Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Lindsay Lohan's Life to be Sold on E-Bay

Lindsay Lohan
I stumbled across this story on Michael Bane's blog this morning. I liked it so much I wanted to post a link on Facebook, my latest playground, but the link wasn't working, so I thought I would copy and paste and see if a link to this copy would work.
As the only gun blog regularly covering the spreading Lindsay Lohan Crisis on a regular basis, I thought it was past time for an important update. It was announced today that the Loveable Lindsay doesn't have the scratch for another 3 months in Betty Ford, not to mention the coke. Sources close to Lindsay (including Alf the Wonder Beagle and Michael Jackson's presently incarcerated chimp) tell us that the Vivacious Vixen has come up with a unique solution — she will sell up to 12 months of her life on E-Bay.

If you're lucky enough to win Lindsay for 1 month, she will come live in your house for an entire 30 days. She promises to lounge around your doublewide in panties and bra, Twitter pictures of [your] Hummel collection, make a pass at (choose 1) you, your spouse, your son, your daughter, the girl who babysits once a week or a family pet. She also guarantees at least either 1 overdose or 1 arrest.

If you're willing to bid for a 3 month block, Lindsay will also agree to marry you, with a subsequent divorce on day 90. There are rumors that George Soros has expressed an interest in obtaining the whole 12 months if, and only if, Charlie Sheen is included. "Boy Howdy, that Charlie knows how to party," Soros is reported to have said.
Via Dustbury, I think.

Update October 2016 replace missing picture.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Look See

Look, Jane, look! See spot! See spot run! Words from a primer.

We have a phrase adults use: Pop your head around the corner and take a look-see.

Now dang-nab daughter comes up with:
take a looksy at this:
Which makes me wonder just how it should it be spelled. Of course it's not proper grammar, and if it's not proper grammar, how can you tell if it isn't spelled correctly? Nationally Enquiring minds want to know: look-see, looksy or looksie?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Toyota Tundra Starter Replacement

From an email exchange this morning with Iowa Andy:
Subject: Re: ? Online automotive repair manual ?


Do you have any experience with Online automotive repair manual ?

Like or others?

I thought my Tundra battery was bad, two tests at two different shops
says battery is OK.
Clerk suggested starter, which I ordered $80.00 + core.
Googling at home I find the symptoms match corroded starter contacts,
Either way, to get to the starter involves removing intake manifold.


I bought a one year subscription to Mitchell's for the Sebring. $30. I think it was Mitchell. I suppose it's okay. We shall see if I ever get around to working on the car.

Doesn't the Tundra have a V-8? That would put the intake manifold on top of the engine. Where is the starter?

How much does the Toyota shop want to do the job?


Yes V8 4.7 liter, same as Lexus LX470 SUV
Yes intake on top.
Starter is on top, under intake manifold.
Looks like $800 $900 at dealer.
at the
site which has limited free information.

And I thought I had problems.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Quote of the Day

Elizabeth Moon, one of my favorite writers, got disinvited, and Roberta had a few choice words to say about that. My favorite was this paragraph:
Meanwhile, in that corner of fandom, the hue and cry continues. A lot of it is of the "my ancestors got whupped on all the time and that makes me more equal than anyone else" sort, in which the writer expresses deep, visceral outrage between applying a layers of Cheeze Whiz to vegan saltines, sitting at a computer in Mom and Dad's basement.

Traction Control

Drove to Eugene yesterday to see the kids. Horrible, terrible, very bad rain storm on the way home last night. It was so bad I actually was driving below the speed limit, something I have never willing done before. As it my habit, I used the cruise control. A couple of times I felt the car suddenly slow down, like I had run into some deep water, but the car didn't resume it's speed after I imagined we had cleared the puddle. What I think happened is the front driving wheels lost traction for a second and the traction control detected this and disengaged the cruise control. Curious. I had never run into this before.

Reset Button

A grim little story from California Bob:
I got recent news about a guy I used to work with. This guy was kind of a sad sack -- nebbish jewish guy, accountant, hapless, socially awkward, sports and gambling nut, married to this woman who....well, she was just awful. He was super frugal and saved up his pennies and bought a townhouse in the East Bay around 2005.

As of a couple years ago he was working at his job, saddled with this mortgage, struggling to make the payments as the house went further underwater.

Then his wife died which was the first good thing that happened to him in a long time.

Then, over the course of the last 6 months or so, things came to a head. He got laid off from his job. He had big mortgage payments but zero equity in his house. Job market here is terrible of course. Anyway, long story short, he packed a suitcase, left his house keys on the counter, got in his car and drove to Las Vegas. His car broke down once he got there so he ditched that too. Now he's collecting unemployment, paying $250 a month to share a house with a young couple, sleeps in til the afternoon, rides the bus to the Venetian and spends his evenings playing poker. Happy as a clam.

Anyway I thought it was a life-affirming story to share with you. Even the most bleak prospects can turn around!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Up On The Roof

When my kids were small I used to put Christmas lights up along the edge of the roof along the front of the house. It was always a slightly exhilarating / terrifying experience. The roof has a kind of a steep pitch, about 9/12 I think, which means it goes up nine feet for every 12 feet it goes across. If the surface isn't slippery you can stand on it, but of course it is always a little slippery, which makes it treacherous.

There are some places along the front of the house where if you slid off the roof you would land in a flower bed. There are others where you would land on sidewalk. Likewise if you lost your balance along a gable. I don't know if it would make a difference where you landed. The concrete was definitely scarier.

A few years ago I decided I had had enough of that and stopped putting up the lights. There were some minor protests, but nobody else was willing to do it, so it didn't get done, and I thought I was done with going up on the roof. Then I got laid off.

Last year my wife was making a fuss about some shingles that had come off the roof, so I called a couple of roofing guys to come out and take a look. They were looking for a big job: replace the entire roof. One guy said the roof was fine but he could send a guy out to take care of the damage for a couple hundred bucks. I thought that would be fine but I never heard anymore from him.

A couple of weeks ago my neighbor points out that I am missing some shingles and when I look I notice he is correct. There are probably a dozen cap shingles missing from the ridges near the top. Dash and bother. Looks like I am actually going to have to do something about it this time.

I look on Craigslist but I don't find anybody in Hillsboro. There are plenty of guys all over the metro area, but I don't want to hire somebody from the East side, it will cost a hundred dollars just to have him drive clear out here. That doesn't make much sense for a $200 repair job. So I call one guy I know in the area. He has one contact who does roofs, so I call him, he comes out and gives me a bid for a thousand dollars. The repairs are indeed only $200, but he is from Tualatin, which is not the East side, but it may as well be, and he wants another $800 to clean the roof and apply moss killer.

I'm looking at this roof and I'm thinking it's not going to last another five years. I don't want to be spending a thousand dollars now when it may only take five thousand to replace it. I had the moss removed a couple of years ago, so it's not like it's that bad. You can see little bits of it growing along the edges of the shingles on the North side. Besides, with the state the roof is in, cleaning it may do as much damage as leaving it alone.

I talk to my lawn man. He and his helper cleaned the roof the last time, maybe they would be willing to do the repairs and clean the gutters. Well, he's willing, but his right hand man has gone back to Mexico to deal with some family matters. So if I'm willing, he's willing to help me. Dash and bother.

So here I am up on the roof again. This time at least I have a decent ladder. I bought it a couple of years ago. It's a fiberglass extension ladder between 15 and 20 long. Cost like $200. That was painful. The roof is slippery: it's covered with loose granules from the asphalt shingles. I try hosing them off and brushing them off, but they are surprisingly resistant to such mild attempts to get them tumbling. If I am going to get them off I will have to be more aggressive. I wonder if it will help, or will the still attached granules simply come loose when I step on them?

Roofs are stupid. More people are killed falling off roofs than are killed by meteorites. There really is no safe way to work on a roof unless you have a rope and a harness, and then the rope dragging on the roof is likely to cause as much damage as you repair. You should probably just burn the house down.

I climbed up there anyway and managed to replace all the broken/missing shingles. I only spend an hour or two at it every day. By the time I have gotten the ladder out, climbed onto the roof and spent fifteen minutes working I am sweating like a pig. I suspect it is because I am using muscles I don't usually use, but it could be nerves.

Rob, the lawn man, came by earlier this week and we tried cleaning the gutters along the back edge of the house. The back edge of the house is a different story than the front. Along most of the back edge there is a narrow bit of roof over the main floor. If you fall off the main roof there you will bounce off this narrow bit and then fall two stories into a flower bed where you will probably die. Along the rest of the back edge it's three stories straight down onto a brick like patio. If you fall off the roof there you will probably break your neck and be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of your miserable life.

Rob wants to walk along the edge of the roof with his leaf blower and blow the debris out of the gutters. He wants me to sit on the roof on the other side of the ridge from him and hold onto a rope that he has tied around his waist. I'm not too sure about this, but he's been up here before, and he is going to be in the dangerous position, so I go along with his scheme. He tries it and but quickly gives it up as a bad job: the roof is too slippery to allow him to stand.

His idea was that if he fell, he would fall onto the roof and my job was just to keep him from sliding off. I am not going to try this again. Even if things had worked well and he hadn't fallen, or if he had slipped and fallen onto the roof we could have still gotten into a world of hurt. With him moving around I was hard pressed to keep the slack out of the line. I was not putting any tension on it, just trying to keep it from developing any slack that would allow him to slide any distance. I had the rope around my waist and was trying to grip the two ends of the rope together, which is sort of how I think belaying is done. But with him moving I was having to constantly adjust the position of the rope, which meant that most of the time I did not have a firm grip on it.

And that was just if everything went well. If something bad happened, like he tripped and fell over the edge, and I did have a firm grip on the rope like I was supposed to, we could have both ended up going over the edge.

I am thinking about installing a permanent anchor point on the top of the roof so I would have somewhere to attach a safety line. Of course, that would mean I would have to climb to the top in order to hook on.

Rob is coming back next week with a 40 foot ladder. It will take that big a ladder to reach the gutters above the patio, and it will take both of us to put it up. I guess it's safer than using a rope and harness, but in either case it's a long way up.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Ex-Wife The Pilot

Steve sent me this story. I don't have an ex-wife, and I don't think he does either. I hope the layout works okay.
My ex-wife started taking flying lessons about the time our divorce started and she got her license shortly before our divorce was final, later that same year.

Yesterday afternoon, she narrowly escaped injury in the aircraft she was piloting when she was forced to make an emergency landing in Southern Tennessee because of bad weather.

Thank God our kids were with me this weekend.

The NTSB issued a preliminary report, citing pilot error: Judy was flying a single engine aircraft in IFR (instrument flight rating) conditions while only having obtained a VFR (visual flight rating) rating.

The absence of a post-crash fire was likely due to insufficient fuel on board.

No one on the ground was injured.

The photograph below was taken at the scene and shows the extent of damage to her aircraft.

She was very lucky.

Update January 2016, replaced missing picture.
Update August 2017, replaced missing picture.

Yale Makes People Stupid

There was a "quiz" in The Oregonian today about global warming, except it wasn't a quiz, it's a survey, except you get a grade, except you don't. Mealy-mouthed jackhats.

The survey was put together by some yahoos at Yale and they claim most Americans fail the test. More than half of the questions though are about how you feel about some statement or other. Questions of fact are a minority. So how are they grading this "test"? Are they only scoring the questions of fact? Or are they scoring your feelings as well? And if they are scoring my feelings, how dare they flunk me! They are my feelings and none of their business! Is that why they won't show me my score? And how do we know anybody is flunking if they aren't telling us how they are scoring this quiz and what our scores are?

With this kind of foolishness it's no wonder they can't sell global warming.

Politics, Allies & Loyalty

I kind of think I have figured out how the world works, but putting it into words is another matter. Here is one more attempt.

There are two levels of politics in the USA. One level is the public show put on for the population as a whole. The other is the wheeling and dealing done behind closed doors by the powers that be. Half of the wheeling and dealing is done to finance the public show. All the stuff that is written on the web and published in newspapers and magazines is basically irrelevant. It gives those of us who are concerned with the issues something to do, which keeps us from having enough time to go out and make real trouble. TV is pretty much the only thing that counts.

Some people like to throw their weight around. People like that are unpleasant to be around so if you have options, you will avoid them. People who can't avoid them might look for someone with a bigger throw weight and ally themselves to him/her for protection. A quick indicator of throw weight is physical height and mass, which explains why leaders are often taller. Other indicators are intelligence and the size and substance of their personal network, but those are harder to evaluate.

Allies are your best protection against trouble. This is why people became social: to defend themselves against trouble from other groups. Protection is still people's number one concern. Food, water, housing, even money are of no concern when there are maniacs chasing you with pitchforks/machetes/rocks/missiles/what have you.

This is why fear mongering can be such an effective method of gaining followers: you and me are the same, those other guys are different and they are out to ruin and/or kill us. Join me and we will defeat those agents of darkness and live happily ever after!

Fairy tales. Loyalty is ephemeral, a fantasy if you will. Family members are generally loyal to each other, but not always, and loyalty outside of the family is hard to come by. Groups who have endured harsh situations together, like combat troops, apparently develop some loyalty to their comrades. Of course, harsh circumstances can also engender enmity, which is pretty much the opposite of loyalty.

There is little to no real loyalty in business. People will continue to do business with each other as long as it is to their advantage, either short term or long term, but business is based on money, and if there is no money, there will be no loyalty. Some people are ruthless and will feign loyalty if they can gain even a slight advantage. I'm not talking about them. They are scum and will end up floating face down in the bay eventually.

I am talking about people with the best of intentions, who would never give up on their fellows. Except what does the employer do when there is no money to pay the employee? What does the employee do? How about the supplier who isn't getting paid? Occasionally there are cases where people will continue in a business relationship even though they are not getting paid (most famous of these are the secretaries of the private detectives in the trashy murder mysteries). But if the business is not viable, all those relationships that were built solely on that business will eventually crumble.

That is all I have for now.

Rich Man, Poor Man . . .

An oldie but a goodie:

It just all depends on how you look at some things...

Judy Wallman, a professional genealogy researcher in southern California , was doing some personal work on her own family tree. She discovered that Congressman Harry Reid's great-great uncle, Remus Reid, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. Both Judy and Harry Reid share this common ancestor.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows in Montana Territory.

On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription: 'Remus Reid, horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889.'

So Judy recently e-mailed Congressman Harry Reid for information about their great-great uncle.

Harry Reid:

Believe it or not, Harry Reid's staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:

"Remus Reid was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory . His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."

Steve sent me this. According to this story has been kicking around at least since 2000. The names get changed to whoever is currently irritating the author and it gets sent around again.


Tonight's episode of CSI dealt with hoarding. Laurence Fishburne quoted Erich Fromm, which is a name I hadn't heard since high school, on the topic of life. Seems there are two kinds of life: having and living, and in our culture having sometimes gets out of control. There are over 2 billion square feet of public storage space in US. That's like 7 square feet per person, which isn't much, except nobody anybody knows is using it. So it must be a small minority of hoarders who have overflowed their homes and have had to expand. I am not using any public storage (yet), but my basement is getting filled up with stuff. Most of it is useful, but it never gets used.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Automotive Innards

I caught this scene watching an old episode of Top Gear. I think they were running an old BMW diesel in a 24 hour endurance race, something broke, and they had to open up the car to get to it. I think they managed to make this repair in couple of hours, but just look how far into the car they have gotten. Bumper, grill, radiator frame, radiator, and who knows what else had to come off to get to where they were going. The underside of the hood spans the top of the picture, and I believe that is the crankshaft pulley about a foot to the left of the guy's nose. Who knows what the mystery cylinder underneath it is.

Update March 2016 replaced missing picture.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Changing Education Paradigms

My daughter sent me this. It's interesting in several ways. One is the subject being discussed. Another is the technique used to illustrate the speech, and then there is the RSA, which I had never heard of before, but being as it is a Royal Society it must be a good one, right?

Stuff In The Air

Going to the corner for burgers I got caught in the outflow from Intel. Sitting there waiting for the light to change I noticed all these birds congregating on these two light poles, both of which were encumbered with a bunch of stuff.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Se Habla Español

At the checkout stand in the local grocery store I noticed this display of Spanish language magazines. My Spanish is just what they teach you if the first couple of weeks of high school, and I sometimes get French and Spanish words mixed up, after all I took French in high school:
Update February 2017 replaced missing picture and fixed the last two of the three broken links.

More North Korean Spelling Corruption Agents

One of the words in this morning's Jumble was rarefy, which I have always spelled rarify, but my aging paper dictionary says it can be spelled either way. I checked practice again, just to make sure that the online people were not out-of-line, and the paper dictionary agrees that there are two spellings for practice as well. Grrrrr.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cutting Board

A cutting board normally serves two purposes: it protects the supporting surface from the knife, and it protects the knife edge from being dulled by a hard work surface, like ceramic tile.

Long practice in using cutting boards led me to employ one in cutting asphalt shingles with my pocket knife on the tailgate of my aging pickup truck. At the beginning I suppose it served to prevent me from cutting lines in the paint, though it certainly did not protect the knife edge from the grit on the shingles.

Eventually I figured out that if you cut into the shingle just deep enough that you can start to feel the knife hitting the grit, you have cut far enough, and can easily break the shingle and have a clean edge, and your knife edge will not be destroyed quite as fast.

I probably should have used a utility knife for this project, but there wasn't one in the utility knife drawer, and I was afraid if I stalled any more on this project it wouldn't get done, so I used what I had.

To me, the black rectangle sitting on top looks like a hard piece of plastic. It's not, it's an old shingle that I am using for a pattern / straight-edge to cut new pieces. Funny how photos can do that.

A note about spelling: Since when is practise word? I also thought it was spelled practice. I thought I had spell checked this before I posted it, but I was looking at it later and I noticed that practice was apparently misspelled. So I checked it again, and spell checker didn't blink. Check the Merriam-Webster online dictionary and they say either spelling is correct. I suspect North Korean agents have infiltrated our spell checking centers are foisting these incorrect spellings in an attempt to bring down Western Civilization. Hold tight to your spelling rules! Do not let these neanderthals lead you down the path of spell-it-however-you-like or we shall all be lost!

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Quote of the Day

This is the abstract from a 30 year old paper by Paul Krugman.
This paper extends interplanetary trade theory interstellar setting. It is chiefly concerned with the following question: how should interest charges on goods in transit be computed when the goods travel at close to the speed of light? This is a problem because the time taken in transit will appear less to an observer travelling with the goods than to a stationary observer. A solution is derived from economic theory, and two useless but true theorems are proved.
The last sentence was so great I had to stop and post this. Via Just An Earthbound Misfit and Free OCR, which worked perfectly this time.

The original document is an image. To get the text into this post, I:
  • selected the area containing the text and I wanted,
  • copied it to the Windows clipboard,
  • pasted it into a new image in the Microsoft Paint program,
  • saved the image as a TIF file on my desktop where it would be easy to find,
  • opened the file using the Browse button on the OCR web page, and
Presto! Plain text!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Post of the Day

Snigs put up a post today that I thought was a good concise description of what's wrong with Western civilization, along the same lines as:
"The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers." - Princess Leia in the original Star Wars.

Magic Furnace Repair

No end of broken stuff to fix and having a hard time getting it done, though I did fix the furnace today. Turned it on the other day and no hot air. Last time this happened I called the furnace man. He came out and found the air filter was clogged. That was embarassing, and it cost me $100. This time I thought I better check the air filter myself, so I did. No problem, it wasn't clogged. It wasn't even very dirty, so I put it back. Turned on the furnace and looked for a flashing light indicating a problem. No flashing. Oh listen, hear the burner kick on? Hey, we've got hot air. I fixed it!

Anonymous Comes Through

The miners trapped in the Chilean mine were finally rescued yesterday, and Anonymous left a comment on my previous post on this topic that answered an outstanding question. The answer was this story from 1951. It's about a couple of German soldiers trapped underground for six years at the end of WWII. What makes this doubly interesting is that TIME magazine archives are apparently available on line.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Global Warming

Some eco-weanies put up a tasteless video to promote their latest campaign and immediately caught a boat load of flak which caused them to take it back down. Too late, it's gone viral and everyone has a copy.

I got to wondering about their campaign (no wondering about the video, everyone and their mother has an opinion about that). What do they hope to accomplish, other than maybe making a couple more people aware of their cause? I'm not sure anyone can do anything about the amount of greenhouse gases being produced. If all the people who are driving little economy cars started driving hybrids, or even riding bicycles, any reduction in their production of greenhouse gases would be dwarfed by all the big engines running around: trucks, trains, generators, airplanes, bulldozers. One person could stop driving entirely for a year and the amount of fuel they save could be consumed by one blip of the throttle on a bulldozer. It just doesn't make any sense to me.

If the eco-weanies are serious about this global warming business, they really need to come up with some kind of plan on how we could reduce the production of greenhouse gases. I have not heard of any kind of realistic plan. All I have heard is that we should have some meetings, a protest, a conference, and nonsense like we should all start using hydrogen fuel cells.

Even if all of Western civilization stopped burning fossil fuel in their cars, I don't think it would make a significant difference.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Several years ago when I was working in a cube farm, I was walking down the aisle on my way somewhere when I came up behind these two broads walking down the aisle side by side, in the same direction as me. When I say broads, I mean broads. They were about three feet wide and about 300 pounds, each. They were walking slightly slower than I was, maybe two miles per hour to my three. They were engaged in conversation and were completely oblivious to the fact that I wanted to get past them. It's possible I could have pushed my way through, but it's equally likely they could have taken offence and prevented me, so I whiled away my time by imagining pressing a bar of iron into a grinder really hard so sparks are flying a hundred feet and the iron is screaming in agony.

Last school year I was driving down one of the two lane roads at the PCC (Portland Community College) campus that lead to a parking lot when some pedestrians stepped out in front of me. That's okay, pedestrians are a fact of life here, I can wait until they cross the street. Or it would have been okay if they had gone directly across the street at a reasonable walking pace. But these yahoos, four or five black kids, are not walking at a normal walking pace, they are dawdling. They are making maybe one mile per hour. That would not have been so bad except that they weren't crossing the street directly, or even semi-directly. They were taking a path an extreme angle that was going to take them a hundred yards down the road before they got to the other side. Were they oblivious to my presence, or were they deliberately baiting me? I really don't know. I did refuse the bait and sat and waited for the three and a half hours it took them to meander down the road and finally get up on the curb on the other side. This is the kind of shit that makes racists out of ordinary hateful people.

This summer we took a Washington State Ferry out to the San Juan Islands. While we are waiting in the parking queue I notice a couple walking. Well, walking might be an exaggeration. Staggering was more like it. The man appeared to partially crippled and was pulling the woman along, or she was pulling on him, trying to keep him from toppling over. They were not going too fast, but they were making progress, they weren't in anybody's way, and they weren't bothering anybody, but they bothered me. In my mind I was all why don't you just walk? What is all this staggering shit? I really don't have a clue what that was about.

Except maybe this: My father had trouble keeping his balance when he got really old. I took him for a walk one time. I didn't think it was that long, but evidently it was more than he could handle. The last couple of blocks he was trying to lean over because his sense of level wasn't right, and I was having to hold him up. It was real struggle to get those last couple of blocks. I would have sat him down and gone to get the car, but there was no place to sit.

I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and there was a new-to-me nurse there. She was a little elderly with gray hair and a quavering voice, and the voice really bothered me, kind of like the couple at the ferry. No good reason for it, it just annoyed me. Why is that?

Ancient Greek Contruction Technique

A while back I caught a bit of a show on TV about some people working on restoring an ancient Greek temple. One of the things they mentioned was how well the stones fit together. For instance, the columns were made of short stone cylinders piled on top of each other. The fit between adjoining pieces is such that you couldn't slide a piece of paper in between them.

The question is: how did they manage to make these multi-ton stone pieces fit together so well, when all they had were hand tools? This got me to thinking, and eventually I came up with a solution. It may not be correct, but I like it. The answer is they were ground in place.

You cut the stone pieces as best you can. Then you spread some grinding compound (a harder sand) on the top surface, set the next piece on top, wind ropes around the upper piece and put your slaves to pulling on the ropes. The cylinder will rotate in place and slowly grind away the high spots until the two pieces mate perfectly.

If this seems a little far fetched, it is probably because we are not used to employing hundreds of people to accomplish a simple task like grinding a surface flat.

On the other hand, the ancient Greeks were pretty smart, and this was a big project, so they could have just used a straight edge and some grinding stones to put a flat surface on the stone. It would have been tedious and time consuming and taken a long time, but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Tam's post about painting ancient statues and engraving modern firearms reminded me of this.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Flight of the Bumblebee - Bb clarinet

Skillfully done, but it doesn't really do anything for me. Too many years of ear-shattering rock and roll maybe? When I was a kid back in the late 50's I wanted to play the clarinet. My parents provided me with one and the school provided lessons. I learned to play, after a fashion. I could blow on it and read the music and push the keys, but what came out never sounded like music to me. It was just notes, and for some reason I was always flat. I never did figure that out. I mean, it must have been the horn, right? But when I changed to saxophone, I was still flat, and whatever I was making still didn't sound like music to me. Probably didn't sound like music to anyone else either. I was last chair until I graduated from high school and then I finally bagged it. I lent the sax to Matt. At least he had some interest in it.

Iowa Andy sent me the link.


I like the way they go on endlessly about all the negative side effects you may encounter, just like the ads for real drugs on TV.

Via my cousin Kathy.

Hungry Lucy

I've been listening to Hungry Lucy on YouTube the last couple of days. Can't say as there is any one song that sticks out, they all sound kind of similar, but I enjoy them. Hypnotic.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Safety First

I came across this on Ambulance Driver's blog:
It’s a dangerous business, driving an ambulance. That’s one reason I don’t bristle much at being called an ambulance driver. According to NHTSA crash data, ambulances are involved in 3,200 crashes per hundred million miles traveled. That’s 4 times as often as motorcycles, 8 times as often as cars and light trucks, and 15 times as often as heavy trucks.
If ambulances crash 3,200 times, and that is 8 times as often as cars, then cars crash 400 times in a 100 million miles, or 4 times per million miles, or once every 250,000 miles. If you drive 12,000 miles a year, that's an average of one crash every 20 years. If you make an average of 4 trips a day in your car (1 to work, 1 back, 1 to the store, 1 to home), that means one accident every, um, 20 years times 365 days per year times 4 trips per day comes out to one chance in 30,000 of having a wreck each time you get in your car. That's pretty slim odds.

Now all I need is similar data for air travel and I can figure out whether it is safer to get in an airplane or a car.

Transit Economics

Paul Krugman (liberal, writes for the NY Times) put up a story about transit. The transit situation in NYC is very different than it is way out here on the West Coast, but I still had something to say about it:

1) A single lane of roadway can deliver as many people at one person per car as a single line of track, and it can do it more quickly. Cars one second apart = 3600 people per hour. Trains 5 minutes apart with 300 people per train can deliver the same, but you are not going to get 300 people who all want to start at the same place and stop at the same place, so you are going to have to make stops, and that will slow you down.

2) Mixing traffic and pedestrians downtown is a stupid idea. All downtown areas should have a pedestrian level 20 or 30 feet above the motor vehicle traffic level. The pedestrian level should cover the entire area. Cars have headlights, they can deal with being shut off from the sun.

3) Parking is the root of all evil. Every building downtown should be required to provide a parking place for every person who could conceivable be in the building. Use the Fire Marshall's limit. Automated parking garages are the way to go.

4) Transit trains suck. They are noisy, crowded and uncomfortable. If you are in the mood and have the energy, and everyone else in your car is behaving, you can read. Driving, if traffic is moving freely is much better. Of course, it usually isn't. So driving sucks too. I wonder which is more wearing? I think the powers that be have allowed our transportation system to deteriorate in order keep everyone worn out and therefor too tired to make trouble, like demand that something be done about our transportation system.

Every Kid Needs A Hobby

From studebaker hoch on Fark via Dustbury.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Faster Than The Wind

Dennis sent me this link about a week ago. It's kind of intriguing.

These guys are trying to outrun the wind, that is, they are going in the same direction as the wind, only faster. There is a wind vane and a anemometer mounted on top of the chase car. Notice that the vane is pointing toward the back when they start out, but that after they get up to speed it is pointing the opposite way: towards the front indicating that they are going into the wind. The wind hasn't changed direction, only their velocity has.

The cart has no engine, it is powered solely by the wind. The wheels are connected to the propeller through gears.

I read some of the stories, but nowhere did I find a clear explanation of how it works. I've been stewing about it, and I've come up with an explanation of sorts. It may not be the best, but it's all I've got so far, so I thought I would throw it out there and see if it floats.

First of all, you need to realize that the propeller is not working as a turbine. If it were then the wind would turn the propeller and the propeller would turn the wheels. That would work only as long as the wind was blowing faster than the cart, and that is not what they are trying to do. If you look at the way the propeller blades are pitched and the way the prop is turning when it first starts out you will see that the propeller is turning the wrong way for it to act like a turbine.

So the propeller is turning into the air as the cart moves forward. Pushing the cart forward in still air would take very little effort. The cart is light, the wheels have low rolling resistance, kind of like high pressure bicycle tires, and the propeller is basically freewheeling through the air. It is screwing through the air in the same direction and at roughly the same rate as the cart is moving over the ground. A guy could probably push it along at 5 or 10 MPH without too much difficulty. How long he could keep it up would depend on how fit he was, but that's really beside the point.

If the propeller was not turning, i.e. it was locked in place, it would take considerably more effort to push the cart along because you would be trying to push this propeller through the air.

With the wind blowing, it is going to be pushing on those propeller blades as if they weren't turning, but because the blades are turning as though they were in still air, but now we have wind pushing them, so now we are moving 5 or 10 MPH faster than the wind.

With no wind, there is virtually no force on the propeller blades, no matter what speed you are going. With the wind blowing, we've got the force of wind pushing on those propeller blades, and that is what is going to make it go. The only thing holding this thing back is friction, friction from the wheels, the bearings, and even the air. It is going faster than the air.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Vacuum Cleaner Repair

The vacuum cleaner started stinking the other day. Open up the bottom, don't see anything wrong, but we have a spare round belt, we can replace it and maybe that will make the problem go away. In order to get the round belt off, you have to take the flat belt off first, and hey, ow! The shaft that belt is riding on is hot! So maybe it's the flat belt that is kaput, and the round belt is okay.

We have the round belt (I call it round because it has a round cross section, like a big O-ring) because they sell them at the local supermarket. But they don't sell the flat belts there, for those I have to go to the vacuum cleaner store where they are $4.50 a piece or 3 for $12. I have to replace them regularly (every couple of years or so), but there's no point in buying any extra. They'd end up in a box somewhere. In the bottom of a stack of boxes. Easier just to let the local store handle the inventory problem.

You can see how much the old belt has stretched in the picture above. It surrounds the new belt with room to spare. I wonder though if I'm not getting inferior belts. This vacuum cleaner is a Panasonic and is like the second appliance we bought umpteen years ago. I don't think I had to replace a belt until it was at least ten years old, but since them it seems like it's been ever more often. Or maybe it's just getting used more?

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

The Physiology Coloring Book

Diligent daughter is taking biology this semester, so I got out my coloring book to try and brush up on the subject. I bought it several years ago, I think I was trying to sort out metabolism. I colored the first page using felt tip pens, which is what they recommend. That worked well for that drawing, but they bled through the page and made the following page durn near unreadable. That's as far as I got back then. This time I used colored pencils on the 2nd page. They don't bleed through, but they emboss the page and the page below. I think I am going to have to Xerox either the drawings or the text before I do any more coloring.

The big issue in biology this week was polar versus non-polar molecules, which is clear enough in the examples, but sort of gets lost in the murk of the real world. Fatty acids, for instance, are long, chain like molecules and are apparently polar at one end, but because they are so long, and the long part is non-polar, they are essentially non-polar molecules, even though they are polar. Got that?

Update October 2016 replaced missing picture.


I finally figured out why I write this blog. My wife has been accusing me of being ADD, and in some sense she's right. Lots of things catch my interest, but few manage to hold it. I suspect I am happiest when I am figuring out how to make something work, that's probably why I worked as mechanic for as long as I did. I stayed in a job as long as I was learning something. As soon as it became routine, and/or I had saved up a couple of bucks, I was on my way down the road.

Computers kept me interested and paid good money for quite a while. But eventually my lack of people skills (spelled patience) put an end to that.

This blog lets me create things and put them on display all in one fell swoop. I like the creating part, and occasionally I hear from people that they like this blog. Best of all I don't have to pay attention to anything any longer than I want to. I'm not getting paid for any of this, so there's no reason to.

The flip side is that when something does capture my attention, everything else falls by the wayside. Telephones can ring, day can turn to night, meals may come and go, people will stop by the house and I will be oblivious to it all, absorbed as I am in the hot topic of the moment.

Wing suit demo by Jeb Corliss

Jeb Corliss wing-suit demo
from Jeb Corliss on Vimeo.

Digital daughter sent me the original link on They don't support embedded video, so I tried some other sites. YouTube sticks advertising on it. LiveLeak cuts the sides off on the embedded version. Vimeo wins.

At the very beginning, up to about 15 seconds, there is a very faint smoke trail coming in from the upper right corner, above the mountain. Then it appears to disappear behind the mountain. Around the 35 second mark I see something appear in the lower right quadrant, dropping and then shooting across the screen. At first I thought they were unrelated, but then I put it in full screen mode and I saw that both trails were part of the same flight. I was able to track him zig-zagging down the face of the mountain, well, except for a couple of spots where he disappears in front of a patch of snow.

Update February 2017 replaced missing video.

Bahrain Banks Association

The Bahrain Banks Association? Where the heck is Bahrain? Isn't that the little filthy rich island nation in the South Pacific? Oh, no, that's Brunei, which occupies a small part of Borneo. Bahrain is in the Persian Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, another tiny, filthy rich country, and just down the shore from Kuwait and Iraq. Yeah, okay, another filthy rich, tiny little country. You know, there are getting to be a lot of these things. Someone should do an inventory sometime.

Anyway, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is holding a reception for the Bahrain Banks Association in Bahrain today. Well, isn't that special. U.S. business community making nice with rich foreigners. Maybe they'll lend us a couple of trillion dollars. That seems to be our stock in trade these days, borrowing money.

Here's what caught my eye. This is at the Southern end of the island and is easily visible on Google Maps. The ring road is approximately a mile and a half in diameter. I suspect it's a housing development. Seems to be the latest fad in the Mid-East.

Bahrain Circular Development
Via Just An Earth Bound Misfit.

Update February 2016. Replaced embedded map with screen shot. Could not persuade the embedded map to show the correct area.

One-armed bandit John Payne at St. Paul, OR rodeo

From Iaman, who saw this in Iowa.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Whiskey / Beer Glass

I picked up a bottle of Jack Daniels the other day, and there was some kind of promotion going on, so I got a free glass. It looks like a beer glass, I mean it's the same size and shape as all the other beer glasses we have. But this is whiskey. Why are they giving away beer glasses with whiskey?

Whiskey comes in several grades. There's the $10 bottles that I won't drink, there's the $16 bottles that are quite a bit smoother and I used to drink, and then there's Jack. I've decided to move up, it costs a few dollars more, but I've had enough of the rough stuff. I'm ready to spend a little more for a smoother drink now, and Jack is plenty smooth enough for me. There's other stuff that costs even more, and if you have the right nose, it might be worth the money, but I'm happy just to get rid of the bite that you get in the cheaper grades.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Homemade Bandsaw Sawmill, Kentucky style

Notes from the producer:
Homemade sawmill. Under $500 invested (dumpster diving not included). Cuts up to 32 inch diameter, 16 foot long. Timberwolf blades. Friend and I were talking about the store bought hobby mills and he said he thought it could be built. He was right. Lots of fun and in one month cut over $3000 in hardwood. Plans to upgrade to larger motor but for now works fine. To date Poplar siding and beams from 30" diameter, Oak 5/4 and beams, walnut 5/4 and Cedar all cut flawlessly. Non drive wheel adjustable so that blade slightly walks against the blades. Biggest touble to date has been a sturdy and true fence and dog setup that quickly changed. This motor works fine but needs to be upgraded. Looses consideralbe power at the slightest dulling on the blade. Shooting for 18 HP.
What impresses me is that it looks like they are using tires to transport the blade. Wouldn't want to get a flat.

Via Michigan Mike.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Boxes Are Best

When our kids were little we had a book about a baby bear (Jesse), his family and a box. Anyway boxes really are cool. They're great for putting things in, and then you can stack them up and make walls of boxes full of stuff. God help you if you need something out of one of the boxes from the bottom of the wall, but getting stuff out is really of secondary importance. Putting stuff in boxes is the important part. In order to do that, you need boxes. Towards this end I try to save some boxes. Eventually though my cup runneth over and even the best boxes have to go, like this fine example. Beautiful box, well made, beautifully decorated, and it even has rhinestones on the cover. Alas, I had no daggers, or even welding rods in need of storage, so off to the recyclers it went, but not before I took this picture.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

The Tea Party IS America

Here is a fine an explanation of the Tea Party as I have come across.

The Tea Party IS America:Great Falls Tribune Feature Editorial

It was written by Claire Baiz of Montana. Via Dustbury & Dynamo Dave.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Simple Toilet Repair

I might be jinxing myself with the title to this post, but sometimes repairs are simple and do go as planned. The downstairs toilet would not quit running when flushed. The handle would stick in the down position. If you lifted it back up, things would return to normal. Apparently it was just the handle mechanism that was flawed, and quick trip to Home Depot obtained a replacement part for a nominal price. Examining the old part, we can see that the end of the rod had worn away part of the diecast handle causing it to get hung up in the activated position. Toilet is 15 years old. If the manufacturer hadn't been trying to be fancy by mounting the handle on the side instead of the front, we probably would not have had this problem.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bellwether by Connie Willis

Bellwether is an entertaining little book. A researcher employed by a giant corporation is beset by an incompetent mail room clerk. The clerk's incompetence is amazingly annoying, how is it she is still working there? It's like an episode of The Office. But that's just a side plot. The main point is how scientific breakthroughs are more often the result of accident than the planned result of a scientific project. The author's explorations of this idea is what makes the story interesting.

And where did this word, Bellwether come from? Meriam-Webster tells us:

Middle English, leading sheep of a flock, leader, from belle bell + wether; from the practice of belling the leader of a flock.
First Known Use: 13th century
Update March 2016 replaced missing picture.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

CAPT Robert Truax, USN-ret., RIP

From an obituary in The New York Times:
A contrarian theory of Mr. Truax’s that still captivates rocket experts was his idea that the cost of a rocket had little to with how big a rocket was. He did calculations showing that complexity, not size, drove costs. Hence, his proposed “space truck,” two football fields long but relatively simple in design.
Engineers are always focused on costs, but the focus is usually on operating costs, either materially or financially. How efficient can we make it? This kind of thinking can pay off big time if you are going to make a zillion of whatever it is, but if you are only making one, the cost of doing all the engineering to make something efficient can out-weigh the cost of actually building it.

Via Just An Earth Bound Misfit, who has a video of JATO assisted Hercules takeoff. Title stolen directly from her as well.

MTV 50 Years Ago

50 years ago there was Scopitone, a video jukebox that played 16mm films.

Scopitone ST-36 jukebox

This is what you get from my reading Dustbury.

Update February 2017 replaced missing video. No idea if this is the same one or not. Many more Scopitone videos on YouTube these days featuring beaucoup de jiggling and wiggling.

Pun of the Century

Pun of the last century, that is. Penned by Paul Desmond of the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
There was a boy of Italian parentage named Carbaggio, born in Germany. Feeling himself a misfit, with his dark curly hair among all those blond Nordic types, he tries to be even more German than the Germans. In late adolescence he flees to Paris, where he steals one of those brass miniatures of the Eiffel Tower. Arrested by the police, he is given a choice of going to jail or leaving the country. He boards the first outbound ship and arrives in New York. Thinking he would like a career in communications, he goes to the RCA building in Rockefeller Plaza, takes an elevator and walks into the office of General Sarnoff. Sarnoff tells him that the only job available is as a strikebreaker. The boy takes it. When the strike ends, he finds himself on a union blacklist. He goes to work making sonar equipment for a company owned by a man named Harris. After several years, his English has improved to the point where he gets a job as a disk jockey. His show is called Rock Time. He has fulfilled his destiny: he’s a routine Teuton, Eiffel-lootin’, Sarnoff goon from Harris Sonar, Rock Time Carbaggio.
Paul also penned Take Five, a tune I remember from the name. I cannot recall the tune itself, though I would probably remember it if I heard it.

Anyway, I stole this from Dustbury, mostly because it took me a long time to decipher it. I'll put the answer in the comments so as not to spoil it for all you pun fans.

Quote of the Day

This came in response to a complaint I made about a web forum (URL not disclosed to protect the guilty).
There are some issues regarding this new forum, unfortunately, which are either not being looked at, cannot be solved or have yet to be addressed. There's also a general census about the forum layout but however unfortunate[,] it appears that it is hard coded and the layout will not change.
Issues that cannot be solved! I love it! One part of me wants to argue that this is ridiculous, it's a stupid web page, of course it can be bent to our will! It's just a little programming problem. The other part of me realizes that the web page in question is just part of someone's empire and solving the problem may be more of a people problem than a technical one, and in that case, my respondent may very well be correct.

Challenger Puzzle, Part 2

I wasn't real happy with the brute force solution I came up with earlier. I mean, it's a tiny little little puzzle, it shouldn't take hours to solve it with a computer. So I finally sat down and started working on a more workman-like solution. This one solves the puzzle instantly, or as near to no time at all that it makes no difference.

This program starts by filling all the unknown spaces with a median value (5) and then adjusting each one up or down by one depending on the totals it is concerned with. It took 8 iterations to solve the puzzle I was using as a sample, and I think it will probably not need any more for just about any Challenger puzzle.

It is not an elegant solution. It just sort of creeps up on the answer, it doesn't analyze the situation and then compute the answer in one fell swoop. If I start wandering down that road I hope somebody will stop me.

It did take several hours to debug the program. You would think something this small and simple would be a piece of cake, but for some reason keeping rows and columns straight is exceedingly difficult for me. But I finally got it done and posted it on another Code Snippets website. I am not sure whether it's the one for me, but I was able to sign up and post my code quite easily. Their focus seems to be on Mac's, but Mac's are related to Linux, so maybe they will be okay. Their code formatting sucks, as is typical. They use 8 spaces for tabs instead of four, and they chose some gawd-awful gold color for comments, which makes them durn near unreadable. It does not eat backslashes, like some other sites do. This is a good thing.

Anyway the name of the site is Snipplr and you can find the source code for my improved program for solving Challenger puzzles here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vorkosigan's Game

Vorkosigan's Gameby Lose McMaster Bujold
Beset by demons, I felt the need for some escapist fantasy, so I ordered up a couple of books from the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. (Does she really need all three names? I would think that any two of them would be enough to identify her.) I ordered them from Amazon. One (Mirror Dance) is a new paperback, $8, and since we have a Prime membership (!?!?), no shipping. The other (Vorkosigan's Game) was a used hardback for $4 plus $4 for shipping. So $8 each, or $16 all told, which is rather more than I like to pay, but I was desperate, and I didn't want to drive anywhere.

Vorkosigan's Game looks like a Book-Of-The-Month-Club edition. It's a hardback, but printed on cheap paper, and it seems to be a combination of parts of two other books. The bigger first half holds The Vor Game, and the smaller second half contains Borders of Infinity, which is really three separate stories:
  • The Mountains of Mourning
  • Labyrinth
  • The Borders of Infinity
joined together by being part of an extended interview of Miles (the protagonist) by his boss. Funny how the title of the third story is surrounded by quote marks, but the other two titles are not (which is just how they appear in the book).

I read this one straight through, but when I started on the second one I lost interest. Demon's pacified, I returned to beating me head against the wall.

Great stuff.

Update February 2017 replaced missing image.

Friday, October 1, 2010

King Tut

Steve Martin in his prime. Hulu has a clip of the original SNL skit, preceded by an ad.

How did we get here, you ask? Vell, I tell you. First I ran into The Cleverlys singing I Kissed A Girl on Just An Earthbound Misfit, which was the first time I ever heard of The Cleverlys. I run into them again on Snigs Spot and this leads to Dad's Deadpool Blog where they're singing Walk Like An Egyptian, which is what put me in mind of Senor Martin, even though that line does not appear anywhere in King Tut.