actually spend their own money on, like coffee from an espresso bar, or music. We use them for children who would be liable to spend cash on candy or some other foolish indulgence. (You, kid, are getting a toy for your birthday, like it or not. And you better play with it.)

Update December 2016 replaced missing picture.

Let It Snow

1999 Dodge Dakota
I've been having great fun driving around in the snow for the last week or so in my four-wheel-drive pickup truck with the extra fat tires. (The picture is not my 1999 Dodge Dakota, but one just like it, down to the paint and the badges. But no dent.) Most use I have gotten out of the four-wheel-drive since I bought the truck nine years ago. Well, it's fun when there aren't any other cars on the road, but once you get close to a shopping center traffic starts getting congested and then it's just like any normal day of creeping along from one very slow traffic light to another.

This snowstorm is the worst we have seen since we moved here in 1990. We have had as much snow during the course of a winter, but not all at once. The Oregonian (our local paper) had an interesting graph [removed dead link], too large to fit in this blog.

We get so little snow here we aren't really equipped to handle it. I think the only roads that have been getting plowed are the highways. None of the roads I drove on today had been plowed. The snow is getting hammered by traffic and some of the intersections are really rough. Imagine driving across an intersection covered with eight inch deep potholes. This slows down traffic even more.

Manholes are their kind of special hazard. I saw numerous ones that were bare of snow, but with a ring of ice piled up around them, kind of like a miniature volcano. Driving over one will give you a real jolt. The trick is to spot them ahead of time and then straddle them with your wheels, if the traffic will allow it.

I am really surprised at how well my tires grip the snow. Technically they are bald. They are worn down to the wear bars. They have mud and snow tread, and there is still about a quarter inch of tread left. Evidently that is enough. There are ruts worn in the snow a few inches deep. Some places they can trap you. A couple of times today I turned the wheel to change lanes and the truck just kept plowing straight ahead. Letting the truck slow down and then goosing the gas would get me out of the rut.

We get so little snow here most people don't know how to handle driving in it. There were a fair number of nervous nellies out driving around today. These are the ones with chains on their tires crawling along at ten or fifteen miles per hour. They definitely contribute to the congestion, but then they are not likely to have an accident, which would really tie up traffic.

We came across one small car sitting crosswise, half off the road on NE 25th. Two guys got out and pushed it back onto the road, got back in and resumed going down the road. The driver (female, if that makes any difference) was trying to stay out of the ruts. I suspect her car may have had some protrusions on the underside that they were dragging on the snow when the wheels were in the ruts. We hadn't gotten much farther down the road when all of sudden she got sideways again. I was really surprised as I had seen nothing that would indicate any kind of problem. She stopped and got straightened out again but now she is going ten miles an hour, so I pass her.

I have gotten by without chains, but then the biggest hills I have had to deal with are the highway on- and off-ramps. My friend Jack lives in the middle of a bunch of hills and he is using chains on his four-wheel-drive Suburban. He tried using them on the rear wheels, but found his front end was sliding sideways when he braked. So he moved them to the front wheels and that works much better. I have seen this on few other four-wheel-drive vehicles as well.

I used to go skiing at Mt. Hood and had studded tires for the front of my front-wheel-drive car. At some point there was a nasty traffic accident involving a front-wheel-drive van that had studded tires only on the front. This led to a lawsuit and now Les Schwab Tires will only mount studded tires on all four wheels on front-wheel-drive vehicles. So having chains only on the front wheels could lead to having the rear end slide around and colliding with something. Having chains on your tires restricts your speed so maybe the risk is not as great as with studded tires.
Tire Shop Sued In Fatal Crash
Seattle Times Staff: Seattle Times News Services
Friday, December 19, 1997

McMINNVILLE, Ore. - The family of two women killed when a 1993 van equipped with two studded tires spun out of control into the path of their car is suing Les Schwab for $1.3 million.

The lawsuit claims the chain of tire shops improperly sold and installed just two studded tires, instead of a full set of four, on the car owned by Robert and Marsha Worlock of Newberg.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.
The lawsuit was settled a couple of years later, probably for an undisclosed amount. High Beam Research has an article about it, but they want you to sign up for their service, and I'm not that curious.

Update December 2016 removed dead links, fixed broken html.


Is it a Dalek or a Christmas tree?
I'm not a big fan of Dr. Who, but I appreciate the camp. Via Dustbury.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hit And Miss

Dent in Left Front Corner of my 1999 Dodge Dakota
I been have riding around with my son while he practices driving. A couple of months ago he drove us in the truck down to Lake Oswego to meet my friends for lunch. He is pulling into a parking spot on his left right next to big SUV. It looks to me like he is going to cream the side of the SUV so I holler, and he stops, asking what's the problem. Once he has stopped I can see that, while it is close we are not going to hit the other vehicle, so I let him go ahead and pull in.

A couple of weeks later we are going to meet my friend Jack for lunch here in Hillsboro. He parks okay, but when we are leaving is when we run into problems. He has to back out of the space far enough so that he will have clearance when he pulls forward. I don't think he has backed up far enough, but I thought he was going to cream the SUV, so this time I keep quiet. Last time I was closest to possible impact point, and I was wrong. This time he is closer, so he should have a better idea of how much clearance he has. He cranks the wheel far over and we go forward, bang! Right into the back end of a small flat bed truck. Doesn't do any damage to the other truck. We struck one of the frame rails supporting the bed. The most it does is scuff the paint. My truck on the other hand has a nasty little ding right above the headlight.

A couple of days ago I was driving with a couple other people in my truck. I pulled up at a stop sign. There is a car approaching from the right in the near lane, but he is a ways off, so I go ahead and pull across. As we cross the second cross lane I look over and see another car sliding right for us, slowly turning sideways. I don't know where he came from, I never saw him before. We managed to get across the intersection before he hit us. It was a close call, especially since the streets are covered with snow.

Update December 2016 replaced missing picture.


All teenage boys should spend a year living in the woods. For that matter, girls probably should too. Maybe longer. Might teach them to appreciate the benefits of civilization. Just saying.

Update December 2016 replaced missing picture.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sick & Tired

So I've got this sinus infection thing going on. Still. Doesn't bother me much, but it does make me really tired. When I get tired and I have to do things, I get grumpy. It occurred to me over the last day or so that this is pretty much how I have felt for a good part of my adult life. Which might explain why I act like a jerk some times.

When I am tired I don't do much but sleep and watch TV, and when I can't sleep, and TV is hopeless, I think to keep myself entertained. Which may explain how I come up with with some of my screwball ideas.

I read a story some time ago about betting on your golf game. One piece of advice that stuck in my head was "don't play/bet against someone who is sick". There wasn't much of an explanation in the story, but I surmised that the reasoning behind this advice is that someone who is not feeling on top of the world is going to focus his attention on the game, and is less likely to be distracted by anything else, and so is going to beat you. This, of course, is assuming he is a competitive player in the first place.

And then we have Steven Hawking who looks like he has been at death's door for the last ten or twenty years, but by all reports is the world's foremost cosmologist. Even if you can't do **it, you can still think. Well, at least he can.

So I'm wondering how much of our accumulated scientific knowledge is indirectly due to disease and illness?

Update November 2015. Replaced missing picture.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Letter from Iowa


7 degrees cold and snowy.

Heard a snow thrower, outside, close, noisy. Runs for a while, stops for awhile, starts up, recycles.

Look one there. Starts up again.

Curiously it cycles with the furnace

Hmmm where is that sound coming from?...... sounds like from the basement..... what the??????

The furnace is imitating a snow blower noise. More specifically it is the exhaust blower.

2 screws, 8 clips, one skinned knuckle later.... I find that the rusted remains of a tension clip rattling in blower cage. This would have been a good part to make out of a rust resistant
material....begin subject to the hot moist exhaust from the furnace.

Since it is just a tension fit, I button it back up, and it fires up nicely.

$350/$250to replace the blower motor assembly, no sub parts available.

From Iowa Andy.


Iowa Andy found a solution to his storage problems.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's cold outside

The creek behind the house has frozen. We've been here 14 years and this is the first time I remember this ever happening.

It's cold outside

The creek behind the house has frozen. We've been here 14 years and this is the first time I remember this ever happening.

Monday, December 15, 2008

(Not My) Kids

I got an email with a bunch of funny/odd pictures of kids. They are pretty good so I uploaded them to Picasa. They are probably on the net somewhere else as well, but now you can find them here.

Picasa wanted an update, which I allowed. If I don't it will ask me again next time I use it. Seems like this happens with just about every odd program I use. Mostly it works pretty well. This update modified the upload dialog so that there is a check box with the legend "Don't eat all my bandwidth", which I thought was downright considerate.

Update December 2016 replaced missing image and dead link.


My wife is a teacher and the youngest of my three kids is finishing his last year of high school, so, like it or not, I hear about it. I like to say that my wife teaches the 3 R's: Remedial Reading to Rascals. She works with little kids who are having trouble with reading, and recently with math. She seems to thrive on it.

By the time my kids reached their senior year of high school they were thoroughly sick of it. I can sympathize, I felt the same way. College was somewhat better, but even then there were some teachers I enjoyed and some that drove me crazy.

What teachers earn is often up to debate, especially since they are paid with revenue from taxes. On one hand we have people arguing they are overpaid incompetents. On the other, we have the education association arguing that teachers, given their required qualifications, are paid barely enough, especially considering how important their work is.

So I was intrigued by Malcolm Gladwell's story "Most Likely To Succeed" in "The New Yorker" (December 15, 2008). He talks about some research being done to try and determine what makes a good teacher. They have already figured out what is common knowledge, and that is some teachers are much more effective, i.e. better teachers, than others. However, none of the current qualifying methods are of any use in determining who makes a good teacher. Nowadays, succeeding in teaching is more a matter of determination than ability, as in determination to obtain all the necessary credentials to advance your career.

I suspect it all comes down to common sense, but common sense seems durn near impossible to quantify. I am a little concerned that this research might lead to method of doing just that, and just where that might lead us.

Max Fail

After a gazillion false alarms, we finally got a real winter storm yesterday with snow that sticks and everything. Started out with an inch or so of snow but by late afternoon the roads were covered with a nice slick sheet of ice, so naturally I spent all day driving, er, sliding around. I mean, you can't let an opportunity like this pass you by.

Anne & I hosted at church yesterday morning (open doors for people, hand out programs) so that was my first trip. Roads were not too bad. Later that afternoon a college friend of my son's needed to catch a flight home. Normally I would take him all the way to the airport, but instead of warming up the weather had actually gotten colder, so we decided we would take him to Beaverton to catch the Max (local train) out to the airport. Theoretically this would save him some time, and we would not get into the hills and expected congestion of Portland proper. We thought we left in plenty of time, but it seems the train had problems of its' own. Who'd 'a thunk it?

Redline direct to the airport is supposed to go all the way out to Beaverton, but without telling anybody, they had changed the Westernmost terminal to downtown Portland. So poor Dan waited 20 minutes for a train that was not going to show and ended up having to take the Blueline, which means he would have to change trains at some point down the line. On top of that the trains were running slow, so he not only missed his scheduled flight, he missed the next one an hour later and ended up having to spend the night in the airport.

We thought about having him come back to Hillsboro for the night, but it would have meant two hours by train here and two hours back at the 3 in the morning. I don't think trains are even running at that hour.

Anyway, pulling into the train station in Beaverton there is a bit of hill and the Mom mobile (front wheel drive Mitsubishi Endeavor) couldn't make it. The boys got out and pushed and that was enough, though they said they were barely pushing and they could hardly get any traction. Got passed on the hill by a couple of other cars. They probably had studs, evil road destroying cretins. Leaving the train station I tried to make a right turn, which went up hill on a main road, but once again the Mom mobile couldn't cut it. Even with Ross pushing. So I backed around the corner and went the other way, which worked fine.

The Mom mobile has ABS and Traction Control, and both came into play. Traction control kept the engine from turning much above an idle in the icy spots. I could press the gas pedal to the floor and engine would speed up to just above an idle for a half a second before slowing back down. The ABS was more exciting. The harder I stepped on the brake, the more noise it would make. All kinds of growling and shreiking. If you didn't know what it was it could be disconcerting.

Later that afternoon Kathryn had a baby sitting job. There is one little hill I drove down on the way there, but coming back I drove around the block to avoid having to attempt to climb it.

That evening cookie baking required additional supplies so Anne & I made a trip to the store. At this point the roads are so bad that you don't want to even stop at the stop signs, you won't get started again. Slowing down to two or three MPH, but not stopping means you won't spend the entire green light sliding around in the intersection.

Update December 2019 changed Eclipse to Endeavor when I realized I had the car model name wrong. Yea gods, how did that happen?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Complete absence of nuts in Virginia"

She hit the nail right on the head with this line:
"I couldn't find a skinny, aggressive squirrel picture and chose to offer a fat, complacent squirrel by way of contrast. His name is Fatso."
Stolen entirely from Scribal Terror.

Media Bias

"Don't forget that the media has a bias not toward the left or the right, but toward conflict."
From Princess Sparkle Pony. I think she has it about right.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pork Chop Man

We were talking this evening and RAGBRAI came up, and whenever RAGBRAI is mentioned, you have to talk about the Pork Chop Man. Neither the audio nor video here really does justice to the man, which is too bad. You would probably need a really good stereo to accurately reproduce his patented holler. It is just amazing in person.

The Fifth Element

"The Fifth Element" is one of my all time favorite movies, hi-camp, sci-fi, comic book story line. And it even purports to define the fifth element. Now we have a video that explains it. This girl is very confusing. I don't think I've ever seen education packaged like this.

We don't need no steenking royalty.

Seems like ever since I was a kid the Presidency has become more and more like Royalty and less and less like an elected official. President cannot go anywhere without an entourage the size of an army. Streets get shut down, traffic gets rerouted, snipers on rooftops, security drones everywhere. I know some people thrive on this kind of nonsense, but it annoys me. So what if the President gets assassinated? We have a Vice President, and if he gets knocked off, we have someone to step in and take his place. All this pomp and protocol is beginning to smell like royalty. I mean he ain't no king or nothin'.

What do you do with an old computer?

It's not that old really. A couple of years maybe. Hardly even used. Put together out of odds and ends left over from my youngest son's forray into "building the ultimate gaming machine". I was going to try and roll-my-own DVR using this machine, and I had it sort of working at one point. Eventually it got pushed aside by a Motorola DVR from Verizon and it's been sitting, neglected and alone for about a year. A few weeks ago I pulled it out to see if I could sell it. At that point it worked, but it didn't sell. Now I am trying to figure out what to do with it. So what have we got?
  • Fancy black aluminum case
  • Motherboard
  • AGP graphics card
  • Power supply
  • hard disk drive
  • Hauppague TV Tuner card
  • Microsoft infrerad TV Remote control and receiver.
I would like to think all this is worth $100 and maybe it is.

Gun Encounters

There have only been a couple of times when I have encountered people with guns (outside of a shooting range) who were not police. I was writing about pocket pistols the other day and all these old incidents came trickling back.

New Mexico

Almost thirty years ago I was hitchhiking in New Mexico from Santa Fe to Cloudcroft. Somewhere South of Albequerque a guy (Mexican, I believe) driving a white Chevrolet pickup truck gave me a ride. He had a great big black six gun lying on the dashboard of his truck. But he had weed and beer, so we had fine ride. At some point on the drive he pulls over to the side of the road, picks up the six gun and puts it in his lap. "What's going on?" I wonder. I don't know if I said anything or not, probably did, but he tells me that there is vehicle that has been following him for quite a while, and he wants to find out who they are. No one that was interested in him, they drove on by, the gun went back on the dashboard, and we got back on the road.

I think the reason the gun was on his dashboard, and the reason pickup truck rifle racks are over the rear windown, is if the weapon is in plain sight, it cannot be considered concealed. A legal nicety. I think the deal is that most places don't allow you to carry loaded weapons concealed inside the vehicle within easy reach of the driver, unless they are locked up.


Then there was the incident in Houston. I never saw the gun, but my girlfriend at the time says the guy was holding one. We had been out at some nightclub drinking, the club was closing and we wanted to keep on, so we collected some hangers-oners and headed home. Except when we got on the road we were going the wrong way and there is no place to turn a convoy around. Finally I settle on an apartment complex and pull in. I have just finished turning the car around and am ready to leave when this black man shows up wanting to know who hit his car. I didn't hit his car, I was just going to ignore him, but girlfriend says I better talk to him. So I get out of the car and talk to him for a bit. I don't know if I got through to him or not, but I made my explanation, got back in the car and drove off. Later on girlfriend tells me he had a gun. I never noticed. Probably because I was focused on my mission of talking to this guy and in my impaired condition, didn't have any mental capacity left over to notice non-essentials, like whether he had a gun or not.

Five years later, more or less, a friend of mine and I decided to go shooting out in the boonies. I was driving an old Toyota and apparently the fuel pump had decided to give out. So we stopped at the auto parts store and picked up an electric fuel pump and with a screwdriver and a knife we spliced it into the fuel line and charged off on our mission. We ended up at a quarry in the middle of nowhere where we perforated any number of cans. We discovered that pop cans did not make very good targets for rifles. If you just came close to one, the breeze from the passing bullet was enough to knock it off it's perch. So you think, score, I hit it! But then you walk over and pick it up and there's narry a hole in the can. So we set a rock on top of the can and went back and tried again. This time, try as we might, we could not get the can to fall over. Walk back up to the target and we find the can has been perforated like a cheese grater, but the rock is still holding it in place. A few more shots and the can would have collapsed.

We get done shooting, get back in the car to leave, and the turkey won't start. Starved for fuel, just like last time. What's going on? Electric pump is delivering lots of fuel, but nothing going down the throat of the carberator. We futz with it for a bit, but it's getting late, and we aren't making any progress. Looks like we are going to have to hoof it. I leave my gun in the trunk of the car, but Grainger takes his with him, and we start walking. And walking. I think we were probably about ten miles from the main road, and there is hardly any traffic on the this dead end road. Shoot, there isn't any traffic. We must have walked for a couple hours before a import pickup stops to pick us up. It is pitch black out now. I cannot be sure, but I believe the driver had a sawed off shotgun in his lap pointing in our general direction. I think that's what gave him the confidence to stop and pick up two yahoos with a rifle in the middle of Texas in the middle of the night. He gave us a ride to the main road where we found a phone and my friend called his wife who, mad as hell, came and collected our sorry selves.

We came back the next day to pick up my car and we discovered that the needle valve in the float chamber had come upscrewed so far that it had forced the float all the way down and there was longer any motion possible in the valve. The only gas that was getting in was leaking through the threads and that wasn't enough to feed the engine. Only time I have ever seen this happen.

Around about this same time a friend of mine bought a black powder six gun. A group of us went out to a construction site to try it out. I think there were four of us. We find a big old muddy plank lying by a big mound of dirt, so we set the plank up on edge to use as a target. The first shot goes bang, and then zing! It bounces off the plank and goes flying by our heads. We went to inspect the plank and the bullet had not even made a dent. There was a smudge of lead where the bullet had struck, but that was it. After that we all lined up in back of the shooter.


Another time I was waiting for my car to be serviced and a guy came in with a handgun in a holster on his belt. That made me a little nervous until somebody asked him about it. Turns out he was a bounty hunter. Okay, he's got a good reason for it.

One time my wife and went for hike in Northern Arizona with another couple. I brought a handgun because there had just been a report about a crazy escaped convict from California attacking a couple at another camp ground. So we are walking along the trail and we encounter another two couples walking the other way. They all are wearing great big six guns on their hips, and they looked quite cheerful about it.


Once was in Paris in a train station. There were soldiers standing around with sub-machine guns. They were in groups of three, one officer and two enlisted men. We saw several such groups. They didn't bother me too much, I thought okay, they take their security a little more seriously over here.


Then there was the time I got stopped by the police in Beaverton for having an expired license. Turns out both my plates and my drivers license had expired. I was a busy guy, I don't have time to keep up with this nonsense. The cop asks me for my registration. I go to look in the glovebox and he asks me if I have gun in there. I tell him I don't, but he scurries around to the other side of the car to watch as I rummage in the glove box. No gun appears, he comes back to the drivers window and writes me a ticket.

Another time we were driving on a road leading out of town into the country and we saw a small group of teenage boys and one of them was carrying what looked like a 22 rifle. They made me nervous. Can't tell from looking at people just what kind of yahoos they are, and teenage boys, well, hmph, they're probably up to no good.

That is all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A little help?

Grand Rapids Mike asks me favor:
Chuck, can you drive down to Salem and pick this up for me? It weights about 250 lbs and is filthy and huge, and can you store it for me on your front lawn until I find another 1957-1967 Volvo out there in Oregon, buy it, get it running, and can load this up and drive it back, sometime in 2011?

He's such a kidder.

Update December 2016 replaced missing image.

Abreviations, Postal & Otherwise

The world is overflowing with abbreviations. We have the two letter postal codes each of the 50 US states. We have two and three letter suffixes to internet web addresses. And then there is who L33T speak phenomena used in text messages. And then there is even the name of our country. I just want to go on record as being opposed to most of these, mostly because I can't keep track of them all, and because they are sometimes conflicting. When you are talking CA are you talking about California (the postal abbreviation) or Canada (the internet suffix)? And what is the two letter postal code of Iowa? Illinois? Indiana? Idaho?

LOL I know stands for laughing out loud, but what about SWMBO? Or how about ROFL?

I guess I can't really expect any relief, even I use an abbreviation for the name of our country. I mean, do I really want to write out "The United States Of America" instead of "the US" every time I refer to my country? And then there is the whole proliferation of buzzwords in techno-babble. RAM and CPU I think are understood by the majority, but how about ROM, MHz and UART?

When I send mail to my bank, all I put for the address is their name and their nine digit zip code. The last four digits are the same as their PO Box. So far that has worked, so I will continue to use it. Some places though, the PO Box number does not match the last four digits. Probably not a good idea in those places.

Do You Know What I Mean? - Lee Michaels- 1971

This song just popped into my head this morning. Now why does that happen?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Soccer Donut Stunt

Santa Monica Girls Soccer Giant Donut Kick

Via Rocketboom.

Update December 2016 replaced missing video and removed dead link.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Dali - Persistence of Time
My Dad, Roman, liked the following quote:
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Ray Kroc (Founder McDonalds (started McDonalds at the age of 52)
From Iowa Andy.

I'm disappointed in the picture, it is not as clear as I would like. I'm not a big fan of Dali, his pictures were always just kind of weird, not that interesting. He did a good job with them and this digital copy just doesn't quite cut it.

Update December 2016 replaced missing picture.


I don't carry a gun. I like to say that I don't carry a gun because I am afraid that I might lose my temper with some idiot and use it. The fact is I have never felt the need to carry one. The few times I was in a situation where it might have been prudent to have a gun I was able to recognize the situation and back away.

Carrying a gun is a nuisance. Anything bigger than a pocket pistol is heavy and cumbersome. And how would I conceal anything bigger? I would have to wear a jacket, which I seldom do. If you are going to carry a gun, you really should carry it with you everywhere. I look at it kind of like seatbelts, or any other safety precaution. The one time you don't buckle your seatbelt, or don't carry your gun, is going to be the one time you will need it. I understand now why the original James Bond carried a 25 caliber Beretta. (It was tiny.) Here are some pocket pistols.

Left to right: Colt Vestpocket 25, Kel-Tec P32, Baby Browning 25. P-32 is the lightest of them all, as you might guess.
Guns and the way people react to them are funny. I don't mind seeing policemen with guns, but that is because that's what I grew up with. Police have always had guns, it's just the way things are. There have only been a couple of times when I have encountered people with guns (outside of a shooting range) who were not police, and my reactions were interesting (to me anyway. Maybe not to you. Har de har har). Sometimes they made me nervous, sometimes they didn't.

I think all this noise about "common sense" gun laws comes from people who are unfamiliar with guns. Most people don't own guns and don't encounter them in their daily lives, except for the police and the police are like fixtures. Then they hear about these violent massacres and think we should do something about this. They have always lived their lives according to the rules, and they think everybody else should too, so we will just make a rule that says nobody can have any guns. Then the world will be safe and everything will be fine and dandy we won't ever have to worry about anybody getting shot ever again.

I hope the NRA is successful in getting all the restrictive gun laws repealed. It might be a little tougher with the Democrats in power, but I have heard inklings that at least some of the Democrats understand the issue. And then there is the recent US Supreme Court ruling that should go a long way to clearing out these foolish restrictions on gun ownership.

Imagine what it would do for the economy if people could buy machine guns! Imagine all the guns and ammo people would buy! Shoot, a day at the range with a machine gun could easily cost you $1,000. Yea ha! That would put a boost in the economy!

(Yes, I know you can buy a machine gun now, the restrictions are onerous. Never mind that I wouldn't be able to keep it fed.)

Update April 2019 fixed a problem with the picture.

Better Spray Bottles

Most spray bottles have a wide base which allows you to set them down easily without tipping over. However, this can make it difficult to use all of the fluid in the bottle. You get down to the last inch or so of fluid, and if you tilt the bottle the wrong way, you get nothing. Spray bottles should have a conical bottom so the last little bit of fluid gets funnelled to the suction pipe. As long as there is more than a milliliter in the bottle, you will get spray. When you you get no more spray, the bottle is empty. No more fooling around with half empty bottle. Of course you will some kind of base to support the bottle when you set it down. I'm thinking that the extra cost of special base might be more than the cost of the extra fluid, but maybe not. Plastic is pretty cheap.

Somebody else had a similar idea. They even went to the trouble to make one.

Update December 2016 replaced image. This may be the only copy of the image in existence. I originally got it from, but that story has vanished.

Motorcycle Brush Bar

Motorcycle Brush Bar
This is something I thought of a long time ago, but it just popped into my head again today. When you are riding through the woods or brush, a branch in your path may impact your steering. In the worst case it can cause the handlebars to make a sudden swing to one side and run you right off the path and into a tree or other large obstacle. A semi-circular bar projecting forward from the ends of the handlebars with the center coaxial with the steering axis could push small branches aside without impacting your steering. Any impact is going to act on the center of steering, but it is not going to cause the handlebars to turn to one side or the other. You would also need some kind of bracket supporting the bar in the center. You wouldn't want to depend on just the ends of the handlebars to support the bar. The picture isn't a dirt bike, but it's enough to give you the idea. The bar would actually be thicker. It's a little difficult to draw concentric circles using MSPaint.

Update December 2016 replaced missing image.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bucher-Tractor Race

Chicago Mike bought a fixer-upper in Grand Rapids:
The new house is a very solid comfortable shithole. I disassembled the return ducts and vacuumed 50 years of dust out (and reassembled), added a furnace based humidifier, replaced the hot water heater, and me and the cats like there like barely domesticated barn animals. I have a bed, TV, shower, but no internet, microwave or actual refrigerator (I moved it to the garage and hosed it out). It does have a working dishwasher.

I need to replace some soffit and fascia and add a gutter to the upper story, but there has been no water incursion, and it is less disgusting each week.

I need to fire up the fireplaces to see if I can use them to dispose of the kitchen cabinets.
Now he has bought an old Gravely tractor to cut brush and deal with the snow. He sent me a link to a video of a Gravely in action, and you know you can never have too much cowbell, so here's some more. I think this might be from Romania.

Fred Thompson speech about the economy

Sarcasm can be hard to convey by writing. It's a little more obvious in this video. I hope no one will miss the sarcasm and take this little speech at face value.

Via "The Freeholder" and Tam.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Guns N' Roses

I’d prefer to live in a world with puppies and unicorns where no violence is done to others for good or evil reasons. I don’t live in that world and neither do you.
Just something to keep in mind. Found on "The Ten Ring". Via Tam.

Feeling Alright

I had not been feeling too good the last few days. Tired, sleeping a lot, not getting much of anything done. Getting a little pain in my sinuses, but no other symptoms. No runny nose, no congestion, no cough, no aches and pains. Just tired, and my mind was pretty worthless as well. All I did over the weekend was play stupid computer games (Spider Solitaire, Minesweeper, Mahjongg, and "Wei-Hwa's Series of Tubes"). Because this seems to happen to me for a couple of days every couple of months, I thought I would plot my activity level and see if anything showed up. So I counted the number of posts I had made on this blog each day for the last two months, put the data in a Google spreadsheet, and then fed the data to the chart maker. For my first attempt I used the line graph style, but it really didn't seem to reveal anything.

So then I tried a bar chart. I think this illustrates the data much better.

Note that the date order is backwards, just like a blog. Latest date is on the left, earliest is on the right. I think it is pretty obvious that I was much more energetic last month than this.

Yesterday I went to see my allergist and he says: "You have an acute ear infection. Here, eat these antibiotics." Today I am feeling much better, whether it is because the pills are already having an effect, or because I now have identified the culprit, it is hard to say.

Joe Cocker - Feelin Alright

Update June 2014: The video clip disappeared from YouTube so I replaced it. This one has no video, just a single still image, but it sounds alright.
Update September 2015: The video disappeared again, so I replaced it again.
Update December 2016 replaced missing graphs.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


A story from the Associated Press: Zimbabwe faces water cuts amid cholera crisis

I just don't get it.
Mugabe has been in power for 28 years, the economy is in ruins, cholera has shown up, famine is not far away, and still no one shot him. All I can think is that loyalty trumps smarts. Of course if someone did kill Mugabe, would it trigger a civil war? And if it did, would it make the situation better, or worse?

High Praise Indeed

"In 1974, I blacksmithed the now famous klunker from scavenged objects. Then I started to hear that high form of recognition: 'You can't do that,' and, 'It won't work.' I knew I was onto something big."

-- Gary Fisher, pioneer mountain-bike builder
via Andy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Great Boom

I never heard anyone put it quite like this:
The working assumption of the "Great Boom" is – or was – that we live in a benign era where most societies are converging towards some form of market liberalism; where trade and capital flows are unrestricted; where governments have enough legitimacy to keep order by light touch; where a major war is unthinkable.
I especially like the line about "legitimacy" and "light touch". From England, via Tam.