Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quote of the Day

Despite the neutrality of his diction, Martinez’s choices are idiosyncratic. Everything he sees reveals him. And syntactically, though he bends every rule to the breaking point, you can’t bust him.
From The Art of the Police Report by Ellen Collett, via Kick Him, Honey. Read the whole thing. It's kinda long, but it is smooth.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Russell's Teapot

Stu mentions Russell's Teapot. Thinking it is some kind of geometric figure, I looked it up. It's not, it's something Bertrand Russell made up to illustrate an argument:
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.[1]
 But this got me to thinking, what if there is a teapot out there in space, orbiting the sun? OK, very unlikely, but if a space faring civilization has ever been here they may have left some evidence floating around in space, and if we ever expand our sphere of influence outside low earth orbit, we might find some evidence of that.

There is the theory that the asteroid belt was once a planet, or tried to be a planet, or something. It could have been a planet, I mean, we have theories, but no one really knows what happened. And there could have been a civilization there and they may have left artifacts behind. And being as they are floating in space, out of the reach of the natural forces found on the surface of a planet, they would be like they were when the planet was destroyed. Maybe.

P.S. Russell was 80 years old when he wrote this teapot story.
P.P.S. Even if it was a fricking enormous teapot, we still would not be able to detect it with our current instruments. I mean, even with the Hubble we can't even see the stuff we left on the moon. The smallest thing the Hubble can pick out on the moon is 300 feet across.

Neighborhood Kid

Jets QB opens up about his ongoing battle with drug addiction and mental illness.
I don't think I ever met Erik Ainge, but he grew up a couple of blocks from here and was friendly with our oldest. We saw him play football for the local high school when he was a senior there. I never heard anything but good things about him.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Steve sent me this list. It's all useless, but it is good for maintaining your perspective.

Geography & Natural Resources
  • More than half of the coastline of the entire United States is in Alaska.
  • Percentage of Africa that is wilderness 28%. Percentage of North America that is wilderness 38%.
  • Siberia contains more than 25 percent of the world's forests.
  • The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20 percent of the world's oxygen supply.
  • The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that more than one hundred miles at sea, off the mouth of the river one can dip fresh water out of the ocean. The volume of water in the Amazon River is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States.
  • Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country. 90% of the world's ice covers Antarctica. This ice also represents 70% of all the fresh water in the world. As strange as it sounds, Antarctica is essentially a desert. The average yearly precipitation is about two inches. Although covered with ice (all but 0.4 percent of it), Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert.
  • In the Sahara Desert, there is a town named Tidikelt, which did not receive a drop of rain for ten years.
  • Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined.
  • There are no natural lakes in the state of Ohio, everyone is man-made.
  • Istanbul, Turkey is the only city in the world located on two continents.
  • Brazil got its name from the nut, not the other way around.
  • Canada is an Indian word meaning "Big Village."
  • The term "The Big Apple" was coined by touring jazz musicians of the 1930's who used the slang expression "apple" for any town or city. Therefore, to play New York City is to play the big time: The Big Apple.
  • St. Paul, Minnesota was originally called Pigs Eye after a man named Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant who set up the first business there (bootlegging).
  • Damascus, Syria, was flourishing a couple of thousand years before Rome was founded in 753 BC, making it the oldest continuously inhabited city in existence.
  • The first city to reach a population of 1 million people was Rome, Italy in 133 B.C. There is a city called Rome on every continent.
  • Next to Warsaw, Chicago has the largest Polish population in the world.
  • There are more Irish in New York City than in Dublin, Ireland,
  • more Italians in New York City than in Rome, Italy, and
  • more Jews in New York City than in Tel Aviv, Israel.
  • The smallest sovereign entity in the world is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM). It is located in the city of Rome, Italy, has an area of two tennis courts, and as of 2001 has a population of 80, 20 less people than the Vatican. It is a sovereign entity under international law, as is the Vatican.
  • Woodward Ave. in Detroit, Michigan, carries the designation M - 1, because it was the first paved road anywhere.
  • Chances that a road is unpaved in the USA ~ 1 percent Chances that a road is unpaved in Canada ~ 75 percent.
  • The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are meant to be usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.

No More Linked-In For Me

It seemed like a good idea when I first got laid off, but it has been nothing but an annoyance ever since. Seems like every time I wanted to do something with it, they wanted me to sign up for their premium service. Anyway, I'm cutting back on non-essential stuff. I still have four e-mail accounts, but I only use G-mail. I suppose I should figure out how to close those accounts I am not using, though I am not sure it can be done. I do post random stuff on Facebook, mostly videos, because it's quick and easy, and I still post stuff on this blog, though my real life seems to be interfering with that.

Good Morning

Def Leppard - Rock Of Ages (1983)

There is another version on YouTube that is almost identical, but the volume is much reduced. This one is better. The video portion is nothing to write home about, but the song itself is glorious, especially for Monday morning. Weird how you can get the song with the video for free, but not just the song by itself.

Update August 2015: Replaced missing video.
Update March 2021: Replaced missing video.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Eugene, Again

An uneventful trip this time. I did notice a couple of things, like a semi-truck that did not have a big flat grill:

2009 International Lonestar
It is an International Truck Lonestar model. Kind of cool that they were able to put a little style on this machine.

On the way back I am listening to the radio. I pressed the scan button and twice I ended up on KGON Classic Rock, where I heard an ad for Mercedes. What? Mercedes? Since when do rock and roller's have that kind of money? Since they lived long enough to be my age, I guess. Still too extravagant for my wallet. Followed immediately by an ad for Pick-n-Pull junk yards, who want to buy your, or my, junk car. Used auto parts business must be picking up. I guess I'm not surprised, given the economy. It was kind of weird having one ad come right after the other though.

Update March 2016 replaced missing picture and updated link.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Airport Run

Took daring daughter and her cohort to the airport at oh dark thirty this morning. Rain, rain, rain. Pavement has grooves from people driving with studded tires all winter. Grooves were full of water. There were several places where there was so much water the car lost traction. Tried to drive off-center in my lane so as not to be riding in the grooves. Tricky. Not so bad in the corners, the grooves disappear there.

Janey, the cohort, was concerned that her suitcase might be overweight. At least she weighed it. Looking at it, it certainly looked like it could be overweight, it was certainly big enough. Kathryn's suitcase was a little smaller but definitely heavier. When we got to the airport we used curb-side check-in and there we discovered that her bag was definitely over-weight: thirteen pounds over the fifty pound limit. I asked the Skycap what the charge for an overweight bag would be and found out that for domestic flights the charge is $90. For international, which is what this was, he would have to check. Never mind, $90 is enough to scare me. So now Kathryn opens her suitcase on the sidewalk and starts rooting around looking for thirteen pounds of stuff to pull out. Fortunately one of the things she has in her suitcase is another small carrying bag, so she has someplace to put the stuff she pulls out of the suitcase. She fills it, but it still isn't enough. She finally gets under the limit by pulling out a pair of boots, which Janey graciously volunteers to stuff into her carry-on bag.

Kathryn's suitcase is one of these expandable jobs. It has a zipper that goes all the way around the outside. Unzip it, and it allows the bag to expand by a couple of inches. Zip it up and it shrinks back to normal size. She had it unzipped. Let that be a warning sign. If you have to use your bag's expansion feature, there's a good chance your bag will be overweight, and you are going to be hit with a hefty surcharge.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quote of the Day

The far Right thinks that George Soros is using his money to destroy the Republic but it’s okay for the Koch Brothers to spread some cash around to support the Conservative agenda; whereas the far Left thinks that the Koch Brothers are using their money to destroy the Republic but it’s okay for George Soros to spread some cash around to support the Liberal agenda. - T.J. O'Hara in a story in the The Washington Times
That darn Tam. She left a comment on another post, which prompted to me to make a flip answer, but then, because it was from Tam, I stewed on it. I had forgotten about George Soros, I mean he hasn't popped up on my radar in quite a while, and I had forgotten how much antipathy there is for George among gunnies. Doing a little Googling I was reminded of just how bitter the feelings are, though there didn't seem to be anything current. Has he backed off from his position? Hard to tell.

Looking for current news I came across this story where I found the quote. I wasn't impressed with the rest of the story. The quote was the highlight.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Somebody Having Too Much Fun

flower theorem 2005 from Anne Lilly on Vimeo.

Dennis sent me this link.

Updated November 2016 replaced embed code.

Microfinance in the USA

So I've been reading and writing about the Koch brothers and how they are the epitome of evil and they are doing bad things and they are richer than god and all that. But then I got to thinking about what effect is all this caterwauling going to have on them? Probably none. I mean I hope they fall down the stairs, but that and a dollar will get you cup of coffee. Wait a minute, can you still get a cup of coffee for a dollar? I mean real coffee in a real cup, with a place to sit and drink it? Probably not. Make that two dollars. Whatever. Back to the topic at hand.

There are several things that came together here:
  • We have a large number of unemployed people.
  • "Everybody" wants big companies to provide lots of good jobs.
  • Entrepreneurs create more jobs than big businesses.
  • The SBA (The Federal Government's Small Business Administration) considers any company with less than 500 employees a "small business". By that yardstick, a company with a dozen employees doesn't even register, they get the same amount of attention as an individual homeless person, i.e. none.
It seems to me we need more individuals starting their own businesses. Once upon a time I was thinking we needed an ice rink in Hillsboro, so I was talking to the owner of Valley Ice Arena in Beaverton, and he told me that in purchasing the ice rink, he had bought himself a job. I don't know about your area, but we have a proliferation of mobile food vendors (trailers and trucks) establishing themselves in Portland. It seems like there are entire blocks of them in downtown Portland.

Mobile Food Vendors in downtown Portland Oregon

Every one of these operations takes a capital investment of several thousand dollars and employs maybe two or three people.

We need more financing for small time operations like this. Big business isn't going to create more jobs, their job is to be profitable, and if that means eliminating jobs, or shipping them overseas, so be it. If we are going to see job growth in this country, it is going to have to come from the ground up, and for that we are going to need money.

Any job in this country requires an investment of probably fifty to a hundred thousand dollars. An office worker needs a car to get to work, a hundred square feet of office space, probably another 100 square feet of support space, furniture and a computer. An independent construction worker requires a pickup truck and tools. Nobody wants to invest in these kind of operations, too risky, and taken individually they probably are. There are a lot of energetic determined people out there who are plenty willing to work. Problem is energy and determination are not enough. In order to be competitive in America you need the proper tools for the job, and that means a capital investment.

Problem is, few people want to invest in these kind of small time operations, they want to put their money in nice safe investments, investments with a guaranteed return, something they don't have to watch all the time. I can understand that, I'm as guilty as the next person.

Microfinance has been making a name for itself in the third world as way to bring the poor out of poverty. Microfinance in the USA is a different animal, mostly because we are talking about relatively huge sums of money. While a microfinance loan in the third world might be $100, in the USA it is going to be more like $10,000. $10,000 might seem like a lot of money, but in the realm of business, it is small potatoes. That might cover wages for a single McDonald's restaurant for a week.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

New Man

At least that's what all the girls say.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Where Have All The Free Pens Gone?

For as long as I can remember (which is only a couple of weeks) I have had all the ballpoint pens I needed, and then some. But they have slowly been disappearing. Yesterday I finally broke down and actually bought a couple. Is this another symptom of our collapsing economy? Or is it just a symptom of my being out of workforce for the last three years? I guess it's not a new problem, people have been singing about it for years.

Resistance Is Futile

Marshall Amp & homemade speaker cabinet
Younger son swapped his Fender amp for a Marshall, but he only got the head (the amplifier part), not the body (the speakers), so he took the money he got from selling his textbooks back to the bookstore (sneaky devil) and bought a sheet of plywood and a couple of Jensen speakers, and then I assisted him in putting together a speaker cabinet. If I am standing there watching him and telling him what to do, he does pretty well, but left alone with his friends he starts racing ahead and taking shortcuts, which compromises the quality of the construction. You can see how the speaker holes are not perfectly round. However, it works, and according to my son, it works well, much better than the old amp.

The output connections from the amplifier are the same as for the inputs: quarter inch phone jacks. We were originally just going to use a guitar cord to connect the speakers, but then I realized there is some actual power in the output, and the skinny wires in a guitar cord would not carry the load. I had some speaker wire that was pretty hefty, so we used it instead.

I got to thinking about this later and started wondering just how much current we were dealing with, so I did a little calculating. The speakers are rated at 50 watts each and have an Resistance of 8 ohms each. They are connected in parallel, so the resistance of the pair should be 4 ohms and the total power capacity should be 100 Watts. So how much electricity is flowing in these speaker wires? We start with a couple of basic formulas:

Watts = Volts x Amps
Volts = Amps x Resistance

Put 100 Watts in the first formula,
and then solve for Amps gives us:               Amps = 100 / Volts.
Substituting that and Resistance = 4
into the second formula gives us:                 Volts = (100 / Volts) x 4
Rearranging and combining terms to
make it pretty gives us:                               V = 400 / V
Multiplying both sides by V gives us:          V^2 = 400
Take the square root of both sides
and we end up with:                                   V = 20
So we have 20 Volts and 100 Watts.
Put those back in the first formula
(Watts = Volts x Amps) and we have:      100 = 20 x Amps
Divide both sides by 20 and we have:           5 = Amps

So we are using 20 Volts of electricity to push 5 Amps of current through the circuit to deliver 100 Watts of Power. This is not enough current to run a toaster or a microwave, but it is enough to run five 100 Watt light bulbs, so the guitar cord, which only needs to carry a signal, which has almost no power, would have been a poor choice to use to connect the speakers.

Update October 2016 replace missing picture.

Maple Syrup Hits $100 Per Gallon

Maple Gold Pure Maple Syrup

Darling daughter volunteered to bake cookies this evening, but insisted she needed real maple syrup to do so. Being as I only see her in between terms at school, being indulgent, and, I have to admit, liking cookies, I picked some up at the store. I think this is the first time I have ever bought any real maple syrup. Used to be we would just buy Mrs. Butterworth's, or Log Cabin, or whatever was on sale. I think I tried tasting the real stuff once or twice, but I was unable to detect any difference. The cookies turned out fine, and maybe just a little bit better than usual, knowing there wasn't any artificial maple flavoring in them.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

If I'm a day or two late here, well too bad:
So, on that note, enjoy your Christian holiday, founded by pagan Christians who thought their original pagan Christianity was too Christian even though it's really just pagan. - St. Grendel
I never thought of St. Patrick's Day as being a Christian holiday (because it's an Irish holiday?), but since it is named after a Saint, I guess maybe it is. Anyway, I think you could say the same thing about most Christian holidays.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Moving Day

Drove down to Eugene today to help my daughter move out of her apartment. At first I was planning on renting a truck because I thought there was going to be more furniture than I could fit in my truck, and trailers are a big pain. Then I realized I could probably do it with a trailer and save myself a couple of hundred bucks, so I reserved a trailer. Then my truck developed this weird vibration, kind of a rumble. It felt like it was coming from the tires, but much faster than the whump, whump, whump you get when you have just one lumpy spot. To make it worse, it was intermittent. So all week long I'm telling myself that maybe it's just the tires are just cold, or just low on air, of there's rust spots on the brakes. Then last night, I finally admitted I don't know what the problem is, and it could be something serious, like a u-joint getting ready to fail, and towing a trailer load of stuff would be just the thing to aggravate it to the point of failure, and there I would be, stuck on the side of the interstate with a broken truck, looking at a $300 towing bill because I was too cheap to rent a truck. So this morning we rented a small U-Haul truck instead of the trailer and drove to Eugene.

Kathryn with the U-Haul Truck in Eugene
We get to Beaverton and as we turn off of the Sunset onto 217 we see a car being driven erratically. Green import station wagon of some sort. Driving onto the shoulder, swerving. Is the driver drunk? Maybe it's a kid, or somebody having a heart attack. We gave him a wide berth. If I had been in my truck I might have tried getting close enough to get his license number, but being in an unfamiliar vehicle I didn't think that was such a good idea. Better just pay attention to my own driving. The car left 217 in downtown Beaverton, about two blocks from the cop shop, and we went on our merry way, wondering whether we should have called the cops.

We got to Eugene, loaded up, Kathryn did a finally swipe at cleaning the place and we headed back home. The truck was stuffed to the gills. We get a few miles up the road and traffic slows to a crawl. After a bit we see flashing red and blue lights up ahead. There's been an accident on the other side of freeway. The emergency services are there in full force. There are at least six emergency vehicles and a helicopter. The helicopter leaves just as we get to the site. There is a broken looking motorcycle in the median. This is bad.

Helicopter flying over accident scene
Weather is erractic, downpoors alternating with rainbows the rest of the way home.

All the way down and all the way back I thought the truck we were driving was a Ford. Finally get home and I walk around the front and see the grill and realize it's a GMC. Boy, I've really lost touch with the automotive world, haven't I?

Update October 2016 replace missing pictures.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Local Hot Rod

Stopped at the auto parts store this evening and a baby blue Caddy was sitting out front. I thought it was nice enough, but when I left the hood was open, so I had to take a picture. Not many people will go to the trouble to color co-ordinate the engine compartment with the rest of the car.

Update March 2016 replaced missing picture.

Quote of the Day

Tam sets it up:
What kills me is that this is the same network, just two different shows with two different target demographics: One that gets its weather report in degrees Celcius and the other of which is apparently a herd of easily-panicked morons who like cleavage.
 And Joseph knocks it down:
I get my news at the strip club. Sure there isn't any actual news, just like TV, but the cleavage is MUCH better.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chinook Helicopter, Part 3

A Japan Self-Defense Force helicopter collects seawater from Japan's northeast coast, en route to aerial operations over the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
From a story by Xeni Jardin on Chinook helicopters are ubiquitous. See Part 1 and Part 2.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Atomic Rockets Part 2

While I was looking through the Lawrence Livermore photo archive, this picture caught my eye. At first glance I dismissed it as just a big milling machine, but something kept drawing me back. I'm not sure, but I think it was that had never seen a machine of this configuration before. Besides, I'm a gear head. I just couldn't resist.

Blowing up the photo, I was able to make out the  model:

Feeding that to Google got me a a brief history, some specifications (it weighs ten tons) and some more photos. It also got me several ads for used ones. One as close as Pennsylvania, another as far as India.

The machine is accurate to a ten-thousandth of an inch, which is ten times more accurate than your run of the mill machine tools.

Update April 2015: replaced the photos that Blogger lost. The smaller one is no longer a detail from the larger one, I found it out on the net.

Atomic Rockets

I was looking for information about nuclear rockets and I came across this photo of a test engine from Project Pluto:

It's from of a set of historical photos from Lawrence Livermore Labs. There are a bunch of other interesting photos there. I sent the link to my gang, and Don wrote back with this story:
My uncle-in-law, Ted Fahrner, was a physicist sequestered at Lawrence Livermore for the Manhatten project. My Dad was an undergrad at Berkeley at the time, doing work-study as a garbage man for the campus. He used to violate the sequestering by sneaking love letters back and forth between my uncle and his sister, taped to the bottom of garbage cans. Makes me proud.
My Uncle Bill worked on nuclear rocket engines in Los Alamos. He introduced me to goat skin gloves, which are really nice for mechanical work because they are so thin, they make it easier to grip small things. They used them at the labs because they were dealing with chunks of graphite that went into the rocket motor. My father worked on the guidance system for the BOMARC anti-aircraft missle, which carried a nuclear warhead.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quote of the Day

In fact, the whole episode suggests to me that too many BMW drivers might be just as shallow as everyone says, the kind of guys who drive around with their foglights switched on just to remind you that they have foglights and you don't.- Michael Jordan from Inside Line.

And just when I was at the point of forgiving these numbskulls because I figured it was probably some federal regulation that caused the fog lights to come on whenever the headlights are on. And I'm not sure it's fog lights we are talking about, I think we're talking about driving lights. To my mind fog lights are useless bumper decorations. I have them on my truck. I would rather have them than not, because if you don't have fog lights, you have two gray plastic recesses in your bumper where they should go and it is obvious that you don't have the lights that are supposed to go there. But I never use them. I have tried them a few times and I have been unable to discern any benefit, either on clear nights or when it is very foggy. Driving lights are another matter. To my mind driving lights are very bright, very focused lights that reach out farther than your normal headlights, good for driving at high speed at night. If I was doing lots of night time travel on back roads, I would replace the fog lights with driving lights. Driving lights are the ones the numbskulls are blinding you with when they are driving around town to show how cool they are.

Via Tam, who drives a Beemer, and is a very cool person.

Impossible Figures

Impossible Tower

This guy has taken M.C. Escher's idea and run with it.

From Ross.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Pi Is Wrong!

I really can't improve on what's in this video.

As a special bonus, here's one scene from the 1:48 mark:

See also this picture, and this one:

René MAGRITTE (1898-1967) "Ceci n'est pas une pipe"

Update October 2016 replaced missing picture and replaced dead link with picture.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Earlier this year I got a cough, not a bad cough, more of an annoyance, but annoying enough that I wasn't getting much sleep. After a week of that I had had enough and I broke out the cough syrup. The good stuff, mind you, not that weak-ass Robitussin. Took two teaspoons at bedtime and slept like a baby. It was great. I took it four more nights and it was like being on vacation. All my troubles kind of melted away. I was able to turn my head more than ten degrees for the first time in months. Then I stopped and life slowly went back to normal. The next weekend my cough was still bothering me a bit so I took another dose. This time it didn't help at all. Didn't sleep for beans, so I put the cough syrup back on the shelf. Maybe in another five or ten years the effects will have worn off and another dose will give me another vacation.

Several years ago I was riding a ski lift with a couple of younger guys and we were talking about swearing. My grandfatherly advice (which I am sure I picked up from someone wiser than me) was that swearing should be used sparingly, and only when you are angry. If you swear all the time, how is anyone going to know when you are really angry?

My wife and I watched an episode (Speed Bump) of The Closer this evening. Brenda Lee (comin' on strong) Johnson's boyfriend hurts his back, and Brenda's first reaction is to dose him with Vicodin, which he refuses, on account of being an addict. Now isn't that a bitch? Being in pain, and having to turn down really good pain killers because you know that once you take them, you may not be able to stop taking them.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Submerge for Comfort & Safety

Luxury Submarine

I don't know quite what got me started on this. Maybe it was the sunroof on the Concept Yacht, combined with scenes of the Andrea Gail (a 70 foot long ship) attempting to climb a wall of water in the movie The Perfect Storm.

The Perfect Storm
And then there was a bit in Das Boot about how the captain could have submerged the sub in order to avoid getting hammered by the waves from the storm on the surface, but he couldn't keep an eye out for enemy shipping if he was underwater, so they stayed on the surface, and everybody on the boat suffered from getting tossed about by the waves.

It occurred to me that the safest kind of boat in bad weather is a submarine. Besides the problem of capsizing, getting hit with a wall of water can have a tremendous impact on the structure of a vessel. Water is heavy, not like stone or steel, but heavy enough, and if it has enough velocity it can smash most anything. Shoot, we use high velocity streams of water to cut all kinds of things, from lumber to granite. If you are underwater, the water cannot cannot hit you, there is water in the way.

Normally when we think of submarines, we think of military submarines, or research bathyscapes, that are designed to go deep underwater and so have to be built very strong to withstand the high pressures encountered. But if we only want to get beneath the surface, so we are not at the mercy of the waves, we do not need to go that deep, the pressure will be correspondingly less, and the hull need not be as strong.

You could still get pressure waves, and if there was a big storm on the surface, and the waves were really high, like 100 feet, well, you could get some intermittent high pressures. So it could still get a little dicey, but at least you would be comfortable.

Update: The movies Das Boot and The Perfect Storm were both directed by Wolfgang Peterson. Is that spooky or what? Quick, somebody call The Twilight Zone!

Update February 2017 replaced missing pictures.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Concept 4400 Sport Yacht

Concept 4400 Sport Yacht
The other day at the doctor's office I came across this play-pretty in Boating magazine. Reading about it I enjoyed a nice little ten minute James Bond-esque fantasy. At half a million bucks, I won't be buying one any time soon.

This boat does have are two features I thought worth noting. One is the sunroof. It would have to pretty sturdy to be able to withstand getting hit with a wave. The other is the four (count 'em, 4!) outboard motors. I have seen boats with three motors, but this is the first time I have seen a boat with four. And the motors are getting bigger. These are 300 horsepower each. That's a total of 1200 horsepower. Of course, at 44 feet long it is a pretty big boat.

Update July 2016 replaced missing picture.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Electron Micrographs

Steve got me started on this. The photos are from Izismile. Some of the stuff is recognizable, some of it is plausible, and some of it I've never even heard of. Forminiferia? I had to look that one up. Wikipedia has a lot of scientific gooble-de-gook, which didn't really explain anything, but then they say
"They are usually less than 1 mm in size, but some are much larger, and the largest recorded specimen reached 19 cm."
 Okay, so we may not know what they are but at least we know how big they are. Then on the aquarium site Reefkeeping I found this:
Foraminiferans have been called the "the most common group of non-bacterial organisms in the world."

Infoplease also has an article that is at least partially comprehensible.

Temporal Thermometer

I went to the doctor today and they had a new widget, a Temporal Thermometer.

ADC ADTEMP 427 Temple Touch
No, it does not measure the temperature of time. It takes your temperature, just like your ordinary oral thermometer does, but it uses a different technique. It uses an infrared detector placed over your temple. (The temple of your head, not where you go to church, you troglodyte.) There is an artery there called the temporal artery, which connects directly to the cartoid artery in your neck, which connects directly to the aorta, which is connected to your heart. So if your heart is pumping, there is blood, hot from the interior of your body right near the surface of your skin. This thermometer reads the IR emissions and converts it to a temperature.

Me checking my pulse on my skull
You can feel your pulse there. Here I am doing just that. It's the best way I could think of to show just where this spot is. Near as I can tell, this also about where the artery goes inside your skull where it anastomoses (new word, means connects back up with. Probably never use it again.) with the internal carotid artery.

The IR technique was pioneered by Dr. Francesco Pompei and his Exergen company.

Update November 2016 replaced missing pictures.


I really enjoyed the movie V for Vendetta, and I see the similarities between the movie and Anonymous (the group).

Anonymous Protest
About half the comments I get on this blog are spam, but I must say they are getting better. Some of them actually address the post, which usually has something to do with what they are selling. I let them stay. I don't have that many commenters that I can afford to cut off half of my readers because of some nigelling little issue of commercialization.

And then I got a comment from Anonymous about a POS (Point Of Sale) terminal with the suggestion that I Google POS skimmers. POS skimmers? What the heck is a POS skimmer? I'm thinking it's a person who is skimming credit card info at POS terminals, you know, by watching customers to see which keys are pressed to get the PIN number, maybe catching a look at the card and memorizing the name and number. That would be pretty difficult. Maybe they are photographing the card to get the name and number. Um, actually, no. POS Skimmers are credit card terminals. They look just like regular credit card terminals, but they keep all of the credit card information for later retrieval, or phone it home.

Anyway, what I got was a surprise: skimmers for sale.

Splash screen from deleted YouTube video.

So credit card scammers have a presence on the internet now. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Most of the big time scams are pulled off behind closed doors by people we never hear about. Why should the little guys be any different?

So the question I have now about the comment from Anonymous is: is it spam from a POS skimmer vendor, or a legitimate comment from a citizen concerned about fraud? Or is it from a citizen concerned that we are not getting our fair share of the loot? When the country is run by kleptocrats, is it any surprise when the citizenry takes up theft as a means of making a living?

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture, replaced missing video with splash screen image.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Life Form

Thinking about the relative sizes of life forms and their life spans, and how people are made of cells, and how some cells are physically attached (like skin and bones and organs, etc.) and some are not (like blood), and how we harbor any number of bacteria which are different than us, but with which we coexist, sometimes to our mutual benefit, sometimes not.

And then I was thinking about space travel and how building a spacecraft that can travel anywhere in a reasonable amount of time, like to another planet, never mind another star, is way beyond our capabilities at this point.

So perhaps we will eventually build a large space craft with it's own intelligence and a very long life span, and it will be inhabited by a captive group of humans with whom it will have a symbiotic relationship, and the humans will live their lives inside this craft, and the craft will become a new space born life form that can travel to other planets and maybe even stars.

Friday, March 4, 2011


BiH? What the heck is a BiH? Remember Bosnia / Serbia / Croatia and those unpronounceable places like Herzegovina and Sarajevo? Two groups were trying exterminate each other, we got involved, there was a shameful performance by the UN that got a mess of people massacred. BiH is the fancy new acronym for this rat hole.

European Union Minefield Warning Sign
Seems there are still outside troops (European, but still from outside the area) there trying to keep the lid on things. Also seems there are a bunch of mines and unexploded munitions (UXO) lying around, which is why you will find this sign posted in numerous places over there.

Tam got me started.

Update February 2017 replaced missing image.

Chinook Helicopter, Part 2

Chinook Helicopter airlifting an F-15 Jet Fighter

This picture is from the Wikipedia article. I saw it yesterday and it stuck with me. It is just such an odd thing. One $30 million dollar aircraft carrying another. (Chinook unit cost was $35 million in 2008, F-15 unit cost was $28 million in 1998).

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Right Thing

Several blogs I know of are hooked up with Amazon. I buy books from Amazon occasionally. Their website works pretty well. We have a Prime membership, and since they are now offering video on demand, I guess I can cancel my Netflix membership, which I just started. On the other hand, they declined to provide server space to Wikileaks after the last big media furor.

Tonight we watched an episode of The Good Wife (Great Firewall). Lockart/Gardner (the fictional law firm that employs the star) is suing some internet company (Google?) on behalf of a Chinese dissident who was imprisoned and tortured by the Chinese government. The rational for the suit is that the internet company gave the Chinese government information (his IP address) that allowed them to identify him.The company's defense is they have to obey the laws of the countries where they operate, and the Chinese require that they turn over the addresses.

The dissident suit is just a cover though. Another big internet company (~Facebook) wants to move into China, and the first company is in the way. The suit is just a lever "Facebook" is using to try and force their way in. When our star finds out about this, she is a little perturbed. Doesn't anybody ever do anything just because it's the right thing to do?

I can understand Amazon not wanting to get tied up with a controversial issue like Wikileaks. They are in the business or distributing goods to people.Something controversial could easily distract them from their primary purpose of making money. On the other hand, they are selling the Kindle and distributing all kinds of electronic media, so they are involved in the whole digital media rights debacle, involved right up to their eyeballs. Maybe one issue is enough, even for a big company.

And the kid who caused the all the fuss is still in jail, and the way things look, he may never get out. Not a word though about the security system that allowed all this classified information to escape. Typical.

I haven't stopped buying stuff from Amazon, so I guess I really shouldn't have any qualms about signing up with them in order to put a couple of shekels in my pocket.


Here's something you don't see everyday: three Chinook helicopters all flying together. I spotted these on my way home this afternoon.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Clean Water Haiti

The family from our church that went to Haiti to work on the Clean Water project has a blog called Our Ordinary Journey. I suppose if I paid more attention I would have found out about it a while ago. That's one of their munchkins amongst the newly cast water filter boxes.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture and removed dead link.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Micro-Machine Part 2

Old Mini Petrol Engine

Two micro-machine posts in two days. Must be fate. The title on the news article calls it new, but it was published in 2003. It's still pretty cool, though it doesn't appear that anyone has done anything with it since then. Actually, I'm not sure if it actually ran. All the effort seems to have been spent on devising techniques for fabricating the tiny parts. More pictures in a couple of PDF's from the original researchers.

Via Steve.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.

Bentley Ice Speed Record


At first I didn't think too much about it: another overpriced, over-powered luxury car going really fast, i.e. the mainstay of Top Gear (when they aren't making fart jokes, or playing three stooges slapstick). Okay, they are doing it on ice, but that's probably one of few places in Europe you can drive without interference. Of course, you need to bring your own snowplow. Then I noticed that, (1), it's news, they only posted this video a couple of days ago, and (2), it's a flippin' convertible. Going 200 MPH. Well, I may just have to get to me one. Or two, you know, so the wife I can have a matched set. Right, like I can even imagine having that much money.

Update August 2015. Replaced the missing video. I don't think it's the same, this post was originally tagged as a music video, and there's no music in this one.

This isn't the gun you are looking for.

Ce n'est pas un coup de pistolet, c'est une image d'un pistolet.
I don't recall how I stumbled over this picture, but something about it grabbed me. Maybe it's the elements that make up the style: the hand painted orange background, the detailed but somehow comic-strip-ish drawing of the gun itself, the French caption in (possibly handwritten) cursive. And then there's the caption itself, which threw me for a bit. What do you mean it's not a pistol? Are they making a distinction between an automatic and a revolver (this is a picture of a revolver)? Or maybe a pistolet is a little gun, and this gun is not a little gun, it is a big SERIOUS gun. Actually, the point is, it's not a gun at all, it's only a picture of a gun. Evidently some people have a hard time making that distinction.

Update October 2016 replaced missing picture.

Quote of the Day

Some women are born housewives, some achieve housewifery, and some have housewifery thrust upon them… - Unintentional Housewife
She writes some funny stuff.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Glaucoma, Part 2

Is it serendipity, or is it a full court press by the Glaucoma Foundation? In any case I came across this cool picture on The Official Graham Hancock Website, which eventually led to this story about this minature device. It is an implantable computer system for measuring the internal pressure of a human eye.

Update February 2017 replaced missing picture.


AEDIT was one of the first text editors I learned to use. On one hand it is old, obsolete, crude and ugly, and I hardly ever use it any more. On the other hand, I still keep a copy around because from time to time it still comes in handy. It can do things no word processor can even imagine. Matter of fact, it can do things no one should even think about trying.

There are two keys to it's remarkable utility:
  1. It handles all 8-bit character codes the same, whether they are printable or not.
  2. It has a macro facility that let's you record and play macros easily.
It has its' drawbacks. It runs in DOS box so you get white characters on a black background. It only supports an 80 by 25 character screen, and only fixed pitch fonts at that.

The part that makes it dangerous is that it can perform rudimentary math operations. Combine this with the macro facility you can write programs that can do wonderous things. Don't do it, though. That way leads the path of eternal fire and torment. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. There have been cases were I have written semi-complex macros to perform some text formatting operation, but it is an area fraught with pitfalls.

For manipulating text files, it is simply unbeatable. Like extracting all the links out of an html file.

Here's some links to get you started (or more likely to jog my memory some time in the future):

The Official Graham Hancock Website

When my computer got sick back in January and I installed a new hard drive, I didn't bother to copy over any of my files from my old hard disk. For one, I didn't want to infect my new hard drive with nasty stuff, and two, I wondered how much of that stuff I would really need. Turns out there wasn't much, but there was one website that I missed, and I couldn't remember the name. I imagine it's buried somewhere in one of the Firefox files. I rooted around some, but couldn't find it. I was sure I had linked to it in my blog at some point, but when? And on what subject? Anyway, it bugged me enough that I finally pulled out my old text editor (AEDIT) and composed a macro to extract all the links from an html file, sort the links, delete the duplicates, and presto (chango?) there it is: The Official Graham Hancock Website. Science news with a smattering of the Twilight Zone thrown in.

Quote of the Day

The national press has become the Corporation's Pravda. - Just An Earth Bound Misfit, I.

Eye To The World

I like maps, pretty pictures, and I find the eye fascinating. So when I saw this picture on Tango Juliet, I just had to steal it. It's from a campaign by the Glaucoma Foundation (unless they stole it from TJ). Read TJ's story, get your eyes checked.

Update September 2016 replaced missing picture.